Can we genuinely evaluate a location by simply perusing the many professional images that appear in the search bar? The pictures might only show you the positive aspects of your holiday destination, but they don't tell you about the dangers you might encounter abroad.
Nobody likes being taken advantage of, especially while on vacation, so it's crucial to do your research to avoid any uncomfortable situations. And nobody can inform you about these frauds better than the locals! For anyone who plans to visit Europe in the future, reading the responses and reviews concerning tourist traps in their regions is a must.
Let us write twelve European tourist traps you must avoid because we care for your time and money!
1. The Mona Lisa in Paris, France
The Mona Lisa is located in the Paris Louvre. It's only a small painting that is hanging in a very packed space with lots of tourists. Mona Lisa is a stunning, well-known picture, but it isn't reason enough to go to the Louvre. More striking than the Mona Lisa are the majority of the other works of art in the museum.
Without a selfie stick or camera, it will be impossible to take a picture. So, if you're going to the Louvre, it's advisable to skip the masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci and go for the Louvre's overlooked treasures instead.
2. The Eiffel Tower, Paris
The Eiffel Tower appears on everyone's wish list and Instagram feed. Its lacy staircase of vertical bridges is impressive. Other parts of Paris, though, have superior vistas and don't have to deal with crowds of tourists, tight security, pickpockets, swindlers, or vendors pestering you to buy flashy trinkets.
The base of the Eiffel Tower is currently enclosed in an 8-foot-tall bulletproof glass shell. To walk beneath the Eiffel Tower, you must go through a metal detector and bag check. It is far nicer to observe the Iron Lady rather than climb her. Simply put, it is not worth the cost and lengthy waits.
3. Hallstatt, Austria
Because of its UNESCO status and popularity, Hallstatt is well-known and has made significant adjustments to the tourism industry. Some have labeled it the most romantic location in all of Europe. The town is filled with little shops that sell local products made with salt that is produced nearby. Additionally, there are lots of restaurants that focus on local cuisine.
If you've looked at images of the town online (all of which were captured from the same two angles), you've probably already seen it. Despite being beautiful, it is crowded with tourists and home to cheap souvenir shops. There are a tonne more actual lakefront communities there. Hallstatt can be completely missed.
4. The Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen, Denmark
Even though the word “little” appears in the name of this “attraction,” you'll be surprised by its true size. Once more, it is unclear why people are shoving one another aside to take pictures of this 4-foot sculpture.
You're better off going to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art's Sculpture Park, which has over 60 magnificent sculptures and amazing views of the Sound.
5. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is unquestionably one of the most popular towers in Italy. It became famous because of a mistake in the drawings for the design that finally led to the tower leaning. As a result, the tower draws an average of 5 million visitors per year, making it a popular tourist destination.
The tower does not stand out from other structures around Italy, save from the evident leaning factor. As a result, it has no more distinction than a typical selfie site where a million other individuals also take selfies.
6. London Eye Ferris Wheel
The London Eye has been called one of the overrated attractions in London, with the worst view of the city. A 30-minute trip on the Ferris wheel will cost you about 36€, while a fast-track ticket would cost you about 73€. You'll need the fast-track ticket. Hundreds of other tourists will barrage you, and the lines can be incredibly long.
The London Eye receives over 3.5 million visitors each year. That is almost 10,000 people each day. That's insane!
7. Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence
The Arno River, the Duomo, and the Ponte Vecchio are all visible from Piazzale Michelangelo, which is famous for this reason. But regrettably, those breathtaking views are frequently detracted from by vendors of David figurines and diluted gelato. By continuing to climb the mountain past the flowering rose garden to San Miniato, you can avoid all of this.
One of Florence's most impressive Romanesque basilicas, it was constructed in 1018. If you're fortunate enough, you might even hear the Gregorian chanting of the monks.
8. Durres Beach in Albania
This tiny Balkan republic has beautiful coasts on the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The most lovely location for cooling off and soaking up some sun is Durres Beach, located west of Tirana, the nation's capital. But good luck trying to discover even a single particle of sand among the crowds of people. Cocktail parties and extremely sweet beverages are popular here.
Instead, have a look at Gjipe Beach. It is less famous, more south on the Ionian Sea, and well worth the effort.
9. Mozart and Strauss Concerts in Austria
A lover of classical music must visit Vienna. The Austrian capital produced many of the finest composers, although that was long ago. Nowadays, when Mozart & Strauss concerts at the Kursalon feature music by the two musical giants, most tourists remember the greats.
These tourist-targeted concerts are frequent, pricey, and, quite frankly, not of a caliber to warrant the expense, especially when they come with exorbitant dinners. See a live show at the renowned Musikverein, where all the greats formerly performed, rather than spending your money on one of these kitschy performances.
10. Dubrovnik in Croatia
Despite being a stunning walled fortress, tourists from all over the world have completely taken over Dubrovnik. We can mostly “thank” “Game of Thrones,” which used the location to depict King's Landing, for this, as over-tourism turned the area into a crowded nightmare. On that note, stay away from the tourist trap Game of Thrones tours here.
Visit any more than 1,000 islands in Croatia instead or destinations along the Dalmatian Coast like Split and Zadar. All offer amazing views with some breathing room.
11. Madame Tussauds in London
Outstanding national institutions with extraordinary artwork are abundant in London, and practically all are free. On the other hand, Madame Tussauds is a wax museum in a large city that features several British celebrities you would not even identify.
But if you truly want to see fake celebrities rather than just looking for them online, get ready. You'll spend a lot, endure excruciatingly long admittance lines, and visit a busy, noisy museum. Due to the crowding, it can be challenging to get a good shot with the Marvel comic characters or the royals.
12. Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square in London
Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square are extremely obnoxious, busy, and raucous versions of Times Square. They are the graveyard of excellent taste. You'll be surrounded by fast food restaurants and inexpensive souvenir shops selling souvenirs made in China. When visiting London, do you want to dine at Burger King?
The Lego store and M&M World are located in Leicester Square, and Angus Steakhouse is the worst restaurant on earth.
Some Great Tips on Avoiding the Tourist Traps in Europe
- An attraction is a tourist trap if there is a long queue of people waiting to enter. The Eiffel Tower is a wonderful illustration of this. Find something better to do unless you want to spend the entire day standing in a queue.
- An attraction is a tourist trap if it is widely publicized. Particularly if the advertisement looks too good to be true, this is true. For instance, it usually isn't worth your time to visit a diamond store advertised with absurdly low costs.
- A tourist trap is likely an attraction if it is close to a popular tourist destination. For instance, the numerous pricey cafes and gift shops near the Eiffel Tower are not worth your time.
Research and Plan
We have mentioned the places that are not worth your time, money, and effort. Therefore, if you plan to visit Europe or anywhere, do deep research and gather all the information about the place so you do not get trapped.
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.