English writer G.K. Chesterton said that the traveller sees what he sees, while a tourist only sees what he came to see.
And sometimes, those tourist attractions aren’t worth seeing at all.
Inspired by this Reddit list of overrated tourist destinations, we wanted to round up some of the biggest tourist let-downs in the world, and suggest some alternative places to go instead.
We’re not saying you should never visit the Great Pyramids in Cairo or view the art in the Louvre. We’re just saying that you should also get off the beaten path — it will lead you to something even better.
Instead of seeing NYC from the top of the Empire State Building, go to the Top of the Rock
Waiting to get to the top of the Empire State Building is a pain. It’s expensive, there are long lines, and the views of New York City are only so-so.
A better option is to go to the Top of the Rock in Midtown. Sure it’s just as expensive, but your view will include the iconic Empire State Building (which you miss by going to the Empire State Building itself) as well as views of Central Park.
Instead of touring the ruins of Pompeii, visit the lesser-known ancient Roman city Herculaneum
Because Pompeii has become so massively well-known, it’s always crowded with tourists and many of its frescoes have been removed to be housed in museums around the world.
Herculaneum was also buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, but unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum retained many of its wooded objects like building beams, beds, doors, and even food. Plus it was a wealthier town than Pompeii and there are more lavish homes and frescoes to view.
Instead of seeing the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, spot the real celebs where they actually hang out
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a rude awakening for tourists — the street is dirty, littered, and not at all glamorous.
A better option (if you can afford it) is to go to the real locations where celebrities hang out. Beacher’s Madhouse, the restaurant Nobu, and the Staples Center are all good options.
If you’re on a budget, go hiking at Runyan Canyon where many celebs go to walk their pets and burn off some calories.
Instead of taking a tourist shot at the Great Pyramids, drive to the Pyramid Fields of Dahshur
The Great Pyramids of Cairo may be the most well-known pyramids in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best. In fact, they can be so overrun with tourists and the view marred by modern Cairo that some say it’s not even worth visiting.
If you love history but hate the crowds, head to the Pyramid Fields at Dahshur. It’s not a far drive from Cairo, but far enough where not many tourists venture out. Plus, the pyramids there are just as awe-inspiring as those in Cairo — perhaps more so.
Instead of braving the heat in Athens, take a trip to one of Greece’s gorgeous islands
After you visit the Acropolis in Athens, give yourself a palate cleanser from the heat and scaffolding by exploring the beautiful and exotic Greek islands.
We especially recommend Rhodes, which has gorgeous beaches as well as its medieval Old Town, the Temple of Apollo, the Acropolis of Lindos, the Governor’s Palace, and more. For history buffs, Rhodes is unmissable.
Instead of walking around Stonehenge with all the tourists, go out of your way to see the Callanish Standing Stones
Stonehenge has long been made into a tourist must-see, but the endless crowds and designated walkway can make it seem less than extraordinary.
For a dramatic alternative, Scotland’s Isle of Lewis has its own standing stones that are breathtaking as well as less visited. Plus, you can get a lot closer to the Callanish Standing Stones than at Stonehenge.
Instead of battling crowds ogling the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, see the impressionist works at the Musée d’Orsay
The Louvre is spectacular yet overwhelming, and the same can be said for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The tiny work of art is constantly surrounded by tourists trying to snap a picture of the famous painting.
Instead, head to the train-station-turned-museum Musée d’Orsay. It has gorgeous impressionist works and is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. Fans of Paul Cezanne and Vincent van Gogh will love this museum.
Instead of making a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, meander over to the Piazza Navona
While the Trevi Fountain may be beautiful, it’s overrun with people, which makes it next to impossible to appreciate the grandeur of the fountain.
When you’re sick of trying to take a picture there, go to the Piazza Navona, which is not only less crowded, but it also has a pretty fountain with sculptures by famed Italian sculptor Bernini.
Instead of downing a pint at the Guinness Factory in Dublin, spend an evening in a genuine Dublin pub
The Guinness Factory tour may sound like a good idea, but for all your trouble you’re rewarded with a single pint of Guinness and a sub-par view of Dublin.
Skip the tour and get directly to the Guinness at a nearby Dublin pub. A historic option like The Brazen Head (Dublin’s oldest pub) will not only give you a more genuine Irish experience, but it will also get you buzzed a lot faster.
Instead of wandering through Times Square, head uptown to Museum Mile
While most tourists come to New York City and head directly for Times Square, it’s incredibly disappointing. Times Square is dirty, crowded, expensive, and overwhelming — walk through it once and you’ll never want to go back.
A much lovelier walk can be had on New York’s Museum Mile on 5th Avenue. It stretches from 82nd to 104th street with well-known museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim. You’ll also get gorgeous views of Central Park.
Instead of staying at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas like everyone else, check out a resort in the Exumas
Everyone stays at Atlantis Resort, but hardly anyone seems to actually enjoy it. The rooms need updating, the food is expensive, and the attractions are only so-so.
Honestly, anywhere else in the Bahamas is better. Try a resort on a smaller island in the Exumas which is more low-key with its pristine coastlines and cool attractions like the “domesticated” swimming pigs that live on Big Major’s Spot.
Instead of staring up at Mount Rushmore from a tiny viewing platform, take a drive through South Dakota’s Badlands National Park
Mount Rushmore is an American cultural icon, but standing on a viewing platform and looking up at the real thing may make the presidents’ heads look rather tiny — and disappointing.
Instead, go to South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. With nearly 243,000 acres of protected land, visitors can view the incredible rock formations and wildlife you can’t see anywhere else in the world, including mountain goats, rabbits, bobcats, antelope, and even bison.
Instead of seeing the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, walk over to the nearby Gefion Fountain
The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is a major tourist attraction on the Langelinie waterfront despite its diminutive size.
There’s a more interesting attraction close by, however — the Gefion Fountain. Sculptor Anders Bungdaard designed the fountain showing Norse Goddess Gefion who was offered as much land in Sweden as she could plow.
So she turned her sons into oxen and plowed enough land to create Zealand, the island where Copenhagen is located. Gefion was pretty badass and her fountain is, too.
Instead of going to a wax museum, go literally anywhere else
The world is a huge place with plenty to see and experience. Why would you waste your time looking at wax replicas of famous people?
If you don’t believe me, go once and you’ll never want to go again.
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