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

Overrated Attractions in Europe

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

Overrated Attractions in Europe

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

Overrated Attractions in Europe

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

Overrated Attractions in Europe

Video simulation. €15. One tasting session. Enough said.

What do you think about the list? Have you ever been disappointed in renowned tourist attractions?

20 comments

  1. Comment by Annie

    Annie Reply March 7, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    En ce qui concerne le Louvre, es-tu allée en mai? Peut-être que ton expérience aurait été différente si tu étais allée à un autre moment de l’année?
    Pour ma part, j’y suis allée en novembre. J’ai à peine attendu dehors pour la fouille, je n’ai pas du tout attendu pour mes billets, oui il y avait du monde (c’est quand même Le Louvre!), mais reste que c’était très acceptable comme foule (et on sait à quel point j’haïs le monde!). Sauf que la Joconde est tout de même pratiquement inaccessible, ça il n’y a rien à faire!
    En fait, je rectifierais ton post en disant que c’est la Joconde, au Louvre, qui est overrated, le reste du musée est vraiment intéressant… surtout si on peut y passer plus qu’une journée ou encore qu’on se concentre sur une section… et non essayer de tout voir à la va-vite! Enfin c’est mon opinion, c’est ce qui m’a déçue, j’aurais eu besoin de quelques jours pour visiter à mon goût.

  2. Comment by Thailand's Attractions

    Thailand's Attractions Reply September 26, 2010 at 6:16 am

    what a lovely post! you put 10 most famous attractions for us. Thank you so much, this’d be a great info for me and my bf, because we’re planing to go to EU.

  3. Comment by Scott

    Scott Reply December 13, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    yeah, that Dublin Spire sure is pretty goofy. I remember when I went there I was excited to see it for some reason, and then I was there and I was like “what’s the point” (no pun intended)?

    • Comment by Marie

      Marie Reply December 13, 2010 at 12:55 pm

      My point exactly! And since the Dublin weather is pretty much permanently gray, I found that the spire didn’t stand out at all.

      Luckily there’s some colour over Temple Bar and Merrion Square.

  4. Comment by Scott

    Scott Reply December 14, 2010 at 1:56 am

    Yeah, i googled it and I still really can’t get what it was built for. it said that at dusk it is supposed to disappear into the light. I like Mannekin Pic though, he’s cute!

  5. Comment by Cailin

    Cailin Reply December 29, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    hahaha I definitely agree with the spire in Dublin. At least you don’t have to pay to see it :)

  6. Comment by Margo

    Margo Reply December 29, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Waterloo! Not that I was expecting much, but still… unless you’re a huge French history buff I can’t imagine it being interesting… And I actually have enjoyed visiting battlefields before (Gettysburg, PA is an amazing experience). I thought The Little Mermaid is a bit of a yawn too.

  7. Comment by Terri Fogarty

    Terri Fogarty Reply December 29, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I agree in regard to #1,3, 7, 8 and 9. I think the Moulin Rouge is awful and the neighborhood tawdry.

    I loved the astronomical clock in Prague, but HATED the crowds. I have never been to such a crowded city, and we went off season!

    But I must say that the Champs Elysees is a magical walk day or night. I love it. And, if you buy the Museum pass, you don’t wait in line for hours to get into the Louvre. (There are a few entrances, so you don’t need to go through the glass pyramid, either) I took my teen-aged granddaughter and it was the highlight of her trip to Paris.

    • Comment by Marie

      Marie Reply December 29, 2010 at 5:52 pm

      @Terri: Now that I’ve had time to think it through, I think my whole visit to Paris was an addition of bad circumstances and coincidences. I’m sure if I were to go back, everything would go smoother and nicer. My opinion about the Champs Élysées and Louvre are a bit biased by the whole outcome of my Parisian escapade, maybe it will change eventually. In Prague, I just didn’t feel safe around the Clock. Too much people and too many horror stories of stolen wallets! I’d rather spend my time visiting and enjoying other places in that beautiful city. Thanks for your comment!

      @Margo: I hadn’t even thought of that one. I guess, like you said, that you have to be a huge fan of French history to make it all the way there. I think the problem with the Little Mermaid (the one in Copenhaguen, right?) is the whole buzz around it, people make such a big deal out of it when really, it’s just a statue! ;)

      @Cailin: I think I would’ve asked for a refund if I had to pay a penny for that! Someone searched my blog for ‘funny metal thing Dublin’ earlier this week and landed on this post. Haha!

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  11. Comment by Lindy at AnyTrip

    Lindy at AnyTrip Reply July 8, 2011 at 4:51 am

    I definitely agree with you about the Louvre – I’d go for the Musee D’Orangerie anyday! And Stonehenge, yeah, give that one a miss too! Just a heap of rocks behind a chain.

  12. Comment by Roy

    Roy Reply July 8, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Don’t forget the mermaid in Copenhagen… Sorry but it just didn’t do it for me, arriving there and going ‘is that it?’…

    Nice post though ;)

    • Comment by Marie

      Marie Reply July 11, 2011 at 6:19 am

      Haha, yeah I heard about that one. I’m excited to visit Copenhagen, but the mermaid… not so much! And so many people praise it as an inspiring picture taking spot…!

  13. Comment by Anthony

    Anthony Reply September 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    London London London London London London London London London London London London London London London

    :)

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  15. Comment by Julie McNamee

    Julie McNamee Reply October 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I’m in Paris quite a bit and completely agree with you on the Champs Élysées – I just don’t go there anymore. The Louvre I do disagree with you on – yes, the Mona Lisa’s a bit of a chore to get to but there’s an awful lot of other stuff that, because they’re not so famous, are easily accessible. I’m with you on the Vatican – I was more than a bit angry with the expense of it all for a church who advertises itself as helping the poor. It’s simply a monument to vast egos. Thanks very much for your list – gave me something to think about!

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