Is this the world's worst tourist trap?

Mona lisa: is it overrated?

Have you ever been disappointed by a "must see" tourist attraction? From the Mona Lisa to Stonehenge, many of the world's most famous places are so hyped that actually seeing them in the flesh can be a tad underwhelming. And queuing for hours in anticipation, forking out a small fortune just to be herded around like cattle doesn't help. Check out the ones we love to hate below, and tell us if we've missed your least-favourite must see and we'll add it in!

The world's worst tourist traps?
See Gallery
Is this the world's worst tourist trap?

Don't get us wrong, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is definitely worth seeing but don't expect a peaceful visit to this architectural wonder. Next to the tower, you'll find rows of stalls selling tourist tat - the usual T-shirts, magnets and even a few erotic souvenirs - we're not sure why the city of Pisa hasn't moved these traders away from the iconic site either! And then there are the dozens of tourists who you'll find posing as if they're pushing the tower - not cool and such a cliché!

Instead: Take a tour inside the Duomo and the Baptistery alongside the tower for their impressive architecture and artwork.

This small bronze fountain sculpture of a naked little boy peeing is an emblem of Brussels but what's so great about it? We've seen many a urinating fountain but Mannekin Pis appears on the Belgian city's postcards, in shop windows and even as distasteful corkscrew souvenirs. Yes we know it comes with its own history and dates back to the 15th century but unless you're into looking at fountains, the most exciting thing about Mannekin Pis is that he has a wardrobe of 800 suits and is occasionally seen wearing them!

Instead: Take a walk through Brussels Park where you'll find a number of fountains and sculptures by the likes of Laurent Delvaux, Gilles-Lambert Godecharle and Jean-Michel Folon, as well as a large pond and views of the Palace of Justice, the Place du Trône and the Royal Palace.

If you're looking for the best seafood experience in San Francisco the worst place you can go is Fisherman's Wharf. Yes the fish is fresh and but it can also be overcooked and overpriced - basically made for tourists. You won't find many San Franciscans eating here as it’s teeming with tourists who flock to the Pier 39 shopping mall at the edge of Fisherman's Wharf for its seafood restaurants and souvenir stores. Having said that, it is worth heading in this direction to check out the hundreds of sea lions that bark and sunbathe off Pier 39's north-western side, but do this in the evening when the shops close.

Instead: Eat at the Swan Oyster Depot which is half fish market and half seafood bar. Visit between November and June when the local Dungeness crab is in season. For a taste of the waterfront life, don't miss the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for wonderful views of the bay from the promenade.

The thing about the London Eye is that to get a good view, you have to go when the city isn't covered in a blanket of fog, which isn't very often! You have to queue for a considerable amount of time to get to your pod and that's after you spend around £20 on a ticket. Once you're in you're trapped with a load of other tourists and if it is a sunny day you end up roasting for around half an hour. We're not saying it doesn't offer good views but there are cheaper alternatives in the capital.

Instead: Stretch your legs and take in the city from the top of The Monument for just £3. The building is bursting with character and you'll even get a certificate to prove you mastered the 311 steps. Or head for Primrose Hill for free views over London!

They may be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World but the Great Pyramids of Giza were voted one of the most disappointing tourist attractions in a Virgin Travel Insurance survey due to the "heat, hawkers and camel drivers" making a visit an "overwhelmingly stressful ordeal". If aggressive touts weren't enough, there's also too much litter, a KFC and Pizza Hut, and you can't actually touch the Sphinx or climb the pyramids.

Instead: Visit the Saqqara Pyramids which are far less crowded. You can wander inside tombs and get an excellent introduction to ancient Egyptian architecture at the Imhotep Museum.

The Vatican's Sistine Chapel is another beautiful tourist trap. You won't want to leave it off of your travel list but when you arrive, expect to see extremely long queues and huge crowds. The room is kept quite dark too so it can be difficult to take in and capture on camera. One AOL Travel user said: "Yes, Michelangelo's ceiling painting is amazing but you are packed like sardines and there is an official 'shusher' whose job is to go shhhh! if anyone dares to whisper."

Instead: Take a tour of the Vatican Gardens to skip the queues, marvel at the natural beauty of the 57-acre gardens and parks and enjoy the Vatican from outdoors.

The stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame are a symbol of the city, marking the achievement of the entertainment industry's actors, musicians and directors, but this so-called must-see is nothing more than stars' names etched into concrete. The street is not particularly glamorous either and you'll find celebrity impersonators and tacky souvenir shops, with no real stars around.

Instead: Check out the TCL Chinese Theater where you'll find handprints and autographs of the stars in concrete and can take a VIP tour of the historic monument to learn about the history of the theatre and spot real celebs at film premieres.

This ancient group of mystery stones is pretty magical when you think about it but upon visiting you'll discover that Stonehenge isn't how it looks in the pictures. Not only is it wedged between two busy roads, you also can't get very close to the stones thanks to tourists chipping off pieces of the rocks as souvenirs in the past. And you still have to pay an admission fee but there's no accompanying visitor's centre or museum.

Instead: Check out the stone circle Avebury in Wiltshire which has an entire town set inside it. Avebury was voted the second best heritage site in the world by Which? Travel readers.

Ask anyone what you should do in New York and they'll most probably say go to the top of the Empire State Building but what they may forget to say is that you'll need to queue for what seems like hours - queue to get in the building, queue for the lift, queue to buy tickets and queue to get onto the observation deck! It's one of the most famous New York attractions and offers great views of the Chrysler Building and the Flatiron Building from 1,050 feet above street level but is it worth all the queuing?

Instead: Take in the view from the Top of the Rock observation deck at the Rockefeller Center. It's less crowded, offers brilliant views of the Empire State Building and out across the city. You also book a timeslot so you don't have to waste time standing in line.

It's one of the world's most famous museums and home to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa painting but what the guide books won't tell you about the Musée du Louvre is that you'll have to pay 11 euros to enter and the painting which, let's face it, is the only reason many people enter, is barely bigger than a postage stamp! It's in fact 77cm x 52cm but you'll have difficulty getting close to the portrait with the crowds of tourists blocking your view.

Instead: Check out the Gustave Moreau Museum for an intimate experience with art. The museum is one of the most overlooked in the world and is home to 6,000 otherworldly paintings and sketches by Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau.

Ok, so you have to see Times Square at least once as it's part of the 'New York, New York' experience but it's definitely a place we'd recommend you to look at but not touch! Chain restaurants, big flashing ads and LOTS of tourists are what you'll find in Times Square. The locals avoid it and the area's so busy that once you're in you'll have trouble escaping. Unless you're there to see a Broadway show, we'd recommend staying away.

Instead: Get an authentic Big Apple experience by walking through Chelsea Market and the High Line. Stop for coffee in the West Village and there's always a quiet spot to be found in Central Park.


Related articles

Brilliant (and cheap) alternatives to London's tourist traps

Are these the tackiest souvenirs ever?
Read Full Story