1 Perfect One Day in Vatican City Itinerary 2024 1
| |

1 Perfect One Day in Vatican City Itinerary 2024

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Greetings Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to a perfect one day in Vatican City itinerary! Vatican City is inside Rome itself, though technically it is a separate country.

And to be perfectly transparent, some of the places we visit, like restaurants, might be back in Rome, not Vatican City, because there’s no way to tell when you leave the Vatican and enter Italy again.

A perfect one day in Vatican City itinerary would combine the tastiest Roman restaurants with all the best sightseeing that the Vatican has to offer. You’ll get Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini for your eyeballs and porchetta, gelato, and suppli for your belly. Sound good? Then let’s go!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: One Day in Vatican City Itinerary


1 Perfect One Day in Vatican City Itinerary 2024 2

✔️ Small group tour
✔️ Expert local guide


1 Perfect One Day in Vatican City Itinerary 2024 3

✔️ Skip the line
✔️ Visit St Peter’s Basilica


1 Perfect One Day in Vatican City Itinerary 2024 4

✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

one day in vatican city itinerary

Morning: Vatican Museums

Despite what you may think based on the name, the Vatican Museums are not museums dedicated to teaching you the history of the Vatican. Rather, they are the repository for all the collected treasures scooped up by papal authority over the centuries.

As you can imagine, since the Papacy is almost 2000 years old, at this point that is quite an impressive haul of masterpieces. No one day in Vatican City itinerary is complete without visiting these museums.

one day in vatican city itinerary
24 Hour Tip

Would you like waiting on horrible lines for at least three hours? No, you say? Then you simply must buy your tickets to the Vatican Museums online in advance. You will be able to wait only about fifteen minutes.

The best way to avoid the crowds is to book an early access tour here, so you’ll be able to see the Sistine Chapel ceilings in a much better and more relaxed way.

You can book this fantastic tour for yourself by checking here.

There are too many masterpieces to take in during a one day in Vatican City itinerary, so I’ll get you started with…

Approximately top 5: the vatican

one day in vatican city itinerary
1) art of antiquity

Not all of the art collected in the Vatican is religious. In fact, your tour through the museum will start with many treasures from Antiquity, especially Rome and Egypt.

This makes perfect sense, since the Vatican is in Rome and everybody likes stealing treasures from Egypt, even Popes. I assume the statue pictured above is the Egyptian God of sad cats.

one day in the vatican city itinerary
2) Go on a hunt for assorted weirdnesses

When you enter, you will be given a map that will help you make sense of the many sections of the Vatican Museum. You will be tempted to make a beeline straight for the Sistine Chapel, but resist this impulse.

On the guided tour, you’ll be amazed at how many other treasures you can find on your journey. There’s a giant pine cone…

one day in vatican city itinerary

medieval tapestries of smug men eating fish…

one day in the vatican city itinerary

a room full of giant maps that are beautiful but also highly inaccurate…

one day in the vatican city itinerary

and crazy giant mosaics with weird demons on them that you’re not allowed to step on even though I bet that would be really fun.

one day in vatican city itinerary

If you liked the Pantheon, you’ll love the Sala Rotunda, which has a very similar ceiling.

one day in the vatican city itinerary

There’s this gentleman, who has a hilariously artificial modesty leaf.

one day in vatican city itinerary

There’s even some contemporary art! Bonus, these galleries aren’t crowded because no one comes to the Vatican for the contemporary art!

one day in vatican city itinerary

If all else fails, you can get some sweet views of Rome in many rooms in the Vatican. If they won’t let you ride in the Pope-mobile, this will have to do.

one day in vatican city itinerary
3) visit the Sistine Chapel

Clearly it’s the Sistine Chapel! Nothing can compare to the sight of the Chapel’s walls and ceiling covered with the myriad images that came tumbling out of Michelangelo’s fevered imagination, illustrating what feels like the entire Bible.

Sadly, Michelangelo’s masterpiece is protected by scads of severe priests who yell at you if you try to take a picture. So instead, I will say that my pick is School of Athens by Raphael.

one day in vatican city itinerary
4) admire Raphael’s paintings

Before you get to the Sistine Chapel, you get to walk through the four rooms painted by noted Renaissance man and ladies man Raphael da Urbino. These were the personal apartments of Pope Julius II, and they are truly mindboggling, largely because of the giant frescoes by Raphael that cover the walls and ceilings. 

The School of Athens depicts many of the most famous Greek philosophers…Plato, Aristotle, Socrates…and so on. Many use this fresco as an example of how important Classical thought was during the Italian Renaissance.

one day in vatican city itinerary

It’s breathtaking how real the subjects in Raphael’s frescoes look. He is such a lifelike painter that looking at this work makes you feel as if you are standing back in Athens yourself. If it weren’t for the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms would be the most famous work in the Vatican.

I really wonder how that makes Raphael’s ghost feel. Does he spend his days flitting about Rome muttering to himself, “Everyone’s always talking about Michelangelo! Michelangelo, Michelangelo, Michelangelo!” I hope not, Raphael! You’re special too!

24 Hour Tip

Those are all the secrets of the tour I can share with you for now. You’ll have to go ahead and book the tour if you want to learn more!

Check rates and availability right here!

one day in vatican city itinerary
5) get Lunch at Angrypig Birretta e Porchetta

I really feel so proud of myself for finding this restaurant Angrypig because I didn’t read about it in any guidebooks or articles about the city.

After I was done at the Vatican, I was feeling peckish and wanted to eat something yummy. We will have to leave Vatican City to come here, but I think it still counts as a one day in Vatican City itinerary.

I used my TripAdvisor app to look up a good lunch place nearby, and lo and behold I found this spot, which is currently ranked as one of the best quick bite restaurants in Rome. Not too shabby!

Although I wonder why the place is called Angrypig. Is the pig angry because I ate him? I assume so!

one day in vatican city itinerary

Porchetta, in case you are unfortunate enough not to know, is a kind of fatty Italian pork roast made with lots of salt and rosemary. It was basically made to be put on a sandwich.

I had never seen the kind of black bread that they use at Angrypig, but its dark, rich flavor went perfectly with the melt-in-your-mouth savoriness of the porchetta. Basically I could eat this sandwich every day of my life and regret nothing!

It’s a birreria, so I do regret getting a Coke instead of a beer, but beer makes me sleepy, and I had a lot to do that day! But you should definitely risk having to take a nap and try one of their beers instead.

one day in vatican city itinerary

Afternoon: Visit St Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is arguably the most important church in the world, even though it is not the seat of the Bishop of Rome (aka the Pope). In Catholic tradition, it is believed to be the resting place of St. Peter, the first Pope, and many other Popes have been buried there. You can’t have a one day in Vatican City itinerary without coming here.

It is also the place to go if you want to see many astonishing works of Catholic art, including the famous Pieta by Michelangelo. (“Why is everyone always talking about how great Michelangelo is?”–Raphael)

Unlike with the Vatican Museums, there is no way to avoid waiting in a long line to get into St. Peter’s. That’s because it is free to enter, so you can’t buy tickets online or anything. You can’t miss the entrance line because it extends out of the Basilica into St. Peter’s Square.

Just enjoy yourself by staring at the beautiful St. Peter’s Square and read a book if you get super bored. (I have some great book recommendations on the What to Pack List near the top of this post.) You can also take pictures of the Vatican Guards in their colorful uniforms.

one day in vatican city itinerary
24 hour Tip

Once you are inside, it’s possible to purchase tickets to take a tour of the Basilica and of the roof. But it’s easier and saves time if you do it here. I do recommend the thorough and rather funny tour provided by the Basilica guides themselves.

You will learn so much more about the historical significance of the Basilica with the guide. For example, you will learn that there is one work of art done by a non-Catholic in St. Peter’s: the statue of Pius VII done by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. The guide said this was evidence that the church was “very inclusive”.

one day in vatican city itinerary

But just about everything in the Basilica is interesting, from the throne of St. Peter…

one day in vatican city itinerary

to the tomb of Pope John Paul II.

one day in vatican city itinerary

From the air vents that lead to the crypt…

one day in vatican city itinerary

to yet another amazing Roman ceiling with a dome.

one day in vatican city itinerary
24 Hour Treasure

Michelangelo’s Pieta is truly one of the most stunning works of art you will ever see. The folds in the cloth and the bending of the bodies seems so real that it makes the statue hard to look at–as if you were actually observing a mother with her dead son.

The one “flaw” in the sculpture is that Mary looks so young when of course she would have been almost fifty. But believe me you will not be thinking this when you look at the sculpture.

Sadly it is hard to get a good photo of the Pieta because it is protected by the glass. This photo does not do the sculpture justice.

one day in vatican city itinerary

Evening: L’Arcangelo

After a busy one day in Vatican City sightseeing, you will want to have a big, satisfying, Italian dinner. I suggest stopping at Prati restaurant L’Arcangelo, which will yet again take us out of Vatican City proper. We will have to brave the brutal customs officers fiercely guarding the Vatican/Rome border, but it will be worth it!

L’Arcangelo is a cozy trattoria where you can satisfy your desire for some typical Roman foods. To that end, I indulged in the five course tasting menu of Roman specialties. It was money well spent!

First, I started with a ripe and creamy tomato soup. Fun Fact: There is nothing better than an Italian tomato in the summer.

one day in vatican city itinerary
24 Hour treat: suppli

Next came the suppli course. Suppli are fried stuffed rice balls that are a traditional part of Roman cuisine. I think they should be a traditional part of everyone’s cuisine because the crispy rice exterior combined with the warm meaty interior is one of the all time classic pairings, like fish and white wine or Hall and Oates.

Next came the sweetbread course. Sweetbreads, of course, have nothing to do with baked goods. They are a euphemism for the pancreas and thymus glands of an animal.

You might be reading that and saying BLARF, but I assure you that they are as rich and satisfying as foie gras in their own way, although the texture is completely different. I’m not at all squeamish about eating every part of an animal. “Waste not, want not,” as I used to tell Benjamin Franklin.

one day in vatican city itinerary

After the sweetbreads came, it was time for the pasta in tomato sauce. This was probably the least exciting course so far, but pasta doesn’t always need to be exciting. It just needs to be delicious. The fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano that came on top of my pasta was the most scrumptious part. In Italy, you know you’re not getting Kraft Mystery Cheese.

The dessert was warm bigne, which is Italian for donuts. You can see how the word bigne resembles the French beignet, which we all know and love, at least those of us who have been to Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. These bigne came with a warm and luscious caramel sauce.

You might be sad because after the pasta, fried rice balls, porchetta sandwich, and gelato, you’re concerned that we haven’t had enough carbs on this one day in Vatican City itinerary. You’ll just have to trust that we’ll get some more Carb Loving in on another day.

one day in vatican city itinerary

Where to Stay?

It’s going to be hard to find a hotel for your one day in Vatican City itinerary. I mean, are there even any hotels in Vatican City itself? So you’re going to have to stay nearby in the neighboring city of Rome. I strongly recommend the Hotel Otivm.

As you can see from my photo above, the rooms are lovely and spacious. It’s within striking distance of many major Roman attractions. Plus a tasty breakfast is included, and the helpful staff will assist you with luggage, transportation, etc.

If you want a great deal at this hotel, just go here.

And if you would rather look at tons of other excellent hotels in Rome, head here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your day of fabulous adventures in Rome. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

one day in vatican city itinerary

That’s a Perfect One Day in Vatican City Itinerary

What would you do on a one day in Vatican City itinerary? Are you ready to start booking your hotel so you can start your one day in Vatican City itinerary right now? And how many carbs is too many carbs? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just go here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend one day in Rome doing a one day in Vatican City itinerary.

Add on 24 hours in Rome. You can also try a best museums of Rome day. Go for a day with the best city center Rome things to do. Check out a what to do at Rome day. Enjoy the best non tourist things to do in Rome. Enjoy the best walking food tours of Rome.

1 Perfect One Day in Vatican City Itinerary 2024 5

Similar Posts


  1. Pingback: Rome in a Day
  2. Pingback: 24 Hours in Rome

Comments are closed.