June 27, 2024 | Sarah Ng

The Worst Tourist Traps In The World


All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Sometimes the most hyped-up tourist destinations end up being the most disappointing. From seeing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre to the awe-inspiring Pyramids of Giza, these typical bucket list spots have been known to destroy expectations. 

The ultimate question is: Do you think these attractions are shameless tourist traps or has tourism itself sapped them of all enjoyment?

Tourist-Traps-Msn

Times Square

Location: New York City, US

If you've never visited New York, it's more than likely that you're planning on visiting Times Square. Packed with bright lights, towering billboards, and advertisements galore, it's a place featured so frequently in the media—it's no wonder people have high expectations.

Times Square in the evening. People walk in Times Square. - 2016Alexander Khitrov, Shutterstock

Times Square

Unfortunately, most people leave Times Square feeling completely underwhelmed, or sometimes overwhelmed. It simply does not live up to the glittering expectations that social media—and even our favorite films—have set up for us.

2014 NYE in Times Square.gigi_nyc, Flickr

Times Square

Not only is it packed with people, but it is also dirty and a bit boring. Many reviews have called Times Square "overrated." 

Times Square, Looking north up Broadway from 43d Street, New York City, USAJim.henderson, Wikimedia Commons

The Mona Lisa

Location: The Louvre, France

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci is considered the most famous painting in the world—and it can be found in the Louvre in Paris, France.

Depiction Scene of the Famous Leonardo da Vinci Creating his Famous Painting of the Mona LisaGorodenkoff, Shutterstock

The Mona Lisa

Sure, the Louvre might be home to hundreds of other masterpieces, but for some reason the Mona Lisa is the main attraction. 

Crowd of Visitors in front of Mona Lisa Painting in the LouvreGagan Kaur, Pexels

The Mona Lisa

Reportedly, 80 percent of guests visit the museum for the sole purpose of catching a glimpse of the beloved painting. Statistics from 2019 report that a whopping 10.2 million people see the Mona Lisa annually.

Black and White Photo of a Mona Lisa PaintingJean Pierre, Pexels

The Mona Lisa

The mania surrounding the Mona Lisa has diminished many visitors experiences of the Louvre as a whole. The crowds are so thick and the gallery is so congested that some are now urging tourists to skip the experience altogether.

Mona Lisa, Musee du Louvre, Parisjivedanson, Flickr

The Mona Lisa

The New York Times critic Jason Farago even argues that the painting should have its own designated space. In one 2019 article, he writes, "It is time for the Louvre to admit defeat. It is time for the Mona Lisa to go. She needs her own space. Build a pavilion for her, perhaps in the Tuileries, that is optimized for the crowds."

Mona Lisa at  Louvre - 2018Pedaalemmer, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Blarney Stone

Location: Blarney, Ireland

Found within Blarney Castle, the Blarney Stone comes with an intriguing backstory. Apparently, visitors who bend over backward and lay a kiss on it will receive the "gift of gab"—or the ability to articulate themselves eloquently. 

Kissing the blarney stone.Chris Dlugosz, Flickr

The Blarney Stone

Of course, the Blarney Stone has become a popular tourist attraction thanks to the tradition of kissing it. This means that you may have to join a queue. Those who have fallen victim to this tourist trap have often expressed that the wait just wasn't worth it. 

After all, the hours spent in line could have been spent exploring the fascinating grounds.

Looking up toward the Blarney Stone - 2012Jennifer Boyer, Flickr

Las Ramblas

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Most tourists aren't prepared for how stressful Las Ramblas in Barcelona is. The 1.2 kilometer street for pedestrians boasts many attractions, including markets, restaurants, and shops.

Las Ramblas, BarcelonaNikos Roussos, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Las Ramblas

Depending on your personality, Las Ramblas may be the stimulating stroll you're looking for. However, many make the mistake of visiting during peak hours, making the street incredibly crowded and overwhelming to navigate. But that's not the worst part.

La Rambla is a street in central Barcelona.Jorge Láscar, Flickr

Las Ramblas

If you do choose to visit Las Ramblas, make sure to keep an eye on your bag or purse. The street has a reputation for pickpockets, who often operate unnoticed amidst the chaos of the busy crowds.

Las Ramblas is where the tourist action is - Barcelona 2011Infocatalonia.eu, Flickr

The London Eye

Location: London, England

There's a good chance that the London Eye has been featured on many travel lists. As one of the city's most popular tourist attractions, the observation wheel hosts over 3 million visitors every year.

Photo of London Eye During DawnJerome Dominici, Pexels

The London Eye

The London Eye may be able to offer tourists an exhilarating view of the city, but there are definitely some drawbacks that just don't make the attraction worth it.

The London EyePixabay, Pexels

The London Eye

For one, The London Eye is a paid attraction; the tickets aren't cheap, and the lines are brutal. Some tourists also wish that the experience would have provided more information about the city's history.

Photo of London Eye - cabin.Pepe Caspers, Pexels

The London Eye

Some visitors have also said that they preferred the Sky Garden over the London Eye. Not only is it free of charge, but it apparently offers a better view of the skyline.

Sky Garden, LondonMike Turner, Flickr

Eiffel Tower

Location: Paris, France

Paris is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, and the Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly a key part of every tourist's dream itinerary. Unfortunately, those who have already visited the tower have shared some unfortunate reviews.

The Eiffel Tower in  ParisYann Caradec, France, CC BY-SA 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Eiffel Tower

Like many tourist traps, the Eiffel Tower's downfall can be traced to how expensive and busy it is. On average, a whopping 25,000 eager visitors see the tower every day. But that isn't all.

People Dining at Eiffel Tower - ParisLes Anderson lesanderson, Wikimedia Commons

Eiffel Tower

If you are planning on seeing the Eiffel Tower, make sure to visit on a clear, sunny day. Unfortunately, if the weather creates poor visibility, the promised views will be a huge letdown

In fact, some argue that the Sacrê Couer offers an even better view of the cityscape.

Eiffel Tower View in Foggy WeatherDavid McEachan, Pexels

Niagara Falls

Location: Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls alone is undoubtedly a sight to behold—but there's a reason why many tourists think that it's incredibly overrated.Niagara Falls - sky view.Pixabay, Pexels

Niagara Falls

Sure, there are some that think the waterfalls aren't as majestic as they're promised to be, but the number one complaint has more to do with the tourist city itself. 

2336338841Beautiful Niagara Falls boat and with tourist wearing rain jacketsVadim 777, Shutterstock

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is one big tourist trap overflowing with kitschy gift shops, haunted houses, and restaurants. The juxtaposition of the stunning falls next to all the cheesy attractions does the natural wonder no justice.

Table and chairs overlook Niagara Falls.Songquan Deng, Shutterstock

Niagara Falls

Some have even recommended paying only a brief visit to the falls before staying in Niagara-on-the-Lake—a picturesque and quiet town located 26 km away.

old man  looks at niagara fallsstarmaro, Shutterstock

Stonehenge

Location: Wiltshire, England

If you haven't visited Stonehenge, you've definitely stumbled across pictures of it. No childhood history textbook would be complete without reference to this historic site, so it's no wonder that people have high expectations. 

Unfortunately, some claim that Stonehenge is a major disappointment.

Stonehenge at Dawn Inside the CirclePTZ Pictures, Shutterstock

Stonehenge

If you're not a history nerd, there's a good chance that the wonder of Stonehenge might be lost on you. Some just don't grasp the point of seeing a "pile of stones."

People at Stonehenge.allen watkin, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Stonehenge

On top of the fact that Stonehenge is literally just stones, many have reported that the visitor experience itself was frustrating. Not only does it cost a pretty penny, but many tourists were utterly shocked by how small the site actually is.

People at Stonehenge.Anthony Parkes, Pexels

Stonehenge

As well, many tourists forget that—for the sake of the site's protection—they just won't be allowed to get close to the stones. If proximity is important to you, the best times to visit Stonehenge would be during the winter solstice and summer solstice.

View of StonehengeKristian Thomas, Pexels

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Location: Kyoto, Japan

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. If you are in the midst of planning your trip to Kyoto, you've undoubtedly come across countless photographs of this beloved forest. 

Trail through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, Japan.Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

On paper, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove seems like a must-see attraction. After all, there is something so magical about being amongst the bamboo trees while the sunlight pierces through. On top of the forest's serenity, the promise of seeing monkeys is the delightful cherry on top.

However, some visitors were deeply disappointed by the grove.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove - Kyoto, JapanIntoTh3Rainbow, Flickr

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Though undeniably pretty, the so-called "serenity" of the grove is ultimately ruined by the sheer number of tourists. With selfie sticks everywhere you look, it's important to visit the Arashiyma Bamboo Grove with the expectation of sharing the experience with countless others.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Crowded, Japan, Kyoto.ajay_suresh, Flickr

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

To make the most of this tourist attraction, make sure to arrive as early as possible. In fact, it's recommended that you arrive before the sun rises so that you can beat traffic. However, if you aren't an early riser, a visit to Kodai-ji Temple might be more enjoyable.

The Kodaiji Temple - 2010Annie Guilloret, Flickr

Château de Versailles

Location: Versailles, France

It's hard to imagine that the Palace of Versailles—or Château de Versailles—could be anything less than fascinating.

Marble Courtyard, Palace of Versailles, Versailles, FranceJoan Costa, Pexels

Château de Versailles

The Chateau de Versailles has a rich history that dates back to 1661. It was a reflection of the politics of the time and the way King Louis XIV ruled—and its extravagance and beauty are its biggest selling points. The Hall of Mirrors is one of the most anticipated parts of the palace.

Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles - Paris, France) - 2014Justin Mier, Flickr

Château de Versailles

Though tourists flock to Versailles for good reason, they are the reason why the palace has become such a disappointment. 

Château De Versailles Through A WindowDiscoA340, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Château de Versailles

Obviously, people want to see every corner of the stunning architecture, as well as the many paintings and sculptures. But sadly, the harsh reality is that you're more likely to spend most of the time staring at the back of another tourist's head.

Officially called the Hall of Mirrors, but should have been called the hall of TouristsDavid Blaikie, Flickr

Château de Versailles

Some have even reported that the gardens are not as stunning as they expected, with more shrubs than flowers.

Panorama At The Château De Versailles - Path Leading To The ChâteauDiscoA340, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Château de Versailles

Of course, there are many different factors that can affect one's experience of the palace. The season and the timing are everything. Depending on when you visit, you might have to battle wild crowds and sweltering temperatures or you might be one of the lucky ones to walk away with a five-star experience.

Château De Versailles - Galerie Des BataillesGzen92, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Pyramids Of Giza

Location: Giza Necropolis, Egypt

If you've dreamt of seeing the magnificent Pyramids of Giza, be warned. Your expectations are most likely much higher than what reality has to offer.

Great Sphinx Of Giza - 2017Ovedc, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Pyramids Of Giza

Obviously, it can't be denied that the pyramids are awe-inspiring. They are markers of human history that are difficult for us to grasp—and viewing them can be a surreal experience. However, there are some problems tourists should be aware of.

Giza Pyramid Complexkallerna, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Pyramids Of Giza

The mere act of buying tickets can be a struggle. You have to have your wits about you, as the Pyramids of Giza are a hotbed for scammers—and sadly, they make the ticket purchasing experience extremely chaotic.

Woman Walking towards PyramidsDiego F. Parra, Pexels

The Pyramids Of Giza

Even upon entrance, scammers and eager vendors will persist. This constant harassment can make the viewing experience extremely stressful. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Pyramid Of Khafre (Cheprhen), Giza, EgyptWarren LeMay, Wikimedia Commons

The Pyramids Of Giza

Some visitors have voiced concerns about the cleanliness of the site, as well as the overall preservation of the pyramids. Simply put, tourists have witnessed something of a free-for-all.

Starting to climb the Grand Gallery, inside the Great Pyramid 1984Mike McBey, Flickr

The Pyramids Of Giza

The lack of boundaries when viewing the attraction has caused some serious damage to the pyramids. Decades of tourism—vandalism and footsteps—have caused one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to deteriorate.

The key to enjoying the Pyramids of Giza might be to book your trip during the off season.

Great Pyramid Of GizaOvedc, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Trevi Fountain

Location: Rome, Italy

Found in Rome, the Trevi Fountain was completed in 1762. This Baroque fountain is absolutely stunning with its attention to detail—and as one of the world's most famous fountains, it attracts tourists in droves. 

The Famous Trevi Fountain in ItalyMax Avans, Pexels

Trevi Fountain

If you're hoping to snap a photo of the Trevi Fountain be prepared to fight for a spot along the railing. No matter where you look, there will be people trying to take selfies. Because of all the hubbub and crowding, you'll be lucky to get that perfect photo you were hoping for.

Tourists at the Trevi Fountain - 2010Benson Kua, Flickr

Trevi Fountain

Tourists are also eager to throw a coin in the fountain. It's estimated that 3,000 euros are tossed into the Trevi Fountain every day.

Throwing a coin in the Trevi FountainKara van Malssen, Flickr

Trevi Fountain

If you believe Trevi Fountain is an attraction not to be missed, then your best bet is to visit as the sun rises. Beat the crowds, and you may find that this "overrated" attraction is actually well worth a visit.

Trevi Fountain in Rome ItalyMichael Matti, Flickr

The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Location: Hollywood, Los Angeles

If you visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you might be envisioning something that's treated with the reverence that celebrities themselves enjoy. Well, think again.

Hollywood Walk Of Fame In 2004Mnanian, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Currently, there are 2,777 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and tourists might just want to soak in the symbolic importance of the stars themselves—the history of entertainment associated with them. 

However, even if it's not crowded, the atmosphere is dismal.

The Hollywood Walk Of Famewolfgang.mller54, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Not only are there vendors everywhere, but many visitors have described the area as "filthyand smelly. Even the stars themselves are dirty. Many have complained that it's also difficult to capture a decent photo.

People walking on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvddaveynin, Flickr

The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Perhaps most disturbingly, some online reviews of the tourist attraction have warned people of pickpockets and scammers.

Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Hollywood, CaliforniaKen Lund, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Vatican City

The Vatican promises tourists so much: St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums. Arguably, these are all fascinating attractions, but it seems that visitors have very conflicting experiences.

Saint Peters Square with Vatican Obelisk Seen from the BasilicaEfrem Efre, Pexels

Vatican City

Like many of the tourist traps on this list, your enjoyability of Vatican City is determined by the crowds. Some people have voiced their complaints online, claiming that they couldn't take in any of the sights because they felt like they were being herded around, and even feared being trampled.

Città del Vaticano, Vatican CityKai Pilger, Pexels

Vatican City

There is also the threat of pickpocketing and shoplifting. It's quite common for tourists to have their purses snatched while roaming around St. Peter's Square.

St Peter's Square, Vatican City, Rome, ItalyAlex-David Baldi, Flickr

Vatican City

It seems as though the general rule for visiting Rome and the Vatican is to visit when the tourism season has wrapped up. 

People in St. Peter's Square - VaticanPixabay, Pexels

Checkpoint Charlie

Location: Berlin, Germany

During the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie was the location where people crossed between East Berlin and West Berlin. Its historical significance is what draws tourists, but many have found it to be visually underwhelming.

Checkpoint Charlie, BerlinJeanne Menjoulet, Flickr

Checkpoint Charlie

Obviously, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Since then, the surrounding city has changed dramatically. The symbolic checkpoint is now more akin to a kiosk set up in the middle of the street.

Checkpoint Charlie - Germanygeoterranaute, Flickr

Checkpoint Charlie

Though you can visit a pretty decent museum that delves into the history of the Berlin Wall, the checkpoint has also attracted some undeniably tacky souvenir shops and expensive restaurants.

Checkpoint Charlie - 2012Daniel, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Checkpoint Charlie

If you're particularly interested in the Berlin Wall, there are excellent alternatives to Checkpoint Charlie. For instance, you can book stimulating bike tours that explore the wall's history and even visit parts of the wall that are still standing.

Short section of the Berlin Wall - Potsdamer PlatzJorge Láscar, Flickr

The Little Mermaid

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

It seems that the general opinion of Copenhagen's The Little Mermaid statue is that it is extremely overrated. The statue is quite small and can be found sitting on a rock along the Langelinie Promenade.

The Little Mermaid - Copenhagen, DenmarkJim Nix, Flickr

The Little Mermaid

It's a popular spot for tourist buses to stop, so there's almost always a crowd of people trying to get a photo of the statue. Unfortunately, it's not just the statue that disappoints, but also its backdrop, which isn't very picturesque.

Visiting The Little MermaidSchorle, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, Wikimedia Commons

The Little Mermaid

Over the years, The Little Mermaid has endured some extreme acts of vandalism. For instance, in 1964, political artists cut off her head and stole it. A brand new head had to be made to replace it. 

People have also vandalized the the treasured statue by wrecking it with paint on multiple occasions.

The Little Mermaid in Winter - 2012Alex Berger, Flickr


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