Living in America means that we all tend to have a very casual outlook on attire. When tourists first visit Italy, they quickly realize that Italians take a lot of pride in their fashion sense. Dress codes are found in restaurants, bars, and clubs. 

Vatican Dress Code Sign

Many tourists don’t realize that there also happens to be a dress code in the Vatican. Surprised? You probably shouldn’t be, but even so, most people tend to be slightly shocked to find out what does and doesn’t fly in this holy part of Italy.

Is There A Dress Code For The Vatican?

Dress code sign on wall
Bulgn /

Yes, and it applies to both men and women. It doesn’t matter who you are, either. The Vatican’s dress code is something you need to consider if you want to give this historical place a visit

How Strict Is The Vatican Dress Code?

It depends on what you mean by strict. When it comes to enforcement, it’s super strict. Do not try to bypass it! Many tourists are ejected from the Vatican every day simply because they didn’t try to abide by the dress code. But the dress code itself isn’t too strict. So while the enforcement is pretty tough, what you can wear is pretty flexible. 

What Can You Not Wear At The Vatican?

The Vatican is pretty straightforward about what you can and cannot wear. To abide by the rules, your outfit must follow the following restrictions:

  • You cannot show upper arms. Tees and tank tops are not allowed. It can be rough in the summer, so the Vatican does offer shawls for sale if you want to cover up lightly.
  • If you’re female, you cannot be seen wearing low-cut shirts. At times, this has also been enforced with male visitors.
  • You cannot show skin above the knee. This typically rules out shorts and short skirts. Long skirts that go below the knee are welcome, as are pants and ¾ jeans.
  • No hats are allowed. Women are allowed to wear headscarves, but hats must remain off as a matter of respect.
  • You really shouldn’t wear clothing that has offensive languages or images on it. While this is not explicitly written in the guidelines, many Vatican officials may find it disrespectful. If the image is explicit enough, you might get asked to leave the premises.

What Happens If You Break The Vatican’s Dress Code?

Dress code sign hanged on a pole
Jeffrey Jasmi /

It all depends on the situation. In most cases, a guard will ask you why you are dressed the way you are. Sometimes, they may let you pass. However, the most common reaction is that you will be politely asked to leave. 

If you violate the dress code, the most important thing to remember is that you are not permanently banned from the Vatican. You can go back to your hotel, dress better, and come back. If it’s a matter of showing skin, you can also buy a scarf and wrap it up around you to get entry to the venue.


Still feeling lost? We got you covered with the top questions people have about the Vatican. 

Can You Wear Jeans To The Vatican?

Yes, you can wear jeans. No bans are made on the material that you wear.

Can You Wear Shorts To The Vatican?

This is a little trickier and can be a bit of a risk. Shorts are allowed as long as they go below the knee. If your shorts are the type to hover right at the knee, there’s a good chance that you might be denied entry. 

Can You Wear Flip-Flops To The Vatican?

Believe it or not, you can’t. Flip flops are considered to be too casual for the Vatican. If you want to keep your feet cool, stick to proper sandals or formal shoes. On a similar note, excessively dirty sneakers can also get you turned away. 

Can You Bring A Backpack Or A Bag To The Vatican?

This is actually a little bit of a “grey area” when it comes to the Vatican’s dress code. Due to the crowds that certain attractions draw, many areas of the Vatican now require people bringing backpacks and large bags to check them upon entry.
As far as small bags and wallets go, you shouldn’t have a problem. The Vatican understands that you may need to tote some stuff around from time to time. 


No matter what religion you are, it’s important to remain respectful when you decide to visit the Vatican. It’s a place that is considered sacred ground, so there is a strict dress code in place. If you want to go, make sure that you show the respect the area calls for by sticking to the dress code. It’s only fair.

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