The Crowd Curse: How to Avoid the Masses While Traveling

Posted on September 7, 2011


Getting caught in a tourist trap can happen to anyone.

Nothing can dampen a beautiful view or an art masterpiece like a loud, obnoxious and tightly-packed crowd. If you want to see the incredible places that Europe has to offer but still want to avoid the masses, this article offers ways to avoid the large crowds of tourists commonly found in Europe and at popular attractions.

By Gina Mussio

When traveling in a new city it’s only natural to want to make the most out of your time. When you encounter walls of tourists snapping “candids,” swarming the shops, and clogging the sites, it can be very disappointing! Don’t let endless lines and massive crowds stifle your enthusiasm. With a few minor adjustments and the tips below, you can avoid the major crowds and still enjoy your travels.

  • Travel during the off season.
    Europe has its “high season”, the season that hosts the most tourists, from June to August. Shy away from the summer months when you want to travel to popular countries and tourist sites. This can range to a degree by specific location so check before booking! The weeks leading up to Christmas are cool, calm, and infused with a sense of holiday joy.
  • Reserve in advance.
    If your must-see list includes a city’s most popular attractions, try making reservations in advance. This can move you to the front of the line and ensure that you get to visit even the most crowded and popular attractions.
  • Go during “off” hours.
    Early morning hours in Europe are often surprisingly clear of tourists (and even locals). Arrive as soon as a museum or other sight opens and you may get in with little to no wait. For example, in order to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence with little lines, go early in the morning. You may just be the only one up there enjoying the beautiful view! Many museums also prohibit tour groups after 16:00, reducing the lines outside and the crowds inside.
  • Explore outside of the main attractions.
    Busloads of tourists and other tour groups visit the top landmarks of any city. They invade quickly, cause a ruckus, and fly off to the next landmark. Escape the crowds by making your own route and visiting some less popular sites, which are often more interesting anyway. For example, in Florence the Stibbert Museum trumps the David, but the wait for the latter is often hours longer. Wandering through a city and savoring its environment is just as important as visiting its famous landmarks.

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