Are the crowds always bad at Vatican City or is there a certain time of the year (or a certain time of day) when things slow down a little? I have a feeling the answer is going to be “Nope, they’re always crowded,” but figured I’d ask just in case!
Like the ancient monuments in Rome it’s best to book ahead for visits to the Vatican City if you want to go into the Basilica, the Sistine Chapel etc. Best times of year are between the end of November and mid-February when the weather is colder. Avoiding the obvious (Christmas). As for the best time of day. Mornings are worse. Afternoons are slightly better. If you are there in the warmer weather go late at night or (for taking photos) very early in the morning.
The crowds are obviously particularly present during the summer. I highly recommend to book in advance, as @Chantal said, for the Vatican Museums. Being the Basilica a church, you cannot really book an entrance, unless you are on a guided tour, I guess. The queues for the basilica are present, just because of the security checks that take place in front of it, in between the columns of Bernini.
I don’t know if you have instagram, but if you need help to find the website of the Vatican Museums, I filmed a short guide here https://www.instagram.com/fka_sara/
As others have already said, the crowds at the Vatican City are exactly what you’d expect for a major tourist spot. Time of year, time of day and religious festivals are important factors. Book in advance on line and get there an hour before your tour starts.
Try to visit at a time when there’s no school holidays. Because those are the times that families won’t be visiting (as the kids have to be in school).
@Chantal I didn’t think about how it might be less crowded in the afternoon. I’ll take “slightly better” any day! I bet those times of day are great for taking pictures. Thanks for the help!
@fkasara I figured the summer would be the worst time to go (at least to avoid the crowds). Is it easier to speed through security if you don’t have any bags on you? I will check out that video on your Instagram. Thank you so much for sharing!
@Pearl I hadn’t even started to consider religious festivals. I’ll have to research those. Thanks for the tip!
@Jerry We’ve already planned to be there while school is in session. Hopefully that will help!
St Peter’s Basilica is very difficult to comprehend. We spent two hours in the Church and then climbing the dome, but we could have stayed all day. The church is so beautiful and strolling around you notice a different statue, painting or other detail with every circuit you walk. It also felt very peaceful despite the huge number of people inside. The experience was well worth queuing for an hour before and when I return to Rome, I would love to go back. A must to visit while in Rome.
It is better to go to the Vatican in the morning, while you are full of energy and the place has not been filled with the tourist groups yet. The cathedral works from 7 a.m., and the Vatican Museums open at 9 a.m.
The best days for the visit are Tuesday and Thursday, the busiest day is Wednesday. On Sunday is quite calm there, but only because all the museums are closed.
The time of year also affects the number of visitors. January and February are the best months for your visit.