The Getaway
37 Overrated Tourist Attractions in Europe

Everyone has an opinion on Europe's must-see attractions — but your vacation should take you to the places you want to see. Sadly, many of those so-called "must-sees" are not worth your time (or money!), especially if you plan a detour to get to them.

Save some time by crossing these overrated tourist attractions off your list. That way, you can visit the best spots Europe has to offer instead of posting the same social media photos that everyone else posts. Take a look at some of the most overrated attractions in Europe.

Advertisement

01 The Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

tourists looking at Eiffel tower Bim / Getty Images

Let's face it — You're not going to miss the Eiffel Tower if you cross it off your to-do list. That's because you can see it from just about anywhere in Paris. To be honest, some of the views you get of the Eiffel Tower from spots like Sacre Coeur or Montparnasse are more spectacular than you'd get from standing right next to the tower itself.

And if you're thinking about going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, you may want to think twice. The lines are massive, so you can count on waiting an hour or so for the elevator. Once you're on the observation platform, you'll realize two things:

  1. All your photos will be packed with people you don't know since it's so crowded and,
  2. None of your photos will actually have the Eiffel Tower in them.

Advertisement

02 The Mona Lisa (Paris, France)

Your first big surprise on entering the room dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa will be how tiny the painting actually is. Your second surprise will be how big the crowd is that's separating you from poor Mona. Sure, you could wait and push and sidle your way up to the painting itself — but you'll get a couple of seconds there before the security guards tell you to move on, not even long enough to get a selfie.

Go ahead and visit the Louvre, where the Mona Lisa resides — after all, it's one of the top museums in the world. Just spend your time enjoying all the other art to be seen.

Skip the line with a learn about what you can't miss at the Louvre with the Go City Paris Explorer Pass

Advertisement

03 Gondola Rides (Venice, Italy)

If your goal in visiting Venice is to look as touristy as you can (and wind up on other people's Instagram feeds with the label #tourist), then go ahead and take a gondola ride.

Or you can trust us and avoid the gondola altogether. It's not as romantic as it sounds, anyway — not with all the other tourists pointing at you as your gondolier weaves through the crowded canals, trying to avoid the rest of the boat traffic. Instead, enjoy the romance inherent in Venice by strolling through the streets, and check out other islands by taking a quick boat taxi, just like the locals. You'll thank us once you realize how much money you've saved (those gondola rides are expensive!).

Advertisement

04 The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Pisa, Italy)

Travel tourists friends selfie at Pisa having fun posing for picture. Two girls backpacking on Europe summer vacation taking photo at popular attraction with funny pose.

The best photo of the Leaning Tower isn't actually the selfie you'll take of yourself pretending to hold the tower up and keep it from falling. It's the photo of dozens of other tourists in the same pose as far as the eye can see.

It's not worth the trip to Pisa for one clichéd photo of a surprisingly small tower. Instead, spend your time enjoying the wonderful art, food, and scenery of Italy elsewhere.

Advertisement

05 The Little Mermaid Statue (Copenhagen, Denmark)

There are plenty of good reasons to go to Copenhagen — but this statue isn't one of them. Its name is accurate: this is indeed a very, very "little" statue, and you'll have a tough time squeezing past the other tourists to snap that mandatory photo.

Instead, head to the city's famed Tivoli Gardens, one of the few tourist attractions where you'll find as many locals as visitors. You can always warble a verse or two of "Part of Your World" as you hoist a Danish beer to pay tribute to the little mermaid herself.

Advertisement

06 The Red Light District (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Nightlife and canals in Amsterdam Matt Champlin / Getty Images

Yes, you can pay money to watch people have sex on stage in Amsterdam's notorious red-light district. But you're going to spend a lot of money for the, um, privilege — plus you're going to feel uncomfortably sleazy and end up bored, as most onlookers report the sex shows as being robotic and dull. Better to spend your time and money elsewhere in this lovely city (where, yes, you can buy legal weed at hundreds of coffee houses).

Save on admission and tours at tourist sites around Amsterdam with Go City

Advertisement

07 The Mannekin Pis Statue (Brussels, Belgium)

The Mannekin Pis in Brussels. ae0816146146 / Getty Images

Brussels is not much of a tourist town. Maybe that's why so many tourists flock to this fountain that features a little boy peeing into it. Don't worry — the Mannekin Pis is a statue, not a real live boy. But it's still about as exciting as you're probably imagining right now. If you happen to be in Brussels, focus on enjoying the amazing beer, delicious chocolates, and French fries that the region is known for instead.

Advertisement

08 The Blarney Stone (Blarney, Ireland)

If you tend to have stage fright, the idea of the Blarney Stone may sound appealing. After all, if you kiss this stone, you'll end up having the famous Irish "gift of gab." However, Blarney Castle is way off the beaten path, so you'll travel quite a way just to get the chance to lean over backward and stretch to kiss what appears to be a random stone. If the difficulties of getting there aren't offputting enough, the locals are said to coat the stone in some unpleasant substances just to have fun with the tourists.

Advertisement

09 Checkpoint Charlie (Berlin, Germany)

Tourism In Berlin During The Coronavirus Pandemic Adam Berry / Stringer / Getty Images

During the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie was an intimidating spot, as it marked the moment you left the safety of West Berlin and stepped into Soviet-controlled East Berlin. Now, though, it's just, well, a shed. And it's not even the real Checkpoint Charlie guard shack; it's a replica. Better to spend your time exploring the murals on the remains of the Berlin Wall.

Advertisement

10 The Moulin Rouge (Paris, France)

The movie was great. The Broadway show was great. And back in its heyday, surely the nightclub known as the Moulin Rouge was also worth visiting. But those days were decades ago. Now, the Moulin Rouge is a bit tacky and definitely overpriced. Weigh for yourself whether it's worth the trek across Paris just to get a snapshot of the iconic windmill (which is "moulin" in French). And then spend your time exploring Montmartre or another delightful neighborhood in the city.

Save on tours and attractions throughout Paris with the Go City Paris Explorer Pass

Advertisement

11 Saint-Tropez (Saint-Tropez, France)

There's actually nothing wrong with the town or the beaches of Saint-Tropez, a famous spot along the French Riviera. Nothing as long as you have a lot of money to spend that is. The main problem is too many tourists head here because they've never heard of any other spots along the Riviera. Save your money by leaving the beaten path for Cap d'Agde or Cassis. Same beautiful beaches, the same perfect weather, but fewer crowds (and more money in your pocket).

Advertisement

12 The Temple Bar (Dublin, Ireland)

This venerable bar has been around for a couple of hundred years, but for the last decade or so, its primary purpose has been to pull beer for tourists. If you want to go drinking in Dublin, you certainly won't be alone — but you can choose from dozens of pubs (even on the same street!) where you don't have to fight your way through tourists.

Get 50% off on Dublin tours with the Go City Dublin Pass

Advertisement

13 Sunset from Oia Castle (Santorini, Greece)

The sunsets from Oia are absolutely beautiful. So are the sunsets from almost any other west-facing spot on Santorini. If you're honeymooning here, the romance of that gorgeous sunset is going to be ruined by the zillions of other honeymooning couples sighing over that same sunset. And if you want to save some money, head to any of the other, less expensive Greek islands, all of which have spectacular sunsets.

Advertisement

14 The Spanish Steps (Rome, Italy)

The Spanish Steps in Rome. They were built in 1725 and a popular tourist attraction. Julian Elliott Photography / Getty Images

If you're looking to get in your 10,000 steps, Rome is filled with amazing attractions that take you back in history (not to mention yummy food around every corner). There's no real reason that you have to waste those steps on the Spanish Steps. Yes, it's the longest and widest stairway in Europe. But maybe, instead, you should climb some steps that take you somewhere you actually want to go.

Get 50% off on Rome attractions with Go City Rome Pass

Advertisement

15 The Astronomical Clock (Prague, Czech Republic)

This mechanical clock must have been incredibly impressive to the people of its day back when it was created in the 15th century. But 600 years later, it feels a little musty and even a little Disneyland. The real issue for many is that pickpockets all know the plaza in front of the clock will be packed with tourists, all of them with their eyes glued on the clock and none of them paying attention to their backpacks or back pockets.

Advertisement

16 The Black Forest (Germany)

Silent German Forest in spring with beautiful bright sun rays on orange, golden sunset mood, black forest audioundwerbung / Getty Images

The Black Forest sounds mysterious and romantic, like a portal to a magical adventure. In reality, though, it's just trees. Lots of trees. If you want to explore a German forest, head to the Romantic Road instead (bonus: it also has a great name). And if it's the famous Black Forest cake you're looking for, rest assured that you can find it throughout Germany and even Switzerland. Just ask for a piece of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

Advertisement

17 The Romeo and Juliet Balcony (Verona, Italy)

The balcony scene from William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet is indeed one of the most romantic and most well-known scenes in theatrical history. But that tiny balcony that all the tourists are cramming into an equally tiny street to snap photos of? It wasn't even built when the play was written. Use the time you'd spend tracking down the balcony to buy some nice gelato.

Advertisement

18 The Hofbräuhaus (Munich, Germany)

The beer is good; there's no denying that. But the Hofbräuhaus is essentially a giant warehouse filled with tourists tossing back pint after pint. The only atmosphere comes courtesy of the impressively strong barmaids delivering a dozen steins of beer in one go. You can find great beer everywhere in Germany, so enjoy exploring some of the smaller bars in towns and villages throughout Bavaria.

Advertisement

19 La Sagrada Família (Barcelona, Spain)

If you're a fan of architect Antoni Gaudi, you do need to pay your respects to La Sagrada Família in Barcelona. But be aware that Gaudi only designed one of the panels on the church's front — and that the interior of the church is still unfinished after all these years. Don't waste time going inside. Instead, take your Gaudi pilgrimage to some of the other astonishing works of art the master left behind in Barcelona, visiting Park Güell, Casa Battló, and Casa Mila.

Save on Barcelona attractions with theGo City Barcelona Pass

Advertisement

20 Monastiraki Market (Athens, Greece)

Of course, you're going to go to the Acropolis, the cradle of European civilization, when you visit Athens. That doesn't mean, though, that you have to stop at nearby Monastiraki Market to buy tacky souvenirs. You can find T-shirts elsewhere in Athens, and better food as well.

Advertisement

21 Buckingham Palace's guard change (London, England)

The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace cowardlion / Shutterstock.com

The pomp and circumstance of the guard change at Buckingham Palace are indeed a spectacle, but it's one that attracts throngs of tourists, all jostling for a view of the action. If you're keen on avoiding the crush while still soaking in British tradition, consider the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. It's a lesser-known but equally historic ritual that offers a more intimate glimpse into the UK's rich heritage, minus the elbowing crowds.

Advertisement

22 The Royal Mile (Edinburgh, Scotland)

View down the historic Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh's Royal Mile is steeped in history and charm, but during peak tourist season, it can feel more like a medieval-themed carnival than a historic thoroughfare. For those looking to escape the throngs and discover a more tranquil side of Edinburgh, Dean Village and the Water of Leith Walkway offer serene beauty and a peaceful retreat from the city's hustle and bustle. Here, the only crowd you'll encounter is the occasional duck family paddling by.

Advertisement

23 La Croisette (Cannes, France)

Promenade de la Croisette in Cannes, France

Cannes' La Croisette promenade is famed for its film festival glamour, but on a regular day, it can feel like any crowded beachfront. For a true escape, the Île Sainte-Marguerite is just a short boat ride away, offering unspoiled natural beauty and tranquil beaches where the only stars are in the sky.

Advertisement

24 The Guinness Storehouse (Dublin, Ireland)

Visitors queuing up to enter the Guinness Storehouse Brewery building in St James's Gate. Derick P. Hudson / Shutterstock.com

Dublin's Guinness Storehouse might be a pilgrimage site for stout lovers, but its popularity can lead to crowded conditions that might water down your experience. For an alternative taste of Irish spirit, the Jameson Distillery Bow St. offers a more intimate setting to learn about whiskey's rich history and enjoy a tipple or two. Plus, you'll escape the throngs of tourists, making for a smoother experience all around.

Advertisement

25 The Colosseum's interior during peak hours (Rome, Italy)

Iconic interior of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy on a summer's day. The ancient amphitheater's grandeur and history are brought to life showing the architecture and design of this legendary structure.

Rome wasn't built in a day, but it might take a day to get through the line at the Colosseum during peak hours. Instead of spending your Roman holiday in queue, the Baths of Caracalla offer a majestic glimpse into ancient Roman life without the wait. These grand ruins are often overlooked, meaning you can explore at leisure, imagining the echoes of gladiators past without a tourist in sight.

Advertisement

26 The Van Gogh Museum during weekends (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, September 5, 2015: crowd in front of the new wing of the Van Gogh Museum with sunflowers in the foreground www.hollandfoto.net / Shutterstock.com

Vincent's swirling stars might lose their luster when viewed shoulder-to-shoulder with weekend crowds at the Van Gogh Museum. For a more serene art experience, the Rembrandt House Museum invites you into the world of another Dutch master, offering a window into Rembrandt's life and works in a setting that feels more like a home than a hall of fame.

Advertisement

27 Little Venice (Mykonos, Greece)

Mykonos, Greece. Waterfront in Little Venice, Mykonos at sunset.

While the sunset in Little Venice competes for the world's most Instagrammable moment, the competition for a spot to actually enjoy this spectacle can be fierce. For those seeking sunset serenity, the Armenistis Lighthouse stands as a beacon of tranquility, offering breathtaking views over the Aegean Sea without the battle for elbow room. Here, the sunset is yours and yours alone to enjoy.

Advertisement

28 The Berlin Wall Memorial during the day (Berlin, Germany)

Graffiti at the East Side Gallery on April 24, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. The East Side Gallery is the longest preserved stretch of the Berlin wall. Some parts are being removed now. Anticiclo / Shutterstock.com

The Berlin Wall Memorial offers a poignant slice of history, but its significance can be hard to digest amidst the daytime crowds. For a more reflective experience, the East Side Gallery awaits with its kaleidoscope of murals painted on the remnants of the Wall. Visiting at dawn or dusk not only offers softer light for viewing these powerful artworks but also a moment of peace to truly contemplate their meaning.

Advertisement

29 Park Guell (Barcelona, Spain)

View of the city from Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

Gaudi's Park Guell is a wonderland of whimsical design, but the wonder can wane when faced with long lines and entry fees. For a free and equally enchanting experience, Parc de la Ciutadella offers lush greenery, a stunning fountain, and plenty of space to lounge. It's a verdant escape in the heart of Barcelona, where the only thing whimsical will be your daydreams, undisturbed by the masses.

Advertisement

30 The Heineken Experience (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Interior of Heineken Experience, a historic brewery and corporate visitor center for the internationally distributed Dutch pilsner, Heineken beer. Nicole Kwiatkowski / Shutterstock.com

The Heineken Experience offers a glossy look at one of the world's most famous beers, but it can feel more like an advertisement than an adventure. For a taste of Amsterdam's local flavor, the Jordaan district's cozy bars and cafes serve up craft beers and stories in equal measure, inviting you to sip and savor the city's true spirit.

Advertisement

31 St. Mark's Square (Venice, Italy)

St. Mark's Square in Venice , Italy

Sipping a coffee in St. Mark's Square might seem quintessentially Venetian until you see the bill. For a more authentic and less costly experience, the Cannaregio district offers charming cafes where you can enjoy your espresso like a local, watching the world go by without the tourist markup. It's a taste of the real Venice, one sip at a time.

Advertisement

32 Montmartre (Paris, France)

Basilica Sacre Coeur in Montmartre in Paris, France

Montmartre's bohemian allure is undeniable, but the charm can be hard to find among the throngs of tourists. For a quieter slice of Parisian life, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont offers rolling hills, winding paths, and secret grottoes, all within the city limits. It's a place where the spirit of Paris lingers in the air, inviting you to wander and wonder in peace.

Advertisement

33 Puerta del Sol (Madrid, Spain)

Puerta del Sol or Gate of the Sun is a public square and is one of the best known and busiest places in the city Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com

Madrid's Puerta del Sol is a bustling hub of activity, but its frenetic energy can be overwhelming. For a moment of calm in the capital, the Templo de Debod offers an ancient Egyptian temple set in a serene park, providing a peaceful pause and a reminder that Madrid, like the temple, has stood the test of time.

Advertisement

34 Grand Bazaar (Istanbul, Turkey)

 Grand Bazaar in Sultanahmet, one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets, with over 4,000 shops selling everything from spices to jewelry. ecstk22 / Shutterstock.com

If you're dreaming of a shopping spree in Istanbul that feels both authentic and bargain-filled, the Grand Bazaar might not be your best bet. Despite its fame and the allure of endless stalls, the reality is a maze of overpriced goods and the same "special price" promised to every tourist. For a more genuine and less wallet-draining experience, venture outside the Bazaar's confines. The surrounding neighborhoods offer the same products at more reasonable prices, in settings where you can enjoy the true atmosphere of Turkish commerce. Plus, you'll escape the relentless sales pitches that have made the Grand Bazaar as much a trial as a treat.

Advertisement

35 Jet d'Eau (Geneva, Switzerland)

Panoramic view of Geneva skyline with famous Jet d'Eau fountain and traditional boat at harbor district in beautiful evening light at sunset, Canton of Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva's Jet d'Eau is a towering testament to the city's engineering prowess, but it's essentially just a very high fountain. For those seeking more than a misting, Geneva's Old Town beckons with its maze of cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and hidden courtyards, offering a deeper dive into the city's heart and history.

Advertisement

36 Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Milan, Italy)

Piazza duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele smpoly / Shutterstock.com

Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II dazzles with its glass dome and luxury shops, but the experience can feel more like a mall than a monument. For a less commercial and more cultural outing, the Brera District's art galleries, boutiques, and cafes offer a slice of Milanese life that's as rich and varied as any Renaissance painting.

Advertisement

37 Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (Lyon, France)

 drone photo Notre-Dame de Fourviere Basilica, Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière lyon France Europe

Lyon's Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière dominates the city's skyline, but its interior can sometimes disappoint. Instead, the Parc de la Tête d'Or invites you to roam its expansive grounds, where the beauty of nature and the serenity of the lake offer a divine experience without the need for stained glass.

This article contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

Share

Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.
Advertisement
Advertisement