Until very recently the Vatican Gardens were off limits to most visitors. There are reserved times of the day for the Pope to be alone for walking, reading and meditation, but often important visitors and benefactors of the Vatican museums were the only regular folks getting in. Now the Vatican Museum offers a package tour that gives access to the gardens for visitors.
What is the first great tip about this excursion is that it is still not on everyone’s to do list, most people would like to see the gardens but don’t know that it’s available or they have not planned to visit the museums on the day the tour is offered. This is where some thoughtful planning and tips from us come in. The first benefit of getting the garden tour is skipping the huge lines that form outside the museum. Simply go to the ticket office of the Vatican museum or pre order at the online ticket office and your ticket includes a tour of the gardens as well as unfettered access to the Vatican museums.
The Vatican gardens tour is open during working days except wednesdays and sundays. The hours are those of the museum, but final booking will give you an exact group slot time with a guide. The guides are well informed and they take tourists to the highlights of the gardens, the Lourdes Grotto, the trees planted by Popes and heads of state, the various fountains and pathways. Guests are discouraged from getting too cozy with the lawns and flowers as it is a tour not really a place to stop and rest. The history of the Vatican city state is well explained and the various buildings and their functions are described. The full cost of a ticket is 32 Euros and the reduced ticket for children and students is 24 Euros.
Probably the nicest portion of the gardens is the hilltop in the back where one can see neighborhoods of Rome beyond the walls as well as a back view of St. Peter’s basilica and the Vatican Museums. It is a scenic spot that many are just now starting to appreciate. Guides are full of stories of visits, events and the lore of the Pope’s personal walking grounds. There are two types of tours for visitors who may have physical handicaps or are more time sensitive.
The guided walking tours mentioned above can be purchased through the Vatican Museum’s online ticket office. The tour takes around 2 hours total and as mentioned above it gives visitors direct access into the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel at the end of the walking tour. The sistine chapel walkway moves right into St. Peter’s Basilica so you get to see all of the Vatican attractions on one ticket without having to wait in multiple lines.
There is also a minibus tour of the Vatican gardens every morning from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., except Wednesdays, Sundays and Vatican holidays. The bus leaves every 30 minutes from Pius XII Square, in front of the ORP Meeting Point, More exact information and information can be found on the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi website.