To make all this work, you need to know how to estimate the time required for various activities. That will include time for travel, all-included time for each place you plan to visit, meals and breaks, and a bit of where-did-the-time-go time.

Sightseeing

You can often get a time estimate from Trip Advisor’s description of the places, and refine it from the comments; many people will say how long they spent and WHY that was how long they spent.

But … did you allow for:

  • coffee and lunch breaks
  • lining up to get in
  • special exhibitions etc.
  • the gift shop

Travel

Google is your friend here. It will show you travel time for various options, and for some of them you can specify what time of day you’re planning for.

But let’s look again.

First, you see travel time, and it’s tempting to take the shortest. But change the time by a few minutes and try again. If there’s a big change, you may find you’ve discovered, say, a bus that only goes every 30 minutes. This is fine if you are willing to commit to catching that bus. But what if there’s a route that takes a minute longer sometimes, but uses a subway that runs every four minutes? Now you don’t have to rush to make the bus, and worry if it’s coming.

Second, as with long-distance travel, you may want to trade time to get comfort or convenience for time. Or in the other direction, trade money to get time; take a cab – although that’s not always faster in some cities, and can you GET one? Notice the options above: two of them require three rides and one requires only two. Or maybe you’ll choose the tram because it’s easy to get on and off with luggage.

At the pro level, here’s an example. I discovered in the comments from a London travel website that when travelling east on the Piccadilly Tube line, the obvious change to the District Line is at Earls Court. But it’s busy, and the change is up a couple of flights of stairs. If you change at Baron’s Court, you just step across the platform to the other line!

Finally, it’s worth checking with the city’s transit website. Try a couple of routes, and if you generally get the same times and vehicles as Google, you know you can truct Google. Also, you might get a break as we did when taking the ferry from Amsterdam to Harwich, England. We were expecting a tedious transfer at Rotterdam to a local bus, but the transit site was bragging about the imminent opening of the brand new subway line. We rode it on its second day, saving nearly half an hour and some hassle.

Lunch

Ooh, let’s go to that pannekoek place! Oops. No reservation, there will be a 30-minute wait. 40 minutes later, you’re in. Ten minutes later, you still don’t have a menu, and it’ll be another 15 before you can order. And sorry sir, the kitchen’s a but backed up right now, we’re doing our best.

Allow some extra time, or look for other lunch solutions: street food, a takeaway sandwich, snacks all day instead, or go to a pub where there may be a limited menu but it comes quickly.

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