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Few things are worse than hitting an attraction five minutes after a tour group disembarked from a fleet of buses.  You just know the afternoon is going to be slow.  In addition,  you might be run over if you get in the way of the placard carrying, tour leader.  Well, we have a suggestion on how to avoid the crowds.  Read our recommendation and try it out.

 

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Travel Advice -  Don’t Follow the Crowd

You  arrive at the attraction that is the planned highlight of your day, when you are suddenly surrounded by a throng of travelers who are disembarking from a string of tour buses.  Most of these folks are on their seventeenth stop of the day and in a hurry to get back to the peace and quiet of their hotel. In other words, stay out of their way! There is little worse than being behind or surrounded by a large tour group (except, of course, if it is your tour group).

Tour groups have been trained to follow the placard held by the tour director (sounds Pavlovian, doesn't it?). Whenever the  tour director raises the sign, it feels like the start of a road race.  Some nationalities are worse than others and will scurry after the sign regardless of any obstacles, including you.  The tour groups are usually so large, that you cannot see over, around, or through them.

 

One trick that we have picked up for enjoying popular attractions is to tour the sites (if possible) in a direction counter to the established tour sequence.

  • If there is a large tour group proceeding through the facility, try to start at the other end and pass them in the middle.  
  • Often, there is a "suggested" route through the facility and most tour groups follow this path.
  • If the start point is congested and you can move to another location, try to start at the end of the path and move back towards the start.
  • Remember, there are few attractions that have to be seen in linear sequence.
  • Be flexible and you may avoid the crowds.

Example

During a visit to Le Mont-Saint-Michel (a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Normand, France), we entered the Abbey after several large groups had started their tours. Rather than following the suggested progression for viewing rooms (a numbered path), we started near the end and worked back to the beginning. In doing so, we inspected most rooms at leisure and ran into the tour groups only briefly as we passed on our way to the rooms they had recently evacuated. Most of the time, we were encountered empty rooms and found it enjoyable to explore the Abbey without looking over or around packs of visitors.

See our article Get there early or late for another strategy for avoiding crowds while touring.

 

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