As much as Europe is filled with interesting and popular attractions, sometimes the entry fee or the detour just isn’t worth it, despite the hype. I have been lucky enough to visit many European cities, admire their popular sights and see for myself whether or not they were worth it. In some cases, definitely — like Kessler cellar in Germany, a canal cruise in Amsterdam, the museum island in Oslo, the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris or even the Shard in London.
In other cases, however, I wish I’d given it a miss. I like to think of myself as a fairly easy to entertain tourist, but sometimes the joke just goes too far.
Overrated Attractions in Europe
1. Manneken Pis, Brussels
It’s a tiny little men peeing in a fountain, on the corner of a street, with hundreds of tourists in awe around it. It sometimes has costumes. When I was there, it was an orange tuxedo. Lovely. The small bronze sculpture may date back to the 17th century but I won’t be making a detour to see it next time I’m in Brussels. Nor will I try to find his beloved, Jeanneke Pis.
2. Astronomical Clock, Prague
The clock is really interesting by itself, but I just wish there was more information about it, rather than just being a large pickpocket-prone area. Such a magnificent work of art and science surely deserves more than just a gathering area?
3. Stonehenge, England
Stonehenge itself isn’t bad – the sheer fact that these rocks were probably hauled all the way from Wales back in 2000 B.C. is actually very impressive, to say the least. To this day, specialists still don’t agree with its vocation: was Stonehenge a healing temple, a sun worshiping place, a burial site or a life-size calendar? No one knows for sure. What’s not so impressive is the 20 feet distance from the stones and the nearby motorway (not to mention the never ending audioguide).
4. Champs-Élysées, Paris
Large busy boulevard. Too many tourists. Angry French drivers. Luxury stores that have nothing to do with la French touch, and the one place where you will never come across a real Parisian…. Make sure you load up in patience before you go there. Oh, and keep an eye on your bag. Pickpockets aplenty!
5. Vatican City, Rome
Now this one is not actually overrated, but definitely requires some mental preparation. I felt very uneasy visiting a temple filled with decadent works of art that were only made Vatican’s possession by murder, violence and crusades. How many people suffered for the wellbeing of Vatican? The museum is a feast for the eyes, not so much for humanity.
6. The Spire, Dublin
Basically just a tall, metal thing in the middle of O’Connell street. You can’t really walk past it, unfortunately. Alternatively titled the Monument of Light, it doesn’t even commemorate anything, as it was simply commissioned as part of a street layout redesign in 1999. Trust me, there are many more enjoyable sights in Dublin than the Spire.
7. La Barcelonetta, Barcelona
Barcelona’s most popular beach is dirty and overcrowded, and filled with way too many Asian masseuses asking around (repeatedly) for clients. The sea is filthy and bone-chillingly cold. Just don’t rely on this spot to have an authentic “Spanish beach experience” — travel just a bit further out of the city for a much better experience.
8. Moulin Rouge, Paris
Boulevard de Clichy’s most legendary establishment may be quite cute as night with its neon lights, but the immediate surrounding has nothing to brag about. Illegal masseuses, drug dealing and an unshakable gritty atmosphere just doesn’t justify the trek to this part of Montmartre. Tickets to the shows at the Moulin Rouge are atrociously expensive and most travelers cannot afford them anyway.
9. Heineken Brewery, Amsterdam
Video simulation. €15. One tasting session. Enough said.
What do you think about the list? Have you ever been disappointed in renowned tourist attractions?