Tips on visiting the world's top attractions: Common mistakes first-timers make

Get it right, first time: Don't fall into first-timer mistakes when visiting these classic travel destinations.

ALHAMBRA, SPAIN

You have next to no chance of getting into this Moorish-Spanish palace in Granada unless you book well in advance online, and turn up at the entry time indicated. Only a certain number of visitors are allowed in each hour. See alhambra-patronato.es

GRAND CANYON

Grand Canyon Skywalk
BREAKOUT SatOct20cover - First Time
Credit: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

This shouldn't be a whistle-stop destination seen only from viewpoints as you leap in and out of your car. Do at least one interpretive walk with a guide, and at least one hike, such as the Kaibab or Grandview trails. See nps.gov/grca

PYRAMIDS, EGYPT

Get the right tickets if you want the full experience, because the general-entry ticket doesn't cover everything. You'll need extra tickets for additional sights such as some tombs, the Solar Barque Museum and the pyramid interiors. See egypt.travel

TAJ MAHAL,INDIA

Taj Mahal SunSep2cover - right place at the right time – Ute Junke
BREAKOUT
Credit: Shutterstock
Cover option

Photo: Shutterstock

India's most fabulous monument is firmly closed on Fridays, when the grounds are reserved for Muslims visiting the adjacent mosque. Don't rock up on the wrong day like some bitterly disappointed travellers. See tajmahal.gov.in

ULURU, AUSTRALIA

It's surprising how many visitors wait for the fabled sunset photograph and then buzz back to their hotels. The sky at night has a stunning display of stars, and several good astronomical tours will guide you around the Milky Way. See parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru

MOUNT FUJI, JAPAN

No, you really don't have to hike to the summit of this perfect volcanic cone. It's a hard, hot and uninteresting experience. Best kick back and relax by hiking around Hakone, where you get lovely Mount Fuji views from a distance. See hakone.or.jp

THE VATICAN, ITALY

In the height of the Roman summer, tourists clad in shorts and baring their shoulders stand for an hour or more in the queue for St Peter's Basilica, only to be turned away for their indecent attire. Come early, and cover up. See vaticanstate.va

Advertisement

FORBIDDEN CITY, CHINA

Beijing, China - March 21, 2015: Tourists visit the Forbidden City, the Forbidden City is one of the most famous tourist attractions in China, received 15270000 tourists in 2014
BREAKOUT SatOct20cover - First Time
Credit: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Beijing's top site is vast, so why follow the tour hordes that cling to the north-south axis that runs down its centre? Many visitors see nothing else, but veer off to the eastern courtyards for a treat of quiet, intimate architecture. See dpm.org.cn

DISNEYLAND, US

Rookies at the California theme park spend a lot of times standing in queues. But you can get a Fast Pass from distribution machines that allow you to jump to the head of the line at some attractions during a set time period. See disneyland.disney.go.com

THE LOUVRE, PARIS

sunfeb25twentyreasons?20 reasons to love an escorted journey ; text by?Ute Junker REUSE PERMITTED *** EDITORIAL USE ONLY *** credit: Shutterstock PARIS FRANCE 7 JUNE 2015: Large queue outside louvre Paris

Photo: Shutterstock

There's a whole lot more to this Paris mega-museum than the smirking Italian known as the Mona Lisa. And much more than just paintings. Budget plenty of time, and enjoy uncrowded galleries of antiquities, French furniture and Islamic art. See louvre.fr

FIRST SIGHTS: 10 OF TRAVEL'S GREATEST REVEALS

EIFFEL TOWER

EB3BMM Eiffel Tower and city skyline, Paris, France SatOct20Cover

Photo: Alamy

There's no better way to approach the Paris icon than from the Trocadero metro station and up the steps at the Palais de Chaillot, from which a splendid outlook across the Seine River shows the tower to superb effect. See toureiffel.paris

IGUAZU FALLS

Iguazu Falls.

Photo: Shutterstock

You hear this mighty South American waterfall rumble – and feel the spray – long before it comes into view. Approach on the Argentine side along the path to the Devil's Throat for the most thrilling first encounter. See argentina.travel

GUGGENHEIM BILBAO

If you're arriving from San Sebastian or north-east Spain, the titanium panels of this Frank Gehry masterpiece pop up below as you cross the Puente de la Salve bridge in a magnificent display of swirling curves. See guggenheim-bilbao.es

TAJ MAHAL

You might get your glimpse of this mighty mausoleum from your hotel window in Agra if you're lucky. But the building is hidden from the main entrance until you step through the ornamental gateway for a first, gobsmacking full-on view. See tajmahal.gov.in

MACHU PICCHU

satfeb24cover solo travel cover ; text by Katrina Lobley credit: Shutterstock *** RE USE PERMITTED *** *** EDITORIAL USE ONLY *** Succesful Traveller at Machu Picchu, New 7 Wonder of the Word, Cusco, Peru

Photo: Shutterstock

If you want to earn your first reveal, hike the heart-banging Inca Trail over several days. Regular tourists, though, get their full-on view of these Peruvian ruins from the minute they simply step through the entrance gates. See machupicchu.gob.pe

ACROPOLIS

Parthenon temple on a sunset. Acropolis in Athens, Greece. SatAug25ThreeMinAthens - Three Min Guide Athens - David Whitley Credit: Shutterstock

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

It's seen from everywhere in Athens, but only in parts and at odd angles. Walk up Filopapou Hill through pine trees and rose laurels, and follow the ridge onto Pnyx Hill for the full-on reveal of the entire rocky outcrop and its temples. See thisisathens.org

GRAND CANYON

The great thing about this big Arizona hole in the ground is that you see nothing until you're right there, standing on the edge. The ultimate reveal might be when you step out of the tourist building onto the Skywalk. Bang! See grandcanyonwest.com

PETRA

Jordan traxx-online-jordan. The Treasury, Petra.

Photo: Craig Platt

The long walk down the narrow Siq canyon builds anticipation for the ancient Jordanian desert ruins. The first magical glimpse is of the famous rose-red facade of the Treasury, a great slash of orange against the black opening of the canyon. See visitpetra.jo

RED SQUARE

Alight from the metro at Okhotny Ryad and walk south. As you emerge from the shadow of the gingerbread State Historical Museum, the legendary Russian square is right there, from red Kremlin walls to Lenin's tomb and the bulbous St Basil's Cathedral. See um.mos.ru

HONG KONG HARBOUR

The most striking reveal is on the loop walk around The Peak via Harlech and Lugard roads. You feel as if you're on a country lane until you round a corner for an astonishing outlook into dense skyscrapers. See discoverhongkong.com

See also: The world's 19 most underrated cities (and six most overrated)

Comments