What to Wear When Visiting the Vatican

| Thu, 02/04/2021 - 08:37
Gallery of Statues at the Vatican Museums in Rome

After 88 days of closure due to Covid restrictions, the Vatican Museums in Rome reopened on February 1. 

While travel restrictions are still in place, it is not too soon to start planning and getting ready for your next Italian trip. If that includes the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, keep in mind these dress code recommendations. You may be turned away if your attire is deemed inappropriate.

As a general rule, remember that your shoulders and knees should always be covered. The Vatican Museums website states the following: “Entry to the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Gardens is permitted only to appropriately dressed visitors.”

What does “appropriately dressed visitors” mean? It means that you will likely be denied entry if you’re wearing:

A miniskirt

Shorts above the knee

Sleeveless tops and any cleavage-revealing garments


Because many tourists visit in summer, when temperatures in Rome can reach 38°C, most walk around in shorts and sleeveless shirts or short dresses. If you want to avoid having to buy a scarf or shawl from the street vendors stationed outside San Pietro, consider that it will be wiser to wear long pants in light fabric like linen or cotton, or a long dress that covers the legs. If you opt for shorts, they should fall under your knees, Jeans are ok too, but keep those ripped jeans for another occasion. 

While there is no written rule for shoes, err on the side of caution. Avoid flip flops or beach sandals and wear comfortable shoes because you’ll be doing a lot of walking; the Vatican Museums are huge, plus you may decide to climb the 551 steps that lead to the dome of St. Peter's Basilica!

Also keep in mind that hats are forbidden inside the museums and the basilica. If you wear one outside to protect you from the heat of summer, use one that you can easily place in your bag or backpack before accessing the sites.