How to Avoid the Line at Popular Tourist Attractions

Vacations are a blast until you hit the dreaded line—and it seems like there are lines for everything. Here's how you can cut to the front.

Medium shot of line of people's legsPhoto: Collin Quinn Lomax/Shutterstock

Psst—here’s how to avoid the line!

Travelling is an adventure, and you probably want to make the most of every minute—especially if you’re on a faraway, once-in-a-lifetime getaway. Unfortunately, long lines that suck an hour (or more) out of your day tend to be part of the experience. Thankfully, there are some tried-and-true methods for beating the crowds at even the most popular tourist attractions.

Check for skip-the-line tickets

The extra fee tacked onto queue-jump tickets is invaluable when you consider how much more time you’ll get to spend gazing at exhibits instead of staring at the back of someone’s head in line. Buy an express pass from official vendors of sites like the Roman Colosseum or Tokyo’s Sky Tree, or hunt down third-party fast-track options, which often include a guided tour. (Don’t miss these airport tips for seniors!)

Snag your ticket ahead of time

At some attractions, skipping the line doesn’t cost you any extra money—just a little bit of extra planning. The Eiffel Tower, for instance, doesn’t have an official skip-the-line option, but buying passes up to 60 days ahead of time means you’ll blow straight past the ticketing line and get a jump ahead at security. At the Vatican, you can reserve your tickets two months in advance, too; the Acropolis in Athens gives you the flexibility to arrive any time of day, even if you pick a specific hour. If you’re the type who likes to plan out itineraries ahead of time, options like these are no-brainers. (Check out these must-have travel accessories for the frequent flyer.)

Buy a city-wide pass

For those who want to squeeze in as much as possible rather than focusing on one must-see attraction, a pass that covers the whole city could be a good option. For instance, the London Pass lets you skip the line at big-name spots like St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Zoo. For American visits, you’ll want to look into CityPASS; it has options for 13 cities around the country. Not every attraction includes expedited entry, but you can avoid the main line at some attractions, such as Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary and the Skydeck Chicago.

Get a group together

Travelling in packs can be a blessing, and not just because of the great company. Plenty of museums and attractions would rather know about and plan around large groups, speeding them through their visits—starting with the line. At the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., for instance, groups of 20 or more can get quicker entry starting May 2019.

Psst—memorize these packing tips before your next trip!

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest