How to Avoid Crowds & Get the Best Selfies at Popular Tourist Attractions

Unless you visit a remote island or pay for extra for exclusivity— chances are—  when you travel you won’t always have the most picturesque scenery and monuments to yourselves. That’s usually fine, but sometimes the two of you will want to linger and share a quiet moment in the shadow of one of the world’s great wonders or experience a pristine and popular beach without random folks in your proximity– or your pics. Thanks to the internet, Malinda and I have found the perfect way to have some of the world’s most visited and photographed attractions all to ourselves: explore the city at sunrise.

On our first trip to Italy we researched the best things to do and see in Rome. There were plenty of suggestions of what to do, where to do it and why. But one of the most useful pieces of advice we found had more to do with the time of day than any particular monument or site.

El Conquistador Hotel, Resort and Spa. Puerto Rico

You know the saying “The early bird gets the worm.” In this case, the earlier you rise, the more likely it is that the two of you can avoid lines that snake around buildings and snap instantly instagrammable flics without the typical background noise. We’re early risers anyway and had stumbled into the practice of getting out early on previous trips.  However, doing it on purpose– and even earlier than normal– made a huge difference.

Capitoline Hill. Rome, Itlay
Morning walk and sunrise tour of ancient ruins. Rome, Italy

I happen to LOVE mornings, and being able to traipse the stairs to Michelangelo’s Campidoglio and contemplate the remains of the Forum with Malinda, as the sun rose to greet us was incredibly stimulating and romantic. Even if you’re not an early riser, it’s well worth the effort to experience your next destination at sunrise. The crisp air, soothing stillness and slowly strengthening sunlight is awe-inspiring whether you’re in a village, a beach, a city, or on a mountainside.

Morning hike above Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy

The point isn’t necessarily to get into sites like Barcelona’s famous La Sagrada Familia at that hour (Most aren’t yet open). But we would have loved to contemplate that incredibly ornate structure and get a few unadulterated pictures without having to navigate and/ or crop out traffic, tourists and the general mayhem of the afternoon. It doesn’t have to be a big production. A brief walk or a quick commute to a favored attraction should suffice.

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy


Don’t hold yourself being on the move at the exact crack of dawn. Although, the earlier the better. There is something magical about the morning hours when the world is still quiet and it’s just you, your love and the Sun, rising to meet the adventure of a new day.

Enjoy, and spread the word about being a traveling early-bird!

— TMW

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