Those must-sees on the top of your bucket list? They’re undoubtedly at the top of everyone else’s list, too, which can mean ticket lines that wrap around the block, entrance queues that take hours, and crowds jostling for position inside. But don’t worry—whether you’re traveling on your own or in a group, you don’t have to waste your precious vacation time waiting around. Here’s how to skip the line and dodge the crowds in one of the most-visited destinations in the world—Italy.
Skipping the Line in Rome
Rome is chock-full of world-famous attractions, so booking a skip-the-line tour is a must. You’ll feel like a VIP waltzing past packed entryways to see the city’s most iconic sights sooner.
Crushing the Colosseum
The largest amphitheater ever constructed, the Colosseum is one of Rome’s most-visited sites—and its easily accessible location right in the city center makes it even more popular. Without a skip-the-line pass, the wait to get inside this 2,000 year-old concrete and sand structure can take over 90 minutes, depending on the time of day and year. Why roll the dice?
Booking a Colosseum skip-the-line tour means you bypass the wait for both the ticket line (you’ll already have yours, as tickets are typically included in the tour price) and the main public entrance line. Plus, with the added benefit of staggered entry times, you won’t be met with huge crowds flooding the arena floor or feel rushed as you snap your photos.
Even independent travelers who’d rather explore on their own than with a guide can benefit from skip-the-line access, as both standalone tickets and guided tours are available. You may even want to take advantage of the guided option, given that these local tour guides are walking encyclopedias who know how to infuse just the right amount of knowledge, humor, and insider facts into your experience, all while ensuring that you don’t miss anything important. Most guided tours also offer portable audio sets with adjustable volume and comfortable earbuds, allowing you to wander off a bit and still hear everything your guide says.
From a 1-hour amphitheater tour to a half-day ancient Rome walking tour that also visits the Roman Forum, there are plenty of options for skipping the lines and dodging the crowds at the Colosseum.
Special Treatment at the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel
Nowhere is a skip-the-line tour more necessary than the Vatican Museums, home to the Sistine Chapel, which sees roughly 25,000 visitors every day. Do the math and that comes out to about 5 million visitors a year in the chapel alone. Sometimes, skip-the-line tours are the only way to get a glimpse of Michelangelo’s iconic masterworks without spending a full day waiting in line.
An early-access Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums ticket is a particularly special treat, offering the privilege of getting into the museum complex before it opens to the public. Walking through the many galleries without having to shimmy through crowds is a transformative and memorable experience, as you’re able to truly soak in the art. Alternatively, choose standalone skip-the-line tickets to explore the museums independently.
Note that both men and women must have covered shoulders and knees to enter the Vatican. But don’t worry—even if you forget to cover up, there are plenty of sidewalk vendors selling shawls and cover-ups in front of the complex who’d be more than happy to relieve you of your euros.
Skipping the Line in Florence
Florence is world-famous for its culture and art museums, from the Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia) to the Uffizi Gallery. Avoid the museum crowds and the headaches that come with them by booking a skip-the-line tour in Florence.
A Date with David
Ah, Michelangelo again. The Accademia Gallery—which is set within walking distance of Florence’s other main draw, the Duomo—sees just over 1 million visitors annually. This is largely due to its main attraction: Michelangelo’s David. Based on the Biblical story of David fighting Goliath, this 17-foot-tall (5.2-meter-tall) statue of idealized physical beauty was carved out of a single block of Carrara marble and is one of the most popular attractions in Florence.
Regardless of whether you visit in the busy summer months or in the off-season, a trip to the Accademia typically comes with lines. Long lines that sometimes make for a wait of two hours or more. But with skip-the-Line Accademia Gallery and David tickets or a guided half-day Florence highlights tour that includes skip-the-line entry, you can use the time you save to explore more of the gallery. Head to the Museum of Musical Instruments to see another of the Accademia’s most prized possessions: instrument maker Antonio Stradivari’s tenor viola. This precious example of prime musical handicraft is the only viola conserved in its original form—sheepskin intestine strings and all.
Bypassing the Queues at the Uffizi Gallery
Home to one of the world’s greatest collections of Renaissance art, the Uffizi Gallery is a can’t-miss museum in Florence. Works from Michelangelo, da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Giotto draw travelers from around the globe, which makes for a level of popularity that results in some extremely long wait times.
Whether you choose skip-the-line Uffizi tickets that allow you to explore independently at your own pace or an in-depth, small-group gallery walking tour with a guide and skip-the-line access, you’ll find yourself with much more time in your day than you would have braving the queues on your own.