Tourist Overload: 10 Tales of Disappointment From Around the World

Countless tourist destinations are sprinkled throughout the world, but not all are created equal. You’ll be surprised how many of the most famous sights on Earth have reputations for being complete disappointments! Recently, world travelers met in an online discussion to reveal the ten places that underwhelmed and underdelivered. Have you been to any of these destinations?

1. Pop-Up Museums in New York City

NEW YORK, NY - 05 NOV 2019: The Museum of Illusions at the corner of 8th Avenue and 14th Street in Manhattan.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The surge of Instagram-friendly pop-up “museums” in New York City has recently put a bad taste in many visitors’ mouths. I’m sure other cities have this problem, too, but there’s an epidemic in NYC of pop-up ‘museums‘ that are essentially just Instagram backgrounds,” laments one traveler. “There are some great temporary exhibits in the city all the time that have cool artwork or historical items, or just make for a neat experience. And then there are ones that just have a bunch of backdrops for people to pose in front of and maybe a placard.” 

2. The Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, Italy 
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is widely regarded as Michaelangelo’s finest work, visiting the stunning piece of art is anything but relaxing. According to countless tourists, visiting the Sistine Chapel and marveling at one of the most majestic paintings in the world is marred by security constantly yelling at people to keep quiet. That would ruin the moment for me!

3. The Bahamas

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While the idea of vacationing in the Bahamas seems magical, the impoverished state of affairs outside of major resorts makes people feel guilty for traveling there in the first place! The wife wanted to take a cruise, so I (mistakenly) chose a Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas,” explains one man. “When we got there, we walked through a gauntlet of people selling trinkets and knick-knacks; everybody wanted to braid our hair. We walked around a little bit and quickly realized it was nothing more than a tourist trap. We went back to the ship and hung out with each other.”

4. The Mona Lisa

PARIS, FRANCE - October 11, 2016: Visitors take photo of Leonardo DaVinci's "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre Museum
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Not only is the Mona Lisa approximately 100 times smaller than people imagine it is, but it’s impossible to get a close-up look due to the large amount of people stuffed into the Louvre at any given moment. “I couldn’t believe how disappointed I was with the room with the Mona Lisa in it,” confesses one tourist. “I couldn’t get anywhere near it, and it’s not that big of a painting to see from the back of the room when all the people in front of you had giant cameras. Maybe it’s better in the age of cell phone cameras, but I doubt it.” Spoiler alert: It’s not!

5. Times Square

Times Square
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Make no mistake: visiting Times Square is fantastic — if you love chain restaurants, crowds, and neverending walls of advertisements! According to countless men and women, New York City’s most popular tourist destination is an eyesore, overpriced, and a hassle to get to. While visiting Times Square is considered a rite of passage for any new visitor, most savvy travelers avoid it at all costs. The Big Apple has many tourist attractions worth visiting; Times Square isn’t one of them.

6. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One woman perfectly sums up what it feels like to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. “It’s nothing more than standing in a field of tourists trying to take a picture of the tower without other tourists in it and souvenir shops trying to sell those people touristy stuff,” she describes. Like many attractions on this list, the tower is simply underwhelming!

7. Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Each year, over 5 million people visit Venice, Italy, for one reason: To visit the famous canals! Unfortunately, due to the city’s overwhelming popularity, it suffers from overcrowding. If there’s any advice I can give you, it’s to avoid visiting Venice during the busy summer months; it’s not worth it! Your sanity (and wallet) will thank you if you visit during the slow season.

8. Hollywood

The Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, California
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While TV and films make Hollywood seem like the pinnacle of culture and high-end living, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. One person puts it all into perspective. “Hollywood was such a tourist trap,” laments one man. “I guess you should see it once but expect to be disappointed. It’s filled with tons of random guys wanting to get money from you because they dressed up like Walmart Spider-Man.” Save time and visit Venice Beach or Santa Monica instead.

9. The Great Pyramids

Pyramids, Giza, Egypt
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Once you see them up close, there’s nothing “great” about the Great Pyramids. Many travelers quickly discover the ugly truth: The pyramids are just a few blocks away from strip malls and urban blight. If you like, you can even get a great view of the pyramids from a local Burger King. You’re left with feelings of regret when you add in pushy street vendors who have set up shop around the pyramids.

10. Anywhere in Bali

Manta Bay or Kelingking Beach on Nusa Penida Island, Bali, Indonesia
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

From the beaches to the food, Bali is undeniably beautiful (and affordable), so I understand why it’s on countless travelers’ “must-visit” lists. However, one specific aspect of visiting Bali can quickly ruin your trip. “Any tourist destination in Bali is bound to disappoint,” reveals one traveler. “It’s a beautiful place with amazing food, stunning vistas, and friendly people, but the pushy salespeople on the street outside every tourist destination trying to extract every rupiah I had for tourist knick-knacks ruined a lot of the good vibes.”

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