As 63% of Brits say sightseeing is one of the best things about holiday, Wise partners with The Rest is History to help us all get more out of it
- Wise has created travel guides to Paris and Amsterdam to help Brits travel like a historian
With the summer travel season in full swing, Brits are filling cafés, sunburning on beaches, and queueing for museums around the world. Holidaying, and sightseeing in particular, is something the UK does with a passion, with 63% saying that it’s one of the best things about going on holiday.
However, travellers’ dedication towards exploring the sights creates problems, such as overcrowding around landmarks, long queues and steep prices. What’s more, only 22% of Brits feel informed about the sights they’re visiting.
To help, Wise has partnered with The Rest is History for a set of four episodes, in which Tom and Dominic visit Amsterdam and Paris to give listeners an in depth tour of the cities. Written guides are available too, allowing you to retrace the pair’s footsteps.
The guides give a new perspective on some well travelled cities. The Eiffel Tower is Brits’ most seen international sight, viewed by 36% of us, while Notre Dame (25%) and Amsterdam’s canals (20%) come second and third - outsourcing the Roman Colosseum (18%), and Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia (14%), and a range of other sights.
Indeed, more Brits have seen the Eiffel Tower than Brighton Pier (33%), the Lake District (30%), or Stonehenge (26%).
For tourists, it can be hard to know how to sightsee - given all this. Thankfully, Tom and Dominic have provided four key tips.
Firstly, research is important - showing up at the Louvre with no prior research will likely result in a long queue, expensive tickets, and perhaps little awareness of what the various paintings and sculptures actually represent. You don’t need a history degree, but listening to a couple of podcasts or reading a book can help make any queues worthwhile, and steer you away from the underwhelming.
51% of Brits already research sights before they go away, but there are some ways to make it more effective. Focussing on a specific era of history is another way to help identify the top places to see - for instance, Tom and Dominic’s Parisian tour of the May 1968 riots takes them through museums, cafés and views of the city that seem underwhelming without any historical context.
Research will help with this - tourist traps are called this for a reason, and have a tendency to needlessly dent holiday budgets. Instead of trekking to the Eiffel Tower — the most popular landmark to visit for Brits, with 36% having visited — nearby Trocadéro offers unparalleled views of the tower, minus the queues.
Or, visit Amsterdam’s stunning hofjes — almshouses with peaceful courtyards to boot — that offer a unique insight into the city’s rich history. Entirely unassuming from the outside, and largely avoided by tourists, the hofjes played hosts to centuries of quiet worship, as Catholics who survived the Protestant Reformation were only allowed to keep their chapel on the condition they worshipped in secret.
Steering away from Dam Square, and towards sights like the hofjes help offer a new perspective on the city, and how people in the past lived through monumental events in history.
Give tourist traps a wide berth, as these are usually surrounded by the most expensive restaurants and overpriced souvenirs. However, tickets, activities, and a jaunt in the local Zara can add up quickly if spending with a traditional bank card, thanks to hefty ATM fees and commission charges hidden in inflated exchange rates.
The Wise card helps Brits shop, sip and sightsee like a local, with all fees shown up-front and no mark up in the exchange rate, so they’ll never get caught out.
Dominic Sandbrook, co-host of The Rest is History, said: “Today, when many of us live for our holidays, it can be easy to take those two weeks in the Mediterranean sun for granted. For most of human history, life wasn’t just nasty, brutish and short, it was entirely unadorned by sun-loungers and guidebooks.
“So yes, see some sights. Follow our top tips and drink in the history. But walk around, have a long breakfast and a cocktail or two. Relax. After all, the real wonder of history is that you’re on holiday at all.”
Arun Tharmarajah, Head of Europe, Wise, said: “When going on holiday, there’s a few things to keep an eye on to avoid getting ripped off. While you might be able to score a good deal on museum tickets or a boat cruise, pay attention to the exchange rate you’re being charged.
“Using a traditional bank’s card will quickly add up, as banks often inflate their exchange rate and hide commission fees in the rates they’re charging you, meaning you may end up paying more than you bargained for on your Rijksmuseum souvenirs.