Your Top Tourist Mob Scenes in Europe?

Old Oct 14th, 2014, 06:18 AM
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We were in Paris in late Sept./early October. For the most part it was quite manageable. Of course the Louvre was crowded as always but we spent most of our time in less crowded parts of the museum as we had been so often in the past. Giverny was lovely - not crowded at all and still beautiful at the end of September.

The worst crowds we encountered were the Impressionist galleries at the D'Orsay and the Bastille market on Sunday morning. In the latter case almost everyone in the market was French.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 09:19 AM
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Good topic PalenQ but the answers are of course all the usual suspects. What about looking at alternatives instead of avoiding peak season?

1. Never visit any place that is in a Rick Steves guidebook.
2. Avoid all cities and anywhere that appears in any 'Top 10' list of any kind.

The places that leaves will not be crowded even in 'peak season'. Maybe an alternative topic would be, 'what places are good to visit in peak season?'

The only good thing about the 'mobs of tourists' are that they are found where I am not. Heaven forbid they all get smart and start avoiding each other. They might turn up in places I like to visit in season.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 09:37 AM
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I avoid peak season (which I interpret as summer) because I hate hot weather, not because of crowds.

I recently visited Berlin and realized that hundreds of people were lined up to get into the Pergamon museum (2 hour wait to enter) and having their photos taken at Checkpoint Charlie.

The Bode and Gemaldegalerie were practically empty; I was the only person in the Palace of Tears; the Berliner Dom was busy but scarcely anyone at St. Hedwigs.

If you avoid all town/cities in a RS guidebook you will be limiting yourself and will miss out on Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Venice and many more.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 12:00 PM
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Do not underestimate October. That month is peak season for coach tours, in particular along the Mediterranean.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 01:37 PM
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Sept and Oct have become veryopular times for people without kids to travel. Used to be less crowded, but doesn't see that way anymore,
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 01:43 PM
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Sept and October are definitely high season.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 02:07 PM
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London Heathrow arrivals
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 04:19 PM
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LOL, mcheryl
I had the same experience arriving at terminal 5 several days ago.
The flight landed miles from the terminal , a bus ride to the building followed by a frenzied
security check for another flight made it even worse after a sleepless night.
I will take Venice any time !
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 11:11 AM
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Mobs scenes I have experienced in recent years . . .

Istanbul - Topkapi Palace & Hagia Sofia. Early doesn't work for these. We braved the crowds at Topkapi at opening. We just bulled our way through. The harem was less busy because it was an extra charge & many of the tour groups did not go in. We went to Haiga at around 4:30 PM & it was almost empty. The Spice Market was jammed – seemingly all day – as were the streets between it & the Grand Bazaar but the Bazaar itself was not too bad.

Göreme Open Air Museum, Cappadocia – We went mid-afternoon & it was still busy. The tours clustered on a couple of the easy access parts & left the others bearable.

Ephesus - Go early or go late. We were almost alone here at 9 AM. By 10, you could watch the crowds descending the hill. They all start at the top & finish at the bottom.

Athens - Parthenon. The hordes start up just around opening. Once again, a late afternoon visit was actually very pleasant.

Chania, Crete - If a cruise ship is anchored offshore, the quaint streets will be slammed. Go to the beach or a day trip when you see them arrive.

Knossos, Crete - We went midday & it was unbearable. Tour buses packed the free parking lot & their contents swarmed the site. We lasted 20 minutes & gave up.

Santorini - We skipped the Oia sunset because of the stories of the crowds. We had awesome sunsets - with absolutely no crowds - in sleepy Imerovigli.

As for the Vatican Museum . . . I have been twice. Years ago when it was bad but bearable & during our trip to Sicily in 2009 when it was insanely busy.

Taormina, Sicily – The main street was swarmed with tourists during the day. We got to the amphitheater at opening & it was fine.

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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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Here are some interesting weather data with regard to major European cities.
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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Sorry posted on wrong topic.
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 01:19 PM
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Any place huge cruise ships unleash their thousands and thousands of passengers. They paralyze the historic sites and make life miserable for others. Kudos to Dubrovnik for limiting them, more towns and cities should follow their example.
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 02:37 PM
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July and August are not the worst months in Rome, Florence, and Venice, although you may find that hard to believe if you're there at that time. In fact, in Rome July and August are considered shoulder season for hotel prices. Low season in Rome begins after the All Saint's holiday, or on the following Monday. The two weeks after Christmas (St. Stephen's to Epiphany) are high season. After Ephiphany, low season begins again and ends at Easter. The worst months in Rome are probably May, June, and September. April and October are not far behind. Rome is a large city, so it absorbs crowds fairly well, and it's easy to escape the crush.

In Florence, the high season seems to be a little longer. That's probably because it's the capital of Tuscany, and spring and autumn are very popular times for visiting Tuscany. Central Florence is quite small, and it's not easy to get away from the crowds, although it's possible.

Venice is probably crowded 9 months of the year. I would try to visit in November, December (before Christmas) or January (after Epiphany but before Carnival). However, as someone else said, the crowds in Venice seem to be highly concentrated. I've been to Venice at Carnival, and I've been there in August (as well as at other times). It's amazingly easy to get away from the crowds in Venice. Most of the day trippers just do a forced march from the train station to the Rialto Bridge to St. Mark's Square.

One key to visiting any place in high season is to visit the hidden gems of the place, not the famous sights. In Rome, there are many lovely museums that are never crowded. The Barberini Gallery, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, and the Doria Pamphilj Gallery are just a few that are very central, wonderful, and never crowded. In Florence, the Cathedral Museum has some splendid works of art and other interesting exhibits, but never a crowd.(At the moment it may still be partially closed for restructuring.) In Venice the Ca'Rezzonico wasn't at all crowded when we visited in August, but that was about seven years ago. In Paris the Rodin Museum and the Cluny Museum are rarely crowded. The Jardin des Plantes is lovely and not very crowded.

Save the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Uffizi, the Accademia, the Vatican Museums, the Borghese Gallery, and other world-famous museums for a winter visit, preferably mid-week.
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 03:06 PM
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>the Borghese Gallery

Since the Borghese is a timed ticket, it is very manageable. When your appointed time arrives, go in with the crowd & immediately go upstairs first. 90% of the people will start on the lower floor. People are cattle . . .

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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 03:07 PM
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Great insights bvlenci - but I am surprised that August is not high season for those two towns - and yeh I have been to both in August and both were zoos - but Rome like you say has much larger areas to disperse the maddening crowds. Not disputing you as you have proven to be very erudite and extremely knowledgeable in all your really sensible posts - a great resource on Fodor's for folks never having been to Italy or not much.
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 04:29 PM
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We have seen several museums listed by bvieci ,but only after we had visited the major ones on previous visits.
It is only natural that first time visitors wish to see THE sights.
I remember Dubrovnik before the fall of was a delightful place , but
even then it was crowded in the summer.
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 04:45 PM
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I travel off peak mostly and have never been overwhelmed by mobs. Oktoberfest was maybe the most crowded but nothing I couldn't deal with. The metro in Paris and the tube in London are not my favorite places though. Packed like sardines.
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 07:23 PM
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If you want to avoid crowds go to Albania. Beautiful country and not crowded when I was there last September.

Neither were Slavonia and Baranja (areas of northeastern Croatia) or Macedonia, which were also beautiful.

Even Sarajevo was not super crowded.

All of these have beautiful natural areas, interesting architecture, local food specialties, good weather in September/October, and decent prices.

(FWIW, the one place that WAS unexpectedly crowded was Zagreb on a beautiful, sunny October weekend. The local population was out in force enjoying what might have been the last nice weekend of the fall.)
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 09:33 PM
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I'm glad to hear that others had better experiences in Paris. During the first weekend in October, it was mostly overwhelmingly crowded.

I normally love the walk down Rue des Francs Bourgeois, but this time I seriously questioned if I would go back.

Another serious problem area was around the Galeries Lafayette, and the Place de l'Opera. One could absolutely not walk on the sidewalk. Day and night (we were there for a performance in the evening) the Place de l'Opera was a zoo.

So I'm glad to hear that not everyone has experienced these crowds. I was sort of thinking that this might be my last trip to Paris, but maybe I'll try to avoid being there over a weekend.

We went to the Louvre on Monday and it was just fine, although we explored galleries other than those with the big sights.
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Old Oct 16th, 2014, 12:29 AM
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a few random notes:

1. I second Ian's suggestion regarding the Borghese. Making a beeline for the second floor on opening worked very well for me. By the time I got back to Apollo and Daphne, everyone else had moved on, and I was able to spend 15-20 minutes slowly circling it with no company except the occasional straggler.

2. My worst crowd experience (by far) was the Sistine Chapel. The museum as a whole was fairly crowded (in mid-April), but bearable. The chapel on the other hand...

3. My worst street crowd experience was on Oxford street in London. To the best of my knowledge, I was near any sightseeing opportunities, it was just Londoner's going about their business.

4. The museum pass for Paris was a blessing. I have no idea how much money I saved using it, but being able to bypass the lines at the Louvre and Orsay alone justified the cost for me.
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