All you need to know for visiting the Vatican Gardens: how to book, highlight, tips

by marta
Vatican gardens with St Peter dome in background

All you need to know for visiting the Vatican Gardens: where to get tickets, admission rules, tips and photos of these marvellous gardens in the heart of Rome. Giardini Vaticani review and info.

The Vatican is one of the most interesting and beautiful attractions in Rome and one of the most popular.

St Peter’s Basilica, Saint Peter’s Square and the Vatican Museums are usually the part of Vatican city that gets the most attention however, they are not the only one worth a visit.

Another wonderful part of the Vatican is the Vatican Gardens: they are just at the back of the basilica and are one of the most beautiful landscapes gardens you can see in Rome!

The first time I saw them was from above, when I climbed to the top of St Peter’s dome: the view over their Italian style layout is out of this work beautiful!

However, I recently booked a guided tour to see them properly and it was a wonderful experience.

Now, I highly recommend you add a visit to the gardens to your day at the Vatican.

In this article, you will find all you need to for a perfect day there and my review of the official Vatican Gardens tour.

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Where are the Vatican Gardens and how to get there

The Vatican Gardens extend to the back of St Peter’s basilica, along the slopes of Colle Vaticano (The Vatican hill)

Access is from Piazza Sant’Uffizio, which is immediately to the left of Piazza San Pietro looking towards the church.

The entrance is well marked by local signage that leads you under the columns and into the main gate.

You can reach the gardens by car, bus, tram and metro.

Bus 46, 64, 916 and 982 are the closest bus stops. Metro stop Ottaviano (Metro line A) is about 15 minutes walk from here and Piazza Risorgimento with tram line 19 is about 7 minutes’ walk.

Both these walk can be worth it, if you have the time since they lead you under the Passetto and across the main Saint Peter’s square to get you to your destination!

Find all info on how to use public transport in Rome here.

Vatican gardens tickets

Tickets to the Vatican Gardens are available on the official Vatican website.

Statue of Mary of Fatima in Vatican Gardens

At present, the Gardens can only be visited by buying a ticket also including the Sistine Chapel: this is new for 2022.

This is how you can get tickets for the Vatican Gardens:

Official Vatican Website – Group Tour of Vatican Gardens and Sistine Chapel (3h)

This tour lasts 3 hours and includes a visit to the gardens as well as a tour of parts of the Vatican Museums, such asCandelabra gallery, Maps Gallery, Tapestry Gallery and Sistine Chapel.

Official Vatican Website – Small Group tour of Vatican Gardens and Sistine Chapel (3h)

This is a small group tour (max 10 participants) bringing visitors to gardens as well as a tour of parts of the Vatican Museums, such asCandelabra gallery, Maps Gallery, Tapestry Gallery and Sistine Chapel

Need to know: Vatican Gardens bus tour!

The Vatican Gardens are very large and, because of this, the visit often happens by bus!

The bus is an electric vehicle with open widows allowing you to take photos.

During the tour, you do not get off the bus but there are regular stops to properly see and take photographs the most meaningful parts of the garden.

The bus is a lovely way to visit the garden and a great complement to the significant walking you do to visit the museum and, if going, the basilica.

The bus ride is not specified on most tickets and comes as a surprise for many: I highly recommend you contact the ticket provider to get confirmation of the means of transport on your day of choice if you need to know for sure before committing to the experience.

These are all offered by GetYourGuide which is my go-to platform for booking tickets and especially tours.

What there is to see in the Vatican Gardens – Vatican Gardens highlights

The Vatican gardens are wonderful and varied but some areas did stand out more than others for me.

Marian gardens and Lourde’s grotto

One of our first stops during the bus tour was at Lourde’s grotto, a small grotto reminiscent of the one in Lourdes.

The grotto has a statue of Mary and is a quiet place intended for Popes to come and pray.

Lourdes Grotto in Vatican Gardens

The grotto was inaugurated in 1905 and it is said to have been one of the favorite places of Giovanni Paolo II and Benedetto XVI.

Just beside the grotto lies another wonderful stretch of garden, the so-called French-style garden.

This is laid out with pristine lawns with beautiful trees and flowerbeds to the sides, a combination that makes it look serene and welcoming.

The French garden is dotted by several sculptures and statues notable are that dedicated to the Virgin of Fatima and the fountain of the frogs

 The rock garden

Another lovely part of the Vatican gardens is the rock garden.

It runs parallel to one of the main [aths (also passed by the eco bus) and has lovely details: the light rock hosts many typed of plant and cacti and while it is unobtrusive and even easy to miss, it is delicate and worth seeking out.

The Italian garden

The Italian style garden in the Vatican garden was created in 1929.

It follows the traditional Italian style layout of geometric hedged and paths framed by pine trees, cypresses and other native trees and it is one of the most impressive in terms of visual impact.

Fun fact: this is also the one you most easily spot from the top of the dome!

Italian gardens in Vatican Gardens with traditional geometrical hedges

Heliport and train station 

If you are visiting the gardens of Vatican City with kids, they are sure two like the transport options avaible to the Pope: the heliport and the train station!

They are both inside the gardens and they are fun to see.

Torre di San Giovanni (Tower)

Beside the heliport you will also find the tower of San Giovanni.

The tower is ancient but it was restored in 1962 and it is in such a lovely part of the Vatican Gardens Giovanni XXIII adopted it as its summer residence.

The views of St Peter’s Dome

The gardens are a wonderful vantage point to see the dome of St Peter’s basilica.

From the main square, you can see the dome but the size of the basilica facade doesn’t allow to appreciate its magnitude and magnificence – from a certain distance, the dome disappears altogether if you are looking at it from Piazza San Pietro!

From the gardens, you can see it in all its splendor and you will be spoilt for choice for photo ops!

What else can you see with the Vatican Gardens

A visit to the Vatican Gardens is compatible with then visiting the basilica.

Access to the basilica is separate from that of the gardens and the museums and it is free: you can easily walk in after your garden your (line permitting) and enjoy it in your own time.

I highly recommend visit gardens and basilica on the same day.

Both can be enjoyed as stand alone attractions but you see an incredible continuity in style and architectural flow if you immerse yourself in both, one after the other!

For your convenience, this is an overview of other Vatican tickets you may want to consider for your day at the Vatican:

ST Peter basilica with fountain in front

If you want to spend a day at the Vatican, including the gardens, consider this:

Access to the basilica is free and straight forward but does require waiting in line.

Even on a quiet day, security and temperature checks mean there will be some waiting. Add extra time if you plan on climbing the dome.

The main Saint Peter square, the beautiful monuments to refugees, the colonnade, Passetto and the Swiss Guards are all just outside the gardens and need no planning.

You can find my full guide to visiting the Vatican and recommended things to see here.

Practical tips for visiting the Vatican Gardens

The best time to go: you can visit the gardens all year round but the mid season, autumn and spring, are the best.

In summer, especially on a very hot day, I highly recommend you opt for the bus tour as the heat can be intense

What to wear: masks are currently compulsory and good walking shoes are necessary for the walking tour (you can find my recommended shoes for a trip to Rome here).

No special shoes to gear are needed for the bus tour.

Like always in the Vatican, it is better to opt for conservative clothing (no short skirts or shorts, cover shoulders).

You can find all my tips on what to wear in Rome here.

Make sure you bring your camera as the photo ops are great!

Visiting the Vatican Gardens with kids

The Vatican Gardens are manicured, architectural gardens: as such, they may not be as attractive to kids and they may sound.

First and foremost, access to the gardens is only for children over 6.

Also, the visit to the gardens, whether by bus on foot, is guided and does not allow for free roaming or independent exploring.

The gardens are not not suitable for running around and are very much like a museum, more than a park, in terms of the experience for kids.

However, older kids are likely to enjoy the bus ride: this is a good way for them to relax and unwind, catch a bit of fresh air and rest their legs before/after the long day in the museum!

When we went, the bus ride itself was lovely and while the guide was a little too detailed for children, we had a nice ecpeirene and cam back with lovely photos.

I feel the Vatican Gardens can be good for kids, but being prepared about what the visit entail and feels like is paramount to avoid wrong expectation about playtime!

I hope you enjoyed this guide and it helped you plan your day visiting the Vatican Gardens. Happy travel planning!

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