All travelers have a bucket-list of must-see attractions when traveling. We’ve heard about these places all our lives, seen them in movies and one daydream of being there in person, and being able to take that perfect Instagram snap.
But, sadly, as most seasoned travelers know, there is sometimes a very disappointing end to visiting those famous destinations.
By that we mean, extremely long lines in uncomfortable weather conditions, expensive tickets that promise a “fast-pace” experience that doesn’t deliver and not to mention trying to get a view of a said attraction through hundreds – sometimes thousands – of other travelers.
In this list, we discuss the 19 Most Overrated and Overhyped Tourist Traps and how you can avoid them.
Table of Contents
- 1. Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England
- 2. Times Square, New York City, USA
- 3. The Taj Mahal, India
- 4. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa Italy
- 5. Westminster Abbey, London, England
- 6. The Palace of Versailles, France
- 7. The Mona Lisa, The Louvre, Paris
- 8. The Empire State Building, New York, USA
- 9. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
- 10. Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
- 11. The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, USA
- 12. The Tower of London, London, England
- 13. Bourbon Street, New Orleans, USA
- 14. The Roman Colosseum, Rome, Italy
- 15. Venice, Italy
- 16. The Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, USA
- 17. Denali, Alaska, USA
- 18. Nanjing Dong Lu, Shanghai
- 19. The Christ the Redeemer Statue, Brazil, South America
1. Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England
Two miles west of Amesbury is where you will find the prehistoric monument dubbed: Stonehenge. It is a series of seven stones standing in a circle shape. Each stone is around 13 feet tall and weighs around 25tons each.
There are a lot of myths and legends surrounding these stones about how exactly they came to be there and how they created that circular form. But that’s about it. Sure, it’s impressive and something different but, that’s all there is to it.
Besides, during peak periods there is an estimate of about 9000 tourists visiting the stones every single day. So, getting a good look at them will be pretty hard, and getting a nice photo – almost impossible.
How to avoid the trap: If you insist on going there: make use of tourist tour websites such as Viator.com where you can get skip-the-line optional tickets as well as packages that can take you to see them during times that normal visitors don’t usually show up.
Or, instead of standing in a queue that will have you standing there all day, instead, visit the other many stone circles all over the UK such as The Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland.
The location is amazing, the premise almost exactly the same and the location will take your breath away with its beautiful landscape and rich history.
2. Times Square, New York City, USA
The sheer insanity that is Times Square is enough to drive any tourist wild. The extremely busy and overpopulated area is filled with extremely overpriced bars and restaurants and the stores offer nothing new as it is a mecca for chain brand retailers that bring nothing new to the table.
Tourists are also constantly harassed by eager New York “entertainers” dressed as characters that swindle you into unwanted conversations, asking around 20$ to take pictures with cheap look-a-likes of well-known tv/movie characters.
How to avoid the trap: If you insist on going through Times Square do so quickly, plan to eat a meal, or have a drink at another location and keep your belongings close to you.
This spot is ideal for a quick pic but don’t stay too long and try your best to avoid anyone who is trying to “give” you something – they will expect compensation and are not afraid to hound you endlessly until you either give in or run away.
3. The Taj Mahal, India
Yes, it is absolutely stunning, and the history of this attraction is rich in architectural glory as well as based on a true love story for the ages. It’s understandable why so many tourists visiting India flock to this beautiful monument created in 1632 located near the Yaumuna river of Agra.
But what they don’t tell you is you have to travel hours to get there and back as well as stand in lines that takes forever to grant you access. Once, and if you’re lucky enough, to get inside you are joined with – not exaggerating – 70 thousand other tourists. It is cramped, loud, and due to the weather in India extremely hot.
Even though it is incredibly beautiful and for travels who enjoy history rich in knowledge, it makes for a disappointing and exhausting trip that completely misses the point of why this stunning place exists in the first place. However, if you’re up to it, be our guest.
How to avoid the trap: if you still want to see the great structure, travel across the Agra river where it is completely visible, and you can take some amazing pictures – for free – as well as avoid the mass overpopulated crowds. Or go into the city as visiting the many museums that will give you guided tours, imagery, and facts about the Taj Mahal.
4. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa Italy
One of the many, many overrated tourist attractions in Italy, the tower offers nothing more than a quirky picture – that has been done over and over again – as well as give you the opportunity, after waiting in line for hours, to climb a lot of stairs with strangers to get an underwhelmingly okay view of the countryside for the high cost of 20$ or 18 Euros.
If you don’t decide to actually climb the tower the trip takes about 20min of “wow, that’s cool” and then it’s over.
How to avoid the trap: The city of Pisa offers so much with its rich history, food and sightseeing opportunities of the beautiful Tuscany region such as the Cattedrale di Pisa, Pizza del Duomo and the Camposanto Monumentale di Pisa.
If you must see it, rather book a tour take includes a quick visit to the tower as well as the entire city instead of devoting a whole day just to it.
5. Westminster Abbey, London, England
Formally known as the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter this large gothic inspired abbey is located just west of the Palace of Westminster. It offers the opportunity to visits the graves of Charles Dickens and Darwin as well as explore the area where Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge walked on the day of their wedding.
However, it is incredibly overcrowded and is impost impossible to get a private tour so you will be hoarded along with a very large group of tourists, trying to hear what the guides are saying and most probably missing all of the amazing structural details due to the large mass of tourists stomping their way through the halls.
You will also come to find that this was not the church were Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married which has been a noted disappointing fact for many tourists.
How to avoid the trap: The UK has many, many famous churches and cathedrals, some of which all follow the same gothic architecture but offer private tours during quiet hours and limit their intake of daily tourists so it will make the experience a lot more fun and educational.
6. The Palace of Versailles, France
Being the main home of Louis XIV in 1682, – until the start of the French Revolution – this beautiful structure is located in Yvelines about 20km southwest of the center of Paris.
With what should be an exciting and educational look into the lives of French Royalty it disappoints in its immense overcrowded tightly packed hallways making you wish the tour guide would hurry the heck up and get you out of there.
How to avoid the trap: if you absolutely have to go, don’t get a tour guide, they mostly speak in broken English and are impossible to hear over the loud murmurs of hundreds and talking strangers.
Rather get an audio tour so you can see what you want as fast as you want and go explore the beautiful and less crowded grounds and gardens instead. They are expertly crafted, make for stunning pictures and feature beautiful fountains.
7. The Mona Lisa, The Louvre, Paris
Don’t get us wrong, you have to go to the Louvre! Yes, it’s very busy and yes, you’ll have to deal with a lot of people but if you get the right tour or guide you are in for an experience of a lifetime.
However, most tourist fall under the rock that is the Mona Lisa, waiting for hours upon hours to see a very small painting covered by thick glass as well as a borderline that prevents tourists from getting too close. You’re only allowed to see her for a few seconds before being ushered off by guards.
How to avoid the trap: It’s incredibly anti-climaxing to spend so much time waiting to see one painting, as there are books and internet images that offer the famous painting up close and personal to view in your own time.
Rather use your time and take a walk through history as you marvel at all of the other stunningly amazing works of art that the museum has to offer.
8. The Empire State Building, New York, USA
Located in Manhattan, this is one of the most iconic high rises to date. Featuring two amazing love stories, countless photoshoots, and great views of the city it’s understandable why people would want to go there.
However, not including the expensive entry fee of 20$ and intense security checks this landmark does little to actually capture the hype of its reputation. The view is obstructed by large metal gates – understandable but still annoying – and the large number of people fitted into the small corridors makes it difficult to actually enjoy the view and snap a cool photo.
How to avoid the trap: there are literally hundreds of places that offer better, cheaper and hassle-free views of the city. Rather take a snap of this great building from another place and enjoy all of the other gems this great city has to offer at half the price.
9. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Let’s be honest. Seeing one of the seven wonders is on any traveler’s bucket list. But this one is not only known for it’s interesting and historical cultural significance but also the absolute headache inducing experience it offers to tourists.
It’s incredibly hot and dry, seeing as they are in fact located in a dessert, which makes the journey itself very uncomfortable. As well as the fact that tour guides don’t offer fixed prices, some people pay more while others pay much more (depending on which pyramids you intend to visit) to be able to explore the narrow, dark low tunnels and as well as getting the underwhelming opportunity to see a lot of empty rooms.
The wait is long as well, as this the most popular destination for tourists so be ready to share the space and wait for hours with hundreds if not thousands of other visitors.
How to avoid the trap: instead of waiting hours to see a whole bunch of nothing covered in sand, arrange a tour – with air-conditioning – and drive around the site outside of the pyramids. You’ll hear the exact same information from your tour guide, get to see them in person from a distance, and get the opportunity to take some great pics with them in the background.
10. Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
One of the most beautiful fountain structures created in 1762 the Trevi Fountain is famous worldwide and sought out by all travelers traveling through Rome. However, this is one of the most disappointing and frustrating tourist traps – perhaps on this entire list – as it is cramped with hundreds of pushy, rude, and eager tourists waiting for hours to snap a pic and throw a coin in the fountain.
The reality of seeing the fountain in all its glory is majorly overshadowed as it’s almost impossible to see or get a picture without also capturing hundreds of nameless faces and heads surrounding the area. It is also a very popular area for pickpockets to easily prey on tourist as everyone is jammed in so tightly together.
How to avoid the trap: if you really need to throw a coin and get that picture make sure to go super early, like at dawn because the crowds being flock from anywhere around 7am.
Don’t go there with any large backpacks or purses for two reasons: Firstly, people get very upset when you accidentally bump them or if you take up any unneeded additional room, and secondly, you will get robbed.
Small tip: up the stairs on the right side of the fountain is a ledge, if you sit there, you can take a great picture. It’s high enough that the people below won’t be in the photo but not too high that you end up cutting off the stunning sculptures that surround the fountain.
11. The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, USA
This very overhyped and uninteresting attraction offers as much as enjoyment as finding a coin on the street. Sure, it’s fun to spot the names of your favorite stars but that’s about it.
You’ll be bombarded with the same characters found in Times Square asking way too much to take a picture with them and it’s also very nasty when people get down on the ground to touch and take pictures with the names of the stars.
Hundreds of people with dirty shoes covered with who know what had walked over that spot and now you’re touching it – some even kissing it.
How to avoid the trap: You are in LA! The City of Angles for goodness sake. Go and see the city by making use of hop-on-hop-off busses, go to Venice Beach, take a hike in some of their famous hiking trails. Anything is more exciting than paying someone to walk around to show you names on the ground. Seriously, anything.
12. The Tower of London, London, England
This iconic location on the north bank of the Thames River in central London is known as the official Royal Palace for Her Majesty the Queen of England as well as the Fortress of the Tower of London.
At a hefty amount of 40$, you’ll get the opportunity to stand in line for hours upon hours to “see” exhibits for a few seconds through the heads of hundreds of tourists as everyone pushes past each other in large groups.
The lines are so intense that in some parts guests are expected to queue in lines to ride “people movers” to help the tourists move on to the next sections.
How to avoid the trap: for this one, it’s pretty simple – just don’t go.
There are plenty of museums where you can see pictures and follow guides that provide the exact same information at a much more affordable price as well as saving you the horrid experience that awaits most unsuspecting tourists hoping to get a glimpse of the Crown Jewels.
This one is really not worth the time, money, or stress.
13. Bourbon Street, New Orleans, USA
When visiting New Orleans one of the most popular attractions to experience is Bourbon St in the French Quarter. We will fully admit that visiting the Quarter is well worth it but will deeply recommend steering clear of Bourbon as much as possible.
This street is notorious for its expert pickpockets, stealing items from visitors. In fact, it’s such a common occurrence that when checking into hotels, guests are warned NEVER to take anything valuable with them as carrying as little as possible on them.
Not to mention skipping over vomit becomes your daily exercise routine as people drink so heavily during all hours of the day. The drinks are very overpriced and the entertainment very lackluster as well as the shops are very expensive.
How to avoid the trap: Just a few streets down from Bourbon you will find Frenchman’s street. You will be greeted with bar after bar playing real heartwarming jazz music offering less expensive drink and food options as well as a calmer vibe compared to the drunken frenzied tourist feel you get in Bourbon St.
14. The Roman Colosseum, Rome, Italy
At the ripe age of 2000 years old the Roman Colosseum has definitely earned its famous reputation as one of the most visited places in Rome. It’s beautiful, rich in history and is an architectural wonder that still stands to this day.
But due to its amazing rep, it had unfortunately been converted into a huge tourist trap. Countless ticket “officials” harass potential clients into purchasing their “packages” to gain entrance, the lines are endless and very unorganized leaving tourists confused as to where exactly they should enter – some even waiting for hours only to be turned away and told they were at the wrong gate and had to leave and wait again.
There are also no accommodations made for weather conditions so if you aren’t prepared with water and sun protection you are in for a miserable wait.
How to avoid the trap: Book a skip-the-line tour with a certified and reputable company to make the waiting time faster. Also, make sure to get a guided tour as most of the featured detailed plaques inside are not in English so you won’t know what’s going on unless you understand the language.
Another tip is to go in off-season periods, the weather is cooler and there are fewer people making the experience much better.
15. Venice, Italy
Now, listen, we are not saying don’t go to Venice. It’s absolutely amazing and filled with so much rich history that any traveler should definitely experience it at least once in their life.
But, just be warned: you will be harassed by several types of vendors trying to persuade you to purchase their overpriced items and you will find yourself skipping like a third grader while trying to avoid the insane amount of bird poop you will ever see.
How to avoid the trap: do not, repeat, do not go without a guide. You will get lost and you will end up missing your ferry home. Not good. Also, if anyone approaches you with a beautiful red rose, don’t you dare take it.
They will hound you endlessly for compensation as it is under no circumstance a gift even though they make it seem like it.
16. The Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, USA
Unless you are prepared to spend 90$ on one drink, we seriously suggest you avoid the strip. Las Vegas itself is so overpriced to tourists that it’s astonishing how people can afford to spend a weekend there living up the good life – as it will cost you your life’s savings.
It is so overcrowded that most visitors end up staying in their hotels just paying the slots, that are also expensive and end up disappointing most visitors.
How to avoid the trap: Don’t think about staying on or near the strip unless you are prepared to spend some major cash. Make sure to book your tickets for any live shows well in advance and have them printed out as there is always some sort of issue with digital tickets.
Be prepared to be underwhelmed by the fake yet cool remaking’s of famous landmarks and keep a lookout for people being too friendly they’re either trying to swindle you out of your money or solicit you which you’d most possibly end up with you in jail as undercover police are constantly on the lookout for sketchy behavior.
17. Denali, Alaska, USA
With the most stunning and idyllic horizon created by the highest mountain in North America, it seems like any adventurist travelers dream come true. However, seeing as the weather there has a mind of its own it’s almost impossible to guarantee that you’ll actually be able to see anything has it is notorious for creating fog – and a lot of it.
It cannot be predicted beforehand if the weather or fog levels will permit the tourist to get a good view of the mountain which could make the trip a disappointing one.
How to avoid the trap: Honestly, there isn’t much you can do other than hope and pray that you didn’t go all the way to Alaska just to see fog and something that might resemble a mountain.
18. Nanjing Dong Lu, Shanghai
Frequently being named a paradise for shoppers this famous street is often compared to Times Square – red flag number one.
It is a large pedestrian area filled with shops and vendors that is very crowded and full scammers trying to swindle unsuspecting tourists out of their money by selling them overpriced knock offs and harassing visitors with counterfeit items and they’re not known for being very nice either.
How to avoid the trap: book a guided tour by a local that is well versed in the art of the scam. Make sure not to entertain offers by aggressively enthusiastic vendors and also be on the lookout for a group referred to as “ladies of the night” it’s bad news all around and will get you into plenty of trouble.
19. The Christ the Redeemer Statue, Brazil, South America
Named one as the new seven wonders of the world, this statue of Jesus Christ in beautiful Rio de Janeiro is something to behold. It stands at a whopping 38 meters in height and is world-famous, featuring in many different movies and bio pictures.
The problem with this attraction is that not only is it expensive to visits but the traffic to and from it can take hours, leaving visitors with a disappointing tour – after hours of waiting in long ques and large groups for it to be over – of only 10 minutes each.
How to avoid the trap: seeing as this statue is so large it’s seen from almost anywhere in the town surrounding it. So instead of traveling all that way enjoy it from afar at a local café or bistro. Or visit one of their many museums that will give you the same information at a discounted price and fewer ques.
Traveling the world is an amazing experience, and there is a reason that the abovementioned places are so popular. We are just hoping that by providing this list future tourists can have an easier and more enjoyable experience when seeing the world. So be sure to do your research, get professional tour guide companies to aid and keep you safe and most of all, enjoy the little things this amazing planet has to offer.