Vistas desde El Arco del Triunfo

Did you ever wonder if it was worth waiting in line for a popular attraction while on vacation? Here´s our answer!

In recent years, it seems that the travel trend has moved away from the lists of must-see attractions and top ten lists to a more “off the beaten path” approach. We couldn’t be more thrilled by this, as we’ve been championing the search for the perfect hidden coffee shop since we began our blog. However, this summer we had only a day and a half to explore Florence, Italy. A daunting task for any traveler. And it lead us to ask the question: “Is it REALLY worth it to wait in line for all those world famous attractions?”Our answer turned out to be yes…and no.

Michelangelo's David in Florence

Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boqueron Viajero

NO…

Sometimes, you’ve got to find a way to beat the system. This is exactly what happened to us on our trip to Florence. We were lucky and found Walks of Italy’s tour of the art of Florence. It was a whirlwind look at all the must-see art in the city. We spent the better part of our day skipping lines and enjoying the actual art that the city of Florence is so famous for. Normally we wouldn’t go for a group tour, but in this case, in a time crunch, it was the best choice for us! We were able to compensate in our free time by seeking out off the beaten path cafés, including a delicious little deli where the man behind the counter told us all about his farm fed pigs and then fed us his melt in your mouth charcuterie.

View from the Empire State Building in New York

Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boqueron Viajero

YES…

In New York City, we’ve played the “wait in line game, as well.” The around the block lines to see a fantastic exhibit at MoMA? Absolutely worth it if you are an art lover. I can’t think of a better reward for your time waiting. Hanging out for a couple hours to get to the top of the Empire State? Also very much, worth our wait. Those are views that will stick in my mind forever. In the case of New York City, it has a lot to do with pacing yourself and choosing the places you most want to visit. There is so much to see, it’s nearly impossible to hit every top attraction. Pick your favorites, and enjoy people watching as you wait in line.

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona

Photo (by-nc-nd) by Víctor Gómez

YES…

In Barcelona you might be tempted to skip the line for the Sagrada Familia or Casa Mila, but we don’t think you should. Gaudí’s architecture is so unique and special that it is worth standing in line to get a glimpse up close. We would suggest trying to visit at an off time to shorten your wait. The early bird gets the worm, so to speak.

Abby and Pedro in Paris

Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boqueron Viajero

NO…

Sometimes you’ve just got to choose one or the other…and when the views are equally spectacular, go with the shorter line! We were in Paris for a short weekend trip a few years ago and had to pick between the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. When we saw the line for the Eiffel Tower, it was an easy choice. After all, the Champs Elysee never fails to impress!

Pedro holding up the leaning Tower of Pisa

Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boqueron Viajero

MAYBE?

We had a similar “time crunch” situation on our trip to Pisa. Is it worth it to go up the leaning tower? Our honest answer is, “We don’t know!” The line stretched much farther than we care to admit by the time we’d finished taking our requisite pictures pretending to hold up the weight of the tower. There was just not enough time to wait, but we did wind up finding the most amazing gelato stand on our way back to the car through the old streets. (Gelateria De’ Coltelli, Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 23, Pisa, Italy).

So what is our conclusion on the “waiting game?” It really depends. If you are in a rush, a tour is a good option to save time on lines. Another great idea is choosing just one attraction with long lines and trying to go at an “off peak” time. But in general, we are fans of the idea that you can find an authentic and amazing travel experience off the beaten path. Just because you haven’t been to the top of the Statue of Liberty doesn’t mean you haven’t seen New York. We’d be willing to be that lots of locals haven’t waited in the long lines! So forget what you “have to” see and just travel! And if you have to wait in a few lines along the way, make sure they are worth the wait!

To wait or not to wait

Infographic from Get Your Guide

*** Photo licenses: Photos with license (by); Photos with license (by-nc-nd); Photos with license (by-nc); Photos with license (by-nc-sa); Photos with license (by-sa).
Cover photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boqueron Viajero