These Are the Most Disappointing Travel Destinations in the World
Wanderlust is a real thing, and that nagging itch to explore is almost incurable. Whether it’s the desire to visit the most famous attractions or take the road less traveled, most people want to check off some place on their bucket list. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a catch. Sometimes the reality doesn’t live up to the hype surrounding it. Whether it be the overwhelming crowds or the sheer exaggeration created by photos and legends, many beautiful places are just not as satisfying in reality for a globe trekker’s soul. Some people were so disappointed that, despite the hype, they said they will “never go back”. From the Taj Mahal to the Trevi Fountain, let’s take a trip around the world’s most popular yet disappointing travel destinations.
1. The Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal and its surrounding pristine geometric gardens truly are a wonder to gaze at in both the sunlight and moonlight. When light refracts off the mausoleum’s white marble panels, lattice patterns, polished yellow, jade, and jasper marble, and the colored stones that form the shape of fruit, vines, and flowers, it really is a sight for sore eyes.
In 1632, Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the building of the palatial wonder called the Taj Mahal in order to house the remains of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal. It’s no surprise that swarms of tourists travel far and wide to soak in one of the world’s most breathtaking masterpieces; it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and New Seven Wonders of the World after all. The downside is that when the place teems with tourists, it’s hard to capture the holiness of it all.
2. The Eiffel Tower, France
Who doesn’t dream about picnicking opposite the Eiffel Tower with a bottle of Bordeaux, some baguette smeared with Brie cheese, oh and don’t forget the macarons! The Eiffel Tower stands as a symbol for the romance and beauty that is Paris, and everyone wants a piece of this iconic 324-meter tower.
Unfortunately, a picnic for two next to the Eiffel tower might prove to be quite the impossible feat. With around seven million tourists milling about the tower all year round, no one can capture that secluded romantic moment promised by postcards. That’s not to mention the never-ending lines and pricey tickets just to view the city from atop. To avoid the lines and enjoy the same view, it’s probably best to talk a walk up Montmartre.
3. Great Wall of China, China
The Great Wall of China is just that – it’s great. Work on it began in the 7th century BC, and the wall stretches for over 5,500 miles (8,851.8 kilometers) from Hushan to Jiayuguan Pass, and then crosses Liaoning, Hebei, and Beijing all the way up to Mongolia. The wall trails like a never-ending snake through China with its wood, stone, rammed earth, and brick materials.
It’s no wonder that this man-made marvel is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. For centuries, several theories circulated about how the wall could be spotted from space, but those were eventually debunked. This might be a site that everyone needs to experience, but expect to encounter pools of tourists trooping through the walls as well.
4. Central Park, USA
Everyone dreams about the urban appeal of the Big Apple. It’s been dubbed a concrete jungle, but there is something electric in the air that attracts workaholics and fashionistas to the city. And who’s to say those in search of some greenery can’t enjoy the best of both worlds – ever heard of Central Park?
The stereotypes surrounding this urban retreat include the typical fountains, monuments, lakes, ice rinks, the zoo, and the famous hot dog stands. But don’t be fooled because while Central park is truly unique with its surrounding high-rise buildings, it can get pretty packed, especially on national holidays.
5. Machu Picchu, Peru
Probably one of the most visited sites in South America is the Inca citadel called Machu Picchu. Located on a mountain crest in the Cusco Region and Machupicchu District in Peru, the architectural vision that is Machu Picchu is a UNESCO Heritage Site and was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
There are almost always tourists hiking the area or taking the Cusco trains to the top to feast their eyes on this man-made wonder, but with tourism comes economic and environmental issues. All the foot traffic in this conservation area causes a build-up of litter and the commercialization of the site poses a physical threat to the 15th century ruins.
6. Venice, Italy
The Italians have a knack for making everything look, taste, and feel fantastic. After all, it’s a dolce vita kind of life, right? Who doesn’t dream of dining al fresco soaking in the romantic ambiance of Venice surrounded by good food, passionate people, and gondolas gliding peacefully through the canals?
When people get wind of a beautiful place, it doesn’t remain as perfect anymore. Tourism brings in congestion, traffic, and pollution. The difference with Venice is that the traffic is all on the water with gondolas, water taxis, and other aquatic vessels maneuvering about. One disappointed visitor noted that “the famed canals are horribly polluted and filled with garbage” and the overall consensus is that the city has become “a gigantic tourist trap.”
7. Copacabana Beach, Brazil
The idea of clear blue waters, a mountainous view, and Bossa Nova tunes filling the air in the heart of Rio de Janeiro sounds very appealing. The Brazilian snacks one can grab on the Copacabana promenade sound pretty good too.
Seeing that the Copacabana beach is one of the most famous spots in the world, it makes sense that it gets very crowded in the summer months. Dealing with a crowded beach is one thing, but the crime rate in the area renders the spot less desirable. It’s best to keep a watchful eye against pickpockets and any suspicious behavior.
8. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The enigma of ancient civilizations continues to fascinate the modern man, and a lot can be learned from the knowledge and technology society was equipped with way back when. Ancient Egypt and the pyramids of Giza portray a culture rich with its many rituals, customs, and philosophies. All the mystery about treasure and mummies lying within those tombs attract tourists the world over.
While the pyramids will forever foster the ancient appeal of Egypt, modern life has wormed its way in and ruined the atmosphere. Popular landmarks become tourist traps very quickly, and many say that the the pyramids are now a site for beggars, vendors, and floods of tourists. The pollution of the modern city permeates the area, and in order to preserve what’s left of the ancient site, no one is allowed to touch the Sphinx or climb the pyramids like before.
9. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
The spot where everyone takes pictures of themselves holding up or kicking down a building – yes, you’ve arrived at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Construction of the tower commenced in the 12th century, and by the time it was completed in the 14th century, the unintended tilt worsened. The reason was that the tower was built on soft ground with an uneven foundation, so it tilted at a 5.5 degree angle. After efforts to restore the tower from 1990-2001, the tower now leans at a 3.99-degree angle.
The downside to the famous tower is that the fun wears off pretty quickly with everyone taking selfies all day long. Another issue is that the tower risks collapse the more it continues to incline deeper. To prevent collapse, authorities continue to invest lots of money into restoration projects, but that means tourists have to pay in order to climb to the top of the tower.
10. Stonehenge, England
Just the mystery surrounding the significance of Stonehenge attracts tourists from around the world upon their visit to the United Kingdom. While there have been many theories about its function, many assume Stonehenge was built for telling time, or maybe as a ritual site for a cult or a coronation site. The fact that the stones have remained intact since 3000 BC, is enough to draw attention.
Unfortunately, like most ancient sites around the world, Stonehenge loses its appeal because of the influx of tourists who come to enjoy the area, especially during sunset. This makes it hard to get close to the stones, and one can get distracted by the cars speeding past on the highways on either side of the ruins. People who have been there also claim that the construct is smaller in reality. One review by Fox News reported that the overall consensus was that “It’s small, you can’t get very close to it, and it’s really not worth the rather long journey from London.”
11. The Sydney Opera House, Australia
One of the most famous landmarks in the world is Sydney’s Opera House. Not only does the design of the building create an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere, it serves as the center of all things arts and culture. It functions as a multi-venue for operas, dance shows, comedy shows, music festivals, and art exhibitions all year round.
Seeing that the Opera House is a popular spot in Sydney for locals and tourists alike, the venue can get quite full at times. Theatergoers have also complained about acoustic problems when large crowds visit at once. What other disappointing travel destinations do you think made this list?
12. Santorini Island, Greece
Santorini definitely boasts the perfect summer appeal with its salty breeze, the restaurants that serve fresh fish with a side of tzatziki, and of course the white and blue landscape created by the buildings that pepper the island. The black sand beaches, turquoise water, and the volcanic hiking trail all make for the perfect getaway, right?
While nothing takes away from the beauty and fun that epitomize this Greek Island, the summer months haul in heaps of tourists all looking to soak up the sun while sipping on refreshing Ouzo and indulging in some baklava. The streets are narrow and the floors are paved of stone, so you definitely need to be more careful with lots of people around. Another option is to visit right before or after the popular summer season; prices will also be lower.
13. Yosemite National Park, USA
If you want to roam in the wilderness surrounded by giant sequoia trees, crystal clear streams, waterfalls, glaciers, and granite cliffs, then Yosemite Park located in northern California is the place for you. The thought of camping, horse-riding, and trekking through the park probably sounds like heaven on Earth for all nature lovers.
While much of Yosemite Park remains untouched and natural with a rich biological diversity, the influx of tourism poses a threat to the park. Commercialization encourages habitat loss and pollution. Another disadvantage is that you probably won’t be alone in certain areas because of how popular it is to visit the park.
14. The Trevi Fountain, Italy
If you see people throwing coins into a fountain with their right hand over their left shoulder, you’ve probably reached one of the most famous fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain. Located in the Trevi district of Rome, this baroque fountain was commissioned and completed in the 18th century. In 2016, the coins thrown into the fountain reached an estimate of $1.5 million dollars.
Decorated with Greek gods, Triton’s horses, and shells, the Trevi Fountain is considered a work of art that never goes out of style—so much so, that there are always hordes of people gathered around for a sweet rendezvous. This makes it kind of hard to soak in all the beauty as much as you could in solitude.
15. Honolulu, USA
When someone so much as hears the word Hawaii, the image that immediately comes to mind is of a hula dancer, sandy white beaches, palm trees, crystal blue waters, huge waves, and coconuts. The island also boasts incredible bike paths, volcanic hikes, art museums, and historical sites.
Tourism brings in a lot of money for the Hawaiian economy, but one of the sadder realities of the capital Honolulu is the amount of homeless people. The homeless are usually people who moved to Hawaii in search of work and failed, those who’ve hit hard times, and homeless people who moved to Hawaii to avoid cold winters.
16. The Blarney Stone, Ireland
Who knew a block of carboniferous limestone could attract so much attention? Built into the fortifications of Blarney Castle in 1446, the Blarney Stone has become a very popular tourist site in Ireland for a very strange reason. According to Irish legend, the word blarney means flattery and coaxing talk mixed with humor and wit, and if people kiss the stone they’ll be granted the gift of gab.
Millions of people have kissed the Blarney Stone in hopes of becoming a great speaker, but kissing the stone isn’t any easy feat. In order to kiss the stone, one needs to climb the top of the castle and lean over backwards in order to reach the parapet’s edge. Before some railing and crossbars were installed, kissing the stone actually posed a life threat to those wanting to give that stone a smooch.
17. The Statue of Liberty, USA
When the French gifted the Americans the robed liberty goddess in 1886, they didn’t anticipate what an iconic sculpture the Statue of Liberty would indeed become. The statue invokes a feeling of freedom and is supposed to be a welcoming sight for immigrants when they see her on Liberty Island in New York City’s Harbor.
While the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty will never waiver, some tourists imagine it to be much bigger than it really is. However, the main problem one will encounter when visiting are the long lines leading up to the statue itself and for the ferry to Liberty Island.
18. Harrods, England
The luxury department on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge near Hyde Park, London has been one of the most sought after department stores in the world since its opening in 1849. There are 330 departments offering mainly luxury goods and products, including Gucci, Chanel, and Hermès.
What wasn’t necessarily on the memo are the crazy lines one may encounter during sale season at Harrods. Visitors also need to make sure they adhere to the strict dress code policy Harrods established in 1989, and yes, they do enforce it. Some people have been turned away either wearing the wrong type of clothing or lack thereof. Let’s just say scantily clad people are not allowed inside.
19. Hollywood Walk of Fame, USA
Ah Tinseltown; most tourists expect to see every celebrity that ever existed walking the streets of Hollywood. This is where the Academy Awards take place every year and the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. Hollywood wouldn’t be the same without the Walk of Fame, where over 2,600 brass-and-terrazzo stars decorate the sidewalks on Hollywood Boulevard.
Some tourists are left highly disappointed when they visit Hollywood, either because they don’t spot any celebrities, or because of the dirty, crowded streets. There are even acts of vandalism and theft on the Walk of Fame, where people have tried to remove the brass from the stars or plastered some profane political statements on the floor.
20. The Mona Lisa, France
Is she smiling and looking at you, or not? Most art lovers are faced with this question when they see Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting, situated in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Da Vinci’s painting is one of the most famous pieces of art in the world and most art lovers consider it a must-see.
Don’t be surprised to encounter a large group of people facing the painting, or rather a glass box that protects the painting. It might also be hard to get a closer glimpse at the work of art with everyone trying to capture a photograph of the painting.
21. Las Vegas, USA
It’s no wonder it’s called Sin City because what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? Probably the most famous resort city in the world, people travel far and wide to feel young, wild, and free in Fabulous Las Vegas. Its mega casino-hotels, large convention centers, and legal adult entertainment create a sense of allure and fun.
It might be perfectly legal to gamble the day away in Vegas and even receive free booze while you’re at it, but the dirty streets and homeless people roaming the streets give off a totally different reality. People can also get a bit unruly when they drink too much of the free alcohol.
22. Equator, Ecuador
Want to travel to the “Middle of the World,” or more aptly put “laMitad del Mundo”? Better yet, if you want to “touch” the equator look no further than Ecuador. In fact, Republic of Ecuador’s official name translates to “Republic of the Equator.” It does seem pretty cool to be able to experience something tangible of the equator, the line of latitude that we only really talk about in Geography class.
The disappointing part is that all the “Middle of the World” consists of is a monument surrounded by touristy stuff that some regard to be just a trap to make money. Even stranger is that the real equator is a few hundred yards north. In order to cover that discrepancy, there is another monument there. Furthermore, this isn’t the only place in the world where the equator passes through.
23. Loch Ness, Scotland
There are an unlimited amount of rumors and speculated sightings of Nessie the Loch Ness monster, which supposedly lurks at the bottom of the Loch Ness freshwater lake in the Scottish Highlands. Monsters aside, the area itself is very lush and the Scottish castles are always great to explore.
What tourists forget is that they are walking into a tourist trap with all the Nessie monster souvenir shops, the cost of the boat ride in search of her, and the overpriced tea shops that serve lunch. While it’s quite an adventure and there is a lot to see, all the hype around the lake will burn a whole in that pocket.
24. The Parthenon, Greece
If you want to feel like you’re walking through history, then Athens is the place for you. Historical ruins jut out of ordinary city streets, and the city is crowned by The Parthenon. This temple dedicated to the goddess Athena stands regally on the Athenian Acropolis as an enduring symbol of ancient Greece.
The Parthenon has seen better days though, and in order to preserve what’s left of it, lots of construction efforts are frequently going on, which takes away from the ancient mystique of the hill. If you can ignore that part, what might annoy you is the flood of tourists that visit the temple during the day. At night the temple closes to tourists, so you have to enjoy the illuminated temple from afar.
25. Prague Astronomical Clock, Czech Republic
Prague, known as the Paris of Eastern Europe, really lives up to that reputation with its romantic atmosphere created by the perfect juxtaposition of Romanesque, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo architecture, among other styles. One of the main landmarks is the medieval astronomical clock located in the Old Town Square.
This clock is impressive with its multiple mechanisms, but what is less impressive are the amounts of people that gather in Old Town Square. Lots of tourists spells trouble for the locals because it means overpriced souvenir shops and the risk of pickpockets lurking around.
26. The Swiss Alps, Switzerland
The Swiss Alps serve as the icon of Switzerland because of its natural beauty consisting of glaciers, mountains, and the beautiful streams of Lake Geneva and Lake Constance. The idea of skiing through the white snow sounds fun and even quite peaceful.
The mountain ranges in the Swiss Alps are just another example of how tourism can affect the tranquil atmosphere. The winter months are when tourism in the region reaches its peak with all the ski resorts and winter sports lovers. Ski season starts in November and runs to the end of May, so if you want to avoid all that traffic, visit during another time of the year.
27. The Colosseum, Italy
Most globe trekkers place the Colosseum amphitheater in Rome on their bucket lists because of the interesting ancient history behind its construction and the savage Roman gladiator and animal fights that took place there. This impressive structure could host between 50,000 to 80,000 spectators in its heyday all the way back in 80 AD.
Unfortunately, the Colosseum has been destroyed and also decayed rapidly throughout the centuries. However, any ancient symbol left in the modern world creates a lot of hype and excitement, so be prepared for the very long lines to enter the interior arena.
28. Phi Phi Island, Thailand
Ko Phi Phi Island is in fact an archipelago made of six islands in the Krabi Province of Thailand, known for its calm turquoise waters and striking mountainous formations jutting out of the water. It certainly looks and feels like paradise on earth, and the tropical weather makes it a desirable holiday destination for lots of vacationers.
Lo and behold, during the high tourist season from November to February, expect the beaches to be packed to capacity all day long, especially with young people partying the night away. The islands morph into wild party islands, which goes against the tranquility people expect to find.
29. The Champs-Élysées, France
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, is famous for its luxury shops, cafes, and theaters. What’s more, the Tour de France cycling race ends in this area and the annual Bastille Day military parade also takes place here. Perhaps the most iconic structure in Paris besides the Eiffel Tower is the Arc de Triomphe located on the Champs-Élysées.
This is another one of those areas that has turned into a tourist trap owing to all the hype and attention it receives in popular culture. Woody Allen once said that if the artists from the 1920s could witness what’s become of the area, they would probably suffer heart attacks because of how the original culture and spirit of France have been ripped away.
30. Casablanca, Morocco
When visiting Morocco, tourists expect a sensory experience in every sense of the word. The colors, textures, smells, and tastes of North Africa come to life in this country with its rich Muslim culture accented by French architecture. Casablanca is the largest city in the country and attracts lots of tourists in search of a mystical and spiritual experience.
Tourists can get pretty disillusioned when they visit the city because a lot of it is really rundown and more like a coastal business district. The main attraction in the city is the intricate and expensive mosque completed in 1993 for Hassan II, the former Moroccan king. Perhaps Marrakesh has a bit more to offer when it comes to landmarks, museums, mosques and markets.
31. Mount Everest, Nepal
For all those adrenaline junkies out there, Mount Everest, peaking at 8,848 meters high, is the ultimate challenge of a lifetime. All you need is some stamina, determination, all the proper gear, oxygen tanks, proper training, and voilà — get ready for the trek of a lifetime, right?
Once upon a time it was rather rare for people to take up the challenge of climbing the highest mountain in the world. In the last couple of decades or so, it’s become extremely popular to visit Nepal and Mount Everest, despite the dangers, which means one thing: busier base camps. Besides for watching out for avalanches, thriller-seekers also need to watch out for oxygen tank thieves.
32. Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City
Vatican City is well-known for St. Peter’s Basilica and the large plaza located right in front of the Church. This plaza is one of the most famous squares in Italy and an important gathering spot for tourists wishing to explore all the sights of Vatican City. Ever wanted to see how the Pope lives? Well that’s entirely possible if you take a trip to the Papal Apartments, which is where the Pope sleeps and where he addresses crowds of pilgrims.
Lines can get pretty crazy here, especially for devout Catholics who wish to visit the Pope and bask in the celebration of their faith. Expect lots of foot traffic around the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, the Vatican Museums, and of course the Saint Peter’s Square and the St. Peter Basilica.
33. Hall Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, France
Traveling back in time has never been easier than at the Palace of Versailles. The 17th century comes to life in the Hall of Mirrors, the main gallery in the palace. The architecture screams opulence, and you feel it as soon as you enter the room and lay your eyes on the 17 arches fixed with 21 mirrors each, which in turn reflect the windows opening onto the gardens.
Everyone wants a piece of this beautiful spectacle. After all, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most visited tourist sites in the world, so expect a multitude of crowds if you’re up to experiencing the wonder and beauty with others.
34. Mount Rushmore, USA
Who knew that heads of a group of famous people could protrude out of a mountain, and look good? The Mount Rushmore National memorial, located on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, has the faces of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln carved into it.
In order to reach the site, one must drive into the mountains of South Dakota to reach the huge visitors’ center from where you can look up from the viewing deck at the heads on the mountain. In other words, the heads appear quite small from the viewing deck because of the great distance between the actual mountain and the visitors’ center. Sounds like a bit of a letdown.
35. Daytona Beach, USA
One of the most famous beaches in the United States is Daytona Beach in sun-drenched Florida. In fact, the city is well-known for this particular beach because cars can actually drive out onto the sand due to its hard-packed surface.
Things can get a little too crowded here, especially because Daytona Beach hosts tons of events for visitors, especially races such as Speedweeks, Bike Week, and the Coke Zero 400, just to mention a few. This is probably not the ideal beach to lounge around on all day if you’re looking to relax and be alone.
36. Carnival, Brazil
When Carnival time in Brazil comes around, it’s time to get your groove on with all the parades, samba music, and festivities. Rhythm, passion, and partying are the name of the game during the 51 days leading up to Easter. Each city has its own unique take on the Carnival, but one thing that is guaranteed is lots of samba and music.
For the fainthearted individuals who cannot handle one samba song playing in an interminable loop for days on end, then this time of year is probably not for you. If crowds, parties, and music aren’t your thing, it’s best to stay far away!
37. The Prairies, Canada
“Oh the places you’ll go!” Do you think Dr. Seuss was referring to the Canadian grassland Prairies when he wrote that? The Canadian Prairies, which boast a pastoral and peaceful landscape, make everything in the world seem okay again. Hills upon hills of quaint beauty and nature unfold before you.
When the novelty of these hills wears off and there are no distinct landmarks anymore, riding through the prairies can become rather, well, mundane. Eventually the flat grasslands start feeling a bit strange and being alone isn’t so fun anymore.
38. Malé, Maldives
Just the thought of staying on those stilt houses in the middle of the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean is enough to make anyone giddy with excitement. The white sandy beaches of the Maldivian atolls offer the perfect getaway experience, and the advantage here is that only a certain amount of people are allowed on one atoll at once.
However, the Maldives is not all white sandy beaches and picturesque coral reefs. The capital, Malé, is known for being particularly crowded and quite ugly. There is also a lot of garbage on the beaches because of the lack of waste disposal sites in the capital. Furthermore, the area has become victim to something called “beach theft”, which involves the illegal removal of sand for sand mining.
39. The Little Mermaid, Denmark
Edvard Eriksen created the bronze statue of The Little Mermaid when it was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen in 1909. Jacobsen became fascinated by the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen when he saw it in the form of a ballet at Copenhagen’s Royal Theater. He asked the ballerina Ellen Price to pose for the statue, which was placed on a rock in Copenhagen, Denmark at the Langelinie promenade.
The Little Mermaid is yet another landmark that disappoints tourists because it is smaller than they expect. Another disappoint is that the statue is only a replica because of acts of vandalism in the past. The original is kept safe somewhere else.
40. The Four Corners Monument, USA
To mark the point where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet at perfect 90 degree angles is the Four Corners Monument. This is the only point in the U.S. where four states meet and therefore the area is known as the Four Corners region.
Aside from the monument itself, there is nothing else to really do there. Maybe you will feel something special when you stand on the spot, but after that it’s back to the real world in search of something slightly more meaningful to do.
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