How Much Does It Cost To See The Pope?
How much could missing Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines cost you? If you don’t get to see His Holiness while he’s in the Philippines, it will cost you a lot of money to go see him in his natural habitat in Rome. But just how much cash would you have to splash to see Pope Francis in the flesh if you don’t take the chance to see him while he’s here in your own backyard?
(All values converted with oanda.com on January 13. Rates and prices may have changed in the meantime.)
In this thought exercise, let’s say you want to visit in April for 7 days (April 12 – 19), just after Holy Week. It’s a good time because you won’t be dealing with the summer crowds yet (their summer doesn’t start until June), and the weather will still be nice. So how much does it cost to see the Pope? Find out:
- Schengen visa — €60/P3,374 (rate valid until March 15, 2015). The Vatican has an open border with Italy, so once you’re in Italy you can come and go to Vatican City as you please. You can book an appointment directly with the Italian embassy in Makati. If you don’t live in Manila, you can apply through the VIA Centre, but that comes with service and handling fees.
- Flights — from P45,000 and up. Google Flights shows that the cheapest flight from Manila to Rome is $1,012 (P45,419) on China Eastern for one person. Flight prices can change a lot, so check different sites to get the best prices for flights.
- Accommodation — from P5,310 and up. On Priceline, a mid-range hotel room near the Vatican goes for around $150 (P6,732) a night (P47,124 for 7 nights). Don’t mind roughing it in hostels? You can find a room in a dormitory-style hostel Rome for as low as P830 a night (P5,310 for 7 nights) on hostelworld.com. On the other side of the spectrum, a 7-night stay at the 5-star Hotel Indigo Rome will set you back at least P93,619.40 — more if you include breakfast.
- Food and daily expenses — P4,250 a day (P29,750 for 7 days). Lonely Planet says that “two top-notch museums, an all-day travel pass, a cheap lunch, a couple of coffees and a decent restaurant dinner can easily set you back €80 (P4,250.21) a day.” Experienced or budget travelers can get by on half that amount.
- Seeing the Pope. Now we get to the main event. Luckily, there are several ways to see Pope Francis, and they’re all free. Remember to check the schedule to make sure he’ll actually be in Rome when you are:
- Papal Audience — free. If the Pope is in Rome, he holds a Papal Audience on Wednesdays. The Audience isn’t a mass, but “a chance to listen to the pope and mingle with other attendees,” according to the New York Times. You can attend for free; you’ll just need tickets. If you need less than 10, you can go straight to a Swiss Guard at the Bronze Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica, but you can only pick them up the day before the Audience you want to attend. If you want to pre-book, you’ll have to fill out a form and fax it to the Prefecture of the Papal Household (find out more at the Vatican’s official website). They’ll then tell you how to get your tickets. Don’t go from mid-July to early September, though — that’s usually when the Pope goes on holiday at the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo, a few miles outside Rome, and that’s where he does the Sunday blessings during that time.
- Papal Mass — free. You just need to reserve tickets in advance, and you can get them the same way you get Papal Audience tickets.
- Sunday Angelus — free. At 12 noon on Sundays, the Pope leads the Sunday Angelus at St. Peter’s Square. The whole thing usually lasts 15 – 20 minutes. You don’t need a ticket for that, but expect crowds.
- The Vatican Museum — P850; reduced rates available. You know what they say: when in Rome … go to the Vatican Museum. Well, that’s not how the saying goes. But you’re already there, so don’t miss this museum, home to some of the greatest works of art in the Western world, and the Sistine Chapel is included. The museum is closed on Sundays, except on the last Sunday of the month when entrance is free, but that’s when the crowds go so avoid that. Make life easier for yourself and buy tickets online, but you can reserve tickets only up to 60 days before your intended visit date.
Now you know how much it would cost to see the Pope at the Vatican. Because our list doesn’t include every single cost you could face, at the very, very least, expect to spend around P70,000 (not including the hated travel tax and NAIA airport fees) for this seven-day trip to Rome. (You may be able to get lower rates with a tour package.) While seeing His Holiness is absolutely free, it’s getting to the Vatican that will cost you. Or you could take advantage of his Papal visit to the Philippines and see him at no additional expense — and a five-day weekend to boot.
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