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Castel Gandolfo Tickets : How to visit the Pontifical Residence
The picturesque town of Castel Gandolfo is also home to the Pope’s former summer residence – the Pontifical villas and the beautiful Barberini Gardens. It’s a nice place to explore if you are interested in the Vatican’s extra territorial buildings, and the gardens in particular are a real delight. The papal apartments also include a museum dedicated to all things related to former pontiffs, a great place to explore for pope fans.
Castel Gandolfo itself is a charming town just over 15 miles from Rome, and has a population of about 9000 people who all get to enjoy the stunning views over Lake Albano! The town got its fame as former popes used it for their summer residences, and now that the current pope no longer visits the papal villas have been turned into a charming museum.
- 1 How to get to the Castel Gandolfo from Rome ?
- 2 When is the best time to visit the Pope’s private Gardens?
- 3 Tips for a day trip at the Castel Gandolfo
- 4 Castel Gandolfo tickets: how to go on a tour ?
- 5 The Barberini Gardens
- 6 Apostolic Palace: the Pope’s summer residence
- 7 What you need to know to go on a Castel Gandolfo tour?
- 8 Is the Omnia Card worth it to visit Castel Gandolfo?
- 9 Conclusion on Castel Gandolfo tickets
How to get to the Castel Gandolfo from Rome ?
You will find getting to Castel Gandolfo from Rome is pretty easy, and if you are a tourist without a hire car the best option for getting to the Papal apartments is the train.
There are trains from Rome Termini to Castel Gandolfo, but the best way to get there is to join the official Vatican tour of the papal apartments by train on the special Vatican sponsored Castel Gandolfo tickets!
Departing every Saturday from the Vatican’s own train station, a visit to Castel Gandolfo on the official tours is a great option.
You arrive at the Vatican City early in the morning with your skip the line tickets and proceed to check out the highlights of the museums and Sistine Chapel, before crossing the closed off Vatican Gardens and heading to the train station for a departure a little after 10am.
This surely is the best way to visit Castle Gandolfo – on arrival you can either walk the 8 minutes to the papal villas (some Castel Gandolfo tickets include a shuttle bus from the train station)
When is the best time to visit the Pope’s private Gardens?
If you’re visiting on your own or with a couple of friends be careful – Castel Gandolfo tickets are only valid for individuals for a Saturday morning on a special guided tour, beginning at 10.30am. If you are a group of 15 people or more you can also attend during the week during one of the morning tour slots (8.30am or 11.30am).
Sundays are closed to the public, so there is probably not much point going to Castel Gandolfo from Rome then, unless you want to just explore the charming little town instead.
Summer is a lovely time to visit as the well-manicured flowerbeds in the Barberini Gardens are at their very best, but remember that it can be extremely hot and uncomfortable outside, so the shoulder season – May, October for example – are great times to visit Castel Gandolfo.
Tips for a day trip at the Castel Gandolfo
- Make sure you have booked your Castel Gandolfo tickets beforehand (see prices here) , as you cannot visit Castel Gandolfo’s Apostolic Palace and Barberini Gardens without one!
- The Apostolic Palace and Barberini Gardens are sold as two separate tickets – you cannot access one with the other ticket, but you can buy an entry pass for both
- Beware the entry times to the papal villas and gardens – there is no point coming to Castel Gandolfo from Rome in the afternoon for example, or on a Sunday, if it is the villa and gardens that you wish to see – you will be disappointed!
Castel Gandolfo tickets: how to go on a tour ?
As access to the Castel Gandolfo Apostolic Palace and Barberini Gardens is controlled and open at certain times only, you will need to book an official tour.
There are several that are available from the Vatican, and all include skip the line entry (check here) into the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel first, before leading you through to the train station for the onward journey.
Available only on a Saturday morning for individuals, this is the best way to experience the delights of Castel Gandolfo and the attractions available.
For groups, there is a bit more choice but you will need to get 15 people or more together to avail of a group ticket.
The Barberini Gardens
The beautiful gardens are best explored on the guided tour (available here) – enjoy the three terraces, well-manicured and tended plants and trees, as well as stunning views over the Lake Albano beyond.
Beautiful lily ponds and fountains really set the atmosphere, these gardens are definitely a rival for the Vatican Gardens.
Apostolic Palace: the Pope’s summer residence
This former residence of the Pope was opened up to the public in 2014 and is now a museum. Formerly the getaway place for previous pontiffs, Pope Francis decided that it would serve much better as a place to explore for tourists.
Now, you can check out the history of the buildings and see the museum, learning about its status as a shelter for refugees during the war
What you need to know to go on a Castel Gandolfo tour?
- You are permitted to take a small bag in to the papal villas only
- You can bring your camera and take photos, however you will not be allowed to use the flash button
- The gardens may not be practical for those with mobility issues give their tiered nature
- The usual Vatican dress code applies, so shoulders and knees must be covered!
- Try and make some time to explore the very charming town itself!
Is the Omnia Card worth it to visit Castel Gandolfo?
We are great big fans of the Omnia Card for all the benefits it brings to those wanting to visit Rome and the Vatican City, however very unfortunately their wide offering does not stretch to transport to Castel Gandolfo or entry tickets to the buildings and gardens.
You would be better booking these tickets separately in addition to the Omnia Card if you plan to see a multitude of sights when in Rome
Conclusion on Castel Gandolfo tickets
We hope we’ve explained all you need to know about visiting Castel Gandolfo- now get to planning this wonderful trip well in advance, making sure you book your tickets online or you won’t be allowed entry at the gates!
Can you purchase a meal on the grounds if you do the Vatican full day tour?
Sure!! There’s a lot of nice cafés and restaurants around Vatican top attractions. Click here to read our article on where to eat around. We still recommend to bring a lunch with you if you are a bit in a hurry. Hope it will help!