Avoiding Crowds is becoming harder. Mass tourism is reality and impossible to reverse. As tourists we have to deal with some crowds but with good planning and a bit of strategic thinking we can avoid the biggest crowds. Here are our most important tips to avoid crowds.
All tips in this blog come from our book ‘How to Avoid Crowds‘Available now on Amazon!
Tip 1. Avoid Crowds by planning ahead
Planning ahead is key if you visit crowded cities. Think about where you want to go and how to get there, before you arrive. The more you prepare, the more you will see and experience. Things to consider are the sites you want to visit, transportation and perhaps even the restaurants where you want to eat. Once you have made up your mind, you can pre-book your tickets, make restaurant reservations and plan your transportation. By planning ahead, you will beat the crowds.
One smart thing to do is buying tickets in advance. For most cities this can be done here.
Tip 2. Start your day early
Perhaps the easiest win, is getting up early. Most tourists simply don’t do mornings. They are either enjoying breakfast, busy checking out of their hotels or have not even arrived in the city yet. Cruise ships usually arrive in port early morning. However, these ships are not immediately cleared by local authorities. That means cruise passengers and cruise excursions will not be hitting the city streets early in the morning. Another benefit of getting up early is the magic of golden hour. Empty streets and perfect natural sunlight will help you create the best Instagram shots you have ever taken.
Tip 3. Try alternative hotspots
If you want to experience real life in Europe, leave the city centers. Wander away from the beaten track and explore new parts of town. That way you will not only beat the crowds but you will also have a unique experience. You can find tons of information online about where to go. In Barcelona for example, you can visit the neighbourhoods of Gràcia and Sarriá. These are two former villages that have been absorbed into the expanding city.
Tip 4. Do your research
Research can save you a lot of time and money. Keep an eye out for local events or public holidays. It will be close to impossible to find an affordable hotel when the Champions League final is in town. Transportation will be limited if there are protestors running in the streets.
We keep track of local events in our daily crowd predictor but we also advise everyone to do some research yourself. Simply Google combine the name of the city with the date(s) of your visit. That way you will instantly find out if something big is going on. Also, be aware that some museums and attractions might close on public holidays or on Sundays. Therefore, always check the website of the attraction. Big cities often offer websites with information about events in English.
Tip 5. Avoid tourist traps
Tourist traps are both expensive and crowded. Most tourist traps are easy to recognise. Is the attraction, shop or restaurant there because of all the tourists? Or are the tourists there because of the attraction? That is the sole question that needs to be answered when assessing whether something is a tourist trap.
Are the tourists there because of the attraction? Or the other way around?The sole question that needs to be answered to avoid tourists traps.
The Amsterdam Dungeon can be found in London and Berlin and is solely there because of the tourists. Nothing about these attractions is authentic or historic. Without tourists it will disappear. The same goes for small shops offering overpriced products to tourists and tourists alone. How to recognize these? Look for translations, if the shop markets its offering in English only, it’s probably because tourists are the sole target group. If the menu card is written in the local language but there is a translation, that is usually just fine.
Tip 6. Choose the right dates.
Crowds are predictable. By looking at school vacations, public holidays and cruise ship movements, we can easily predict when it will be busy. That way you can avoid crowds. We combine all this data in our Avoid Crowds daily crowd predictor. Simply enter your date and destination and we will tell you if you should expect big crowds or not. However, we currently offer our predictive analytics only for a few European destinations.
How to choose the right dates yourself? That is also simple, first of all Google the dates of your planned vacation. Do you find any big events? A good second step is to compare hotel prices for different dates. Are there only a few rooms available at extortionate prices? In that case it is likely that it will be crowded. If you want us to add a city to Avoid-Crowds.com let us know by sending an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.