One of the best parts of traveling abroad is having layovers in really cool places!! Usually it’s default for most people to book flight’s with the shortest layovers possible in order to get to their destinations stat! One very important thing I have learned however, is to…
Book the LONGEST layover and virtually get a free vacation like Rome in a day!!
If you plan ahead and are careful with your time, it is possible to see the major sites of Rome on a layover if it’s long. Worst case scenario is that you don’t plan and you end up just roaming the streets of Rome (see what I did there :p ) exploring on your own. As nobody is going to pity you for that one because it’s still awesome and you will still have an amazing time, you might wish later that you saw some of the main sties as they are easy to add into any city stroll!
Although Ostia would take about a half a day to a day itself depending on how much you want to explore it, you can either do that, or try to fit in the rest of these top 10 things to do in Rome. Or do half and half and mix it up as you like.
How I did it….
I had a 14 hour layover and got to see some pretty good stuff! However, I learned from my mistake of not booking things in advance because WOW.. Rome is a busy city!! Remember to check ahead if you need to book things, which will save you LOADS of time and allow you to see even more!
As soon as you get off the plane, head for Terminal 3 if you want to book any tours as there is a tourist desk there next to the exit doors. I, however only needed to find out which bus to catch to the city and found the lady behind the counter anything but helpful as she seemed only interested in texting on her phone instead of working or selling any packages. I guess that’s ok as a sales pitch would have just taken up time.
If you don’t want to book a tour ( which you really don’t need to other than the Vatican City and Sistine chapel ), head outside and walk down to the right towards the buses. You can find shuttles here to the city which stop at Vatican City and Rome Termini. The tickets are 6 Euro’s one way or 11 Euro’s rountrip. If you end the day at the Colosseum, you can take a metro back to the airport but if you plan on taking the bus back….
The last return to the airport is at 8:30 PM so DON’T MISS IT!
We landed in Rome at about 8:15 AM and were able to get on the bus by 9:15 AM.
We left the bus at the Vatican City stop and walked to St. Peter’s Basilica stopping at a cafe on the way to recharge with a cappuccino. Being used to 1-2 Euro Cappuccino’s in Genoa, we were a bit surprised when we got the bill for 14 Euro’s for 2 cappuccino’s. That’s like a Euro a sip!! After deciding on no more cappuccino’s in Rome, we headed just up the street to find the line for the free entrance into St.Peter’s Basilica.
We found it, and it was 2 hours long!
There are tons of tour salesman that will bombard you and walk with you trying to sell you a tour of Vatican city that includes skipping the lines. This requires taking a timeshare presentation which obviously there is no time for on a layover so be firm, say no and keep walking because trust me when I say a 2 hour wait in a line will be faster than that!
I learned after 2 hours in line, that the Sistine Chapel and Vatican museum were a different line! Oops! They are not free but..
…you book ahead online for 20 Euro’s per person at biglietteriamusei.vatican.va and skip the lines ensuring you will make it inside…
Keep in mind that the Vatican is closed on Sundays except for the last Sunday of the month. Now I know this for next time! St. Peter’s Basilica is no disappointment though. Its beautiful inside and out. For 7 Euro’s, you can take an elevator and walk up to the very top! The stairway will include some very tight corridor’s and stairwells. Once you reach the top, the views overlooking Rome are quite spectacular!
After the Basilica we headed toward the Colosseum with some stops along the way. Our first stop was Piazza Navona which we stumbled upon unplanned. It was a nice Piazza with several beautiful fountains, a market and some cafe’s. If you have time, this would be a good option to stop for lunch.
Our next stop along the way was the Pantheon. This did not take very much time as it’s not a very big building. It was free to enter and we just walked in, took a look and a couple photos and went on our way. It’s easy to fit into your day as it’s location is pretty central. The most fascinating part of the Pantheon to me was the unreinforced concrete dome that has held up for so many years letting the light shine through during the day.
Moving on, we walked by the Roman Forum continuing to the Colosseum. You can see the Roman Forum from above without paying anything but there is an entrance fee for the Colosseum and we did have to wait about 30-45 minutes in line. These two spots really take you back in time as you imagine them in their prime full of people and the events that took place there!
The colosseum is the perfect place to end the day…
…as its right next door to a metro station that you can take right back to the airport to catch your flight!
Learn from my mistake, book ahead…
…and you will have a lot more time than we did and be able to fit in other things like the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps and maybe even a nice relaxing lunch. Also, don’t forget…
The lighter you pack your carry on’s, the easier it will be on you lugging them around all day!