Many of the places that have become major tourist attractions have done so somehow by luck or a quirk of history or both. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are really worth spending time visiting. Here are five of the world’s worst offenders. Plus, for journalistic balance, I’ve included one that is so underrated you may never have heard of it.
5: Stonehenge, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
It’s some old stones. It’s quite small. It’s (drum roll please) Stonehenge. It’s very hard to get a sense of the magic of Stonehenge when you are standing a few hundred yards away behind a fence with the sound of 21st century traffic whizzing past behind you. Don’t waste your time – you will be disappointed.
4: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Apparently, Niagara Falls has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. And I admit, it’s impressive for a few minutes. Just you, the awesome power of nature plus 2000 other tourists all standing still looking at a big waterfall.
And that, in brief, is the problem with Niagara Falls. There are too many people to get a really good look and the whole place is a complete tourist trap. It’s just not as impressive as it should be.
3: The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
If endless queues, professional pickpockets and people dressed as Gladiators are your thing, then you’ll really enjoy the Colosseum in Rome.
The day I went – as one of my 40th birthday gifts – it was also raining and there’s nothing that says fun to me so much as queuing up in the rain to see an empty, broken down old arena that turned out to be nowhere near as good as its counterpart in Tunisia, El Jem.
Take a photo from afar. Then go do something else.
2: Dubai City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
OK, I know that Dubai is a city rather than an individual tourist attraction, but tens of thousands of people visit this Arab state every year. Why, I don’t know.
This is the most commercial, consumerist place I have ever had the misfortune to visit. Frankly, there is nothing to see or do here that can’t be done better elsewhere.
It has the world’s tallest hotel, the world’s largest shopping mall, the world’s largest gold market. Oh and an indoor ski resort. Which is probably the world’s largest but by that point I really didn’t care anymore. Other than that the city consists of hotels and shopping malls and well, that’s it.
Dubai has literally nothing to recommend it. Don’t go there.
1: The Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Los Angeles, United States
As a tourist attraction, this is the one that sucks the most. It’s very hard to take pictures of your favorite celebrity’s star when a crowd of thousands are walking up and down on it.
Couple that with dozens of trashy souvenir shops, bad celebrity impersonators and the largest amount of tourists per square foot anywhere in the world and I think you can see why the Hollywood Walk of Fame is the number one most overrated tourist destination in the world.
But, enough negativity. Instead, here’s a tourist attraction you are certain to love that isn’t yet ruined by, well, all the other tourists.
Kaymakli Underground City, Cappadocia, Turkey
There are more than 30 underground cities in this region of Turkey and it is unclear exactly what their original purpose was, though historians have surmised that these were for security and refuge purposes during times of invasion or raids.
The underground city at Kaymakli is 8 storeys deep and includes chapels, crypts, cellars, silos, even living rooms. While only the first four levels are open to the public, this is something that has to be experienced to be believed. Even now, the city is used for storage and it is clear that it would still be possible for people to live down there – in an underground city built well over 1200 years before.