Vatican City might be the smallest country on the planet, but it packs a punch that can knock the most seasoned traveler off their feet.

So, let’s skip the fluff and get straight to the good stuff – the 10 ultimate things to do in Vatican City that’ll make your Insta pop and your mom proud.

1. St. Peter’s Basilica Climb: A Glute Challenge with a View

First up, we’re talking about a serious booty workout – the St. Peter’s Basilica dome climb. Forget your gym subscription; this is where you’ll feel the burn. The deal? You’re climbing to the top of the world’s holiest rollercoaster.

The reward? A 360° view of Vatican City that’ll have your jaw on the floor and your phone storage at full capacity. Here’s the kicker: you’ve got two options – the elevator (a cop-out, if you ask me) or the stairs. Choose wisely; your glutes will remember.

St. Peters Basilica
St. Peters Basilica | @mitchellfrye

2. Vatican Museums Night Tour: Art After Dark

Next, let’s talk about the Vatican Museums, but with a twist – a night tour. Imagine this: wandering through rooms of priceless art with nothing but the sound of your footsteps echoing off the walls. It’s like having the place to yourself, except for the occasional art nerd or lost tourist.

The Night Tour is the Vatican’s best-kept secret. You get to see the Sistine Chapel without elbowing someone in the face, and trust me, Michelangelo’s ceiling looks even more epic under the moonlight. It’s art, but with an edge.

Statues in the Vatican
Statues in the Vatican | @lio.huguet90

3. Sistine Chapel in Silence: Michelangelo’s Mic Drop

Speaking of Michelangelo, let’s zero in on the main event: the Sistine Chapel in the kind of silence that makes your ears ring. This isn’t just another checkbox on your tourist list; it’s a spiritual smackdown, courtesy of one of the greatest artists who ever lived.

Getting in during the quiet hours is like snagging front-row tickets to the best show in town – you need to book ahead and maybe sell a kidney (kidding, your kidney’s safe… for now). But once you’re in, it’s just you and the frescoes. No noise, no rush, just art in its purest form. It’s a game-changer.

Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel @hannahmwillet

4. Gardens of Vatican City: Nature’s Holy Grail

If you thought Vatican City was all about ancient art and holy halls, think again. The Gardens of Vatican City are like the city’s best-kept secret garden, minus the keyhole. We’re talking about 57 acres of green bliss smack dab in the middle of the holiest place on Earth. But here’s the catch: you can’t just waltz in. These gardens are more exclusive than a speakeasy in Prohibition times.

You need to book a tour, but it’s worth it. Imagine strolling through impeccably manicured lawns, past fountains that have seen more history than your entire ancestry, and sculptures that might just wink at you if you look closely. It’s a slice of Eden, Vatican style.

5. Papal Audience Experience: Get Blessed or Go Home

Alright, let’s get down to one of the main reasons people flock to Vatican City: to see the man himself, the Pope. But this isn’t your grandma’s Sunday service; this is a Papal Audience, and it’s as close to rockstar status as the religious world gets.

Picture this: thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, hanging onto every word and blessing. Want in on this action? Plan your visit for a Wednesday when the Pope makes his weekly appearance.

It’s free, but you need a ticket (ironic, right?). It’s a spiritual experience that even the most cynical can’t help but be moved by. Plus, it’s your best chance to get that divine selfie. Just saying.

Papal Audience
Papal Audience

6. Vatican Necropolis: Where Bones Tell Tales

Now, for something a little different – the Vatican Necropolis. This isn’t your average tourist trap; it’s an archaeological treasure trove beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. We’re talking about an ancient city of the dead, where St. Peter himself is believed to be buried.

It’s eerie, it’s fascinating, and it’s about as close to time travel as you can get without a DeLorean. Tours are limited, and you’ve got to book in advance, but the chance to wander through millennia of history? Priceless. Plus, how many people can say they’ve explored a necropolis under one of the most famous churches in the world? Exactly.

Vatican Necropolis
Vatican Necropolis | @papphillips_fam

7. Climb the Cupola: The Encore

Thought we were done with climbing? Ha! The Vatican’s got another challenge for you: the Cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica. This isn’t just a repeat of the dome climb; it’s the encore you didn’t know you needed.

The Cupola offers a different angle, a fresh perspective, and yes, more stairs. But the view, folks, the view is like upgrading from economy to first class without paying a dime.

You’ll see Vatican City spread out beneath you like a divine carpet, with Rome peeking around the edges. It’s the kind of sight that makes all those stairs worth it (and justifies the extra gelato later). So, take a deep breath, channel your inner mountain goat, and conquer those steps. The Cupola awaits.

8. Vatican Post Office: Snail Mail’s Last Stand

In an age where tweets fly faster than thoughts, the Vatican Post Office is a charming anomaly. Tucked away in this tiny city-state is a post office that still believes in the power of a handwritten letter. Sending a postcard from here isn’t just about the stamp; it’s about sending a piece of history. Plus, rumor has it Vatican postcards reach their destination faster than those sent from Rome.

Whether it’s divine intervention or just efficient postal service, who can say? But it’s a cool way to share your experience with friends and family, the old-fashioned way. So, pick out a postcard, scribble down your thoughts, and let the Vatican Post Office do the rest. It’s a small gesture that carries a ton of weight, or at least a ton of cool points.

Vatican City
Vatican City | @salvatorecosta

9. The Vatican Library: The Forbidden Fruit

Last but not least, let’s talk about the ultimate tease: the Vatican Library. This isn’t your local library where you can pop in for a quick read. No, sir. The Vatican Library is the stuff of legend, with ancient manuscripts, secret archives, and enough intrigue to fuel a dozen Dan Brown novels.

Getting in is a Herculean task, reserved for scholars and researchers who can prove they’re not just there to gawk at the pretty books. But even getting a glimpse of the entrance, or taking a tour that merely skirts the edges of this literary holy land, is enough to make any history buff or book lover’s heart skip a beat.

It’s a reminder of the vast wealth of knowledge housed within these walls and the mysteries that remain locked away from the public eye.

10. Stroll through St. Peter’s Square: Where Paths Cross

After all the climbing, learning, and exploring, it’s time to take it down a notch with a leisurely stroll through St. Peter’s Square. This isn’t just any old square; it’s an architectural marvel, a spiritual hub, and a crossroads for people from all walks of life. Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, this plaza is a masterpiece of Baroque art, with its colossal Doric colonnades embracing visitors in a symbolic hug.

Whether you’re here to people-watch, soak in the ambiance, or simply bask in the shadow of history, St. Peter’s Square has a way of putting things into perspective. It’s the perfect spot to reflect on your Vatican adventure and maybe even make plans for your next visit. Because trust me, one visit is never enough.

St, Peters Square
St, Peters Square | @alaa_alr1

The Unexpected Twist: Swiss Guards – The Coolest Dudes in Uniform

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, Vatican City throws you a curveball in the form of the Swiss Guards. These aren’t your typical guards; they’re a striking blend of tradition, loyalty, and Renaissance fashion on point.

Dressed in their unmistakable colorful uniforms, designed (allegedly) by Michelangelo himself, these guards are not just for show. They’re highly trained soldiers tasked with protecting the Pope. Catching a glimpse of their ceremonial maneuvers or even just seeing them stand guard is a unique experience that combines history, military precision, and a dash of whimsy.

It’s a reminder that Vatican City, for all its solemnity and spirituality, has a playful side too.

And there you have it—a whirlwind tour of Vatican City that’s shown you the sights, shared the secrets, and maybe even challenged your preconceptions.

Vatican City is a place of contrasts, where ancient art meets modern pilgrims, where solemn rituals coexist with tourist selfies, and where every stone and every corner has a story to tell. It’s a testament to the enduring power of faith, art, and human ingenuity.

So, whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, a spiritual seeker, or just someone in search of their next great adventure, Vatican City welcomes you with open arms and countless wonders.