Things to do in
Castel Gandolfo

Enter your dates to find available activities

Our most recommended things to do in Castel Gandolfo

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.

Papal Palace Ticket and Gardens Minibus Tour

2. Papal Palace Ticket and Gardens Minibus Tour

Explore the Papal Palace at your own pace with a multilingual audio guide. Admire the architecture, learn its history, and discover its many collections of art, relics, and more. Extend your visit with a minibus tour of the Barberini Gardens and admire the intricate displays. Once you arrive at the Castle doors, pick up your audio guide and begin your walk through the palace. Gaze at the many treasures, from uniforms and relics to artworks and furniture. Learn the interesting history of the Pontifical Residence, commonly known as the Second Vatican. Designed by the Swiss-Italian architect Carlo Maderno for Pope Urban VIII, and it has served as a summer retreat for various popes since the 17th century. Don't forget to pay your respects to the sedan chair of Pope Pius IX, and the BMW used by Pope John Paul II, before taking the option to visit the Barberini Gardens on a 45-minute minibus tour. The gardens offer views of intricately designed shrubbery and unique fountains, the perfect finisher to the palace experience.

From Rome: Castel Gandolfo Kayak and Swimming Lake Tour

3. From Rome: Castel Gandolfo Kayak and Swimming Lake Tour

Immerse yourself in the history and nature of this peaceful lake, located just a short distance from Rome, on a kayak tour with plenty of interesting stops and technical kayaking tips. After a quick paddling, navigation and communication lesson, you will begin your tour of the lake. Stops will include the village of the millstones, the Roman port of the Villa of Domitian, the Trampoline of the Pope, and a beautiful beach reachable only by kayak, where you can swim if the weather is right. Along the way you will see the summer residence of the Popes, atop the mountain of Castel Gandolfo and surrounded by untouched nature. You can Listen to the sound of local wildlife and the water lapping, a unique and unforgettable experience so close to Rome. Your guide will provide technical assistance throughout the tour, and offer stories and anecdotes about the lake. After arriving back at the starting point, you will have the opportunity to take a shower before heading back to the capital.

Castel Gandolfo: Pope's Summer Residence Tour

4. Castel Gandolfo: Pope's Summer Residence Tour

Visit the summer residence of the pope at Castel Gandolfo. Wander through its stunning gardens, browse the Apostolic Palace museum exhibition, and learn about the pope, past and present. Meet your guide at the entrance of the villas and then board a bus to visit the gardens of the pope's summer residence. As you go through the gardens, learn interesting facts and see where the library is located. Hear about the library's catalogue including works by Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. Make stops at some of the most emblematic points such as La Villa Barberini. Also see Villa Cybo, a garden full of marble statues and fountains of great artistic value. Then, visit the Apostolic Palace, also known as the Papal Palace and now serves as a museum. In the museum, see different pope-mobiles and discover the many aspects of the pope's day-to-day life. During the course of your tour hear about the popes who have passed at the residence, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's time here after his resignation, and many other stories.

Rome: Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo Walking Tour

5. 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.

Castel Gandolfo: Pope’s Private Palaces & Barberini Gardens

6. Castel Gandolfo: Pope’s Private Palaces & Barberini Gardens

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city to the tranquil Castel Gandolfo where you can follow in the pope’s footsteps. Start off at the Apostolic Palace, pick up your complimentary audio guide, and get ready for a sneak peek into the lives of the popes at their traditional vacation retreat.  Experience the intricate work of the clergy up close as you pass by historical papal gowns and the pope’s portable throne. Explore the pope’s private apartment and enjoy sweeping panoramic views from his hill-top home. Next, visit the Barberini Gardens. Explore the luxurious gardens from the comfort of an air-conditioned minibus. Uncover the history of this unique site with a complimentary audio guide, available in a multitude of languages.

Rome: Papal Summer Residence Half-Day Trip

7. Rome: Papal Summer Residence Half-Day Trip

Take a tour of the Apostolic Palace, stroll through the Barberini Gardens, and walk in the footsteps of the pope himself on this thrilling half-day trip. After meeting your host near Termini Station, a train will take you to Castel Gandolfo, where you’ll transfer to a comfortable open-roofed bus. Enjoy the Barberini Gardens for an hour while the audio guide explains the interesting details of the area. You’ll be fascinated by the sense of history and grandeur as you pass through this historical must-see. Take in the breathtaking views of the picturesque Lake Albano – and be sure to take lots of photos. From there, you’ll step into the impressive Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope. Take your time to enjoy this world of pure artistic beauty. Visit the luxurious papal apartments, see the gallery of the papal portraits, the extensive Vatican Library, and much more!  An absolute must-do for any visitor to the area.

Rome: Pontifical Villa Gardens at Castel Gandolfo Minibus

8. 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.

Rome: Vatican & Lunch at Pope's Summer Residence Day Tour

9. Rome: Vatican & Lunch at Pope's Summer Residence Day Tour

Start your 9-hour program with a bus ride to Castel Gandolfo, a secluded and charming town that’s home to the pope’s summer residence. Explore the pope’s private Barberini Gardens by mini-bus and with the assistance of an audio guide. The Papal Palace was recently opened to the public by Pope Francis. You’ll see the treasures of this extravagant yet intimate interior, including works by Bernini. Enjoy a break for lunch and some free time to explore the town before heading back to Rome. In the afternoon, begin a 3-hour tour of Vatican City at the Vatican Museums. With your priority access you’ll skip the lines, allowing more time to discover the great works of art. Continue to the Sistine Chapel, where your guide will point out amazing art including Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement – the largest fresco ever painted by a single person. The last stop on this walking tour of Vatican City is St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture.

Castel Gandolfo: Kayak Food and Wine Tour

10. Castel Gandolfo: Kayak Food and Wine Tour

Your tour will begin with you being helped into all of the safety devices, such as the life jacket. You will then partake in a lesson on the ground which will run you through the techniques of paddling and on the use of the kayak. The first leg of paddling will involve your guide teaching you how to paddle, correcting the posture and the movement of your arms as you go. Your first break will then be at the village of the millstones, which consists of submerged stilt houses that you will see from your kayak. After your break, you will engage in another stretch of paddling through untouched nature where you can admire the summer residence of the Popes on the mountain of Castel Gandolfo. You will then take a second break at the Roman port of the Villa of Domitian. Next, you will pass in front of the old structure of the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where all the kayaking and rowing competitions were fought. Your third stop will then be the Pope's Trampoline, where you will stop to admire the old structure on the lake shore with the ancient papal coat of arms. You will next be invited to continue your tour in a unique way to awaken all your sensory activities, as you paddle in perfect silence and listen exclusively to the sound of nature and the local wildlife. To stay in the theme of wild nature, you will then dock in an uncontaminated beach reachable only by kayak, where if the season allows, you will also dive and swim. Your paddling will then continue to the starting point, from where you will receive another relaxing break.

Other Sightseeing Options in Castel Gandolfo

Want to discover all there is to do in Castel Gandolfo? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Castel Gandolfo

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 37,432 reviews

The chain of museums is sumptuous. Extraordinary works. There are almost too many, it borders on disgust, you have to take your time. Too bad we can't access Place St Pierre directly from the gardens!

Great tickets! Tips for your experience. Go straight to the security and head in, no lines! Once inside, go upstairs to the ticket booth and get your tickets. The audio guides are just inside. Enjoy!

Above all, the audio guide is worth it... Otherwise, you'll be a bit lost. Wonder of history.

Open air bus tour was great. A lot of area to cover in the heat, so the bus was ideal.

Everything was perfectly explained, we had no problems