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Sightseeing Time Estimates

Hi, there. In reading Rick Steve’s tour guides quotes for length of time at a museum or destination, is there an assumption for how thorough the traveler is?

My husband reads every placard and puts a lot of effort into experiencing a museum. I read some placards, but mainly I take in the visuals and overall vibe of a place.

For example, the guide says to allow 1.5 hours at Westminster Abbey (+.5 with Diamond Jubilee gallery). Based on the above description, is the 1.5 more for someone like my husband or someone like me?


Posted by
454 posts

It's probably an estimate for someone who is "halfway between" the way you like to explore a museum and the way your husband likes to do so. When a guided Rick Steves tour goes into a museum, there's no effort to see and learn about every exhibit. Those are "highlights" tours. My assumption is that the time estimates in the guidebooks will permit guests to give themselves a thorough "highlights" tour.

My husband and I have styles similar to you and your husband. Our agreement is that when we enter a museum, we set a time to meet at the exit. Each of us takes that museum at his/her own pace. When we meet up, I'm always excited to tell him that I made it into every room, and to tell him about the favorite things I saw in each. And he will often mention that he made it all the way around the first room, loved it, even got into the second room a little bit. And that's enough for him. He'd rather delve deeply into a few things and not worry about what he missed. I'd rather see more and know that I can later read up about more of the details of what I saw. To each his own!

Posted by
23418 posts

I would judge that to be a hard one to know. Everyone is different. I am guessing that is about average. My wife will read every card and examine each item in detail. She could spend all day in a museum and be perfectly happy. I tend to get bored after four hours. There is no hard rules that says you have to be done in an hour or a specific time.

Posted by
6613 posts

I'd guess it's an average, a happy medium between two RS values: take the time to really appreciate what you're seeing, and "assume you will return." I'm the label-reader, my wife is the skimmer, so she ends up waiting for me near the exit and watching the people, who might be more interesting than the exhibits. Museum cafes, a great invention, make all this easier for both types of people. You can wait for your loved one with a snack or coffee, or you can take a lunch break during an all-day visit (that would be when I'm alone).

Museum tours usually include a walk through "highlights" with a guide, followed by a specified period for individual exploring, with the group reassembling near the exit. That's a good plan, and the skimmers can use the cafe or the gift shop while the porers are satisfying their curiosity. But everybody should make time to use the restrooms before leaving! ;-)

Posted by
7389 posts

I’d say the estimates are more for a person like you, if you stop and look at some items in detail but overall are not reading everything.

A general ballpark for me is two hours in a smaller city museum and half a day for the large ones. Like Frank, after four hours, I’m ready to be outdoors again and also rest my legs. I look at some items in great detail; others get an appreciation look. And the rest are a slow walk by stroll.

Posted by
4230 posts

I think his books seriously underestimate the amount of time. Someone else mentioned the books account for the highlights and I'd agree, but say it would be a quick look at the highlights. We spent about 3 hours at Westminster and we need to go back. I assume the book you're looking at is for London, then not only should you expect him to be more than an hour and a half at Westminster, you'd better plan the full day at the Tower of London. We spent 6 hours there.

Posted by
27343 posts

My attitude toward museums is that I skip the many I have no or little interest in and allow tons of time for the ones I care about. (Occasionally I'm wrong and don't much like something I was really looking forward to, but it's rare.) I have found, without exception, that I spend at least twice as much time as Rick estimates in the museums I visit. Sometimes it's three times as much, or even more. I'm one who reads essentially every word of English explanation in historical museums.

I find somewhat less variation with art museums, because there I read only the general introductory material and the placards for the paintings I like. Still, I'm at about twice Rick's time estimates for moderate-sized museums. I'd expect a wider difference on huge places like the Louvre, because I will make many, many trips to places like that so I can walk through every room. Rick makes the accurate assumption that sane travelers have the sense not to spend an entire day in one museum, much less several entire days in one museum.

Posted by
1786 posts

Mollharoz, I am like you in a museum. I am more visual and less about reading everything. Having said that, most of the top museums are at a minimum almost 50% more time than recommended even if you are just visual.

Posted by
724 posts

I’m more like you and still find the RS recommended times a bit too short if the museum really interests me. My husband is more like yours and could easily spend 2 to 3 times as much time as RS recommends.

Posted by
5905 posts

My husband and my daughter read everything. I would say RS museum time allotted is a bit understated. We always spend more time than the guide suggests. I typically will message someone that I know is similar in taste to me, or put a question on a travel forum to get an idea of time estimates for specific places. IMO, where the RS guides are really short are the number of days allocated for cities in an itinerary. Seems he takes his tour itineraries and suggests them for personal travel. Well, with a tour, someone with experience is driving and a guide shuttles folks thru places. Its organized almost to the minute with people that know how to get places, where to park and what to see.