Experienced travelers understand that little known destinations can be hidden gems, while famous cities and landmarks are often huge disappointments.
Today we’ll visit five of the most overrated destinations from around the world, so that you can spend your vacation someplace more enjoyable.
The hype: Idyllic Mediterranean beach in the daytime, and party capital of the world at night.
The truth: It’s madness. The hippie hideaway where travelers in the 1960s enjoyed a laid back lifestyle has been converted into a package tour nightmare. Millions of tourists arrive each year to dance all night in the home of the rave. The all night parties, with plenty of drugs and sex, go along with outrageous cover charges, dangerous streets and beaches littered with condoms.
Worth it if: You love to dance all night in your own city’s tourist traps.
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
The hype: A beautiful resort destination on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, featuring world class beaches, snorkeling and scuba diving, which plays an important role in regional diplomacy.
The truth: This place is as tacky as a King Tut brass ashtray. The tourism driven mass development has created a city about as charming as your local Wal-Mart. Don’t get drawn in by the photos on the resort websites. The beaches are packed with sunburned tourists, and popular snorkel destinations attract more boats than New York during fleet week. The Egyptian government has walled the city in to protect against terrorist threats, but have not managed to keep out the dangerously poor taste.
Worth it if: Epcot Center looks like a more authentic cultural experience than you can handle.
The hype: The mall, the museums, the monuments.
The truth: During the summer tourist season, the capital is so hot and humid that you will not be surprised to learn it was built in a dirty swamp. Lines to get close to the monuments are so long that you’ll be expecting to find a roller coaster at the end. Have you ever seen a political thriller where the hero leaves his car in bumper to bumper traffic, and runs across D.C. to save time? That’s what you’ll want to do if you’re silly enough to attempt driving here.
Worth it if: You absolutely must see where they film C-SPAN.
The hype: Picturesque scenery, Blue Lagoon, all day sunlight in the summer.
The truth: It’s incredibly expensive. The views may be impressive, but the prices are absolutely unreal. I’m talking $13 or more for a local draft beer, $80 check for two people at a simple restaurant, and gas prices of more than $8 per gallon.
Worth it if: Someone else is paying for your trip.
The hype: The Great Wall of China passes through here, and it’s only 50 miles from Beijing.
The truth: Badaling is Asia’s greatest tourist trap. As the first section of the wall to be restored for tourism purposes, it was explicitly redesigned to be a tourist trap. Just a few miles away at Simatai, you can marvel at the Great Wall without kitchy souvenir stands and several thousand other visitors to distract you.
Worth it if: You can find that must-have Great Wall snow globe in Beijing.