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Travel Tips

How To Escape the Crowds When Traveling (Even During Peak Season)



July 5, 2024

6 min read

As much as we love to tell our members to invite the unexpected, to leave room for spontaneity, and to not rule out the deal that pops up in their inbox for the destination that they’ve never considered going, we get the draw. Places like London and Rome and New York and Barcelona: They’re beautiful, full of history, and certainly worth seeing. 

For people with a bit of flexibility in their schedule, it may be worth holding off until shoulder season, just to be able to see these places without some of the crowds. But for others who are bound to work schedules and school schedules and other obligations, you may have no choice but to experience them in the summer peak season—with everyone else. 

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to enjoy them, but it does mean that you may have to get a little creative with how you structure your trip. Here are some of our tips for how to see the world while escaping the crowds (with some wise words from Going employees). 

1. Wake up early

When you’re traveling halfway around the world, it’s understandable that you’d want to see the big sights, especially if it’s your first time visiting the place. Going to Rome? It’d be tough to miss the Colosseum. Heading to Sydney? The eponymous opera house is practically begging for a spot on your itinerary. 

But rather than heading there in the late morning or afternoon with the rest of the city, try setting your alarm for around sunrise. Hey, the early bird doesn’t get the photo op without 10,000 tourists in it without a little effort. 

If you’re not an early riser, no worries. Just be sure to confirm the most popular times at the places that you’re hoping to visit. 

Google Maps can be a huge help here. Open the app, and search the place, whether it’s a restaurant, museum, or monument. Scroll down to the ‘Popular times’ section, and flip between the days of the week to see which days are busiest at which times.

Better yet, check the websites of the places that you’re hoping to visit to see if there are open times outside their standard schedule. For instance, a museum may stay open after hours on certain days of the week. Often, these times attract fewer tourists.  

Going Tip #1

“The Louvre in Paris stays open late on Wednesdays and Fridays. Go after 6pm on those days to miss most of the crowds.” 

- Lanie H., Associate Product Operations Specialist at Going


3. Buy tickets ahead of time

Visiting museums—we’re talking big-name ones like the Sistine Chapel, the Prado, and the Rijksmuseum—are inevitably going to be busy no matter what time of day that you visit in the summer peak season. 

Rather than waiting in a busy line to get into an equally busy museum, buy your tickets online ahead of time if it’s somewhere that you know you want to go. When it’s time for your visit, you can usually bypass the line (or stand in a much, much shorter line) to get in. 

4. Don’t be afraid of travel books

In this digital age of travel, it’s likely that you’ve seen hundreds—if not thousands—of recommendations on Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest before you even step foot off the plane. And there are some real gems to be found on social media! But you’re probably not the only one seeing them…the algorithm told us so. 

Instead, consider kicking it back to the late-20th century and early noughties, when good old-fashioned guide books ruled the school. Often, these guidebooks are written by locals or, at the very least, someone who is deeply familiar with a destination and can provide invaluable tips to see the city through a different lens. 

Going Tip #2

"I had a Greek Islands guidebook that recommended staying in Imerovigli instead of Oia, which gets busy, particularly with cruise tourists. While it still had tourists and was close enough to the restaurants and shops in Oia and Fira, Imerovigli was way quieter and had  a better sunset—even the locals agreed!" 

- Audrey Ann Wright, Software Engineer at Going

5. Ditch the public transit

Sometimes taking public transit is mandatory, and to that, we say head on down to #6. But for those who are able and have time on their hands, avoiding metros, buses, and even taxis can be one of the best and most freeing ways to escape the summer crowds. Hear us out.

During the hours of about 7–9am and 4–6pm, you’re not only dealing with tourists aboard the trains and buses, you’re also vying for a seat against commuters who are heading into work. Double trouble. Plus, by ditching the public transit, you get to (quite literally) take the road less traveled—down alleys, along waterways, and through neighborhoods—to see sides of a city that you might not otherwise get the chance to see. (More on this below!)

6. Follow the local crowds 

Speaking of taking the road less traveled, consider the kind of trip that you’d like to have. If you’re keen for one where you’re pushed a bit outside of your comfort zone but rewarded with vistas rarely seen and under-the-radar food worth a five-star rating, follow the local crowds rather than the international ones. 

In a crowded city, venturing into less-touristy areas (like we mentioned earlier) is one way to do it. It unlocks restaurants, cafes, watering holes, boutiques, and galleries, often occupied by “locals who know.” And those can often be the places that you remember for years to come. 

But beyond that, traveling to the destinations where locals visit, rather than the big names, is another surefire way to break away from the crowds. There may be other things to contend with, like language barriers and lack of transit, but if you’re willing and able to find workarounds, you can be rewarded greatly. 

Going Tip #3

“Many European destinations, in particular, have well established cultures around heading out of the cities to the sea, the mountains, or the countryside, and facilities to match. While in Palermo recently, I avoided the monuments and churches entirely. Instead, I piled on the bus with the Palermitani and went to the natural reserve outside the city to throw myself into a ridiculously beautiful sea with the locals.” 

- Willis Orlando, Manager, Travel Operations & Insights at Going

7. Check for local holidays and events

Again, this comes down to the kind of trip that you’re wanting to have. Holidays can be a wonderful way to experience the local culture of a place—just be prepared for lots of people. 

Celebrations that you’re going to want to keep an eye out for include cultural festivals (like the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, each July), sporting events (the Paris Olympics will be a big one this year), and concerts (ever heard of the Eras tour?), all of which can increase foot traffic in a city by tens or even hundreds of thousands. 

In addition to huge events like these, you’ll also want to note local holidays, not just when patrons come out in droves, but also when businesses shutter so the people there can kick their own feet up. Europeans often take holidays from June–August, and while this can mean less crowds, it can also mean fewer options, as it’s not uncommon for entire towns (usually smaller ones) to close up almost entirely.

8. Eat early (or late)

Museums and monuments aside, one of the hardest places to bust through the crowds can be at a restaurant around 7pm. While this is the exact time that most Europeans eat dinner, it can vary widely from country to country. 

A couple years ago, this map of dinner times throughout Europe went semi-viral, showing just how diverse tea time can get. In the Nordic countries, it’s common for locals to eat from 4–6pm, while in Spain or Portugal, locals will be looking for a reservation more around 9–10:30pm. Eating dinner on the earlier or later end—depending on where you’re traveling—can increase the chances that you’ll avoid a good amount of the crowds.

Going Tip #4

“I’m a morning person through and through, but when I traveled to Barcelona, I let that routine relax a bit. I ate dinner later, which often led to a more lively atmosphere among the locals. Sure, I needed that siesta come mid-afternoon the next day, but that’s what you’re supposed to do in Spain, right?” 

- Brooke Vaughan, Content Marketing Manager at Going

Published July 5, 2024

Last updated July 5, 2024

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