6 tips to buck the tourist crush on your next overseas trip
Hell is other people, as Jean-Paul Satre observed. Try these smart strategies to avoid the crowds when visiting top tourist attractions
1. STAY OVER
Anywhere popular with day-trippers will be much quieter in the mornings and evenings. So book a hotel and explore the hotspots outside the busiest hours, and the less popular areas in the middle of the day.
2. TIME IT RIGHT
First thing in the morning normally offers a lull. But not always. The Valley of the Kings in Luxor, for example, is often deserted during the hottest part of the day. Endure the heat and you can visit the tombs in peace.
There is a useful widget on Google search that helps spot these trends. Type in the name of the sight and, scrolling down, in the results panel on the right, you will often get a chart titled "Popular times" which shows when it's busiest.
An obvious strategy is to avoid days when free entry is offered. Both the Louvre and the Vatican Museums have one free day a month - and they get very crowded.
3. THINK LATERALLY
If you like visiting a city for food and museums, for example, then go in winter, when the galleries are empty, and the restaurants full of locals. Many great cities, such as Vienna and St Petersburg, are at their best in the snow. And there are plenty of others that are pleasantly warm in winter.
4. BOOK IN ADVANCE
This is an obvious but vital way to avoid queues for entrance to popular sights - especially if you can print your ticket in advance.
5. PRIVATE ACCESS
Many of the most popular sights, including the Sistine Chapel, offer visits outside of normal visiting hours. It can be expensive, but if you book it as a guided tour, you will often get much better value and a great guide.
6. ATTEND MASS
Attending a church service can be one of the most moving ways to see the great cathedrals without feeling suffocated by the tourist hordes. After all, it was how these great buildings were meant to be experienced. If you dress appropriately and stay until the dismissal, you will be welcome. - The Daily Telegraph