Millions of people visit the Vatican every year in hopes of a chance to see the Pope.
Our own tour guides in Rome are often asked about this very subject, and they had a lot of helpful advice for us that we wanted to share.
In addition to covering all the different ways you can see the Pope, we'll also provide helpful tips and suggestions from a Rome Travel Tips group on Facebook.
- Papal Audience
- Sunday Angelus
- Papal Masses
- St. Peter's Square + Papal Audience Tour
- Things to Do at St. Peter’s Basilica
- How to Visit the Vatican Museums
There are a few different ways to see the Pope every week, and each opportunity is entirely free.
You can also take a tour with a professional local guide who has secured tickets for a papal audience, or who knows the best places to look in order to spot him.
When does the Pope come out?
Anyone who wants to see the Pope should consider either a Wednesday or a Sunday visit to St. Peter’s Basilica.
On both days, visitors can attend an event that will allow them to see or at least listen to the Pope.
While you will need a ticket for special Papal masses and audiences, those tickets are also free. Guests should expect large crowds on popular days.
Even if you have the chance to see the Pope, you shouldn’t expect to get close to him.
There are often a lot of people in Vatican City on days when he makes an appearance, so you’re unlikely to be in the right place at the right time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t attempt to reach out to him.
If he wants to shake hands he will, but please do not be pushy or arrive with any expectation other than the possibility of seeing the Pope.
Where is the Pope?
Speaking in general, the Pope is usually located in Vatican City. More directly, he can usually be seen either from the balcony of his apartment or during papal audiences.
This post will provide a lot more details on where and when to see the Pope, so make sure to keep reading for additional information.
If you are planning to visit St. Peter's or the Vatican Museums, keep in mind that they have a dress code you will need to follow and other security regulations to keep in mind.
Wednesday Papal Audience
A Papal Audience is held almost every Wednesday, giving travelers from around the globe a chance to listen to an address given by the Pope.
Although tickets are required, they are also given away for free by the Prefecture of the Papal Household.
All you need to do for a ticket is fill out a form and make a request. This form will need to be faxed back in order to receive tickets.
Papal Audiences start at 10-10:30 am and last for between 60-90 minutes on average. Arrive at least 2 hours early in order to get a good seat.
TIP: For €39, you could have instant tickets, which include a live tour guide on the morning of the event to explain to you the event, provide headphones (to hear the pope clearly), and to show you where to get a good spot.
Unlike the Wednesday Papal Audience, you do not need a ticket for this event.
On Sundays at noon, the Pope will appear from the window of an apartment at St. Peter’s Square.
During this short 20-minute experience, he will provide a short speech followed by the Angelus and an Apostolic Blessing.
If you want a good view, make sure to arrive early and get a good spot. This is one of the easiest options to see the Pope in Vatican City.
If your heart is set on attending an actual Papal Mass, you’ll be happy to hear that tickets for these events are also free.
However, the schedule for Papal Masses tends to vary from month to month.
Due to the often unpredictable schedule, we recommend requesting tickets well ahead of time and potentially planning your entire trip around this one event.
Although most Papal Masses are held on regular days, there are also Holiday Masses which can be much more difficult to attend.
Ask for tickets at least 6 months in advance of these events for the best results.
For more information, make sure to check the calendar of events presided over by the Holy Father.
Papal Audience Tours
There are a lot of tour companies and local guides who offer tours of St. Peter's Square which typically take advantage of the Wednesday Papal Audiences.
The idea behind these services is that your tour guide will make sure you get a good view of the Pope, and they will also provide information about his role in Vatican City and the history of St. Peter's Basilica.
Some of these Papal audience tours actually include pickup from several participating hotels in Rome, making transportation a bit easier.
If you're concerned that you won't be able to get a good spot or find the best location to experience a Papal audience, this is a great way to take all of the guesswork out of it.
Consider one of the following tours if you want to make sure that you will get to see the Pope.
Tips From Locals and Travelers
If you're still having trouble deciding which way to see the pope, consider checking our Rome Travel Tips group on Facebook.
On this and many other travel groups, you'll find a variety of locals and travelers with actual experience on the ground, and they can often provide better advice than even we can!
As you can see, this isn't an entirely uncommon question, and there's usually at least a few people willin to help out and provide some helpful suggestions.
Here are a few tips you might want to consider to experience a papal audience.
This comment comes from the Rome & Italy Travel group, and they note that sometimes it's worth it to pay for a tour to see the Pope.
While on a tour, your guide will know exactly where to go to get you the best view, and they'll make sure you don't get lost throughout the process.
As Lilly points out, it can be very confusing to figure out where to go in order to see the Pope. If you think you might need some help, a tour is definitely worth considering.
That said, Melissa suggests that even if you are visiting on your own, it shouldn't be too hard to experience a Papal Audience.
As she notes, even if the line is long, it still moves quickly enough that you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
If you're looking for even more information, make sure to check out these Facebook Groups for helpful tips from both locals and travelers.