A guide to Europe’s most overrated tourist attractions

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Friends will tell you that you have to go to these “world famous sites”. But we’re here to tell you that sometimes your friends get it wrong.

Reserve your precious vacation time for the best of these destinations, not the overcrowded and overpriced tourist traps. Here are some of the most publicized sites in Europe – and their alternatives.

France

TO JUMP: Eiffel Tower, Paris

You might like how it looks, but absolutely no one likes queues. You will be surrounded by screaming and jostled children in the blazing sun or the rain for an hour or more. And when you finally reach the front of the queue, you’ll be pushed into a crowded elevator that takes you to an equally crowded platform, where you’ll need sharp elbows to get to the railings for a view.

As you take your photos, you will realize that everyone will be missing that essential part of any Paris skyline photo – the Eiffel Tower.

INSTEAD OF DOING : Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Paris has so many superior views, from the Sacré-Coeur terrace in the north to the Tour Montparnasse bar in the south. But one of the best is on the right bank of the Seine, right in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The Arc de Triomphe, completed in 1836, offers panoramic views of the Champs-Élysées, the Louvre, the Seine, Notre-Dame, the Sacré-Cœur – and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. And unlike its Left Bank rival, the rooftop is rarely crowded and the average wait time is just five minutes.

ITALY

TO JUMP: Spanish Steps, Rome

To quote Wikipedia, “The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, Italy.” And that sums them up precisely. These are steps. They don’t lead anywhere of a special note, or offer great views, but they do have a lot of pickpockets and hawkers selling fidget spinning mills.

There is an old fountain with a submerged boat at the bottom, which is one of the less impressive fountains in this fountain-rich city. You will be told that there is some great people watching here, which is true – if by people watching you mean tourist watching, because that is pretty much all you will see in this. overcrowded place.

INSTEAD OF DOING : Trastevere, Rome

This lively little neighborhood is where Romans come to relax over a meal and a drink with friends, which makes people-watching that much more interesting. Sympathetic at noon, it’s even better in the evening when the workers go wild over a few glasses of wine.

HUNGARY

TO JUMP: Buda Castle, Budapest

The most important monument in the city is also the most disappointing. When you think of “castle” you expect grandeur – medieval thrones, armor, dazzling ballrooms. But after you’ve climbed the steep hill – or paid for the old funicular slow as a snail – in the sleepy ‘Buda’ half of Budapest, you come to a pitch the size of a football field.

There is a dreary history museum, but other than that the best you can do is walk around the walls and look down the Danube to the Pest side of Budapest – which will just make you wish you never saw it. ‘have left to come here loss of an afternoon.

INSTEAD OF DOING : Hungarian Parliament building, Budapest

Forget the antics of the populist politicians inside and focus on the majesty of this Gothic Revival beauty, one of the tallest government buildings in the world, completed in 1902. On the guided tour you will see some of its 365 towers, 40 kg of 22 karat gold decoration, 691 chambers and 29 stairs – plus the Holy Crown of Hungary. Don’t forget your passport – EU citizens get half-price entry.

DENMARK

TO JUMP: The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

Competing for the title of Europe’s Dittiest Statue, neck and neck with Brussels’ tiny Manneken Pis, is this bland limpet on a rock in Copenhagen harbor. She sits and looks through a small strip of water to the opposite bank, where you’ll see working docks, warehouses, and cranes.

Sculpted in 1913, this sad creature is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of a mermaid who gives up her fins to live on earth. Based on the facial expression of this sculpture, it’s a decision the Little Mermaid 100% regrets – and you’ll regret taking an hour of your journey to find it.

INSTEAD OF: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek

Watch the waterway The Sound above the body of the masterful Henry Moore # 5 two-piece reclining figure, and watch the wind move the tussles of Alexander Calder’s Little Janey-Waney mobile across the lawn.

When you’re done exploring the expansive sculpture garden, head inside to see the giant spider works by Louise Bourgeois and the skinny human sculptures by Alberto Giacometti, as well as a changing list of paintings. internationally renowned artists.

It may take 45 minutes to get from central Copenhagen to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, but unlike The Little Mermaid, this trip is worth the effort.

GERMANY

TO JUMP: Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

Have you ever seen a Portaloo? If you’ve been wowed by this, you’ll love Checkpoint Charlie. If that doesn’t sound like you, then you better avoid this little hangar – which isn’t even the real Checkpoint Charlie, but a modern replica – located on a median in a busy Berlin road. There are sandbags, loudspeakers and a sign that says, “You are leaving the American sector”… – and that’s it.

INSTEAD OF DOING : East Side Gallery, Berlin

A much more moving relic of Berlin’s Soviet era, this 1.3 km stretch of the Berlin Wall has been a free open-air art gallery since 1990, featuring murals by artists from around the world. They portray political and social themes, many of which still seem relevant today.

SPAIN

TO JUMP: Parc Guell, Barcelona

You’ll have seen photos of its curvaceous railings everywhere – on guidebook covers, travel articles and Instagram. But what you might not realize until you step through the gates of northern Barcelona is that, unlike most parks, you will have to queue and hand over a tenner to enter the area. scenic section.

It is also one of the smaller works of Antoni Gaudi in the city. And if you’re just looking for open green spaces to get some fresh air, you’ve come to the wrong place, too. The back of the park is free, but there is little of interest, with trampled dirt roads and thirsty trees.

INSTEAD OF DOING : Casa Vicens, Barcelona

Antoni Gaudi fans had better put their money in one of the city’s other twelve Gaudi sites, all more impressive – and closer to the city center. One of the lesser known – and therefore less frequented – is Gaudi’s first major building in Barcelona – Casa Vicens, a charming house with an elegant terraced garden built in 1885 in the dynamic style of Catalan Modernism.

ITALY

TO JUMP: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa

Unless you desperately need a cheesy photo of yourself “holding” that slightly wobbly tower, then avoid the trip to Pisa. It looks a lot more offbeat in photos than it does in real life, and if you pay to ride it you’ll be standing in line for hours, you won’t have much change from $ 20 and you won’t be breathless only by the climb of 300 steps, not the views of the lower town and the flat countryside.

INSTEAD OF DOING : The Two Towers, Bologna

If you are leaning over you will find a more inclined tower in Pisa itself – the Church of San Michele degli Scalzi. In fact, there are leaning towers all over Italy, from small villages to big cities. But the beautiful city of Bologna, two hours from Pisa, has not one, but two leaning towers, and they are also older than that of Pisa.

They are located right next to each other, and one of them, the Torre degli Asinelli, is the tallest leaning tower in the world at 97.2 meters. Entrance costs just around five cents, and you’ll rarely find queues to climb the 498 steps to the top, where you’ll see the terra-cotta rooftops and spiers of Bologna, and the lush Apennine mountains just right. on the outskirts of town.

NETHERLANDS

TO JUMP: Red light district, Amsterdam

Tacky, full of drunken tourists, depressed shop window women and shady drug dealers, there’s nothing remotely exciting about this clutch of streets. Killer of extraordinary passions, it is one of the most depressing red areas in Europe, a bar already set very low.

INSTEAD OF DOING : Nine streets, Amsterdam

It’s hard to go anywhere in this beautiful city filled with canals and not be charmed by them – with the notable exception of the Red Light District. But if you’re short on time and want to see gorgeous canal houses, shops, restaurants, and bars, head straight to the Nine Streets District, near the Anne Frank House and a short walk from Centraal Station. .

Pick up aged gouda from a cheese factory and vintage clothing from a boutique, then grab a beer and a snack at one of the cozy old brown bars overlooking a canal.

Whether you agree, disagree, or have your own to add, let us know on Twitter and Facebook @euronewstravel. And check out more terrible sites on the new travel podcast, Sh! T Trips, which covers places to avoid so you can improve every trip.


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