U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Travel
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 03-11-2014, 02:31 PM
 
1,701 posts, read 1,994,852 times
Reputation: 1027

Advertisements

Every season is peak season for tourism in Europe. I just spent a good part of Nov/Dec (so called off-season) all over Italy and found massive crowds in almost all cities. "Massive Crowds" defined as the following:
  • 2-3 hours to get into museums. Advance online reservations help, but they must be made at least 3-4 months in advance for popular places like the Uffizi Gallery.
  • Long lines, huge crowds (~50-100,000 in confined spaces) and hawkers selling useless trinkets ruin half the joy of being at a historical place like the Coliseum in Rome or the winding streets of Venice.
  • No tables at the majority of well-known restaurants for lunch or dinner. Reservations usually required 2-3 nights in advance.
  • Local travel via bus or train needs to be pre-booked at least 6 months in advance to avoid higher fares or sold-out routes

And Italy is not even the most visited country in Europe. It is probably 4th, behind France, England and Spain! And this is off-season.

How do you visit Europe Without Becoming Homicidal? How do the locals survive? I just cant imagine living in a city like Florence ... dealing with millions of tourists everyday!

Last edited by sandman249; 03-11-2014 at 03:50 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 03-11-2014, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
4,557 posts, read 5,122,763 times
Reputation: 3919
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
How do the locals survive? I just cant imagine living in a city like Florence ... dealing with millions of tourists everyday!
We don't do what tourists typically do We don't visit museums on a daily basis, we only visit the palaces every other year or so, I've never been on a Sound of Music tour in Salzburg and we avoid shopping in really touristy places (like Kohlmarkt in Vienna).

But yeah, the major tourist hubs in Italy are brutal. There is probably a lot less going on during summers when the temperature is around 35°C

I kinda doubt that you have to book trains and buses 6 months in advance. Also, I'm pretty sure that you'll find plenty of restaurants with a couple of seats available.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-11-2014, 02:54 PM
 
1,701 posts, read 1,994,852 times
Reputation: 1027
Quote:
Originally Posted by viribusunitis View Post
We don't do what tourists typically do We don't visit museums on a daily basis, we only visit the palaces every other year or so, I've never been on a Sound of Music tour in Salzburg and we avoid shopping in really touristy places (like Kohlmarkt in Vienna).

But yeah, the major tourist hubs in Italy are brutal. There is probably a lot less going on during summers when the temperature is around 35°C

I kinda doubt that you have to book trains and buses 6 months in advance. Also, I'm pretty sure that you'll find plenty of restaurants with a couple of seats available.
Great ... you are from Vienna. I was there last winter and the crowds in Vienna are about 70% less than places like Florence, Italy ..... so .... it is not that bad.

Why do you doubt that you have to book train tickets 6 months in advance? I just went through the experience. If you dont book early, you never get the "economy seats". Popular tickets like Rome to Milan are available the day of travel (sometimes) - but they cost more.

Almost every place in Italy is a "tourist hub". Cities like Venice are 100% tourism oriented. If tourists left, the population would go down to zero!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-11-2014, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Fairfax, VA
304 posts, read 857,108 times
Reputation: 245
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
[*] 2-3 hours to get into museums. Advance online reservations help, but they must be made at least 3-4 months in advance for popular places like the Uffizi Gallery.[*] Long lines, huge crowds (~50-100,000 in confined spaces) and hawkers selling useless trinkets ruin half the joy of being at a historical place like the Coliseum in Rome or the winding streets of Venice.
I'm not an expert Western Europe traveler by any means but when the wife and I went to Florence and Rome back in October, the only place I waited more than 5 minutes to get into was the Duomo Cupola Climb and St. Peter's/Vatican.

Almost everything else we were able to use the Firenze and Roma passes that we purchased at a tourist info shop in those cities (and no wait/online reservation to get those either).

We saw:

Accademia (David)
Baptistery
Bargello
Basilica di Santa Croce
Duomo
Galileo Science Museum
Palazzo Veccio
Uffizi

Colosseum
Roman Forum
Palantine Hill
Capuchin Crypt
Spanish Steps
Pantheon
St. Peter's Basilica
Vatican Museum
Trevi Fountain
...many other small, free sights

For the Vatican, using Rick Steve's awesome guide, we simply found the tourist info kiosk that is just outside St. Peter's square. You ask for the next available reserved time which for us was only about 30 minutes so we got a coffee in the meantime, no problem.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-11-2014, 03:30 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
4,557 posts, read 5,122,763 times
Reputation: 3919
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Great ... you are from Vienna. I was there last winter and the crowds in Vienna are about 70% less than places like Florence, Italy ..... so .... it is not that bad.
Seems like you know my city better than myself

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Why do you doubt that you have to book train tickets 6 months in advance? I just went through the experience. If you dont book early, you never get the "economy seats". Popular tickets like Rome to Milan are available the day of travel (sometimes) - but they cost more.
Never had any problems to buy a ticket even a couple of minutes before leaving. Was a regular on the Florence - Siena train. Special offers are of course only available for a limited amount of time. That's what they are about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Almost every place in Italy is a "tourist hub". Cities like Venice are 100% tourism oriented. If tourists left, the population would go down to zero!
That was my point all along. Venice, Rome, Florence, Siena, Verona. All the touristy cities will be crowded in spring.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-11-2014, 03:41 PM
 
1,701 posts, read 1,994,852 times
Reputation: 1027
Quote:
Originally Posted by KM_W&M06 View Post

For the Vatican, using Rick Steve's awesome guide, we simply found the tourist info kiosk that is just outside St. Peter's square. You ask for the next available reserved time which for us was only about 30 minutes so we got a coffee in the meantime, no problem.
Well, that's my point. There are blogs and books written about "how to avoid lines in Italy". Most of them ask you to get to the museums first thing in the morning and book everything online.

I am not sure when you went to the Vatican? But you can only visit the Vatican now by booking a time slot online. And you better get to the website a few months before your trip and book the tickets ...
Tickets are sold out months in advance .. so I am not sure what kiosk in the city would sell these tickets (unless they are re-selling them).

Google Uffizi Gallery waiting times and the first link you will hit says: “expect a queue of 70-90 minutes waiting time”

You are right about the Roma and Firenze cards - they help you avoid many queues. But first, you have to be willing to fork out $100-200 for 2 out of 10 museums you will actually visit. Plus, even when you get inside these museums, there are 1000's of people trying to get a selfie with the Michelangelo statue. So my general point is that these places are just a too crowded ...

Last edited by sandman249; 03-11-2014 at 03:50 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-11-2014, 03:47 PM
 
1,701 posts, read 1,994,852 times
Reputation: 1027
Quote:
Originally Posted by viribusunitis View Post
Seems like you know my city better than myself
Hah! I wouldn't say that. I am just comparing the number of tourists, say Florence vs Vienna. Wouldn't you agree with my 70% assessment? Italy is the 4th most visited country in Europe.

Quote:
Never had any problems to buy a ticket even a couple of minutes before leaving. Was a regular on the Florence - Siena train. Special offers are of course only available for a limited amount of time. That's what they are about.
Like I said, it depends on the route. Would you say that you can buy a bus ticket to get to Budapest from your hometown Vienna a couple of minutes before departure? I couldn't ...!
Also, trains into Venice are generally booked solid.

Quote:
That was my point all along. Venice, Rome, Florence, Siena, Verona. All the touristy cities will be crowded in spring.
December is not spring. And you essentially named all the main cities in Italy ....
Wasn't that my point all along .... Italy is just over-run by tourists even in the off-season. So how do the locals survive in a city like Florence or Sienna?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-11-2014, 04:23 PM
 
Location: Fairfax, VA
304 posts, read 857,108 times
Reputation: 245
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Well, that's my point. There are blogs and books written about "how to avoid lines in Italy". Most of them ask you to get to the museums first thing in the morning and book everything online.

I am not sure when you went to the Vatican? But you can only visit the Vatican now by booking a time slot online. And you better get to the website a few months before your trip and book the tickets ...
Tickets are sold out months in advance .. so I am not sure what kiosk in the city would sell these tickets (unless they are re-selling them).

Google Uffizi Gallery waiting times and the first link you will hit says: “expect a queue of 70-90 minutes waiting time”

You are right about the Roma and Firenze cards - they help you avoid many queues. But first, you have to be willing to fork out $100-200 for 2 out of 10 museums you will actually visit. Plus, even when you get inside these museums, there are 1000's of people trying to get a selfie with the Michelangelo statue. So my general point is that these places are just a too crowded ...
We were at the Vatican in October 2013 and we just booked the next available time slot at the kiosk (small green circular thing outside the northeast section of St. Peter's, I think the road is Via di Porta Angelica or something) in person and waited a half-hour, then was escorted from St. Peter's down the street and around the corner to the museum, went through security, and was in...didn't know if they got rid of all that in the last 5 months?

I do admit that the Vatican/Sistine Chapel was by far the most crowded, very unenjoyable at times.

But Florence was a breeze for us, never had an issue waiting to see any museum/exhibit and we went at all hours of the day, not super early morning...I guess we just got lucky?

I think we got the Firenze pass for 72 euros which got us into just about everything in Florence, plus bus transport. The Roma pass was about 55 euros or so and didn't work on as many sights but got you on the buses and metro trains.

Yeah, I can see how these may not be all that great if you only wanted to stop by one or two places...but if you are there for a few days, they were invaluable.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-11-2014, 05:48 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,446,132 times
Reputation: 4409
Spain isn't crowded at all, even though it's something like within top five for tourist arrivals. There's big open spaces in Spain, especially in the South and probably off in the far west in Asturias and Caceres.

I was also just travelling around in Ruhrgebiet Germany, part of the so-called 'Banana Belt' and the densest corridor in Europe, I believe. It's really not as crazy as everyone makes it seem. It's not so much crowded as it is hard to find an open space or little forest along your way. There's just kind of things here and there between cities and towns.

I have never waited long for tickets to get in to some attraction or museum barring the Picasso in Barcelona in June. Purchase them online or find other vendors who sell the tickets. I've mostly visited Europe in the spring, fall, and winter and normally there is never a line for these things. I've never been to Italy though.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-11-2014, 07:49 PM
 
1,613 posts, read 1,938,776 times
Reputation: 871
I think you're exaggerating. Yes, it's crowded, but I was in Rome/Florence/Venice this past October (and early October, still pretty prime season), and while all three cities were crowded, excepting the Vatican Museum, no place was so horrifically crowded that it became annoying.

I got my Uffizi, Colisseum, Vatican, etc. tickets online a few weeks in advance, with no problems. Even got the Scavi tour and underground Colisseum tour without problems.

And I was in Paris last Spring, in May (totally prime season for Paris), and while crowded, not to the point where I couldn't enjoy myself.

And, yeah, Spain isn't crowded. Italy is the most crowded, overall, while Paris and London are very crowded. Outside of prime tourist Italy, Paris, and London, I don't find Europe to have gigantic crowds.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Travel
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top