No, it wasn’t built in one, but if you’re motivated, it is possible to see it (the highlights, anyway!) in a day. That way, you can take advantage of the inexpensive flight options within EU countries and make the most of your visit “across the pond,” no matter which country is your primary destination.
We found ourselves in Spain celebrating seven years together because round trip flights were $199. You often can’t even find domestic flights to nearby cities for a price that low! I’ve had luck searching Google for “best flights to…” and then looking at the calendar feature which shows you how flight prices vary on different travel days. Most importantly, when you see a great fare, jump on it! The world is out there for you to see (accessible for the price of just a few dinners out!) but you have to be brave enough to take the first step and grab an opportunity when it presents itself.
Once you have made it over to the old world for the best possible price, look into European airlines like Easyjet and Vueling (especially if the city you are visiting is experiencing hurricainesque conditions like ours was!). As an example, you can get round trip flights from Barcelona to Rome as low as $38 round trip if you book a month or two in advance!
Our room was booked through Hotels.com. You’d be surprised at the four star hotel prices that you can find through that site- while earning free nights to use in the future! Best deals can be found if you book last minute (might feel risky though), travel off season, or are willing to stay a bit farther out from the city center (but your savings may be wiped out by taxi fare to bring you closer- especially if you are trying to fit a lot into a short stay). As an example, here are some central locations I just found in a search on Hotels.com.
When in Rome…
Once you have arrived and found your homebase, you are going need a good night’s sleep in order to see Rome in a day! You also may want to splurge on some skip the line type tickets so that you can maximize your short stay in the city.
A great start to the day would be to tour the Vatican Museums and view the Sistine Chapel. Skip the line tickets can be purchased for around $30, and can be used as early as 9 a.m., quickly getting you into the hallowed halls and viewing the overwhelming collection of ancient statues, art, and artifacts from Egypt to Ancient Rome and beyond, not to mention masterpieces of breathtaking dimension by Michelangelo and Raphael to name a few. Once through the museum, head into the basilica itself, with its soaring heights and enshrined popes of days gone by. If you book in advance you can attend a service with the Pope- but we were there last minute and didn’t have the opportunity- this visit.
Next, perhaps a walking tour through Rome as you make your way to the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill with its excavated ruins from Ancient Rome. The later tours start at 1:30 in the winter and 3:00 in the summer, so based on how much time you spent at the Vatican and how quickly you can walk on the cobblestone walkways, you may have time to stop at a cafe for a bite, or to grab a quick gelato to eat as you walk. Remember to keep your belongings close, since Rome has a reputation for having a lot of pick-pockets…
Guided tours that include skip the line access to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill with the Roman Forum can be purchased (again we used GetYourGuide) for around $30 off season and $55 during peak times. If you really are trying to see Rome in a day, the cost is worthwhile, plus the guide gives you insight into what you are actually looking at within the park, and with those explanations and a little bit of imagination (and having seen Gladiator or Spartacus a few times!) you can imagine the area as it must have once been.
After all that walking, you deserve a treat! Try out the nearby Angelino Ai Fori dal 1947 for some authentic Italian food, wine, and of course, the traditional Roman dessert!
Your feet won’t look or feel pretty, but you will have lived a day well spent among the remnants of the rise and fall of history, a testament to how small we really are, and how fleeting our time here is. Makes you want to see all you can see while you have the chance, no? Maybe puddle jump on over? 😊 -A