On Sunday mornings, most pilgrims and tourists are all about the Vatican. Here’s how to best organize yourself on Sunday mornings at the Vatican.
St Peter’s Basilica · Castel Sant’Angelo · Angelus · Lunch on Sunday
Sunday morning, it’s always a bit uncertain if St Peter’s Basilica is open. Sometimes there are masses or events where St Peter’s Basilica is closed.
But on most Sundays, you should get into St Peter’s Basilica. However, I recommend you to be there very early, between 7 and 8 o’clock. In the early morning, the security check goes faster and later you still can go to Castel Sant’Angelo.
Incidentally, there is no preferred access to security for Sunday morning. Preferred access is only available on Sunday afternoons.
The Castel Sant’Angelo opens at 9 o’clock. It’s recommended to buy the ticket in advance, otherwise you may have to wait quite a long time. Even with the Roma Pass and the other city passes, you do not have to wait in line.
Sometimes there is free admission to the Castel Sant’Angelo and then there is no preferential entry with the Roma Pass. On the days with free admission you should be very early at the Castel Sant’Angelo, because otherwise there may be very long queues. The days with free admission can be found in the museums list.
Castel Sant’Angelo was built as the Mausoleum of Hadrian and was later fortified. Between the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo a corridor called “Passetto” runs along a wall on which the popes, if necessary, fled to the Castel Sant’Angelo.
At 10 o’clock there is a tour in English, “the secret castle”, and on this tour you can visit the popes’ escape route, the “passetto”, and other parts of Castel Sant’Angelo. This tour can be attended by a maximum of 15 people. The tour can not be reserved in advance. You have to ask at the cashpoint for the tour. It costs 5 euros, reduced 2.50 euros. The tour will also take place at 4pm, at 11am and 5pm the tour will be in Italian.
People with disability can drive up to the middle level with an elevator. There’s also a simple bar, but it has a really amazing view.
From Castel Sant’Angelo you have a very nice view at different places. From the roof of the castle you can see far over the city.
With the exception of July, there is almost always a prayer given by the Pope at St. Peter’s Square on Sunday noon, either the Angelus or the Regina Caeli. All dates can be found in my holiday calendar . To enter St Peter’s Square, you must pass the security checkpoints that are located under the Bernini’s portico. On the occasion of the event in St Peter’s Square many checkpoints are open and there are no extremely long waiting times.
The Angelus Prayer ends at 12:30. Getting into St. Peter’s Basilica after the Angelus prayer is difficult because many visitors want to enter.
If the weather is nice, a trip on the via Appia Antica is a good idea. Via Appia Antica is traffic-calmed on Sunday. You can also lunch very good.
Take bus 64 to Ara Coeli / Piazza Venezia and continue past the Capitol to the Teatro Marcello / Ara Coeli stop. From there, take bus 118 to the Basilica S. Sebastiano stop. If no bus 118 is in sight, take bus 130F or 160 to Piazza Navigatori. From there, cross the 10-lane Via Cristoforo Colombo and continue along Via delle Sette Chiese to the Catacombs. More information at Sunday in the Appia Antica Archeopark>
If you do not want to drive to the Appia Antica, you can look for a nice restaurant in the Borgo between Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo. Or you cross the Angel Bridge and continue towards Piazza Navona or Campo de ‘Fiori. In the area you will find many nice restaurants.