The Getaway
The Most Overrated Tourist Attractions in the UK

The United Kingdom is a tourism magnet. Folks arrive from all corners of the world to see the sights that have resonated with them through pop culture and academia. The country is packed to the rafters with natural, historical, and recreational attractions, many of which will give you goosebumps. Others will leave you cold, wishing you'd crafted a better itinerary. Consider this your official warning; you'll have the best time on your next visit.

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01 Stonehenge, Salisbury

Sure, Stonehenge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as ancient as the Pyramids of Giza. But does that mean you need to make a dedicated trip to see it? No. You will be as underwhelmed as the crowds buzzing around the roped-off standing stones who regret getting out of their vehicles. If you're keen on seeing the landmark with your own eyes, just drive by on the A303 en route to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta or the iconic Glastonbury Music Festival in Somerset. It's free, and you can check two things off your bucket list.

02 Warwick Castle, Warwick

Warwick Castle isn't half as famous as Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, but it charges a similarly sky-high entry fee to adult visitors. Food and drinks here are supremely overpriced, so you have to bring your own grub, and the expensive parking is so inconvenient at the moment—enjoy the 20-minute trek to and forth. The emphasis doesn't seem to be on the epic history of the site but on the kitschy entertainment you have to pay for at every corner if you're tempted to engage.

03 Madame Tussauds, London

With so many unique attractions in the great city of London, why oh why would you choose to enter a boring Madame Tussauds wax museum? First of all, there are over two dozen of these expensive tourist traps around the world. There's one in Blackpool, for Pete's sake! The museum has also failed some of your favorite celebrities over the years, with botched wax figures that have kept fans up at night. Go here with pals only if you're in England's capital for a lengthy stay.

 

04 Ben Nevis, Fort William

If we're comparing peaks, Ben Nevis isn't exactly a 10. With the Alps not that far away, you're better off going to a mountain like Mont Blanc for a long weekend. This is not a diss to the Scottish Highlands, by the way. The ruggedly gorgeous Highlands are braw, as the Scots would say, and the hiking is excellent. It's just a suggestion to swipe left on Ben if you've got mountaineering on your mind.

05 The Eden Project, Cornwall

The Eden Project used to be impressive when it first opened, but it now feels neglected and has lost the charm it once had. The food selection and quality are terrible, the ticket is a rip-off, the signage is poor, and the educational exhibits need more interactive elements. "Under Construction" banners mar the experience too. Eden Project is not going to give you a proper day-long excursion; more like a 90-minute diversion. Overall, this is an anticlimactic destination and will remain so until changes are made to improve the visitor experience. Head for Golitha Falls instead.

06 Brighton Beach, Brighton

Brighton Beach has a lot going for it. The beach, unfortunately, is not one of those things. It's brown and full of hard pebbles—we don't mind cobblestoned streets, but it's a hard pass on cobblestoned coastlines. The color of the water leaves much to be desired. And, to add to the misery, the crowds are a bit much when the weather's good. Go to Brighton for the pier, live music, and LGBTQ-friendly scene, but don't expect much from Britain's most famous seashore.

07 Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London

You've got all the ingredients for an enchanting December night—toffee apples, nostalgic games, and dazzling on-theme lights. And yet Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is decidedly unmagical. The mulled wine on the carousel is meh, the mud on rainy days is a vibe and shoe-killer, and the lines for the rides are crazy long. Something just feels a bit off—you'll have to trust us on this one.

08 Loch Ness, Drumnadrochit

Loch Ness's mystique is powerful. Foreigners flock to this lake with little more to go on than folklore and dubious accounts of a long-necked, dino-like "monster" in the deep. Some theories suggest Nessie, as the Loch Ness Monster is affectionately known, is a mischaracterized whale penis, but that raises a flurry of new questions. Either way, tourists hop on pleasure boats, internally hum the Skye Boat song, and gaze into the waters, seeking who knows what. Their wasted pounds? Their common sense? The loch is admittedly pretty, and visitors stop at Urquhart Castle, but Scotland has more picturesque areas to explore, like the Isle of Harris or Loch Lomond.

09 Angel of the North, Gateshead

This giant sculpture across the river from Newcastle is a bit of a dud. There's nothing wrong with Antony Gormley's creation per se; its outstretched arms make it wider than the Statue of Liberty is tall, and it's grown on the locals since 1998. But you don't need to make any special detours to see it looking over the North East.

10 Thorpe Park, Chertsey

If you're a theme park connoisseur and you have a choice, go to Alton Towers. Thorpe Park doesn't add new rides as often, and it isn't family-friendly if you're taking kids along and want suitable activities for them. The Swarm Coaster is overrated, Colossus can be a bumpy ride, and operations have declined over the years—it feels like management is doing the bare minimum. Plus, it's a bit smelly. Don't bother with a special trip.

11 Blackpool Tower, Blackpool

Blackpool was the place to be back in the day. Like, way back. Between the Eiffel Tower copycat and other promenade eyesores, you'd do well not to waste your precious time here. On an overcast day, the entire place feels faintly dystopian. Blackpool Tower, constructed in 1894, remains one of the busiest attractions in the world, but high winds can force it to close, and a ticket to the top is rather pricey. If you do make the journey, spend the money on tea at the admittedly spectacular Ballroom where Strictly Come Dancing is filmed.

12 Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

A ticket to crowded Edinburgh Castle is costly and unnecessary. The edifice sits on a hill overlooking the town and dominates the view. You won't feel like you're missing out on much, particularly if you walk the famous Royal Mile leading to the castle and take in the stunning views for free. Even history buffs will find the add-on audio tour dry, and without it, there's not much info to go around.

13 Hadrian's Wall, Wallsend

Begun in 122 CE and running almost from coast to coast in northern England, the 73-mile-long Hadrian's Wall inspired George RR Martin's wall in "A Song of Ice and Fire," AKA Game of Thrones. Hadrian's Wall was a defensive fortification that marked the upper boundary of the Roman Empire. It used to be 12 feet high but is no longer that height. So, what exactly is there to see? Not much, as it turns out, but an old wall that undulates with the hills. Fascinating.

14 Giant's Causeway, County Antrim

If you're familiar with the story of the cloud-grazing Irish giant Finn McCool, you may anticipate a certain largeness to the Giant's Causeway. Well, the Causeway is relatively small, and its honeycomb geomorphology and accordion-like columns don't look as great as they do on your laptop wallpaper. Finn would have Yo Momma showdowns with a Scottish giant on the other end of the North Channel, but you better hope fog doesn't block your view.

15 Downing Street, London

We don't know about you, but at the mention of Downing Street, our minds go straight to Hugh Grant in Love Actually rather than the awkward press conferences held by prime ministers in front of their residence at No. 10. Whatever your reason for visiting, know that you shall be disappointed. Heavy security means you'll be lucky to catch a glimpse of the door number, let alone do Hugh's dance in the middle of the road for your socials.

16 Prime Meridian, London

It sounds intriguing on paper—visit the point of 0° longitude where the east and west hemispheres begin. But all it entails, of course, is going to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and paying an eyewatering fee to look at the totally arb Prime Meridian line on the ground. Just leave it out.

17 Abbey Road, London

Unless you're a die-hard Beatles fan who has always dreamed of this moment, you can skip the Abbey Road crossing made famous by the band with their 1969 album cover art. The road is a functioning road with hazards, and there's a considerable line of grouped devotees to wait behind.

18 Piccadilly Circus, London

This is the poor man's Times Square—Times Square light. Piccadilly Circus is a neon-light-bedazzled advertising Mecca and a bit of a headache. You can look forward to throngs of pedestrians.

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