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How to Enjoy Europe’s Top Sights in Summer Without the Massive Crowds

How to Enjoy Europe’s Top Sights in Summer Without the Massive Crowds

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Are you planning a trip to Europe and are worried about summer crowds? Keep scrolling to check out my top tips for visiting Europe during the summer!
This list of Europe travel tips for summer was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Hey there, fellow parent travelers!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably dreamed of showing your kids the wonders of Europe—those amazing sights that books are written about and that feature in so many movies.

But, if you’re also like me, the thought of navigating through swarms of tourists, all while keeping an eye on two energetic boys (or however many little adventurers you have), might make you want to hit the pause button on that dream.

Fear not!

Over our many summer escapades across Spain, Italy, France, England, the Netherlands, and Greece, I’ve picked up a few tricks to enjoying Europe’s top sights—yes, even in the bustling summer—without feeling like you’re part of a cattle herd.

Here’s how we manage to soak in the beauty and history without the stress of the masses.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

This old adage becomes your best travel buddy in Europe. Many of Europe’s most famous attractions are less crowded first thing in the morning.

Image of a woman in front of the Tower of London
Quick selfie before we headed inside the Tower of London as soon as it opened to the public. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We’ve made it a habit to be at places like the Acropolis in Greece or the Tower of London as soon as they open. Not only do you beat the majority of the crowd, but the cooler morning air is a blessing in the Mediterranean summer heat.

Plus, there’s something magical about being one of the first to wander through these historical places in the quiet of the morning.

Go Off the Beaten Path

Sure, you’ve got to see the big names—after all, you didn’t come all this way to miss out on the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower. But some of our most memorable moments have been in less crowded, off-the-beaten-path locations.

In Spain, we found a small medieval village where the boys could run around the ancient walls without bumping into anyone.

And in Italy, we discovered a tiny family-run gelato shop that had the best pistachio gelato I’ve ever tasted.

These little detours gave us a break from the crowds and showed us a more authentic side of Europe.

Nighttime Is the Right Time

Europe has a vibrant night life, and I don’t just mean the clubs and bars. Many cities light up their monuments and museums at night, offering a completely different experience than the daytime.

View of the Eiffel Tower at Night
This is the view of the Eiffel Tower at night is so magical. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Some places even offer evening tours, which can be a great way to see the sights without the sunburn and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds.

Strolling through the illuminated streets of Paris or watching the sunset from a Venetian gondola were experiences my boys still talk about.

Lunch Breaks Are Your Friend

We’ve found that many tourists tend to hit the popular spots in the late morning to afternoon. So, we use this time to take our lunch break.

We either find a quiet spot away from the main tourist areas to enjoy a picnic or dine in a less crowded part of the city.

Not only does this give us a much-needed rest, but by the time we’re done, we often find that the crowds have started to thin out, making it easier to enjoy the afternoon at our next destination.

Tickets in Advance = Less Time in Line

Wherever possible, we buy our tickets in advance. This has saved us hours of waiting in line, which, as any parent knows, is the equivalent of a week in kid time.

We saved SO much time getting skip-the-line tickets for the London Eye. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Many major attractions offer “skip-the-line” or “fast-track” tickets for an extra fee. Here are my favorite skip-the-line tickets for the Eiffel Tower, London Eye, the Louvre, and the Colosseum.

While it does cost more, I’ve found that it’s worth every penny for the sanity it saves. Plus, it often includes extras like audio guides, which can make the visit more engaging for the kids.

Take a Siesta

Embracing the local culture has its perks, especially in countries like Spain and Italy where a midday break or siesta is common.

During the hottest part of the day, when the streets and attractions are at their busiest, we head back to our hotel (as long as it’s air-conditioned) or find a shady spot in a park to relax.

It gives the boys a chance to rest (or, more likely, run around in a less crowded space), and we avoid the peak tourist times.

Mix It Up with Day Trips

When the city crowds start to feel overwhelming, we look for day trip opportunities to nearby towns or countryside attractions. Often, these places offer a breath of fresh air—both literally and figuratively.

Giverny is one of the most beautiful Paris day trips. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

A quick train ride from the hustle and bustle of Paris took us to the serene gardens of Monet’s Giverny, a perfect antidote to the crowded city streets.

I’ve got a whole list of day trips from Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Madrid, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Amsterdam, and Lisbon.

Stay Positive and Flexible

Perhaps the most important tip is to keep a positive attitude and stay flexible.

Sometimes, despite all your planning, you’ll end up in a crowd. When this happens, we take a deep breath, look for the humor in the situation, and remind ourselves that we’re making memories.

And sometimes, it’s the unexpected moments—like a spontaneous game of tag in a crowded piazza—that become the most cherished memories.

Wrapping It Up

Traveling through Europe in the summer with kids doesn’t have to be a series of waiting in lines and fighting through crowds.

With a little planning, some strategic timing, and a willingness to explore beyond the headline attractions, you can create a family vacation that’s as enjoyable as it is memorable.

And remember, at the end of the day, it’s not just about the places you see, but the experiences you share and the memories you create together.

So pack your bags, grab your sense of adventure, and get ready to explore Europe’s top sights, crowd-free!

Looking for more Europe travel resources? Check out Why Summer Is the Worst Time to Visit Europe (And How to Make It Work Anyway), How to Plan a Trip to Europe with Kids: Step-by-Step Guide, 25 Helpful Tips for Traveling to Europe for the First Time, and From Paris to Prague: 15 Best Weekend Trips in Europe You Can’t Miss!

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