Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: You book a trip to see one of the world's most iconic cultural sites, only to discover hundreds—even thousands—of other tourists had the same idea and are there on the exact same day, and at the same time. For most people, long lines and crushing crowds are just a part of the experience when visiting major attractions. But, according to travel expert Peter Greenberg, savvy travelers know how to avoid the masses.
Want to see the world's greatest sites? Set an alarm. Whether it's a visit to the Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal, Ayers Rock or the Great Wall, the trick is to get there early—and I mean early.
For example, to see the Pyramids, plan to leave your hotel at 4:30 a.m. Drive in the predawn darkness through deserted streets and arrive at the Pyramids at 5:30 a.m. Mount up on an Arabian horse and then...there you will be, on horseback at the base of the 4,000-year-old structure, to watch the dawn over Cairo. Just you, the horse and the Pyramids at Giza, bathed in the magical light of the rising sun.
The Great Wall is a must-see for anyone visiting China, making it the most popular tourist attraction in the country. If you arrive with the rest of the tour buses, you'll be elbowing people left and right just to get up the steps for a photo op. Now here's the trick for a savvy traveler: Visit the Great Wall when and where everyone else isn't. Most visitors head straight to the section in Badaling, which is the closest section to Beijing (located about 45 miles from the capital) and is the best restored and maintained.
To be a true contrarian traveler, visit an entirely different section of the Wall—it spans more than 5,500 miles, after all. Instead of Badaling, head for Mutianyu and Simatai. Or check out Huanghuacheng, which is a popular starting point for hikers, who then head to Jiankou and Mutianyu on a two-to-three-day expedition.
Learn more about traveling to the Great Wall and beyond at PeterGreenberg.com.
Or how about experiencing the Great Wall in a unique way you'll be talking about for years? A company called Beijing Sideways takes visitors to sections of the Great Wall by motorcycle! You ride in the sidecar through the winding countryside to Huang Hua Shang or Shengtengyu and hike the Wall from there.
Alternative ways to see the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower