In the summer of 2011, my wife and I took our three children on a two week European adventure where we explored London and Paris, as well as their surrounding areas. As my kids were in awe of seeing Europe for the first time, my wife and I, while still left speechless by the beauty and historical significance of what we were experiencing, had already seen the main attractions that each country had to offer.
Inspired by my European family adventure below is my list of overrated tourist attractions and which attractions to see instead.
Home to one of the most famous tragedies in history, you can count on huge crowds and a lack of artifacts (which are all housed in museums around the world). Instead of visiting this overrated tourist attraction, visit Herculaneum, which was also destroyed in the Mount Vesuvius eruption. However, unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum retained more authentic objects such as wooden doors, building beams and even food.
The Great Pyramids
Although spectacular, the Great Pyramids of Giza make the list of most overrated tourist attractions because are overrun with tourists and locals trying to sell you almost anything you can think of. Instead of wasting a day fighting to see these wonders of the world, consider the Pyramid Fields at Dahshur. A short drive from Cairo, the pyramids there are just as spectacular as those in Giza, but without the massive amounts of tourists.
This overrated tourist attraction is tricky because you have to see the Acropolis. However, once you’re done visiting that, escape the heat and construction and explore the Greek islands. Rhodes, for example, has incredible beaches and an antique town which contains the Temple of Apollo, the Acropolis of Lindos, the Governor’s Palace and much more.
The Mona Lisa
Not many people know that the Mona Lisa isn’t a huge painting. My kids, for example, were shocked at how small it was. Instead of waiting in lines, getting elbowed, pushed, hit and in my case, crawled under by tourists trying to catch a glimpse, take a trip to the Musee d’Orsay. This former train station holds some of the greatest impressionist artwork of all time and is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. From Paul Cezanne to Vincent van Gogh, you’ll enjoy less crowds and phenomenal art.
The Trevi Fountain
I have to admit that I’m guilty of waiting in line to take a picture in front of the Trevi Fountain and throw a penny in. While gorgeous, I consider this an overrated tourist attraction because there are so many people in the area it’s impossible to move. Instead, head to the Piazza Navona. It’s much less crowded, has a jaw dropping fountain and the surrounding sculptures and architecture make you feel like you’re back in the days of Bernini (who’s sculptures make up the fountain).
John Golicz is CEO and founder of Unicomm, LLC, which produces America’s largest and fastest growing series of consumer travel trade shows – the Travel & Adventure Show Series. With nearly 30 years of travel experience, John has become an expert on how to travel better, safer, smarter and cheaper.