9 Overrated Tourist Destinations (and 9 Great Alternatives)
In my trips around the world, I’ve been to a lot of conventional places and a lot of off-the-grid places. Among other things, these experiences have led me discover that some of the best destinations for travelers are not always “undiscovered.”
Many places have a well-deserved reputation for being cool, and some other places you’ve never heard of maintain that status for a good reason. Still other places have gained undeserved reputations for being somewhere you “must’ visit before you die – but whenever I’ve gone there, I’ve felt a bit disappointed.
I’ll tell you about 9 of those here, but…
I don’t like to be overly-negative, so in addition to telling you what’s wrong with these overrated destinations, I’ll also give you an alternative for each one that is worth visiting. Then if you’ve been to either the overrated one or the alternative, you can tell me if you think I’m wrong, and also add your own overrated destination for everyone else to consider.
Ready? Here we go.
Niagara Falls. Niagara is nice to see once, but you don’t need to stay long. Whether you’re on the Canadian or American side, it’s overrun with kitsch. Yes, it’s a big waterfall. Wow. How much longer until we go home?
The Alternative: If you really want to see the world’s best waterfalls and you can go anywhere, then head to Zambia and check out the great Victoria Falls. I was there in 2006 and can confirm that it is indeed one seriously big waterfall. Afterwards, head over to the Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwean side and pay $1,000,000 for a Diet Coke.
If you can’t easily hop off to Southern Africa, then just go somewhere else in Ontario or Quebec. There’s lots to see in that part of Canada that is definitely worth checking out.
The Grand Canyon. Like Niagara, the same holds true for the Grand Canyon—it’s nice to see once, but there’s not much to stay for. I went there with my family last year, and my 16-year old sister and I had fun coming up with alternative names for the Grand Canyon. Our top choices were:
- The Decent Canyon
- The Not-Bad Canyon
- The “If you’re 10 miles away, go and see it” Canyon
You get the idea. Technically speaking, the Grand Canyon is impressive, but there’s so much hype about it that it’s hard to live up to your expectations upon arrival.
The Alternative: Sedona, Tucson, Santa Fe (New Mexico), or elsewhere in the area. The American Southwest can be a fun place. I liked hanging out in Sedona, where we stayed before driving to the Not-Bad Canyon. It does get pretty hot there, but it is the desert, after all.
The Bahamas. Just a few miles off the coast of Florida, the Bahamas are a sovereign country with a primary industry of tourism. It’s not a bad stop on a cruise (usually just before returning to the U.S.), but if I wanted to go to the so-called “real” Caribbean, I’d look elsewhere.
The Alternative: There are plenty of other nice islands in the Caribbean not yet overrun with visitors. St Kitts & Nevis is nice, for example, as is Dominica. Also, Barbados has a lot of visitors, but they do a better job with planning the overall development and culture of the island.
Paris, London, and Rome in the summer. These are all great cities, but not in the summer. Most Parisians leave their city in August, and they have the right idea.
The Alternative: For anyone traveling with U.S. or Canadian dollars, these aren’t great places to go at any time of the year, but for everyone else, going in the winter can be nice. And even if you do pay in dollars, lodging will usually be cheaper in the late fall or winter.
Las Vegas. What can I say about Vegas? It’s pretty much everything you’d expect, so if you like that kind of thing, you won’t be disappointed.
The Alternative: The best alternative is to keep your money and go anywhere else, but if you really want to gamble, head to an American Indian casino so that the money you lose will at least go into tribal education funds.
Dublin, Ireland. Dublin is now #3 on the world’s most expensive city list. There is definitely a fair amount of culture there (check out the library at Trinity College, for example), but the best of Ireland is found elsewhere.
The Alternative: Dublin isn’t a bad jumping off point – so head there first, then quickly go out to the other cities and smaller towns of Ireland. Chances are you’ll discover that they are more fun for visitors who want to experience the Ireland they’ve always imagined.
The Pyramids, or almost anywhere in Egypt. I just went to Egypt and the Pyramids, and I actually enjoyed the trip more than I expected. However, if you can only go to the Middle East once, Egypt would not be at the top on my list of recommendations.
The Alternative: Egypt’s neighbor, Jordan, is a better place to visit overall. You won’t be hassled nearly as much (some people will even give you rides for free or otherwise extend hospitality without taking anything in return), and the ancient city of Petra is simply amazing. If you’re interested in visiting Israel or Lebanon, you can get there easily from Amman, and overall you’ll likely be much happier in Jordan anyway.
Singapore. Personally, I like Singapore just fine, except for the glass doors at Starbucks. Watch out for those! But on the negative side, Singapore is somewhat of a manufactured city and a bit uptight for many travelers. As such, it has become the Asian city most travel writers love to hate.
The Alternative: Just half an hour away by bus, Malaysia offers a better presentation of Asian diversity. The cities are edgier (not necessarily a bad thing, when compared to an overly-sterile environment), and nearly everything is cheaper. You can also head down to Bantam Island (Indonesia) by ferry, although I found the experience a bit strange when I was there two years ago.
The Most Overrated Destination on the Planet
All of those destinations are somewhat overrated – which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there. You should do exactly what you want; just try to keep your expectations in check. There’s one place over all the others, however, that wins the prize for being the most over-hyped city anywhere on the planet:
Image by Sharam Sharif
Dubai, UAE. I enjoyed driving around the Emirates a couple years ago (there are seven of them – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Qwain – naturally, I went to each one), but my time in Dubai was surreal.
This is not actually that unusual, because most travelers end up thinking that Dubai is odd when they get there. The majority of the people you’ll interact with in Dubai are immigrant workers (English surpassed Arabic as the common language a while back), and seemingly permanent construction cranes fill the city. Yes, you can get anything you want in Dubai, but since sheiks and Russian billionaires use Dubai as a playground, it won’t be cheap. As for entertainment, there are shopping malls, shopping centers, shopping areas with fake ski resorts, and hotels with shopping malls enclosed within.
The Alternative: Oman, a nearby Persian Gulf country, is much more fun and a thousand times more authentic. Qatar is also OK, but seems to be on track to become another Dubai as soon as they can build a ski lodge and fake islands with huge hotels.
And Now, Your Turn
I need your help with this one. What other places are overrated, and what’s a better alternative? In other words, what did I miss?
Also, whenever people talk about their favorite places, someone usually disagrees – and that’s fine. Would you change anything in the above recommendations? Let me know.
Main Image: JasonRogers
Singapore Image: Terance
The Grand Canyon is not overrated. It’s amazing. especially when you hike down below to the floor. Utterly spectacular.
I agree with the rest of the list but not the inclusion of the grand canyon!!!
im glad you mentioned Niagara Falls. your reaction mirrors mine exactly
I would have to rate Fiji as the most overrated destination I have visited. I haven’t been to the Caribbean but from talking to people who have, Fiji sounds similar to Jamaica with the disparity of wealth. If you enjoy vacationing at lush resorts where you don’t have to interact with the locals except as servants, Fiji is the place for you. If you want a more authentic, less touristy South Pacific destination, head for Western Samoa or Tonga (the Ha’apai or Vava’u island groups – avoid Tongatapu).
OK, so that’s one vote for the Grand Canyon. 🙂
Actually, I thought the Canyon itself was cool (not “amazing” but that’s just me), it was more the big crowd experience that I didn’t care for. Same with Niagara as @Wes mentioned.
Fiji – got it. I haven’t been anywhere in that region yet (except New Zealand and Hawaii, but that’s another story) and will keep that in mind.
While I agree with you that the Pyramids are overrated, I wouldn’t say all of Egypt is overrated. Islamic Cairo is absolutely amazing. It has the richest collection of Islamic architecture from about the tenth to the eighteenth centuries – only Istanbul comes close. You can wander around the bazaars, mosques, and merchants’ houses for days. Also, Cairo has the Sinai, which has some amazing Scuba diving and natural beauty, as well a few great ecolodges like Basata.
Jordan does have Petra, which is an amazing ancient ruin, but the Islamic architecture of Jordan is disappointing. Aqaba has terrible scuba diving.
In terms of going to “one place” in the Middle East, I think that’s a bad idea. The Middle East is such a diverse place. You can’t simply go to one country and understand all the Middle East. You really need to go to at least three or four different ones if you truly want to get an idea of the Middle East.
You’re absolutely right about Paris/London/Rome, but I would take it a step further with the alternative. If one is willing to step outside of his or her comfort zone, then eastern Europe represents a whole new playground of countries to explore. I flew into Istanbul this past summer (incredibly vibrant city, full of culture) and hopped the train through Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia. Each country offers its own attractions, people, and my personal favorite, local cuisine!
Sidenote: Heading to Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkmenistan (visa pending) on Tuesday! Will be conducting pricing surveys for a company I work with in Boston. Will be sure to take notes.
I’m going to Dublin next month as you already know, but I’ll go see the rest of Ireland next year during a dryer season.
As an alternative to the Grand Canyon, I’d like to go visit the Scablands in eastern WA.
For small “quaint” European cities, Bruges (Belgium) was nice but touristy and crowded, whereas Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Germany) was laid back and really nice, with plenty of history and activities for a few days.
Good points, thanks. I certainly agree that there is no one “Middle East.”
Thanks to you as well. And good luck with that trip! Those are some serious countries.
With all of these places, the value in the destination is determined by (a) your expectations and (b) what you do there. Being an Arizonan living in Egypt, I would like to offer the following corrections:
Regarding the Grand Canyon, indeed the Visitor Area of the Grand Canyon is absurdly disappointing.
My alternatives: actually go into the Grand Canyon or head for Supai, Arizona
The beauty of the Canyon doesn’t show itself until you go into the Canyon, i.e. hike or ride a mule train down to Phantom Ranch. Watch the layers and colors of rock and peaks change as you descend during sunrise. By entering the canyon, you actually get a real feel for the size and geology of it all.
Even this can be over-run and crowded (it is exceedingly difficult to book accommodation and/or meals at Phantom Ranch). Instead, head for Havasupai and the little village of Supai, Arizona. Its the only place in the US where the post office still delivers by mule train. It is all owned and operated by the Supai Reservation, so it has a slightly more authentic feel than the National Park Service. Best of all are the amazing Havasu Falls and the pools that you can swim in to cool off.
Regarding Paris, London, and Rome in the summer…
My Alternative: Head east to Budapest.
Regarding Egypt & the Pyramids, Egypt is much bigger than the pyramids. Egyptians have been in the tourism industry continuously for centuries. You will be hassled.
My Alternatives: don’t get your expectations up for Giza (“the” three pyramids right at the edge of Cairo). If you really want to see the sights of ancient Egypt, head south to Luxor and Aswan and the Valley of the Kings (which is a 12 hour train ride south of Cairo). Similarly, avoid Khan al-Khalili (yet another tourist trap) and instead cross the street (carefully, like Frogger) and wander through the alleyways of Islamic Cairo.
Hola, salut, Chris, First, let me say that I always enjoy your newsletters.
Seconding one of your overrated places: The Grand Canyon.
Mexico´s Copper Canyon (el Barranco del Cobre), a network of 6 canyons in the state of Chihuahua far exceeds the Grand Canyon in size and majesty. The train there is a roller coaster ride that leaves the visitor in awe and the area is populated by the fascinating Tarahumara Indians, a totally autonomous people who have kept their own laws and social structure. This immense, extraordinary canyon is unknown to most tourists and it deserves to be visited. The difference is that the Grand Canyon has a great publicity machine. Copper Canyon does not, but deserves to.
As I have lived in 9 countries and prefer to live in Europe, I think Paris is the most beautiful, fascinating and culturally rich city at any time of the year. Yes, most of the ¨natives¨ leave during the summer, but those who stay know the delight of a city light on traffic, café habitués and street crowds. The tourists who come then meet the heat, but there are all the great sights and fewer crowds. Many restaurants close, but many stay open, many museums and other cultural activities remain open to catch the tourist trade. There are compensations for being in Paris, or other French cities, in summer. And, if one knows how, cheap travel opportunities always exist. In addition, many French hotels and businesses now accept lower rates…even dollars…to promote tourism. I love Paris in the springtime, in the Fall, any old time at all.
I rented a bike to get around – the city is mostly flat and easy to get to know. The people are almost embarrassingly friendly and the street life on the weekends is entertaining. It might be expensive, but that’s not reason in and of itself to say it’s overrated. London is expensive too, after all, and it’s a GREAT city – shocking abuse to the wallet doesn’t automatically equal overrated. And with all those students and the young population,
Plus, Dublin doesn’t have to be crazy expensive – like any city, you just need to get out of the touristy center parts to find local places that have good prices on food and, if you’re a shopper, stuff.
I agree strongly with Niagara Falls. A few years ago I found myself in Niagara Falls for 2 1/2 days. That was about 2 days and 9 hours too long. I’d recommend the Canadian side. See the falls, go to the wax museum, and then continue on to Toronto.
After reading this article, I felt compelled to post a comment. Recently, I took my first overseas trip to China. I went with some of my schoolmates through a trip that was coordinated by our college. While I do not have a list of alternatives, there are some tourist things I want to shed light on. In Shanghai, some of the buildings at night perform a light display set to music. Skip it. It is about 30 minutes long and is not interesting. Although it is free to see, do not make a night out of it. Perhaps visit the Jinmao observatory instead for a mesmerizing view of the city. Secondly, I found the Terracotta Army display to boring. The display is roughly larger than a football field. We spent close to two hours there and unless you enjoy looking a statues for a long period – pictures on the internet do it justice. Finally, if you are in China, do not visit every temple you see. I say visit several but be aware they may start to appear all the same after awhile.
Regarding gambling on Indian reservations in the US: The money almost never goes to an educational fund or other charity. It almost always goes to whoever in the tribe has the most political influence and/or the typically white financial backer, who may or may not have managed to prove that their great-great grandmother was part of some (possibly fictional) tribe and thus get tax free status.
There may be some Indian tribes who have gaming programs that aren’t rife with corruption, but I haven’t seen any. Also, there have been many stories of gamblers at Indian casinos who have one jackpots on slots or other machines, only to have the casino management refuse to pay because the machine
“malfunctioned.” These people often have limited legal recourse, as Indian tribes are difficult to sue.
Better alternative: Send your gambling dollars to my personal education fund 🙂
i just returned from a three week round the world trip and i have to add Auckland, NZ to your list. this city is the most boring city of all the cities I have ever been to. If you don’t like to jump off the Sky Tower or do the Sky Tower walk or book expensive bus tours to the surroundings then you are doomed. A one-day-stay is enough to see everything 🙂
Arizona passed a law requiring a certain percentage of gaming profits to go toward good causes.
I started a nonprofit with some friends in college and now one of the local reservations is a crucial supporter for our mission.
This isn’t international but Seattle.
Seattle is a great city but is becoming the next Los Angeles, mostly due to former Angelinos moving up there. It’s still green and progressive but, especially downtown fairly commercial. If you want to see what it should look like…go to Portland. It hasn’t been “discovered” yet.
Hi Chris – remember me? I’m the college student who will probably be abroad in Cairo next semester. Anyway, I just wanted to add a couple of things to this mix…from what I hear, some of the best things about Egypt are wandering around aimlessly (but carefully, so that one does not become roadkill) and also visiting the Coptic district. But I definitely take in heed your recommendations; I hope to spend a full three days investigating Petra. And I may even try to go to Lebanon while I’m there. Where would you suggest I go if I do?
Chris, I’ll agree with you on Niagara Falls. Interesting, but after the first few minutes, you’ve seen it, and as you and other commentators mentioned, it’s just dodging the tourist traps after that.
A place that I found very overrated was Hollywood. That’s partly because I’m not very impressed by show biz and celebrities. But beyond that, I found it to be kind of dingy and not really very interesting at all. There aren’t really that many things to see. It’s definitely a place I don’t feel a need to return to any time soon.
Although I haven’t spend much time in Singapore, my initial impression matches yours. I connected there recently on the way to Penang, Malaysia. Penang is a fascinating place to visit. There’s a lot of nice scenery and beaches, and it has an intriguing mix of cultures between native Malay, ethnic Chinese, and ethnic Indian.
@Ken – I think what you say on Indian reservations is generally true (though I don’t have first hand knowledge of it). I do know of one tribe that has really done great things for tribal members in the last ten years – the Coquille Indian tribe which runs the Mill Casino in Coos Bay, OR. They have a younger board that are all very business-minded, well-educated, and progressive thinking. They pay generously for college education for members of the tribe (and their children, regardless of where they live), and have made significant investments in their own infrastructure. They bought timber land for example and have been sustainably harvesting trees for years, which is a smart business to be in on the South Coast. They’ve also been key to getting a premier golf site who’s closest rivals are in Scotland established on the South Coast of Oregon. At any rate, there’s one good example. 🙂
On Paris: I definitely agree. Our last big trip was Paris in February ($400 roundtrip from L.A.!), and although we are native Seattleites (which means rain is nothing that phases us), we actually loved Paris at that time of year. It rained a little and was bitterly cold on a few mornings (the wind from the river, in particular), but it was also sunny and pleasant on several other days. A good mix, and great museum weather, with nearly no lines to get into anything. Highly recommended time of year.
On overrated destinations: It pains me to say this because I LOVE New Zealand, but I would say Rotorua on the North Island was our least favorite (and most overrated) destination. We found everywhere else in New Zealand to be stunningly beautiful (positively life changing, actually), but Rotorua reminded us most of the bigger tourist towns you find here in the States. We also got that message from most of the locals we talked with as well – there are so many other locations in NZ that are much more worth a visit. On the North Island near Rotorua, our recommended alternative is the drive through Te Urewera National Park. It is phenomenally beautiful, rugged, and brings an element of adventure to a trip that you don’t get in a tourist town.
Another overrated city: Vienna!
I am from Austria and still I have to absolutely add Vienna to your list. It is basically a boring city, promoting its fame of yesterday. It’s expensive too.
The alternative: Prague! Way more beautiful and totally cheap!
I couldn’t agree with you more regarding Dubai.It’s Las Vegas meet Disneyland with a dash of Arabic culture 101. Safe to visit with plenty of shopping but lacking in soul stirring experiences. Everyone I met that lives there is counting down until they will leave. To add to your list, my visit to Kuwait was much worse and the 8 hrs I was stuck there seemed like an eternity. The whole Middle East is at the absolute bottom of my travel list for now.
Excellent list! I wholeheartedly agree about Dublin (I lived there for 4 years and I’m Irish) – it’s expensive and does not have anything particularly special in it. You can have an amazing time, but that’s just because it’s a big city with lots of things happening and depends on your attitude, like every other city in the world.
The Irish countryside and other cities/towns are so much better with heaps of unique culture. Two months ago I went to a small village in Donegal to immerse myself in Irish culture. That’s the side of Ireland I wish visitors got to see and not just satisfying their stereotype of seeing drunk Irish people in the Temple Bar part of Dublin… I feel the same as you also about Paris, London, Rome and most European capitals; especially in the summer.
After you travel a while you become jaded to the hype that people build up on these places, but I’m glad to say that I keep getting pleasantly surprised. I’m living in Buenos Aires at the moment and was very cynical about liking tango, since going to lessons is the “typical” thing tourists do here. But the first time I saw it I was amazed and did in fact sign up to learn more. And I finally got to see the Golden Gate Bridge just over a month ago. I walked half way along it and had it all to myself for a few minutes. Off-season, without thousands of cameras flashing around you really is the time to appreciate typical tourist “traps”.
If someone is going away for a weekend then maybe Paris, Niagara Falls etc. is just what they need. More seasoned travellers aren’t in it for the Kodak moments and being able to tick things off their lists… I’m happier to say that I’ve avoided “must-see” things despite being close by, because I knew it wasn’t for me, whereas most people would have gone just to say they’ve been. Different strokes for different folks I guess…
Hey guys, just checking in. Wow, lots of comments! I can’t respond to all, but feel free to talk among yourselves as they say.
Yes, I remember you. I’m sure you’re going to have a great time in Egypt, Jordan, et al. I loved Beirut, just be sure to check the current safety conditions before heading that way.
That’s interesting; I really like Vienna. Of course, it’s all about perspective, and I’ve only visited, not lived there like you.
American Indian Gambling – yeah, I think some tribes/nations are probably better than others in terms of where the money goes. I’m not really a gambler of any kind, so I’m not necessarily endorsing that practice.
I definitely agree that downtown Seattle is not that exciting. I like living here, but in two years I’ve probably been downtown about 10 times total, almost always to do something specific. I like the neighborhoods better… and yes, Portland is great.
In my experience I’ve found it’s not so much the place itself that is over-rated but your personal experiences whilst there. Climbing down into the Pyramids was an incredble experience but the constant call of ‘Backsheesh Backsheesh’ really began to wear thin after a few weeks of travel and Egypt as a destination I wouldn’t rush back too. Likewise if you get Delhi belly, ripped off or just meet obnoxious other travellers it can have a negative impact and colour your thoughts on a particular city or country. On the flip side, I’ve visited some deadly boring place which would never rate a mention in a guide book but after meeting friendly locals or simply the sun shining I might go home absolutely loving the place. At the end of the day just go travel and make your own mind up!
I’ve been to some of these. Here are my reactions.
Grand Canyon – hey, I liked the Grand Canyon. I went on a three-day backpacking trip down and up it with a big group of friends. It was scary to hope I could carry that much weight, but it worked out.
Sedona – well, score. I love Sedona. Deep red dirt and beautiful trees. Also, it’s fun to say Sedona, Arizona.
Paris and London in the fall – definitely good. Sure, it’s chilly and overcast. But still awesome and the prices and crowds are better.
Las Vegas – I liked it, but I didn’t gamble. I liked just walking around looking at the crazy buildings. These guys have way too much money and they spend it in crazy, amusing ways. Fake Eiffel Tower. Fake volcano, erupting every hour. Gigantic fountains. Indoor canal with gondolas. Fun simulation rides. Awesome affordable food (check out the Bellagio buffet – I never knew you could make fruit sauce from just fruit!) But even if you like all that stuff, I might recommend Disney World as an alternative. It’s more humid but less smoky and less depressing.
I couldn’t disagree more about the Grand Canyon! Took a 3 day hike down to the Colorado River with my folks after college and hope to go back with my kids when they’re a bit older!! Absolutely incredible!
Santa Fe is another great place to visit. You gotta have Huevos Rancheros for breakfast at Cafe Pasqual’s on Don Gaspar Ave. Very romantic destination and extremely “quaint” downtown area.
I have not lived there either, but I’ve been there a couple of times. I live in Tirol. That’s what you are supposed to visit when you come to Austria ;-). The Viennese are strange people. Very nice to tourists (€€€), but totally stuck up when it comes to other Austrians. I have met a lot of guys from all over the country, but NOBODY actually likes Vienna. I don’t know, maybe it’s just prejudice.
Anyway, even If you happen to like Vienna, you should go to Prague! Such a lovely city. And you can get a beer (0.5l) there for 0.70€!
Well, if you can afford it, visit Dubai and Niagara Falls, London, Rome, Paris, the Caribbean….
Than if you want to be more like Chris go and visit someplace exotic, from Eastern Europe through Russia, it’s all good.
My last days I’ve been in Quebec, Canada than a small stop in London and finally in Eastern Europe. My head is literally going to explode with all the differences in the small time frame, and as I’ve been used to all those places, it’s still a shock to see how differently people eat, drink, dress, talk, what they watch, what they love….
I imagine what it would be like for a regular guy in USA to visit for example my all time favorite Russia….uber shock!
Anyway, back to the point, if you can afford it, yeah, go visit all those places, maybe that’s what excites you, the London Bridge, Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, so that in your head you have check marks on all the ‘good places’ around the world.
But try checking out smaller countries, smaller cities in big countries, go somewhere far, where you’re friends will tell you you’re nuts – and probably, that you will get shot when you get off the plane. Maybe you won’t like it. Maybe you love the cleanliness and the comfort zone of the places mentioned above (just like home), maybe you won’t stand the local cuisine, the way people talk and smell, but maybe you’ll love it. Everybody has it’s own views.
This post is more like, not where to go, but where to go as an alternative. If you want to be remarkable, don’t be boring, don’t go where everybody else goes. That’s the main thing.
It’s your choice after all.
Let me tell you why I enjoyed a few of your not-so-great destinations. I don’t realy disagree with you. To get the most out of travel I like to study the history a bit first. Niagra Falls has a history of tightrope walkers and barrel daredevils. I stand in the park just a few feet away from the water crashing over the edge and marvel at the power. I also proposed to my wife of 51 years there so am a little biased. Yes, there are many impressive waterfalls around.
The Grand Canyon. My wife, I and our cat camped there just after I got out of the AF in 1960. You have to hike down the trail or raft through it to really appreciate the size and beauty.
Las Vegas or lost wages. I live here and if your smart you won’t gamble. The water show and gardens at the Bellagio are worth seeing. They change the flower show about four times a year. It is also very impressive as you fly in at night and see all the lights as you come over the last mt. range.
Arabia. Lived there two years in the fifties. Had a time as a teenager but wouldn’t want to visit again. Hot, dirty and now the people don’t like us. Oh, the good old days.
The Polynesian Culter Center in Leiea, Hawaii is a great look at the island cultures.
haha, Singapore is manufactured tourism. The notable attraction will be the zoo and thats about it. Most people take 1 day in Singapore and then a budget flight to another South East Asian country. Bangkok is nearby and budget flights are cheap.
BTW: I linked and geo tagged your blog post from my website.
@ Chris: Thanks! Yes, I do anticipate some careful but spontaneous travel…
Wow – I had no idea that Dublin or Prague would be so neat. But I’ve always wanted to visit Prague, especially after hearing so much about the defenestration of Prague in world history classes, years ago. I’ll have to add those to my “must see” list.
Furthermore, I wholeheartedly agree with Niagara Falls being overrated. It’s a tourist trap, not all that interesting, and culturally lacking. I’m from a city that is within close driving distance to Niagara Falls, so I went multiple times both as a kid and now as a college student. I think the only people it might be fun for are college students under 21 who want to drink legally. However, I would definitely recommend Quebec, specifically Montreal, for an inexpensive yet culturally exquisite city.
Montreal has phenomenal restaurants, events, sights, historical monuments, and nightlife. I went for almost a week this past summer, shared a room with a friend, and paid roughly $275 (for the hotel) in that time. Definitely step outside the box, and even if you want a hotel versus a hostel, you can find something genuine and inexpensive. For example, don’t go to Vieux Montreal to stay; this is a very touristy area. We stayed in le Quartier Latin, which was close to shopping, bars, the metro stations, and cafes. (As well as actual residents of Montreal.) I would take the time to go to Montreal over Niagara Falls because it is both fairly inexpensive (excluding food – have a sizable food budget and splurge a little) and much more interesting culturally. It’s easy to stay on one street in Montreal for a week and still not see its entirety.
I haven’t been to Victoria Falls, but Foz do Iguacu on the border between Argentina and Brazil is a very worthy alternative to Niagara Falls.
Have you been to Kenya? i swear you wouldn’t be disappointed.
I loved Singapore – it’s the mix of different cultures there that is interesting and I didn’t find it at all sterile. I also took the bus over to Johore Bahru – worth doing while in Singapore. I love Rome too but those three cities are probably best visited in May or June rather than July and August. Grew up in London and been to Paris too. Not been to any of the other places on your list. Currently writing from Hong Kong ending our trip to China, including Tianjin and Beijing. Be prepared for huge numbers of Chinese tourists at the Forbidden City and Great Wall and other Beijing sites to a lesser degree. Really crazy.
Hey Chris, I live in Dubai and i wouldnt agree more with your comments. As I read somewhere about Dubai -‘you scratch the surface and you find sand…” The city has no soul ,-its only about demolishing the old and building tall shiny glass edifices with competing egos!
Just want to add some very classy destinations and I suggest all of you who have not been there, do it now before the euro scalds your wallets- Prague and Cesky Krumlov in the Czech republic and Krakow in Poland. You will be shocked at the value for money and the competitive edge they hold against all other western European cities.
And Chris, just want to take the opportunity to thank you for such a wonderful website for us travel buffs. I myself have travelled to a lot of places but not as much as you…I enjoy reading your views.
Oh, I just have to add the leaning tower of Pisa… probably the most disappointing thing I’ve seen. it’s so much smaller than you think and it doesn’t give the impression of ever having been used for anything besides tourism. It’s the ultimate tourist trap.
However, i did enjoy the walk through Pisa, there were a lot of nice shops and it’s a really charming little town.
I’d say Goa, even though I originally hail from there…tourist traps are all around and from the months of November to January (and especially on New Year’s eve) everything is crowded, filthy and overpriced in stark contrast to the idyllic, pristine and economical holiday that brochures and eager agents promise.
I have to agree with Dublin. I was glad to visit there once, but once was enough. I was back in Dun Laoghaire this summer and found that whole coastal area to be amazing – Howth, Dalkey, Bray and the Clifs of Moher are awesome too. I like Ireland, Dublin just isn’t all that appealing.
Differing opinions are so interesting. I am the exact opposite of Will. Vienna is my favorite city in the world so far. Went to Prague this summer and while beautiful, I was turned off by the intense touristy feel. Most places have this, but it was just overwhelming to me in Prague.
Another alternative for your Niagra Falls is Foz do Iguazu in Argentina – beautiful. Foz do Iguacu in Brazil is pretty, but the Argentina side blows it away in my opinion.
Hi Chris, I am Malaysian and glad that you recommended my country. I heartily recommend East Malaysia to travellers (near Borneo), to climb one of SE Asia highest mount peak, Mt. Kinabalu and diving in Sipadan one of the best in the world from reviews. BTW, Singapore and Malaysia was one country before it split in the 1960s…
Interntionally stirring the pot, Chris?
@Vicky – what?
” If you enjoy vacationing at lush resorts where you don’t have to interact with the locals except as servants, Fiji is the place for you.”
You obviously went to the wrong places and didn’t do any social networking before you went. Sure, Fiji is run by a crappy dictatorship and the economy sucks, but the people are warm, caring and it’s ridiculously easy to avoid commercialism. I spent three days in a resort (for a wedding) and 10 days in wooden huts, people’s houses and the beaches.
Western Samoa is also great, but don’t write off Fiji on the basis of resorts. (I’ve never been to Tonga. Next year, I hope.)
Great list and comments! I am glad I avoided most of them (yet)!
My recommendations: Berlin from June to August, and Lebanon from September to May! (Hurry up since there are enough dickheads at work who like to screw it up again…)
Any NFL football game is overrated. Go to a college game. Yes, the players are smaller. Yes, the game is slower. But try any college with a fervent fan base and you will not believe the energy! I’d suggest Oregon, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Florida, or my favorite Hokies (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, especially on a Thursday night!! My one caveat is to avoid places where the fans are less than classy, downright abusive or even violent. (West Virginia, Pittsburg, Miami and Boston College I’m talking to you!)
I totally agree what you have said about dubai!
they have just lost all their culture in the strive for the best!
its sad actually, to see how much powerful people think they are when they possess money, but in reality, i think, its experience and culture which shapes you up to be either powerful or not! Experience is something that the nationals of the U.A.E dont know anything about, taken into consideration that their country has only been here for half a century. But i’d also like to add that most nationals are nice to foreigners, and they open new ideas with open arms.
You asked if we have any places we can recommend, and i do recommend to anyone who sees this comment to travel to Iran. it is one of the most ancient countries and therefor civilizations! the people there are nice and there are a lot of things to do and to see! the weather is nice throughout the year and the sport resorts are really one of a kind.
I’m from Singapore and let me tell you something. In many areas, it is manicured. We are a city that prides itself on a high standard of living for our people. However, despite Singapore all about being cosmopolitan and modern on the surface, Singapore also has great culture to discover which many travelers and expats, sadly, never seem to tap into. Go to Geylang Serai, Little India, Pulau Ubin, Tanjong Katong……..then you will have reallly discovered Singapore. =)
I agree with you on Niagara Falls. I’ve been there several times, and its pleasant, but I couldn’t spend more than 2 days there. I’d much rather be in exciting Toronto or Montreal. Same goes for the Grand Canyon……and Dubai…….
ok Cairo is really bad, actually unbelievably bad and a nightmare. Luxor and Aswan on the other hand are very rewarding, and pick your timing right won’t be flooded with tourists like Giza. Regarding the middle east, Beirut should be a must see for all, gorgeus city, architecture and truely buzzing nightlife….. Then there’s Kuwait ( think of a dustbox and a super expensive and boring city). Completely agree with you on Singapore, very sanitized… A fake beach at sentosa… Next! Go to kuala lumpur, and you will feel the pulse of an eclectic and vibrant Asian culture fused between Malay, Indian, Chinese and the west…. Avoid Penang like the plague though. I’m amazed nobody mentioned Denmark, I hated every minute of it, then went to Berlin for a week and had one of the best times of my life, great history , art, nghtlife
This could very well shock some people; my vote goes for the treks to Macchu Pichu. Overcrowded, dirty, and (in the majority of cases) exploitative of the native population.
I can’t truthfully speak to the Inca Trail itself because I hiked the Salkantay , but if I could do it again, I would take the train to Aguas Calientes (the village at the base of Macchu Pichu) from Cuzco, and save my time (and money) by hiking in Bolivia instead. But that’s just my two cents.
Perth and Western Australia are way overrated. Its too hot in the summer, too many flies, endless suburbs, endless traffic of SUVs and unless you are into windsurfing there is nothing to do!
First-time visitor : thanks for a very informative website!
Visited San Jose, CA once, a while back : Rosicrucian
Park is the only attraction worth visiting ! Not under/overrated
just for computer nerds only !
Niagara definitely ruined by commercialism. I first went there in 1993 and it was great and then again in 2003 – terrible. But, I would still tell people to visit except only on the Canadian side for the best view and you must do the “Maid of the Mist’ cruise.
I have travelled extensively and unless absolutely necessary always travel in the off season – usually winter, cheaper flights, cheap accommodation and NO crowds.
I guess the only place I have been so far and would not bother again would be Naples, especially in summer but also because it is polluted and dirty-if you want to visit Pompei just bypass Naples.
Loved only certain parts of Ireland just found that it is lacking it’s ‘Irishness’ now that it has been inundated by thousands from other EU countries, even in pubs it was hard to find the genuine Irish.
In terms of places to visit – I’d like to suggest Edinburgh, Scotland and the west coast. Scottish weather is undoubtably crap, and the summer is notorious for midgies (the mosquitos cousin) but there are some really beautiful sights to see. Edinburgh boasts a wide variety of things to do from simply walking around and taking in the beautiful architecture to taking tours of the cities underground haunts. During the month of August, you can enjoy the many sights and sounds of the Edinburgh festival – there is always something to do. Just keep your fingers crossed that it’s not cold or raining!
The Scottish west coast is simply beautiful. Even when wet and miserable, you are able to marvel at the spectacular scenery. If you have the time, continue north past the Isle of Skye and enjoy the breath taking scenery that the highlands have to offer. Again, the only off putting thing is the weather!
Another beautiful and often never mentioned country is Belize in Central America. Belize is covered with a lush rainforest and there is plenty for visitors to the country to do. If you look at local news reports, you will see articles on gang violence etc, but this is largely confined to Belize City, which is merely a stop over place for most people. It’s the place you land, where you catch a flight to the Cayes, a bus south or a boat. There’s little to do in the city, but it can be fun. As with many places, think before you do anything and don’t walk around after dark and you will be fine. I lived here for two years and had mostly good times, I would strongly recommend a visit! Chris – when you plan on visiting, let me know! I’d be happy to recommend places to stay and visit.
You will have a different view of the amazing grand canyon if you visit it like I did via an 8 day rafting trip of 500 kms. The food the guides and the scenery make it one of the most interesting trip I ever made for the money. The problem is that the park service will only allow so many visitors and you will have to reserve you place one or two years ahead.
Also the copper canyon in Mexico as on par if you take the train ride.
I agree on Niagara Falls. I mean they are nice, but both times I’ve had some other reason for being in the area.
The Grand Canyon is great…the hike to Phantom is more of a “work” type trip, though. Havasupai is waaay more relaxing with the various falls, plus it’s a substantially shorter hike. Supai village tops off the whole experience…my first memories of regularly drinking Cherry Coke–along w/ microwave burritos in like ’88 or ’89.
We found Galway to be much more enjoyable than Dublin. The West of Ireland, of course, has plenty to see, but Galway was sweet. We were there right before Christmas in the pedestrian-only area, which was full of last-minute shoppers, buskers, and energy. Overall just great for experiencing the culture.
Personally, I think Prague is over-rated. It certainly wasn’t bad, I just enjoyed Budapest quite a bit more. The “cavern” below Buda is touristy, but freaky and worth a look.
London for New Year’s is DEFINITELY nothing special. There is literally nothing except crowd control and a weak radio-station broadcast going on until pretty much 12:00AM. Not that I had heard it was particularly great; it was just where we could afford for the time. [not yet a ninja; still a travel brown-belt…]
Istanbul is FANTASTIC. Biking on Buyukada (or any of the Princes’ Islands) is awesome. Taksim Square is nothing special, though…
you are absolutely right about Singapore and Malaysia!
Hi, nice list. I just discovered your site and it seems nice. I’ve visited around 45 countries (also for little money) so here is my take on the overrated places, and alternatives:
1- Prague. What a let down. Not that nice, too expensive and filled with tourist like you wouldn’t believe. Alternative: Budapest.
2- Venice. It just sucks, don’t go there, this is just a rip off. Go anywhere ELSE in Italy: Cinque Terre, or Sardinia, or Sicily (Taormina was particularly nice).
3- Dubrovnik, Croatia. Again, not as nice as the LP would let you believe. Croatia in general seems overrated, with disappointing food and relatively high cost of living (compared to what I expected at least – this is no cheap country). The Plitvice national park was the only really nice place. Alternative: Slovenia. Wow, I didn’t know this country existed and had a real blast going to visit the caves, doing some canyonning and enjoying a day at the thermal baths.
4- Ko Tao, Thailand. Despite what you read, this is a terrible place to go diving.. unless you have never dove. You see more student divers than fish.. Alternative: The Gili islands in Indonesia. Less crowded, still a lot of fun and a place to relax and see nice wild life.
That’s it for now.
I can’t stand Disneyworld. You spend $90 a day to wait in line to ride 4-5 rides, and endlessly be bombarded by overpriced merchandise to buy, with a parental guilt trip attached if you don’t.
I prefer regional amusement parks, such as Holiday World in Indiana. Much less costly, there are more rides that can be ridden with more frequency, and free beverages are offered throughout the park.
Grand Canyon: Go into the canyon, or stick with the north rim to get slightly away from the crowds. Sedona rocks for a spiritual retreat and Zion national park in Utah is much better.
Indian Gaming: Based on travels in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, they need all the help they can get. Hopefully they’re getting it — but is Vegas any better of a place for your gambling dollars?
What’s wrong with Koh Tao? I don’t know about the scuba diving but it looked like paradise to me!
The Taj Mahal was a lot smaller than I thought it would be.
Genevieve beat me to it, but I’ll say it anyway:
The reason you were so underwhelmed with the Grand Canyon was because you were on the wrong rim. The north rim is much less crowded and much, much less commercialized, probably because it’s a lot harder to get to than the South Rim. I also think it has much more impressive scenery, because the North Rim is cut more deeply. This lets you get out onto fins where you are surrounded on three sides by the canyon. In addition, the South Rim is surrounded by a fairly flat deserts, whereas the North Rim is in a pine forest, and is much cooler than the South Rim. (I admit I’m a forest girl, not a desert rat). The only thing I think would be better on the South Rim would be hiking into the canyon. On the North Rim you are in scrub or forest for at least as much of the hike as I did, whereas it looks like you are hanging off the side of the canyon when you hike down the South Rim.
I’ll also second Zion as a destination. In addition to being a bit more intimate than Zion, you start at the bottom of the canyon, rather than the top. This means that most of the hikes start by going uphill so when you get tired and are ready to turn around, it’s all downhill!
Another option in this area that is far less crowded than the Grand Canyon is Lake Powell. To really appreciate Lake Powell, you have to get a boat and tour it. 99% of the area is only reachable by boat or foot.
Sedona over the Grand Canyon? Are you kidding me? Sedona does have one set of photogenic red rocks, and the rest is a crowded tourist trap. I’ll second what Zyada said. Definitely go to the North Rim, although there are fewer points and they are way farther apart. It’s also not open all year because of snow. But both rims are truly amazing. I don’t let crowds spoil my enjoyment, and could go to the Grand Canyon an unlimited number of times. It’s always different, always thrilling, always hikable.
I’ve lived in the Vegas area for over 30 years. It just depends on what you expect. A friend came to spend a week last fall, and we didn’t do half of what there is to see here. And we didn’t set foot on the Strip once. Try Red Rock Canyon next time you’re here, or push on to Death Valley, another place I’ll never tire of.
Overrated? Disneyland. Fun once; after that, yawn.
I agree with you on several of these “overrated” travel destinations. Victoria Falls aka The Smoke that Thunders by her people is phenomenal! Lush and amazing!
The travel message is get off the beaten path and take the risk to explore what is surrounding the popular tourist site. I have found that to be true for every major destination I have traveled toward. After awhile traveling off the beaten path becomes the plan rather than the known site.
Anyway, great information you have shared here.
Pisa for Pisa alone. Sure the tower leans, and the buildings around it a pretty but it gets old pretty fast and there doesn’t seem much else to do in the area.
Go to Venice instead. The views are 10 times as stunning and there’s more to do.
Niagra falls is great for a half day or day. It’s really very spectacular, especially if you take the hike under the falls. I think it made it’s mark as a honeymoon spot because you can see everything worth seeing in under a day and then spend the rest of the time doing, um, something else. Still, I’ve been several times and I don’t think it’s a disappointment. It’s just there’s not much more in the area.
I love the falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica more, because the water’s warmer and the beach at the bottom is wonderful, but it’s still only an afternoon’s entertainment. Even the falls in Yosemite don’t admit much more than a few hours occupation. That’s just the nature of water falls.
The Grand Canyon, well, that’s much bigger. I agree with some of the other commenters that it has to be explored in earnest to really yield rewards. Raft through it, hike down it, etc. It’s not so much for the feint of heart, you really need to commit to it.
I have to disagree with the Grand Canyon and its Sedona counterpoint. I think Sedona is FAR more overrated than the Grand Canyon. I have been plotting for years to do a through hike of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim. If you are just going to drive to the main parking lot and look over the edge, yes the Grand Canyon will be disappointing. But if you are willing to go even a mile away from heavily trafficked areas (it’s a big canyon after all, this isn’t that hard) the experience will be completely different.
I hate hate hated ATHENS. O my gosh, not only did I get my wallet stolen from me on the subway *There was a protest in Syntagma Square where all the buses are to the airport, and I had to find my way back to the airport using the subways that were undergoing construction and only took you a bit outside of the city where you have to hop on another bus, basically pickpocketer paradise!* Athens is gross, polluted, and just sucked. And this might be too negative for words…but the Acropolis…I wasn’t that impressed. It had scaffolding on the Parthenon for renovation and with the herds of people, I was just kind of bored.
Alternative: Visit Delphi, they have great ruins, or if you want a truly Greek experience, visit an island (just not aegina, it has too many cars zooming down narrow streets and men from bangladesh trying to sell you sunglasses)
IF your going to Italy, PLEASE go to Assisi. I didnt mean to go there, it just sort of happened, and its my favorite place in EUROPE. It’s a city in the clouds on top of a mountain, and below is this beautiful sprawling green valley dotted with Italian villages. The town is very peaceful and is home to St. Francis of Assisi. You have to see it…its called the City of Peace for a reason.
I’ll add my voice to people who do not think the Grand Canyon is over rated.
Two candidates I’d add in its place:
Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco — there are literally more Hooters waitresses than there are fishermen.
Stonehenge — Since I visited I think they’ve re-routed the highway so it goes underneath the stones. (When I went they were right next to the road). Still, I was expecting something grand and towering. Really, Stonehenge is just a few out-of-place rocks.
Interesting to read people’s responses. Something I didn’t see mentioned much was how traveling with other people changes how you see a place. Wouldn’t you say? A free spirit traveling alone, a couple traveling together, a family traveling together–all will have very different experiences of the same place.
The best Grand Canyon Alternative in my opinion is Bryce Canyon National Park Utah. I have been to hundreds of the National Parks and this is my second favorite, only to Yellowstone National Park.
You don’t even have to trust me on this, just google it up and see for yourself.
I lived in Egypt for 9 months back in the 80s, and grew up visiting family in Lebanon. I just came back from a short trip to Damascus, Syria, my first. Go to Damascus instead of Cairo. Unbelievable cultural riches and the vibe on the street last fall was so great – people were very polite and respectful. People were happy, not angry the way they are in Cairo.
YMMV and things shift politically, stuff gets hairy and then eases. Check the situation before you go. But Damascus was bustling with European tourists last October and everybody was having a great time. Plenty of Arabs too, naturally. Don’t miss the Ummayyad mosque, the old souks, Christian quarter and more.
Did anyone say anything about South East Asia??? I say Vietnam on the no list.
I know a shaman who leads pilgrimage through Egypt that seemed interesting till I read this post – however I have a friend who has been twice in 12 months so it can’t be that bad.
I enjoyed Vienna – I think I was a princess in a previous life.
Did anyone mention Turkey??? I LOVE Turkey.
Paris = love/hate. Love Paris not so much the Parisians. I have only been to Paris en route to other places or visiting people there 3-4 days is just about perfect for me and I have never been to the tourist destinations. It really is a romantic and beautiful place.
Pisa – is just funny.
Elba- is cool
Forte di Marmi – amazing.
My cousin has lived in Serbia, Malasia, Kenya …. she enjoyed all of these places very much – though she is in Paris now.
… I think my passport is whispering my name
A few things I’ve noticed in reading through discussions is that people have very high ‘expectations’ of places. Is it fair to say we don’t like somewhere because it didn’t live up to our expectations? Is it fair to say that someone in Dubai wasn’t ‘arab’ enough or we couldn’t find true ‘Irishness’ in Ireland? Did we consider that maybe our expectation was incorrect in the first place as opposed to the place being incorrect? Is travelling not about broadening the mind about our experiences and expectations? This isn’t intended to be a moan, just maybe a different view.
Some of the places I have seen I didn’t love, but felt they were worth seeing… e.g. Venice, Pisa, etc. I know to the seasoned traveller, this might be considered ‘ticking off the list’ but I think you have to do a bit of list ticking to get a feel for where you really want to go.
In relation to Venice, I felt it was definitely worth seeing once, yes it’s expensive, but yes, I’m sorry I didn’t go on a gondola trip even though it was $100 for a half hour (and I had been told by people who similarly didn’t take the trip and also regretted it). It’s a city with canals for streets – I got what I expected though I might not go back.
Italy in general – I was overwhelmed with the history….too overwhelmed. When you see one 14th century painting you think – wow, that’s pretty old, cool, etc….after a week of various gallerys in various cities, 14th century paintings are two a penny. But the gems from the trip were the Cinque Terra (far beyond my expectations), Lake Como (pretty but worryingly developed around it’s edges) and the Statue of David (much larger/more impressive than I expected). Add to that trip the opera festival in Verona – (am not an opera fan, but an outdoor arena performance of Turandot is probably the best ways to experience it for the first time).
We went to Pisa – yes you might think it’s cheesy but we were in the general area and said we’d be sorry if we didn’t see it. I thought it was just amazing that a flawed building is now a major tourist attraction… how many flawed buildings in every country are there which are just demolished. I’m glad I saw it; glad I spend 2 hours there and no longer. Like it for what it is but don’t expect too much.
One thing I’ve learned I like to do is to take the tour, or get the headset or book and be informed….you learn a lot more than just through wandering around a museum, if you hear the stories.
Budapest – fantastic experience because I went with a group of college friends to a friend who lived there and took us to the more unusual places…but we did the touristy things too. Also think it’s probably better as a winter city – sitting in an outdoor public spa in the snow is an uplifting experience!
Have never been to Paris but won’t go in summer. Milan is also dead in August…all the natives head for the lakes. Haven’t been to London since school but am planning a return trip some day to fully appreciate the features I missed last time. Am expecting it to be touristy but don’t feel I should avoid going to places I would like to see, just because other travellers will be there too.
Edinburgh – great city. Am from Ireland so weather wasn’t an issue for me…although it was colder than I expected. Night-time murder mystery tour recommended – it’s a bit touristy but you get the history behind the plague, etc in an eerie setting.
Grand Canyon – saw a sunset, lightening storm, camped overnight (didn’t hike), saw a sunrise….worth a short visit and spectacular at that time. Preferred it to Death Valley. LA – didn’t know what to expect, but didn’t spend much time there. Lived in Portland Oregon for 4 months. Loved it. I think living somewhere is different to travelling through….we made local friends, etc.
I expected Vegas to be tacky…but was overwhelmed by the luxury, wealth and general over the top-ness of everything – and loved it. Of course there was tackiness, and people have differing ideas about gambling, but if you take it just for what it is…and you confine it to just one location (i.e. don’t let Vegas’s spring up everywhere), it’s pretty wild. I work in town planning and so to be allowed to build the big, fake Eiffel towers and roller coasters, etc is pretty unusual to me, but I think people should be let have a playground somewhere…..Same comments go for Dubai – (I’ve never been, but expect it to be outrageous, not ‘typically’ arab).
Am planning Vienna this summer on return leg to Budapest for a wedding. Last time we said we’d like a trip on the Danube, so Vienna for two nights (not sure what to expect) and then a boat trip for a day.
Re Dublin – I don’t see why at this stage people still expect Dublin to be anything more than expensive, touristy, full of hen and stag nights….that’s what many of the books, blogs, etc, tell you. I’m from Ireland, not a big Dublin fan myself, but as with any city, if you know where to go you can avoid the ‘experiences’ you don’t want. I’m so glad someone mentioned Galway in their comments. I often compare Ireland to the US in that the west coast is more laid back than east coast. Galway is laid back – lots of students, buskers, culture, arts, etc….there isn’t as much of the hustle and bustle of business. I think it’s useful to visit a smaller city within a country as the rural tourist features are set up for tourists, whereas life still has to continue on in large towns/cities and you might get more of a feel of what ‘real life’ is like.
Notes on visiting Ireland:Come in May or September (weather might be better…but don’t quote me on that), don’t expect good weather and head west. Hire a car and go for a spin around Connemara or the Burren – great scenery. Expect lots of houses scattered around the countryside, some quite large, lots of cell phones, international bottled beer and lots of people of different nationalities. This is what the new irish/ireland is like. If you are looking for knitted jumpers, Guinness and quaint cottages….you will be disappointed.
Maybe we should have a list of places that were far beyond our expectations as opposed to didn’t live up to expectations….
Agree with most of these but especially Dubai – its a big building site with a few shopping centres and fake souks. But shh – please stop telling people about Oman. 🙂
I went to Niagara Falls back in the mid ’60’s – I took in the grand spectacle then watched a specific bit of water go over the top and followed it down as far as I could. I did this about 8 times then left and had a beer. I often wonder where those bits of water wound up.
I don’t need to do that again. Angel Falls would be a different story, but I would have to take my own beer.
Really interesting read and great reading everyone elses comments. It made me think about all the places I’ve seen/been – since I was about 17 I’ve been on the road one way or another – lived on 4 continents and worked or traveled in many countries.
Anyway – my personal view is that ( at least for me ) to simply go somewhere and “look” is often times boring or dissapointing – I’ve always found that unless you have a connection, a purpose or friends in a place the experience is mostly that of a disconnected voyeur in a sense. I’m not saying that there aren’t great stunning wonderful looking places and simply by looking you can be moved, feel good, learn something, because there are, but far too often these places have lost any allure they might have had with the endless touts, kiosks, busses ……..
Well none the less – I wish everyone happy trails none the less.
I agree that a visit to Niagara Falls can be brief. Then again, what’s wrong with a brief visit? If you want a treat, try visiting it in the winter. The crowds are down, and the water creates some spectacular effects as it falls and freezes on everything it touches. If you go around New Years, there is a festival of lights on the American side which is very nice.
If you want a spectacular natural wonder right here in the US, try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. It’s off the beaten path, not really close to any major airport, and that limits the crowds. Available tours run the gamut; about half of the great hall is wheelchair accessible, or you can book ahead for a guided tour on your hands and knees with a spelunking helmet. (There are plenty of opportunities in between, as well.) The ultimate tour is something the public will never be able to see: Lechuguilla cave, home of some of the most spectacular calcite formations scientists have ever seen. It is being kept off limits as the experts explore and do their research.
The only problem with Carlsbad Caverns is that it will spoil you for any other cave you will ever see. There is simply no comparison.
Most overrated place in U.S. is in my view Florida, especially Miami, Miami Beach. Could see the appeal for the first wave of retirees from New Jersey in the early 1960’s, but today? Sprawling, expensive and dangerous. Warm and water is pretty but beyond that–boring and stressful The sense of self-importance and the lack of any authenticity is amazing. Makes no sense at all…very overrated and for a brigth inquisitive sort a total waste of time.
Underrated? Lots of places in the U.S. that were not created as toursit meccas and did not have developers and government promoting the place as toursit destinations. A lot of rural west virginia is lovely–seneca falls, Canaan Valley, indeed Santa Fe and Sedona. Belgium gets a bad rap. South Australia, Adelaide and surrounds, great wine, food, and nature with really nice people. For the adventureous, Papua New Guinea is great especially the highlands. Also, Buenos Aires–it has such charm and great food and of late a lack of pretense.
Grand canyon is over-rated – in the fact that yes, it is GRAND. But once you see it, sure it’s a spectacular big huge canyon – but then what? would you want to keep going back? Not really.
Bit late in responding but just found the site. Agree with some and not others. I think the best falls are Iguazu Falls in Sth America though Victoria is certainly a good backup. Thought the Grand Canyon was spectacular and well worth a visit. The Utah Nat Parks are also special (esp Bryce and Zion). On other special places – African wildlife, African gorillas, Lofoten Islands (Norway), Tuscany, European Alps, Slovenia, rural France, Antarctica, west Scotland, small towns in Bavaria, Machu Picchu, Amazon and many others. Let’s face it – the world is a great place.
London is ENORMOUSLY overrated. AND Enormously overpriced. You should consider adding it to the list. Otherwise fairly good. I have been to and agree with you on GC, Dubai, Niagara, and Vegas.
These places maybe overrated but aren’t you glad that you did manage to visit them at least once. I haven’t been to as many places as you and I did think that Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon were over hyped but I am glad that I have seen them.
I’m from New Zealand and I am currently working in New York. Personally I think NY is a little overated. I know this will cause a lot of negative feedback.
I love Canada in general and will be travelling to London and Paris for the first at the end of this year.
I generally agree with your list except for one: The Grand Canyon. As I travel more and more, I am generally becoming jaded with cities. I have been living in Manhattan for the last 6-7 years and most large cities have similar attractions such as museums, a nice oasis of a park, bars, restaurants, night-time entertainment etc. Sure, they may have something spectacular, but I find it difficult to justify a trip to a city just for that. As far as cities go, my favorite remains Rome – which is in an essence a ‘city-museum’.
I understand what you mean when you include Niagara Falls on the list. I think the problem is not with the falls itself, but with what they have done with the process of commercialization around the falls – the whole process feels synthetic, and you never really get the feeling that you are going to seeing some natural or awesome wonder.
Now the Grand Canyon is a totally different matter – when you see this marvel that has been created over millnenia by the forces of nature, you realise how trivial you are in the bigger plans of this universe. I think, on account of the Grand Canyon, you have it absolutely wrong.
And my favorite part of traveling these days? Reaching a big city, renting a car, and driving out in to the country. Bon voyage!
Just found this site today, I’ve got nothing but great things to say Chris! Congratulations on all your success, and accomplishing your goals. Very inspiring!
I live in Toronto, and definitely agree on the Niagara Falls comments……my most overrated place is Sydney Australia. It was nice, cool to see the Opera House and sit in Darling Harbour, but I would have to think that the rest of Australia is much more interesting, so I have to go back. I spent a couple of days in Melbourne, which I found to be much more enjoyable than Sydney…..
I am Irish and agree about Dublin, it is a very expensive city and while there are some great attractions, don’t spend your holiday in Ireland just in Dublin. Visitors should definitely check out west Cork, Kerry, cillfs of moher and Galway to see the real beauty of Ireland.
Vegas – I’m sorry but it is better than I could ever have dreamed!
I hate to say it but the Acropolis sucks. I took a school tour there once. Drove all the way from Ireland in a minibus i.e. a very long way. It was like a building site. It was more a monument to scaffolding.
Best I’d say was the Golden Gate bridge. I spend a summer in San Francisco and never tired of it.
Spot on about Dublin. Excellent city, but for an even better time get off the plane at any other airport and go anywhere. I dare you not to have a better time and see more interesting stuff.
I agree and disagree about the Grand Canyon. I have seen the Canyon from two perspectives: looking down/across, and looking up from the river. I have to say that driving into the park just to look out over the canyon is just okay. However, I spent 8 days rafting through the Grand Canyon and it was incredible!!! I would definitely include that as one of your alternatives. I went on that trip 3 years ago, and can’t wait to do it again. If you do decide to raft the Grand Canyon, go with Hatch River Expeditions. They are awesome!
This is great! The majority of your overrated destinations are some of my dad’s all time favorites. I’ve had them drilled into my brain since I was an infant. Since I’ve been to most of them, I’ve developed my own impressions.
Here’s one that I think is overrated . . . Pompei. Why? Mangy dogs, their crap, and cigarette butts everywhere! Even though it’s this amazing history site, it really seemed like no one cared. With all the garbage laying around, it’s was like being at a street carnival after everyone had left. Very sad.
i’m at work now at 14.00 in dubai & from here i can see the Palm Deira ( u may have heard of it, the islands) coming up as well as the airport and it looks absolutely breathtaking, with the coral blue sky and the arabian gulf in the horizen.
On some clear mornings i can actully see the HAZZAR MOUNTAINS in the distance from here which is actully in a different emirate.
Dubai is a manicured beautiful young city, there’s always something to do out here.
why do people compare cities, every city has its own uniqueness and so is Dubai.
Of course we do have the construction happening, but its an amazing city and i absolutely love it…
The Grand Canyon is SO OVERRATED. There’s a Canyon called ‘Colca’ in Peru that is three times the size of the ‘Grand’ Canyon and it doesn’t even appear on travel books.
The Grand Canyon blew me away. And a big vote here for the Giant’s Causeway in northern Ireland.
My votes are for Washington, DC, and anywhere in Florida. On the underrated side, I vote for western North Carolina: the Blue Ridge Mountains and Asheville.
It’s too bad Chris from Germany didn’t like Auckland. I live here and love it – there are amazing things going on in the city and amazing places to visit close to the city, too. It ain’t Sydney or Melbourne but it’s great.
What I’ve found in my travels is the experience of where you are can be affected by how you are feeling at the time. I’ve been bored shitless in NYC and I’ve been partied out in Mildura, Aus.
It’s funny the number of people who express disappointment that their experience is not up to the pictures – the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, the Mona Lisa. Small can be beautiful.
New Zealand is definately one of the best places to visit. Sure Auckland is over-rated and ‘just any other city’ as mentioned above, but the surrounding islands in the Hauraki Gulf – a half hour ferry ride away – are so completely different its like another world.
Rotorua has become over commercialised and far too ‘touristy’, and many would agree that Queenstown in the South Island is heading that way also. However, Rotorua is definately worth a stop in, simply to see the geothermal activity and the Maori culture, which has used it for centuries. Queenstown has to be the heart of adventure tourism in New Zealand. It is ‘the’ place to bungy jump, skydive, drink yourself senseless in a few bars and enjoy the amazing scenery and unspoilt beauty of the area.
But to see the real New Zealand, you need to visit the small towns. Places like Glenorchy (where Lord of the Rings and the Wolverine movie were filmed in part), Doubtful Sound, Cape Reinga, the East Cape, and the South Islands West Coast (a world heritage area) are where you will meet real New Zealanders, those who will take you in; bombard you with hospitality, local stories and tales; and probably take you down to the pub to show you off to their mates. They will also likely be incredibly interested in you, your home, and what made you decide to visit the end of the world… Small town New Zealanders are intensely proud of their lifestyles and their country. They will likely take you out fishing, or down to the best beach to gather seafood, or round to the best surf break, or swimming hole. They want to share it all with you, and ensure that you have the best possible time. It is SO worth the visit – and the American Dollar and other world currencys are pretty strong there at the moment so its affordable!
I think it has been said a bazillion times, but almost every place is what you make of it. The Canyons I would say maybe to hit the rapids. So I suppose that the doing rather than the seeing is what I like about various places. I think that taking a ‘yeah, it is pretty, but what can I actually DO here’ view on things when I travel is more in line with my way of travel. All of my travel was done for work (military) outside of the states, so my time was limited on what I could get into. Not trouble, mind you, but what kind of cultural experience or fun could I have at a reasonable rate of return?
So, while I agree that most of these places cater to a certain crowd, it is up to the individual to make the most of the experience within their own budget and time.
Dubai…ever ridden a camel? Heh, betcha didn’t, it is both fun and odd.
I thought the Grand Canyon was absolutely mind blowing! Maybe it makes a difference from where you view it. Or maybe some of us appreciate a bunch of rocks a lot more than others 🙂
Paris in the Summer is very special. Parking is free. Lots of Parisians have left so traffic is a breeze. You get to get places without having to calculate an extra hour on top of every moves. I used to love staying in Paris during the summer because of that fact. The city drops sand and creates beaches on the river banks. People stay up late at night ( 4-5 am) singing and dancing on the banks of the River Seine. The city has organized Djs with sound systems doing various styles of music ( from tango to hip , waltz to 50ies rock).They build volley ball court on the Parvis of city hall you get to play till 2 am a few steps away from Notre Dame. I could write down 5 pages of happening things in the summer in Paris. The beauty of the city and the energy will blow your mind. Kiss your wife in any place, at night in Paris under the sky and she will NEVER forget.
So YES you’re WRONG about Paris in the Summer.
A little education before you take a trip to the Grand Canyon on just what the Grand Canyon IS and how it came to be is helpful. I wouldn’t agree with its inclusion on your list. To me, it was the single most awe-inspiring place I have ever visited. I stood and stared and stared and stared and felt a part of the Universe like I never had before. Pictures don’t do it justice. Seeing the enormity of the Grand Canyon, up close and personal, is – for me – is a spiritual experience (and I have no belief in religion at all). I can’t imagine feeling that a visit to that monument to the power of nature on our planet could possibly be overrated.
Great blog, by the way. Absolutely love it.
Thanks so much for adding so many great opinions to this discussion. Two quick points:
1) I think we’ve discussed the Grand Canyon enough – some people love it, some don’t, and as for me I’m kind of in between. Each opinion is valid, but let’s move on.
2) Remember that if you post about a place you don’t like, also provide an alternative that you do like.
Otherwise, feel free to keep commenting. You guys are fabulous.
I agree with Dubai on the list. After one or two days it becomes boring. You do your shopping – if any – ride a camel and that’s all! You can rent a house in Texas, load your backyard with sands, buy a camel, ride it, and look at tall buildings at a distance. The Arabic taste can be added with a handkerchief above your head!
Instead I may suggest Iran as an alternative. You can visit Tall-e Bakun where pottery works from 5000-4200 BC can be found and seen. Pasargadae and Persepolis are nice places as well. As a tourist trap I may warn about Kish Island in Persian Gulf!
only one vote for NYC? i am in..if you live around the tristate area..you will hear this a lot- “i hate going to the city”. 30 minute wait just to get in, horrible traffic (can be a nightmare for first timers with cars) cheesy touristy things at Times square (if you have space to walk), expensive..in short its simply overrated. good for one time visit- but everyday life in NYC is overrated. stay in jersey and visit only if you absolutely have to.
First, congratulations on the site, the experience and the generousity of sharing. As you said, it’s your opinion and that reflects your experience, so anyone trying to “prove” you wrong just need to have a different experience. I don’t know most of the places you mentioned but I’ll certainly take note of your experiences and try to do it different, or at least check my expectations, as you said.
I’d like to comment on the Europe destinations because it’s where I live. Summer beats Winter in many aspects you just need to adjust what to do. I agree that August is horrible in most big cities, but July is full of music festivals everywhere. Travel by train and bus and be flexible, if you head north it’s not that hot. And the Eastern Europe is also a good and cheaper alternative for the hot months. If you can, travel in Spring and Fall, although it may rain some places. Prices are ok and you can stay outside a lot. And the light is great for pictures. Another alternative for Niagara Falls is certainly Iguazu Falls in Brazil. It’s easy to say it’s overrated because it just one big waterfall. On the other hand, it’s probably cheaper if you need a coke and there are several outdoors activities in the park if you have time for it. But it’s also quite isolated and there’s not much to do after one day or two, so plan it as part of a bigger trip through Argentina and Brazil.
2 places I’d strongly recommend if it’s tropics you like:
1: Belize. Close. Inexpensive. “Safe”. Foreign yet with a strange Englishness to it (formerly British Honduras). Lots of great water, islands and diving to see, yet some good inland treks from caves to very remote jungle. Easy to get to from Houston, Dallas, Miami and it’s quick to pop around the place on local planes. Just be prepared for primitive landings. Great local beer (Belikin) and a mix of backpackers and middle class travelers.
2: Other extreme: French Polynesia. While everyone knows Bora Bora (and it IS gorgeous) all the Tahitians venture to the even more beautiful, laid back, less expensive and less traveled islands like Moorea and Huahina to “get away from it all” … friendly people, good food (French influenced) and stunningly stunningly beautiful countryside *and* water. The protected lagoon on the north (?) shore of Huahine one of the best, and least crowded, anywhere !! Direct flights from LA to Main island of Tahiti, then ferry to Moorea or direct flight to Huahine. Can’t say enough about these two (and I’ve been to 6 of their islands, most of the Hawaiian islands, many in Carib, Honduras and Belize etc etc)
I disagree about Paris-Rome-London. I’ve been three times to Paris, 2 times in May and one in November. Last time was dull. November in Paris is GREY. I’m going in London in a week and I’m a bit desperate to see how many things there are to see! I’m sure I won’t be disapointed. Rome was magic and Pompei is fascinating! But sure, you must be interested by History. But the most beautiful places in Italy were in the south (Côte amalfitaine, etc. sorry for the french). So my point : Summer is great.
But I could suggest somes places where you may be surprised :
I live in Quebec city, and I must say that for many points it’s better than Montreal. And if you want a fall, go to Montmorency’s falls.
If you wanna go further, go to the Gaspé Peninsula, especially in Forillon Park. You’re almost in Ireland 😉 About that, thanks for the suggestions, I’m going there too.
You are absolutely right about Dubai! Lived there for 9 months, and it is completely soulless! Barely an ounce of culture there. I left town every holiday that I had. Playground for the rich, basically just a big American financial centre in the middle of the desert, with lots of glitzy hotels. Okay, if you like architecture, it’s worth a visit. Otherwise, take your vacation money somewhere else. Don’t fall for all the splashy vacation package ads… Dubai’s the most overrated place I’ve been to.
The people who didn’t enjoy their visits to Niagara Falls all seem to have been completely unprepared for their trip to the area. The falls itself is pretty spectacular (at least when viewed from the Canadian side), but there is a limit to how much time one can spend looking at a spectacular falls. Unfortunately, those who’ve commented thus far seem to have had little idea of what to see in the area.
In fact, there’s much to see and do. Relative to the falls themselves, one should not miss the spectacular Maid of the Mist boat ride in the river below the cataract. Then, at Table Rock House, one can descend via a long elevator ride into the rock behind the falls, and come out underneath the cascading water of the Canadian Falls (the big one, which carries 96% of the water).
Just downriver there is the whirlpool, with the Spanish Aero Car offering a splendid view of same. Right next to this is the Niagara Glen, the area where the falls *used* to be some 20,000 years ago (it recedes slightly each year), and wander trails alongside the river, viewing the tunnels and other amazing rock formations that were carved out by the forces of the water.
Further downriver still are the Adam Beck power plant (a great visit for those interested in technology), the huge floral clock, and the picture-perfect little village of Niagara On The Lake, home to the world-renowned Shaw Festival, but a great destination in its own right.
For those of a historical bent, there’s Queenston Heights, Lundy’s Lane and Drummond Hill (where the British — in 1814 — stopped the Americans in their attempt to conquer that part of the country), and the home of Laura Secord (Canada’s approximate equivalent of Paul Revere).
And not ten miles from the falls is the majestic Welland ship canal, with ships from all over the world making their way around the falls on their way to and from the Great Lakes. The twin locks there are especially interesting, as ships move in both directions simultaneously, and you can stand as close as a tossed baseball to sailors from all over the world.
Finally, Niagara Falls in winter is another sight altogether.
There really is a lot to see, but if your curiosity never extends beyond wax museums, casinos, and other tourist-trivia, I can see where pretty much anywhere could be disappointing.
When you go to Ecuador, skip the Mitad Del Mundo and Guayaquil’s Malecon. Super overrated. The Galapogos are a little overrated but still pretty damn cool. For the money, though, I would stick to the mainland. Must do: hike in the Andes, stay in remote mountain hostels, bike in Banos through “avenue of the waterfalls,” take a motorized river canoe into the jungle, eat the trout and seafood, take the train ride from Riobamba, Dance in local clubs in friendly towns, surf and party in Montanitas and beach bum in Canoa. Quito is worth a run-through, especially the churches. If you like shopping and haggling, Otavalo is a fun tourist trap. All of that costs less than half of visiting the Galopogos. Nicest towns I visited are Bahia de Caraquez, Cuenca and Tena. (That covers the jungle, mountains and beach regions).
I would say that the one place that i have been to recently was Stonehenge… it was a lot smaller than i had ever thought it was going to be… although interesting, all the hype about it i thought was not worth it. I dont have another place that i would recommend… i really like the Eiffel Tower, its a beautiful place to just sit and enjoy some wine and hang out with people and really take in the french beauty and culture. ignore the people trying to sell you shinny cheap Eiffel towers and cheap champagne and its okay. i know Niagara falls has been discussed a lot, but i think it is a pretty neat place. i was in brazil and tried seeing Iguazu falls, but couldnt get a flight from Manaus because of the traffic of carnival… but i have heard it is stunning and amazing. i hope to go back and see the falls from all three countries it boarders. many people also seem to enjoy Tijuana, Mexico, but i believe it is a horribly overrated place just for people from the United States who are under the drinking age (21) and want to get waisted. It is a great time if that is your goal, but for anything other than that, i see no purpose. That is just my opinion though, and many of my friends love going to Tijuana. Dublin i believe is overrated also. The Guinness Factory was amazing, but it was really the highlight of the city.
Gilgit in northern Pakistan is amazing. I took my wife, toddler and infant on a two-day trek through mountains and glaciers to Nanga Parbat, the 8th highest mountain in the world just this past October. It was the most incredible journey I’ve been on. Highly recommended.
Going to Jordan instead of Egypt?? Seriously?? I am sorry but what Jordan has is close to nothing…. U can spend ages in Egypt without fully discovering its rich history!
Expectations can be the key!
I didn’t want to visit Las Vegas because I’m not into gambling, nightlife, crowds or cities … so when I had to pass through it my expectations were low. Ended up enjoying my brief stay – the tackiness and over-the-top nature of the place is entertaining in itself, also I enjoyed some of the best value and healthiest food of my whole US trip.
Same for the mojave desert. All I’d heard was that the area was a desolate wasteland people pass through to get somewhere else, so I didn’t expect much. Instead I was captivated by the joshua trees, the starkness, and the empty roads crossing remote basins and rugged ranges.
In both cases I think low expectations left me more receptive to the aspects I enjoyed. It’s harder to appreciate subtle charms if you’re expecting to be dazzled, and disappointed that you’re not.
I don’t like this list…It brings negativity to some pretty amazing places
I think Venice is massively overrated – it was once a very beautiful place, but has been totally and utterly ruined by tourism.
Now it’s just a tacky theme park.
Agreed on the hassles/let-down of visiting attractions like Niagara Falls, but if you’re the kind of person who gravitates towards these things then you get what you pay for. My business partner almost bought a hotel in Niagara for it’s unsurpassed kitsch value.
In general the rewards of travel anywhere are relative to your interests. Do your research, follow your passions, and wherever you go will be a great experience. Chase other people’s/tourist industries’ ideas and you’re bound to have a weak experience.
I love Dubai. I don’t think it’s over rated I just think people don’t appreciate it, like you said it’s a playground and as a playground it’s the new Cuba.
Some people come here to defend : “Oh no that is not overrated!” OK! So what?
Elodie thinks people do not “appreciate” Dubai! I’m sure those who love that semi-city appreciate it enough AND recommend it to their friends to enjoy the “playground” and spread some HIV around the planet.
The other side of the coin as I see is that it is compared to Cuba. Hey! Come on! Why should somebody appreciate a playground like – as he/she puts it – good ol’ Cuba? A country without social, economic, and political infrastructures and coming back to Dubai case without no history – the whole UAE is about 40 years old formerly known as Pirates Coast according to Times official maps around 1913.
I think the question is whether to spend the money in some playground or pack the shit to find something about world heritage?
PISA, in and out in 1 hr or less. Niagara Falls, USA side 30 mins, Canadian side 1 to 2 hours. The most exciting I’ve been in the last two years is Hanoi, 2nd to Saigon. I visited Paris Sept 08 and will go back again. Edinburgh this past Sept 08, 2 days at the most. The Highlands are beautiful if you like to drive. The Worst Rip OFF is the Lochness Cruise, All Hype, the make believe story of Lochness Monster, Don’t go. It’s the biggest tourist trap….terrible.
For people who are not American, Cuba is an excellent substitute for the The Bahamas. I’ve been to the south west part of the island twice and I love it. There are mountains, beaches and lots of little hamlets/villages to visit. The locals are very friendly and speak a lot of English. Bring some shoes, toothpaste, lipstick, etc… to give away. It is hard for Cubans to get everyday things.
Also, I would have to agree that Niagara Falls is very overrated.
Costa Rica seems to be a popular destination, and for good reasons: it’s easy to get to, easy to get around, organized and relatively inexpensive, great beaches, cloud forests, etc. If you do go, don’t miss Isla Tortuga.
Alternative: Guatemala. There are still indigenous peoples and culture, mind-blowing Maya sites (Tikal in the north, and Copan in Honduras near the border) great beaches on the Pacific, Antigua Guatemala City is a gem (with great language schools), beautiful lakes in the highlands, and underground rivers and lakes in extensive caves. It’s much more authentic than Costa Rica and less expensive too.
Thanks for the invitation to add a place that I think is not ever over-rated, but rather hugely under-rated. And where is that? you ask. It’s on the beautiful Adriatic Sea, the western shore. I am speaking of Illyria, as the Romans knew it, Croatia, its much less lyrical name today, but still a place of unlimited beauty. Take the Plitvice Lakes, cascading into one another, or Opatija, that elegant city on the Kvarner Bay, or Pula, another town on the Adriatic known for its Roman ruins such as the amphitheatre that still functions today in its original purpose as perhaps, the oldest living theatre in the world. Don’t miss the summer film festival held there every summer when the average temperature is 21.9 oC (and in winter 7 oC). Marco Polo was born on the Island of Korcula, one of the larger of 1,300+ islands of its incredible Archipilego that runs along it’s Istrian and Dalmation Coasts. Homer’s Odyseus is said to have wandered among those islands. And the people have a physical beauty that is surpassed only by their inner beauty. They are perhaps the most honest people in Europe. I know because I had an experience there with my wife that boggles the mind. We were on a train headed for Croatia from Vienna, Austria where we had indulged in a bit of a shopping spree. Unfortunately, when we got off the train still in Austria, we each thought the other was being responsible for taking our pckages off the train. When we realized our error, the train was just pulling out of the station. I went to the station master who told me we’d just have to wait until the next morning when the train would return. Naturally, I thought that was the last we would ever see of our purchases, for they were in unmarked bags exactly as we had bought them from the stores. But, imagine our surprise and gratefulness when they were all returned the next morning. That will go down in my book as the most unexpected show of honesty that I have ever experienced. Why are Croatians so honest? I don’t have the answer, but I expect it’s because of their upbringing. While there are large cities such as Zagreb where people don’t get to know their neighbors, the vast majority of Croatians are born in small villages where the old fashioned values of honesty, integrity and hospitality are still taught. There is a sweetness and an innocence about the Croatian character, coupled with the fact that Croatia has the greatest number of nude beaches of any country in the world. Go figure, but go to Croatia.
This time it was amusing to read about the 9 most overrated destinations. Like you, I love traveling and meeting different people and learning how they live and what they do.
I’m surprised that you have not mentioned Venice or Florence in Italy. There is so much to see and do in these two cities. Did you forget Norway and the fjords – breathtaking sceneries. Again Budapest in Hungary and Prague, Berlin and Munich in Germany; wonderful Barcelona, Salamanca (university town) and Andalucia in Spain, northern India with the Taj Mahal in Agra, Fathepur Sikhri and Rajasthan. These are certainly worth a visit – so much culture to take in – amazing. I shall stop there but could go on.
I always thought “That Was Alright Canyon” would be a good alternative name. I’ve seen it from a plane several times now and it’s always more impressive to me than standing on the edge was. Maybe hiking or rafting would have made a difference in my experience.
Paris in the spring: not just a handy cliche. Both New York City and Paris in springtime are just gorgeous and easy to get around in by foot. Simply sitting at a cafe or a park makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. Summer… not so much. Fall is great, too.
If you like to walk, try going on a volksmarch in Germany. They host annual “marches” in many older small towns. Some of the walks have been going on for hundreds of years over the same route (usually a 6K loop). Along the way are small shacks where you can get beer, a cheese sandwich, or sausage for not much money. At the end you get a commemorative medal or stein, but more importantly you meet people from the area in a casual, unforced way.
I think one of the keys to enjoying travel in any place is getting off the tour bus (or not getting *on* a tour bus in the first place) or out of the tourist areas and exploring by walking. You experience so much more than when you rush past in a car.
I don’t think it’s a negative list. He said they are overrated, not irrelevant. He’s not telling everyone to ban the Grand Canyon.
Add the Grand Canyon to “not in the summer.” I went last time in February and stayed at the historic El Tovar Hotel on the canyon rim–it’s actually affordable in February! The canyon was nearly deserted, and in the quiet I could feel the vast peace and power of the place that keeps me coming back whenever I can.
I usually drive east from there on Route 264 through the Hopi and Navaho reservations and more awe-inspiring landscapes sparsely populated by shepherds and their flocks. I got to know this area while doing volunteer work with the Navajo Nation. The Nation has two quiet, affordable motels at Tuba City and Window Rock respectively, with both native and typical diner food. Between them, all three of the great Hopi mesas lie along the road, along with the historic Hubbell Trading Post and the Ganado Mission. Make sure to stop at Second Mesa, the artistic and historic center of the Hopi people. Route 264 eventually joins Interstate 40 at Gallup NM.
Over the years my attitude to “tourist traps” has changed from “to be avoided at all costs” to “be interesting to see what it is about”.
I live in Singapore and was convinced that there was nothing to keep you occupied for more than a day. My mother visited me for a week and I am still finding out about stuff for her to do on her return visit (none of which Singapore Tourism will be able to tell you about though).
Dubai is one of those places that you have to see to believe (but don’t have to live). I was driving down Sheik Zhaiyed Road towards the Burj Dubai when the news that the building had just made it into the record books for the tallest building in the world (and they hadn’t reached the top yet!). I’m glad I’ve been there, although I agree that Oman has so much more to offer. If you don’t want to cross the border, go to Abu Dhabi or to Liwa Oasis or Al Ain. Don’t bother going to Qatar – it is a miniture version of Dubai without the sheer WOW factor.
“However, if you can only go to the Middle East once, Egypt would not be at the top on my list of recommendations.”
Mine either, because it’s in Africa. Why don’t people want to acknowledge that?
Wow, I really have to disagree from Egypt. I just got back from there and it was amazing (and that’s even in the extreme summer heat). Of course, I’m a bit of an archaeology geek, but it is one amazing place if you’re at all plugged into history (and I’ve travelled pretty extensively). Cairo is amazing though, though I do have to say the pyramids at Giza are a bit of a touristy thing now.
And having lived in Paris, I love it in the summertime… =]
So, what are your top travel destinations then ? I’m just about to move to Australia so SouthEast Asia is now at my doorstep (and Oz makes the final continent for me in all of them… =] ).
I have to agree with not traveling in Rome/Paris/London in the high summer months. It is too crowded and way too hot. I wouldn’t say to not travel there in the summer at all though, just pick your time wisely. April & May are great times to go to Europe everything is cheaper and the season is just starting so conjestion is limited.
I was just in Rome this past May and would recommend it to anyone. It is still really warm but not Aug weather (which no one wants to have to deal with) and nights are cool. Which makes camping outside the city a great more affordable option for accommodations. I highly recommend I Pini, it is 40 mins outside of Rome with buses into the city every day. You can camp or rent cabins and after a long day in Rome the pool is a great way to cool off.
I spent some time in Northern Italy & London in September – November. Weather is still pretty good and you get to experience real life.
I would say — your ideas mirror mine.. its the people in the place and not the place itself that makes it interesting… I have been living in Dubai for long now.. the fact is that the beauty of the buildings/malls here are interesting for the first timers.. but the gape moments were surreal..soon one realises that there surely are options to enjoy, but the cost for the fun is high.
I enjoyed more meeting the tribal people in forests of East India and folklore in the desert region of Rajasthan..
In the end, its the people who define the place and not the place that define the people there…..
Great list that had me saying “damn right” to pretty much all of them. But I like the Grand Canyon and think it is a pretty nice place to visit at least once in your travels. Also while I will be the first to admit Dublin is overrated (Galway is much cooler!), it still is a city full of life and some awesome pubs.
Sorry to post a bit of a late comment. I somewhat disagree with Rome, as I thought it was great fun in summer. One suggestion for Italian art cities and architectural/archeological sites(and, I suppose pretty much anything) is to read up on what you will be seeing beforehand if you don’t already. For instance, when the most notable thing about a church or altarpiece is “This is really, really old”, they get old quickly. On the other hand, if you research Italian Gothic painting or mideval architecture, you will start to notice more and more of what makes each church or altarpiece peculiar. If anyone wants specific suggestions, I’d read Vasari’s Lives of The Artists(very valuable source on the major Italian artists, despite his somewhat misleading hero-worship of Michelangelo) and the relavant chapters in a good art history textbook(Janson is good for western art).
Melaka, or Malacca, in Malaysia.
It’s been marketing itself as “The Historical City” (it’s full name even has that written in it), but really, apart from some of the forts, there’s not much. Even considering the whole history+culture mix, there are much better examples of culture elsewhere. I’d recommend Kuala Lumpur, the capital, for now, because it’s still ‘old school clashing with new city’. Terengganu is beautiful, and has its share of quaint villages. Sabah, I’ve heard, is amazing, although that side of Malaysia is a tourist hotspot, don’t be surprised if things may actually be more expensive than Singapore.
I’d recommend Kerala, in India. I went there 2 years ago, and it was definitely an eye-opener, especially if you’re into ancient civilizations. The temples are nothing short of breath-taking.
Los Angeles would be among the most overrated US destination (thinking especially about your non-US based readers), gets exponentially worse when you cross the Orange curtain. To say it’s a city with no soul sounds harsh, but I figure I’m entitled as I lived there off and on growing up. Like any expansive megalopolis, there are little corners here and there that are interesting, but as a whole, it’s a pretty awful place. A good alternative in the US would be Boulder, CO (I went to school there, loved it!). It’s a good base to head to a number of great things all within a short drive, like the ski resorts, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Denver (not a destination onto itself, but a good place to have a drink or go dancing, not worth staying there though). Also, just as many sunny days in Boulder…and not nearly as much smog!
Mt Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Don’t get me wrong: the Black Hills are absolutely beautiful. I grew up in them! And while Mt Rushmore really is a splendid & impressive example of engineering, I’ve always had three thoughts about it:
1: It’s always felt far too nationalistic for my taste. Carving the gigantic busts of men – even great men – into the side of a mountain as if they were gods is just plain awkward.
2: There was much controversy over its carving because it was a holy place for the local native American tribe (I think the Sioux if I’m not mistaken), but nobody really seemed to care about that.
And 3: You get there, you gaze upon it in all its glory, & you think “yup. That’s a giant carving of some guys on the side of a mountain. Did I hear someone mention buffalo burgers a bit earlier…?”
Crossing the causeway from Singapore to Malaysia (Johore Baru), it’s worth going beyond that and visit the rest of the Malaysian states, the seaside, the highlands, and also flying over to East Malaysia.
This is very personal I think. Because every person has other expectations about a travel destination. I do agree on some of the destinations on your list, like the Bahama’s. I really got that ‘overrated’ feeling the minute I set foot on the island. But there might be travelers who think it’s great.
The Grand Canyon is a tough one. I do understand the ‘overrating’ reaction, because it’s SO well known and my favorites on the West coast are Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. (Bryce Canyon because of the fairy tale look). But I did fly over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter and THAT was an amazing experience!
I haven’t been to all of the tourist destinations you described, so I can’t comment on all of them. Some of them I agree on, others I don’t.
But I do want to say something on the Fiji comment. I’ve been to both (Caribbean and Fiji) and even though I love the Caribbean, Fiji IS something else. So, I don’t see that it’s overrated! It was everything I expected it to be. Gorgeous lagunes, the friendliest people,…
Again, that’s just my two cents 🙂
Really liked the article and it was really interesting to read about other travelers opinions!
Have you been in Croatia? I must recommend my country. Croatia is small, with much variety in landscape, history, cuisine, mentality…
Don’t waist time in big cities, they are expensive and crowded, with museums and overrated architecture. Go to Plitvice, take a bike tour in Slavonia, Zagorje or Istra, tracking on Velebit, rafting on Krka, paragliding in Istra. Visit islands, and towns on the seaside with old churches, great of sea food in small family restaurants. If you avoid neon signs and places with steel and marble, you’ll do just fine.
Slovenia is also beautifully for a bike tour. Take a couple of days and relax.
Small cities in northern Italia offer great architecture, history, art and food. I don’t think much of Venice, too expensive and crowded. Two hours is enough. I love Padova, it is famous for some of the oldest universities in the world, with lots of young people, old café bars and vibrant atmosphere.
Great place on Mediterrane is Malta. Interesting history, beautiful sea, 400 churches, nice people, England-Mediterranean-Arabic mixed cuisine.
If you pass through those places on the fly, you won’t get much. They are best at leisure, when you take time to meet people, aimlesly stroll the streets, observe nature and buildings, inhale the air and eat local food at small restaurants.
Anyway, that’s how I love to travel.
Cool website, especially when you are still getting comments on year old posts. Thought I’d put in my 2 cents. I really loved Egypt and all it had to offer from the Valley of the Kings to Sinai. The hassles are non-stop (and I’m a solo female traveler) and were nearly on a par with India, but nonetheless I found Cairo to be one of my favorite cities in the world to get lost in. Petra is indeed an amazing place and worth spending much more time than the 1 or 2 days most people allot and I wish i had had more time to spend in the country as a whole.
I do agree with Singapore, although there was some pretty awesome, cheap food to be had there. My vote for most overrated city would be Bangkok. I’ve been there many times and can never wait to get out and on to pretty much anywhere else in the country or South-East Asia.
Heh. I saw the title of this post under your “Top 10 Articles” heading, and I got the feeling that Ireland would be on the list. So I was pleasantly surprised to see it was just Dublin (my home city) that you found overrated 🙂
I wouldn’t dream of arguing with your personal taste – indeed, there are other parts of Ireland that I find much more appealing in many ways – but I’m interested in your phrase “visitors who want to experience the Ireland they’ve always imagined”. I don’t know whether this is a feature of very small countries, or economically dependent countries, or former colonies, or what, but from where I’m sitting, the ways in which Ireland is imagined by people who have never been here seem to take on a reality that in some contexts almost trumps the real thing. (See, for example, my cousin who moved home from Canada aged nine, in the early 1990s, and had her Canadian friends commiserate with her because she wasn’t going to have electricity and television.)
Visitors going looking for their own “imagined Ireland” may be reinforcing that, is what I think I’m trying to say.
Anyway. Cultural hegemony: fascinating. Which you didn’t need me to tell you 🙂
Disclaimer: I’m Portuguese. Try Portugal in the Western side of Europe for a not-so-big city: Lisbon always close to the river with a mix of cultures and light I have yet to find elsewhere (good spot to explore around Lisbon – Sintra, Ericeira, the other side of the river…). Porto, again close to the river with its bridge (to the North – easy to go to nature at Gerês or visit historic city like Guimarães). After passing through Faro visit Tavira at Algarve (for outstanding beaches like Praia do Barril and excellent fish). And Açores (Azores in English). Nine islands in the middle of the Atlantic (don’t miss S.Miguel and S.Jorge).
In Thailand, Chiang Mai in the North for trekking is quite the opposite of Bangkok. Liked Ao Nang (Tiger Temple – the stairs to the top are worth it – you get to see all the area with those amazing blocks of stone seemingly entering the sea).
Malaysia – I also like Kota Baru and going to Singapore from there. The Perenthian islands were gorgeous back in 2002.
China – Instead of Beijing (I liked the Lama Temple) I did like Xi’an (the city inside the 13,7Km wall – touristic with way better bargains than Beijing. the Shaanxi History Museum is excellent for Chinese history). There’s a “new” spot to visit (half the size of the well-known ones and way less than half the visits), it’s the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi and it’s a good stop before going back to the airport.
Mexico – Puebla, Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas are some of the multiple alternatives to the Cancun and Mexico City. In the Yucatán peninsula, even though the hordes, Tulum by the blue sea. Calakmul and Uxmal are nice alternatives to the fantastic Chitzen Itza.
Loved this post – it shows how big this world is and how unique everyone of us is.
I’m disappointed to hear that Dublin, Machu Pichu, and the pyramids at Giza aren’t so great because I’ve always wanted to go. There seems to be a dividing line between travelers who prefer cities, art, and culture to those who thrill at natural wonders and landscapes.
I adore Italy. For art and history, you can’t beat Florence and Rome (the David is truly miraculous, and you can stand on the steps of the Forum!). If you think Pompeii is lame (I loved it), there are wonderful Etruscan ruins in Fiesole and Chiusi. Be careful at Cinque Terre, the whole town closes in October until April/May. Sorrento is a charming town on the Amalfi Coast which has a view of the Isle of Capri (although I wouldn’t recommend the time and expense of going to Capri). The food and wine are superlative everywhere (if you love wine, tour the Piedmont), and all of the smaller towns are charming (Assisi, Verona). If you go to Tuscany in the late fall when the weather has changed and the tourists are clearing out, you can avoid the crush and have an excuse invest in unparalleled leather and wool garments as souvenirs.
Vienna is boring, but Budapest is a wonderful alternative. The farmers markets, baths, and food are delightful. Be sure to catch the Hieronymous Bosch collections at the National Museum and try to attend a performance of the National Opera (they were closed, but we saw a great production of “Singin’ in the Rain” on stage and entirely in Hungarian!).
Also, I wouldn’t be caught dead climbing a mountain, so I thought the Alps were out for me. As a lover of musical theater, I have to recommend the most touristy thing to do in all of Europe, “The Sound of Music” Bus Tour from Salzburg. Totally hokey and totally fun, you ride a bus to all the locations where the film was shot and stop for beer and sausages up in the Alps, singing along to the soundtrack all the while. Ridiculously unforgettable!
Overrated: Salzburg has some pretty churches and a castle, but not much else. The Mozart overkill is way too much. No mountains, despite being in Austria.
Alternative: Heidelberg has a castle, lots of students and a pretty bridge. I enjoyed day trips to Schwetzingen, Worms and Speyr, which can be done on local transportation.
I just wanted to second visiting Malaysia. I love it there! Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, and Kota Kinabalu are amazing cities. But I also like Singapore ;).
ANCA: I wouldn’t recommend the scablands. interesting to watch a documentary about, but definitely not more impressive than the Grand Canyon in person.
I’m disappointed to hear your evaluation of Egypt.. that’s one place I have very much wanted to visit.
As a Londoner I’m afraid I’ll have to totally disagree about London in the Summer. Winter is grey, wet, very very dark and pretty miserable here. Mostly the people who live here just want to get out at that time of year (except for maybe Christmas which is super cool). But summer is when the city comes alive. I’m not talking about the museums and churches and Buckingham Palace London – that’s nice and pretty and all, but mostly a bit lame. I’m talking about the street theatre, free outdoor cinema, people having lunch in Hyde Park, pubs spilling out into the street London. Get away from the tourist attractions, look up from the map and dive in. See some of the real city at its most vibrant and exciting. Go to some of the many small towns that make up the real London like Shoreditch in the East End. Live on the edge a little – you might find a whole lot more than you expected.
Sydney: Over-rated. Sure, it’s considered “The” Australian city, but it’s very big, very sprawling, very VERY urban and very much wants to be an American city.
To see what Aussie cities can be like, try Brisbane, or sleepy Adelaide. Melbourne is fun too, although also in its own class. Food? Big. Coffee? Big. Good Weather? Not so much.
Sure, go to Sydney, visit the Opera house (Which is *grey*, despite photos), just make sure you visit Brisbane, and a small coastal town.
Wayyyy Overrated: The Plain of Jars in Phonsavan, Laos. There are theories aplenty, but no real research has ever led to a conclusive determination of the historical purpose or significance of these… ummm.. calcified rocks. Sure, they’re grouped and tilted in a way to infer that PERHAPS there was some method to the madness, but with no substantial evidence and little in the way of beauty (except for the surrounding landscape), I’d say don’t give in to the temptation of going there just ‘cuz it’s in the guidebooks.
Many Alternatives exist. (Stonehenge, perhaps – though I can’t personally vouch for it since I’ve not yet been.) But since if you’re already heading to Laos, you’ll likely be passing through Bangkok.. so take a few extra days to head up to Phimai to get a look at some exquisite Khmer period architecture – especially if your travels don’t take you to Angkor.
This is my second comment on here – sorry Dylan, i had to respond. I have traveled to many many countries throughout Asia, Middle East and Europe, and although i live in Sydney (does that make me biased?) – i have never experienced such a WOW factor from a plane’s window than that flying over any other international city. Sydney continually blows my mind and i still get tingles down my back at the sight of Sydney from the air! i
Sydney has probably the most eclectic social demographic of any city – multicultural food aplenty, fine dining establishments in abundance, bars all over the place (though Melb has mastered the art of culture and awesome little eateries /bars). I am 100% sure that you did not hire a car and see Sydney even 30min beyond the CBD’s outskirts. The Northern and Southern suburbs have the best beaches in the world, best national parks in the world etc.
The downside is that we have a completely retarded train network that is bursting at the seams AM/PM.
I actually completely agree on both the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. Both are overcrowded and over hyped. There is one alternative to the Grand Canyon you didn’t mention though, Zion Nation Canyon. It’s a little ways away in Utah, but since the main area of the park is at the bottom of the canyon you get to look up all the time instead of staring down to a big hole in the ground.
Also, I completely disagree about Vegas. But that may be partly because I’m more of a city person. Also, when I went there I was underage. I didn’t even do any gambling, and I still had a blast.
I fully agree with the Paris, London & Rome in the summer and Dubai in general. I have been there and they really are not that great tourist spots. However I do think that they are really nice cities to live in.
St. Kitts and Nevis is absolutely amazing. My wife and I took our honeymoon there and it was fantastic. The people there were so nice!! Hurry though, when we were there they had started building docks and infrastructure to allow cruise ships to dock there. We loved it not being the tourist trap that places such as Bahamas or many of the other Caribbean islands are.
Hey! I LIVE in the Bahamas. It’s a great country.
Well, honestly, having said that, it’s not a place I would want to vacation. Maybe because I live here?
The family islands of the Bahamas are wonderful – off the beaten path of the usual touristy destinations of Nassau and Freeport.
Andros, Eleuthera, Abaco, San Salvador, Exuma – these are all islands of the Bahamas, simple and quiet and exquisitely beautiful. Give them a try. I encourage you.
Agree on Cairo and pyramids at Giza as overrated, however, the Egyptian Museum was amazing. A bit disorganized, I understand the new museum will be better. The Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Aswan are all worthwhile. In Jordan, don’t forget Wadi Rum on the way to Petra. We preferred Jordan over Egypt for the same reason others have, it was a different feel…much more relaxed.
Just returned (yesterday) from another visit to Italy, our first time to Cinque Terra. Would recommend it, but not during high season. Another overrated place was Salzburg, we preferred the towns in Tyrol.
Other unexpected gems from the last few years,
Norway -Runda, Geiranger;
Ireland’s Beara Pennisula;
Scotland – Isle of Skye, Isle of Man, pretty much the entire country
South Africa -Garden Coast, the R62 from George towards Cape Town (not the N2) for wine tasting, definitely Robertson Valley over Stellenbosch. Cape Town for the township tour and Table Mountain, but that’s about it.
Hello there! I’m a new reader of your writing and quickly becoming a fan.
I live in Indonesia, an archipelago surrounded by Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. Our most famous travel destination is Bali, whereas most people around the globe find Bali even more popular than the country itself.
It’s true that until today, Bali offers the best service for international visitors. The cultural attraction is also amazing. However, I’d say Bali is overrated. Indonesia is, indeed, a large country in area, with Bali as a small part of it. So if you’ve only seen Bali, it doesn’t quite represent the whole country’s cultural richness. If you’re willing to experience Indonesia to the fullest, visit at least one destination per big island (Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, Papua). I personally could help much on Java, since I live there. 🙂
I’m more of a fan of “natural” sites or archaeological things than cities like Paris, London, or Warsaw (where I live) or Krakow. BUT
I loved Egypt. Went three times in one year (different parts). I’d highly recommend it. Fascinating. 🙂
I enjoyed the Grand Canyon. Didn’t go in the summer, though. Been two times with the kids.
Not mentioned: Petrified Forrest in AZ. Spectacular because I had no idea what to expect. Driving around that area of the desert was gorgeous because I didn’t think I particularly liked the desert colors. Also driving through Monument Valley, UT was nice.
Swimming in Hot Springs in Northern British Columbia in late Sept. (when there’s snow) is a great experience.
One of the most memorable things I’ve ever seen was watching the little penguins come on the beach in southern Australia.
Still want to see…South America, Kenya, Victoria Falls, Morrocco…
I would add Vancouver to the list of overrated. If you can get anywhere because of the horrid traffic, the weather will likely drive you back to your hotel. It can be pretty when the sky is clear but head into the interior of the province and see the Shuswap lakes in the summer where the weather is much better, the views are spectatacular and it is infinitely less crowded. Long gone is the Vancouver of the 1980’s before it was “discovered”. BTW, the skiing at Whistler is very good, but again skiing at a Sunpeaks in Kamloops or any of the bigger resorts in the Okanagan will give you a better ski experience. Though Whistler has the apres ski life.
And if you are a back packer adventurer and love surfing you may want to discover the little hick town of LANUZA, of The Philippines. See if you like it. The people are friendly, the town has an amazing surfing ground, water falls and caves and beaches,and still not infiltrated with a lot of tourists. See their site google under Lanuza Surf.
If someone has not visited Italy yet, I am sure they will definitely start form the major attractions like Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and so on…if you have been to a country yet, you tend to focus on the major places of interest and what attracts you most. The fact that something could be overrated or not is at that stae, in my opinion, unrelevant…but when it comes to a second, a third visit than you want to discover the most hidden and secret places, which most times turn out to be more fascinating and memorable ones…
I am currently studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain (one of the greatest cities in the world and DEFINITELY not overrated). On the weekends, my friends and I have been avid European travellers, striving to pack as much sightseeing into our four short months outside the US as possible. We have seen some really great underrated cities (Chefchaouen, Morroco). I would say at the top of my list for overrated cities would have to be Milan. It was one of the sketchiest cities I have ever been too, the Italian men are extremely aggressive on the streets. Furthermore, the realy impressive historical stuff was limited to one area of town, and it takes only 10 minutes to see just about all you need to see there. In my short stay there, I also witnessed a woman’s bag being stolen and a man beggar using puppies and other small animals to attract funds his way … sad and not that exctiting. I’d skip it and go back to Morocco if I had to do it all again
Just got back from a month in Spain and highly recommend it as a great country to travel. Madrid, Seville, Granada and Barcelona are all amazing cities with unique offerings in each one. Barcelona is a crazy, noisy place somewhat overrun by commercialism (unlike what is portrayed in the Woody Allen movie) but the architectural wonders will knock you out, and there are some interesting out-of-the way sights that make up for the rough edges (just don’t go there in the summer– way too crowded).
I agree that traveling to Bali is an amazing cultural experience, one that you and thousands of tourists will all be having simultaneously. Kind of takes the fun out of it.
I can see where you’re coming from about the overrated-ness. BUT, there are other places within the Bahamas that are not touristy places that are really worth the visit. Islands beside the capital island which have a smaller population are good places to visit. And like a lot of things, travel is one of those things which is based on personal taste and can not be subject to generalizations.
Barcelona is way, way overrated. It is expensive, dirty and full of thieves and aggressive prostitutes. It has some redeeming features – architecture and (over-priced) nightlife – but a better alternative would be Madrid, which has equally-good architecture and better food and shopping, or Budapest which is fantastic to visit in late summer. It has lots of wonderful, family-run restaurants dishing out exquisite dishes, plenty of sights to see and a large, efficient transportation network. It also has many decent bars.
Other great cities; London, Klaipeida and Vilnius in Lithuania, Krakow in Poland, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Phmom Penh, Aqaba, Cairo, Rome, Marrakesh, Helsinki, Tallinn, Palermo, Amsterdam.
I agree with some names in this list.
Been to Las Vegas. Love it for the night life, strip clubs, and best poker tournaments, awesome Cirq du Soleil Shows. But the city its fake and life isn’t like that.
Never wanted to check Niagara, the pyramids. Instead of Dubai I’d rather go to Maldives.
As our RTW winds down (SE Europe, Africa, Indian Subcontinent, SE Asia, now South America), of all the places we’ve been over these months we’d say without a doubt that Egypt was the place we could have skipped. Seeing the big points of interest did have a degree of coolness attached to them but the environment that has built up around them detracts in a big way. Granted, when 25% of your GDP comes from mass tourism things are going to get a bit over the top when it comes to milking that opportunity. But Egypt has gone too far.
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