Proof that the Most Popular Destinations Are Not Worth the Money

Trista - July 1, 2022
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When vacation time comes around, everyone is eager to go to the most popular places on Earth. Maybe they’ve heard of these places through travel blogs or from their friends who have been there, but caution should be exercised when making travel arrangements. Although these places have become popular over the years, they may not be all as they’re cracked up to be. Here are 45 of the most popular destinations that you should avoid because they are not worth the money. 

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45. Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is known as one of the Seven Wonders Of The World, and for a perfect reason. It’s magnificent that the ancient people that lived there were capable of establishing what they did. This obviously attracted the attention of the world… perhaps too much attention. Machu Picchu isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be outside of the marvelous view. Thousands of people go there yearly, riddled with mosquitos, and because it’s on a mountainside, it’s usually rainy and foggy. So don’t expect there to be great weather for pictures. And forget about trying to get the coveted sunrise picture; by the time the sun is visible from behind the peaks, it’s already 10 am.

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44. Santorini

You would think amongst the Greek isles that everyone would have a great time in Santorini. After all, it’s surrounded by beautiful oceans and lovely weather that would make anyone jealous not to be there. Nevertheless, perhaps it’s not as wonderful as people’s Instagram accounts make it out to be. Every summer, the streets are absolutely crowded with people so that you can’t get the chance to enjoy yourself. This makes trying to catch the sunset at the right time a very crowded, unenjoyable experience. Moreover, because of the draw of the crowds, everything on the island is more expensive, from the local goods to eating out at restaurants. Furthermore, you have no choice but to pay because you’re stuck on an island with nowhere else to go.

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43. Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is supposed to be a national monument, but is it worth making the trip to see it? Firstly, it was built on land stolen from the Indigenous Americans who once called the Black Hills their home. Not exactly the best representation as an American icon. Secondly, once you get there, there’s not much else to do except take pictures, visit the gift shop, and read about the history of each president. You could take the hiking path that goes all the way around the monument, which only takes about 20 minutes to do… then it’s time to go. Definitely not worth the trip for only a few minutes out of your day. Plus you have to pay for parking.

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42. Platform 9 ¾

Platform 9 3/4 is a creation out of the Harry Potter universe that came to life. It might seem like a cool idea to recreate your childhood with a photo… but everyone else seems to have the same idea. If you head here, you’re more likely to wait in line for about an hour before you can take a picture, so the experience is not really worth it. Outside of the wonder, it’s a boring sign on a wall, too, with a “half-submerged” set of luggage embedded into the wall. Other than that, there’s nothing extraordinary about it. 

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41. The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone is one of the most popular sites in Ireland, receiving almost 400,000 visitors every year. If you’re planning to place this destination on your travel itinerary, you may want to rethink it. First, it’s a 3-4 hour journey from Dublin, so you must start early in the day to see it. Secondly, it’s just a piece of limestone built into the castle’s walls with a long line of tourists waiting to place their lips upon it. Some people consider the trip worthwhile because the surrounding grounds are quite beautiful and more interesting than the Stone itself. However, you may want to skip it since you’ll be kissing the rock after millions of people already have over the years… and do you really want to risk your health that way?

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40. Stonehenge in England

Stonehenge has a lot of history to it. For centuries, stories have been circulating about its purpose, including the strange stories that aliens built it. Although none of those rumors have proven accurate, people are still drawn to the site every summer to witness the Summer Solstice passing through the ginormous rock structures. However, that’s all it’s good for because there’s nothing else around the area to do. Stonehenge sits in a fantastic field all by itself, surrounded by a fence, and people have stated that Stonehenge is actually a lot smaller than you expect it to be.

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39. Manila

Manila in the Philippines is not only rich with history, but it is also rich with beautiful sites and hot, humid weather. Because of the high traffic of tourists every year, however, the people of Manila aren’t afraid to exploit that by asking for money. While you stay in your rich hotel, you’ll pass people living in nothing more than shacks, making you feel a little self-conscious about treating their home city as a vacation spot. You might be better off taking a day trip here instead of staying overnight to get in and out of the sites you want to partake of. Keep reading for more popular destinations that are overrated and not worth the price.

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38. Tulum

Tulum in Mexico may sport some beautiful beaches and be home to some Mayan ruins rich with history, but you’ll spend a lot more than you’ve bargained for. The streets are riddled with potholes, and the cabs cost way more than you expect. Of course, what can you expect from an area with high tourist traffic every year? Furthermore, because of that traffic, Tulum has become less about the history and more about celebrities, hippies, and “gurus trying to find themselves.” That is, the atmosphere has become vapid. To experience Tulum, you must dig deep and get away from the people vacationing there. Do you want this much security on your vacation? Keep reading for destinations not worth the money.

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37. Rio de Janeiro

Rio De Janeiro is only good if you avoid all the tourist traps there. Going to Copacabana will leave you frustrated with how crowded the narrow beach is, not to mention the street vendors constantly harassing you to buy their wares. Again, Rio De Janeiro is a case of going when it’s not the middle of summer because it’s the high traffic of other people that will ruin your vacation. There are fewer wait times to see the sites, the beaches are less crowded, and the non-expensive area of the city is rich with a lot of history and quieter than where all tourists choose to stay.

Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

36. The Louvre Museum

The Louvre has become synonymous with art and culture… but you could say that about any museum in France. It has the largest collection to date, but the wait time and the price of admission don’t make the trip to the Louvre worth it, especially if you’re vying to try and see the Mona Lisa. The painting is relatively small, and there’s a fat chance that you’ll ever be able to get a good picture of it that doesn’t have other people’s smartphones in the shot. There are also not many signs in the museum pointing you where to go, so expect to get lost a lot while inside. Keep reading for more popular destinations that are overrated and not worth the price.

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35. Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is one of the most talked-about locations in the world. Everyone is always eager to visit because of how many good things they’d heard about it. Nevertheless, because of that, more and more people every year ruin your chance to rest and relax in the hot natural spa waters of the lagoon. Firstly, admission to the oversized Jacuzzi is basically over 80 Euros, making it pretty pricey. Remember that other hot pools throughout the rest of Iceland are also completely free, so why waste your money at the Blue Lagoon? Furthermore, even if you book a time at the lagoon, you’ll still have to wait in line for other people to get out, even though their allotted booking has ended.

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34. Phuket, Thailand

Have you ever thought about visiting this popular spot for an exotic vacation? Phuket, Thailand, only exists for the tourists in mind who don’t actually care about Thai culture. It’s a tourist trap, with overpriced merchandise and restaurants and “polished” to create an image that the people who live there are convinced that’s what tourists want to see. Because of that, almost everything has a price tag attached so that vendors can make the most bang for their buck during the tourist season. You’ll even have to pay for just a beach chair to sit on the sand. Don’t expect it to be a relaxing time with everyone trying to sell you something.

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33. Bratislava

Although Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, that is really the only thing going for it. Usually, country capitals are supposed to be rich with history, culture, and nightlife. But not Bratislava. In fact, the city itself can be downright dull; its only highlight is the Bratislava Castle, which has nothing else going on for it. Everything is expensive, too, from getting a bottle of water to taking public transportation. You can’t even get authentic Slovakian food at a reasonable price; you’ll probably have to settle for Asian meals most of the time.

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32. Athens

You would think that a place like Athens would have everything anyone could look for in a vacation spot, but you would be surprised. With a place with such a long history, there’s remarkably very little to do there. You can go to the ancient ruins of the Parthenon (if it’s not in a construction zone for preservations purposes) or take a trip to one of the local restaurants. However, that’s about it. Athens can be pretty sweltering during the summer, and add the vast crowds on top of that, and you’re not going to have a nice time. Just keep your expectations to a minimum if you decide to add this location to your itinerary so that you don’t disappoint yourself. These destinations don’t look like the postcards.

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31. Pig Beach, Exuma

The Bahamas is a great destination for a vacation. However, the trend is to swim with the pigs in the ocean. It sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, there are some excellent reasons to avoid this little activity. Firstly, the pigs have no problems going to the bathroom right in the water you’re swimming in, making the entire activity quite unsanitary. Secondly, the pigs are entirely exposed to the sun with no place to shade, leaving them to look a little sunburned and not well cared for. This obviously makes this a tourist trap at the expense of the animals’ well-being, which isn’t a good idea all-around.

Dublin’s Hapenny Bridge. TripSavvy

30. Dublin 

Dublin, Ireland, has recently become a new vacation destination, mostly because people expect it to be much quieter than going to the beach. Unfortunately, there are a few good reasons not to add this location to your itinerary unless you’re a die-hard fan of the Green Isle. Don’t expect lively nightlife since all the bars close at 11:30 pm on weekdays and 1 am on the weekends. There may also be a culture clash: if you go out with a group of friends, you’re expected to buy a round for them. Moreover, if an Irishman isn’t making fun of you, they don’t like you. Not the best impression for those visiting, but that’s how the Irish people do.

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29. Waikiki, Hawaii

When you hear “Hawaii,” you automatically think of a great time on the beach, lounging with drinks and letting the hours melt away. However, if you’re planning to go to Oahu, skipping Waikiki Beach would be a good idea. Everyone wants to go there, so the beaches and streets are constantly packed. Furthermore, if you’re looking for an authentic Hawaiian experience, this beach isn’t it either. All the hotels are replicas of each other with the same musicians and hula dancers for your entertainment. It will feel more like Disneyland than a tropical island. You’re better off choosing any different location than Waikiki Beach.

Nyimas Laula / National Geographic

28. Bali

More and more people have been looking at islands in South East Asia as new destination spots for their next vacation. Bali is one of them… and it’s decidedly not becoming a great choice. You may think it’s a cheap paradise, but prices have been steadily climbing over the years due to the increase in the tourist population. It’s crowded every summer, there are no nearby grocery stores for you to stock up on food, and there aren’t any affordable accommodations that come with a kitchen for you to prepare meals. That forces you to go out and eat at local restaurants that are still a bit pricey. Keep reading for more popular destinations that are overrated and not worth the price.

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27. Walt Disney World

Disney World is supposed to be the most magical place on Earth. It’s a place to escape and pretend like everything is made of magic again. Nevertheless, that’s the extent to which the “magic” goes. The food there is overpriced, there are long lines to get on a ride that barely lasts a few minutes, and there will be more children than adults. Honestly, you’re better off putting aside the cost of a Disney trip for something more worthwhile… like a college fund. You could use all of that money to plan out a more thorough vacation with all of the works than the introductory price of any Disney theme park.

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26. Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is definitely a sight to behold. You can even see it from the plane as you’re landing. Furthermore, that’s where your journey to the giant church should end. Once you’ve seen it, there’s nothing else going on for it. Is it a marvel of architecture? Sure. But that’s about it. There are always long lines waiting every year to get inside the church, where you get a timestamped card that only gives you 15 to 30 minutes to enter. That could be any day of the week, making this not worth it. And if you want to cancel and get a refund? Forget it. You’ve lost out on your money. Are you ready for more destinations that are overcrowded and dirty?

ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP / Getty Images

25. Hong Kong SAR, China

Hong Kong receives ten times as many visitors as residents that live there. There are not only people from the mainland but also people from all over the world. Because of this, even just walking around is a disaster. Public transport is pretty cheap, but the hotels are super-expensive. Air pollution is also a real problem because of how many people live and visit there. So if you usually have breathing problems, you may want to skip going here. Add heat and humidity on top of that, and you’re not going to have a great time. Keep reading for more popular destinations that are overrated and not worth the price.

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24. Khao San Road

Khao San Road in Bangkok started as a quiet, residential community. That didn’t last for very long once tourism in the country began to boom. Before hotels, tourists stayed in the homes of locals during their stays until the country realized just how much money they could start bringing in if they “upgraded.” And it shows. Khao San Road has now become a ghetto for those who want to experience backpacking in a busy market street where everything is cheap… no more expensive than other areas in Bangkok. So what makes Khao San Road stand out? Because of the high traffic area, it’s more prone to pickpockets and scams that can generally ruin your experience.

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23. Naples, Italy 

The Italian city of Naples has been on everyone’s vacation list for years. Well, it’s time to take it off because it’s generally pretty overrated as far as vacation destinations go. First, Naples has been a dumping ground for literal trash since the 1990s, including industrial and nuclear waste. This has led to a higher-than-average rate of cancer in the area, making the city an actual health hazard to visit. Secondly, there’s not that much to really do in Naples. Although there are plenty of sites and landmarks, other cities in Italy offer a lot more to see. Keep reading for more popular destinations that are overrated and not worth the price.

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22. Guinness Storehouse

Some people are just big fans of Guinness, so much so that they think visiting the Guinness Storehouse is a worthy trip. Unfortunately, because of the number of visitors it receives each year, how great it is has been blown out of proportion. The tour through the Storehouse is self-guided, so you can take as much time as you want. However, that can mean people are lingering around and taking up space so that you can’t get photos or see everything you want to see. It’s also not cheap to get in for what you see on the inside, so you may want to skip this one if you’re ever in Ireland.

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21. Morocco

Morocco is touted as an exotic place rich in culture, great sites, and great food. Those should be enough to attract any tourist’s attention, but there are some areas you should stay away from and just keep your expectations low. One thing is that some Moroccan people will go out of their way to get your money, even scamming you in the process. Of course, they can’t be blamed when tourists come to their home country and treat it like a giant amusement park, so they might as well make some money out of it. That’s to be expected in many countries.

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20. The Vatican

Although the Vatican can be a great place to visit, the wait isn’t worth it. With millions of people visiting every year, you must have everything planned and paid for in advance if you even want to get inside. You have to get there very early in the morning to stand in line for a long time before seeing the interior. Moreover, because of the sweltering summer heat, don’t expect that you can dress down to keep cool. There is a stringent dress code on what you should wear in The Vatican, which boils down to covered shoulders and knees. Don’t plan to go on weekends either, as The Vatican and its museums are closed on Sundays.

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19. Miami, Florida 

Back in the 90s, Miami was the place to be. It had a fabulous nightlife, and everyone would fly down there in the summer to get their tan and get away from their responsibilities to relax. However, Miami is no longer like that in any respect. The property development has led to a lot of erosion on the beachfront, creating an environmental disaster. The rent in the area is also pretty high, so don’t expect a trip to Miami to be an affordable vacation. You’d be better off going to any other beach along the coast that isn’t riddled with tourists and expensive living conditions. Is this how you pictured these popular destinations?

Lori M. Nichols

18. Atlantic City

Atlantic City is mostly known for gambling, but that’s about it. The town is mostly quite depressing, and you wouldn’t want to be alone in the city at night. Because of the gambling, everything in the surrounding area is expensive. You would think that it is by the ocean would have some draw to it, but people aren’t going there for the beach. However, the population of people who live there is pretty small, so there’s no draw to going out and meeting new people or going to the beach. There isn’t much draw for people who want to live there. Keep reading for more popular destinations that are overrated and not worth the price.

AP Photo / Mark Thiessen

17. Denali National Park

Traveling to Alaska doesn’t have much draw to it for a lot of people, and Denali National Park doesn’t make it much better. It is the third largest national park in the United States… but that’s the only thing even remotely special. There’s minimal visibility, so there are very few chances actually to get good photos. There are also restrictive tour bus rules, so if you are planning on traveling with children, this isn’t the best idea. Furthermore, if you spot an animal, there’s no chance to get a close-up photo of them… but maybe that’s for the best with all the recent stories of people getting trampled by buffalo in the Midwest.

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16. Dubai

Dubai became a big name in vacations a few years ago, primarily because of its tall skyscrapers. It quickly became the go-to place for those who had some money to throw around, but it’s not so great for the average tourist. It’s not very easy to get around if you don’t have your own car, as everything is far apart. The city’s opulence will also make your entire experience feel a little fake, like you’re in an amusement park with no rides. The place has a minimal history since it was built in the middle of the desert. Besides, the construction is mainly at the hands of migrant workers instead of the residents.

Michael Lyle / Nevada Current

15. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is more overrated than people make it out to be. It’s advertised as a place to win big, but that’s not actually the case. Visiting is extremely expensive; the only thing to do there is gamble, and if you plan on trying to eat healthily, you can forget it. The meal options are the typical fast-food you shouldn’t eat daily. You don’t go to Las Vegas for a peaceful and relaxing vacation since the entire city seems to run 24-7. The nightlife continues long into the early morning hours, so you might want to bring a white noise machine or some earmuffs if you want a good night’s sleep.

AFP/ Getty Images

14. Venice, Italy

Venice can be quite beautiful, but tourism has definitely taken its toll on the place. The only people living there are only there to operate the tourism industry, and the population is shrinking every year. It doesn’t help that the once-peaceful canals are now dwarfed by cruise ships. Riding on the gondolas isn’t ship, despite being the primary mode of operation. Moreover, since there’s no way for you to rent your own boat and travel around yourself, you’re pretty much stuck paying for whatever they charge. If you manage to stray off the main paths and wander the city on your own, you’ll definitely have a better time away from the other tourists. Are you still excited to visit these popular destinations?

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13. Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza should be a wonder to behold. After all, they’re one of the original Seven Wonders Of The World that is still left standing. However, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. Although they’re a miracle of ancient architecture, the age is catching up with them. Getting inside one of the pyramids is a long wait, expensive, and will leave you with more mold in your lungs than photos on your phone. The passageways are extremely cramped because they weren’t meant for people to be inside. Add the fact that even on the coldest day, it’s still sweltering inside, and all you have is a recipe for a bad time.

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12. Hobbiton, New Zealand

Everyone loves Lord of the Rings and wants to visit this overrated destination. It is the beloved little town of Hobbiton, the home of the hobbits. They’re quaint little houses built as a set for the movie. It sounds like a cool idea, but literally, every movie fan is going to visit at some point. And that leaves the location feeling extremely touristy. You can only get there by tour bus, the tickets are expensive, and you can’t take photos of the interiors either. For the drive out there, you only get two hours at the location, so you’ll feel rushed to take it all in. Keep reading for more popular destinations that are overrated and not worth the price.

The Culture Trip / Wall Drug

11. Wall Drug Store

Have you ever driven through the Midwest? You’re bound to see all of the signs for Wall Drug. And miles. You’d think these signs would be advertising a great stop on your road trip, one that you will definitely remember… but you’re honestly better off not following these signs at all. Wall is a dusty cow town with trinket shops, a handful of houses, and three gas stations, all on a single street… and that’s about it. Thankfully, you don’t have to pay to enter the town, but you’ll wish you never took the exit ramp after all the buildup of seeing those signs.

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10. Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussaud’s is touted as one of the best museums to visit if you want to get a selfie with a wax replica of your favorite celebrity. It sounds like a great idea, but you’re not the only one with that grand idea. You might find that the more famous celebs are surrounded by people who want to take their photos. Although it can be interesting to see just how well the wax craftsmanship is as getting celebrities’ faces right, once you’ve seen your tenth wax statue, you’ll quickly grow bored of looking through the rest.

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9. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is the capital of Japan for very good reasons. It’s the center of the country’s commerce and has everything going for it that you’d expect out of a major city. But it’s those same reasons that you should probably skip it if you’re ever in Japan. The crowds can be overwhelming, everything is expensive, and you won’t spot a bit of greenery anywhere except for the very small parks. You’ll be surrounded by the constant site of concrete, which can feel quite imposing. Don’t expect much hospitality either. Those who work and live there are already under stress without tourists added to the mix.

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8. The Taj Mahal

If you plan on visiting the Taj Mahal, there are better things you could do with your time and money. Every hour, roughly 2000 visitors try to get their photo of the famous structure, so if you want a pristine image of the building on its own, you’re out of luck. It is definitely a marvel to behold, but you shouldn’t assume you can get any photos of the inside either. Cellphones must be switched off before entering, and cameras are strictly forbidden inside. So while you have those nice exterior photos, don’t expect you’ll be able to take any inside. Keep reading for more popular destinations that are overrated and not worth the price.

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7. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

If you want your vacations to be exciting, skip the Arashiyama bamboo grove. It can be pretty peaceful walking through the bamboo forest, but with only a gift shop to shop in and a bridge to walk over, there’s not much else to do. It’s suitable for a nature walk away from the busy, bustling life of the cities, but plan to add other events to your day afterward. If you truly want peace and serenity, expect to get up extra early because there are always people there to take pictures.

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6. The Monkey Forest, Indonesia

Also known as the Ubud Monkey Forest, it sounds like it could be a unique trip to get closer to wild animals. But if you’re traveling with children, then it’s definitely not a good idea. The tourist population has made the local monkeys less afraid of humans, brazen even, to the point that they have no problems breaking through personal boundaries. Every day, people who make a trip to the forest end up getting bitten by monkeys. And don’t expect any help from the staffers if you do; that’s the risk you take entering the area. The Hindu residents revere the monkeys due to their worship of Hanuman. Would you visit any of these destinations?

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5. Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a great “memorial” to those making it big in the movies. For 15 blocks, you can find celebrity names on stars on the sidewalk. Thankfully, the walk is technically free, but you’ll have to pay for parking anywhere near it. That’s how they get you. With that said, The Hollywood Walk of Fame has been voted the worst tourist trap on Earth, so it might be a good idea to avoid it. The sidewalks are always crowded with people trying to find their favorites. There are souvenir shops lining the entire walk. You could spend your time and money on something actually fun.

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4. Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most overly-commercialized sites ever to visit. Everyone has taken a picture of themselves “holding up the tower,” so the sentiment has quickly gotten old. Moreover, because of its popularity, locals have set up stalls to attract tourists to buy some small trinkets to remember the moment. And getting to this lackluster destination isn’t easy. You’ll spend more time trying to get to the location than actually spending time there because there’s nothing else to see. You could take a tour inside the tower, but there’s nothing to see inside either. You’re better off going anywhere else in Italy.

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3. Cancun, Mexico

Cancun has become synonymous with spring break, making it one of the biggest and busiest destinations in the early summer. Because everyone is going there, that can make for a terrible time. This makes tourists easy pickings for local pickpockets. Not to mention that the prices of everything are jacked way up during the tourist season. Furthermore, don’t expect your trip to be peaceful. You’ll have difficulty finding a spot on the beach just to relax and enjoy the view. And Cancun caters to those who intend on partying with alcohol and events, so it’s not a good idea to travel here with children.

MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

2. Little Mermaid Statue in Denmark

This tiny little mermaid statue in Denmark is popular for some reason. Perhaps people value it since it has been around since 1913 or that it’s been vandalized in every way possible. But otherwise, it’s not worth making the trip to see this tiny statue unless you’re a big fan of mermaids. The statue is relatively small and looks like any ordinary statue you’d find at a fountain. There’s nothing spectacular about it, except that the surrounding area is quite lovely. It’s nice to pass by if you’re in the area, but this overrated destination is not something you should make a special trip for.

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1. Times Square, New York

Times Square has become another one of the biggest tourist traps in the world. For what reason, we don’t know. The streets are littered with stores, famously portrayed in many forms of media, and the LED displays will keep your attention moving from one advertised product to the next. The streets are always littered with tourists, so have a fun time getting through the crowds if you’re trying to get anywhere on time. Furthermore, the copious amounts of people fill the streets with their chatter. You’re not going to have a moment to think, take a picture, or enjoy a phone call with a friend. Have you been to any of these destinations?

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