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Beat the Queues at Eight of the World’s Most Iconic Attractions

Jostling with the crowds especially on a well-deserved holiday? No, thanks! The school holidays are coming up, and whether you’re hauling the family to the Vatican or exploring NYC’s iconic Met Museum, certain travel hotspots are bound to have a crowd.

Well, not always—TripAdvisor has handpicked eight tours at some of the world’s most famous attractions where you can snap that picture, uninterrupted.

From visiting Rio’s Christ the Redeemer first thing in the morning to experiencing the Grand Canyon on a luxury sunset helicopter, you’ll feel like a VIP as you explore these popular sites without the usual crowds.

With over 121,000 bookable tours and activities around the world, TripAdvisor Experiences is a one-stop destination for planning all of your travel activities—from traditional sightseeing to food tours, day trips and unique, local experiences.

Beat the Queues at Eight of the World’s Most Iconic Attractions

(Quotes below are excerpts from TripAdvisor reviewers)

Waking Up the Vatican: VIP Small-Group Tour Before Museums Open, Rome, Italy

In peak season, wait times at the Vatican can extend up to four hours. Not for this experience--enter the museums before sunrise to experience the Vatican in quiet solitude before it opens to the public. This VIP small-group tour allows a small number of travellers to join the ‘Clavigero’, the Vatican key holder, as he unlocks the doors to the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s rooms, the Galleries, and more, hours before these iconic sites open to the public. Your guide will also provide commentary inside the Sistine Chapel—a rare perk as talking is usually prohibited.

Traveller review: “Being in such a sacred and well known place early in the morning was so cool,” raved a TripAdvisor reviewer. “We opened door after door, taking turns to use one of the 3,000 keys. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I can’t say enough how worth it it was.”

Details on the experience:

  • Tour is led by an English-speaking guide
  • Guided visit in the Sistine Chapel before it opens to the public
  • Entrance ticket to the Vatican Museums before it opens to the public
  • Small groups of 20 people or less
  • Buffet breakfast in the Pinecone Courtyard
  • Cost: from £284, per person

Early Access to the Accademia Gallery in Florence with Breakfast, Florence, Italy

On this exclusive TripAdvisor tour at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, travellers will be the first of the day to see the influential Renaissance art housed at the gallery. An art historian leads the group – limited to a max of 15 travellers – through the gallery in the morning, before the crowds arrive.  Travellers can expect to see notable Michelangelo works including ‘Palestrina Pietà,’ ‘Prigioni’ and ‘San Matteo’ plus ‘David’ - arguably Michelangelo’s most famous piece of work. The tour concludes with in the heart of Florence with a typical Italian breakfast.

Traveller review: “This tour was the best decision we could have made,” said one TripAdvisor reviewer. “We were first in to see the David and literally had no one else in the corridor with us leading up to this magnificent work of art.”

Details on the experience:

  • 1.5-hour exclusive, early access tour of the Accademia Gallery in Florence
  • Breakfast at a nearby cafe
  • Cost: from £58, per person
  • Note: available through October. Tours start again in April.

Empty Met Tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA

Travellers will visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York without the crowds on this 1.5-hour VIP tour. Experience-goers will get to head inside the Met before it opens to the general public and see its most famous exhibits with one of the museum’s own guides, tracing more than 5,000 years of human history and getting up close to highlights such as Canova’s ‘Perseus with the Head of Medusa’ and Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Wheat Field with Cypresses’ without the usual crowds.

Traveller review: “From being able to clearly hear your guide and close up views of the exhibits, to being able to take photos of completely empty rooms - it was an amazing experience,” said a TripAdvisor reviewer.

Details on the experience:

  • Tour is led by an English-speaking guide, French tours available on select days.
  • Exclusive access to The Met
  • The group’s maximum size is 25
  • Cost: from £136, per person

Viator VIP: Grand Canyon Sunset Helicopter Tour, Las Vegas, USA

Enjoy a VIP experience of the Grand Canyon with this 5-hour, luxury sunset helicopter tour and gourmet dinner. This exclusive tour can’t be booked anywhere else. Picked up by a Mercedes transport in Las Vegas, travellers will be taken to Boulder City where they’ll board a helicopter for a scenic sightseeing tour, flying over Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, landing at the Grand Canyon’s West Rim for a delicious dinner outdoors, complete with table linens, fine china, and champagne as the sun sets.

Traveller review: “What an incredible experience. The flight was mind-blowing. If you get a chance to do this, do it!” said a TripAdvisor reviewer.

Details on the experience:

  • 35-minute (approx.) flight each way in a state-of-the-art helicopter
  • Live commentary on board
  • Dinner and beverages at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Cost: from £365.62, per person

Early Access to Alcatraz and Exclusive Cable Car Sightseeing Tour, San Francisco, USA

Beat the crowds and be the first to Alcatraz with this exclusive TripAdvisor tour. The experience starts at Fisherman’s Wharf where travellers will board a motorised cable car and explore the city before heading Pier 33 to board an early ferry to Alcatraz. This priority ferry provides admission to the Island prison before the crowds where travellers will learn what life was like inside the jail cells of notorious criminals like Al Capone.

Traveller review: “No queue access to Alcatraz followed by a superbly guided tour of the city aboard an antique adapted cable car, this is a must do for San Francisco visitors,” commented a TripAdvisor reviewer.

Details on the experience:

  • Early-bird ferry to Alcatraz and exclusive cable car sightseeing tour
  • Alcatraz independent audio tour
  • Tour includes a light breakfast and boxed lunch
  • The group’s maximum size is 25
  • Cost: from £150, per person

Early Access to Chichen Itza with a Private Archaeologist, Cancun, Mexico

Travellers can beat the long lines and scorching midday heat on an early-access tour of Chichen Itza from Cancun. Arriving before the crowds, experience-goers will visit parts of the archaeological site that most tour groups don’t get to all with the support from an archaeologist guide to take in  highlights including the Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, and the iconic Kukulcan Pyramid (El Castillo).

Traveller review: “While getting up early was a pain, being some of the first to see the gorgeous structures that day made it well worth it,” remarks a TripAdvisor reviewer. “It’s not often that one gets a clear photo without hordes of travellers.”

Details on the experience, bookable only TripAdvisor:

  • Priority access in more comfortable temperatures 
  • Hotel pickup and drop off
  • Choice of breakfast or lunch included
  • Cost: from £42, per person

Capuchin Crypt and Catacombs After-Hours Tour with Exclusive Access, Rome, Italy

Travellers can visit the Capuchin Crypt, also known as Rome's Bone Chapel, and discover the city's bygone secrets, tucked away beneath the streets. Experience-goers will then enjoy a walk around the church to see its bone decorations up close and continue to the centuries-old Catacombs of Priscilla where Rome's early Christians gathered to pray and bury their dead, with special exclusive access after the doors close to the general public.

Traveller review: One TripAdvisor reviewer said, “Would definitely recommend this tour, especially for those who enjoy experiences a little outside the typical tourist attraction.”

Details on the experience:

  • After-hours tour of the Catacombs of Priscilla with VIP access
  • Cost: from £56, per person

Early Access to Christ Redeemer Statue with Optional Sugar Loaf Mountain Tour, Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Beat the crowds and visit Christ the Redeemer in the early morning on this exclusive TripAdvisor tour. With a local guide, travellers will visit the peak of Corcovado Mountain to view the Christ the Redeemer statue up close. There’s also an option to upgrade the experience and hop on the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain and see the panoramic views from the city's high point.

Traveller review: “I highly recommend the early access tour,” said one TripAdvisor reviewer. “We were amongst the first people up at Christ the Redeemer so we had plenty of time to take amazing pictures and enjoy the moment and space just for us!”

Details on the experience:

  • Early access to Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue
  • Professional guide
  • Cost: from £48, per person

Chapultepec Castle Early Access plus National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, Mexico City, Mexico

Travellers can discover one of Mexico City’s most popular attractions and explore the castle’s 12 halls filled with royal artefacts, learning about Chapultepec’s origins as a retreat for Aztec rulers, before the crowds set in on this exclusive early access tour to Chapultepec Castle. A guide will then take travellers to the National Museum of Anthropology, which houses the largest collection of traditional Mexican art in the world.

Traveller review: “Early access to Chapultepec Castle meant that we had the place to ourselves to enjoy before the gates were opened to the public,” said a TripAdvisor reviewer.

Details on the experience:

  • Enjoy early access to Chapultepec Castle
  • Professional guided tour
  • Cost: from £29, per person

Prices may vary due to seasonality and availability.