Vatican Dress Code – Learn How to Dress for Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican enforces a strict dress code for all visitors, requiring clothing that covers the shoulders and knees, prohibits offensive symbols, and maintains a modest appearance.

To ensure a respectful and unhindered visit to this sacred site, this guide will detail the Vatican’s dress code guidelines, including specific requirements for various areas and events within the Vatican City.

Vatican Dress Code at a Glance – What to Wear/What to Avoid

What to Wear at VaticanWhat Not to Wear at the Vatican
Shoulder-covering Shirts or topsSleeveless or low-cut tops
Knee-covering Trousers Knee-revealing Shorts or bottoms
Flat shoes (Recommended; Not Prohibited)Offensive tattoos
Mid-Length Bottoms (Knee Covered)Hats

General Dressing Guidelines For All Visitors

  • Shoulders Covered: Sleeveless shirts, tank tops, and dresses are not allowed. A shawl or cardigan can be used to cover the shoulders if needed.
  • Knee-Length Clothing: Skirts, dresses, and shorts must extend to at least the knee. This applies to visitors of all genders.
  • Avoid Offensive Imagery: Apparel displaying offensive language, symbols, or tattoos that could be deemed disrespectful to Catholic values or general decency must be covered.
  • Headwear: Hats and caps should be removed upon entering Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel or St. Peter’s Basilica spaces.
  • Appropriate Footwear: While not explicitly stated, respectful and comfortable shoes are advised due to the extensive walking involved in visiting the Vatican Museums and other areas.

Why is there a dress code for the Vatican?

The reason Vatican city has a dress code is that the city has a known history of holding great significance for Christianity and is known as a pre-eminently holy city for Catholics.

Important sites like the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica hold prominent reputations in the spiritual world of Christianity.

Known as the center of Christianity, the Vatican City now holds the permanent seat of the Popes. 

Having such great religious significance, the Vatican has a set of rules for the clothing of visitors entering the city. 

The Vatican City dress code promotes a modest, skin-covering dress code following religious intuitions. 

Every visitor must abide by this dress code to enter Vatican City.

Vatican Museum Dress code 

Vatican Museum, The Museum of Museums, is a place known for its historical heritage and has its own dress code. 

Visitors must abide by the dress code for the Vatican Museum in order to enter this historical site. 

Vatican Dress Code for Men

  • Men can wear a T-shirt, but it should not contain offensive images or slogans.
  • Shoulders and knees should not be exposed. 
  • Thus, long pants and long-sleeved shirts are the most preferred choice for male visitors.
  • Hats are also not allowed inside the Vatican museums.

Vatican Dress Code for women

  • Your dress should cover your shoulders; wearing sleeveless or any Low-cut clothing is prohibited. 
  • Belly crop tops are strictly prohibited.
  • If you wear pants or a skirt, ensure they cover your knees.
  • You can also buy plastic cloaks to wrap around or cover your knees and shoulders.

Vatican Dress Code for Kids 

  • Well, the Vatican City dress code does not impose any particular instructions related to kids’ clothing. 
  • The dress code goes the same for them, just like the adults. 
  • Knees and Shoulders should be covered.
  • There should be no offensive slogans or images on clothes.

Sistine Chapel Dress Code

The Sistine Chapel dress code is the same as the dress code for the Vatican Museum. 

  • Men should preferably wear Shirts and T-shirts (shoulders covering), with no inappropriate slogans or pictures. 
  • For Women, The dress should cover their belly, shoulders and knees. 
  • Men also should wear long trousers, so that their knees are covered. 
  • Miniskirts, sleeveless, low-cut dresses and Hats are prohibited inside the Sistine Chapel.

St Peter’s Basilica’s dress code is the same as the dress code followed by Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel.

Papal Audience Dress Code

The papal audience is held every Wednesday (only when the Pope is in Rome) at the st. Peter’s Square

A lot of people all around the world visit the Vatican in order to attend this Papal Audience and get a chance to pray with Pope. 

The Papal Audience Dress code remains the same as the Vatican City Dress code.

  • The knees and shoulders should be covered.
  • You can wear casual clothes but they should be modest and follow the Vatican museum dress code. 
  • Men are allowed to wear hats during the audience. 
  • Rome experiences extreme temperatures, so it’s best to pack caps, sunblocks, and enough clothes to avoid sunburns.

What to do if you are not dressed according to the Vatican City Dress Code?

Vatican City and the other attractions inside its border follow a strict dress code with no exceptions. 

They need all the visitors to follow the Vatican City dress code in order for them to get permission to enter the city and other attractions. 

But what if you aren’t dressed according to the Vatican dress code? 

Don’t worry; we know a way through. 

You can always buy a plastic clock (poncho) or a robe to wear that covers your shoulders and knees. 

These ponchos and robes are available all around the city.


1. What is the dress code for visiting the Vatican?

The Vatican City dress code requires visitors to dress modestly and cover their shoulders and knees.

Shorts, skirts, and dresses should be at least knee-length, and sleeveless or low-cut tops are not allowed.

Visitors who do not adhere to the dress code will get their entry denied at the entrance of the Museum and other important places.

2. Do these dress code requirements apply to both men and women?

Yes, The Vatican dress code applies to both men and women visiting the city.
Following the Vatican City dress code, men are expected to dress modestly and wear long pants or shorts that cover the knees.

While women also are required to wear clothing that covers the shoulders and knees.

Belly crop tops and skirts are not allowed.

3. Are there any specific requirements for footwear?

There are no specific requirements for footwear, but visitors are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes for walking and standing for extended periods of time.

4.  What to wear to the Vatican in the summer?

The Vatican City dress code remains constant irrespective of seasonal changes.

Even in summer, Visitors should still dress modestly but can choose lighter-weight clothing that is still appropriate, such as long shorts or lightweight pants for men and lightweight dresses or skirts that cover the knees for women.

5. What should I wear to attend a Mass or other religious service at the Vatican?

Visitors attending a Mass or other religious service at the Vatican should dress more formally and conservatively and may be required to wear specific clothing or accessories such as a veil or head covering for women.

For Instance, following the Vatican City Dress code, wearing hats inside the Vatican Museum is strictly prohibited, but for attending a Papal Audience, visitors are allowed to wear hats.

It is recommended to check the specific dress requirements for the event in advance.

6. What should I do if I am not following the Vatican City dress code?

Visitors will get their entries denied if they are not dressed appropriately for the Vatican. It is recommended to dress appropriately in advance and to bring a cover-up or scarf that can be used to cover exposed shoulders or legs if necessary.

Some locations may also have shawls or other items available to rent or borrow.

7. How strict is the Vatican dress code?

The Vatican dress code is quite strict. Visitors are expected to adhere to the guidelines closely, and those not in compliance are denied entry to certain areas like the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, even if they have admission tickets to the attractions.

8. Can you wear sneakers to the Vatican?

Yes, sneakers are acceptable to wear to the Vatican. They are practical for the amount of walking involved and are not considered disrespectful. Make sure they don’t have any offensive images or slogans printed on them.

9. Can I wear leggings to the Vatican?

Leggings are accepted in the Vatican provided they are below the knee in length. While leggings can be form-fitting, they should be paired with a top that adheres to the Vatican’s dress code. This means the top should not have deep cleavage or be sleeveless. It’s essential that the outfit remains modest and respectful of the Vatican’s guidelines for attire.

10. Are backpacks allowed in the Vatican?

Small backpacks are allowed inside the Vatican. However, larger backpacks may need to be checked in at the cloakroom.

11. Are jeans OK at the Vatican?

Jeans are acceptable at the Vatican as long as they are not ripped or excessively casual. They should be neat and modest and have no offensive print on them.

12. What is the dress code for the Vatican in 2024?

The dress code for the Vatican has remained consistent over the years, including for 2024. Visitors are required to cover their knees and shoulders, ensuring that crop tops, short skirts, and similar revealing attire are avoided. Additionally, hats are not permitted indoors. This adherence to a modest dress code reflects the respect due to the religious and cultural significance of the Vatican.

13. Is the Vatican dress code enforced?

Yes, the Vatican dress code is enforced. Security personnel hold the right to deny entry to those not dressed appropriately.

14. Can I wear black to the Vatican?

Yes, you can wear black to the Vatican. The color of the clothing is not restricted; the focus is on modesty.

15. What is not allowed in the Vatican dressing guidelines?

Clothing that exposes the shoulders or knees, offensive symbols or slogans, and overly casual attire like flip-flops or caps are not allowed. Large bags may also be restricted.

16. Can I wear sandals in the Vatican?

Sandals are allowed in the Vatican as long as they are deemed modest and not too casual, like beach flip-flops.

17. Can you show cleavage at the Vatican?

Showing cleavage is considered immodest by Vatican standards and is not allowed. Clothing should be modest and not reveal too much skin.

18. Can I wear Birkenstocks in the Vatican?

Birkenstocks or similar sandals are generally acceptable, provided they are neat and the rest of the attire complies with the dress code.

19. Can you wear a crop top to the Vatican?

Crop tops are not allowed as they expose the midriff, which goes against the Vatican’s guidelines for modesty.

20. Can I wear capri pants to the Vatican?

Capri pants are acceptable at the Vatican as long as they cover the knee or fall below it.

21. Can you wear open-toed shoes in St. Peter’s Basilica?

Open-toed shoes are allowed in St. Peter’s Basilica but should be modest and not resemble beachwear. The overall appearance should respect the sacredness of the venue.

Suggested Articles

Featured Image: DestiMap.com

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!