While photoshop or filters can go a long way, some places are just not worth the trek no matter how incredible they look online. Take a look at some of these “must-see” destinations that are completely different in real life.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
There are some travel photo trends that just won’t die, and any quick look at your well-traveled friend’s social media page will prove this to be true. Almost everyone who has visited The Leaning Tower of Pisa has taken a photo where it looks like they're attempting to hold up this famously slanted Italian landmark.
Don’t believe us; take a look at this crowd. Lucky for this building, it doesn’t need a bunch of tourists to help prop it up — the building famously underwent renovation in the ‘90s to help stabilize it.
The Great Wall of China
There’s no doubt that the Great Wall of China deserves its spot on the list of World Wonders, but while this incredible feat of engineering and architecture is worth the trek, be prepared to share it with thousands of other visitors.
With an estimated ten million tourists visiting the ancient site every year, things can get pretty packed. Luckily for those seeking a more private experience, the wall is actually more than 13,000 miles long, so we’re sure you can find your own special spot somewhere!
Even though many of us get winded just climbing up the stairs, pictures of mountains on social media make us think that we, too, can become mountaineers. Few places make us want to put on our hiking boots like the Trolltunga rock formation in the mountains of Norway does.
Known as the “troll tongue,” the Trolltunga has become one of the country’s most popular attractions and hikes. But don’t let those edited social media posts fool you — the Trolltunga is one of the most challenging hikes, taking about 10 hours with no place to seek shelter or buy supplies.
The Mona Lisa in Paris, France
Want to know what’s behind the famous Mona Lisa’s smile? Be prepared to fight off crowds of other art lovers if you visit this iconic painting housed in the Louvre museum in Paris!
It is believed that over ten million people view the Mona Lisa every year. Looking at this photo, you may want to work on your arm stretches before making your visit to the Louvre, as you will have to stretch your arms to get a decent picture of the famously enigmatic woman.
The Little Mermaid Statue, Denmark
The Little Mermaid is one of the most beloved fairy tales in the world, so you would think that a statue inspired by the famous tale (and its author, Hans Christian Andersen) would be a bit more impressive.
Standing at just a smidge over four feet tall, this bronze statue is pretty unimposing, and most people wouldn’t even notice it if not for the crowds of tourists wanting to take selfies with it. Despite its small stature, the Little Mermaid statue has become one of Copenhagen’s most popular tourist attractions since it was unveiled in 1913.
The Taj Mahal, India
There are travel photos, and then there are photos of you in front of the Taj Mahal. Considered one of the seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site, this grand mausoleum attracts more than seven million tourists a year. In fact, its extreme popularity might be one reason to stay away.
Tourists have complained about the huge crowds of visitors making cool social media photoshoots nearly impossible, while others thought the entrance fees were quite steep. Yet, considering how intricately designed and built this site is, it might be worth it.
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Perhaps we’ve seen “The Mummy” franchise way too many times, but the idea of traveling through ancient Egyptian sites just seems fascinating to us. But before you set out on that desert adventure, you might want to see what these sites really look like.
It seems that you’ll probably find yourself traversing these ancient sites with hundreds of other equally adventurous tourists. After all, the Giza pyramid complex is home to several interesting Egyptian sites, including the Great Sphinx of Giza. Our advice — explore, but don’t be surprised to wait in line.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Once referred to as “the lost city of the Incas,” it seems that the secret is out regarding this ancient site. Located high in the mountains of Peru, this old citadel was once the home of the Incan empire. In recent years, the site has been visited by millions of tourists.
If the crowds weren’t bad enough, many tourists have gotten sick due to the site’s high altitude or have even died or been injured in landslides or got hurt while hiking. We think we’ll leave this site to the experienced hikers!
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
If the idea of visiting an ancient temple hidden deep in the jungles of Cambodia sounds appealing, then you’ll be interested to know that this Asian nation is home to the biggest religious monument in the world — Angkor Wat.
Featured in films like “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” the temple is gaining popularity as a major tourist attraction in Cambodia. While some travel guides or photos may make it seem like some isolated site, it's actually quite full on most days, with tourists trying to get in touch with their inner adventurer!
A Picnic Near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
What could be more romantic than a picnic near the Eiffel Tower? Well… pretty much anything, actually. The reason is that enjoying a romantic picnic in front of this iconic landmark is probably more stressful than it is romantic, thanks to the crowds.
An average of 25,000 people ascend this famous tower every day, with most of them planning to enjoy a picnic too. While we’re sure it’s an amazing experience, you might want to grab a baguette or two as you wait in line.
A Ski Trip
When it comes to sports, few sports carry the glamor of skiing. We don’t know if it’s the luxurious ski jackets or the idea of cozying up in a cozy ski lodge, but many of us dream of one day learning how to ski.
The truth is, however, that skiing is actually quite difficult and can even be very dangerous. After all, you are gliding across a snow-covered mountain at high speeds! For every perfectly posed picture you see on social media, we’re sure there were many “wipe-out” moments like the one on the right!
The Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If a quiet, relaxing day at the beach is what you’re searching for, then you may want to scratch Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach off your list. The iconic beach is one of the most popular beaches in the world and attracts millions of visitors each year.
Good luck finding a place to put your towel down! The beach is so popular that the yearly fireworks show held every New Year’s Eve typically brings in about 2 million beachgoers! We’re sure tourists can find a quieter beach in Brazil.
A Gondola Ride in Venice, Italy
If you pictured your trip on a gondola as an intimate experience between you, your significant other, and a stylishly dressed gondolier, think again. With hundreds of gondoliers (oarsmen who propel the gondola) vying for tourists' dollars, the famous canals of Venice are often filled with tourists on these famous boats.
Gondolas have become such a famous attraction in this water-filled city that it’s not unusual to see gondola traffic jams in its many narrow canals! You may want to think twice about that gondola proposal.
Located in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives may seem like a beach-lover’s dream — seemingly endless amounts of unspoiled beaches and some of the most biologically diverse coral reefs in the world. Unfortunately, as in many natural wonders, the ill effects of tourism have greatly damaged this chain of islands and coral reefs.
Today, visitors must watch their step as many of the beaches are covered with garbage and other pollutants. Not exactly the dreamy honeymoon many of us had in mind!
Santorini Island, Greece
Want to enjoy a famous Santorini sunset? You may have to maneuver through a sea of hundreds of selfie sticks and other photography-happy tourists, all hoping for the same special snapshot for their social media.
While the beauty of the Greek island’s sunset cannot be denied, the main part of the island becomes practically invaded by tourists during the summer months. And while the sunset at Oia is a sight that all travelers should see, it’s no fun trying to push through those narrow winding alleys and streets with hordes of tourists.
Beaches of Thailand
If seeing the film "The Beach" inspired you to seek out your own adventure on a Thai island beach, then you may be disappointed to see just how commercialized and packed some of these beaches are!
With hundreds of small boats zipping through the water carrying dozens of tourists, it’ll probably be hard to find a quiet spot to soak in this beautiful natural site. The site where the movie was filmed was so abused by tourists that the Thai government even shut it down at one point.
The Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy
Few man-made sites are as magical as the Trevi Fountain in Rome. The Italian fountain made popular in Federico Fellini’s "La Dolce Vita" even has its own mythology — it is said that throwing a coin into it will ensure that you return to Rome while two means you’ll find an Italian romantic interest and three coins ensure a marriage.
But before you envision a romantic tryst (or even wedding) with your Italian lover, keep in mind that the fountain attracts thousands of other equally romantically-minded visitors.
When it comes to the greatest mysteries of all time, few are as perplexing as the mystery of Stonehenge. Located about two hours from London, the ring of massive stones has been dumbfounding archeologists for many years.
It turns out, however, that archeologists and historians aren’t the only ones wanting to learn more about this fascinating ancient site — Stonehenge attracts about one million tourists a year. Numbers are even higher during important moments like the summer and winter solstices, making for a less mystical experience.
Climbing Mount Everest, Nepal/China
For those adventurous souls, nothing seems more amazing than scaling the highest point in the world — Mount Everest. But before you strap on your hiking gear, remember that the trail to the top is far from pleasant.
From climbing costs as high as the mountain (we’re talking about $45,000 to trek up the mountain) to the vigorous training one must undergo, it’s not for the faint-hearted. In case that wasn’t bad enough, the remains of hundreds of unlucky hikers are still frozen in place because moving them is too risky. Yikes!
The Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy
Rome has no shortage of picturesque spots to just sit and watch people live “la dolce vita” in the Italian capital. But if a lazy day of sitting and people-watching as you eat a gelato is on your list of activities, you might want to think twice about visiting the city’s “Spanish Steps.”
It turns out that it’s actually illegal to sit on the famed widest, and longest staircase on the continent after complaints that tourists and locals were blocking them. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, Italy
Even for those skeptical about religion, Vatican City is a fascinating place to visit. This microstate within Rome houses some of the most important religious sites in the world and attracts about five million tourists a year.
Because of this, you may want to reconsider visiting during the high season (between April and June). During these warmer months, St. Peter’s Square gets so packed you can barely make out the famous Egyptian obelisk. Visiting during this busy time of the year requires more than faith — you’ll need lots of patience too!
Sheep Meadow Park in New York City’s Central Park, USA
New York City may be known as the concrete jungle, but even the locals there occasionally need a break from the big city. Perhaps it’s this need for green spaces that make Sheep Meadow Park such a popular destination.
Though many social media posts may make the park seem like an endless field of lush green grass, the reality is quite different. On a sunny day, be prepared to share the park with up to 30,000 other city slickers hoping to have fun in the sun.
The Acropolis of Athens, Greece
While the city of Athens has innumerable ancient sites, one of the most popular destinations for history-hungry travelers is the ancient citadel that looms over this old city — the Acropolis of Athens.
But it’s worth traveling to, and you might have to find yourself battling against some modern-day tourists to do so. It is estimated that the site receives more than 16,000 visitors a day! If you want to enjoy this site with fewer people, insiders recommend visiting during the early morning hours or right before closing time.
Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, France
The Palace of Versailles has been the setting for some of the most well-known moments in European history. While it is no longer the residence of royalty, the palace still attracts about ten million tourists every year!
One of the most photographed parts of the palace is the impressive “Hall of Mirrors.” The many mirrors, multiple garden views, and ornate chandeliers make the extravagantly decorated hall the stuff of Instagram dreams. Good luck finding a private spot to take that perfect selfie!
Niagara Falls, Canada/USA
Niagara Falls is one of the most impressive natural sites in the world. While the falls actually consist of three large waterfalls, the most popular one is Horseshoe Falls which falls on the border between Canada and the United States.
This waterfall has been enchanting tourists with its sheer size and power for centuries. Even today, Horseshoe Falls attracts more than 20 million visitors, particularly during the warmer summer months. If you want to snap some pictures without a bunch of tourists photobombing, you might want to head there in the fall or early spring.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Japan
One of the great things about social media is that it allows us to learn about unique places worldwide. One of the worst things about social media is that all of that attention can turn local wonders into tired tourist traps. One example is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
This bamboo grove was once a favorite for daytrippers visiting Kyoto but has now turned into the ultimate backdrop for social media pictures. If you want to visit this interesting bamboo forest, be prepared to push through hordes of “influencers” all wanting the same picture.
Camping in the Himalayas
While many of us prefer vacations that involve sipping on a fruity cocktail along the beach, some travelers prefer a more adventurous type of getaway. For those thrillseekers, camping in the Himalayan mountains is the way to go.
Not only do these campers have to brave freezing temperatures, avalanches, or mountain sickness, but they also have to deal with the many other equally-adventurous tourists searching for the perfect campsite. We haven’t even mentioned the risk of running into a Yeti (the region’s version of the abominable snowman)!
The Howrah Bridge in Kolkata, India
From the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to London Bridge, some of the most popular tourist destinations are actually man-made. Carrying about 100,000 vehicles and more than 150,000 pedestrians, the Howrah Bridge is one of the busiest bridges in the world.
But while the bridge is certainly impressive from a distance, getting up close isn’t really worth it according to most tourists. Not only does the bridge attract large crowds and heavy traffic, but the pollution is quite sad to see. Locals recommend seeing it from a night-time ferry instead.
Antelope Canyon in Arizona, USA
If unbelievable desert landscapes are what you’re after, you may want to consider a trip to Arizona’s Antelope Canyon. The canyon’s curved walls reflect the sun’s rays to create incredible light beams — the perfect backdrop for even the most amateur photographer.
It’s no wonder this unique canyon attracts about four million visitors hoping to explore this strange-yet-beautiful alien landscape. Unfortunately for those hoping to escape the crowds, the best time for photographing the light beams happens to be at the same time as the summer high season for tourists.
A Day at the Water Park
During the summer months, as temperatures rise (and the patience of most parents dwindles), many consider going to a water park. With almost 85 million visitors annually to US waterparks, these attractions are quite popular. But while these parks can be a fun day, they can also be quite dangerous.
From risks of drowning to visitors getting sick due to a host of dangerous pathogens, a day at the water park can be risky. If the stomach-turning details about contaminated water weren’t enough to make you rethink going, the crowds certainly will.
Wat Rong Khun/the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Beyond its picturesque beaches and natural landscapes, Thailand is also home to some of the most fascinating Buddhist temples in the world. One of those temples, Wat Rong Khun, or the “White Temple,” is renowned for its unique architecture.
The famous structure, featuring ornate carvings to symbolize the Buddha’s purity, attracts crowds of tourists from around the world, all hoping to photograph this impressive building. Visitors to the site should be prepared to wait in line if they want a tourist-free snapshot of the temple.
“James Bond” Island in Thailand
Once a small island paradise in Phang Nga Bay, this island became known as the “James Bond” island after serving as the backdrop for the 1974 James Bond film, “The Man With the Golden Gun.”
Since then, tourists have been traveling to the rugged rocky island. Because of the surge in tourism, the Thai government has had to implement some environmental regulations to curb the amount of litter tourists have left behind. Those seeking a deserted island sort of feel may want to visit another location.
Abu Simbel Temple, Egypt
Perhaps we’ve seen too many historical action films, but few places seem as interesting as Egypt. Every year, millions of visitors trek to this country to see the remains of one of the greatest civilizations in history.
One of the most popular sites of ancient Egypt has to be the Abu Simbel Temple. Like many sites, the temple is filled with hieroglyphic-encrusted walls and interesting structures. Be prepared to push through crowds of tourists during the bi-annual solar alignment (February and October) when the light of the sun fills the temple room, illuminating the statues.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, Canada
If heights scare you, then you might want to skip this particular tourist attraction. The Capilano Suspension Bridge hangs over the Capilano River just north of Vancouver. Swaying at a height of more than 200 feet above the river, crossing it can be quite scary.
But contrary to many social media posts, the bridge’s daunting size has hardly made visitors turn away. In fact, millions of park visitors have eagerly crossed it making it one of the most popular sites in Canada. Just make sure to watch your step when taking those selfies!
The Forbidden City in Beijing, China
The Forbidden City or Palace Museum might have been off-limits to visitors for centuries, but that is certainly not the case today. These days, the large complex of buildings attracts more than 15 million tourists from around the world every year.
Once the palace of imperial China for almost five centuries, the palace boasts close to ten thousand rooms. Visitors to this once impenetrable fortress may find themselves struggling to move through the crowds of thousands of other tourists.
Swimming With Dolphins
For many of us growing up with films like “Flipper” or “Free Willy,” the idea of getting up close with ocean mammals seems like it would be incredible. But before you book a “swim with the dolphins” experience, it’s important to be aware of several things.
Research has shown that dolphins in many of these tourist attractions have demonstrated “agitated and aggressive behavior” due to stress. This behavior can even result in human injuries. While dolphins are incredible animals, like all wildlife, they should be viewed in their own natural habitat, far from human interference.
Sydney Opera House, Australia
The Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. It's no wonder then that close to 11 million people visit it annually. Danish and Australian architects designed the building’s distinctive architecture.
But while the opera house attracts huge crowds of tourists, it’s also one of the most famous performing arts centers in the world, hosting close to two thousand performances a year! The Sydney Opera House is considered the most popular tourist attraction in Australia and has become a beloved symbol of the country.
Eating the Street Food in Thailand
While seeing amazing sites is important, so is eating a memorable meal. Thailand is known as a street food capital, with thousands of street-side vendors hawking their culinary creations. But while some have no problem chowing down on this convenient cuisine, many are rightfully wary.
Street food can be contaminated by street pollution, like dirt or dust along the road. Without a real kitchen, food safety practices are practically nonexistent. Not to mention street vendors cutting costs with some questionable meat. While delicious, street food might be quite the gamble!
Sakura Blossom Tours, Japan
If you think that the mesmerizing pink shades of the Sakura (cherry blossom) are the result of a special photo filter, think again. Every spring, the cherry trees across Japan explode into a sea of pink and white blossoms, much to the delight of Instagram users who obsessively photograph them.
While there’s no doubt that these beautiful blossoms have to be seen to be believed, keep in mind that you might have to deal with the more than 60 million tourists traveling in and to Japan during cherry blossom season!
Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Milà in Barcelona, Spain
One of Barcelona’s most unique buildings is the Casa Milà or “La Pedrera,” as it is known in Spanish. The surreal curved building was designed by Antoni Gaudi and continues to elicit the same shock it did when it was unveiled decades ago.
During the high season, it can attract thousands of tourists every day, meaning long lines and wait times. On the bright side, at least you can take in the building’s strangely beautiful facade while you wait!
Yosemite National Park, California
Though California might be known for its large cities and high-tech hubs, the state also boasts some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. Yosemite National Park is home to giant and ancient sequoia trees, powerful waterfalls, and lush forests.
It is also the habitat of native species like mountain lions and American black bears. Not surprisingly, the park is a popular destination, especially during the summer and early fall. Visitors might be surprised at just how many other nature lovers they might see when they visit!
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
When it comes to travel bucket list destinations, few are as popular as the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Its misty turquoise waters against the icy white backdrop were practically made for sharing on social media!
But behind those photos, things aren’t always what they seem. Many disappointed tourists have complained about the expensive entrance fee, the strange sulfuric smell of the water, and the crowds. And while there are certainly other geothermal springs in the country, this one seems to be the most popular despite its setbacks.
Mt. Fuji, Japan
When many of us think of Japan, we think of Mount Fuji. The iconic large mountain has become a symbol of the Asian country and has appeared in everything from artwork to the country’s currency.
Yet, to many visitors, this symbolic mountain is nicer from afar. Tourists hiking the mountain have complained about the unpredictable (yet typically wet) weather and boring scenery. In fact, hiking is apparently so unpleasant that an old Japanese adage even says, “A wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once; only a fool climbs it twice.”
Terme di Saturnia, Italy
During the warmer summer months, visitors to Italy may be tempted to visit the country’s geothermal springs, made popular on platforms like Instagram. But before you venture out to take your own hot spring selfies, know that the springs aren’t exactly the way they appear online.
First of all, the springs are full of other tourists and even locals hoping for a spa day. It’s apparently also full of litter and even small bugs enjoying a spa session. If you’re hoping for a secluded and relaxing experience, you might want to search elsewhere.
Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico
The Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico, may look straight out of a film, but they’re surprisingly real! Perched above the sparkling blue ocean, the ancient Mayan civilization once occupied this imposing structure.
Today, the ruins attract crowds of tourists, all vying for the perfect beachside selfie. It seems that social media has made Tulum the go-to destination for “influencers,” much to the dismay of many travelers who have dubbed it “overhyped.” The huge influx of tourists has resulted in high prices, traffic, and poorly-maintained sewage systems to accommodate the crowds.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
With a bit of photoshop or the addition of filters, even the drabbest place can look amazing. But the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia needs no help; it really is that breathtaking. With sparkling turquoise blue lakes and waterfalls cutting through the rocky landscape, the park is beyond stunning.
But while the park is certainly worth traveling to, it does have some cons, namely the huge crowds that can take it over during the high season. Tourists have complained about the long lines in every part of the park, even the restroom!
Brooklyn Bridge in New York, USA
Once considered one of the less-desirable places to live in the country, Brooklyn has become quite popular. This New York City borough has become a cultural and touristic hotspot. The Brooklyn Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Manhattan, has become one of the most famous subjects for Instagram posts.
But not everyone sees the beauty in this bridge — many visitors complained about the huge crowds, long lines, garbage, and air pollution. Influencers hog the bridge, especially during sunset, for an iconic photo op. For many, this iconic bridge was just not worth the visit.
Going on Safari
For many nature lovers, going on safari allows them the opportunity to not only experience a unique natural landscape but also see wildlife in their own natural environment. But while many safari adventures promise visitors the ability to see animals in the wild, some safari parks actively encourage habituation — animals getting used to the presence of humans, resulting in animals losing their natural instincts.
Another issue with many safari parks is the sheer amount of tourists that are allowed in — any chance of connecting with nature is quickly lost when dozens of tourists surround you.
The Blue Grotto in Capri, Italy
The Blue Grotto in Capri features such beautiful colors that it almost looks like an artist painted it. And while the grotto is certainly beautiful, many tourists have agreed that the trip to get there was far from ideal.
First, there are the insanely expensive boat rides to the location. Then there are shockingly short amounts of time spent in the grotto after waiting for more than an hour! All of this is just to be “allowed” in the tiny opening. Many agree that the subsequent Instagram posts just don’t align with reality!
Empire State Building Observation Deck, New York City, USA
The Empire State Building is one of the most iconic buildings ever constructed, and for good reason. Up until recently, it was considered the tallest building in the world and was an important symbol of architecture and ingenuity.
At a dizzying 1,454 feet above the city that never sleeps, the building’s observation deck offers unparalleled views of the city. Though many would agree it is an essential part of any visit to New York City, being that high up can be a bit unnerving, not to mention the crowds.
Kayak Tours, Alaska
Alaska has a long and rich history of kayaking, which many tourists like to try out during their visit. Despite the gorgeous views of the untouched Alaskan wilderness and bountiful sightings of sea animals, kayaking can be downright risky.
Alaskan authorities recommend that groups have wilderness first aid knowledge and certification before embarking on such a journey. Basic life support kits are required too. Hypothermia is also a huge risk, and it’s quite easy to have that happen in Alaska’s freezing weather. We think it might be better to check out the views from a cruise ship.
The Colosseum in Rome, Italy
The Roman Colosseum is the scene of many gory gladiator fights. It’s incredible how this ancient wonder has stood the test of time, especially considering its location in the center of Rome. But don’t let the pictures fool you into thinking the site is incredible.
Many tourists describe it as very overrated and think it is prettier on the outside than on the inside. Also, if you don't pay for a guide, there are barely any signs with an explanation. Maybe we’ll just rewatch “Gladiator'' instead of braving the real thing.
Statue of Liberty, New York City, USA
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses …” is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty as a welcoming beacon to immigrants arriving in America. It really sets the mood for visiting this incredible statue.
While we definitely recommend a visit to this iconic wonder, we also caution against the crowds and wait times to get in. The famous site is typically swarmed by tourists, and tickets are booked up months in advance. That’s too many huddled masses for us to handle.
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Buckingham palace is an iconic British landmark. But visitors should be aware that as cool as this historic palace is, it’s almost impossible to get close to the site due to all the visitors. Even during the famous Changing of the Guard, it’s hard to see the action due to the crowds attempting to watch at the same time.
Additionally, the palace is only open to the public during short periods during the year, and tickets book up quickly! It seems like you have to be a very special person to get royal treatment there.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
One of the world's natural wonders is certainly the Grand Canyon. Worth it? Absolutely. However, visitors should be aware that getting to the site isn’t very fun – picture a five-hour car ride in a scorching desert from Las Vegas.
Not to mention the crowds are overwhelming, and the park becomes extremely crowded when school is out, so make sure to plan your visit before then. Weather conditions during summer can be quite brutal, and many areas of the park are only accessible by donkeys (seriously!). We think we’ll pass.
Borobudur Temple Compounds, Indonesia
If incredible and awe-inspiring ancient ruins are on your travel wishlist, then you’ll enjoy visiting the Borobudur Temple Compounds in Central Java, Indonesia. Built around the eighth and ninth centuries, this archaeological site is often considered one of the largest Buddhist temples on earth.
While you’ll be impressed by the architecture, don’t be surprised to see long lines of other tourists and even Buddhist pilgrims clamoring to see the temples. Insiders suggest arriving as early as possible in order to see the sunrise appear over this special place.
Like the setting of an “Indiana Jones” film, the Bagan region in Myanmar has to be seen to be believed. You’ll be stopped in your tracks as you gaze upon the seemingly endless amounts of ancient temples dotting the horizon.
Though the site still contains thousands of religious structures, historians estimate that thousands more once stood in the area. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site draws millions of tourists, so you might have to share your action film fantasies with a crowd! That said, the site is totally worth visiting, even if you have to wait in (the long, long) line.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
While many of us are perfectly fine with living at sea level, some adventurous tourists feel the need to climb a mountain simply because it’s there. One mountain that seems to attract these thrill-seekers is Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro.
Hovering at nearly 20,000 feet, scaling this behemoth is no easy feat. In fact, almost half of the climbers experience altitude sickness and have to shelve their mountaineering dreams. If that’s not enough to make you stay at ground level, keep in mind that the trek can cost thousands of dollars. We think we’ll just appreciate its beauty from afar!
Prague Castle, Czech Republic
At one point, Prague in the Czech Republic seemed to be one of the best-kept travelers' secrets. These days, however, the secret is out, and Prague is one of the most popular destinations for people around the world.
Don’t be surprised to see lines of tourists crowding the city’s old cobbled streets as millions of tourists visit the European city every year. One site in particular, Prague Castle, attracts huge swarms of tourists, so be prepared to wait in line if you want to get up close to this historic structure.
Chichén Itzá, Mexico
During their heyday, the Mayans were one of the most advanced civilizations in the world. And while the Mayan culture has largely been lost, much of the civilization’s impressive architecture still stands across parts of Mexico.
One region, called Chichén Itzá, is a popular destination for ancient architecture buffs. The sacred site contains a large pyramid and other buildings. Sadly, tourists are no longer allowed to climb the pyramid after a visitor fell down the pyramid’s hundreds of steps. Crowded and dangerous? You may want to look, but not get too close, to these ancient ruins.
Christ the Redeemer Statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Even for the least faithful among us, there is something powerful about the Christ the Redeemer statue looming over one of the biggest cities in the world. Jutting over the equally tall Corcovado mountain above Rio de Janeiro, the statue is visible from quite a distance.
But if you want to get up close and personal with the big guy, you’ll have to contend with the millions of other visitors seeking a spiritual connection (or amazing photoshoot opportunity for their social media page).
Universal Studios, Hollywood, California
Given the city’s role in film and television production, it's no surprise that Los Angeles would have a theme park centered around the entertainment industry. Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the city’s most popular destinations, attracting more than five million visitors yearly!
While many of the theme park’s fans praise the innovative rides, thrilling roller coasters, and interesting studio tours, the long lines and expensive dining options within the park can make a trip out there less appealing.
Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
There are some places in the world that need no introduction, and one of them is the famed (or shall we say notorious?) Bourbon Street in New Orleans. This strip of bars, restaurants, and music venues is known as the premier destination for entertainment… and revelry.
In fact, for many visitors, Bourbon Street has become almost too much of a party town. With increasing crime rates and dwindling local music establishments, many recommend staying away. While we’re sure it was once quite the place to be, recent reviews have made us think otherwise.
The Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
While some tourists seek thrills or escapism from their everyday lives, some travel to gain a better understanding of the world around them. Washington D.C. has no shortage of impressive monuments, but one of the most popular has to be the Lincoln Memorial.
Featuring a huge statue of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, the attraction draws more than eight million visitors annually. Like many of the attractions in the area, the Lincoln Memorial is free and open to the public, so visitors to this historical landmark should expect large crowds, particularly during summer.
Lake Mead, Nevada
When most of us think of the Southwest, we don’t typically think of large bodies of water. And still, set in this usually dry desert landscape is the country’s largest reservoir of water, Lake Mead. The lake’s stunning blue waters attract tourists from all over, hoping to escape the region’s arid climate.
Unfortunately, water levels in Lake Mead have continued to drop. It reached the point where even shipwrecks and human remains are being uncovered! You might want to think twice about diving in after learning about what’s really sitting at the bottom of this lake.
Victoria Peak, Hong Kong, China
Though many may consider Hong Kong to be filled with only buildings and other concrete landscapes, the important Asian metropolis is hiding a lush and green secret — Victoria Peak. Considered the highest point on the island, visitors can take in the city’s impressive skyline while also seeing some greenery.
Not surprisingly, the lines to enter or even ride the Peak Tram are extremely long. That said, visitors to this magical part of the city have raved about the panoramic views and much-needed green space the peak provides.
Pier 39, San Francisco, California, USA
Between the Golden Gate Bridge and other impressive sites, San Francisco is on many travelers’ bucket lists. A favorite of many, Pier 39 attracts millions of tourists and even locals with its many shopping and dining options. In addition to providing entertainment, the pier has another important role — it’s home to hundreds of California sea lions.
And while they typically behave better than most tourists, their presence can be quite the raucous affair! They also mean that any adjacent hangout locations are packed with crowds of other tourists, especially on a clear day, as seen in the above picture.
Disneyland, California, USA
Long before Orlando became synonymous with Disney, Mickey and all of his other animated friends called Disneyland, California, their home. Often described as “the happiest place on Earth,” Disneyland is known worldwide. And while any fan of Disney movies (or theme parks in general) can attest to the park’s special allure, there are some downsides.
The price of admission has steadily gone up each year, while the lines seem to get longer. Lines for certain rides can reach more than an hour! That said, millions continue to visit the parks for a truly unforgettable experience.
Zócalo, Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City’s main square, Zócalo, was once an important city for the Aztec people. Today, it is one of the largest plazas in the world and is the site of Latin America’s largest cathedral and seat of Mexico’s government — the Palacio Nacional.
Not only is the square typically packed with both tourists and locals on any given day, but night seems to bring out some rather seedy elements of the city. Visitors to this famous square should practice basic travel safety tips when visiting this impressive part of the city.
The Highline Park, New York City, USA
For many New Yorkers, Central Park provides all of the green space they could ever desire. But in recent years, there has been a push to bring some much-needed greenery to this concrete jungle.
The Highline Park is located on an old rail track in the city’s West Side. Featuring gardens of wildflowers and even art installations, the park also offers some of the best views of the city. Don’t be shocked to see crowds of other tourists or even locals trying to get the best pictures.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France
While many people immediately recognize the Eiffel Tower of Paris, the city is also famous for another important structure - Notre Dame. Considered one of the most important cathedrals in the world and a symbol of gothic architecture, its sheer size and beauty have attracted millions of tourists.
Unfortunately, due to the devastating 2019 fire that destroyed most of the cathedral, this Parisian icon is closed to the public for the time being. Visitors to the area can still take photos of the remains of the cathedral from a distance, however.
Desert Camel Riding, Dubai
Perhaps it's the desire to live out some sort of “Lawrence of Arabia'' fantasy, but many visitors to desert regions have an inexplicable desire to ride a camel. But before strapping up (or rather, holding on for dear life), know that the reality of riding this “ship of the desert” can be quite different than what’s presented on social media.
In fact, just getting the camel to cooperate and allow you on can be quite the mission. We haven’t even mentioned the spitting! Not the most glamorous way to get around.
The Dead Sea, Israel
The Middle East is full of interesting sites that wow visitors with their spiritual meaning and sheer physical beauty. One place, in particular, continues to find its place on many bucket lists — the Dead Sea.
Considered the lowest place in the world, people around the world have long frequented this hypersaline (extremely salty) lake due to the presumed healing qualities of its salt and mud. It's this salt that may actually make your visit less pleasant, especially if you have even the tiniest cut or scratch.
Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California
Though San Francisco’s other impressive sites seem to get the most attention, the city’s Golden Gate Park is actually surprisingly popular. The park receives an estimated 25 million visitors annually, making it one of the most visited parks in the country.
With beautiful meadows, trails, and even a Japanese tea garden, the park is typically full of visitors. And while this park is certainly worth a visit, just keep in mind that it may not be as empty (or quiet) as social media paints it to be.
The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
While modern-day shoppers have their choice of shopping malls or even internet shopping options to satiate their shopping needs, many still enjoy shopping at markets or bazaars. One of the most famous places to shop is Turkey’s famed Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
At more than 30,000 square meters, it’s the largest indoor bazaar in the world. And while you can definitely find some amazing products, good deals are getting harder to come by. The bazaar has become somewhat of a tourist trap with exorbitant prices and sometimes merchandise of questionable quality.
Grand Central Terminal in New York City, USA
A familiar backdrop to many films set in New York City, the Grand Central Terminal is one of the most famous transportation landmarks in the world. While it is still a functioning terminal serving various subway and railroad lines, many visitors visit to simply take in the splendor of the building’s impressive architecture.
That said, this popular destination is typically full of tourists, locals, and commuters trying to make the last train. You might have to get there very early to get the best pictures!
The Las Vegas Strip, Nevada
If you’re seeking some of the best casinos in the world and world-class clubs or dining options, then Las Vegas is the place. For many tourists, however, the city doesn’t always live up to the glitz and glamor presented on social media.
In reality, the city in the desert is unbearably hot most of the year. Many find that the Strip is quite the tourist trap — full of panhandlers and intoxicated tourists. While it's a place most people should see once, many have left disappointed.
The Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles
One of the most iconic structures in entertainment, the Hollywood Sign hanging over Mount Lee, is known around the world. But while many social media posts would lead you to believe that the sign is completely accessible or even within arms-length, the reality is quite different.
It turns out that even after traveling up the mountain and paying to park, you actually can’t get that close. The sign is located in a highly-protected and restricted area. You might as well just photoshop yourself into a picture!
Berlin Wall Memorial's East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany
For many people, watching the Berlin Wall was one of the most memorable moments of history. Though Berlin has evolved, reminders of its divided past continue to exist, such as the East Side Gallery (a portion of the original Berlin Wall).
Considered the largest open-air gallery in the world, portions of the wall are covered in meaningful art. And while it might be nice to appreciate the art and history behind this attraction alone, it’s nearly impossible. The site draws millions every year, with summer being an especially busy time.
La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona has some of the most incredible and unique architecture in the world, and one of its most well-known sites is La Sagrada Familia. This architecturally unique church was designed by the late Antoni Gaudí, and work continues to be done on this imposing structure, even close to a century after Gaudí’s death.
While the building is an amazing site to be seen, especially for art and architecture buffs, many find the lines and crowds to be less than pleasant.