If there’s one thing about travel that sucks, it’s getting caught up in long queues or big crowds. All you want to do is visit somewhere like the Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, Grand Canyon or Great Wall, but so do a million other travel-lovers! While I can’t tell you how to make them all disappear, I can share with you some much sought after, insider tips on how to avoid the crowds. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and, hopefully, use that time to eat more food, see more things and have more fun! Here are my must-know tips on how to avoid the insane crowds at these 23 famous tourist hotspots.
Got another tip for avoiding crowds at famous tourist attractions? I’d love to hear it! Please share in the comments below, to help others (and me!).
1. Grand Canyon
Beating the crowds at the Grand Canyon is a lot easier than you’d think. Most people will be visiting from Vegas, catching the bus out to the Grand Canyon, which means they’ll board in the morning and arrive around midday. To avoid all the dorks on the loser cruiser, stay nearby, wake up before dawn and head out to watch the sunrise over the Grand Canyon. It’s the best way to see it! Another top tip is to visit during the cooler months, so you avoid the summer peak season.
2. The Colosseum
When you first see that huge line of tourists waiting outside Rome’s Colosseum, you feel a bit sick. But, never fear, there’s no need for you to line up for hours in the hot sun to get inside. Instead, head to the nearby Palatino, a short walk from the Colosseum. Purchase a ticket to explore the gorgeous Palatino and the Colosseum, for around 12€. You’ll get to see the Palatino, which you probably wouldn’t have before, and afterwards make a beeline past the ridiculous line-up, right into the Colosseum.
It isn’t easy to avoid all the visitors at Uluru, but it is possible to take the edge off the number of people you’re dealing with. Your best bet is to avoid the peak times, which means visiting outside June, July, and August. Try planning your trip for April-May or September-October, where you’ll find fewer tourists lurking around. Your next step is to get up super early and catch the sunrise. Be sure to join a tour led by local Indigenous guides, you’ll learn so much more about the area!
To beat the crazy crowds at Versailles, with its 10 million visitors each year, your best option is to join a group tour. Groups get special entry, meaning you don’t have to line up like a chump with the rest of the public. This is also a good idea because you’ll get access to parts of the Palace regular entrants don’t! Pre-purchase your spot on a group tour online and laugh your way inside, past the queues!
5. Great Wall of China
Visiting the Great Wall in winter will see you missing the huge crowds usually present in summer months. Don’t let the cold weather turn you off, the Great Wall looks absolutely stunning covered in a blanket of snow, like an other-worldly fantasy. If visiting in winter isn’t possible, try heading to less well-known sections of the Wall, like Jinshanling or Mutianyu, where we visited.
6. The Shard
Taking a trip up to the top of The Shard in London will set you back almost $50AU! While the views are worth it, the entry fee is insane. Save time and money by heading around to the restaurant side of the building and treating yourself to a cocktail or beer instead. You’ll save money on entry, time getting up there and you’ll get to sit and let it all soak in for a bit longer. Perfect.
7. Taj Mahal
To beat the crowds at the Taj Mahal, you’ll need to stay nearby and visit at dawn. Most tourists don’t show up until later in the day, so showing up at sunrise will ensure you have the best light to photograph in, giving you super dreamy shots, and also help you avoid the heat and the crowds! It may also pay to get a private guide to show you the best spots for photographs.
8. Bourbon Street
Heading to New Orleans? You will, undoubtedly, want to experience the incredible sights and sounds of Bourbon Street. Rather than get caught up in the craziness of it all, swept along by tourists and falling prey to pickpockets, your best bet is to watch from up high. Stake out a seat at a bar overlooking Bourbon Street, where you can relax with a cold drink and great music instead. It’ll be must less stressful and you’ll have the time to let it soak in. You can also look at visiting during the hot off-season of June, July, and August.
9. Anne Frank House
The incredibly well known Anne Frank House is a must-visit for anyone going to Amsterdam. But, the queues are notoriously wild, with visitors often waiting up to two hours in the peak season. To avoid this, you absolutely must pre-book your tickets online. Tickets sell out quick but can be booked up to two months in advance, so as soon as you know your travel dates, book your tickets. You’ll get an arrival time and save yourself a whole lot of trouble lining up for hours outside.
Being the busiest 19 museums you’ll ever come across, it’s virtually impossible to totally skip the crowds. But you can diminish the number of people you encounter! The Smithsonian is a hot-spot for school groups, by visiting early in the morning or close to closing time, you’re more likely to avoid them.
11. The Louvre
Avoiding the famously huge crowds at The Louvre can seem impossible, but it isn’t! Get yourself a Paris Pass, which gives you fast-track entry to places like The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou and more! This means you don’t have to line up like a chump. If the Paris Pass isn’t for you, then try visiting The Louvre on a Wednesday or Friday night, when it stays open until 10 pm, and tourists are scarce.
12. Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
If you’ve ever been to the Vatican before, you’ll know how horrifying those huge queues and crowds are and, let’s be honest, when you’re on holiday in Europe you don’t have time to waste standing in stupid queues! To beat the queues here, pre-purchase an entry ticket online. You’ll get a specific entry time and you won’t have to join those terrifying queues, saving you hours! If that doesn’t sound like the right fit for you, try visiting close to closing time.
13. Blue Mosque
Want to skip the crowds at Istanbul’s famed Blue Mosque? Word on the street is your best time to visit is just after the first call to prayer, at sunrise. If that sounds too early, make sure you arrive no later than 10am, because that’s when things start to heat up, with loads of tourists pouring in to check it out.
14. The Monuments in Washington DC
Mad about history? Planning a trip to see the various memorials and monuments in Washington DC? These spots are insanely crowded during the daytime, but totally different once the sun goes down. Plan to visit in the evening, once all the tourists have left to get their dinner. They’re all lit up beautifully, making for great night photography spots!
15. Basilica Di San Marco
Visiting Venice and planning on scoping out the Basilica Di San Marco? While entry is free, you can often line up for an hour or more to get inside. That’s precious time you just don’t have to waste standing around! Instead, book online for around 2€. You can book up to 10 minutes before you want to go inside and you won’t have to line-up, saving you a whole lotta time better spent eating pasta. The pre-book option is available April to October.
16. Van Gogh Museum
Planning a trip to Amsterdam? You can beat the huge lines at the famous Van Gogh museum by visiting after 5 pm on a Friday evening when most visitors head out to grab a delicious dinner. You can also get yourself an I Amsterdam City Card, which you can use to skip the ticket lines and gain free entry to a ton of places, including the Van Gogh Museum.
Just like the Grand Canyon, you’ll find most visitors to Stonehenge are part of a bus tour that gets them there around midday. To avoid the crowds, try getting there at sunrise or sunset. You’ll beat the crowds but also get to take the most gorgeous shots! Stay close by and hire a car to make seeing it at the optimal time that much easier.
18. Tower of London and Kensington Palace
Skip the queues at the Tower of London and Kensington Palace by purchasing a London Pass online. You’ll get fast track entry to both the Tower of London and Kensington Palace as well as other places too, like Kew Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, and the London Zoo. Of course, the pass also offers up some other bonuses too, freebies and whatnot.
19. The Pyramids of Giza
This place is crawling with visitors! Because they’re so famous, you’re not really going to be able to avoid the crowds at the The Great Pyramid, but what you can do is sneak away to the Pyramids of Dashur instead. They’re just as well preserved as those at Giza, but with significantly fewer tourists.
20. Angkor Wat
I won’t lie to you, there is no way to guarantee you miss the groups of tourists at Angkor Wat, but there are some things you can do to minimise the number of tourists you encounter. Your best bet is to avoid the peak season by visiting from late October through to November. Most will try to catch the temple at sunrise, so I’d recommend visiting then too, but hanging around for an hour or so afterward to get less crowded shots. I will also say, if you go all the way through Angkor Wat, you can get great shots at the exit, with few people around!
21. Eiffel Tower
It’s not easily done, but you do have a few options to beating the crowds at the Eiffel Tower. Firstly, you can just lay on the grass and gaze up at it lovingly. If you’re after a more hands-on experience, you can lug your big booty up the 1,000 odd stairs to the top or pre-book your tickets online. Neither of those sounds great, right? Perhaps the most enjoyable way to avoid the crowds is to make reservations at one of the two restaurants on-site. They aren’t cheap, but they will serve you delicious food, you’ll skip the queues and it’ll be a pretty unforgettable meal.
22. Niagara Falls
To miss the crowds at Niagara Falls, you’ll need to be up early. Try getting there before 9 am, at the very latest. You’ll want to stay nearby to pull this off, rather than jumping on a bus or tour from NYC. If that isn’t a possibility for you, try visiting in the winter months. The cold temperatures scare off most visitors.
23. Brooklyn Bridge
If you’re visiting NYC, there’s a good chance you’ll want to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and get some gorgeous photos while you’re at it. You’ll find it crawling with tourists from 8 am onwards in the warmer months. Your best bet to avoid those crowds is to visit in the evening, once everyone else has gone in search of dinner, let’s so from around 8 pm onwards. You’ll get some great night shots and a much less crowded bridge to play on. Visiting in winter is also a good bet if you want to skip all those summer holiday makers.