Europe is home to some iconic attractions; monuments that have stood the test of time, have hundreds of years of history surrounding them and attract millions of visitors every year. However, it’s this popularity which often dilutes your own experience. We’ve all been to amazing places that you can’t help but appreciate, only to have our time slightly tainted by the crowds of other people trying to enjoy those very same experiences.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. The internet is full of handy inside tips and tricks that will help you avoid the crowds at some of Europe’s most famous landmarks. We’ve gathered some of the best for you here.
- Consider booking online and choosing a specific date and time. Whilst there is the risk weather could scupper your climb, you will have the advantage of joining the shorter queues.
- Take the stairs. There are usually no queues to take the stairs up to the first two floors. Doing this saves on your entrance fee and means you get to visit the first floor, where there is a glass walkway, which the lifts go straight past. You do have to join the queues to reach the third floor, however.
- Arrive early. Check the opening times on the day you would like to visit and get there as early as possible.
- Visit during off-peak season. This calendar shows when visitors to the Eiffel tower are at their highest. The winter months obviously mean fewer people, but if you want to enjoy the nice weather and avoid the queues, Bastille Day (14th July) is a good option. Opening times are usually reduced, though.
- Book a date and time online to avoid the long line of people queuing to buy tickets on the day.
- Consider a guided tour. Booking a guided tour in advance will not only give you priority entrance to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, but the guide’s knowledge will also enhance your trip.
- Avoid buying ‘queue jump’ tickets from the touts prowling the line of tourists outside.
- Travel during the colder months for smaller crowds.
- Visit on a Friday. As the Vatican is closed on Sundays (except the last in every month), everybody visiting for the weekend will go on a Saturday. This often leaves Friday as the quietest day.
- Arrive mid-afternoon. Most people choose to visit the Vatican in the morning, meaning that the numbers usually die down after lunch. 2-3pm is probably the best time, but remember ticket desks close at 4pm and people are asked to start leaving at 5.30pm.
- Book tickets online in advance to skip the long queues on the day.
- When booking online, look for the time slots that still have the most tickets available, these are obviously when fewer people will be visiting. You are likely to find that odd times (quarter past or quarter to the hour) have fewer bookings.
- If you cannot book online or aren’t sure of your plans, look to arrive 20 minutes before opening time or at around 5pm. Just remember that arriving later could result in all the tickets for that day being sold already.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
- Book tickets online here and select your time slot to skip the queues on the day. You can purchase then up to three weeks in advance.
- Arriving just before closing time will mean less time waiting and you will get to enjoy the tower while it is lit up beautifully.
- When queues for the tower are at their peak, you can enjoy some time in the other sites on the Square of Miracles.
- Buy online tickets in advance here.
- Use the Carousel entrance instead of the main entrance by the pyramid. Although this is not as ‘secret’ as it once was, it can still offer shorter lines.
- Avoid visiting on a Monday. This is when the Orsay Museum is closed and so people flock to the Louvre instead.
- Go during the week. Parisians love their museums as much as tourists, so visiting on a weekday will help you avoid the crowds of locals who tend to go at the weekend.
- Buy a Museum Pass. If you want to visit more than one of Paris’s fantastic museums, a Museum Pass will allow you to join a separate, much shorter, queue at each attraction.
- If you’re under 25 and from the EU, walk straight in. If you have valid ID, you are under the age of 25 and live within the EU, you can skip the line. This is also the case for a lot of other attractions in Paris.
- Visit in the evening. On Wednesday and Friday, the Louvre opens late – until 9.45pm. The crowds are usually a lot smaller from around 6pm.
- Book your tickets online and in advance here. There are many different tours and combinations available.
- If not, arrive before 10am or at about 4pm to avoid the most popular hours.
- If you happen to arrive between 10am and 12pm, start in the gardens and make your way into the palace later on.
- Avoid the main entrance at the front of the palace and try the one on the left-hand side.
- January and February are when visitor numbers are at their lowest. March and November offer a good compromise between weather and crowds.
- Avoid December and any time when popular events are happening in Vienna.
- Acropolis tickets are not available to buy online.
- Many of the tourists arrive in Athens via cruise ships and typically get there between 9am and 10am. With this in mind, look to arrive at about 7.45am in time for when the site opens at 8am.
- The afternoon can also be a good time to choose, as you will avoid the peak periods and also not have to queue in the searing heat.
- Spring or October/November are the best times for reduced visitor numbers.
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
- Book a timed ticket online here and skip the main ticket lines on the day.
- Consider an I amsterdam Card. The pass includes entry to the Van Gogh Museum.
- Arrive on a Friday evening. The museum is open until 10pm every Friday night and entry after 6pm is likely to result in much smaller crowds.
- Leave your large rucksacks in the hotel. Large bags are not allowed in the museum, so if you want to avoid queuing for the cloakroom, leave it in the hotel.
- Visit when it is sunny. As soon as the heavens open, the queues start to form.
With these fantastic tips, you will be able to enhance your trip to any of Europe’s favourite attractions. If you want to visit any of the cities mentioned above, or somewhere else entirely, call us on 0800 988 3369 and we’ll tailor-make your holiday.