After meeting your knowledgeable guide in Vatican City, enter the Vatican Gardens for a walking tour of this serene green space, which popes have used as a peaceful spot for prayer since the Middle Ages.
Stroll around some of its 57 acres (23 hectares) of paths, fountains, grottoes and flowers while you learn about the history of the gardens, which started as a fruit orchard in the 13th century and evolved into the lavish respite it is today by subsequent popes. During your walk, you’ll stop to check out features like Our Lady of Lourdes grotto, a favorite prayer spot of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
Then head over to the Vatican Museums for a tour of its world-renowned art collection. See the spiral Bramante Staircase, which has adorned many a Vatican photograph, and visit rooms such as the Gallery of Tapestries and the Gallery of Maps, where you can admire a fresco of 16th-century Italy. Learn about famed Renaissance artists like Raphael and Michelangelo, whose iconic ceiling frescoes The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment you’ll see in the Sistine Chapel, the pope’s private worship space.
Finally, visit St Peter’s Basilica, whose Michelangelo-designed dome towers over the city. Take a look at the artist’s La Pietà sculpture and visit a memorial to Pope John Paul before your tour ends in St Peter’s Square.