Tourist Places to Avoid (and Authentic Options to Replace Them)—Europe

by | Jan 27, 2023 | Destinations, HelloVacay, Travel Tips | 0 comments

We all have been to tourist places, spots where imitation culture is peddled for inflated prices like a disappointing Disneyland. You’ve been trapped. In our industry we say there are Tourists and there are Travelers. The Tourist is usually headed for a weekend to a popular destination without much background information, and thus falls into the conventional destinations that were designed for them when traveling abroad. The Traveler on the other hand has a guide, has done their research or simply finds a way to push past the ‘tourist places’ and into the real culture of the area.

In our second entry in this series, we’ll visit some of the most oversaturated spots in the continent of Europe, and highlight the authentic locations we recommend you replace them with.

(One note, if you haven’t seen some of these tourist places, many of them are worth a visit—we just recommend you explore beyond them.)

Tourist Place: Leaning Tower of Pisa—Pisa, Italy

Surprisingly small in person and generally disappointing, the leaning tower of Pisa isn’t much more than a backdrop at this point.

Traveler’s Trip: San Gimignano—Tuscany, Italy

Looking for an uncrowded haven in Tuscany with plenty of perfectly preserved ancient architecture? Check out the tower houses and medieval construction of San Gimignano, “the medieval Manhattan”.

(Side note, avoid the torture museums in Tuscany… another tourist trap)

Tourist Places in Europe: Gondola Driver in Venice, Italy

Tourist Place: Gondola Rides—Venice, Italy

Listen, I too have fantasized about the legendary canals of Venice so I’m not recommending you don’t visit them. That being said, the Gondola experience is usually overpriced and helmed by a man dressed like, well, what foreigners imagine Italians dress like… not exactly what we’d call authentic.

Traveler’s Trip: Traghetto Rides—Venice, Italy

This is how the locals do it. A Traghetto is essentially a more practical Gondola. Cut out all of the corny outfits and overpriced costs and you’ve got a much more genuine experience.

Tourist Places in Europe: The Louvre, Paris, France

Tourist Place: The Mona Lisa—Paris, France

The Mona Lisa, an iconic painting. The sly smirk, the famed backstory, the DaVinci code. But in reality the Mona Lisa is TINY. Very small. Now that would not be a problem if it was not absolutely swarmed at all hours of the day by visitors.

Traveler’s Trip: The Rest of the Louvre—Paris, France

The Louvre is incredible, arguably the greatest current museum in the world… don’t miss it. And certainly don’t waste too much time trying to get a peek of the Mona Lisa from behind a giant Danish man’s back. Explore the rest of the museum! The Louvre boasts the largest collection of original DaVinci paintings in the world, so check out some of his other less popular work.

Tourist Place: Abbey Road—London, UK

Another iconic location, another real-life disappointment. Prepare to wait in line if you want to recreate the legendary Beatles cover. While it’s fun to see the street, we recommend you pass this spot by on your way to our choice below…

Traveler’s Trip: Abbey Road Studio Tour—London, UK

A studio tour! Abbey Road Studio is one of the most legendary recording studios on the planet, having obviously been the spot the Beatles put together their Abbey Road record. Beyond the Beatles this studio's roster includes Oasis, Radiohead, Lady Gaga, Frank Ocean, Amy Winehouse, Adele and Kanye West. Talk about eclectic.

Tourist Places in Europe: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tourist Place: Red Light District—Amsterdam, Netherlands

Prepare for wasted tourists and frat boy bachelor parties. Chances are you won’t have the debaucherous night you were after but instead might get a drink spilled on your favorite shirt.

Traveler’s Trip: De Pijp—Amsterdam, Netherlands

This bohemian neighborhood is known for its narrow streets, eastern eateries and old style pubs. Far less touristy than many of Amsterdam’s other neighborhoods but with all of the cultural charm—visit the area considered “Amsterdam’s coolest” by Vogue.

Tourist Place: Lunch at Noon—Spain

Okay, this is a unique one because this isn’t so much about a particular place but rather a rule of thumb. In Spain, if you see a restaurant open at noon, avoid it—it’s probably a tourist trap.
(Also, if they serve paella for dinner, that’s a red flag… paella is primarily a lunch dish)

Traveler’s Trip: Lunch at 2:30—Spain

In Spain, it’s customary to eat lunch from 2:30 to 4 p.m… so if you see a restaurant closed at noon that’s actually a good sign! Look for locals eating there, another green flag that you’re dining at the real deal.

Tourist Places in Europe: Santorini, Greece

Tourist Place: Santorini and Mykonos—Greece

Are these islands beautiful? Yes. Is Santorini a good stop for Honeymooners and Mykonos a party stop? Yes. Are they overpriced and touristy? Yes. The locals have spoken and said that these “are tourist traps shaped like islands”.

Traveler’s Trip: Chios, Donoussa, Halki and Many More—Greece

The truth is there are a tremendous amount of Greek islands that aren’t overrun with tourists and are much more affordable than their name brand cousins. Whether it’s tranquil Halki, “the Island of Peace and Friendship”, or ancient Chios the birthplace of Homer—you have endless options.

Tourist Place: Checkpoint Charlie—Berlin, Germany

Cheesy actors by a small shack in the middle of the street… Checkpoint Charlie doesn’t exactly live up to the hype or the history.

Traveler’s Trip: Topography of Terror—Berlin, Germany

What Checkpoint Charlie should be—free entry, exhibits that are informative and well presented with a good combination of images and text. Located in the building that was once the SS Reich Security Main Office, this spot is true to its history.

Tourist Place: The Temple Bar—Dublin, Ireland

A marketer's dream and a visitor's nightmare, the Temple Bar is constantly packed to the brim. Overpriced and overpopulated, we recommend missing this one.

Traveler’s Trip: Bowe’s Bar—Dublin, Ireland

There are plenty of great pubs and bars walking distance from the Temple Bar in Dublin, but one local-approved spot is Bowe’s Bar. An authentic and proper Irish pub, this will give you the experience you’re looking for without a mile-long line.

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About The Author

Bradley Beachum

Bradley Beachum

Bradley Beachum is a content marketer, entrepreneur and artist whose interests range from blockchain technologies to filmmaking. His passion for emerging technologies and media, and the way these forces will shape our day to day lives in the near future, bleed through in all his work.

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