Tips for avoiding the crowds at iconic tourist hotspots

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Whether you’re exploring Machu Picchu in Peru, uncovering the wonders of Petra in Jordan or viewing the majestic Taj Mahal in India for the first time, one thing you’ll probably want to avoid is crowds of other holidaymakers.

This can often be easier said than done, but we’re going to give you some tips to help you get the most out of your travelling experiences and (hopefully) have at least a bit of time when there aren’t hordes of other people around.

Arrive early

While it might feel like a bit of a chore to get up at the crack of dawn when you’re on holiday, it can pay dividends when it comes to visiting popular sites. Arriving as close to the time when they open as possible is ideal, as this will usually give you a good few hours before many other travellers turn up.

If the site is large – like Petra, for instance – make a beeline for one of the furthest points early on, as you’ll be able to enjoy the walk there and what you find without the crowds. However, don’t rush – take your time and enjoy exploring whichever landmark you’re there to see.

Stay late

By the same token, you can avoid the crowds by staying late and not leaving a site until it’s closing. Again, many people will have come mid-morning and have left by mid-afternoon, so the earlier or later you’re there, the better in terms of avoiding the crowds.

It can also be really interesting to see somewhere like Machu Picchu at different times of the day to see the change in light as the sun moves from east to west. Getting there at sunrise – which is perfectly possible if you’re coming along the Inca Trail – and staying until the sun is setting will allow you to see not only the ruins, but also the Andes at their most beautiful.

As a quick tip, if you don’t want to spend a full day from dusk until dawn at a single attraction, consider coming in the late afternoon one day, staying overnight nearby and returning early in the morning to enjoy the landmark at its quietest.

Choose your tour carefully

If you’re planning to travel as part of an organised tour, make sure you do plenty of research into what you’ll be seeing and how long you’ll get to spend at each attraction. If you’re planning to explore Peru, for instance, you may want to pick a trip that follows the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. By hiking, you will usually arrive at the site around sunrise, giving you a few hours to explore before the first of the day trippers turn up.

Don’t discount choosing an alternative route if you’re keen to do some trekking in the Andes – you’ll find suggestions here – as these can give you an amazingly peaceful hike in some of the most spectacular mountain scenery you’re likely to see. Tracks, such as the Lares Valley trail, will often take you to other, lesser-known Inca ruins too, so you can still get an insight into this fascinating culture without the crowds.

Travel out of season

Another great tip for avoiding the crowds is to do your best to visit out of the peak season for travel to your chosen destination. This won’t necessarily mean you have to deal with bad weather – it may just be that conditions are more unpredictable, or that it is colder or hotter than at the more popular times of the year.

There is another advantage to taking this approach, which is that accommodation is likely to be cheaper during the low season, allowing you to save a few pennies on your trip.

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