Some tourist traps are obvious — you know, like anything that’s advertised on billboards on the side of highways. But others are a little more subtle, whether it’s bad vantage points of must-see sights, or else well-known attractions that are simply devastatingly disappointing.
Either way, sometimes it’s best to get off the beaten path and avoid some of these requisite attractions.
Save your time, money, and sanity by skipping these 20 overrated spots in Europe.
The Mona Lisa — Paris, France
The Mona Lisa is TINY, and you’ll need to elbow your way through massive crowds to get a closer look. The Louvre is filled with gems — check out literally any other piece of art there.
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Gondola rides — Venice, Italy
Taking an overpriced gondola captained by someone dressed like what foreigners imagine Italians to look like is one of the most corny and touristy things to do in Venice — and that’s before the gondolier starts singing (which costs extra, mind you).
Instead, take a much cheaper traghetto, which is basically just a less frilly gondola that locals use to get across the canals.
Manneken Pis — Brussels, Belgium
Why this tiny statue of a boy relieving himself is such an attraction is beyond us.
Not that this is much more exciting, but at least it’ll be less crowded and more of a novelty: find Jeanneke Pis, Manneken Pis’ counterpoint, and a statue of a girl peeing into a fountain.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa — Pisa, Italy
If we told you to go see a tilting old tower that wasn’t Pisa, would you? Probably not, and you should avoid the surprisingly small and devastatingly disappointing Leaning Tower of Pisa too.
Instead, check out the Medieval towers in the town of San Gimignano, a mostly tourist-free haven in Tuscany that’s known for its Medieval architecture and perfectly preserved ancient tower houses. In fact, it’s often referred to as “the city of beautiful towers,” or even “medieval Manhattan.”
The Eiffel Tower — Paris, France
You should definitely get a photo of the Eiffel Tower, just don’t spend an absurd amount of money and time waiting in line to go up to its observation deck. Because you know what any photo of Paris from up there will be missing? The Eiffel Tower!
Instead, get epic views of the City of Light from the Terrasse du Printemps Haussmann — a free terrace on top of the famous Printemps department store.
The Little Mermaid statue — Copenhagen, Denmark
While the word “little” is in this “attraction’s” name, its actual size will still surprise you. Again, why people elbow each other out of the way for photos of this 4-foot sculpture is a mystery.
You’re better off visiting the the Sculpture Park at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is filled with around 60 stunning sculptures and incredible views of the Sound.
The Moulin Rouge — Paris, France
Sure, the movie was great and the institution iconic, but that was back in its heyday. Today, it’s a seedy spot that no local would be caught dead in, that is marked by a tattered little windmill.
Le Crazy Horse is a better bet if you’re looking for a risqué cabaret.
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The Blarney Stone — Blarney, Ireland
Legend has it that kissing this random rock will give the kisser the gift of gab. In reality, it’s probably just herpes. Plus, locals are said to pee on it to mess with tourists.
Instead, take the Clogheenmilcon Walk around the the Clogheenmilcon Sanctuary, which features 100 acres of lush wetland in what used to be a lake, a remnant of the last Ice Age.
Stonehenge — Wiltshire, UK
Despite its fascinating history, Stonehenge has been transformed into the definition of a tourist trap, complete with a gift shop, entrance fee, and hordes of tour buses. Many complain that you can’t even really get close to it, and are better off enjoying it from the road as you’re driving by, which is exactly what you should do instead.
Checkpoint Charlie — Berlin, Germany
Little more than a small shack accompanied by cheesy actors, Checkpoint Charlie doesn’t do its history justice. There’s really not much to see here.
Instead, check out the quirky DDR museum.
La Rambla — Barcelona, Spain
With so much insane architecture around (Gaudi, anyone?) why would you walk into a street full of cheap souvenirs, tacky street performers, and many, many other tourists?
Instead, make like a local and grab some fresh tapas at Mercat de Sant Andreu, a charming little local market in the cute neighborhood of Sant Andreu.
Edinburgh Castle — Castlehill, Edinburgh, UK
The limited presentation of this castle’s history has many feeling cheated out of their £17 ($22).
Save your money and take a walk down the Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Land’s End — Cornwall, UK
While England’s westernmost point sounds like it should be ruggedly remote and romantically desolate, it is anything but, thanks to the entire town trying to capitalize on the location. The surrounding area is filled with gift shops and bars and shops advertising being “the last” anything.
Cape Cornwall is said to be a more laid back alternative that sticks just as far out into the Atlantic, with similarly stunning views.
Buckingham Palace’s guard change — London, UK
Sure, seeing them move beats watching them stoically ignore horrible tourists, but you’ll have to get there early to get a spot in front of the hundreds of other gawping tourists, and for only a few short minutes of action.
For an authentically British experience fit for royalty, why not indulge in afternoon tea at the Ritz, which has been served there since 1906.
The Temple Bar — Dublin, Ireland
The Temple Bar is not only a bustling (and touristy) area in Dublin, it’s also a bar. A bar that is so crowded you probably won’t even get in. Brilliant marketing or tourist trap? Your call.
Instead, have a Guinness at the locally approved Bowe’s.
Abbey Road — London, UK
You will literally have to wait your turn to recreate the iconic Beatles album cover. Abbey Road is also still a busy thoroughfare, so you’re wasting time and putting yourself in danger.
If you’re into the Beatles, why not tour Abbey Road Studios?
The Red Light District — Amsterdam, Netherlands
Besides gawking at the workers, this area is mostly filled with drunk frat boys on Spring Break and various rowdy bachelor parties. It’s neither titillating nor debaucherous, but simply charmless and depressing.
Instead, check out De Pijp, a neighborhood touted “Amsterdam’s coolest” by Vogue.
Time Elevator — Rome, Italy
“This is a tourist trap and an expensive one,” says olga0421 on TripAdvisor, adding that the “3D” show consists of three measly screens and some pretty bootleg effects, and that it all “seems very old and makes terrible clacking noises.”
Just walking around Rome should give you all the history you need.
London Eye — London, UK
Sure, the views are epic, but $50 to sit in a glorified Ferris wheel, really?!
For an equally stunning view, check out the viewing level of Switch House at Tate Modern.
Madame Tussauds — Anywhere
Why would anyone want to see creepy fake versions of famous people? Especially when in a new city.
Go literally anywhere else.
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