The Pope is the bishop of Rome and the head of the Catholic Church, the largest Christian community in the world. Whether you are a religious person or not, seeing the Vatican and the Holy Father is an experience not to be missed during your visit to Rome and Vatican City.
But how to see the Pope up close? Except in the case of VIPs, authorities, or others who may have the honor of greeting the Holy Father personally, most pilgrims and tourists visiting the Vatican have two options to see the Pope in person: Sunday Angelus (no ticket required, just be in St. Peter's Square at noon) and the Papal Audiences on Wednesdays, for which a ticket is required. Here's how to get a ticket, so stay tuned!
Get a ticket to the Papal Audience with transfer from your hotel
If during your trip to Rome you want to attend live the weekly Papal Audience at the Vatican but you don't want to waste time waiting in line, make sure you get a ticket online and in advance
If the Pope is in Rome, a public Papal Audience takes place every Wednesday in St. Peter's Square at 9 AM. The event is not a mass but a series of readings and canticles by the Holy Father in various languages in the company of the cardinals. It ends with a prayer in Latin and with the Pope walking around the square to impart his blessing on the faithful.
The Wednesday papal audience is free but to attend it is necessary to get a ticket at the Vatican and pick it up in Rome in person. As places are limited and demand is very high, it is very difficult to get a ticket and unfortunately, many people are left out due to lack of space.
At 7:45 AM your guide will meet you at Via della Conciliazione #40 for a brief tour of the streets of Rome by bus accompanied by a local guide who will show you some of the most emblematic sites of the city. At the end of the itinerary, you will arrive at St. Peter's Square to access at your leisure and get a good seat just before the papal audience starts at 9 AM.
Why I like this option: not only is it the easiest way to secure your ticket and get a seat in St. Peter's Square at a reasonable price, but you will also get a short tour of Rome accompanied by a local guide who will explain the history of the city before you go to see the Pope.
Recommended if... you would like to live an exclusive experience in the Vatican and also tour a part of Rome with an expert guide at the best price.
Advantages of pre-booking your ticket for the Papal Audience
First of all, because since places are limited and demand is extremely high, by pre-booking your papal audience ticket you will be assured access to St. Peter's Square to see the Pope up close at Wednesday's audience.
Secondly, because this ticket includes a brief tour of Rome by bus before the papal audience where you will see some of the most iconic places of the Eternal City.
Thirdly because during this activity you will be accompanied by a local guide who will explain to you the history of Rome and the Vatican (you will learn many curiosities) and will take care of all the details so you can have the best possible view and enjoy this experience peacefully.
What will you see if you book your ticket in advance and join the tour?
During the first part of the tour, you will visit the most important attractions of Rome around Vatican City.
- The ancient Aurelian Walls
- The Borghese villa
- Piazza del Popolo with its twin baroque churches and the Egyptian obelisk
- The Tiber river
- The castle of Sant'Angelo where the tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian is located
Access to St. Peter's Square opens shortly before 8 AM so that people who are already waiting in line can enter calmly.
Why do I recommend this activity?
Having the opportunity to be just a few meters away from the Pope and even, with a little luck, to shake his hand and pray with him in the heart of Rome, is an unforgettable memory for every believing Christian and a highly recommended experience.
I have fond memories of that day not only because I had the opportunity to see the Pope in person during such a special celebration, but also because we had a great time during the previous tour of Rome and this was made possible in good part by our guide who was always very attentive to us and helped the people in our group to get a good seat during the papal audience.
I think that if we had gone to the papal audience on our own, the experience would have been more chaotic when it came to booking once in Rome because of the high demand and the shortage of seats for the event. Not to mention the long lines to get into St. Peter's Square and the difficulty in finding a good spot in the crowds.
We, thanks to the guide, were, fortunately, able to see him up close and take lots of pictures. everything went great!
Frequently asked questions
What is the duration of the activity?
This complete tour lasts 3 hours. The papal audience ceremony as such lasts 90 minutes approximately.
What languages is this activity available in?
In Spanish, English and French.
Is there a dress code to see the Pope?
Yes, to access certain worship spaces, dress etiquette is required and is strictly enforced for both men and women. Clothing that exposes shoulders and knees is not permitted, so if you do not comply with this dress code you could risk not being allowed to enter the papal audience or the Angelus.
It is not necessary to dress in an extremely formal way but since you are going to see such a distinguished personality and perhaps take a souvenir photo with him, I do recommend that you choose an elegant look.
Is it possible to bring an object for the Pope to bless?
Yes, it is possible. I advise you to bring a small object such as a rosary, a crucifix or an image. For security reasons, it is best not to carry large objects, bags or backpacks.
Is this activity accessible to wheelchair users?
Yes, this tour is suitable for people in wheelchairs as long as they travel with a companion who can help them get on and off the bus. The tour operator notes that wheelchairs will be stored in the luggage compartment of the bus.
Can baby strollers be brought on the bus?
Yes, strollers are permitted during the activity, but children must be seated on their parents' laps on the bus.
What happens if it rains?
If weather conditions do not permit the Wednesday Papal Audience to be held outdoors, it will be held inside the St. Peter's Basilica or in the Audience Hall (Paul VI Hall or Nervi Hall) depending on the number of participants, for which they will be divided into groups to accommodate them properly.
Is there a queue to get in?
Some people line up early in the morning but it is not necessary to be there so early, just enough time to go through the security controls and try to get a good seat and that is taken care of by the guide of the activity who has everything under control.
Will we have reserved seats?
It is important to keep in mind that the tickets do not include reserved seating, as seats are filled as people arrive at the plaza. Seats are not numbered. If you don't get a seat in the best positions, don't worry because the venue is huge and you will be able to stand on the sides or in the back. The event can be heard well from all locations.
How long does the ceremony last?
The Pope makes his appearance in St. Peter's Square at 9 AM aboard the Popemobile to greet the faithful personally and the papal audience begins around 9:30 AM. The start of the event can be delayed a bit because greeting the people in the front rows is what takes him the longest, especially when it comes to the sick, children, and newlyweds to whom he devotes special attention.
The Papal Audience lasts approximately 90 minutes and at the end, the Holy Father returns to walk around the square to impart his blessing to the attendees before leaving.
Other options to see the Pope
Another great occasion to see the Pope in person occurs during the celebration of the Angelus on Sundays at noon, whenever His Holiness is at the Vatican.
Unlike the papal audiences on Wednesdays, to participate in the Angelus ceremony it is not necessary to get a ticket. It is a simple event and it is enough to go to St. Peter's Square before 12 PM to get a good seat.
In this Sunday ceremony which lasts about 20 minutes, the Pope looks out of the window of his room in the Apostolic Palace (to the right of the façade of St. Peter's Basilica) to greet the faithful gathered in the square. He then offers a brief homily to those present, prays the Angelus with them, and ends with a general blessing.
On this occasion, you will see the Pope from afar, at the window of the papal apartments, but attending the Angelus in Rome and praying with the Holy Father is also a unique and unforgettable experience for any Christian.
The Pope's daily Mass at Santa Marta
Every day His Holiness celebrates Mass at his residence in Santa Marta. If for some special reason you would like to participate in this celebration in the company of the Holy Father you can request permission from the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, filling out the form at web of the Prefecture.
However, as is logical, this type of permission is granted in a very restricted way because of the dimensions of the Pope's chapel and the characteristics of this kind of ceremonies.
A private audience with the Pope
The dream of many people is to have a private audience with the Holy Father. Due to his busy schedule, this is often complicated but not impossible.
If this is your case, all you have to do is write a letter to the Vatican requesting a private audience with the Pope and express the reasons why you would like to have a personal meeting with him. Who knows, maybe you'll get lucky - it doesn't hurt to try!
If you like the papal audience in Rome, you might also be interested in...
After seeing the Pope in person you may want to visit the inside of St. Peter's Basilica, the seat of Christianity. You can read more about this experience here: Tickets for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
If you visit Rome you cannot miss the Vatican Museums, one of its great treasures where you can also contemplate the spectacular Sistine Chapel. Everything you need to know you will find in the articles Where to buy tickets for the Vatican and Tickets for the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
And although it does not have the fame of the Vatican exhibition halls, the Capitoline Museums is a highly recommended visit that is not normally included in the more typical tourist circuits. If you want to know more about this museum, don't miss the article: Tickets for the Capitoline Museums.
Frequently asked questions
How long does the papal audience last?
Usually, the Papal Audience will last between 1h30m and 2h.
What time should I get to the papal audience?
If you want to get a good seat at the Papal Audience, it's best to arrive about 3 hours in advance. Bear in mind that you will have to go through security and that might delay your entrance to the Vatican, especially with a big crowd.
Can I bring an object to be blessed at the papal audience?
Yes, you can bring an item to be blessed but for security reasons it's best not to bring a backpack or a large bag.