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Booking holiday activities and city tours: how to plan a stress-free trip

Remember that time you turned up at the Uffizi, saw the queue and realised you wouldn’t have enough time to see Italy’s greatest art gallery? Or that time you found out about a great foodie tour of Barcelona’s La Boqueria market – on the plane home?

The best activities on your next trip could be the activities that you stumble upon, or that a local tells you about at a bar on the first night. But there’s probably more chance that they’ll be the activities you read up about in advance, the ones that make it onto those “must visit” lists or that you hear about from your friends.

The problem with these kinds of activities is that they are the ones everyone else wants to do too. The ones that attract a long line, or that sell out weeks in advance. Yes, you’re not the only one reading that Rough Guide, you’ve got competition.

How not to miss out on the best activities

Wouldn’t you rather know that you were going to be able to taste the beer at that world-famous brewery, or join that once in a lifetime volcano hike?

Yes, it’s time to succumb to FOMO – the “fear of missing out” – and make those activity bookings before leaving home. This way you can hop off that airport bus knowing everything is already organised, no last minute frantic Google map searches or phone calls that stress test your French language skills.

What kind of activities can I book in advance?

You might be surprised how many activities you can book before your trip, from city walking tours that give you an introduction and help you to get your bearings, to a visit to Alcatraz or the Eiffel Tower.

You can also beat the queues at famous attractions by buying passes in advance, get behind the scenes of the world’s greatest galleries with a VIP guide or book the best seats in the house for the latest show.

If you’re looking to get into the great outdoors, try booking an expert-led excursion or hike, or test your adventurous streak with a bungee jump, rafting trip or hot-air balloon ride. More sedate options include cooking classes, vineyard tours and river cruises.

Whatever you’re planning, Viator has thousands of day-trips and experiences around the world. Check out these for inspiration, and get booking.

Sydney Opera House and Australian Ballet Dinner Package

Get a closer look at Australia’s most iconic building, the World Heritage listed Opera House, on a guided behind the scenes tour, before settling in for dinner and a show – Sleeping Beauty perhaps, or Giselle.

Skip the Line: Grand Canyon Skywalk Express Helicopter Tour

In just 3.5 hours from Las Vegas you can stand on the glass-bottomed Skywalk that extends over the Grand Canyon’s jaw-dropping West Rim, and check out the Hoover Dam and Mojave Desert from the air. No lines, guaranteed.

Priority Access: Best of Barcelona Tour Including Sagrada Familia

Tick off Barcelona’s top sights, skipping lines and getting priority access to Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, as well as his lesser-known La Pedrera and gorgeous Parc Güell. You’ll also stroll through the Gothic Quarter and Jewish Quarter with your guide.

Northern Lights Night Tour from Reykjavik

Up your chances of seeing the incomparable aurora borealis on a tour with an expert guide. You’ll drive out of Reykjavik in search of the lights, stopping at various inky black locations with your fingers firmly crossed.

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