Visiting Vatican City can be an exciting, but overwhelming, experience. When visiting the home of the pope, you will want to see The Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and definitely St. Peter’s Basilica. But it’s not well known that you can actually climb to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica Dome. You can actually take an elevator halfway up and then climb the dome, or you can climb the entire basilica and dome.

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When you enter St. Peter’s Basilica you will see a few doors. If you enter the door on the right, you can then stand in line to climb to the top of St. Peter’s Dome. If you are physically able, this is a must-do while you are at The Vatican — mostly because it has one of the best views of the city.

You will have to purchase a separate ticket for this climb, but it is generally less than €10. If you do not want to pay, you can climb the basilica and the dome — for free! The €10 buys you an elevator rid up to the observation level of the basilica. You will then climb a pretty significant amount past that to get to the top of the dome.

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On your way to the top, you will be able to look down on the Basilica on a few different occasions, something which is an amazing sight in itself.

View of Vatican City from Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy.

Things to be aware of when climbing to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica Dome:

  • The climb can get very steep and very claustrophobic. There are times when you have very little room to make your way up the dome.
  • Depending on the time of day, the overlook from the dome can get very crowded. Set aside time to make the climb, navigate the crowds at the top, and then know plenty of people will be waiting in line for the climb down.
  • When you are making your way down from the dome, you can either take the stairs or the elevator. I would suggest taking the stairs, as you will have the privilege of seeing Bernini’s Staircase, which an amazing sight in itself.

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