If you’re someone who’s ever experienced major FOMO looking at Instagram photos of your friends studying abroad, like me, or someone who would kill to replicate the photos of travel influencers, then you’re probably familiar with the most popular European tourist attractions.
Seeing your feed flooded with basic photos of Instagram babes in silk skirts and berets in front of the Eiffel Tower, posing on the beach surrounded by the colorful buildings of Positano, or cheersing beers while wearing a lederhosen at Oktoberfest is enough to tempt anyone to drop some serious bank on a European getaway.
Follow Ladders on Flipboard!
While Instagram does a phenomenal job of hyping us up to put ourselves in slight debt for the chance to slip, “when I was in Europe…” into as many conversations as humanly possible, what happens when you spend $800+ on a flight to finally see these tourist staples just to find out some of them are underwhelming as f*ck!?
Don’t get me wrong, pretty much every single one of the “must-see” or “must-do” European tourist attractions I’ve been to was amazing, but it doesn’t change the fact that because some of them are so over-hyped, over-filtered, and glamorized on social media, they end up being lackluster once you see them IRL.
Would I still drop everything going on in my life to visit these overrated landmarks again? Point me toward the terminal! However, if you’re someone who wants to avoid anything without flare or life-changing qualities, here are seven European tourist attractions that will probably leave you feeling robbed, or at the very least, underwhelmed.
Leaning Tower Of Pisa (Pisa, Italy)
View this post on Instagram
A perfect day for ice cream. ✈️ Let SoLow Travel help you see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 🇮🇹 • • 📸 by @hellokrissay • #happiness #adobe_wild #travel #wonderful_places #earthpix #OurPlanetDaily #solowtravel #theglobewanderer #ourlonelyplanet #awesomeearth #beautifuldestinations #fantastic_earth #discoverglobe #earthofficial #travelingourplanet #naturegeography #simplyadventure #awesomedreamplaces #huffpostgram #awesomepix #howlowcanyougo #vacationmode #beachlife🌴 #discoveritaly #travel #beach#leaningtowerofpisa #live2travel #living_destinations #earth
It’s no surprise so many tourists visit the Leaning Tower. The makeup of the building itself is perplexing, never mind the fact that some people get seriously creative with their photos—doing everything from making the tower look like a cone of gelato to the ever-original “holding up the tower” pose. The inspo alone is enough to drive you to want a Leaning Tower pic of your own. But after you spend an absurd amount of time getting the perfect Insta, what else is there to do in the area?
Literally NOTHING!! If you’re going to Pisa for the sake of exploring the town, then you can make a day of it. However, if you’re going strictly for the sake of seeing the tower, snapping a few photos, and OD-ing on pasta, you don’t need to block out more than, like, two hours.
Mona Lisa (Paris, France)
Ah, the Mona Lisa…this betch was hands down the most underwhelming part of my trip to France. Before anyone persecutes me for sh*t talking a historic piece of artwork, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go see the painting, just that my expectations were wayyyy too high.
The most popular online photos of Leonardo di Vinci’s Mona Lisa are usually closeups of the piece and not depictions of how it actually looks in the Louvre, which is where the deception begins.
Allow me to set the scene: you know exactly which area the Mona Lisa is kept in, because there’s always a massive crowd of tourists surrounding it. The painting is pretty hard to see from the back of the crowd, which may lead you to assume it’s mounted closer to the floor or something. Sadly, it’s actually because it’s basically a 2’ x 2’ painting aka it’s small as hell.
No wonder people can’t tell if she’s smiling! It’s practically microscopic compared to a majority of the other portraits in the museum. As someone who, full disclosure, only trekked through the entirety of the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, I was seriously baffled by its size (or lack thereof).
Carnevale Di Venezia (Venice, Italy)
View this post on Instagram
O Carnaval de Veneza surgiu a partir da tradição do século XVI, onde a nobreza se disfarçava para sair e misturar-se com o povo. Desde então as máscaras são o elemento mais importante deste carnaval. Há no entanto registros de folguedos carnavalescos de 1268. A festa carnavalesca de Veneza tem duração de 10 dias. . Paulo Vasconcellos WhatsApp 48 99919 7014 paulovasconcellos.tur.br facebook.com/paulovasconcellos . VIAJAR ☀ VIVER ☀ SER FELIZ . #Veneza #Italia #CarnevaleDiVenezia #Excursoes #Turismo #Viagens #Paraíso #QueroViajarMais #AquelaSuaViagem #MelhoresDestinos #RoteirosTurísticos #GrandeFlorianopolis #Florianopolis #SãoJoseSc #Palhoça #Biguaçu #SantoAmaroDaImperatriz #Viajar #Viver #SerFeliz #PauloVasconcellos
Carnevale is an annual Venetian festival that ends 40 days before Easter and is famous for its intricate masks. Speaking from experience, it’s reeeeeally easy to get sucked into the spectacle of it all: the beautiful masks, costumes, endless Bellinis, gondola rides, and incredible food.
Though all of those things are fun to partake in and witness firsthand, there are also hundreds of other tourists (and locals) who want a piece of the action, making it feel like a festival of sardines. Being squished up next to so many people deducted major points from the experience as a whole. Every walk from one area of the city to another took twice the time, lines to get food were literal blocks long, AND I was too focused on not getting pickpocketed the entire time (necessary, but stressful as hell) to enjoy myself!!
Though Venice is a beautiful city, subjecting yourself to the madness of Carnevale is definitely something you can live without.
John Lennon Wall (Prague, Czech Republic)
A true study abroad staple, the John Lennon Wall is constantly spray painted and written on over and over by artists and civilians alike. Sometimes the wall is beautifully painted with a landscape, giant peace signs, or an inspirational quote; others, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish the John Lennon Wall from a graffitied garage door in New York.
Maybe I just have sh*t luck, but when I saw the John Lennon Wall, it truly just looked like a cluster of illegible words and smeared drawings. On top of that, the wall (much like the Mona Lisa) was much smaller than some photos make it seem! I think the John Lennon Wall has the potential to be really inspiring and beautiful, but it’s all about timing—something that unfortunately isn’t always a luxury you can predict during a vacation.
Inside The Roman Colosseum (Rome, Italy)
If you’ve spent years learning about the Colosseum and are finally ready to visit the the spot where all of that historical action and torture took place IRL, let me be the first to tell you: the inside is much less impressive than the stories lead you to believe.
When I got inside the Colosseum, I wasn’t moved, I wasn’t thrilled, I basically thought I was missing something or looking at it wrong.
Though the architectural structure of the Colosseum is incredible (and makes for a damn good photo op), the inside of the landmark is nothing to brag about. Unless you’re a history buff, teacher, architect, or a Roman soldier, waiting in a long line to pay to go inside and see a series of seemingly random stones is so not worth it. You’re better off booking an organized tour with a knowledgeable guide who can actually tell you about the history and why it’s important.
The Little Mermaid Statue (Copenhagen, Denmark)
View this post on Instagram
丹麦地标 The statue of the Little Mermaid from the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen was gifted from Carl Jacobsen to his beloved city Copenhagen . . #famous #thelittlemermaid #copenhagen #denmark #awesome #travel #solotravel #europe #goodday #travelphotography #travelgram #beautiful #clouds #bluesky #photography #instatravel #travelling #photoshoot #instalike #pic #travelholic #traveler #photo #photooftheday #instagram #throwback #instagood #instapic #instaphoto #旅行
The statue is a figure of a little mermaid (see what they did there?) perched up on a rock in the sea. Sounds like a pretty cute experience, right? Unfortunately, as with several other attractions on this list, the statue is actually pretty small!
In addition to the size of the statue not being disappointing, a few years ago, people kept stealing Ariel’s head, cutting off her arm, and blowing her up, so she was moved farther into the water to combat vandalism. Since she’s stationed in the water, there’s not really an easy way to get close to her for a photo. Special shout-out to the assholes who made this experience suck for the rest of us.
Spanish Steps (Rome, Italy)
*Googles why the steps are in Italy if they’re Spanish*
I barely have the words to describe how underwhelming the Spanish steps are. They’re literally just a set of steps that break off into two sections and reconnect at the top. Again, if you’re a history buff, or in this case religious, you may appreciate the significance of what the steps represent.
However, if you’re just a layperson who Googled “tourist spots in Rome” like I did, prepare for disappointment. It’s almost laughable how many people flock to the steps just to take a photo and leave. If you’re only in the city for a couple of days (or even hours) and looking for the “must-dos” of Rome, you’re better off leaving the Spanish steps as a last-resort attraction. Trust me, there are steps all over Rome that can provide the same aesthetic.
The common theme with these tourism hot-spots is: once you see them, you’re left with a feeling of, “ok, now what?” which is notttt a vacation vibe. That being said, I would still recommend everyone go see these attractions at least once for bragging rights, if nothing else. However, I’d keep expectations low. Going into these situations expecting to be underwhelmed will either result in the experience meeting your expectations exactly, or surpassing them; either way, it’s a win!
Like I said, if I wasn’t so f*cking broke had the time to go see every single one of these underwhelming attractions again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Who knows, maybe I’m just a bitter soul who’s been too blinded by the glorification of Instagram to enjoy these overrated tourist attractions for what they are.