Standing. In. Line.

It's inevitable when visiting popular European destinations. Or is it? Most people don't realize that those long lines you see outside the major museums and attractions are not to get into the sights, but to buy the entrance tickets. With some careful research and planning, you can avoid wasting time standing in line to buy your ticket and spend that time more wisely actually visiting the sight. You have precious little vacation time as it is, and you're about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars getting to your destination. Spend a few minutes planning and researching in order to spend your time wisely!

The simplest way to avoid standing in line to buy a ticket at your favorite sight is to pre-purchase your tickets online. Major European attractions, including the major Paris museums, the major Florence museums, the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Vatican Museum and Colosseum in Rome allow you to pre-purchase and print out your tickets online. There may be a nominal convenience fee charged, but that is nothing compared to the convenience you will experience by not having to stand in line, especially at the Vatican Museum. Having that ticket in hand will allow you to jump to the front of the line or enter through a separate entrance.

Ask your hotel if they sell tickets to the major sites in their city.

On my recent trip to Amsterdam, we arrived from Brussels via train on a Sunday morning. Our first planned visit was to the Rijksmuseum. The tram ride from Centraal Station to our hotel took us past the Rijksmuseum. Since it was Sunday, the line to purchase tickets to the museum was out the door, down the street and around the corner...easily an hour's wait--in the rain! I simply would not stand in that line. We pre-purchased our tickets from our hotel which allowed us to enter the museum through a different line. When we arrived at the museum, there were about 10 people in that line. We waited perhaps 10 minutes to enter the museum.

Another option in most major European cities is a museum/transportation pass.

The best one is the Paris Museum Pass. This pass will save you money if you plan to visit several Paris sights. If you purchased individual tickets (even online) for the Louvre, Orsay, Orangerie, Rodin and Pompidou museums plus St. Chapelle, you will spend at least €49.00. A 2-day Paris Museum Pass will cost you €32.00; the 4-day pass will cost you €48.00. However the most important feature of the Paris Museum Pass is it will allow you to skip the line.

One of the highlights of my trip to Paris in 2006 was visiting the Musée de l'Orangerie which had just reopened that week after being under renovation for years! We were thrilled to be able to see Monet's famous Waterlilies paintings.

Since we were visiting Paris for six days, we purchased a Paris Museum Pass.

When we arrived at the Musée de l'Orangerie, the line to get in measured from the museum entrance into the Jardin des Tuileries. Did we have to wait in that line?

Absolutely not! Because we had our Museum Passes, we were able to walk past dozens of people directly to the entrance doors. The Museum Pass also saved us from standing in the queues at St. Chapelle and the Louvre.
Le Bassin aux Nympheas, Soleil Couchant by Monet in the Musée de l'Orangerie.

When visiting Amsterdam, there are two major museum pass options: I amsterdam Card and the Museumkaart. I recommend the Museumkaart which costs €39.95, is valid for one year and can be used in museums and churches all over the Netherlands, not just in Amsterdam. Use it to visit the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem or the fantastic Mauritshuis in The Hague, home of Vermeer's Girl With A Pearl Earring in addition to those sights in Amsterdam. The main advantage of the Museumkaart over the I amsterdam Card is that wonderful ability to skip the queue!

TIP: Neither pass includes the Anne Frank House. Pre-purchase your tickets online and you will be able to enter through a different entrance skipping the long lines.

NOTE: The Rijksmuseum only allows you to skip the line if you have actual tickets, so I suggest you pre-purchase these tickets, then buy your Museumkaart in the Rijksmuseum. If you feel this is spending too much, just remember if you buy individual tickets for the other major sights such as the Nieuwekerk (€5) and Oudekerk (€5), Van Gogh Museum (€14), Amsterdam Historical Museum (€10), Our Lord in the Attic (€7), Frans Hals Museum (€7.50) and the Mauritshuis (€12), you would end up spending over €60.00 and you've have to stand. in. line.

Many other European cities have some type of visitor combo/museum/transportation ticket designed to save you valuable Euros and allow you to skip those queues. Berlin has the 3-day Schaulust MuseenBerlin for €19 which includes the museums located on Museum Island; Munich has a day pass or 5-visit pass to their Pinakothek Museums; London has the London Pass which has the option to add transportation for an additional cost (NOTE: This pass is more cost-effective if you purchase a multi-day version--the one day pass is £40.00--YIKES!); Bruges has its 3-day €15.00 Combo-Ticket; Rome has its 3-day Roma Pass (€25), a transportation/discounted museum/archeological site pass; and starting in September of this year, Florence should have its 3-day €50.00 Florence Museum Card which will include reservations and a bus pass. The current museum pass is the Friends of the Uffizi Museum Pass (€60/individual or €100/family of 4). This annual pass allows you to not only skip the queue and avoid having to make those necessary reservations for the Uffizi and Accademia Museums, but will allow you to visit the museums as many times as you want. Logically, this is the perfect pass for those long-term travelers to Florence.

You've worked hard to save for that trip to Europe. You have a limited amount of time, but a list of sights to see as long as your arm. A few minutes of research will save you time and money allowing you more time to enjoy your visit.

Thank you for visiting,

A Great Europe Trip Planner 

All photos were taken by me.

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