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Buying Advance Tickets for Spain/Italy

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Mar 13th, 2014, 11:30 AM
  #1
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Buying Advance Tickets for Spain/Italy

My wife and I will be touring through Spain and Italy in June and these are the destinations we have already booked accommodation for (in order):

Barcelona
Venice
Florence
Sorrento
Rome

We have our flight into Barcelona (from Canada) and out of Rome as well as a flight on RyanAir that will take us from Barcelona to Venice already booked. The remaining stops (after Venice) will be transported by Trenitalia. Which poses my first question. Should we reserve our train tickets on Trenitalia now or wait until we are there? I'm not sure if these trains sell out pretty quickly or if they are pretty flexible and can be purchased at the time of travel.

My next and primary question is purchasing advance tickets for attractions in these cities. First of all, what would be a good resource for buying these tickets ahead of time to "skip the line"? Would something like Viator.com be the best resource for this?

To give you an idea, here are some of the attractions we are interested in and figured we should look into advance tickets for to avoid waiting in long queues. There are more attractions but these are the only ones I could think of that would benefit us if we had advance tickets.

BARCELONA - Guell Palace, La Sagrada Familia, Picasso Museum, La Pedrera, Casa Batllo, Guell Park, Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour.

VENICE - Palazzo Ducale, Venice walking Tour (St. Mark's Basilica)

FLORENCE - Uffizi Gallery, Duomo, Galleria dell'Accademia, Possible Day-Trip Siena.

SORRENTO - Ferry trip through Amalfi Coast, Pompeii.

ROME - Ancient Rome, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Vatican Museum.

If you think there is something obvious that I missed, please let me know. As usual, your feedback is greatly appreciated!!!
Nightfawl is offline  
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Mar 13th, 2014, 11:53 AM
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You can buy the Italy train tickets using either the Trenitalia site or (easier) the www.italiarail.com site and either print them out at home or be given a special number you can input into any ticket machine in Italy to retrieve all your tickets.
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Mar 13th, 2014, 12:00 PM
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Trenitalia. Which poses my first question. Should we reserve our train tickets on Trenitalia now or wait until we are there? I'm not sure if these trains sell out pretty quickly or if they are pretty flexible and can be purchased at the time of travel.>

train tickets are IME of years of Italian train travel always available even on the day of travel on those main routes between main cities - there are so so many trains - but the reason for buying early on www.trenitalia.com is to get some nifty discounted tickets - some as low as 9 euros flat fare on high-speed routes like you are taking (those must be booked months in advance however when their limited in number amounts come on the site

but other discounts can be bought often right up to a few weeks or even less before the train - note these tickets are train-specific and cannot be changed (at the same price) nor refunded - if you want flexibility just buy as you go along - you can see the various fares on www.trenitalia.com and how much you can save.

Some folks like the more relaxed atmosphere of first class, like myself, bigger seats, fewer seats in same size train car - easier usually to stow luggage - complementary beverage and snack and Italian newspaper en route, etc then if you want flexibility to chose trains as you go actually an Italy Railpass could save money in either class perhaps if you want flexibility compared to full fare.

Some great sites for info on Italian trains: www.seat61.com (good info on discouted tickets); www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. www.trenitalia.com has flummoxed many Fodor posters in the past so expect some time getting used to it - but there are always helpful Fodorites around to help you thru the fog of www.trenitalia.com - like trenitalia.com guru kybourbon amongst others who always will help you make it work and help you save money if you go the discounted ticket route.
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Mar 13th, 2014, 12:18 PM
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For 2nd class for those routes, walk-up fares are still cheaper than a rail pass.
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Mar 13th, 2014, 01:16 PM
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You should book your tickets to the Uffizi in Florence. I think it cost about 10Euro more to do this but if you do, you do not have to wait in a long line to get in. There is a special area that you pick up your tickets and you get into a line which is very, very short for those that have already purchased their tickets. It is very worth it to not have to stand in line for an hour when you will be walking through the museum itself for a few hours.
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Mar 13th, 2014, 02:19 PM
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Barcelona - Palau Guell and Picasso Museum had no lines when I was there last April and few visitors. The Picasso Museum had multiple ticket windows. No need to book these ahead. On another thread someone said there were long lines at Parc Guell but I can't imagine that would happen. I was at the entrance for several minutes taking photos and not many people came through the gates during that time (Sunday morning).

Italy - book Doges Palace, Uffizi, Accademia, Colosseum, and Vatican ahead.

I use the web site of the attraction to book advanced tickets. You should compare pricing between individual web sites and Viator - I've never used Viator to book admissions.

Since I was not aware that Viator sold admission tickets I just looked at what they have for Barcelona. They only have one from your list - Casa Batllo - so you will need to go to the individual sites to buy tickets.
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Mar 13th, 2014, 03:29 PM
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Online tickets for Barcelona sights to avoid lines and long waits:
- Sagrada Familia: http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/?lang=0
- Casa Battló: http://www.casabatllo.es/en/online-tickets/
- Casa Milà/La Pedrera: http://www.lapedrera.com/en/buy-your-ticket
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Mar 13th, 2014, 03:49 PM
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If you use www.italiarail.com to buy rail tickets they may charge you a small fee. (www.trenitalia.com doesn't charge a fee, but italiarail is easier to use) But if you email the reference number to [email protected] they will refund you the fee (info from seat61.com - I tried it recently & it works!
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Mar 13th, 2014, 03:54 PM
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Viator is a reseller of tours operated by other companies. Like consolidators, they buy up unsold tours or tickets at a discount and see them for what they can get. They can sometimes save you a little money, but the quality of the tour depends on who's running it.

A rail pass will never save you money in Italy, unless you compare a 2nd class rail pass to the cost of 1st class walkup tickets, which is really not a valid comparison. And the reason that first class is so uncrowded is that Italians don't think it's worth paying 30% more for the tickets. I only travel 1st class when there is a discount that brings the price down to the level of what I can get when there are no more discounts left for 2nd class. Other than that, only tourists with 1st class rail passes and businesspeople with expense accounts use 1st class.

Also, there are no more €9 tickets on the high-speed Frecciarossa trains. You can still get them on the Intercity trains, which are mostly rather slow and in need of some sprucing up.

In Florence, you should reserve the Uffizi and the Accademia in advance to avoid long queues. I would make sure you really want to see the Uffizi. I've heard lots of people complain that it was boring, just one Madonna after another. It's a huge museum, and highly specialized in Italian Renaissance painting, so it could seem much of a muchness if you're not an avid fan of that period. If you don't know Pinturicchio from Modigliani, you might want to give it a miss. You can see some wonderful Renaissance art in some of the churches in Florence. I don't know how to go about getting tickets in advance in Florence, because I've always visited the museums in the winter, when it wasn't necessary.

In Rome, you should buy tickets in advance for the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum if you don't want to wait in long queues. For the Colosseum, you have the alternative of buying the tickets at the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill entrances, because that site rarely has a line, and the tickets are good for both sites.

http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/...?weblang=en&do
http://www.coopculture.it/en/colosseo-e-shop.cfm
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Mar 14th, 2014, 09:21 AM
  #10
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TRAINS - Since we already have all of our accommodation sorted out, we already have an idea of what times would be ideal to take the trains between the different locations in Italy. For example, we plan on taking an evening train from Venice to Florence. The last train is at 7:25pm but I don't think I will reserve the last train just to be safe. Probably take the 2nd last train at 6:25pm. Prices are about 19 euro per person, which is fine with me. We might actually pay the extra 10 euros for 1st class to make it more enjoyable. I'll probably use www.trenitalia.com this weekend to reserve all of our tickets.

TICKETS - So to summarize, here are the attractions that should be purchased ahead of time to avoid long lines:

Sagrada Familia
Casa Batllo
La Padrera
Casa Mila
Parc Guell
Doges Palace
Uffizi Museum
Accademia
Colosseum
Vatican Museum

Am I missing anything for the 5 destinations?

And finally, would you recommend any walking tours? We're thinking of the hop-on hop-off bus in Barcelona and possibly a walking tour in Venice (Doges Palace) and in Rome for the Vatican and Colosseum.
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Mar 14th, 2014, 01:27 PM
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La Pedrera and Casa Mila are the same thing - don't buy duplicates tickets!

I love walking tours. I would do one for the Colosseum, Vatican and the Doges Palace Secret Itinerary (a tour is mandatory for the Secret Itinerary part of the palace).

I bought tickets for the docent led tour (rather than audio) of Sagrada Familia and did a Bari Gotic walking tour given by the TI in Barcelona.

Are you going to the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona? If so, buy these tickets ahead as you can only tour with a guide and the groups are small.

I'm not a fan of sitting on buses so would not do the HOHO bus.
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Mar 14th, 2014, 01:28 PM
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Also buy Accademia tickets ahead (the one in Florence).
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Mar 14th, 2014, 04:23 PM
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Hi Nightfawl
I quite enjoyed the hoho bus in Barclona as it had a good selection of lines to chose from and Barcelona is spread out.The traffic was flowing well and I always find it a good way to get my bearings.
I recently bought train tickets from Trenitalia and found it very easy .The only process that may stop/concern you is how your credit card facility processes the transaction eg security code etc.I had no problems.
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Mar 14th, 2014, 05:14 PM
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I would also suggest buying tickets in advance for Galleria Borghese if you want to go visit.
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Mar 14th, 2014, 05:21 PM
  #15
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Should I buy all tickets from the official websites of the attractions or do you guys know of a better resource that may bundle attractions together or for cheaper?
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Mar 14th, 2014, 05:23 PM
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Buy from official sites. You have to call the Colosseum by phone if you want to do the Underground tour.
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Mar 14th, 2014, 07:58 PM
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>>>You should book your tickets to the Uffizi in Florence. I think it cost about 10Euro more to do this but if you do,<<<

Uffizi ticket is 6.50€ + a 4€ reservation fee if purchased online (official website - other websites are higher). You may or may not have an exhibit fee that is extra (3-4€). Most museums in Italy will have some type of exhibit in the higher seasons.

>>>do you guys know of a better resource that may bundle attractions together or for cheaper?<<<

Not for Italy unless you book something like the Roma Pass and lay out your itinerary to take advantage of the higher priced sites as your first two entrances.

>>>Prices are about 19 euro per person, which is fine with me. We might actually pay the extra 10 euros for 1st class to make it more enjoyable<<<

Sometimes you can find 1st class almost as cheap as 2nd, but not often. Your train rides are short (2 hours is the longest) so class is not all that important.2nd class is more roomy than economy on a flight. This is a pic of 2nd class on the fast train (Trenitalia).

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ssainterno.jpg

You can buy on Trenitalia in advance to get discounts or buy all of your tickets at the train station in Venice when you arrive.

>>>The remaining stops (after Venice) will be transported by Trenitalia. <<<

Naples/Sorrento is not Trenitalia, it's Circumvesuviana (no advance tickets possible).

I doubt all ferry schedules are out yet, but would buy these upon arrival day in Sorrento as ferries don't run that often and can book up if you need a certain time.

I would not use resellers such as Viator or Italiarail. It just adds a middleman and more restrictions to your purchase. They also tack on their own fees.

If you wait to buy train tickets on the day of departure in Venice, also check Italo Rail. They offer discounts day of (Trenitalia doesn't) and their trains are newer although it doesn't take long for a train to need updating. For Venice/Florence they use the same stations as Trenitalia. In Rome, they use Tiburtina instead of Termini.

http://www.italotreno.it/EN/discover.../overview.aspx
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Mar 14th, 2014, 08:04 PM
  #19
 
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The link Debit posted about booking the underground tour is out of date and that process hasn't worked for quite a while. You used to be able to book that tour online, but not any longer. You must call to book it.
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Mar 14th, 2014, 08:21 PM
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Sorry, I posted the wrong link. This is the current one. In fact, I posted quite a bit on there recently since I had a small issue (confirmation email didn't come).

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...ome_Lazio.html

Sorry....
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