Big cities are often at the top of the list for any traveler and there always seems to be a check list of “Major Attractions” that tourists are expected to experience; despite long line ups for tickets, crowds of people and more often than not disappointing results. Cities such as Paris, New York, Hollywood and London harbor less known attractions that are not only just as awesome but much less crowded and often much less expensive.
8. London, England
Overrated: London Eye
Starting off with the great city of London, England it doesn’t take a genius to identify The London Eye as one of the most significant tourist spots in the city. With its two long lines; one for tickets and one for rides it’s easy to identify this giant Ferris wheel as a tourist hot spot. Passengers travel in capsules that fit up to 25 people circling in a giant loop high above the city offering 360 degree views. It is considered one of the best places to view the city from above. The downfall to this attraction is not just the ridiculously long lines that you have to wait in but the high price of admission. Currently in early 2015 the cheapest price is $22 euro’s which gets you a standard ticket, the option for fast tracking the line will cost you a whopping $30 euro’s with no discount for children over the age of 4. The length of the ride is about 30 minutes in which you will be stuck with 20 or so strangers and depending on your luck could be good or bad.
Underrated: Parliament Hill
The alternate to the London Eye is to head to the top of Parliament Hill for amazing views of the city. This view has the WOW-factor, the price is free and it is the perfect setting to fly a kite, have a picnic or share a romantic glass of wine with your partner. The city’s skyline is best seen on a sunny day or head to the top nearing sunset and watch as the glowing orange sun sinks slowly and the city turns into a dazzling display of lights. The best parts; no lines, no crowds of tourists and a chance to experience the view like a local.
7. Hollywood, California
Overrated: Walk of Fame
Hollywood, California; a place that is best known for anything and everything celebrity related. It’s no surprise that tourists here come to see the infamous Hollywood Walk of Fame. Instead of the star lined street you expect to see full of celebrities and hip trendy shops; visitors are hounded to buy souvenirs, take pictures with characters in costumes and give to the homeless. The garbage floats endlessly down the streets due to uncaring tourists, the crowds are thick with tourists all gasping for the chance to spot a star and the only reason you should really visit is if you have an unhealthy obsession with celebrities and “need” that picture of their star.
Underrated: Runyon Canyon
Instead head to Runyon Canyon where you might actually have a better chance of spotting a celebrity. Many celebs head here to walk their adorable collection of dogs, burn off some calories and grab a fabulous view of the city. With sightings including Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Jessica Biel, Mathew McConaughey and Ben Stiller this is one hot spot to not only get a great workout but to work out those eyes feasting on some major celebs. You can thank us later when Ben Affleck runs by you shirtless.
6. Rome, Italy
The Colosseum is not only a gigantic piece of Roman history but it is one impressive structure where you can imagine the battles that were won and lost by ancient gladiators. It is also extremely HOT, overcrowded and surrounded by plenty of locals looking to make a buck off the unaware tourists. Admission is expensive, the interior is HUGE and it seems to be constantly under renovation; with many areas closed off to tourists. We don’t recommend skipping this attraction entirely as the outside of the Colosseum is almost as impressive as the inside and can be seen from the street where excellent pictures can be taken.
Underrated: Bath of Caracalla
Instead of fighting the crowds inside the Colosseum head to the Baths of Caracalla; an impressive complex of structures that were built as the second largest public bathing complex in the ancient empire. The ruins are simply magnificent and although the structure is now a modern day concert theater (which is just another reason to head here and watch an opera) the site remains true to its history offering visibly exquisite mosaics and objects that were once found here. The underground museum in the tunnels below is particularly interesting. This site is usually deserted making your time here peaceful and at a quarter of the cost; this is one underrated Roman attraction that shouldn’t be missed.
5. Cairo, Egypt
Overrated: Pyramids of Giza
When we say Egypt you think pyramids; let’s be honest as does everyone. Specifically we think of the pyramids of Giza; the great pyramid that is the oldest of the seven wonders of the ancient world and is still largely intact and the great sphinx. What we don’t think of is littered streets of garbage, tourist traps and never ending harassment from the hawkers that fill the area around the pyramids. A heavy use of armed guards and police seem to put a damper on the whole experience.
Underrated: Pyramid Fields of Dahshur
These are not the only pyramids in Egypt to discover though and just a short drive away is the Pyramid Fields of Dahshur where the pollution and crowds are much less. Still a well kept secret it seems that visitors are too focused on Giza to explore this beautiful site. The 2nd largest pyramid in Egypt; The Red Pyramid is here and visitors can climb all the way down to the bottom into the royal chambers. The Bent Pyramid and the Black Pyramid are also here and within three miles of each other. Do yourself a favor and stray from the beaten path and explore these unbelievable structures in a place where you can truly appreciate the beauty in silence.
One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks. The mystery around how these stones came to be is what draws visitors from all over the world. Unfortunately this tourist attraction is laden with expensive souvenirs, a steep admission price and over eager crowds of tourists all trying to snap a “selfie” with the stones. The barriers that are put in place prevent visitors from touching the stones and a large amount of staff are in place to make sure everyone stays on designated paths. Although a visitors center is now up and running with a video on the history or should we say ‘story’ of this site, that cannot make up for the ulterior motives of trying to sell anything and everything Stonehenge related; they even make you walk through the gift shop before you enter the outside stone area.
Underrated: Callanish Standing Stones
As a pleasant alternative to this historical site you will want to head to the Callanish Standing Stones. Although these two attractions are quite a distance apart if you are heading to the UK for the stones we highly suggest going for the later. Not only can you get up close and personal with the Callanish Standing Stones as the crowds of tourists are not present but you can touch them and even hug them. The visitor’s center does a great job explaining the history of the stones and a small café offers local cuisine. Did we happen to mention that the admission price is free? If you are looking for history, energy and a well-preserved mystical place Callanish Standing Stones should be #1 on your list.
3. Dublin, Ireland
Overrated: Guinness Storehouse
Home of the infamous Guinness Beer, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is one of the most widely known attractions in the city. The fabulous building and the promise of “the best Guinness you have ever had” lures visitors from all over the world. Over the years the working factory has been turned into a “Disney World” for Guinness fans with lights, lines and loud and rowdy people. The Storehouse, as it’s named now is completely self-guided and takes you through various floors that explain the history and brewing process through a series of plaques, objects and photographs. The tasting room and the gravity bar are where you will end up with your pint of Guinness, which is highly debatable as to whether it’s “the best pint ever”.
Underrated: Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny
For a real working factory tour visitors will want to head to Smithwick’s Experience in Kilkenny. A historian will guide your small group (reservations encouraged) throughout the brew yard, into the actual brew rooms all the while talking about the history of this 300 year old brewery and the incredible town. The full pint that is poured with such balance and pride is a welcome treat at the end of the tour. It’s well worth the drive to the charming medieval town of Kilkenny where the passion for the beer truly shines through above all else.
2. New York City
Overrated: Times Square
Times Square, either you love the thrill of the bright lights, huge billboards, numerous smells and sounds and the seemingly endless crowds of people or you hate it for the very same reasons. Crowded with throngs of tourists both day and night with a dizzying amount of lights, advertisements and costumed characters this is one of the most visited places in all of NYC; but not by the locals that is. They tend to stay away from the sewer smells that often take over, the con artists that prey on tourists and the sky high prices on everything from food to merchandise.
Underrated: Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood
An alternative to this crazy overcrowded tourist trap is to head over to Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood; located within Midtown. Here you will find cinema worthy streetscapes, theaters, fierce independent local businesses, thriving restaurants, local hang outs and plenty of green space to explore. Whether you are on a budget or looking for fine dining this area is loaded with options so visitors can enjoy a true authentic NY experience.
1. Paris, France
Overrated: The Louvre
Imagine going to Paris and not spending a day in The Louvre where the infamous Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is housed. Imagine not having to show up first thing in the morning because the line to get in is stretched out for miles and imagine not having to fight crowds of tourists to view the art you want. The Louvre is an incredible museum; the architecture, the works that are housed in it, we aren’t debating that. But it is often severely overcrowded, expensive to eat at and is large and has a somewhat complicated floor plan (be sure you can confidently read a map before you head here).
Underrated: Musee d’Orsay
For those art lovers who can’t bear the thought of visiting Paris without going to the Louvre; head to the Musee d’Orsay for a beautiful building that houses gorgeous impressionist works and will delight fans of Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne. This train station turned Museum is a little cheaper in price, much less crowded and full of art that even the less experienced art lover will recognize. The layout is simple and easy to follow with plenty of places to sit down and appreciate the art. The building in itself has an amazing history and makes this museum twice as breathtaking. If you have a chance, head outside to the terrace by the restaurant for some beautiful views.