Advance planning will be critical for successful travel in 2021
Anyone who tries to predict what European travel will look like in the summer of 2021 is destined to fail. As ever-changing regulations and speculation about vaccination passports keep us all guessing, one thing seems certain: at most museums, cultural sites and attractions, it will be anything but business as usual, and gone are the days when you could just show up at the gate and procure a ticket on the spot.
New changes likely to stick include the ability to track and trace visitors, as well as to cap their numbers. With this in mind, many entities have already upgraded their websites to sell personalized entry tickets for specific time slots. Such measures are bound to put timely planners at a distinct advantage during the peak travel months of July and August.
Whatever your European travel intentions are this summer, checking the provider’s ticketing policies and planning ahead might prove judicious. Here are a handful of places representing a variety of interests that are already offering would-be travelers the chance to secure their place in line.
Buckingham Palace: For the first time ever, paying visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of the palace gardens on independent, self-guided tours this spring and summer. The 39 acres of Queen Elizabeth II’s official London residence feature rare and beautiful greenery, more than 1,000 trees and a lake with its own ecosystem. Visitors are welcome to pack a hamper and enjoy a picnic on the lawn within sight of the palace; food and drink also will be available for purchase at stands set up in the park. Guided tours of the palace and its sumptuous state rooms are offered between May and September, and a combination ticket allows visitors to experience both. A dated ticket for entry to the grounds goes for 16.50 pounds (about $23). Online: rct.uk/visit/buckingham-palace
Disneyland Paris: The park remains closed and a reopening date has yet to be announced. Ticket sales at the park entrance are currently suspended. Two types of entry tickets are currently on sale on the Disneyland Paris website: dated and undated. Prices for one-day, dated tickets to one of the Disney Parks (Disneyland Park or Walt Disney Studios Park) start at $64.26 and allow for entry on most weekdays in May-June and September-December. Tickets for weekends and dates in July and August are available as well, but at higher prices. Visitors can cancel without fees up to three days before their scheduled arrival date. Dated tickets valid for a time when the park remains closed are automatically canceled one week beforehand and subject to a full refund. One-day, undated tickets are on sale from $116.81 and remain valid for one year. Visitation dates must be booked online in advance and are contingent upon the availability of space. These undated tickets can be used as soon as one day after purchase and are non-refundable. Online: tinyurl.com/2awdmhjc
Europa-Park: Germany’s most popular amusement park remains shuttered; when it reopens, it will limit daily visitor numbers and allow entry only by means of date-specific tickets, available exclusively online. It is also possible to purchase an undated ticket voucher, but a date must be affixed to it to render it valid. Should the regulations in place at the time mean the park is forced to remain closed (or has to shut down once again) on the date of your visit, the website allows you to reschedule a visit. An app by the name of VirtualLine allows guests to book their place in line for the park’s most popular rides. Online: europapark.de/en/theme-park/tickets-offers
Vatican Museums: As of this writing, the Vatican Museums and Gardens were expected to reopen to the public May 3. Entry to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel is possible only with the purchase of a date-specific ticket, and visitor names must be provided at the time of booking. Even though the name does not appear on the reservation voucher, visitor ID will be checked by personnel upon entry. No refunds on tickets will be provided, although changing dates or modifying visitor names is allowed. Online: www.museivaticani.va
Wilhelma: Stuttgart, Germany’s famous zoo and botanical garden reopened on April 28. Tickets for fixed admission time slots must be booked online in advance. All visitors over age 6 must present a negative Corona test result taken within the previous 24 hours. Results from the rapid tests are acceptable, but only those administered by official sources, i.e. no self-testing onsite is possible. Those vaccinated can alternately present a certificate showing they received both shots at least 14 days previously. An official photo document such as a passport or driver's license must be presented to verify ID; for children under 16, a birth certificate or insurance card will suffice. Adults must wear medical-grade masks on site at all times, whereas everyday masks are sufficient for children ages 6 to 14. Visitor numbers are capped at 4,000. As parts of the park remain closed, winter admission rates apply: 15 euros adults, 5.50 euros for children and free for those under 6. Online: tinyurl.com/36fmu652