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.

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Rome: Pontifical Villa Gardens at Castel Gandolfo Minibus

2. 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.

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Rome: Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo Walking Tour

3. 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.

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Pope’s Summer Residence Tour with Lunch

4. 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.

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Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens & Castel Gandolfo Day Tour

5. Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens & Castel Gandolfo Day Tour

Start your day bright and early as you meet your tour guide at the Vatican Museums. Skip the line and enter 45 minutes before the general public with your special access ticket. After going through a brief security check, proceed inside to begin your tour starting with the best galleries. Follow your art historian guide along the tour route which includes the Gallery of the Tapestries, the Gallery of the Candelabra, and the Gallery of the Maps.  Then, learn about the history and process Michelangelo used to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel before entering to see it yourself. Continue to the Vatican Gardens, where only special tour groups are allowed to visit. With your exclusive Vatican Gardens tickets, breathe in the tranquil air of this mini paradise. After your Vatican Gardens tour, enter Vatican City’s only train station to board the train to Castel Gandolfo. Once the site of Emperor Domitian’s Villa, the Barberini Gardens boast beautifully-designed hedges situated amidst flowers, fountains and Ancient Roman ruins. Your guide will tell you stories about the history of the gardens and the many points of interest located within. Once you’ve explored the lush scenery of the Barberini Gardens, the tour will break for lunch (included with the tour). Sit down to a sumptuous spread of locally-sourced, organic Italian meats, cheeses, olive oil, tomatoes, and pasta. Then, have the opportunity to take a self-guided tour of the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence. Now a museum open to the public, enjoy exploring the Palace’s many rooms, art galleries, and collection of cars driven by former popes. Use your round-trip train ticket to return to Vatican City and conclude your memorable experience.

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Rome: Private Appian Way & Albano Lake Full-Day E-Bike Tour

6. Rome: Private Appian Way & Albano Lake Full-Day E-Bike Tour

Escape the hustle and bustle of central Rome for a full-day mountain bike tour in the surrounding countryside and follow a route through pristine nature and landscapes that have inspired some of Italy’s best known artists. The moderately difficult 50-kilometer route will take you past some of Rome’s most historic sites, such as Trajan's Baths, the Ninfeum of Egeria, Villa dei Quintilli and Caracalla’s Baths. Departing from near the Colosseum, bike through Caffarella Park to the Aqueduct Park, named after the historic aqueducts that run through this part of the Appian Way regional park. Because of its idyllic ambiance, Aqueduct Park is often used as a film location. Take the train from Capanelle to Castel Gandolfo, before hopping on your mountain bike to explore the surroundings of Lake Albano. Stop at a local restaurant with a wonderful view of the water and relax as you enjoy a traditional lunch of Italian cuisine. Lake Albano is also known as Castel Gandolfo Lake, after the castle and the Pope’s summer residence that overlooks the lake. After lunch, head back to Rome, cycling a nice descent to set you up for the Appia Antica. Relive the glory days of the Roman Empire as you bike along cobblestone streets that date back 2,300 years. Pass ancient tombs and ruins from the Roman Republic.

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

7. 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. While you enjoy the fresh air and summer breeze, the staff of the Papal residence will prepare your exclusive lunch (if you select the lunch option). Before lunch (optional), visit the 7 rooms of the Apostolic Palace and hear the stories and legends that surround the villas. At noon, be invited to dine in the stunning gardens of Castel Gandolfo while sipping on delicious local wine. If you want, buy a souvenir at one of the local shops, famous for their boar meat sausages and lovely wine. Complete your visit with a lovely picture at Lake Albano and breathe the fresh mountain air. Return to Rome by train around 2:30 PM with beautiful memories of the day.

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Castel Gandolfo: Pope’s Summer Residence Tour with Lunch

8. Castel Gandolfo: Pope’s Summer Residence Tour with Lunch

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 to walk in the footsteps of the popes. Once arriving at Castel Gandolfo, walk to the papal residence to receive an official audio guide. Then, enjoy a ride on the Vatican open bus for an hour around the Barberini Gardens. While you enjoy the fresh air and summer breeze, the staff of the papal residence will prepare your lunch. 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.

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From Rome: Castelgandolfo & Pontifical Villas

9. From Rome: Castelgandolfo & Pontifical Villas

At 09:30, you will be picked up from your hotel in Rome by your driver. You'll enjoy a scenic 1-hour drive to Castel Gandolfo. Visit the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo on your own with audioguides (tickets and audioguides included), then you’ll enjoy the pretty historical center of Castel Gandolfo town and the scenic view of Albano Lake with a stop for a good lunch. After lunch, return back to your accommodation in Rome. The Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo are increasingly accessible to visitors. Following the opening to the public of the Barberini Garden and the inauguration, within the Apostolic Palace, of the Museums of the Gallery of the Portraits of the Pontiffs, now the most private and reserved areas of the papal residence can also be admired and enjoyed by pilgrims and tourists. Many of the exclusive places in the Papal Apartment will be revealed to visitors: from the bedchamber to the private chapel, from the library to the study, along a rich exhibition itinerary conceived, arranged and managed by the Vatican Museums. The Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo comprise about 55 hectares (11 more than Vatican City) of which 30 make up a garden while 25 are used for farming. The latter is carried out with full regard for the aesthetics proper to countryside gardening. The entire papal residence enjoys all the privileges of extraterritoriality. When one visits the pontifical estates or Villa Pontificia for the first time, he does not expect to come across the ruins of what is perhaps the most famous villa of ancient Rome, the Albanum Domitiani, the magnificent summer residence of the Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD), which once covered roughly 14 kilometers along the Appian Way towards Lake Albano. 

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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

4.4 / 5

based on 33,358 reviews

Only thing deceiving is that you don't have Guide at all for this tour... it doesn't mention that you have to pay for the audio guide 8 Euro plus 1.5 Euro if you want the headset. This price is strictly for the entrance. Otherwise, it was still an excellent experience

Good service. I would advise to go early. The audio guide is useful, bring your own headphones if you need them.

Very good experience. We waited just about 5 minutes to get into the museum.

Start as early as you can. It was not many people at 9:00.

walking directions from the metro would be very helpful