Backpacking in the Vatican City State: Top 5 Sights in This Mini-Country

Backpacking in the Vatican City State: Top 5 Sights

Backpacking in the Vatican City State: Top 5 Sights

Whether The Vatican City State is a real country or not is very much up for debate. While the TCC recognise it, FIFA, the UN and UEFA don’t. All that aside, most travellers to Rome will be keen to visit this unusual religious state out of curiosity. A country within a country. I’ve added its flag to my list of flags and given it a separate category on my blog and Where I’ve Been page. I’m a bit of a separatist, so I personally recognise it as a country but didn’t include it in my first 100 countries count as with places like Austenasia and Nagorno Karabakh. Forget about all that debate, what’s it like to go backpacking there?

Backpacking in the Vatican City State: Top 5 Sights

Backpacking in the Vatican City State: Top 5 Sights

I based myself in Italy’s capital Rome, near the main train station in the Hotel Papa Germano, I was able to organise it via cheap hotels in Rome. From there I was able to tour Rome as well as the Vatican City. To get a really in-depth tour of the Vatican City, I’d recommend booking a Vatican tour with Walks of Italy, as you get access to all the museums, a full 4 hour guided tour and you get a queue jump – highly important as you will see massive queues on arrival at the Vatican City State. Backpacking in the Vatican City State: Top 5 Sights in This Mini-Country.

Backpacking in Holy See: Complete Vatican City Tour

Backpacking in Vatican City State: National Flag

1. St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Square is the centrepiece of the Vatican City State and completely free to enter. It’s a massive square and courtyard with a concrete base. The Pope holds speeches here once a week and it’s the main focus of attention in this mini country. There is an Egyptian Obelisk in the centre of the square.

In St. Peter's Square, Vatican City State

In St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City State

St. Peter’s Square is manned by Italian peelers (police) and pick-pocketing and camera theft has been known to occur so be aware of that. Grab a few selfies and take in the atmosphere, once you’ve crossed the Italy to Vatican border of course.

St. Peter's Square - Vatican City State

St. Peter’s Square – Vatican City State

2. Vatican City Post Office
The novelty of buying official stamps and posting a postcard to my brother from new countries and cities will never wear off for me. The Vatican City actually has a few post offices in it, and they get busy.

Vatican City Post Office

Vatican City Main Post Office

I headed inside and posted my kid brother another postcard. As well as Vatican City stamps, you can also buy other souvenirs like coins, fridge magnets, postcards etc.

Vatican City Main Post Office

Vatican City Main Post Office

Unfortunately from a travelling perspective, no passport stamps were available at the time of my visit!

Vatican City Stamps

Vatican City Stamps

Vatican City postcard

Vatican City postcard

Vatican City coins

Vatican City coins

3. Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel speaks for itself through art. An elaborate roof painted by our most loved Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle, Michaelangelo himself. Photos inside are actually completely forbidden. This is one part of the Vatican City that is there for you to savour and enjoy but not an image to take away. The Japanese bought the rights to the walls and roof of the Sistine Chapel. I’ve been told to watch out for pickpockets as you’re busy staring at the ceiling, it’s free entry of course so thieves do lurk sadly.

The ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel

The ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel

4. St. Peter’s Basilica
Put simply, the fact that this is the largest church in the world should be enough reason for you to want to visit it. Enough said.

Inside St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world

St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is also is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines in the world. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world” and as “the greatest of all churches of Christianity. Having been in Iran’s Imam Reza Shrine (one of the Holiest Mosques in the world), it was nice to finally see a shrine of this magnitude in the Christian part of the world, I grew up as a Presbyterian in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world

St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world

5. Vatican City Museums
I’m putting all the Vatican City Museums together as one sight here – the main reason is they just lead into each other and are all included on the entry ticket. If you are on the guided walking tour with Walks of Italy, you will go from room to room and from museum to museum in a flash anyway.

Museo Chiaramonti in the Vatican City State

Museo Chiaramonti in the Vatican City State

I wrote a detailed overview of the various museums and parts of the Museums Tour already on the post I mentioned, so check that out. The best bits were the Museo Chiaramonti of sculptures, Galleria dei Candelabri and the Maps Gallery.

Galleria dei Candelabri and the Maps Gallery

Galleria dei Candelabri and the Maps Gallery

Those are just a quick top 5 to check out in the Vatican City state which is a mini-country with only one hotel and a border to Italy.

Here are 10 Cool Facts About the Vatican City
1. The Vatican City State has a population of merely 842.
2. The majority of the Vatican City State’s 842 citizens currently live abroad (“abroad” also including Italy of course).
3. In terms of area, The Vatican City State is the smallest internationally recognised independent state in the world.
4. In terms of population, The Vatican City State is the smallest internationally recognised independent state in the world.
5. To put the size into perspective, The Vatican City State is an eighth of the size of Central Park, New York City, USA.
6. The Residenzia Paolo VI is the only Hotel in the Vatican City State.
7. For a period of around 60 years during the 1800s and 1900s, Popes refused to leave the Vatican City State.
8. Alcohol is legal in the Vatican City State for over 18s but there are no known breweries or distilleries in the country (so we’re heading back into to Italy for a pint then!).
9. In 1929, it was Fascist leader Benito Mussolini who signed the treaty to bring the Vatican City State into official existence.
10. The Vatican City international football team is not recognised by FIFA or UEFA. The team drew their first ever match 0-0 with San Marino in 1994. The team have only ever scored 1 goal against a country which was in a 2-1 defeat to Monaco.

Here are some of my videos from backpacking through the Vatican City State:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 1:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 2:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 3:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 4:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 5:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 6:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 7:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 8:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 9:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 10:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 11:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 12:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 13:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 14:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 15:

Complete Vatican Tour with Walks of Italy Part 16:

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
This entry was posted in Europe, Italy, Lists, My Top 5s, Rome, Vatican City State. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Backpacking in the Vatican City State: Top 5 Sights in This Mini-Country

  1. Marti Ingram says:

    I love the idea of sending mail from a Vatican City post office! What a unique and rare postcard / stamp that would be to receive. I will have to start doing that when I get back to traveling again.
    Marti Ingram recently posted…Walk the Jasper Skywalk in Alberta, CanadaMy Profile

  2. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Marti, thanks for the comment. I also love the idea of sending postcards from random places like this. I also sent cards from the Republic of Uzupis, Transnistria and French Guyana. Safe travels. Jonny

  3. Ray says:

    That sucks that you can’t take photos inside the Sistine Chapel! Looks like it is absolutely stunning to see. Is that the only place within the Vatican that photos are banned then?
    Ray recently posted…L’Epicerie d’Art – Paris’ “Grocery Art”My Profile

  4. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Ray, you can’t take photos in a few places. The Sistine Chapel is one of them, private prayer rooms and secret security offices are also not allowed to be photographed. It is a shame, what is even more a shame is that inside the Sistine Chapel, people come in to steal wallets and cameras. It’s notorious for pickpockets and I remember casting my eye on my fellow tourists that day hoping that I would catch one of the pickpockets in action, but I never did. I actually had no intention of visiting the Vatican City or even Rome, but the cheapest flight option from London to Tunisia that time included 3 days in Rome. Safe travels. Jonny

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