Top 5 tips for visiting museums in Europe

Published November 2nd, 2012

I didn’t know the meaning of a crowd until I found myself lining up for the Musee D’Orsay in Paris earlier this year. I mean I knew it was going to be busy but I didn’t realise it was going to be that busy. In Australia you wouldn’t find a line like that unless it was for grand finale tickets, and this was just a typical spring day in Paris. The line to buy tickets, even at 10 am, was huge and moved very, very slowly. And then I had to line up again to actually enter the museum. Once inside, I didn’t make it to half of the things I wanted to see because it was all just so huge.


All in all my visit to the Musee D’Orsay was a novice move. Luckily, on a bike tour the following day, our tour guide let our group in on a reasonably secret entrance to the Lourve, we rode by it at midday and to my shock it was completely empty of people. So the very next day, I made sure to get there on the opening time and waltzed straight in. No line, no waiting and plenty of time to see what I wanted to see.


So based on my failed and successful visits to museums in Europe, here are 5 tips that will ensure you get the most out of your visit.


Buy tickets in advance: If you don’t you’ll be forced to line up to buy tickets and then endure another excruciating wait to enter the museum. And waiting is the worst!


The Louvre in Paris

The Louvre in Paris covers an area of 60,600 square metres

Ask a local: Locals, much like my tour guide, will know the best way to visit the museum in question. If you come across a local, ask them for the recommendations and when they think is the best time to go.


Come up with a plan: Do your research and decide what you want to see before you go. Trust me, just wandering around the Lourve aimlessly is like wandering through a Westfield shopping centre with no idea of what you need to buy; pointless and exhausting. Go with a list and mark down where you want to go on your map.


Arrive early or late: Ideally, it’s best to arrive at the museum’s opening time in order to beat the crowds and take your time to enjoy the museum. If you do sleep in though, don’t bother heading there until say 3pm or 4pm when the crowds are leaving.


Take something to pass the time:  No matter how much you plan and scheme to beat the crowds, there really is no avoiding them completely. Take a book or ipod to keep you entertained and feeling sane.




Lauren Burvill

Australian born but London based, I'm a sucker for big cities and small tropical islands. When travelling, I like eating like a local, dressing like a local, but staying in 5 star style. Have a travel story to share? Tweet me @laurenburvill.