When traveling, you want to see and experience everything a place has to offer in the short time you are there. You want to sample the local cuisine, buy crafts and such at small shops and stroll the main streets and back roads. You also probably want to visit major monuments and museums whose pictures splash across the covers of every guidebook and textbook about that place (Hey, the Leaning Tower really does lean!). Unfortunately for you, there is only one Eiffel Tower, and everyone is visiting it the same time you want to. Showing up to the most popular place to visit and waiting in line is a waste of your valuable vacation time.
I remember taking a field trip to Six Flags Great America as part of a Physics Day or something in high school and spending 45 minutes in a line for three minutes on a roller coaster. At the end of an entire day spent inside the confines of the amusement park, I had gone on seven rides, making my total amusement time about 20 minutes. I spend the rest of the day getting a sunburn waiting in lines that were so long, they were measured in parsecs (I told you I was there for a physics trip). Though you can’t reserve a spot on a ride ahead of time, you can purchase tickets to places like the Eiffel Tower that guarantee you admission at a specific time. This means you can step right up to the front of the queue and climb the tower without standing in line. When you are only in Paris for a few days, that time out of line can be better spent wandering the streets of Montmartre looking for the world’s best crepe.
The drawback of course is that you have to commit to specific time to visit a specific place and you must schedule your itinerary for that day around it. This can be difficult if you prefer to wake up and go where the day takes you, but with smartphones and Wi-Fi, you can buy tickets the day before or even a few hours before your visit.
If the place is so iconic that it is on the cover of the guidebook, chances are good that you can buy tickets ahead of time because chances are better that there is going to be a line.
A little bit of commitment can save you a lot of time in line.