People may flock to Hollywood to catch a glimpse of their favorite movie stars or take an eternity of a long trip down in search of bears, but no region has such a diverse and vibrant allure as mainland Europe.
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Made up of 44 countries, Europe has an almost endless list of fascinating places to visit. As expected, however, tourists tend to gravitate towards the already beaten path, echoing trips that friends or family have come home to raving about. Sadly, when this happens, iconic landmarks are overrun by outsiders and can never live up to the almighty reputation imposed upon them.
ten Eiffel Tower of Paris
The Iron Lady might be an icon of Paris and Europe, for that matter, but it’s like any other skyscraper – just a little more pointed. In high tourist season, the queues to go up to the observation deck can have waiting times exceeding an hour (unless you want to take the stairs, in which case, good luck!), The cost is astronomical, and there are scammers dotted around every corner trying to take advantage of confused tourists.
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The Eiffel Tower is the face of the city, but you can’t see it when you’re standing right above it. For this reason, the observation deck of the Tour Montparnasse is a great choice, but nothing can beat the view from the SacrÃ©-Coeur.
9 The Leaning Tower of Pisa
As a landmark on its own, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually quite interesting. He mixes the story with eccentricity (that infamous skinny), however, that’s pretty much where his list of positives ends.
The number of obnoxious tourists trying to take the next snap is enough to drive most visitors crazy, and the tower itself isn’t as tall as it looks in the photos. Plus, compared to many of its less-traveled neighbors, Pisa is a rather drab city. Avoid the city altogether and spend a day walking the Cinque Terre Coastal Path, offering incredible colorful views of the cliffs.
8 Copenhagen Little Mermaid Statue
There are no fine print for this European attraction – the Copenhagen Little Mermaid Statue is really SMALL – measuring up to just 1.25 meters! For some mysterious reason, the rather insignificant statue attracts crowds of tourists from near and far, the majority of whom leave disappointed after realizing its size, and the view of the water is not very interesting either.
Take a quick photo if you have to, however, your time would be much better spent strolling around Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park and beautiful garden with a history dating back to the 19th century. It is also located right in the middle of the city, so it fits easily into any route.
7 Dublin Temple Bar
What was once considered the epicenter of Irish culture and nightlife, Temple Bar (it’s not really a bar, it’s the whole neighborhood) quickly became a tourist trap. The streets are inundated with an array of intoxicated tourists on pub crawls and strangers happy to take selfies, so the traditional Temple Bar vibe these days feels a lot more artificial.
If beer is the name of the game, then head to the Guinness Storehouse. There will certainly be a few tourists here as well, but the crowd is smaller and genuinely interested in the history and brewing process of the national drink, Guinness.
6 Venice (yes, the whole city)
While Venice is an entire city, it is also a thriving tourist landmark due to its uniqueness. Sadly, intensive tourism has taken its toll on this once beautiful floating city woven of canals. The immense pedestrian traffic slowly causes the city to flow, the crowds are unbearably large, the rivers are often full of rubbish and foul smelling, and its atmosphere has become jaded and artificial. Worse yet, a 30-minute ride on an iconic gondola will cost you 80 euros (almost 90 USD).
Avoid Venice entirely and head to Verona for a day or two before catching the train to Florence and exploring the beautiful region of Tuscany.
5 Amsterdam Red Light District
For those who are underage, you better skip this entry and move on to our rock friend, Stonehenge. Okay, now that we’ve gotten rid of the kids, let’s talk about why Amsterdam’s Red Light District is such a bummer. The prompts dotted along the R-rated strip once lured customers with clever sales tactics, raised eyebrows, and a bit of charm. These days, however, they are glued to their cell phones and have little interest in bringing you for a “room.”
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Forget the taboo red light district altogether and explore one of Amsterdam’s many world-famous museums, like the Van Gogh.
4 Stonehenge in England
With nearly one million annual visitors, Stonehenge in the town of Wiltshire, England, is one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions. While the landmark may be shrouded in mystery, at the end of the day it’s nothing more than a bunch of awkwardly stacked boulders in the middle of nowhere. It’s not even that isolated either – the roar of the freeway is audible from the site.
Forget Stonehenge and its horde of disappointed tourists and instead spend one more day in London. The English capital is booming with culture, art and history, which far eclipse Stonehenge.
3 The Mona Lisa in the Louvre
Leonardo da Vinci’s emblematic painting can be found permanently in the Louvre, the most visited museum in the world. While the museum offers more than 380,000 objects, the Louvre’s most famous work of art is undoubtedly the Mona Lisa. Considering that the Louvre received 10.2 million visitors in 2018 (Statista), you can only imagine how many selfie-happy tourists have taken to the work of art. Not only is it suffocating, but it’s also much smaller than expected and heavily shielded.
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The smaller Orsay Museum, built in a former train station, showcases countless famous works of art and is a much better investment of your precious time in Paris.
2 The Manneken Pis of Brussels
For some odd reason no one can quite put their finger on it, this tiny statue is an incredibly famous tourist attraction. There is nothing more than what you see exactly – a bronze sculpture of a little boy peeing in a fountain. That’s literally all it is. Oh, it’s not even the original either, it’s a copy … a copy! Since it’s in the heart of Brussels, you’ll likely walk past it at one point or another, but don’t waste time trying to sneak through the crowds to snap a photo.
Instead, enjoy the flourishing beer and chocolate scenes in Brussels by taking a tour or simply stopping from pub to pub for a few samples.
1 The Moulin Rouge in Paris
In the Parisian district of Pigalle, the red windmill at the top of the Moulin Rouge is an iconic postcard. While it’s not too dark during the day, at night surrounded by the neon-lit red light district signs, it can look sticky and dirty at the same time. The Moulin Rouge itself is also extremely expensive, so take a quick photo in front of the windmill if you have to, but leave the area soon after.
Less than 5 minutes walk from the Moulin Rouge is an area that deserves a pleasant stroll: Montmartre. The rolling streets and quaint cafes are charming, while the view from the SacrÃ©-Coeur Basilica is first-rate.
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