An Essential Vatican Dress Code Handbook 2024!

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The Vatican City follows a strict dress code, encouraging visitors to dress modestly to pay respect to the holy space.

Visitors not following the Vatican dress code will not be allowed to explore any attractions in the city.

Locals, as well as tourist visitors, must know all about the Vatican’s dressing guidelines so that they can have a nice visiting experience.

Dress Code for the Vatican at a Glance

Here is a quick table of clothing items you should wear and avoid on a Vatican visit! 

Clothing allowed in the VaticanProhibited clothing in the Vatican
Long-sleeved shirts & short tops that cover your shouldersOff-the-shoulder, sleeveless, and low-cut tops or blouses. 
Full-length or three-quarter trousersAbove-the-knee trousers, skirts, and dresses.
Below-the-knee skirts and dresses Hats and Sunglasses
Flat shoes for comfort (Any type of footwear is allowed)Body tattoos and offensive t-shirts 

General Vatican Dress Code Guidelines

Keep Shoulders covered: Wear only shirts, tops, and dresses with short or long sleeves. You can carry a shawl or scarf to cover your shoulders if open. 

Cover knees: Visitors of all genders and ages should wear pants, skirts, or dresses that go below the knee. 

Hide tattoos: You should not have any offensive tattoos or anything offensive written or printed on your clothes. 

No caps: You cannot wear hats or caps when entering any chapel or church in Vatican City. Men can wear hats in St. Peter’s Square during the Papal Audience. 

Comfortable footwear: We advise against wearing high heels or other uncomfortable footwear. You will have to walk and stand for long periods in the Vatican. Sneakers or sandals are the best footwear options. 

Vatican Museum Dress Code 

The Vatican Museum is a major attraction spot in Vatican City, known for its massive Renaissance art and religious collection.

It has a particular dress code and you must follow these for a visit: 

Vatican Museum Dress Code for Men

For men visiting the Vatican Museums, we recommend wearing a long or short-sleeved shirt and long pants or jeans during a visit. 

Make sure that your shoulders, midriff, and knees are covered properly.

Men should avoid wearing:

  • T-shirts with offensive graphics or slogans
  • Short pants, or any pants that expose their knees 
  • Tank tops or vests
  • Ripped jeans

Woman Vatican Dress Code

The ideal outfit for women visiting the Vatican Museums is a full-length dress with sleeves. 

For women as well, it’s crucial that their knees, shoulders and midriff are covered properly. 

Women should not wear:

  • Crop tops.
  • Off-shoulder and sleeveless tops.
  • Tops or dresses with cut-outs or deep necklines.
  • Mini skirts or short dresses that are above the knee.

Vatican Museum Dress Code for Kids

The Vatican Museum has no particular dress code for kids to follow.

Make sure to follow the similar guidelines of clothing covering their knees and shoulders like the adults. 

Avoid t-shirts with offensive language. 

Check out the Vatican tickets article to find the best options available for cheap tickets on a visit! 

Sistine Chapel Dress Code

The Sistine Chapel follows the same dress code as the Vatican Museum, as it is a part of the Museum.

Men should wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts or T-shirts without inappropriate images or language used.

Women should wear tops that cover their shoulders and long dresses, skirts, or pants that go below the knee.

Hats are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel since it is a holy space. 

Please note: St. Peter’s Basilica dress code is the same as the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel clothing rules. 

Papal Audience Dress Code

Papal Dress Code
Image: thetimes.com

The Papal Audience is held every Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square outside St. Peter’s Basilica.

Visitors must follow the same dress code as the Vatican Museums when attending this event.

The only exception to the rule is that men are allowed to wear hats while attending the Papal Audience. 

Newly married couples sitting in the Sposi Novelli section of the Square must wear their wedding clothes or other formal wear. 

We strongly advise you to also wear sunscreen and bring along a bottle of water since you will be sitting in the heat for 2 hours. 

Why does the Vatican follow a dress code? 

The Vatican City is a place of deep religious significance for all Catholics, as it is their holy city.

The Pope celebrates many masses here, and his seat is also in the Vatican.

The Sistine Chapel is the place where the Papal Conclave is held every seven years.

St Peter’s Basilica is the resting place of St. Peter and many other Popes, making its grounds sacred.

To pay reverence and respect to the atmosphere of this holy city, visitors are expected to wear modest clothing. 

Showing too much skin here would be offensive; hence, it is necessary to follow the given dress code.

What Should I do if I did not dress as per the Dress Code?

If you have not yet entered the Vatican City, you can buy a shawl or scarf to cover your shoulders.

Don’t worry if you are already at the gates!

The Vatican has many vendors near St. Peter’s Square selling plastic ponchos and robes. 

You can easily cover your knees and shoulders with these items.  

FAQs for Vatican Dress Code 

  1. Can you wear sneakers to the Vatican?

    There are no fixed footwear rules in the Vatican so you can wear sneakers when visiting. Do not wear slippers, as they do not fit the outfit standards to maintain the sacred atmosphere of the space.

  2. What should I avoid wearing in the Vatican City?

    Do not wear clothes that reveal your shoulders and knees. Hats are not allowed in most holy places in the city.

  3. What is the appropriate attire for attending religious services in the Vatican?

    You should wear formal clothes and dress more conservatively while attending any holy mass or other service in the Vatican. You may also see local women wearing a veil or headscarf to cover their heads.

  4. What do I do if I have not worn an outfit that fits the Vatican dress code?

    You can buy a plastic poncho or robe from anywhere in the Vatican City. You can also buy a scarf or shawl in Rome to cover your shoulders before entering.

  5. How strict is the Vatican City dress code?

    The Vatican dress code is very strict, and visitors not following this will be asked to leave. It is simple to follow, as all you need to do is cover your shoulders and knees.

  6. Can I wear leggings to the Vatican?

    You can wear leggings to the Vatican as long as it goes below the knee.

  7. Are jeans ok at the Vatican?

    Jeans are okay to wear at the Vatican. Do not wear ripped jeans.

  8. Can I bring a backpack to the Vatican?

    You can carry a small backpack to the Vatican. You will have to store bags bigger than 40 x 35 x 15cm in the Vatican Museum cloakroom.

  9. In which parts of the Vatican City are hats allowed?

    Hats are allowed during the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square.

  10. Are shorts allowed in the summer months in the Vatican?

    Shorts are not allowed in the summer months in Vatican City. You should wear lightweight and bright clothing to avoid overheating.

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