7 Tours That Help You Skip the Lines

by John Roberts

7 Tours That Help You Skip the Lines

by John Roberts

If you've cruised a few times, you've witnessed this scene: The ship arrives in port, and the best attractions and sites are suddenly swarmed with people. It’s a less-than-ideal way to enjoy the day. That's why it's important to find an expert, English-speaking guide who can get you off the beaten path to enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at a destination. And here’s an added bonus: You can share all the interesting stories you learned with fellow cruisers who missed out by waiting in long lines. These are some of our favorite tour operators in ports around the globe.

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The Acropolis / iStock / Sergey Borisov
Barcelona's National Art Museum of Catalonia
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1. Barcelona Guide Bureau in Barcelona

Barcelona Guide Bureau is built on a team of local guides who know the city inside out and will adjust any tour to suit your desires. These licensed whizzes can give unique insight into the historically rich port city and help you skip the lines at the Sagrada Familia and other top attractions. They’ll also reveal secret spots and stories that only Barcelonans know. Choose from a range of tours such as the highlights of Gaudí, a visit to the chapel-covered Montserrat mountain, or a tour of Montjuïc, with its museums and spectacular views of the city. 

Barcelona Guide Bureau is built on a team of local guides who know the city inside out and will adjust any tour to suit your desires. These licensed whizzes can give unique insight into the historically rich port city and help you skip the lines at the Sagrada Familia and other top attractions. They’ll also reveal secret spots and stories that only Barcelonans know. Choose from a range of tours such as the highlights of Gaudí, a visit to the chapel-covered Montserrat mountain, or a tour of Montjuïc, with its museums and spectacular views of the city. 

Sydney Opera House
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2. Shore Trips and Tours in Sydney

Culture, adventure, food — you can find it all in Sydney. Shore Trips and Tours offers fully customizable private tours based on exactly what you want to do — like an inside look at the Opera House. Or choose one of the standard excursions, which are pretty fabulous, too: a Sydney Harbour cruise in a tall ship, a bike tour from Darling Harbour to the Royal Botanic Garden, a craft brewery crawl, or a terrifying climb over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Culture, adventure, food — you can find it all in Sydney. Shore Trips and Tours offers fully customizable private tours based on exactly what you want to do — like an inside look at the Opera House. Or choose one of the standard excursions, which are pretty fabulous, too: a Sydney Harbour cruise in a tall ship, a bike tour from Darling Harbour to the Royal Botanic Garden, a craft brewery crawl, or a terrifying climb over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Dog sledding in Alaska
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3. All Alaska Tours in Juneau

These guys take you right into the wilderness from Juneau. Spring for the Mendenhall Glacier Landing Tour — which includes a flight over vast ice fields — or a humpback whale watching trip that ends with a salmon bake. All Alaska Tours' guides and naturalists lead discussions as you take a rafting trip to view Mendenhall Glacier or go sea kayaking past orcas. Or try your hand at dog sledding, getting an inside look at how these champions train for the famous Iditarod.

These guys take you right into the wilderness from Juneau. Spring for the Mendenhall Glacier Landing Tour — which includes a flight over vast ice fields — or a humpback whale watching trip that ends with a salmon bake. All Alaska Tours' guides and naturalists lead discussions as you take a rafting trip to view Mendenhall Glacier or go sea kayaking past orcas. Or try your hand at dog sledding, getting an inside look at how these champions train for the famous Iditarod.

Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg
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4. Best Guides in St. Petersburg

Select one of Best Guides' "off the beaten path" trips to get a behind-the-scenes peek at St. Petersurg’s top sights. Take a backstage look at the St. Petersburg Ballet, get an intoxicating tour of the Russian vodka scene, or visit the Faberge Museum, home to the stunning eggs. Expert guides can also show you around the State Hermitage Museum, the Peter and Paul Fortress, or St. Isaac's Cathedral.

Select one of Best Guides' "off the beaten path" trips to get a behind-the-scenes peek at St. Petersurg’s top sights. Take a backstage look at the St. Petersburg Ballet, get an intoxicating tour of the Russian vodka scene, or visit the Faberge Museum, home to the stunning eggs. Expert guides can also show you around the State Hermitage Museum, the Peter and Paul Fortress, or St. Isaac's Cathedral.

Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion
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5. Hellenic Private Tours in Athens

Beat the crowds with flexible boutique tours from Hellenic Private Tours that offer private car service. You’ll easily zip around to all the classic Athens locations: the Parthenon, the Temple of Poseidon, the ancient Agora, the old neighborhood of Plaka, Mount Lycabettus. These licensed guides also know where to find the best scenic views and the top insider spots for traditional Greek food. 

Beat the crowds with flexible boutique tours from Hellenic Private Tours that offer private car service. You’ll easily zip around to all the classic Athens locations: the Parthenon, the Temple of Poseidon, the ancient Agora, the old neighborhood of Plaka, Mount Lycabettus. These licensed guides also know where to find the best scenic views and the top insider spots for traditional Greek food. 

The Colosseum in Rome
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6. Walks of Italy in Rome

The local English-speaking guides with Walks of Italy whisk you past the lines to enjoy special VIP access around the Colosseum. Explore the arena floor, the underground tunnels, and the third tier, with its amazing views of Rome. Whether you’re exploring the Forum, Palatine Hill, or Caesar's Palace, Walks of Italy’s guides have such intimate knowledge of the city's ancient regions that you'll get details the average tourist will never hear about. 

The local English-speaking guides with Walks of Italy whisk you past the lines to enjoy special VIP access around the Colosseum. Explore the arena floor, the underground tunnels, and the third tier, with its amazing views of Rome. Whether you’re exploring the Forum, Palatine Hill, or Caesar's Palace, Walks of Italy’s guides have such intimate knowledge of the city's ancient regions that you'll get details the average tourist will never hear about. 

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar
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7. Walks of Turkey in Istanbul

It pays to go with a true authority when navigating Istanbul’s legendary Grand Bazaar. Walks of Turkey will also give you special access to the rooftop, with a view over the marketplace. No matter where you want to go in Istanbul — Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque — this company promises you the ability to have up-close experiences on small-group outings. Another highlight not to miss: a cruise of the Bosphorus.

It pays to go with a true authority when navigating Istanbul’s legendary Grand Bazaar. Walks of Turkey will also give you special access to the rooftop, with a view over the marketplace. No matter where you want to go in Istanbul — Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque — this company promises you the ability to have up-close experiences on small-group outings. Another highlight not to miss: a cruise of the Bosphorus.

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