Want to visit a standout museum without standing in line? Are you a fan of mind-blowing masterpieces and breathtaking collections, but not of giant crowds and long queues? Hoping to glimpse thousands of years of history without squeezing past thousands of fellow museum-goers?
If that sounds like you, here’s some good news: It’s totally possible to experience the world’s best museums without the hassle or headaches. Before you plan a visit to any of the just-announced Travelers’ Choice Top Museums of 2016, check out these tips from our traveler community, plus recommendations for highly-rated tours that you can book right on TripAdvisor.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, United States
Explore the Met for free every Friday from 4:00pm to 8:00pm, but come after 6:00pm and don’t bring bags to check-in to avoid standing in the long line. (Lizzieandlzzy)
Don’t forget the floor map online or from the Information desk and follow the dotted red line. In about 2 hours, you can cover the entire museum. In detail? Heavens no! But you will have seen a little of everything. (cavdeb)
TripAdvisor Tour Tip: Want to see the Met like a true VIP? Book an EmptyMet tour on TripAdvisor and get an intimate look at this Travelers’ Choice award winner before it opens to the public.
Art Institute of Chicago, United States
Save time by buying your ticket online to avoid lines, or use the entrance on Monroe Street at the Modern Wing where lines are usually shorter. (oofbtb)
Buy an online ticket and you can use a special entrance, or go to the yellow building and buy your ticket there (either in-person or from a ticket machine). The line will be way shorter and you can use the same ticket for both buildings, and skip the long ticket lines. (simmondsi)
TripAdvisor Tour Tip: To beat the crowds during peak summer season, book a small-group tour on TripAdvisor. You’ll get skip-the-line entry all year long, plus early admission from May through September.
Musee d’Orsay, France
A less crowded Musee d’Orsay can be toured on Thursday evenings, and allow 2-3 hours to see it all in a somewhat cursory manner. (John L.)
Avoid long lines buying your tickets online, or alternatively, at the news stand just down a flight of steps outside of entrance ‘C’. (COSouthpaw)
TripAdvisor Tour Tip: Learn secrets about works by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir and more – and save time – by booking a skip-the-line semi-private tour with an expert guide.
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico
Take one of the Art Workshops at this Mexico City museum, and you’ll be guided through the Huichol Gallery art and then set off to work on a very delicate and intricate project. (Rossana2005)
The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, United States
Download The National 9/11 Memorial Museum app to get an audio tour in several languages, just don’t forget your headphones! (missrios)
Don’t be confused, though the Memorial doesn’t have bathrooms, the Museum (different entrance) does. You just need to have a ticket, of course. (JandJ67)
TripAdvisor Tour Tip: Get up close with history by booking this all-access tour of the Memorial & Museum, Ground Zero and more. It’s guided by New Yorkers with a personal connection to the events of 9/11.
Prado National Museum, Spain
Tickets for the Prado National Museum are valid for a year, so pace yourself. This museum contains some of the world’s most prized pieces of art. Do yourself a favor and skip the ticket office line by going to the Thyssen museum (a block away from the Prado) and buy a “passeo del arte” ticket. It gets you into Thyssen, Prada and Reina Sofia. (Daniel T.)
British Museum, United Kingdom
Make sure to research the British Museum beforehand, so that you choose which exhibits to see, as its amazing collection can make it overwhelming once you’re there. (Jorja D)
TripAdvisor Tour Tip: If you’re short on time but don’t want to miss the museum’s highlights, book a guided tour on TripAdvisor to see the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Frieze and more.
Acropolis Museum, Greece
While admiring the incredible Acropolis Museum, beware when taking photographs, as there are areas that are ‘strictly no photography’ and museum staff can get pretty hard when they see you break the rules. (Sabrinah332)
Vasa Museum, Sweden
Arrive at opening to enjoy the beautiful Vasa Museum before the large tour groups started to descend. This is a justifiably popular attraction and, if you’re traveling in a small group, consider an early visit. (personofleisure)