Times Square, New York: Flashing advertisements, obnoxious peddlers selling knockoff DVDs, chain restaurants, and hordes of lost tourists looking at maps await you in the five famed blocks of Times Square. Residents of the city go out of their way to avoid this area where personal space goes to die. We'll never understand why visitors travel all the way to New York City to buy grocery-store candy at the M&M's World store, dine at an Olive Garden, and gawk at billboards.(Photo: altrendo travel, G
Some iconic sites just don't live up to the hype. Skip these 10 tourist traps and visit our alternatives instead.
group of mystery stones has been described as mystical and magical. But
what you rarely see in the postcards is that Stonehenge is wedged
between two very busy roads-and that you're not even allowed to get
close to the stones. You'll pay an admission fee, of course, but you'll
only be able to view the site from afar. (Tourists used to chip off
pieces of the ancient rocks as souvenirs. This is why we can't have nice
Instead: Check out Avebury, about 25 miles away from Stonehenge, where an entire town is set inside a stone circle.
Blarney Stone, Ireland
has it that kissing this rock will give you the gift of gab, but
judging by how many people smooch the stone every day, we think you're
more likely to come away with a communicable disease. (Especially if you
believe the rumor that locals think it's funny to sneak in after-hours
and use the Blarney Stone as a bathroom.) You'll also have to brave long
lines and a vertigo-inducing climb, and you'll be unceremoniously
tipped backwards and headfirst over a ledge by a worker in order to get
Instead: Skip the long lines and spend your saved time
exploring the Blarney Castle grounds, which are definitely worth the
visit ... and (probably) won't infect you with anything.
Pyramids at the Giza Necropolis, Egypt
you're expecting a journey out to the quiet desert to see this
world-famous wonder, think again. Located in a suburb not far from
downtown Cairo, the pyramids are set against the backdrop of a Pizza
Hut, a KFC, and a ton of litter. Be prepared to be surrounded by some of
the most aggressive touts in the world, some of whom will literally
jump into a moving taxi to try to sell you a camel ride. You also can't
touch the Sphinx or climb up the sides of the pyramids anymore.
Instead: Visit the less crowded (and less stressful) pyramids at Dahshur.
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
you've taken the obligatory photos "pushing over" the tower (and
accidentally photo-bombed the background of many strangers' photos),
there's not much to do here except be hounded by the many hawkers who
patrol the area. It's a long journey, especially if you're coming all
the way from Rome, just to see that the tower does, in fact, live up to
Instead: The Duomo di Pisa, a Romanesque cathedral full
of artwork, will give you something else to do besides stare at the
tower, waiting for it to tip over.
Prague Astronomical Clock, Czech Republic
it's the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. But unless
your idea of a good time is staring at a giant glorified cuckoo clock
while being jostled by fellow tourists, there's not much else to
recommend it. If you must see it, be sure to time it so that you arrive
right as the show is starting (every hour on the hour), so you don't
have to waste 50 minutes standing around staring at the clock, waiting
for it to perform.
Instead: Catch the time at Paris' Musee
d'Orsay, which houses multiple beautiful clocks inside a beaux-arts
railway station that's been converted into a museum.
Times Square, New York
advertisements, obnoxious peddlers selling knockoff DVDs, chain
restaurants, and hordes of lost tourists looking at maps await you in
the five famed blocks of Times Square. Residents of the city go out of
their way to avoid this area where personal space goes to die. We'll
never understand why visitors travel all the way to New York City to buy
grocery-store candy at the M&M's World store, dine at an Olive
Garden, and gawk at billboards.
Instead: Check out New York's
Museum Mile, a stretch of eight museums along Fifth Avenue. Less crowds,
more unique things to gawk at-and there'll still be hot-dog carts for
you to buy from.
Hollywood Walk of Fame, California
you're reading this, you clearly have access to the Internet. So why
not just Google famous people's names instead of traveling to see those
names etched into a sidewalk? Plus Hollywood visitors are often shocked
by the seedy streets filled with hustlers in superhero costumes trying
to sell photos to tourists.
Instead: Visit Madame Tussauds Wax
Museum's Hollywood location. There, at least you'll be able to take
pictures with inanimate celebrities and briefly fool people on Facebook
with your star-studded vacation.
Manneken Pis, Belgium
the name of this statue in Brussels pretty much translates to "Little
Man Pee." No, we don't know why tourists flock to look at a statue of a
naked child peeing. If you insist on going, time your visit for when the
statue has been dressed up by a city employee-you'll feel a little less
like a creep. (Or come during one of the occasions when the fountain's
water is replaced with a keg of beer, so you can at least get a free
drink out of it.)
Instead: Visit the Zinneke Pis, a lesser-known
sculpture in Brussels of a dog doing the same thing as the Manneken Pis.
At least that one is cuter.
bother visiting this house of lies. Tourists snap photos at the Ciudad
Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World City), a park featuring a monument
and a painted line that claims to be the middle of the world-0 degrees
latitude. Too bad it's all a deception, and the actual equator is
hundreds of feet away in a pretty inaccessible spot. In the park's
defense, it was built before the advent of GPS.
Instead: If you
enjoy posing for pictures while straddling lines, head to England and
stand on the Greenwich Meridian Line, which is at least in the right
place. (You'll be marking a longitude, not latitude, of 0 degrees,
The Little Mermaid, Denmark
sculpture in Copenhagen, based on The Little Mermaid fairy tale, is
actually a copy. The real statue is kept at an undisclosed location,
which is probably for the best since the replica has been defaced,
vandalized, decapitated, and blasted with explosives. You may feel the
same destructive urges if you seek out this site, as visitors on
TripAdvisor call it "hard to see, given it's so small," "a discredit to
Hans Christian Andersen," and "not a must-see" and say it is "in the
middle of nowhere."
Instead: Pay a better tribute to the author by
visiting the Hans Christian Andersen statue in New York's Central Park,
where you can climb on the sculpture for photos.