Vatican Dress Code – What to Wear When Visiting Vatican City

Millions of tourists visit the Vatican every year and despite it’s widely known that sacred places require modest wearing, many are still denied entrance because of their wrong outfit. This is why it’s so important to be aware of the Vatican dress code for both men and women.

While in winter it’s easier to follow the dress code required in the Vatican because whatever you wear, you are likely to have a coat on top, summer is usually the season when most tourists are sent away. Both men and women need to follow the Vatican dress code, which comes down to the common principles of modesty and decency.

Since Vatican City includes some of the main landmarks in Rome, you will certainly want to visit them, so knowing what to wear is very important.

Fret not, here we are giving you all the tips you need to know about the dress code for visiting the Vatican to avoid any problems at the entrance, whether you are visiting independently or joining a Vatican tour.

Image: St. Peter's Basilica where the Vatican dress code is required.

Vatican dress code for women

Female tourists often encounter more issues, especially in the hot season. Summer months in Rome, and in Italy in general, can be very hot so shorts, dresses, and sleeveless tops are common. However, even with such hot weather, there are plenty of outfits you can wear to go to the Vatican without spending the rest of your sightseeing day sweating and panting.

When visiting the Vatican, women should avoid wearing mini-skirts, sleeveless tops, tops with deep cleavage, shorts that are above the knees, and hats. Also, jewelry and tattoos that are too big, too visible, and in some way offensive to religion or common décor should be kept covered.

Here are a few suggestions of items women can wear to enter the Vatican sights that are good in all seasons:

  • long skirts
  • midi skirts
  • long dresses (not sleeveless)
  • midi dresses (not sleeveless)
  • long linen or cotton trousers
  • long denim trousers
  • Capri pants, meaning all leggings or trousers below the knee
  • long-sleeve shirts and blouses
  • short-sleeve t-shirts
  • 3/4-sleeve shirts
Image: Summer outfit for women that meets the Vatican dress code.
I’m obviously not inside the Vatican but my outfit meets the Vatican dress code

Vatican dress code for men

To visit the Vatican, men, too, are required to follow a modest dress code. Just like women, also men are not allowed to wear hats, short shorts, and sleeveless T-shirts. And just like women, men, too, are required not to show large tattoos or personal objects that are too visible and somehow offensive to religion or lack common and moral decency.

Here are some suggested items men can wear to visit the Vatican that are accepted both in summer and winter:

  • long trousers/denim
  • Bermuda shorts below the knees
  • long-sleeve tops
  • long-sleeve button-down shirts
Image: Summer outfit for men that meets the Vatican dress code.

Vatican dress code for kids

The Vatican dress code is not strictly applied to newborns and toddlers for obvious reasons. Kids and teenagers, however, should follow the same principles of modesty.

Teenage girls won’t be allowed in if wearing mini-skirts and sleeveless tops, and teenage boys

What to avoid carrying when visiting the Vatican

Apart from the clothing items that you can’t wear when visiting the Vatican, there are also several items that are not allowed in. Here are some of the things you shouldn’t carry with you if you are going to the Vatican, whether it’s the Basilica of Saint Peter or you are visiting the Vatican Museums.

  • knives
  • weapons
  • scissors
  • sharp metal objects
  • large backpacks
  • suitcases
  • longer umbrellas
  • camera tripods
  • video cameras
  • alcoholic drinks
  • foods and beverages

If you still carry some of these things such as a large backpack or a long umbrella, it will be stored in the wardrobe, which is free of charge. Obviously, the Vatican Museums are not going to store weapons in the wardrobe! Since you might not be renting a room near the Vatican, it’s better to check beforehand what you are carrying.

Pets are not allowed to enter any of the Vatican sights. An exception is made for guide dogs for blind people and dogs certified for pet therapy (on a leash and wearing a muzzle).

What to wear if you meet the Pope

Those lucky enough to have a private appointment with the pope lined up are also required to follow a specific dress code.

Men should wear a tuxedo, while women are required to wear a modest dress below the knees, long sleeves, and obviously no cleavage. Women meeting with the Pope should also wear a black veil on their heads as if in a grieving outfit.

I remember when Ivanka and Melania Trump visited the Pope in 2017, their black veil triggered countless jokes on social media. This is because most people are not familiar with the Vatican dress code, as this is exactly how women are supposed to appear in the pope’s presence.

For example, the red dress of Raissa Gorbaciova in 1989 and the white outfit of Cherie Blair when meeting the Pope in 2006 were both faux pas because red is too bright and white dresses are only prerogative of Catholic queens and members of royal families such as the queen of Spain and the queen of Belgium.

Image: Swiss Guard at the entrance of the Vatican in Rome.

What to wear in the Vatican – FAQ

What is the dress code for the Sistine Chapel?

The Vatican dress code for the Sistine Chapel is the same as for all the areas and sections of the Vatican Museums and for all the other sights within Vatican City.

So the dress code you are required to wear in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Gardens, the necropolis below the Basilica of Saint Peter, and even the popes’ summer residence and gardens of Castel Gandolfo.

Can I wear jeans to the Vatican?

Jeans are totally allowed in the Vatican, whether it’s denim trousers, skirts, or jackets. Of course, they are not allowed denim mini-skirts or short shorts.

Can I wear sneakers to the Vatican?

There is no shoe restriction in the Vatican, so you can wear sneakers, boots, open sandals, walking shoes, and whatever you feel more comfortable with.

Can I wear leggings to the Vatican?

Leggings are accepted in the Vatican as long as the length is below the knee. Leggings can be tight and you can wear a top with them but make sure the top also follows the required dress code, so no deep cleavage or sleeveless.

Spread the love!
Photo of author

About The Author: Angela Corrias

Hi, my name is Angela Corrias! I am an Italian journalist, photographer, and blogger living in Rome. After over ten years of living abroad, I finally came to the conclusion that in order to better organize my future adventures, I needed a base. Since I know and love Rome so much, I moved back to the Eternal City. This is how Rome Actually was born. Here, I cover everything about Rome, from the local food to the culture to Roman history.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.