15 Bucket List Destinations That Shouldn’t Be Worth Your Time or Money

Danny Newman

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The average American worker gets 11 days of paid vacation each year. In other words, not a lot! This creates a degree of pressure. With so little time to travel, you want to pick the perfect destinations for your trips.

Naturally, you gravitate toward places everyone raves about – vaunted locations you’ve seen in travel magazines and heard so much about. Surely these places guarantee a good time?

Unfortunately, not always. While many bucket list destinations live up to the hype, others can be a let-down. Here are 15 such places that you may want to reconsider visiting…

1. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa
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Located in Tuscany, Italy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of Bel Paese’s most recognizable landmarks. The ornate white tower is over 850 years old and seems to defy gravity with its four-degree tilt. You’ve probably seen it on postcards and in travel brochures a hundred times.

Unless you’re into architecture, it can be quite underwhelming, though. There isn’t much else to see or do – most visitors spend more time trying to snap the perfect photo than looking at the tower itself. It’s also a definite tourist trap, so expect crowds.

2. The Mona Lisa

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Speaking of crowds, the next bucket list destination you might want to skip is the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, Paris. Valued at $660 million, this painting by Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the most famous piece of art on Earth.

But good luck trying to see it through the throng in front of you. 10 million people go to see the Mona Lisa every year, so expect countless heads to obscure your view. Likewise, the painting itself may leave you wondering what all the fuss is about…

3. Maya Bay

Maya Bay, Thailand
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You might not have heard of Maya Bay before, but you’ve probably seen it. This iconic stretch of sand, with its limestone cliffs and clear turquoise waters, featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio Movie, “The Beach.”

Unfortunately, that claim to fame led to mass tourism that ruined its marine ecosystem. The authorities closed Maya Bay for years to allow it to recover. It's open again now but closes for two months annually for ongoing conservation efforts. Oh, and you're no longer allowed to swim.

4. The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China
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At around 12,500 miles long, the Great Wall of China is the world’s largest man-made structure. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s most famous places.

However, much of what you see today isn't the original wall. It’s been reconstructed. According to Britannica, the best-known section was rebuilt as recently as the 1950s. Combine that realization with the crowds of tourists, and some may choose to go elsewhere.

5. The Hollywood Walk of Fame

HOLLYWOOD CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: The world famous landmark Hollywood Sign on September 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Hollywood Boulevard’s iconic Walk of Fame now has over 2,700 stars embedded in the sidewalk, each showing the name of a famous celebrity.

But the street isn’t as glitzy as people think! Many of the stars are far dirtier than they appear in the movies, there are almost as many street peddlers as tourists, and there’s also a surprising amount of homelessness here.

6. Cancun

Cancun, Mexico
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Once a tiny, impoverished region in Mexico, Cancun is now one of the country’s most popular places. Millions visit every year to enjoy the all-inclusive resorts, sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and the ancient Mayan ruins nearby.

Cancun’s crowded vibe is the main reason to consider going elsewhere. You can escape the masses and experience many of the same attractions in places like Bacalar, Puerto Morelos, and Isla Holbox.

7. Cannes

Cannes, France
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Located along the French Riviera, Cannes has a glamorous reputation in a gorgeous part of the world. It’s also world-famous for its eponymous annual Film Festival.

However, there are quieter, cheaper, and more aesthetically pleasing places in Southern France! Villefranche-sur-Mer, Nice, or Saint-Tropez are all beautiful alternatives.

8. Route 66

Route 66
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Route 66 is one of the best-known road trips in the US. Starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica, California, it’s a classic 2,448-mile drive down “America’s Main Street.”

Yet this once-thriving highway was decommissioned in 1985 after a slow demise caused by the introduction of the interstate highway system. These days, much of Route 66 lies in ruin, the gas prices can be extortionate, and large stretches have very little to see.

9. Times Square

Times Square
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The intersection of Broadway, 7th Avenue, and 42nd Street, otherwise known as Times Square, is one of New York’s busiest thoroughfares. It’s a bustling, neon-lit part of the city that heaves with locals and tourists.

Some say it’s a must when visiting the Big Apple, while others tell you to steer clear. If you don’t like noise, crowds, adverts, or overpriced establishments, then it’s worth listening to the latter.

10. Dubai

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Dubai welcomed over 3.6 million overnight visitors between January and February this year – an 18% increase over the same period in 2023. People are drawn to its luxurious reputation, endless shopping malls, impressive skyline, and memorable desert experiences.

But what if you prefer historical attractions and green spaces to glittering concrete jungles with a questionable human rights track record? In that case, you could quite happily scratch Dubai off your bucket list.

11. Bali

Bali, Indonesia
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With its budget-friendly prices, incredible cultural attractions, and diverse natural beauty, Bali’s popularity is hardly surprising. Unfortunately, it’s also its downfall…

The Indonesian island, which has become heavily Westernized, can feel overrun with tourists in peak season. And, in places like Kuta and Seminyak, Bali feels more like a party island than a cultural hotspot. 

12. Venice

Island murano in Venice Italy. View on canal with boat and motorboat water. Picturesque landscape.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Venice is another iconic destination that knows a thing or two about overcrowding. This magical medieval city welcomes so many visitors each year its trialling various measures to keep them away. These include making day-trippers pay an admission fee and limiting tour group numbers.

If you want Italian charm but need peace and quiet to enjoy it, head south instead. Places like Matera, Castelmezzano, and even Sicily might be more up your street.

13. The Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas
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Las Vegas Boulevard is an ideal destination if you want to drink, dance, and/or gamble the night away – but only if you have money (and don’t mind losing it).

For everyone else, a trip to Vegas might be better spent off the strip. Nearby are many beautiful outdoor locations and unique experiences, including natural hot springs and the Seven Magic Mountains.

14. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls
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Although this natural wonder of the world is 100% worth visiting, most people suggest you see it from the Canadian rather than the American side.

For one thing, it offers better views of the waterfall and nicer amenities. For another, choosing the alternative puts you in the city of Niagara Falls in New York State. With a reputation for being rundown, shabby, and even dangerous, you might want to avoid it.

15. The Maldives

Maldives Hotel
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The Maldives is the quintessential tropical paradise. Think palm trees and sugary soft sands, crystal clear turquoise waters, and luxury bungalows perched right on top of them. The reason to strike it off your bucket list?

Because not only is the Maldives prohibitively expensive, but it can also be quite boring. There’s only so much sunbathing, swimming, and selfie-taking some people can do! If you like keeping busy doing lots of activities while you're away, there are better places to go.

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Rome, Italy
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Machu Picchu
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