The 6 Most Overrated Tourist Destinations in the World

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By Robert McGarvey

These are the places everybody talks about -- "you have to go!" -- and when you get there, maybe only silently inside, you find yourself grumbling: Why did I bother?

It's almost like the Yogi Berra line: Nobody goes there anymore -- it's too crowded. Except what you are thinking is: Nobody should go there. Overpriced. Rude and self-impressed. Nothing to do. Those are key reasons that make a destination overrated. Understand two realities about this list of overrated destinations.
  • Places like Bakersfield, California, and Camden, New Jersey, aren't on this list, because they aren't overrated. Ignored places definitionally can't be overrated.
  • This topic breeds disputes. You may think that Berlin is overrated -- overcrowded with tourists and mediocre and overpriced restaurants. I on the other hand adore Berlin (although acknowledging the food is blah, the only people there are out-of-towners, and the ghoul factor indeed is high). But just walking along the preposterously grand Karl Marx Allee makes me want to break into song. De gustibus non est disputandum. There is no disputing taste.
The aim here is to highlight destinations with very few lovers and an awful lot of haters.

The 6 Most Overrated Tourist Destinations in the World

It already has the world's busiest airport for international passengers, but, word of advice, don't leave the airport. Other than the occasional dust storm, local attractions are thin. Said Suzanne Garber, chief networking officer at traveler assistance company International SOS: "Shopping mecca of the Middle East and haven for foreigners and expats. Where else can you ski inside a mall in 90 degree heat? But, guess what? The whole place is fake! Get a real life, go to a real mountain and ski in real temperatures. You don't need to go to Dubai for this."

You go there for the spectacular and rare medieval architecture in the city center, maybe for a little Kafka (the museum is well worth a stop). The problem is, too many others think likewise. Said Patrick Smith, host of askthepilot.com: "[Prague is] a wonderful city, I'm sure. But the average visitor hardly gets a sense of it, having to jostle through dense crowds and stand in various lines for endless amounts of time." Bustling, crowded Prague also has had significant issues with pickpockets who target tourists. There also are loud complaints about fines, seemingly issued randomly, by transit officials for violations of arcane procedures (not getting tickets properly stamped, as in who knew?).

Said Brian Penny, who blogs at ThoughtForYourPenny: "Aspen is the most overrated place I ever visited. Parking is expensive, it's overly crowded, and it's filled with touristy shtick nobody actually likes." Everything in Aspen is expensive, from hotels to restaurants to tchotchkes. It's a kind of Rocky Mountain version of Manhattan's (once charming now pretentious) Soho. If you are a one-percenter -- or want to be perceived as such -- Aspen is your place. Otherwise, advised Penny, get your Rocky Mountain high on in "the nearby cities of Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Redstone. [They] have access to the same ski slopes at a fraction of the price."

That's the nominee of Bob Diener, co-founder of Getaroom.com and former president and co-founder of Hotels.com. He elaborated: "very touristy and crowded." There's no there there. Cancun was developed from scratch by Mexico to lure tourists. In 1970, before development commenced, you could have counted the number of residents on the fingers of one hand. Go instead to Tulum, a gorgeous Mayan ruin on the coast south of Cancun. Or head inland to Chichen Itza, a very large Mayan ruin. The Yucatan Peninsula is lovely -- it belongs on any bucket list. Just skip Cancun.

It is 10,000 miles from New York. Flights take upwards of 24 hours. They cost $1,500 and more. What do you do in Bali? That is the question. The answer is: not much. Maybe visit a traditional weaver and watch batik made. Buy a sarong (and, yes, men and women alike there wear skirts). Listen to a local gamelan band musical performance. Watch a Hindu parade (Bali practices its own, age-old version of Hinduism). Pity the starving dogs (seemingly harmless stay dogs are ubiquitous). Dodge party-hearty Millennial Australians who are on the island, because, to them, it's their Cancun. And then what? Mick Jagger got married to Jerry Hall on Bali; you know how that worked out.

Poor Ernest Hemingway. Polydactyl (six toed) cats still overrun the speck of an island (and usually are said to be descendants of a Hem kitty). But, man, has it otherwise gone to the dogs. Said travel blogger L. Jaye Bell, who writes at IdleSpeedNoWake, "We drove from Maine to Key West last fall. Were completely shocked at the travel industry's form of cannibalism imposed on the island. Hemingway is turning over in his grave." Numerous cruise ships have had ill consequences. "When the giant 20-story shoebox ship buzzed by and eclipsed the sunset, it wasn't pretty. The channel is dredged deeper each year to accommodate their massive drafts."

Travel blogger Marcus Orbe, who blogs at Hipaways, said similar: "[Key West] is way too touristy and not real anymore. Packed with cruise ship visitors, cheap souvenir shops all over the city. Exhausting, because of all these people. No hideaways to find. Long, long drive all the way down from Miami and nothing to see."

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