The Vatican may be its own country, but you will still have to use the Rome metro to get there. In fact, the Metro (underground subway system) is one of the most popular and cheapest ways to get to the Vatican. It can be intimidating to use the public transportation system in Rome if it is your first time visiting but it is actually very simple once you have the hang of it. To help you along, here is a complete guide on how to use Rome’s metro to get to Vatican City.
An Introduction to Rome’s Metro System
There are only two main metro lines in Rome, Metro line A (also known as the red line) and Metro line B (also known as the blue line) with Metro line C still in development. Both metro lines A and B interchange at Termini Station which is both the main train station and main metro station in Rome.
Metro Line A
Metro Line A has 27 stops in total starting at the stop Anagnina and finishing at Battistini. The Vatican is located off Metro Line A, and the closest metro stop to the Vatican is Ottaviano.
Metro Line B
Metro Line B has 22 stops in total starting at Laurantina and finishing at Rebibbia.
Cost and Buying Tickets
It costs €1.50 for a ticket which will last you 100 minutes after you validate it as you go through the turnstiles to get on the metro. Every metro stop has at least one ticket machine that you can switch to a number of different languages to help you to follow the instructions. Have coins or small bills, if possible, because the machine will only give a maximum of €6 in change. You can also buy tickets ahead of time at newspaper stands and inside many tabbachi shops.
Tickets are only good for one metro trip, so you will need two tickets for your return journey.
How to take the Metro to the Vatican
If you are planning to take the metro to the Vatican museums you must take the A line to Ottaviano. If you are closer to a blue line stop all you have to do is take the metro to Termini Station, exit at Termini, and follow the signs for the A line.
To get the Vatican from Termini, you will be traveling on the A line going in the direction of the last stop which is Battistini. It is six stops in total from Termini to Ottaviano and the journey from this point should only take about 10 minutes.
If you are switching at Termini from the B line, you will already have validated your ticket when getting on line B and you will not have to buy a new ticket or pass through any additional turnstiles.
The metro usually comes every 3-4 minutes during peak hours but it comes less frequently at night time. You should also be prepared in the morning and evening as rush hour can be very busy so the train cars may be so full that you may not get on the first metro that passes. This is particularly the case at Termini Station as this is the busiest of Romes metro stops due to the intersection for the A and B line.
Getting into the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel after exiting the Metro
The Vatican Museums is one of the largest and best-known museums in the world. You can not see the famous Sistine Chapel or the Raphael Rooms without entering into the Vatican museums first. However finding the entrance to the Vatican museums can be a little bit confusing, especially on quieter days when you can not just “follow the crowd”
When you exit the metro you will find the street, Via Ottaviano. Walk straight down this street for about 6 minutes until you come to a square called Piazza del Risorgimento.
Once you are on this Piazza you will see straight in front of you a large winding wall which is the Vatican border. If it is a very busy day you may even see the line wrapped around this wall. If not, cross the street and turn right to follow the wall up a slight hill until you reach a line or if you have skip the line tickets (or are lucky) you can walk straight to the front of the entrance.
Viale Vaticano is the name of the street which the Vatican museums are on. Once you get to the entrance you will have to go through security which is not unlike an airport
Getting to St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica from the Metro
St. Peter’s Basilica is officially the second biggest church in the world. It is the main church of Vatican City and it originally dates back 1,700 years, although it was re-built under Pope Julius II over 500 years ago. The Basilica is still said to have the bones of the first Pope, St. Peter, under the altar.
To find St. Peter’s Basilica after exiting the Ottaviano Metro stop you again walk down Via Ottaviano. Once you reach Piazza del Risorgimento keep going straight, cross the road until you get to Via Porta Angelica. Keep walking down this street until the end and the huge colonnades of St. Peter’s Square will be right there with St. Peter’s Basilica at the front of the Square.
Follow the crowd is also a simple rule once you exit the Ottaviano Metro stop, especially in high season. Also if you ask anyone where the Vatican is once you exit the metro you will be pointed in the right direction. Do be clear when you ask for directions if you are planning to visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel or St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica because they require you to head in different directions once you reach Piazza del Risorgimento.