They’re the things that make you go “meh”.
You arrive at that must-see tourist attraction, take a look around, take a pic or two and then think to yourself: “Is that it?”
The truth is travel doesn’t always provide mind-blowing experiences, and you’re not going to love everything you see or visit. Some of the world’s most popular tourist sites absolutely live up to the hype. But some of them will be average, some will be boring and some will be so disappointing you’ll wonder why you even bothered at all.
Of course travel is subjective and what one person loves, another person loathes. But here are 10 tourist traps considered so overrated you may want to skip them altogether.
1. The Mona Lisa, Paris, France
It might be the most famous painting in the world, but once you clap your eyes on it for yourself, it’s also rather underwhelming. Hanging in the Louvre, this lady with the ambiguous smirk is small in size (20.87 inches wide x 30.32 inches tall), she’s cordoned off behind a velvet security rope at least 15 feet away and there’s often a jostling throng of people six feet deep trying to get a glimpse of her. Even great novelist Paulo Coelho put the portrait on his ‘meh’ list, once famously declaring: “With all due respect, the Mona Lisa is overrated.”
2. Manneken Pis, Brussels, Belgium
It’s one of the most photographed statues in the world, it adorns almost every postcard in Brussels and everyone says you just have to see it. But Brussels’ most famous monument is pretty much just a tiny statue of a boy having a pee. This underwhelming ode to a naked kid urinating into a fountain’s basin is in the center of the city, so the good news is you can see it incidentally on your way to the next pub for another round of Belgian beer.
3. Stonehenge, Amesbury, England
How did it get there? What was it used for? Were aliens involved? While it’s cool to ponder what this mysterious collection of standing rocks is all about, the fact that you can’t get anywhere near it (rope barriers keep you at a lengthy distance), the site is near a freeway and there’s nothing else nearby – like a museum or information center to explain it all – sort of kills the hype.
4. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
After you’ve taken that clichéd photo pretending to hold up the tower, there’s not much else to do here. The tower, Duomo and Piazza dei Miracoli are beautiful to simply admire, but the hawkers who patrol the area are annoying. It’s also a long journey and often expensive train ticket to get there, especially if you’re coming all the way from Rome.
5. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, anywhere in the world
Do you really want to spend your precious holiday time pretending to kiss (or grope) a misshapen version of Brad Pitt or Kim Kardashian? Unless you’re a celebrity-obsessed tween, you can skip this ordinary experience of snapping pictures of yourself with creepy wax figures that kind of look like their Hollywood equivalent. And only when you squint.
6. The Giza Pyramids, Cairo, Egypt
They’re undeniably one of the world’s greatest wonders. But combine the pyramids with hordes of tourists and aggressive touts trying to sell you everything from a camel ride to a plastic figurine of what you’re trying to look at in peace, and your visit can feel a little disappointing. These amazing wonders also aren’t in the remote desert like you might think, but set against the backdrop of fast food outlets, so you can stare at them while scoffing your Pizza Hut. It’s only when you go inside the Great Pyramid and explore the burial chamber that you’ll really feel the magic. The pyramids are absolutely still worth a visit, but outside is unfortunately a bit of a circus.
7. Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, Germany
It was the name given to the Berlin Wall’s most well-known crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. These days, Checkpoint Charlie is just a small booth surrounded by sandbags and actor soldiers being photographed by tourists – right beside McDonald’s. Even though there’s little left to recall the atmosphere of those Cold War days, it’s still an iconic marker of that infamous territorial boundary.
8. The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Little Mermaid is Denmark’s most photographed statue, dedicated to the famous fairytale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. But you have to make an effort to see it (she sits on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade), it’s smaller than you expect (the statue is about 4-feet tall) and its background is an industrial harbor front.
9. The London Eye, London, England
The London Eye is one of the top tourist attractions in London, but it’s really just a glorified Ferris wheel which you get stuck on for a decent amount of time. The wheel rotates at 10 inches per second (about 0.9 kph or 0.6 mph), so one revolution takes around 30 minutes (how long do you need to stare at a skyline?). Plus, the entrance is hefty, with standard tickets starting from GBP21.20, or USD26.70, and that’s if you buy online.
10. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, USA
Do you like staring at the pavement while getting harassed by people dressed as super heroes or Marilyn Monroe? Then head to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This tourist attraction is just an annoyingly busy sidewalk filled with crowds taking pictures of the floor and lined with tacky souvenir shops. It can be safely stuck on your “meh” list.
Do you agree with this list? Are there any tourist attractions which you think are particularly meh-worthy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. If you enjoyed this article, please spread the love and share!
About the Author:
An experienced writer of 15 years, Roberta has perpetually itchy feet and has been exploring the world for a decade.
She has travelled to over 50 countries and has lived la dolce vita in Italy, tried the London life and is now living among llamas in Peru.