7 of the world’s most overrated tourist destinations (in our opinion)

Young bearded tourist man ready for vacation against gray backgr
Young bearded tourist man ready for vacation against gray backgr
16:00pm, Fri 28 May 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

As the global tourist apparatus slowly creaks back into gear, the world’s attractions are coming back on the menu for the first time in over a year. Some are sites of extraordinary history or beauty worth travelling half way round the world for when we are finally allowed to go there. Others, we would argue, are not.

These hotspots, for us, are in the latter category…

1. The Mona Lisa, France

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci on display at the Louvre in Paris. Hundreds of people gathered around to see the painting.

We have nothing against the Mona Lisa – it’s a very good painting. We have plenty against queuing for ages to stand at the back of a large crowd (because that’s where polite people end up), to squint at a portrait barely 30 inches tall.

The mysterious smile loses some of its lustre when it’s a line on a remote, beige blob, and the eyes can’t follow you around the room if you’re far too jam-packed to move.

2. The Four Corners, USA

One woman touching the ground of four states at one time, Four Corners Monument

It only exists because someone drew it on a map with a ruler, andYou’ll soon realise the surrounding environment is indifferent to the invisible lines of man, and that state borders, even for Americans, really aren’t that big of a deal.

3. Spanish Steps, Italy

Spanish Steps and Trinita dei Monti church, a famous tourist destination in Rome, Italy

Of all the world’s cities Rome sets a high bar for historic, architectural attractions, and the incongruously named Spanish Steps does little more than ferry visitors up a small hill. The stairs are just that – stairs – and even the fountain at their foot pales in comparison to Rome’s other offerings. They say it’s a great spot for people-watching, but only if you enjoy seeing anticipation turn rapidly into disappointment.

4. The Little Mermaid, Denmark

Copenhagen, Little Mermaid. Image shot 2005. Exact date unknown.

The clue is in the name, but we wonder how many people expected the Little Mermaid to be quite so diminutive before arriving at this insubstantial statue. Four feet high atop a cairn in Copenhagen harbour, the statue was built in 1913 to be a symbol of the city, but raises eyebrows more than it does hopes and dreams. Michelangelo’s David, it is not.

5. Checkpoint Charlie, Germany

Checkpoint Charlie

If there’s one thing you can say about Checkpoint Charlie, it’s that its heavy commercialisation stands as a fitting rejection of the ideals it once bordered. A glorified photo op, with American flags, actors in border guard get-up, and a distinctly modern-looking shack, there really isn’t too much to see.

With the East Side Gallery mere minutes away, Berlin has much better ways to explore the traumas and complexities of its famous wall.

6. The Empire State Building, USA

Perhaps our most controversial inclusion, cinephiles from two distinct generations still flock to the Empire State Building’s viewing platforms thanks to ‘An Affair to Remember’ and ‘Sleepless In Seattle’. The panoramas are still pulsating, but the skyscraper is now an old dog that can’t learn new tricks.

The tallest building in the world on completion in 1931, this New York icon could only watch as it was overtaken by sleeker, newer models at home and abroad, and in Manhattan alone there are now several loftier views. Short of building more storeys, there isn’t much to be done. Our expectations have grown, but the Empire State Building has remained the same size.

7. Abbey Road Studios, UK

If your main concern in life is that not enough people hate you, by all means skip down the famous zebra crossing outside Abbey Road studios, and hold up two lines of traffic by posing for a photoshoot in the middle of the road.

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