Rome wasn't built in a day, but it can now be explored in one

British Airways is launching day-return tickets to six European cities. Our super-mini guides explain how to get the most out of these destinations.

This weekend, British Airways is launching day-return fares to some of Europe’s most famous cities – for about the same price as an intercity train ticket.

The hand baggage-only fares start from £79 and are available from Heathrow to Edinburgh, Dublin, Geneva, Vienna, Munich and Rome on Saturdays and Sundays.

It's hardly environmentally friendly and the fares do take some rummaging around for on the BA website. Nevertheless, the airline plans to roll them out to more European destinations in the near future. 

But can you really get a flavour for these cities in one day? With our day-tripper city guides you can.


Mini guide: Things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh daytripYou can see a lot in one day in Scotland's compact capital
Jacek Nowak / Thinkstock

Start the day with breakfast at Elephant House (21 George IV Bridge), the café where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel.  

Then take a tour of the nearby Real Mary King’s Close (2 Warriston’s Close), an eerie underground neighbourhood buried beneath the Royal Mile. Theatrical guides reveal salacious secrets from its once plague-ridden streets. From here, Edinburgh Castle is a short walk up the Royal Mile. It offers fine views of the city and a fascinating insight into Scottish history.

For lunch you can’t go wrong at The Last Drop (74-78 Grassmarket), an Edinburgh institution lauded for its haggis, fine ales and whiskey selection.

Alternatively, the nearby Grassmarket Saturday Market is a fine place to sample local artisanal produce. Galleries, cafés and independent shops abound in Grassmarket. The Whisky Shop (28 Victoria Street) sells a fine selection of Scotch, while Armstrongs Vintage Emporium (83 Grassmarket) is the place to go for retro fashion.

If you’re feeling energetic, a bracing walk up Arthur’s Seat, the largest hill in Edinburgh, offers a fine panorama of the city. If you have time for dinner, we recommend The Dogs (110 Hanover Street) for its cosy atmosphere and excellent British fare.

For more information read our full Edinburgh city guide.


Mini guide: Things to do in Dublin

Dublin boozerBookend a day in Dublin with the black stuff - coffee and Guinness
Creative Commons / psyberartist

Leopold Bloom had longer in Dublin than this. Nevertheless, you can see a lot in the Irish capital in one day.

Start with coffee at The Fumbally (Fumbally Lane) which is famous for its Fumbally eggs – scrambled with Gubbeen cheese, garlic and tomatoes. After that fill up on the city’s literary legacy at the Dublin Writers Museum (18 Parnell Square).

If that inspires, wander over to Trinity College, the university that schooled Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, en route to Books Upstairs (36 College Green) to pick up a new paperback.

Don’t lunch anywhere else but Farm (3 Dawson Street), which serves locally sourced and conscious-clear chow – we recommend the fish pie. Let that settle in the sumptuous Victorian grounds of St Stephen’s Green nearby, before wandering along Grafton Street for gift inspiration.

Depending on your ruin, join a whiskey tour at The Old Jameson Distillery (Bow Street) or head to the Guinness Storehouse (St James's Gate) for some famous black magic. Alternatively, Dublin’s first microbrewery, The Porterhouse (16-18 Parliament Street), has a respectable choice of stouts, ales and lagers.

Quaff a hearty dinner at Gallagher's Boxty House (20-21 Temple Bar), before ending with a swift Guinness or two at the Brazen Head (20 Lower Bridge Street). But be warned: it’s easy to get swept up in the craic and charm of the live music at Ireland’s oldest taproom.

For more information read our full Dublin city guide.


Mini guide: Things to do in Vienna

Vienna tramVienna's trams are a speedy way to see the capital
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Vienna’s pedestrian-friendly nature and brilliant public transport make it possible to get acquainted with the Austrian capital in one afternoon. 

Begin your day with tea and pastries at local favourite Café Prückel (Stubenring 24). This local institution has been a local favourite for over 100 years. The apple strudel is a known crowd-pleaser, paired well with any of their numerous hot drinks.

Then, head across the street to the Museum of Applied Arts (Stubenring 5). After perusing the museum’s 13 rotating collections, hop on the Vienna Ringtram, which offers 30-minute guided tours of the Ringstrasse, Vienna’s answer to the Champs-Élysées.

There are more than 20 attractions accessible from Ringstrasse, including Vienna’s largest markets – Naschmarkt and Karmelitermarkt – which are home to dozens of food, clothing and jewellery vendors.

For dinner, head to the renowned Al Borgo restaurant (An der Hülben 1), which serves up some of the city's best Italian cuisine. Afterwards make a quick stop at Xocolat emporium (Freyung 2), home to over 400 varieties of chocolate, where you can grab a sweet treat for the flight home.

For more information read our full Vienna city guide.


Mini guide: Things to do in Munich

Munich dayFrom museums to beer halls, Munich has much to offer day trippers
Mapics / Thinkstock

Start the day by strolling through Marienplatz, Munich’s largest public square. Here, you’re surrounded by opulent, centuries-old architecture, alongside a mix of traditional German shops and cafés.

Before exploring the city proper, grab a coffee at Café Rischart (Marienplatz 18). Those with a sweet tooth may choose to opt out of a traditional Bavarian breakfast in favour of their famous tiramisu.

The BMW Museum (Am Olympiapark 2) and Deutsches Museum Verkehrszentrum (cars, airplanes and motorcycles – Museumsinsel 1) are great alternatives to the more traditional Glyptothek (Königsplatz 3) sculpture gallery, although this is a must for art lovers.

If you want to take in a bit more culture, the Municipal Gallery in Lenbach House (Luisenstraße 33) tops the list of the most respected art collections in the city.

To lunch like a local head to Andechser am Dom (Weinstraße 7a) for traditional Bavarian food, or the accurately titled Yum (Utzschneiderstraße 6) for lighter Thai cuisine in an upscale atmosphere. Finish the day off with a good brew (or glass of wine) at Augustiner Keller (Arnulfstraße 52) beer garden.

For more information read our full Munich city guide.


Mini guide: Things to do in Rome

Rome ruinsStep back to 753BC for the day and be home for bedtime
Sergey Borisov / Thinkstock

Italy’s capital has a lot more to offer than the Colosseum and offensively large portions of pasta.

First, head to Vatican City and check out the epic St Peter’s Square – the perfect spot for some touristy photo taking. To pack in as much sightseeing as possible, sign up for a Vatican Museum tour. Ranging in length from one to four hours, they include visits to the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica.

You’d have to try hard to find food in Italy not worth writing home about. But for a lunch so satisfying you won’t require dinner, try Da Fortunato al Pantheon (Via del Pantheon 55) or La Tavernacci (Via Panfilo Castaldi 12).

Assuming you can still move after lunch, the famed Pantheon (Piazza della Rotonda) is just up the street. And if you’re in the market for a new love interest, you may want to pay the nearby Trevi Fountain (Piazza di Trevi) a visit, where, legend has it, throwing a coin into the water leads to new romance.

No visit to Rome is complete without a trip to a gelateria. Finish your swift sojourn with a stop at Della Palma in Roma (Via della Maddalena 19-23) for traditional ice cream with a twist.

For more information read our full Rome city guide.


Mini guide: Things to do in Geneva

Geneva lakesStroll along the banks of Lake Geneva and be home for supper
GoranQ / Thinkstock

Geneva regularly tops the polls as one of the happiest places in the world – so perhaps some of that joviality will brush off on a day trip to the Swiss city.

Charge your batteries at Boréal Coffee Shop (Rue de Stand 60), which is lauded for its fine coffee and sweet treats. Then head to Eglise Russia (Rue de Beaumont 18), an unexpected, albeit welcome, attraction near the Old Town. With its shiny golden domes, this Russian Orthodox Church is one of the best preserved examples outside the motherland.

If you want to stick with the ecclesiastical theme, head to the magnificent Cathedrale de St-Pierre (Place du Bourg de Four 24). Alternatively drop by at the excellent Museum of Natural History (Route de Malagnou 1).

Invariably, Geneva’s prime attraction is the epic Lake Geneva. For exceptional food and fine views of the lake, stop for lunch at Beau Rivage (Quai du Mont-Blanc 13). Alternatively grab a sandwich, find a spot on the quay and admire the views.

Walk off lunch in the stunning Parc de La Perle du Lac or by sauntering around Geneva’s many shops. Rue de Paquis is lined with trendy vintage outlets and there’s a great flea market every Sunday at Plaine de Plainpalais.

Before the flight home, swing by the much-vaunted Favarger (Place du Marché) for fine Swiss chocolate.

For more information read our full Geneva city guide.

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