50 Global Tourist Traps to Leave Off the Itinerary

Traveling is an adventure, filled with the promise of new experiences and sights. However, not every popular destination lives up to its reputation. As a Los Angeles local, a city that’s a magnet for tourists worldwide, I’ve seen firsthand how some spots are more about hype than substance. From my own encounters and the shared experiences of seasoned travelers, we’ve compiled a list of places you might want to think twice about visiting on your next journey. Whether it’s due to crowds, costs, or simply not living up to the expectations, here’s a guide to the tourist traps that might be better left off your itinerary.

1. Hollywood Blvd./Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California

HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 06: Screen Actors Guild star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California on Dec. 6, 2016.
Image Credit: Hayk_Shalunts/Shutterstock.

You could check out Hollywood Blvd., but you’ll have to wade through a sea of people to even glimpse the stars on the sidewalk. Plus, most of your surroundings won’t be aesthetically pleasing. Still, you will see a lot of overpriced souvenir shops and people dressed in costumes who try to convince you to pay for a photograph with them. Save your money and go to one of the many local museums or have a nice dinner instead.

2. Madame Tussaud’s (Multiple Locations)

Princess Diana from Madame Tussauds
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

There are many Madame Tussaud’s locations, none of which you should waste your time or money visiting. One person mentioned they saw the one in London, which took them under an hour to tour and left them unimpressed.

3. Hard Rock Café (Multiple Locations)

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Depending on your destination, a Hard Rock Café may be waiting for you. Don’t bother stepping foot in there, no matter how exciting the exterior looks. Several hotels, restaurants, and even casinos are under the Hard Rock Café name. Still, none of them boast a particularly interesting or worthwhile experience. Plus, the food is mediocre and overpriced, as are the clothes and souvenirs they sell.

4. The Original Starbucks in Seattle, Washington

The original Starbucks store in Pike Place market in Seattle, Washington.
Image Credit: Michael Gordon/Shutterstock.

If you’re going to Seattle, spend your money and time nearly anywhere else but the original Starbucks. When you’re close to it, you’ll also be close to various small, locally-owned businesses, including other coffee shops. You’ll also be right next to Pike Place Market, which I just visited for the first time this year, and it is worth your time and money.

5. Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Many people in the comments needed to address Plymouth Rock, especially those who visited as children. It’s a rock- an important rock, yes, but a rock nonetheless. Fortunately, someone who lived in the area offered an alternative suggestion: The National Monument to the Forefathers, just down the road.

6. Malls in Dubai, UAE

The Cheesecake Factory Dubai Mall - Dining Aquarium
Image Credit: The Cheesecake Factory.

Several malls in Dubai attract tourists. The malls look like any other worldwide mall despite the attractions inside. However, travel enthusiasts and locals say skip them and check out Abu Dhabi.

7. Juliet’s Balcony in Verona, Italy

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Heads up: Romeo and Juliet is a fictional story. The balcony was never Juliet’s because she was never real!

8. Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Although many argue that Niagara Falls is not a tourist trap, the surrounding area is. One person said that Niagara Falls is their hometown, and they’re disappointed that people don’t get to enjoy all they have to offer, choosing to spend all their money on Clifton Hill instead.

9. South of The Border in South Carolina

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Several people mentioned to steer clear of the South of the Border between North Carolina and South Carolina. One traveler said that while they always looked forward to it as a kid, they realized it was a tourist trap as an adult.

10. Voodoo Donuts (Multiple Locations)

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Although there are multiple locations nationwide, the top commenter said they were born and raised in Portland, and even Oregonians don’t go to Voodoo Donuts. I only visited Voodoo Donuts once, and I agree it wasn’t worth the hype.

11. Gates of Heaven on Bali, Indonesia

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

This tourist trap is simply a photo op and not much more. One person said people show up as early as 6 A.M. to stand in line for hours for a photo where an optical illusion creates water. Another person said that if it rains, there is actually water, and they argued that it’s not a tourist trap but a popular place ruined by social media.

12. Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota

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People seemed split about whether Wall Drug is a tourist trap or a place that offers family road trip nostalgia. This will depend heavily on what you prioritize and enjoy while traveling. However, many warned that it’s underwhelming and probably a destination for those excited about Cracker Barrel gift shops.

13. Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England

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Some people would argue that if you’ve seen a picture of Stonehenge, you’ve seen enough. One person mentioned that there are hundreds of stone circles, and Stonehenge isn’t even the oldest. They claimed it’s only famous due to its proximity to a major road. Someone else added that they drove by it and did not want to pay the high admission price, but nobody felt they missed out.

14. Floating Market in Vietnam and Thailand

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Although a floating market sounds like a fun adventure, maybe that’s precisely how they get you. One traveler claimed it was “nothing like the pictures you see.” Instead, it was just people in boats selling mediocre souvenirs and trinkets that you can find at any gift shop.

15. The Capilano Suspension Bridge in BC, Canada

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

According to one person who has lived in British Columbia (BC) their whole life, they said it’s made lists of the worst tourist traps in the world. As a native, they suggest checking out all the accessible trails and attractions within a five-minute drive.

16. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

One commenter mentioned their excitement to visit The Grand Bazaar, only to be greatly disappointed. They went on to say the minute they stepped in, the shop owners behaved aggressively and chaotically, mocking them. Another traveler stated that this information helped them decide not to make this a stop on their next trip.

17. Gondola Rides in Venice, Italy

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If you want to have a fun experience and save money simultaneously, skip the gondolas. Multiple travelers said that instead of riding the gondolas, they should see Venice the way Venetians get around: water taxis. Apparently, not only is this a more authentic experience, but it’s much less expensive, too.

18. Venice Beach, California

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As a native Californian, I was slightly offended to see Venice Beach listed as “one of the scariest places” and “disgusting.” One person even said that they always dread going whenever they have friends in town. If you avoid the souvenir shops, you can have quite a good time. Some parts of Venice Beach are more oversaturated, but there are also quieter, calmer pockets.

19. Ripley’s Believe It or Not (Multiple Locations)

Image Credit: Travel Channel.

Much like Madame Tussaud’s, there are many different Ripley’s locations. They are especially popular with people who visit the U.S. from other countries, but it’s often a disappointing experience. Check out local museums instead if you run into a Ripley’s while on vacation.

20. Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California

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One person had a bone to pick with the pier in Santa Monica. They said it was packed to capacity, forcing people to run into each other due to limited walking space. Plus, they charge quite a bit for the attraction wristband, making some people feel like it’s a tourist trap to avoid. I recommend visiting during a less popular time of year or day when there will be plenty of space to move around.

21. La Mere Poulard (Omelet Restaurant) in Normandy, France

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

People took offense to anyone insulting Mont St. Michel until they realized the only issue visitors had was with the omelets. According to those who have visited, you end up paying too much money for a few eggs.

22. Maid Café in Tokyo, Japan

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

The person who claimed this destination was a tourist trap admitted they weren’t well-versed in Japanese culture. However, they said it made them feel creepy and uncomfortable because the women pressured guests to buy extra interactions. They also mentioned that the staff behaved rudely when they did not want to pay extra money.

23. Uranus, Missouri

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Unless you want a t-shirt, travelers suggest skipping this one. They claimed that it was disappointing, especially with all the billboards making it seem like a more enjoyable or exciting destination.

24. Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum in Xi’an, China

XI'AN, SHAANXI PROVINCE, CHINA View of terracotta soldiers of the famous Terracotta Army inside the Qin Shi Huang
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If you visit this museum, be prepared for a crowd and fake ticket booths. One person who saw it said everything outside the main buildings is a replica. They also said it’s impressive for a few minutes, but the crowd makes the experience unbearable.

25. Space Needle in Seattle, Washington

View of Seattle Washington
Image Credit: SCStock /Shutterstock.

I’ve been to Seattle a few times but never wasted my time or money going to this popular tourist trap. Not only will you likely be waiting in line for a long time, but you can find just as satisfying a view of the city from free parks across town.

26. Statue of Liberty Tour in NYC, New York

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Instead of paying for an official tour of the Statue of Liberty, soak up the view for free on the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry will also offer views of Brooklyn Heights, Governors Island, and lower Manhattan. You can also enjoy a beautiful view of Lady Liberty from Battery Park.

27. Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota

mount rushmore
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Although the monument is a sight to behold, visitors claim that the novelty wears off quickly after seeing it for a few minutes. Why? It’s in the middle of nowhere and a lot smaller than it seems from afar. Someone suggested taking the highway from Mt. Rushmore to Custer State Park, offering you a beautiful view from the car.

28. The Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, California

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If you can get close to the Hollywood sign like they do in the movies, think again. Getting closer than a half-mile away is illegal, so you’re in for a long hike to take a grainy photo from far away. Instead, hike through Griffith Park and visit The Griffith Observatory. This might not be the best example of a tourist trap where you’ll be tricked into spending your money, but it will undoubtedly be crowded.

29. Times Square in NYC, New York

Times Square New York
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Times Square is quite an overwhelming experience, especially if you hate crowds or have sensory issues. Regardless of the time of day or year, it’s always packed, and character actors and people selling souvenirs may harass you. I still think Times Square is worth visiting, but I wouldn’t plan on spending extended periods there.

30. The Four Corners in Colorado

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Located at the corner where New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona (almost) meet is the Four Corners Monument. Although I think it’s an excellent place to visit for the novelty of it, don’t waste your time traveling out of your way to take a photo. There are no other attractions nearby to make the trip worthwhile.

31. Bourbon Street in New Orleans

Pubs and bars with neon lights in the French Quarter, New Orleans USA
Image Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.

Everyone’s opinion of what they value on a trip differs, but New Orleans natives seem to agree that Bourbon Streetisn’t as good as it gets. Instead of wading through crowds and shuffling in and out of packed bars like you’re on spring break, check out the City Hall, Louisiana State Museum, or any other activities in Jackson Square.

32. Waikiki Beach in Hawaii

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This area was designed for tourists, which means you’ll find crowded beaches, unimpressive places to eat, and expensive shops. Plan your vacation accordingly, and you’ll enjoy other free activities and views that the beautiful island offers.

33. Empire State Building in NYC, New York

New York City
Image Credit: Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “New York City (New York, USA), Empire State Building — 2012 — 6436” / CC BY-SA 4.0.

We took a class trip to the Empire State Building when I was younger. Despite having been to New York, I had only ever seen it in the movies. That was the first and last time I took that trip. Not only is it crowded and expensive, but you won’t get the luxurious view and experience you’re hoping for. Visit the Rockefeller Center instead for better views.

34. Venetian Gondolas in Las Vegas, Nevada

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Much like the gondolas in Venice, avoid the expensive trip on the gondolas in Las Vegas. Those who have checked out this attraction tend to feel it’s not worth the price to float through pool water surrounded by drunk gamblers.

35. Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Takashi Images.

Travelers recommend skipping Las Ramblas due to how crowded it is. One said that nearly every shop and restaurant on this street is a tourist trap, calling them “overpriced and under-quality.” They went on to suggest checking out the Gothic neighborhood instead. Other travelers aid you should stay aware of pickpockets while in Barcelona.

36. Louvre Museum in Paris, France

The Louvre Museum
Image Credit: Maksim Sokolov – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

When visiting Paris, well-traveled people suggest skipping the Louvre due to how popular and packed it tends to be. Instead, they recommend that you check out L’Orangerie and the Musée d’Orsay. They stated that these destinations are a short walk away and will not be as busy, and if you have the Museum Pass, it will be even easier for you and your group.

37. Donkey or Horse Rides in Petra, Jordan

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One visitor said to avoid Petra’s donkey and horse rides as the animals are horribly mistreated. They also warned travelers to avoid the sand bottles sold in the exact location because they allegedly remove rocks and sand from nearby archaeological sites.

38. Dunn’s River Falls Guided Hikes in Jamaica

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Someone shared a story of taking a guided hike through Dunn’s River Falls. When you conclude your trek, you exit an area full of tents with cheaply manufactured goods aimed at tourists. They said the shop clerks tried to trap them by personalizing an item without any interest in buying it and then trying to prevent them from leaving, claiming they were shoplifting.

39. London Aquarium in London, England

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

The aquarium used to be a great place to visit. People say it’s “basic” compared to smaller aquariums in neighboring towns. One person mentioned that they stopped going because the aquarium started accosting visitors once they paid to enter, trying to get them to purchase additional photos and products.

40. Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, NL

Heineken beer
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If you’re going to Amsterdam, there are plenty of sights to see and activities to enjoy that aren’t the Heineken Experience. Many said the experience felt cheap, flashy, and touristy.

41. Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, California

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Although I enjoyed my trip to Fisherman’s Wharf, especially the sea lions, I was not tempted by souvenirs. I went when there were hardly any crowds. Many locals and travelers said to avoid it altogether due to its busyness. One said that they never willingly went, but they were often dragged along by relatives and friends who visited.

42. Corn Palace in South Dakota

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

I’ve never heard of the Corn Palace, but I’m disappointed it’s not worth visiting! Several visitors said it’s just an auditorium with corn decorations. Another said they don’t understand how it’s become or stayed famous despite how boring it is.

43. Branson, Missouri

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, you might have seen this city being ridiculed in an episode where they called it Bronson. One traveler joked that they had heard Branson described as “Vegas if it were run by Ned Flanders.” Missouri natives agreed with this sentiment and said that most performances and destinations are aimed at families or people over 65.

44. Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Although visiting the Navy Pier is free, most activities and shops could be categorized as tourist traps. One person stated that while other tourist traps have some appeal, Navy Pier has nothing. I personally enjoy walking to Navy Pier for the view. Still, you might want to skip it, especially If you’re on a family trip.

45. Buc-ees (Multiple Locations)

Buc-ee’s Gas Station
Image Credit: lee leblanc – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

I was upset to see Buc-ees listed, as it’s one of my favorite places to stop on a road trip. Although many, me included, would argue that it’s not a destination, you might get trapped there for quite some time perusing their never-ending stock of items.

46. Checkpoint Charlie in Germany

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

This was one of the most disliked tourist traps, with multiple travelers who said that while it was a fantastic place to visit decades ago, it’s now a “waste of time.” One person argued that they liken it more to a landmark than a tourist trap but that it has become small and irrelevant compared to other destinations in Berlin.

47. Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

If all you want is one of those pictures every person who goes to Europe seems to have outside the Leaning Tower, it might be worth the visit. However, be prepared to wait for a long time – or to have hundreds of people in the background of your photo. One person who visited said there’s not much else to do in the area besides visiting the local churches.

48. The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio Texas, The Alamo
Image Credit: A. Michael Uhlmann – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wiki Commons.

Multiple people mentioned that The Alamo is tinier than they thought and were thrown off by just how small it was. One person said there is a lot of fascinating history in and around the area that is worth checking out. When I visited Texas, I walked by it, and that was enough for me and my friends.

49. Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

One person from Germany said they knew it was a tourist trap but went anyway, as their wife is not from Germany and wanted to see it. They added that 15 years later, they still laugh about their visit, mainly since they’ve visited many “real” castles all over Europe. Another traveler suggested exploring the beautiful countryside instead.

50. Union Oyster House in Boston, Massachusetts

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

If you’re hunting for delicious chowder in Boston, skip the Union Oyster House. People who have visited it stated that it was overpriced and not the best choice for authentic food. Reviews of this establishment are dire, with people saying it’s one of the biggest tourist traps in the entire country, with terrible service and disgusting food.

The post 50 Global Tourist Traps to Leave Off the Itinerary first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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