Friday 20 March 2015
If you talk to anyone who has been to one of Europe's major cultural or tourist attractions you will probably hear about the queues. For many people it is almost impossible to tell the story of their visit without first mentioning how long they spent queuing to get tickets, queuing to go through security, queuing to see the main attractions, queuing for food - you get the idea.
So here is a question - is it possible to see the best that Europe has to offer without spending large amounts of time queuing? The answer to that is yes.
Well, sort off yes. The reason that Europe has a reputation for long queues is because there are long queues. If you follow the tips and advice on this page you will avoid most of them, but it is impossible to avoid them all.
Why is this? Lots of people want to see and visit Europe's most popular attractions. The problem is that many of them were built a long time ago by people who could not have predicted that thousands of people per day would soon want to visit.
So, bearing that in mind, here are our top four tips for avoiding Europe's queues.
1. Get Off the Beaten Track
You will want to see many of the main attractions in Europe, but don't spend your whole trip doing that. Remember you could spend a lifetime in Europe and still only experience a fraction of the cultural and natural experiences that it has to offer.
The best advice is to be selective - choose the main attractions that you really want to see, and then spend the rest of your time visiting the places that other tourists don't usually go - the restaurants, cafes, boutique shops, smaller cultural centres, etc.
2. When to Visit?
Some attractions in Europe are busy all year, but you can avoid some queues by visiting in the off peak seasons. For Europe this means the winter months of December, January and February. You will also experience smaller crowds at the end of autumn (October and November) and the start of spring (March and April - although the Easter holiday period is busy in most European destinations).
The warmer months from May through to September are the busiest times, so usually attract the most crowds.
3. Get the Timing Right
For most of Europe's attractions, timing is everything. This means visiting as soon as they open, or leaving it until much later in the day. Most crowds arrive at the main attractions at the same sort of time - around 10am. This applies to both independent tourists, and to those on coach tours. But getting up and going a bit quicker means you can beat the main queues of the day by an hour or more.
Leaving it until late afternoon is also an option. This takes a bit of planning, though, as you will need to work out how long it will take you to get around the attraction.
4. Pre Book
Our final tips are to pre book or pre-buy your ticket to the attraction. This will mean you don't have to queue to buy tickets with everyone else, and in some cases it means you will have a guaranteed entrance time.
Tickets for many attractions can be bought online, often with a discount so you can save money. You can also buy from other vendors and kiosks which may charge slightly more, but at least you won't have to queue.