You can skip the line or tour after hours, but the best way to experience the Vatican is with the pope himself. Papal audience tickets are tricky to organize, but don’t get left in the lurch—read on for options to tour the Roman Catholic church.
What is a Papal Audience?
A papal (or general) audience is a public, Catholic gathering in Vatican City for the weekly address from the pope and his cardinals, who bless the crowd. The 90-minute event is typically held on Wednesday mornings in St. Peter’s Square. While it is not a mass, the pope leads the audience in prayer, blessings, and a homily in multiple languages.
- Visit with a guide to ensure a good spot in a crowd of thousands. With reserved seating, you’ll get escorted through the throng of attendees to the best seats in the square. Plus, your guide takes care of your ticket reservations.
- Round out your Vatican experience on a tour that combines papal audience tickets with entry to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, so you can see Michelangelo’s Pieta, the Sistine Chapel, and the pope all in one day.
- Hear live commentary on the pope’s address, Vatican history, and the square’s Renaissance masterpieces on a small-group tour—with personal audio headsets, you won’t miss a word from your guide.
- Take a city walking tour to add famous sights like the Trevi Fountain, Castel Sant'Angelo, Piazza Navona, and Piazza del Popolo to your papal audience itinerary, then relax with included transportation back to your hotel.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The papal audience is free to attend, but tickets must be reserved in advance and picked up in person in Rome. If you’re short on time, book a guided tour for guaranteed tickets without the hassle.
- The weekly Wednesday address typically begins around 10am and draws thousands of visitors. Show up three hours in advance or choose a tour with reserved seating if you want a good view.
- Leave your tank tops and flip-flops at home. Visitors are expected to dress conservatively during the papal address; women should cover their shoulders and men should wear long pants.
- Not here on a Wednesday? Follow a tour guide to the pope's Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.