1. The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums hold some of the world's most prestigious art works, including masterpieces by Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Bramante and Raphael, and Bernini. The Museums are enormous and impressive, and the works on display are only a portion of the works that the Catholic church has in its possession.
2. The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is the pinnacle of the Vatican Museums, and holds the stunning paintings on the ceiling done by Michelangelo. This room is held in reverence and you are not allowed to talk once you are here, so you can look up in awe and silence at the masterpieces above.
Entry to the Sistine Chapel is included in your pass to the Vatican Museum, and it should be noted that you are not allowed to take photos of this space. If you want some relatively alone time at the chapel, you should book the early morning tour and head first to the Sistine Chapel as soon as you enter.
3. Saint Peter's Square
Saint Peter's square is the enormous and beautiful plaza that sits in front of Saint Peter's Basilica. This square can hold up to 400,000 people, and it has many points of interest to explore, such as the Egyptian obelisk, the sculpted fountains, and the Bernini Colonnade. It is free to come here, but on Wednesdays and Sundays the Pope addresses the crowds and you will need to get free tickets to enter the area.
4. Saint Peter's Basilica
Saint Peter's Basilica is the largest Catholic church in the world, and it is the centre of the Catholic faith. Of particular interest inside the cathedral is the enormous dome that you climb for panoramic views of the area, Michelangelo's La Pieta statue, and Bernini's enormous bronze baldacchino.
5. Climb Saint Peter's Dome
6. See the Pope
7. Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica
Catholic masses are held every day at different times inside Saint Peter's Basilica. These are not attended by the Pope, but you can still experience a mass in one of the holiest places on earth.
Check the timetables for each of these masses before you go as the times are different on the weekends and you will need to arrive well in advance if you want to get a seat.
8. Castel St Angelo
9. Walk across Ponte Sant Angelo
If you are going to Castel Sant'Angelo, make sure you take the time to wander across the Ponte Sant Angelo. This is a bridge that crosses the Tiber River, and was originally built as a grand entrance to emperor Hadrian's mausoleum. From here you can see the river, Saint Peter's Basilica, and see the ten angel statues along the bridge that each hold a symbol of Jesus' crucifixion.
10. Basilica of St. John Lateran
11. Stand in two countries at once
As you may know, the Vatican City is the smallest nation state in the world. Athough you cannot get your passport stamped, there is a gap in the surrounding walls where you can stand with one foot in Italy and one foot in the Vatican City.
12. The Bernini Fountain and the Maderno Fountain
13. The Obelisk in Saint Mark's Square
In the middle of Saint Peter's Square you can find a piece of ancient Egypt. Right in the middle you will see an enormous Egyptian obelisk that dominates the square. Gaius Caligula had the monument brought to Rome in 37 A.D., and it provides a stark contrast to all of the surrounding Renaissance art and architecture, even though not a lot is known about its origins.
14. The Vatican Necropolis
Five levels beneath the Vatican lies a city of the dead that dates back thousands of years. The necropolis is a complex of burial sites that have both early pagan burials as well as Catholic tombs (including the remains of Saint Peter himself).