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Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo

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Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo: Our most recommended tours and activities

Vatican: Museums & Sistine Chapel Entrance Ticket

1. Vatican: Museums & Sistine Chapel Entrance Ticket

Take a stirring journey through art and religious history with skip-the-ticket-line entry to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Avoid the long ticket lines and then enjoy your visit at your own pace.  Wander through the Greek Cross Gallery to see elaborately-carved sarcophagi that might just contain the earthly remains of some of antiquity's famous kings and queens. Peek at the Cabinet of the Masks, or tour the Sala degli Animali to see a virtual menagerie of fantastic beasts, real and imagined. Walk the Upper Galleries, including the Gallery of Maps, to see how cartographers depicted the world through the ages. See masterpieces by Renaissance masters in the Raphael Rooms, and rest for a while in the Borgia Apartments. Then, it’s time to marvel at Michelangelo’s exquisite Sistine Chapel, the crown jewel of the Vatican, and perhaps even of all the world’s art treasures.

Papal Palace Ticket and Gardens Minibus Tour

2. Papal Palace Ticket and Gardens Minibus Tour

Explore the Papal Palace at your own pace with a multilingual audio guide. Admire the architecture, learn its history, and discover its many collections of art, relics, and more. Extend your visit with a minibus tour of the Barberini Gardens and admire the intricate displays. Once you arrive at the Castle doors, pick up your audio guide and begin your walk through the palace. Gaze at the many treasures, from uniforms and relics to artworks and furniture. Learn the interesting history of the Pontifical Residence, commonly known as the Second Vatican. Designed by the Swiss-Italian architect Carlo Maderno for Pope Urban VIII, and it has served as a summer retreat for various popes since the 17th century. Don't forget to pay your respects to the sedan chair of Pope Pius IX, and the BMW used by Pope John Paul II, before taking the option to visit the Barberini Gardens on a 45-minute minibus tour. The gardens offer views of intricately designed shrubbery and unique fountains, the perfect finisher to the palace experience.

Castel Gandolfo: Pope's Summer Residence Tour

3. Castel Gandolfo: Pope's Summer Residence Tour

Visit the summer residence of the pope at Castel Gandolfo. Wander through its stunning gardens, browse the Apostolic Palace museum exhibition, and learn about the pope, past and present. Meet your guide at the entrance of the villas and then board a bus to visit the gardens of the pope's summer residence. As you go through the gardens, learn interesting facts and see where the library is located. Hear about the library's catalogue including works by Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. Make stops at some of the most emblematic points such as La Villa Barberini. Also see Villa Cybo, a garden full of marble statues and fountains of great artistic value. Then, visit the Apostolic Palace, also known as the Papal Palace and now serves as a museum. In the museum, see different pope-mobiles and discover the many aspects of the pope's day-to-day life. During the course of your tour hear about the popes who have passed at the residence, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's time here after his resignation, and many other stories.

Rome: Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo Walking Tour

4. Rome: Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo Walking Tour

Travel along the dreamy Italian countryside, far away from the hustle and bustle of Rome. a true treasure trove of art and history. Visit the quaint village of Castel Gandolfo, perched atop the sapphire blue waters of Lake Albano, mushroomed around the Pope’s Summer Palace. Be accompanied by a member of the Vatican staff on a walking tour of the "green heart" of the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo. Castel Gandolfo, which served for centuries as a summer residence and vacation retreat for the pope, is spread for 55 hectares. Enjoy the walk through the botanical and architectural wonders of the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo. Its Barberini Garden produces and ships a basket of fresh produce to the Vatican. See beautifully maintained orchards, vineyards, and over 1000 olive trees around the farm. You can upgrade your walk in the Pontifical Villas with 2 wonderful options: Popes' Summer Residence Visit the Papal Apartment to delve into 500 years of history. Wander from the bedroom to the private chapel, from the library to the studio. Look at the balcony from where the Popes pronounced the Angelus every summer Sunday. Picnic in the Papal Gardens Enjoy lunch with traditional food in the garden picnic area. Savor a porchetta or vegetarian sandwich with bottled water, wine or beer, and typical wine biscuits. Immerse yourself in this treasure trove in the outskirts of Rome. Walk in the footsteps of the Popes around the 7 rooms and summer offices inside the Palace.

Rome: Papal Summer Residence Half-Day Trip

5. Rome: Papal Summer Residence Half-Day Trip

Take a tour of the Apostolic Palace, stroll through the Barberini Gardens, and walk in the footsteps of the pope himself on this thrilling half-day trip. After meeting your host near Termini Station, a train will take you to Castel Gandolfo, where you’ll transfer to a comfortable open-roofed bus. Enjoy the Barberini Gardens for an hour while the audio guide explains the interesting details of the area. You’ll be fascinated by the sense of history and grandeur as you pass through this historical must-see. Take in the breathtaking views of the picturesque Lake Albano – and be sure to take lots of photos. From there, you’ll step into the impressive Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope. Take your time to enjoy this world of pure artistic beauty. Visit the luxurious papal apartments, see the gallery of the papal portraits, the extensive Vatican Library, and much more!  An absolute must-do for any visitor to the area.

Castel Gandolfo: Pope’s Private Palaces & Barberini Gardens

6. Castel Gandolfo: Pope’s Private Palaces & Barberini Gardens

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city to the tranquil Castel Gandolfo where you can follow in the pope’s footsteps. Start off at the Apostolic Palace, pick up your complimentary audio guide, and get ready for a sneak peek into the lives of the popes at their traditional vacation retreat.  Experience the intricate work of the clergy up close as you pass by historical papal gowns and the pope’s portable throne. Explore the pope’s private apartment and enjoy sweeping panoramic views from his hill-top home. Next, visit the Barberini Gardens. Explore the luxurious gardens from the comfort of an air-conditioned minibus. Uncover the history of this unique site with a complimentary audio guide, available in a multitude of languages.

Rome: Pontifical Villa Gardens at Castel Gandolfo Minibus

7. Rome: Pontifical Villa Gardens at Castel Gandolfo Minibus

Explore the 55-hectare gardens of the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo by open minibus. Listen to the audio guide as you roam the gardens to learn all their secrets. Meet your greeter in the Palazzo before starting your tour. Climb aboard the eco-friendly minibus to discover the Castel Gandolfo gardens. See tree-lined avenues, flowers, fountains, and statues. Admire views of the sapphire blue and emerald green waters of Lake Albano. Take in the remains of Emperor Domitian's residence. Find out all there is to know about the Popes, including which pontiff installed a swimming pool and which one laid low in Castel Gandolfo for months after handing in his resignation. You can upgrade your minibus tour of the gardens. Choose from a visit to the papal apartments or lunch in the papal gardens. In the Pope's summer residence, discover five hundred years of papal history in the apartments. Wander from the bedroom to the private chapel and from the library to the studio. Gaze at the balcony from which the Popes pronounced the Angelus every summer Sunday. Or, enjoy a lunch of traditional foods in the garden picnic area. Tuck into a porchetta or vegetarian sandwich, bottled water, a wine or beer, and typical wine biscuits.

Rome: Half-Day Trip to Pope’s Summer Residence

8. Rome: Half-Day Trip to Pope’s Summer Residence

Just 12 miles outside of Rome stands the town of Castel Gandolfo, home to the Papal Residence for over 400 years. Join an exclusive tour of the Apostolic Palace and the Barberini Gardens, and walk in the footsteps of the popes. Meet your host at the Central Station Termini in Rome to board the train towards Castel Gandolfo. Your tour guide will give you an introduction of your destination, and tell you stories about the many popes, as well as Roman emperors, who used to escape from the Roman summer heat. Once you've arrived at Castel Gandolfo, walk to the Papal residence where you'll receive an official audio guide. Then, enjoy a ride on the Vatican ecological open bus for an hour around the Barberini Gardens.

Pope’s Summer Residence Tour with Lunch

9. Pope’s Summer Residence Tour with Lunch

Enjoy a unique half-day tour from Rome that will take you to the lovely town of Castel Gandolfo where you will visit the Papal Palace and its stunning landscaped gardens. Castel Gandolfo, built on the site of the legendary ancient settlement of Alba Longa, is one of Italy’s most picturesque towns and has been home to the Papal summer retreat since 1596. Situated in the Regional Park of the Castelli Romani, it enjoys splendid views over the beautiful Lake Albano, which you will be able to admire from the grounds of the Apostolic Palace. On this tour, you will be able to explore the up-to-now hidden gems of this glorious private residence with an audio-guide in the language of your choice. Following this, you will have the opportunity to see the gorgeously manicured Barberini Gardens and the impressive ruins of Emperor Domitian’s villa, before enjoying a lunch prepared with fresh produce from the palace farm! If you have not already done so, you will have the chance to add a tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica with your fantastic guide onto your experience, in which case, upon your return to Rome, you will be dropped off right outside the Vatican.

From Rome: Pope's Residence and Vatican Museum Guided Tour

10. From Rome: Pope's Residence and Vatican Museum Guided Tour

Discover the wonders of the Vatican Museums and the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo with skip-the-line entry privileges. Enjoy private guided tours of the pope's residence and the Barberini Gardens before visiting the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. Start your journey in the center of Rome where you will board a private air-conditioned coach heading to Castel Gandolfo in the verdant Alban Hills. Your guide will fill you in on the history of this long-hidden region. On arrival, enter the Papal Residence for a private tour that includes the pope’s own bedroom, study, and chapel. Hear insights into the lives and traditions of popes of the past and present as well as the residence’s role as a sanctuary for refugees during World War II. Look out to the sea from the Papal Terrace as the popes have since the 17th century. Then, continue for a stroll around the Barberini Gardens, whose balance of Imperial Roman and classical influences surrounds the whole Renaissance complex in tranquil beauty. After some free time for lunch, the next stop is the Vatican. Bypassing the hours-long lines with skip-the-line access, you'll enter the Vatican Museums with your guide. As you move through the Gallery of Maps, the Gallery of Tapestries, the Gallery of Candelabra, and the Raphael Rooms, your guide will share the stories behind this incredible collection of art and artifacts, including stories about the items most visitors miss. Later, head to the Sistine Chapel and find yourself in awe as you step into this hushed and sacred space. With the aid of photographs and your guide’s knowledge, you’ll know exactly what to look out for when you experience the incredible detail of the chapel for yourself.

Other Sightseeing Options in Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo

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What people are saying about Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 39,591 reviews

This is a MUST if visiting the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Lines for general admission are very, very long and can take hours. Skip the lines got us into the museum and on our way to exploring within 10 minutes of our arrival.

It was very easy to exchange our tickets for the official Vatican tickets. There were signs outside and at the counter that were clearly marked with the Get Your Guide sign. Highly recommend getting your tickets through them!

We are so glad we pre-booked this. We surpassed a very long line to get in on a very hot day. Getting the audio guides was a quick and easy process and we were able to enjoy the museums and Sistine chapel at our own pace.

The guided tour of the Colosseum made the experience much more complete. Without our guide, I would have gone straight through almost everything without understanding the richness of the place.

There was no queue to get in (check in was at 4-4:30 pm). The incredible works of art, a lot of history... the Sistine Chapel is a spectacle. I recommend it 100%.