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Your Vatican Dress Code Questions Answered

Your Vatican Dress Code Questions Answered

Everyone know that there is a Vatican Dress Code and are a lot of people are worried about breaking the Vatican dress code rules when visiting. In this guide we aim to demystify the rules over what to wear to the Vatican by asking your most frequently asked Vatican outfit questions and giving you some outfit inspiration.

Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

FAQS About The Vatican Dress Code

Is there a dress code to get into Vatican City?

Yes there is a dress code to get into the Vatican. Anyone who doesn’t adhere to the dress code may not be granted entry into the Vatican buildings.

What is the Vatican dress code?

Vatican Dress Code
Vatican Dress Code

The Vatican Dress Code tells you what parts of your body can or can’t be uncovered and gives advice on what items to leave off your Vatican packing list.

Generally speaking the following areas should always be covered:

  • Shoulders
  • Knees.

Therefore when putting together your Vatican Outfit your should avoid wearing

  • Sleevelesss Tops this is applicable to both men and women
  • Mini Skirts
  • Shorts

Also hats are seen as disrespectful and should be removed as soon as you enter the buildings of the Vatican however they are fine when in the queue.

It is also worth noting that the Vatican Dress Code applies to both men and women. For some people people seem to think dress codes usually only apply to women but this definitely isn’t true at the Vatican.

Although not explicitly stated anywhere it is respectful and prudent to also avoid wearing t-shirts with graphics or slogans that would be offensive to the holy place you are in. 

For more information on the dress code in other Italian churches check out this post.

Where does the Vatican Dress Code Apply?

Now you know what the Vatican Dress code is the next thing to examine is where the Vatican dress code applies.

The Vatican can be said to comprise of the Vatican City greater area which includes the streets and piazza outside of the church and then the buildings that belong to the Vatican that you enter.

The buildings that you may enter as a tourist in Rome may include:

  • the Vatican Museums
  • St Peters Basilia
  • the Sistine Chapel

If you are entering any of the Vatican Buildings the Vatican Dress code therefore applies. It is worth noting here they do not differentiate the dress code between the religious and non religious – or non worship areas of the site.

When you are just outside in the Piazza or streets surrounding the Vatican the dress code does not apply however I would urge anyone entering the Vatican City to be mindful and respectful of how they dress as it is a religious city state and there will be lots of religious persons walking around the city who you should try and be respectful of.

How strict is the dress code at the Vatican?

If you are wondering how strict the dress code is at the Vatican the answer is it is very strict and it will be enforced.

I have actually seen people be turned away because they are not wearing appropriate attire. Therefore be sure that you adhere to all the dress code rules otherwise your day in the Vatican may be ruined.

If you do forget something you will find some shops in the vicinity of the Vatican where it is possible to purchase shawls however I would not recommend leaving this to chance in case you can’t find anything suitable and it will be an added expense on your trip.

Can I wear sandals to the Vatican?

Yes both men and women can wear sandals to the Vatican. I would just advise picking a pair that had good arch support and something that would be good to do lots of walking in.

Can you wear flip flops in the Vatican?

In answer to “Can you wear flip flops in the Vatican” the answer is unclear. During my research I have found no specific information regarding flip flops on the Vatican website.

We have found some people say that flip flops are too informal for the Vatican but we haven’t found an example of this online.

However to be not he safe side we recommend not wearing flip flops to the Vatican. Firstly because if there is a rule you won’t be breaking it and secondly flip flops are bad for your feet offering very little in terms of arch support. The Vatican museums and basilica are massive and a visit to the Vatican will involve a serious amount of walking.

Therefore we would recommend picking a shoe that offers better support. Personally whenever I visit the Vatican I always opt for a trainer or sneaker instead of a flip flop.

Can I wear sneakers to Vatican?

There are no real rules when it comes to what footwear you can wear in the Vatican therefore it is absolutely fine to wear sneakers to the Vatican.

Can you wear heels to the Vatican?

You can wear heels to the Vatican as there are no rules int he Vatican dress code pertaining to footwear. However having said this we strongly advise NOT wearing heels in the Vatican – in fact we heels are in our what not to wear in Rome list. There is lots of walking involved in the interior of the Vatican and the exterior of the Vatican such as the Piazza is cobbled and has lots of uneven surfaces where heels are a safety hazard.

For more information on what to shoes to wear in Rome for different seasons check out our monthly guides:

Can I wear leggings to the Vatican?

Yes you can wear leggings to the Vatican as they cover the whole of your leg, importantly the knee being covered.

However personally I prefer not to wear anything too clingy such as leggings when I go to the Vatican.

Can you wear jeans to the Vatican?

What to Wear to the Vatican Dress Code – can you wear jeans to the Vatican?

In answer to can you wear jeans to the Vatican is yes you certainly can. Jeans that cover your knees and aren’t too low rise meet the Vatican Dress code rules.

However I personally wouldn’t wear jeans in the Vatican especially if you are visiting Rome during the Summer or shoulder seasons because of the heat. The Vatican City get seriously hot and you will be doing a lot of walking so jeans aren’t a practical item. However if you are visiting Rome in Winter then actually jeans are a great thing to add to your Rome Packing List though we would advise packing a smarter pair as Rome is a stylish city – for more information on what not to wear in Rome check out this post.

Also although we have said that you can wear jeans to the Vatican it is worth looking at some specific jean styles such as ripped jeans and skinny jeans as these might not be allowed – keep reading for more information.

Can you wear ripped jeans to Vatican?

Whether or not you can wear ripped jeans to the Vatican largely depends on where the rips are. If you have rips that expose your knees or your thighs then these will obviously not be allowed as it will break the number one Vatican City dress code rules about covering the knees

I personally would strongly advise against wearing ripped jeans into the Vatican in all cases

Can you wear skinny jeans to the Vatican?

Whether or not you can wear skinny jeans to the Vatican is a bit of a grey area. I have read the Vatican Dress code rules thoroughly and can’t specifically find a mention of them or the policy on tight fitting or skinny clothes.

However I would personally advise against wearing skinny jeans at the Vatican firstly because of the heat but also to ensure that you are respectful and are allowed admission.

On the whole I would always recommend being more conservative in your attire whatever religious site you are at around the world.

Can you wear a skirt with a slit to the Vatican?

While you can wear a skirt to the Vatican I would advise against wearing a skirt with a slit. A long Maxi skirt that adheres to the dress code it can soon be on the what not to wear to the Vatican lists if there is a slit that could reveal the knee.

To be safe we recommend not wearing any skirts with slits in so there is no doubt to if you are adhering to the Vatican dress code.

Do you have to wear pants to the Vatican? Do you have to wear trousers in the Vatican?

Pants are not the only type of bottoms you have to wear in the Vatican. And I am meaning pants in the American sense not the British underwear sense which are a definite must.

You do not have to wear trousers or pants specifically as long as you have something on your bottom half that covers your knees.

Personally when I visit the Vatican I usually wear either a long flowing dress or a Maxi dress. Just be careful that there is no slit in your outfit that reveals your knees.

Do your knees need to be covered at the Vatican?

Absolutely your knees need to be constantly covered at the Vatican. This rule applies to both men and women. For this reason a lot of men choose to wear trousers to the Vatican and a lot of women chose to wear pants or a long skirt or dress that does not have a slit that reveals their legs.

Do you have to cover your head in the Vatican?

One of the most common concerns when dressing for the Vatican is regarding head coverings. But the truth is you do not need to cover your head inside of the Vatican.

I think one of the reasons for this confusion stems from the fact that you cover your head to meet the pope. However this rule does not extend to entering the Vatican buildings. In fact you actually have to remove headwear when you enter any of the Vatican museums.

There seems to be a lot of confusion over whether you have to cover your heard in the Vatican but for the regular visitor the answer is definitely no. In fact if you are wearing a hat you will have to remove these to enter any of the Vatican Buildings. 

Can you bring a purse to the Vatican?

You can bring a purse to the Vatican museums but there are restrictions relating to the size that are allowed.

Bags that go into the Vatican must not be larger than 40cm x 35 cm x 15cm (15.7 inches by 13.7 inches x 6 inches).

Anything larger than this will have to be checked on entrance to the museums.

Is there a dress code for Sistine Chapel?

Yes there is a dress code for the Sistine Chapel. As the Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican buildings the dress code is the same here as for the basilica and the museums. Therefore you can’t wear shorts in the Sistine Chapel, for instance whether you are a man or woman like in any other part of the Vatican.

Can I bring a water bottle to the Vatican?

You can bring a water bottle into the Vatican with you however it can not be a glass bottle.

What should you wear to the Vatican in Summer?

What you wear to the Vatican in the summer should follow the same rules as what to wear in Rome for the same season – but obviously adhering to the more conservative nature of the Vatican Dress Code rules.

For more information on what to wear in Rome in summer check out the below guides.

What should you wear to the Vatican in Winter?

What you wear to the Vatican in the Winter should follow the same rules as what to wear in Rome for the same season – but obviously adhering to the more conservative nature of the Vatican Dress Code rules.

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