13 Tourist Traps To Avoid Across The Globe

worst tourist behavior

For many travelers, a world-famous landmark in Hollywood is an annoyingly busy sidewalk marked with stars while an ancient monument in England is just a bunch of stones arranged in a circle. Biggest tourist traps ever?

Travel is meant to inspire and awe, and many attractions explored are rewarding experiences—though some are sadly regarded as underwhelming and disappointing. Not just by us, but by the visitors who leave feeling swindled.

Like Hollywood Walk of Fame and Stonehenge, don’t believe the hype with our pick of the world’s top major tourist traps that are as famously overrated as they are globally iconic.

13 most overrated tourist attractions to avoid 

  1. Halong Bay, Vietnam

This Unesco World Heritage Site, a three-hour drive from Hanoi, is touted as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Tourists hop aboard junkets and ferries to cruise the serene water and isles, though it’s not the fairy-tale romantic setting some travelers would expect.

There are literally hundreds of junkets out cruising at a time, which compromises the allure, and the lakes are essentially a sewer considering all the floating trash and debris. Most visitors will take an excursion to Surprise Cave, featuring centuries old stalactites, but the biggest surprise is how it’s a waste of time… not to mention a horrific cattle call.

Add the fact Halong Bay is a six-hour, round-trip commute with nothing to see along the way, visitors can lose an entire day in beautiful Vietnam, so definitely avoid this tourist trap.

Oh, yeah. Vietnam is hot AF. It’s super sunny. Sun = squint. Squint = wrinkles! Definitely get some shades. I think Bloomingdales has the best selection. Check them out here. A lot are more affordable than you’d think!

2. Mona Lisa, Paris, France

The Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world, inspiring artists and aficionados alike. But in real life, it’s pretty “meh.” The painting is a mere 2’ 6” x 1’ 9” with a velvet security rope keeping tourists at least fifteen feet away.

If you want to check it off your bucket list, wait in line—literally—as a camera-hungry crowd surrounds the painting at all times, and you’ll only have a fleeting one-on-one with Mademoiselle. We wholeheartedly agree with novelist Paulo Coelho, who famously said: “With all due respect, the Mona Lisa is overrated.”

3. Empire State Building, New York City, New York

An iconic landmark, the Empire State Building has soared in NYC’s skyline since 1931. Sure the views from atop are impressive but it’s not worth the hefty entrance fee, the long line-up and the mass of tourists. The Empire State Building is best observed from outside the building, and competitive views can be had at nearby Top of the Rock (which includes the tourist trap Empire State Building in the vista) or one of several hotel rooftop lounges.

4. Niagara Falls, Niagara, New York

Chockfull of tacky souvenir shops, shitty casinos and thousands of ridiculously looking poncho-clad tourists, Niagara Falls is a bad idea waiting to happen, making it one of the world’s most overrated tourist attractions.

Sure, the falls are beautiful (unarguably best viewed on the Canadian side), but packaged with other attractions that err on the side of tourist trap (i.e.: Hard Rock Cafe, Riley’s Believe It or Not and Guinness World Records Museum), you’ll wish you had gone to, well… the Canadian side.

5. The Four Corners, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah

You would think you’d be rewarded with something cool after having driven hours to get to The Four Corners in the southwest (the only place in the US where the boundary of four states touch). But, alas, you get a bronze medallion monument in a parking lot. Expect a whole lot of nothing as well as no cell service… though we can’t say there’s much to Instagram (or remember) here, making it one of the world’s most overrated tourist attractions.

6. Music Row, Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville certainly has major cred with a world-renown music scene, a hit TV show based here and a few luxury hotels (like Virgin Nashville) to open soon. But the famous Music Row, home to all the action in “Music City,” is pretty limited to honky tonk and rock-themed bars with a handful of recording studios you can see in less than two hours.

At night, it’s packed with a gaggle of drunk tourists under the glow of neon signs. The best of cool Nashville—like Grimey’s, Pinewood Social and Husk—is incidentally outside Music Row.

7. The Blarney Stone, Cork, Ireland

The Blarney Stone is the most ridiculous tourist attraction on our list, though tourists from all over the world make a point to visit it. According to legend, kissing this stone gives one the gift of eloquence. Not happiness, wealth or super powers, but, uh… eloquence.

In order for it to work after ascending the Blarney Castle’s peak, visitors must awkwardly lean backwards over a parapet edge, hold onto an iron railing, be assisted by an employee and pucker up for possible bacterial infections. Pass! Definitely one of the world’s most well known tourist traps.

And oh, btw: I lost my passport before I was visiting Ireland. Don’t make the same mistake and spend hours Googling the best company! Rush My Passport saved me big time.


8. Roswell, Roswell, New Mexico

The only sighting road-tripping thrillists get when they arrive at Roswell, home to an alleged alien crash landing in 1947, is all sky and—surprise!—no UFOs. This makes it  one of the world’s most overrated tourist attractions and a tourist trap.

UFO junkies are especially regretful they drove three hours from Albuquerque to only visit a UFO Museum that’s not campy enough to be notable… not to mention it takes an hour to see the entire exhibit. Go if you like weird people, alien wine and hot sauce and a couple hundred miles tacked on to your car mileage for no good reason.

9. Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts

While the Plymouth Rock captures the spirit of America as a colonial symbol of liberty, the rock itself is massively underwhelming for visitors who trek out to see it. It’s literally just a rock, and the only fascinating aspect is the story behind it. It’s not even fun showing pictures of Plymouth Rock to your friends, who are basically like: “Seriously, it’s just a rock.” We’re not surprised the million visitors each year leave the attraction with WTF face.

10. Original Starbucks, Seattle, Washington

When in Seattle, Starbucks junkies make a beeline to the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market. But not only is it not the original Starbucks (which doesn’t exist anymore), it’s just another Starbucks. Only here, you wait in line for upwards an hour for the same cup of coffee you can get at the Starbucks down the street.

11. The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark

It’s unfathomable to believe that The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen is one of the world’s most photographed statues and receives a million visitors a year. It’s a statue. Of a mermaid. And there are 14 replicas in cities across the world.

It’s also known that this statue, sculpted by Edvard Eriksen in 1913, isn’t even the original, rumored to be in a secret location by the Eriksen heirs. And we’re not the only ones who aren’t crazy about the statue. The Little Mermaid has been decapitated twice and defaced several times since her birth.

12. Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

Stonehenge is a massive megalithic monument dating back 5,000 years. Unanswered questions surrounding its mystery (like why was Stonehenge constructed in the first place) add to mysticism.

But many tourists believe they know the answer to its secret: Stonehenge is boring. Visitors drive two hours from London to see a pile of rocks that have no appeal, and the rocks aren’t exactly a pretty bunch. Skip the excursion to this anticlimactic attraction and check out the Roman Baths instead.

13. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is centuries old and was constructed to rise vertically, like any normal building. But it began leaning due to miscalculated construction (the foundation it was built on was soft ground), and it’s this oversight that attracts tourists the world over to snap silly shots of themselves giving the impression they are holding the building.

For some, watching the tourists get creative with their poses is more interesting than a tower that became famous simply by happenstance.

More Travelbinger stories:

The biggest difference between travel writers and travel influencers may surprise you 

7 deadliest sins of traveling (worst tourist behavior revealed) 

How to avoid being passenger shamed on your next flight

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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