World’s Most Disappointing Tourist Traps (According to Reddit)

When Redditor’s agree, it pays to listen – and a recent Reddit thread on the most disappointing tourist traps around the world had a massive amount of consensus.

It covered a surprising range of destinations from France to Los Angeles – and an eclectic mix of attractions too.

I have personal additions. Santorini in Greece, the MOMA in New York (on a rainy day) and the tunnels underneath Niagara Falls were all horrible, sardine-like experiences.

This list of tourist traps to avoid is ranked by the number of upvotes on the top comment.

The original thread is linked at the end of this page.

Disappointing Tourist Traps: Reddit’s Top Ten


#1 – The Mono Lisa (Paris)

There is no painting more famous than the Mona Lisa, yet the experience of seeing it is universally disappointing.

Reddit comments focus on the slowly shuffling crowds, tiny size of the painting and sheer number of phones in the way. One individual pointed out that we all know exactly what the painting looks like anyway, so even seeing it in real life is anticlimactic.

Discussion then expanded to Versailles, the historical palace outside of Paris. Crowds on the inside destroyed the experience for most, though the manicured gardens got a positive mention.

Can't see the mona lisa!

#2 – Pop Up Museums in New York

This one was not on my radar and created a classic Reddit-style stir.

Pop-up museums including the Candy Museum, Ice Cream Museum and Museum of Illusions were slaughtered. The gripe? Redditors said they are little more than Instagram backgrounds with no depth and low value as attractions.

As a fan of NY city, I’ll note that it is not just pop-ups that can get unbearable. The crowds at the MOMA in the rain were unbearable. Then again, everyone looked for indoor attractions at once on that stormy day.

To end on a positive, Reddit was quick to defend the NY Sex Museum as not in this disappointing pop-up category.

#3 – Cruise Ship Ports in the Caribbean

Nassau came up multiple times as a tourist nightmare, creating multiple threads.

Pushy vendors, tacky shops and 1000’s of people bursts the bubble of an idyllic Bahama’s stop. Jamaica got similarly disparaging comments. Cruise ports outside of the Caribbean were also included, with Naples (Italy) came up several times.

On a positive, staying on the cruise ship at these popular stops for a quiet and relaxing cocktail by the pool sounds like an excellent plan.

Cruise Ships in the Caribbean

#4 – Hollywood Boulevard is a Disappointing Tourist Trap

I was not expecting the universal disappointment for the iconic strip of stars that makes up Hollywood Boulevard.

A smell that combines weed smoke, urine and tour bus exhaust fumes made for an entertaining reflection. Another Redditor said you can spot tourists easily as they are the only ones not actively trying to leave.

This was not the only famous boulevard that got mentioned. Las Ramblas in Barcelona was highlighted as a pickpockets’ paradise.

On a positive for Hollywood Boulevard, a local highlighted cool and historical spots within 10 minutes of the tourist trap strip. They include the Chinese Theatre, Bordners and Frolic Room.

#5 – Disappointing Tourist Traps: Has Amsterdam Gone Downhill?

I worked in Amsterdam for a short while back in the early 2000’s. My personal take – simply to avoid the Red-Light District – seems to be inadequate these days.

Multiple people noticed big differences, even in the last 10 to 15 years. Gripes include the sheer number of tourists, and the quality of the shops / restaurants. One person noticed that the traditional cafes have been replaced with generic waffle or frozen yoghurt stores.

The Reddit consensus is to travel out of this city if you want to experience anything like real Dutch culture.

As you go out of the centre, the peaceful canals are beautiful. They make for the perfect ramble on a lazy afternoon. Do make sure you stay aware of the bikes – it is easy to have a collision.

August crowds in Venice turn it into a tourist trap

#6 – Venice in August is a Tourist Trap

My own memory of Venice was a combination of beauty and expense.

According to Redditors, you should absolutely avoid Venice in August. It’s the crowds which spoiled it for multiple people. The parallel to a horror film, or to hell itself, does feel a little overblown.

I went on a day trip from Croatia. After a solid hour of hard-sell tours on board, my biggest regret was not bringing my headphones.

Not to be outdone, Pisa gets a mention. The famous leaning tower is thought to be underwhelming, and the crowds are huge.

On the plus side, going up the leaning tower is said to be good value, and not too busy as many people don’t realise it is possible.

#7 – Yellowstone National Park is an Overcrowded Tourist Trap in High Season

Yellowstone is on my bucket-list, and I was disappointed to see so much agreement that it is a tourist trap with huge crowds during the high season.

The parallel with Disney World crowds mentioned by one Redditor came as a surprise. This gripe included some understandable frustration at the number of tourists that are disrespectful of nature and the rules / paths provided.

One person heard that less than 5% of people make it more than 100 yards (90 meters) from the road in Yellowstone.

Flipping this to a positive, exploring side trails or a little further from the road looks like the perfect way to avoid the crowds.

#8 – Oxford Street in London: Disappointing on So Many Levels

Avoiding Oxford Street in London came up. This one struck a real chord.

I loathe Oxford Street. Not only do the crowds stress me out, I just can’t understand why anyone would want to spend time there.

As a non-shopper it’s a no-brainer to avoid. Even if you do want to visit the handful of remaining iconic shops, it is hardly worth the horror of crowds of people not looking where they are going.

Tourist tat and ‘Candy’ stores have taken over.

I’m going to break the chain of adding some small positive at the end for this entry – just can’t bring myself to do it.

Niagara Ontario tourist trap?

#9 – Niagara Falls (Canada Side Especially) a Wonder of the World, or a Disappointing Tourist Trap?

It is the passages underneath the falls which were my worst experience of this popular bucket list destination.

Crowds just shuffling along, sparks of anger as entitled people jumped the queues. When you finally get to the small opening, it is just rushing water with no visibility – horrible.

Despite the amazing falls, the Ontario side is considered a tatty tourist hole by most Redditors. I agree, it is full of chain restaurants, scruffy and overpriced bars, and ice cream spots. On a positive note, the rotating restaurant on top of the tower was a great experience (and decent stake).

One day is more than enough for Niagara – in hindsight I’d do it as a day trip from Toronto.

#10 – The Vatican is a Holy Hole of a Disappointing Tourist Trap

Yelling guards, massive crowds and being shuffled out as soon as you see the iconic Sistine chapel ceiling are among the comments from Redditors about Vatican City.

I must agree, the whole place is crammed, with lines snaking out into the courtyard.

Outside of the holy city, Rome can also get crowded, with the Trevi Fountain especially trapesque. That said, the word ‘disappointing’ does not fit Rome for me. This is one amazing city, and the history seeps from everywhere from side streets to the iconic Colosseum.

Honourable Mentions: Other Disappointing Tourist Traps Around the World

There are many more, some well-known, others more niche.

Here are some highlights:

  • The Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen
  • Times Square NY
  • Bali (the tourist spots)
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Cancun

Check out the original thread many more!

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