When you’re on vacation, nothing quite puts a damper on a day out like a long and poorly managed line for a tourist attraction. Indeed, close to 69% of Americans find that waiting in line makes them feel negative emotions like boredom, frustration and impatience.
While quieter hidden gem attractions may offer a different experience, the fact is the more popular a tourist attraction, the more likely it is that the lines for the ticket booth and beyond will be long. And while some world-famous landmarks, museums, art galleries and theme parks may boast short and fast lines, others have queues so bad that visitors can’t help but take to the internet to complain.
So which popular tourist attractions in the U.S. and across the world have the very worst lines of all? HawaiianIslands analyzed thousands of publicly available traveler reviews to find out.
How We Conducted This Study
We began by finding the 100 most popular tourist attractions in each country according to TripAdvisor and, for each attraction, calculated how many reviews mention the phrase “long queue.” We could then rank the tourist attractions globally and in select countries and continents with the highest number of mentions of its long lines in reviews.
- The lines at the Eiffel Tower in France are the most complained-about of any tourist attraction in the world — 4,799 of its publicly available reviews mention the phrase “long queue”
- The Empire State Building has the worst lines of any tourist attraction in the U.S. (2,842 mentions of its long queues in reviews)
- Six other tourist attractions in New York City rank among the most complained-about in the country for queues, including the Top of the Rock observation deck (1,305 mentions)
- In the UK, the London Eye comes top as having the most complained about queues — 4,756 of its reviews mention the phrase “long queue”
The Eiffel Tower Has the World’s Most Complained-About Lines
The iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, is on plenty of Americans’ vacation wishlists, a landmark that receives almost seven million patrons every year. You can take plenty of photos of it from afar — indeed, it’s Europe’s most Instagrammed tourist attraction — or buy tickets to the top… but be warned: there are 4,799 mentions of the attraction’s long lines across publicly available reviews. That’s more than any other tourist attraction in the world.
“Five stars for the Eiffel Tower,” writes one reviewer. “One star for the humongous crowds and long lines throughout. Be prepared.” Another reviewer advises: “Book your tickets well in advance online to avoid the notoriously long queues. We opted for a guided tour with skip-the-line access, which I’d highly recommend.”
Other attractions in the ranking include theme parks, places of historical significance and skyscrapers. The Basílica de la Sagrada Familia comes fifth (2,992 mentions), an ornate Catholic cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, that remains unfinished well over a century after construction began. “The Sagrada is exceptionally busy,” comments a visitor. “If you have any sort of timed entrance, give yourself plenty of time. There will be a long queue, even with skip-the-line tickets.”
Explore our map below to reveal the tourist attraction with the most complained-about lines in every country, based on the number of mentions they get in publicly available reviews.
New York City Home to Some of the Worst Queues in the United States
New York City is home to seven of the top 20 most complained-about tourist attractions in the United States, led by the Empire State Building (2,842 mentions of long lines in reviews). As the jewel in the city’s skyline and the country’s number one tourist attraction, it’s no wonder this landmark attracts more than four million visitors a year — but just how bad can the lines really be?
“My only negative would be the long queues, cramped queues,” writes one reviewer. “There’s about a 15/20 minute queue on the street, before another 10/15 minute queue to get through security and then another two 10/15 minute queues for the two sets of [elevators] to get up.” On the plus side, visitors wanting to skip the lines can pay extra for fast-track tickets.
The next most complained-about attraction for long lines is less than half an hour’s walk away: Top of the Rock (1,305 mentions). Spanning the 67th, 69th and 70th floors of the famous Rockefeller Center, this observation deck — like the Empire State Building — offers spectacular views of the city… once visitors manage to get through the long lines. One reviewer writes: “To get to the top level was a nightmare … The queues were so long going upstairs as people were coming down. It was packed.”
Four theme parks in Orlando, Florida, also make the ranking. Leading those is Universal’s Islands of Adventure (860 mentions), where the longest ride wait time on average is 93 minutes. Even lines meant for express pass holders are lengthy; so says one reviewer: “I always buy the express pass when I visit, but this was the first time I thought it wasn’t worth buying. … The wait time on A LOT of rides was either the same or very similar to the normal lines.”
The London Eye Leads the UK’s Worst Tourist Attractions for Queuing
In the UK, four of the attractions with the worst queue times can be found in London. The London Eye comes top (4,756 mentions of long queues), the 443 ft-tall Ferris wheel situated on the River Thames. When booking their ticket for the London Eye, visitors are given a time slot for when they have to join the line, which on peak days can last longer than 45 minutes. “The queue [is] long and slow-moving and lots of waiting around even with fast track tickets,” comments a visitor.
Other London attractions include the Tower of London (2,049 mentions) and the Natural History Museum (1,235 mentions), respectively, the most visited paid-for and free attractions in the UK in 2022.
The most visited theme park in the UK leads outside of London: the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort (4,017 mentions). “The biggest disappointment was the average wait times for rides,” comments one reviewer. “Most rides were 40-75 mins … The cost of queue jump tickets [is] extortionate.” After that comes another theme park: the Alton Towers Resort (2,676 mentions) in Alton, Staffordshire.
Amusement Parks Among Australia’s Most Complained-About Attractions for Lines
Turning our attention down under, two tourist attractions in the suburb of Oxenford in the City of Gold Coast, Queensland, rank as having the most complained-about queues. Of the two, Warner Bros. Movie World comes top (526 mentions of long queues), a theme park that receives some 1.4 million visitors every year. “The lines were sooooo long!!” writes one visitor. “We arrived at 10am and left at 3:30pm, and only managed to get on four rides that whole time … We just spent the whole day in a line.”
Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast ranks after that (223 mentions), Australia’s biggest water park. “Fun but be prepared to line up,” advises a reviewer. “Another observation was the lines were less when everyone was having lunch…” Other top attractions with long lines include more theme parks, a bustling market, zoos and the Sydney Tower Eye Observation Deck (81 mentions).
After the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Has the Worst Queues in France
The Eiffel Tower, of course, takes the top spot in France, leading a ranking that includes four other Paris-based attractions. They include the Louvre Museum (1,941 mentions of long lines), not a surprise considering its status as the most visited art museum in the world. So notorious are the lines at the Louvre that TikTok is full of tips to avoid them; one such tip advises visitors to head to the museum through the nearby Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall and join a “secret line” for tickets.
The second most complained-about queues in France can be found at Disneyland Paris in Marne-la-Vallee (2,453 mentions), which received 9.93 million visitors in 2022. To beat the queues in peak periods, reviewers advise spending a bit extra on fast-pass tickets. “It’s not cheap,” writes one, “but it includes most of the main attraction rides and allowed us to experience far more than we would have without it as the park was fully booked on that day.”
The BasÍlica de la Sagrada Familia Has the Most Complained-About Queues of Any Tourist Attraction in Spain
After the Basílica de la Sagrada Familia, Spain’s most complained-about lines can be found at Siam Park in Adeje, Tenerife (2,605 mentions of long lines), a water park that this year was voted TripAdvisor’s best water park in the world for the ninth time in a row. Unfortunately for visitors, queues can be found in pretty much every corner of this attraction.
As one reviewer comments: “A long line of people queued to get in, only for busloads to be dropped off at the front entrance and push in the queue. … Once through the main gate, another queue to show tickets … Once in the park, long queue for a locker, then longer queues for the rides. Lunch queue also huge, and no tables free so had to wait.”
Other attractions on our ranking include the Prado National Museum in Madrid (603 mentions), about which one visitor writes: “We had tickets for 10:30 and arrived at 10:20 but it still took us 40 minutes of waiting in line to get in the door.” The Alhambra in Granada features tenth (442 mentions), a centuries-old palace that ranks as the second-most popular tourist attraction in the country according to the number of Instagram hashtags.
In Asia, a Theme Park Leads as the Continent’s Most Complained-About Attraction for Lines
Asia has by far the most people of any continent, but which of its tourist attractions have the longest lines according to visitors gone before? On top comes Universal Studios on Sentosa Island, Singapore — one of five Universal Studios theme parks worldwide — for which 2,054 publicly available reviews mention its long queues.
Reviewers suggest visitors get the official park app to monitor queue times and plan their way around the park accordingly. Another visitor found that starting at the far end of the park is a good way to skip the queues. “Most people do the first ride they see near the entrance,” they write, “pushing queue times up to 90+ minutes within the first half an hour of opening. So we walked to the other end of the park (doesn’t take long, it’s a small theme park) and managed to do five rides within the first 45 minutes.”
Other theme parks, including Hong Kong Disneyland (978 mentions), also rank, but world-famous landmarks appear too. The Taj Mahal in Agra, India (680 mentions), is perhaps the most notable, receiving between seven and eight million visitors each year. “It is truly amazing and you understand why it is one of the wonders of the world,” writes one reviewer. “However, it is very, very crowded. The queues to get in are very long with lots of pushing and shoving.”
Three Tips to Avoid Long Queues at Popular Tourist Attractions
Waiting for what seems like forever in line at a popular tourist attraction isn’t always a foregone conclusion. Here are our top tips on how to handle them like a pro on your next vacation.
One surefire way to cut down on your time spent queuing for an attraction is to avoid peak times. For example, the Eiffel Tower — the host of the most complained-about queues in the world — is busiest between the end of June and the beginning of September and 11 am and 5 pm. Plan your visit around those times, and you may find that the lines aren’t so long. If the attraction’s official website doesn’t have information about peak times, you could try contacting them directly or researching peak times on review websites like TripAdvisor.
Sometimes the longest lines at a tourist attraction are for the ticket booth. To avoid those queues, check the attraction’s official website to see if you can book tickets ahead of time. They may even be cheaper than on-the-day prices. Usually, you can get an online ticket emailed to you that you can use to enter the attraction via an entrance reserved for pre-booked ticket holders. If more lines might await you inside the gates — like at a theme park — consider paying extra for fast-pass or express tickets that allow you to skip the lines.
When long lines can’t be avoided, the next best thing you can do is be prepared for a lengthy wait. Prepare for the weather; if it’s a hot day, be sure to wear light, airy clothing, a hat for some shade and keep water with you at all times. If it’s rainy and cold, dress for warmth and take along an umbrella. If you’ve got children with you, be sure to pack light snacks and small games to keep them (and yourself) entertained. A foldable camping chair is also a great way to take the weight off your feet in lengthy queues.
With these tips in your back pocket, hopefully, you’ll remember your time having fun on vacation rather than your time spent in line!
To discover the most complained-about tourist queues, we ranked the most popular tourist attractions in each country according to how many of their reviews on Tripadvisor mentioned “long queue.”
Our original seed list consisted of the 100 most popular attractions in each country, according to Tripadvisor’s “Traveler Favorites.” We matched the attraction ID from this seed list to the search results retrieved when searching for the phrase “long queue” in each country’s “Things To Do’ section.
Overall, we analyzed 10,742,448 publicly available Tripadvisor reviews in English. The final ranking only included tourist attractions with at least 1,000 reviews and at least 20 mentions of “long queue” in English. This reduced our final list of countries with a rankable attraction to 64.
The analysis of this data is correct as of November 2023.
This is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Tripadvisor, Inc.
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