Have you ever had great anticipation prior to visiting a certain place, only to be let down once you get there? It’s happened to me a couple times. Or the initial appeal fades more quickly than expected as the rose-colored glasses come off.
There are many lists of overrated travel destinations, most of which make the list since they are subject to ridiculous crowds during most, if not all, of the year. But just because a place is popular doesn’t mean it is an overrated travel destination. There are other reasons something might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Here are five places I think are overrated:
Times Square, New York
The first time we stayed in New York City, I specifically chose to stay in Midtown near Times Square. With plenty to do and see in the immediate area, easy subway access, and the hustle and bustle of the city all around, I figured it was the place to be. After all, I’d briefly passed through once (very briefly) while I was sixteen, and Times Square seemed quite cool.
A second Midtown stay later, and I’ve completely changed my mind. I think I’d far rather stay up near the park, or even down in the financial district. A nice hotel across the East River in Brooklyn or Queens might even be preferred. There are so many other places to potentially stay in New York City. Times Square is iconic, but it (and the surrounding area) is so busy. If I never walk through Times Square again, I think I’ll be just fine.
The Las Vegas Strip
I’ve written previously about how I’d be happy never visiting Las Vegas again. I’ve been through Las Vegas four times now, three times for work, and once on a road trip with my two older kids across the Southwest. None of those visits really connected me with the city. I don’t gamble. I don’t smoke (which is gross when you’re not used to it indoors). I should have known from the outset that there isn’t a whole lot to interest me in LV.
If you’re into glitz, glamour and gambling, Las Vegas may be for you. I found the strip so overhyped. Sure, there was a lot to see, and the Bellagio fountains were cool for a couple minutes. But I found that I’d much rather be hiking in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area with Las Vegas in the rear-view mirror.
Sometimes iconic pieces of history become larger than life in your mind. The Alamo was one of those cases for me. I was hoping to head downtown and see it while visiting friends who live in the suburbs of San Antonio
Our friends warned me that the Alamo might not meet my expectations. My daughter had to be filled in on all the history; they don’t exactly teach much U.S. history in Costa Rica. But I was well aware of the famed battle and last stand, and how pivotal the event was in the Texas Revolution. I had to see the famous building.
Turns out that the Alamo is far smaller than I ever imagined. It’s a simple, low-lying mission building and courtyard now completely surrounded by downtown San Antonio. Sure, it was cool to still see. But it wasn’t nearly the piece of history I had imagined it would be.
Granted, it’s been quite a while since I visited London. And I’ll freely admit that I had a fantastic time. I enjoyed over a week in the city with friends, sightseeing to our hearts content. It was a fantastic time, and I’d happily go back.
But what surprises me is just how popular London is, to the detriment of other cities. When I see photos of places like Krakow, Gdansk, Ghent, Helsinki, Andorra, and Vienna, it makes me wonder how London (and likewise Paris) get so much of the limelight. London had 19 million visitors in 2017. Contrast that with Rome, another popular city, which only welcomed 9 million. Crazy.
The Maldives might be the most aspirational vacation locale in the world, at least according to many points, miles and travel blogs. It could be a tossup between the Maldives and idyllic Bora Bora. Between the amazing Instagram shots and the serene beaches, it does look amazing. But is it that amazing, given how far you have to travel from the U.S. to get there? To be candid: this is a place I have yet to visit.
Maybe it’s because I’m not much into resorts. Or maybe it’s because I’m not keen on spending $1,000 for additional transit once I get close to my destination. Or maybe it’s because once you get to the resort, you really don’t have any option except to spend a bunch of money on resort food even if you do use points for all your hotel nights. I just don’t see the Maldives as significantly better than so many other places.
I could be proven wrong. But with so many other places to explore, I view the Maldives as overrated. I won’t say I’ll never go, but I don’t really expect to.
I could go on with a few more popular destinations that have little appeal to me that I also consider overrated (actually, I already covered the ones I don’t wish to visit). For some I would be very selective when we visit (e.g. Venice), to avoid the crowds.
It’s the unexpected gems that always stick with me the most, the off-the-beaten-path destinations. My favorite in this category is Newfoundland. Definitely want to make it back to Canada’s coolest province someday.
What are some places you have visited that you found completely overrated?