02 February 2014

#SundayTraveler: Making the Most of Museums While Traveling

One of my favorite parts of living in Europe and traveling to different countries on the continent has been getting to experience all the different museums. I'm excited to visit museums dedicated to art, history, science, and just about everything else, and the opportunities in Europe seem endless. But I know that for some people, incorporating museums into a trip can seem daunting, uninteresting, expensive, or all of the above - but they don't have to be with a little bit of advance research. So, here are my tips for making the most of the museums available while traveling.



With any trip, even when I'm looking into hotels, I'm considering the museums around the area. Even when the possibilities seem endless, I force myself to pick out my favorites by going to the website for each museum that interests me and checking out their current exhibits, any traveling exhibits, and information regarding full or partial museum closures due to maintenance. And I work museums into my itinerary based on the areas of town we'll be in and other activities around that area.

Of course, my research always includes the cost of admission. Each museum offers different rates for adults, kids, and seniors, but other discounts may be available, or the museum may offer a reduced or free admission on a particular day of the week/month. It's worth planning your other activities around special rates, especially if the costs your other activities aren't likely to change. I'm also a huge fan of special tourist discounts - mainly a temporary museum pass. I feel like it's an often under-used resource for tourists, but the deals can be amazing if you price it out ahead of time. We used the 2-day Paris Museum Pass during our trip last October and saw 10 different participating museums and monuments at €78 for two adults - the cost of which would have been €120 more had we paid face-value admissions at each site. We'll be taking a trip to London in the future, and have already purchased the 1 Day London Pass to make the most of the big "tourist sites" in London. By my current calculations, we'll be saving at least ₤24 if we just see my four "must see" sites.

For longer stays, it's worth seeing if there are long term discounts good across a city or country. We've purchased my much loved Museumkaart, which provides free or significantly reduced admission for one year at 400 different museums across the Netherlands. In the last 10 months, we've gotten back the initial cost of the card at least four times over. We can skip the lines and the fees at wonderful museums like the Rijksmuseum or even small museums in smaller cities and see a bit of culture, and we always find something that we find made the visit worth it.

I think museums are important to visit when traveling for the culture and memories that they give you, so I make every effort to visit at least two on our trips. And it's easy to incorporate them into your own traveling with just a tiny bit of research.

(And if you don't think that you can do it with kids - read this and reconsider. Your kids may surprise you!)

Today's post is joined up with the many great travel posts in the Sunday Traveler linky. Please check out the wonderful hosts and other delightful link-ups!


17 comments:

  1. frankaboutcroatia02 February, 2014 21:45

    I am over waiting in the line for anything; Done! Cannot do any of that anymore :.). And most of the time this is the reason I avoid museums. So yes, to purchase a pass is a great way to go. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler.

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  2. Thanks for linking up again to #SundayTraveler I agree that museums are important to visit when on the road. They show you so much in one space. Shame about the other annoying people also looking at the same stuff.

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  3. My favourite London Museums are The British Museum and Tate Modern. The British Museum has a collection of over 80% of the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone and a collection of mummies, to list a few of my favourite parts. Also the Tate Modern has a huge collection of Picassos as well as other very interesting art. Plus the Tate Modern is very close to Saint Paul's cathedral which would be a nice walking tour. My blog focuses on everything London as well as our travels as expats. Check it out if you need any inspiration! Cheers!

    Mary
    http://livingourliveslikeasong.blogspot.co.uk/

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  4. eemusings (NZMuse)03 February, 2014 02:01

    We were lucky to be in Paris on a Friday and get free entry to the Louvre as we were under 26!


    One of my faves was the natural history museum in London. Also liked the American history one in DC and my husband loved the Air and Space one.

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  5. If you plan it right, you will totally get more than what you paid for them - the key is really checking what they cover ahead of time and what on that list you actually want to see. =)

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  6. Lots of these passes will even get you into a special line so you even jump ahead of the people that bought their tickets online, which is perfect! And in Paris especially, they will even jump you further ahead when they see you have a young child. =) Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. We've accidentally seen pieces by famous people like Jackson Pollack in some "smaller" museums, which is just fantastic.
    But I will say that at I can count at least 3 times where I was terribly annoyed by other visitors - also all Americans. Ugh. It's too bad they don't make "don't be annoying" a prerequisite for purchasing the pass.

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  8. Thanks, Mary, I'll check it out! The British Museum and the Natural History Museum are on my list so far. It's been a long time since we were in London, so there are lots of possibilities. =)

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  9. The Paris museums are great for young people. Any EU residents under 26 get free admission to just about all the museums, and non-EU under 18 get free admission, too. With that kind of deal there's no good reason not to at least poke your head in =)
    The Natural History Museum in London is on our list to see. But one of my all-time favorites is the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the K20 in Dusseldorf. =) Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Museums are great to visit and important too! :) Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler this week!

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  11. Great post! Have fun in my home city - London has some incredible Museums! Museums are such a great part of travel, and we have visited some glorious ones and equally strange ones in our time... :)

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  12. Thanks, Ashley - I'm a real museum nerd (if this post hasn't already given that away) ;)

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  13. I love when the strange and under visited museums are included in those special passes - otherwise I may never have seen them. At worst we waste a few minutes, but usually we find something worth telling others about. =)

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  14. Great post! We really enjoy when you can enter museums as many times as you want (which seems to be one of the advantages of the passes) - this is also the reason that we love free museums like the British Museum and the Natural History museum in London so much. Then you can head in, look around until you have had your fill, then leave and go back later or the next day...much better for us than spending an entire day overloading your feet and brain! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Museum passes are a great way to entice people to check the lesser-known museums. At least, that's what we usually do! Lovely post, congrats. Good luck!

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  16. Thanks, Calli! I really love the free museums, too. It's so nice to know that you don't have to feel guilty if you only have an hour or so. I'm pretty jazzed up about the Natural History Museum in London, too!
    Thanks for stopping by!

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  17. That's very true! We probably wouldn't have done the crypts under Notre Dame if the museum wasn't included on the pass - but it turned out to be interesting for all of us!
    Thanks for stopping by!

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