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25 Top Vatican City Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack for vatican city
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The Vatican City is a staple of a true Roman experience. You should not pass up the opportunity to visit, but with around 25,000 tourists walking through the museums each day, you will absolutely want a game plan.

The Vatican City is actually the smallest country on earth (yes, it is a sovereign nation). But with a population of only 800 people, this religious hub lies quietly in the center of the Eternal City – except during the mornings and afternoons when enormous crowds gather to see the Sistine Chapel, the Basilica, St Peter’s Square, and (on occasion) the Pope!

After visiting 3 times, we created this quick guide to help visitors make the most of their visit. It is even more essential for first-time visitors because it will color the way you see Rome forever. We’ll cover what to pack, what to wear, what you’re NOT allowed to bring, and useful FAQs.

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What to Pack for The Vatican City – 25 Essentials

  • 1. Italy Power Adapter

    Italy operates on a 230V voltage and has a distinct outlet, even compared to other countries in Europe. Bring an Italian power adapter to ensure your electronics will charge while you’re out of the country. This one is high-quality and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee, which is way better than buying a crappy one that could blow a fuse or break your phone.

    Italy Power Adapter

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  • 2. Shawl or Pashmina

    The Vatican City is a modest, sacred, and religious place that has certain rules in place. Keep in mind that tourists cannot enter the Vatican building itself and only have access to the museums (this is a common misconception that we cover more in the FAQs).

    The dress code for the Vatican museums is incredibly strict – no exposed shoulders, knees, or hats. You could be denied entry if you do not have the proper attire, and after coming all this way, you don’t want to risk being turned away. Bring a shawl or pashmina to cover bare arms and wear a longer skirt or pant option.

    Shawl or Pashmina

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Last year, Italy was the 3rd most targeted country in the world for cybercrime and malicious virtual attacks. Hackers are increasing by the day and you’ll want to protect your private data like passwords, credit card numbers, and identity information.

    We always use a VPN when traveling – we learned the hard way after traveling through Europe and having a credit card hacked (from what we thought was a safe Airbnb network). We came to learn that you make yourself vulnerable every time you join free Wi-Fi networks in public places like cafes, coffee shops, hotels, airports, etc. A VPN will not only secure your network, but will block any censorship that may be prevalent in the country. It’s super affordable and a breeze to set up.


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  • 4. Neck Wallet

    Unfortunately, not even the holy land is sacred to pickpocketers. They’ll strike anywhere! Petty theft is common in crowded European attractions, and the per capita crime rate is surprisingly high in Vatican City. We’ve also had a credit card stolen in Rome, so now we use this theft-preventative neck wallet. It can be worn discreetly under your shirt instead of flashing your wallet or leaving it exposed in a back pocket. It holds all passports, credit cards, and cash while you’re dealing with international travel days or distracted by the largest private art collection in the world.

    neck wallet

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  • 5. Jet Lag Relief

    Most trips to Rome are going to be a full-day journey. Your body is up against drastic time changes, potential layovers, and the demands of travel. Use these homeopathic jet lag relief pills to fight the symptoms of exhaustion. They’re super gentle on the system but you will feel a difference when you land with a bit more energy!

    jet lag relief

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  • 6. Travel Insurance for Rome/Vatican City

    Since Italy is part of the Schengen Zone of the EU, travel insurance must cover a minimum of €30K in medical coverage. Your domestic provider does not generally cover you overseas (this includes Medicare and Medicaid), and you do not want to be left paying out-of-pocket for international medical bills. This is why travel insurance is so crucial.

    We use Faye Travel Insurance because they are the best provider we’ve come across. They insure you for common travel issues like flight delays, theft, baggage loss, medivacs, medical bills, and even entire trip cancellation (which is pretty rare for an affordable provider to offer at all). They’ve reimbursed us when we needed it most, offering such peace of mind when we’re abroad. And everything is handled through Faye’s easy-to-use mobile app so you’re not drowning in paperwork if a mishap occurs.

    Travel Insurance for Rome/Vatican City

    Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

  • 7. Cooling Towel

    Rome is a hot and muggy place, particularly in the summer! Instead of standing in the direct sun in giant lines that wrap around the building (as you melt like a pistachio gelato), bring this cooling towel set to beat the heat. This chemical-free cloth works like magic and drops nearly 30-degrees colder than the outside temperature. It’s super refreshing which can make all the difference when you’re moving from the Vatican Gardens to the gorgeous Pigna Courtyard on a sunny day.

    Cooling Towel

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  • 8. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    The last thing you want to deal with is a dead battery or dealing with an emergency. Frankly, you’re in a foreign country and probably don’t speak the language, so it’s best to keep your lifeline fully charged. We travel with this small portable charger – it keeps us on-the-go without any annoying trips back to the hotel for an outlet.

    Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

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  • 9. Comfortable Walking Sandals

    Rome is full of cobblestoned streets and winding alleyways. Go easy on your feet and fit in with the locals by bringing some comfortable and cute sandals to wear. Whether you’re strolling through the Vatican grounds or making a wish at the Trevi Fountain, you can’t go wrong with a comfy pair of supportive shoes.

    Comfortable Walking Sandals

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  • 10. Discounted Tickets on Vatican Tours

    Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the last minute to book your ticket. With tens of thousands of visitors each day, the Vatican Museums get packed, and you don’t want to be at the end of a giant zig-zagged line.

    Get Your Guide offers discounted tickets to the most popular attractions in the area. The best way to experience the Vatican is with a guided tour where you’ll be led by a historical expert. This brings the stories of the Vatican to life and is WAY easier than trying to map it all out on your own (the 12-acre property is super overwhelming to navigate otherwise).

    You can also book an option that includes the Basilica, or you can simply get an entry ticket without a guide. But! Regardless of what you book, ensure it’s a skip-the-line ticket so you’re not standing in long queues for hours, losing the whole day!

    Discounted Tickets on Vatican Tours

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  • 11. Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

    You cannot bring food into the Vatican, but water bottles are permitted (note that only plastic water bottles will be allowed, not glass ones, which will be taken from you temporarily). For your entire trip to Italy, this filtered water bottle will serve you well! The tap water in Rome is fine to drink, so you won’t need a super complicated filter to fill up at public water fountains or local restaurants and cafes. If you want a higher-quality filter, we recommend the Grayl.

    Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

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  • 12. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    Nearly all destinations are prone to a bit of rain. Bring your own umbrella that is super lightweight and made for travel. Unexpected rain won’t slow you down with this handy tool, and it comes with a convenient carrying case to keep your other items dry when the grey clouds pass. (Keep in mind that umbrellas are not permitted in the Vatican Museums and must be left in the cloakroom or locker area; you can retrieve it after your tour).

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

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  • 13. Anti-Theft Backpack

    As you marvel at Michaelangelo’s impressive ceiling in the Sistine Chapel that took more than 4 years to create, you’ll need a safe place to store all of your essentials. This anti-theft backpack will keep you hands-free and prevent any sticky fingers from rummaging through your bags. It has a zipper on the inside to prevent pickpocketing with a leather design, and it’s pretty stylish too!

    Anti-Theft Backpack

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  • 14. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    After having an item stolen from our checked luggage, we learned that international travel is not without its risks. Now, we religiously secure all bags with these luggage locks. Bring a couple of sets for suitcases, backpacks in crowded areas, or even public city and hotel lockers. They’re TSA-approved so security won’t cause you any hassles if you’re selected for a random search.

    TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

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  • 15. Biodegradable Toilet Paper

    Tourists may be surprised to discover that you have to pay to use public restrooms in many European countries (generally €1-2). Italy is a fairly clean place, but bathrooms may not always be stocked and it’s wise to bring your own toilet paper. This brand is biodegradable, so it’s useful if you have to flush in a place with old, delicate plumbing. It’s very compact and you won’t regret bringing it!

    Biodegradable Toilet Paper

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  • 16. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    In Rome, you may find that some hotels provide more of a washcloth or dish towel rather than a full-blown bath towel. Boutique hotels and hostels may not provide a towel at all, that’s why we always bring our own quick-dry, microfiber option. It’s super lightweight and multi-purposeful. We use it as a sweat rag, beach blanket, seat cover on public transit, and more. It dries 10x faster than cotton and is seriously amazing!

    travel towel

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  • 17. Long Skirt

    Again, exposed knees are a no-no in the modest arena of Vatican City. If you’re a woman, wear conservative pants or a long skirt to ensure you’re displaying cultural respect. You don’t want to be turned away from the excursion due to something preventable like the wrong attire. Guards may not notice you, but it’s hardly worth the risk. Trust us, you don’t want to have to run over to a tourist shop to buy a cheaply-made pair of trousers that you’ll never wear again.

    Maxi Skirt

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  • 18. Packing Cubes

    Packing cubes are a complete game-changer. These babies will help you stay organized instead of throwing everything aimlessly in your suitcase. You can categorize shirts, pants, essentials, and so on to avoid scrambling to find things when you’re flying out the door. It’s also nice to move a cube to our backpack for excursions or to a drawer in the hotel, and then easily back to the suitcase when it’s time to head home. Once you try them, you’ll feel so organized – you won’t want to go back! You can go for the smaller 3-pack to start with and each set even has bonus laundry bags to separate your clean and dirty items. Boo-yah!

    packing cubes

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  • 19. Activated Charcoal

    Traveler’s diarrhea is a dreaded but common ailment that strikes when you least expect it. Since it takes a couple of days for our bodies to get used to new food and water systems, bring these activated charcoal supplements to expel any toxins from your system. Anything from tap water to street food to luxury dining can make you sick, but these tablets will get you back on your feet more quickly!

    Activated Charcoal

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  • 20. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    If you’ve visited Europe before, you know that the bathrooms are often laughable. In case you don’t have any bathroom storage or countertop space – this hanging toiletry bag is the perfect solution! It hangs anywhere and unfolds with 4 giant pockets for all of your toiletries, almost like a built-in shelf to display all of your hygiene, skincare, and haircare products, plus makeup. We haven’t had any luggage spills since using these since any leaks are contained in that zippered pocket.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

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  • 21. Mosquito-Repellent Wristbands

    The Vatican City has high mosquito activity and cases of Dengue Fever were reported just last year. We like these mosquito-repellent wristbands that are wearable, so you don’t have to worry about respraying toxic fumes all day. They’re also deet-free, natural, and safe for kids. It’s not worth the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses, especially in the summer months when these little pests are even more ruthless!

    Mosquito-Repellent Wristbands

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  • 22. Wine Wings Packing Cushions

    With all of the incredible Italian varietals you’ll be tasting (Chianti, Sangiovese, Brunello, etc.) – these packing cushions are a brilliant addition to your list. They’re called Wine Wings, but can actually be used for anything delicate that you want to bring home with you. We don’t drink, so we use them to protect things like olive oils, balsamic vinegar, perfumes, or anything that could use a little extra safeguarding. They will ensure nothing breaks in transit with an inflatable, double-ziplocked seal.

    Wine wings

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  • 23. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    You’ll inevitably do some shopping in Rome and the Vatican City. From gourmet food goods and vino to jewelry and rosaries – this “just in case” bag is the solution to underpacking. A duffle material takes up no room on the way there, but for the flight home, you can stuff it with goodies for your loved ones. We like this one because it’s the right size to count as your personal item, sparing you from any carry-on fees.

    Packable “Just in Case” Bag

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  • 24. Sun Hat

    No Roman packing list would be complete without a gorgeous sun hat. I regretted not bringing mine the last time I was exploring Vatican City because the sun is fierce here! The warm architecture seems to reflect the heat and brightness even more strongly, and I felt like I permanently had to squint! Next time, I will bring a sun hat like this one and advise you to do the same – here’s an equally stylish option for men. It folds up nicely in your suitcase and won’t look like a totally disheveled mess.

    Hat Foldable Roll up Floppy Beach Hats

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  • 25. Stroller

    For any parents bringing little ones to the Vatican Muesums, strollers and prams are permitted. This is our favorite option for travel because it’s foldable and lightweight. It will help your toddlers be less fussy during the day because there will be a lot of walking. (Note that once you enter the Basilica, strollers and prams will not be allowed to enter, but you can leave them in a designated area. Double strollers are not allowed).


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What to Wear in Vatican City

The Romans are a fashionable breed. They are trendy, on the move, and the Italian fashion industry is renowned worldwide. With all of the high-end fashion designers from Italy (Armani, Versace, Valentine, Prada, Gucci, and more), there is a plethora of luxury goods and handmade artisan pieces alike.

You can pack some of these for the early days of your trip and then do some shopping once you arrive. This is a place to indulge a little and bring back some staple pieces! By day, you will want to wear flowy, light, linen-like materials to keep cool, especially in the hot summertime. And by night, you can dress up a bit and wear something a little more bold, opting for a leather jacket or shawl in the colder months.

Keep in mind that the Vatican City is a bit more modest and conservative than the rest of Rome. But regardless of the occasion, you’re in Rome and will naturally do as the Romans do!

What Should Women Wear on Vatican City? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

Women should opt for feminine and comfortable clothing. You can put your best foot forward in Rome and dress more elegantly than you would at home (if from America). The European trends are about 2-3 years ahead of Western trends, so they tend to get everything a bit earlier!

You can go for linen pants, a stylish and fitted shirt, with comfortable sandals. When entering the Vatican museums, check you have a back-up shawl or cover-up, just in case. In the evenings, switch to a printed dress or chic jumpsuit to make a power statement.

Stick with wide-heels or flat shoes to avoid tripping on the ancient cobblestone roads. It can get chilly in the evening, so bring a lightweight jacket, and it rains more in the colder months, which means you may need a raincoat.

What Should Men Wear on Vatican City? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

Men should go for a similar policy of comfort-first. Linen material is about as Italian as it gets, so invest in a pair of linen pants for yourself. A simple button-down shirt will look very polished and sophisticated. And your shoes really do make a big statement about you (especially in Rome, the capital of leather goods), so you may want to go all-out with a pair of loafers. You could also pack a comfortable lace-up sandal for day-to-day, or a nice breathable pair of Oxfords.

For a nice dinner, men may want a 3-piece suit or just a nice shirt. Nice socks are good to have on hand, and for colder seasons, a fleece shirt will be a wise choice. A waterproof jacket is also a smart investment in your travel wardrobe.

What NOT to Bring to Vatican City

  • 1.Short shorts or short skirts

    Remember, Vatican City is a reserved and religious place. You do not want to offend locals by wearing short shorts or standing out with clothes that are too revealing. Once you step out into Rome, it’s a bit of a different story. But remain respectful with covered knees and shoulders in the Vatican.

  • 2.High Heels

    Stilletos are not a good idea with the bumpy, cobblestone streets! You could twist an ankle and it’s not with the risk.

  • 3.Food

    Snacks are not permitted inside of the Vatican museums. There are places to pick up food once inside, but if you attempt to bring it yourself, it will be confiscated.

  • 4.Glass Bottles

    As mentioned, you can bring a plastic water bottle, but glass will be taken at the Vatican entry.

  • 5.Luggage

    You’d be surprised how many people arrive off the flight and head directly to the Vatican, but they will not allow you to bring in any suitcases. You can, however, check any bags at the cloakroom (luggage storage is free of charge), so you can reclaim them before the exit.

  • 6.Tripods & Umbrellas

    Long items like tripods and umbrellas are prohibited at the Vatican, but you can check them at the cloakroom. Keep in mind that flash photography is banned once inside the museums and you cannot even sketch a piece of artwork without permission from the Director of the Museums. The Sistine Chapel is the only area where general photography is not allowed, but you can take photos most anywhere else (as long as it’s without a flash).

FAQs about Traveling in Vatican City

  • 1. Is the Vatican City really a country?

    Is the Vatican City really a country?

    Yes, Vatican City is a sovereign city-state, and is considered it’s own autonomous nation. The funny part about this is that the area is only about 2-miles in size and it’s a small morsel of space that is completely surrounded by the larger city of Rome. It’s smaller than Central Park and is literally the smallest ‘country’ in the world!

    To take the irony a step further, Rome was once the largest empire in the world, covering parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Now, it is merely a city and doesn’t even earn the country-status and reputation of its religious capital, Vatican City. Go figure.

  • 2. How do you enter the Vatican?

    Actually, tourists are not allowed to enter the main Vatican building; they are only allowed in the museums, including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and Art Collections, the Square, and the Vatican Gardens. This is a common misconception, but the Vatican building itself is not accessible to tourists.

    You can enter through one of the two main entrances – one that leads into St. Peter’s Basilica from the street Via Della Conciliazione. And the museum entrance that lies on the northern side off the entry road called Viale Vaticano.

  • 3. When is the best time to visit the Vatican?

    When is the best time to visit the Vatican?

    Earlier is always best and weekdays will be easier than weekends! The lines start growing around 9 or 10 a.m. and it becomes nearly impossible to gain entrance by afternoon (this is based on the most popular time of tourism, the summer). You can go early in the morning or later in the afternoon for fewer crowds, around 4 p.m.
    The off-season months of Spring and Autumn will be the most pleasant times to visit with the fewest crowds. The temperatures are more mild and prices drop a bit in the area. The least busy days are Wednesday and Thursday, and if you dislike crowds, you should avoid Saturdays.

  • 4. What is the tipping culture in Rome/Vatican City?

    Since the Vatican City and Rome are interconnected in a way, the tipping culture is indistinguishable. If you were to ask a local, they would say that tipping is not necessary. Americans are more likely to tip than most Europeans, but it’s still a kind gesture to leave the change or tip 5-10% of your bill.

    In bars, you can leave your change behind. For cabs, you can tip €1-3 if the ride is fairly short. For restaurants, I usually consider the amount of service and how hard the wait staff has worked for me. If I’ve enjoyed a 4-5 hour dinner and occupied one of their section’s tables all night, I will tip 20-30%, regardless of cultural norms or Roman expectations. Servers are making a liveable wage in Europe, versus Americans, who are typically paid $1-3 per hour.

    Don’t feel pressured to tip, but it is always appreciated by Europeans because it is not expected.

  • 5. Do Vatican Tours sell out?

    Do Vatican Tours sell out?

    Yes, especially in the peak travel months, June through August, tickets do sell out (sometimes months in advance), and you should book earlier rather than later.

    If you’re interested in experiencing the Vatican while in Rome, we recommend touring with Get Your Guide because they have a multitude of ways you can experience this attraction (self-guided, audio-guided, historian/expert-guided, etc.) Their tickets are also often cheaper than those of the main museum’s website, which you can check out here.