Explore 20+ Most Overrated Travel Destinations in the World
In this article, we’ll explore some of the world’s bucket-list destinations that might not quite live up to their reputation. From crowded landmarks to underwhelming cities, let me share with you a realistic and honest perspective.
However, with all the not-so-amazing things come hidden gems that might surprise you. Keep reading to discover some of the planet’s most overrated travel destinations and where to go instead!
1. Maldives Resort Islands
Instead Visit: The Maldives Local Islands
With pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life, the Maldives is undeniably a true paradise on Earth. When you think of the Maldives, fancy overwater bungalows and private island retreats probably come to mind, as this archipelago has become synonymous with luxury and extravagance.
However, the allure of the Maldives resort islands comes at a cost. The astronomical prices have made visiting them unaffordable for your typical traveller. As a result, these islands are now beyond the reach of most ordinary people.
Also, the focus on luxurious amenities often leaves little room for cultural immersion. Most people that visit the resort islands literally stay within the confines of the resort and consequently miss out on experiencing local Maldivian life and having a true adventure!
For anyone seeking a more authentic and accessible travel experience that is still within the breathtaking Maldives archipelago, I highly recommend checking out its local islands, like Hangnaameedhoo or Maafushi, which I recently discovered are actually very affordable! These islands provide a glimpse into the local way of life and provide the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the Maldives without breaking the bank.
2. Bali, Indonesia
Instead Visit: Lombok or Gili Trawangan
Known for its captivating landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, Bali has long been hyped as an island paradise in Indonesia. However, it has become one of the most overrated travel destinations in the world for a few reasons.
Firstly, in recent years, Bali has become a victim of its own success, with a crazy surge in tourism leading to overcrowded hotspots, congested streets, and packed beaches. The sheer volume of tourists here now overshadows the tranquil vibe that the island use to give off.
Secondly, Bali is now dominated by tourist-driven developments and huge resorts. This over-commercialisation has inevitably resulted in a loss of authenticity and the unique cultural charm that the island was once known for.
Finally, the surge in tourism to Bali has sadly had environmental consequences. Problems such as pollution and a strained infrastructure have become more readily apparent, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the natural beauty of the island has been impacted.
Although the Balinese people are legendary and the island still offers some stunning landscapes, if you’re looking for a more authentic and peaceful getaway, then I recommend checking out the lesser-known islands of Indonesia, like Lombok and Gili Trawangan.
Lombok boasts pristine white-sand beaches, awe-inspiring waterfalls, and the majestic Mount Rinjani, which beckons true adventurers and nature lovers. Meanwhile, Gili Trawangan’s laid-back vibe and crystal-clear waters are made for beach lovers and divers. These destinations offer a more tranquil and untouched experience compared to Bali, allowing you to fully immerse yourself into island life, while still experiencing the charm of the Indonesian archipelago.
3. Tulum, Mexico
Instead Visit: Holbox, Mexico
Tulum is now one of the most visited places in the world, largely thanks to countless influencers plugging this part of Mexico all over social media. And after being convinced to head here myself, I can honestly say that from start to finish Tulum just felt like a huge Instagram versus reality experience!
Firstly, in Tulum you’ll experience a never ending sea of tourists. The serious overcrowding here makes it almost impossible to do just about anything, from parking to finding a secluded spot to relax, or even just trying to take your own social media content!
Also, the rapid commercialisation of Tulum has transformed it into a place where you’ll find huge resorts, pricey eateries, and extortionate boutiques. All of this has diminished the original charm of Tulum and made it too pricey for the average tourist to enjoy.
Somewhat surprisingly, Tulum also felt dangerous. To our absolute horror, we heard gunshots on multiple occasions, even in the middle of the day, and one night there was actually a murder just down the road from where we happened to be eating.
Although Tulum’s ancient ruins and beaches are undoubtedly captivating, for a more tranquil, affordable, and authentic Mexican getaway, I highly recommend heading to Isla Holbox. Geographically, this hidden gem of an island is in the same region of Mexico, but in terms of experience, it is worlds apart from Tulum.
The day we spent driving a hot pink golf buggy around Holbox was literally the best part of our Tulum trip! Whether you’re swimming with whale sharks, exploring the mangroves here, or just relaxing on its white sand beaches, Holbox is the place to be in Mexico!
4. Copenhagen, Denmark
Instead Visit: Belgium, Netherlands
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is often considered as a trendy place to explore, but after experiencing the city firsthand, in my opinion, it’s one of the more overrated travel destinations in Europe.
The city’s high cost of living makes it an expensive place to visit. From accommodation to food and activities, prices here can be super high, making Copenhagen inaccessible for the more budget-conscious travellers.
Copenhagen is also lacking in terms of variety and diversity when it comes to activities. Once you’ve visited the iconic Nyhavn harbor, explored Tivoli Gardens, and admired the Little Mermaid Statue, you may find yourself wondering what else the city has to offer, leaving you feeling a bit underwhelmed and wanting more.
Those seeking a more affordable and more culturally immersive experience, may find alternative destinations like Belgium to be a better choice. Although this is one of the smallest European countries, it’s not to be underestimated. From the awe-inspiring architecture of Bruges to the modern vibrancy of Brussels, Belgium offers a tapestry of experiences that ensure there’s never a dull moment!
5. Niagara Falls, USA
Instead Visit: Montmorency Falls, Canada
Niagra Falls often receives criticism as being one of the most overrated places in the world due to its over-commercialisation.
The Falls are surrounded by an abundance of tourist attractions, entertainment venues, and bustling commercial developments. Unfortunately, this has resulted in crazily congested viewing areas and commercial distractions, which of course takes away from the beauty of this natural wonder.
While Niagara Falls undoubtedly presents a magnificent display of nature’s power, those seeking a more authentic and less chaotic experience should instead check out Montmorency Falls in Québec, Canada. This towering waterfall stands 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls but actually allows you to appreciate its natural beauty, without feeling overwhelmed by crowds or over-commercialisation.
6. Lisbon, Portugal
Instead Visit: Porto, Portugal
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is often celebrated as a top travel destination, but in recent years, it has gained a reputation as one of the more overrated cities in Europe.
The immense popularity of Lisbon has resulted in overcrowding in parts of the city, particularly in tourist areas like the Time Out Market, where it’s near impossible to get a table no matter the time or day!
I first visited Lisbon in 2016 and the city was extremely affordable and relaxing back then. However, after returning this year, I noticed a huge increase in the prices of just about everything, and there was congestion almost everywhere we went. Of course this can be seriously off-putting if you’re after a more laid-back European break.
Despite the vibrant energy of Lisbon and abundance of things to do here, for a less chaotic city break, I would suggest checking out other Portuguese cities like Porto instead. In my experience, this gorgeous city is just as magical, but with less crowds and more budget-friendly options.
7. Honolulu, Hawaii
Instead Visit: The Azores, Portugal
As with several destinations on this list, Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, has become another victim of its own success. Nowadays, its beaches (most notably Waikiki Beach) are overcrowded, making it difficult to enjoy the scenery in peace.
The over-development of Honolulu has also become unmistakeable, with huge resorts and tourist establishments dominating the skyline, which diminishes the authenticity and allure of Hawaii, giving it a more commercial vibe.
Over the last few years, the popularity of Honolulu has also driven up the prices of everything, from accommodation and restaurants to all of the top tourist activities in Hawaii, making it difficult for budget-conscious travellers to visit.
Although Honolulu is still undeniably beautiful, if you’re seeking a more serene and affordable island getaway, check out the Azores in Portugal, which has long been touted the ‘Hawaii of Europe.’ After recently returning from a trip here, I would venture to say that these incredible islands now embody the spirit of Hawaii more authentically than the Aloha State itself!
8. Barcelona, Spain
Instead Visit: Sitges, Spain
After visiting Barcelona on numerous occasions over the years, I’ve witnessed it become another victim of its own success, and there’s also been a noticeable increase in petty crimes here too.
Barcelona’s immense popularity has undeniably led to overcrowding, especially during the peak tourist season. The city’s iconic landmarks like Sagrada Familia and Park Güell are now swarming with tourists, making it challenging to fully appreciate their awesomeness.
Over the last few years, the high volume of tourists in Barcelona has increased issues like pickpocketing and petty crimes, meaning you’ll need to be extra vigilant and cautious here now. This of course can be particularly off putting for solo travellers or anyone looking to switch off and relax.
While Barcelona is still a cool city with iconic attractions, anyone seeking a more relaxing and off-the-beaten-path adventure should consider heading south to Sitges. This gorgeous coastal town is only 22 miles away from Barcelona, but has a much more charming and intimate atmosphere. Quaint cafes are everywhere in Sitges and the sunsets here are to die for!
9. Bangkok, Thailand
Instead Visit: Chiang Rai, Thailand
Bangkok is one of the most popular places to visit in South East Asia. However, these days it doesn’t appear to live up to the hype anymore.
Although Bangkok used to be “the” spot for cheap adventuring, this is not quite the case nowadays. The crazy levels of tourists visiting every year has pushed up the prices of everything from hotels to food and all the major attractions, making it more expensive than people think.
Bangkok also stands out as one of the most challenging destinations I’ve encountered when it comes to scams. Despite conducting lots of research before my trip and being cautious, this city took scamming to another level! From tuk-tuk drivers inflating fares to cafe’s trying to make us pay for things we never ordered, scamming is rife here, meaning you’ll need to be particularly on your guard if you do visit Bangkok.
However, not long after experiencing the intensity of Bangkok, we headed north to Chiang Rai, which is a more affordable and peaceful part of Thailand. It’s a place that will actually leave you feeling enriched, inspired, and undeniably eager to return for another adventure. From stunning temples and historic landmarks to lush mountains and traditional villages, this province is a world away from Bangkok and somewhere that should truly be on every travellers bucket list!
10. Taj Mahal, India
Instead Visit: Putra Mosque, Malaysia
The Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is undoubtedly a remarkable landmark, but it is still possible to find it overrated and somewhat disappointing.
Firstly, the immense number of visitors drawn here every day can lead to a crowded and chaotic experience, especially during peak tourist seasons. Dealing with this and long queues in the sweltering heat can seriously diminish the awe-inspiring atmosphere that is often associated with the Taj Mahal.
Secondly, the surrounding area has become excessively commercialised, with dozens of pushy vendors selling souvenirs and all sorts, which also detracts from the sense of awe that you would expect to feel.
For a far less crowded experience of an equally iconic landmark, why not do a tour of the stunning Putra Mosque, which is one of Malaysia’s best-kept secrets. This rose-tinted Mosque boasts intricate craftsmanship, Islamic aesthetics, and breathtaking surroundings, all without the madness of the Taj Mahal crowds, making it a true hidden gem.
11. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Instead Visit: Kotor, Montenegro
Dubrovnik in Croatia is sometimes referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, and is often described as a must-see destination in Europe.
Although there is no denying that Dubrovnik is a beautiful city, it has become more difficult to fully appreciate the charm of this city, due to the ever-present cruise ships that line its shores, as well as its narrow streets that are swarming with tourists. The heavy tourism has also led to a commercialised atmosphere, devoid of an authentic local culture.
Compared to lots of other places in Croatia, as well as Europe in general, I find Dubrovnik to be quite expensive. The high volume of tourists here seems to have pushed up the prices of everything and as everyone appears to charge the same prices, they can get away with it!
So, for those seeking a more authentic, less crowded, and more budget-friendly travel experience, I highly recommend heading to Kotor, Montenegro instead. Kotor’s combination of historical charm, breathtaking scenery, outdoor activities, and vibrant atmosphere, make it a truly amazing alternative.
12. Los Angeles, USA
Instead Visit: The Florida Keys
Los Angeles is a dream destination for many, but after checking it out for myself, I quickly realised that it’s one of the most overrated travel destinations for various reasons.
Firstly, all you seem to do in LA is sit in traffic. The city’s notorious congestion definitely dampens the travel experience, resulting in wasted time and frustration. This possibly also explains why LA is so polluted and full of smog!
Secondly, apart from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, and the Santa Monica Pier, which you can easily see in one day, LA really doesn’t have a great deal to do. You can’t even get an up close and personal shot with the infamous letters on the hill anymore!
Finally, another drawback of LA is the stark contrast between its wealth and the pervasive homelessness issue. This disparity can make exploring the city quite uncomfortable and disheartening.
Although LA does have some iconic landmarks and the weather is pretty good year round, if you’re seeking a more culturally immersive and less congested travel destination, I highly recommend heading to the Florida Keys instead.
The Keys have a way more relaxed yet lively atmosphere, far less crowds, and there’s unforgettable experiences at every turn here. From seeing unique wildlife and stunning beaches to historical landmarks and food that is simply to die for, the Florida Keys seriously have it all!
13. Marrakesh, Morocco
Instead Visit: Ait Benhadou, Morocco
I had been dying to visit Marrakesh for years, but after experiencing it firsthand, I realised that some things are glazed over in all the hype.
Marrakech can be described as a city that is way more intense than you can imagine. It’s constantly manic, with overly persistent souvenir vendors on every corner, and scorching heat infused with the unmistakable aroma of kebab smoke and exhaust fumes. The labyrinthine Medinas can feel nearly impossible to navigate and it’s common for groups of young men to follow you around. All of this unfolds against a medieval backdrop that’s old, rundown, and unfamiliar. Although I personally don’t mind a bit of chaos, the city can feel unnerving at times.
If you are looking to experience authentic Morocco, but away from the madness of of Marrakech, then head to Ait Benhadou. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and fortified village, where you can get a true glimpse into the local culture and way of life in the most peaceful and beautiful setting.
14. Fiji, Oceania
Instead visit: Tasmania, Australia
Fiji is a super popular beach destination in the South Pacific, but it can be considered as one of the most overpriced and overrated places in the world.
The only real difference between the white sandy beaches of Fiji and Caribbean islands like Cancun and the Dominican Republic is arguably the price, with Fiji being famous for having some of the most expensive resorts in the world.
Despite the prices, overcrowding remains an issue in Fiji. Popular tourist areas like Denarau Island and the Coral Coast, get extremely crowded during peak seasons. The never ending influx of visitors here can seriously detract from the tranquil vibes and sense of exclusivity you would expect to feel.
Also, Fiji does have periods of more extreme weather that presents certain risks. While the majority of people visiting Fiji experience safe and enjoyable weather conditions, there are potential weather-related hazards. Fiji is located in a region prone to tropical cyclones, which bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and storm surges, posing risks to travel plans and safety.
Instead of heading to Fiji, why not consider exploring the more affordable and untouched island of Tasmania, which is often described as Australia’s hidden paradise. Here you’ll find endless natural treasures, from stunning beaches to breathtaking parks and unique wildlife, just waiting to be explored.
Instead Visit: Belize
When it comes to tropical getaways, Barbados often steals the spotlight with its picture-perfect beaches. However, after spending a few weeks here, I found that it didn’t quite live up to the hype.
Over the years Barbados has witnessed a shift towards catering to a more mainstream audience. This has resulted in a loss of the island’s authentic charm, which can leave you feeling disconnected from the local culture and way of life here.
Given that Barbados has become an incredibly popular holiday destination, it’s perhaps unsurprising that it has also become overcrowded and overpriced. From restaurants to tours, it’s now advisable to book most things on island in advance, which takes away from the laid-back vibe Barbados used to give off. The increased prices have also meant that it’s now much more difficult for travellers on a budget to take a trip to Barbados.
If you’re looking for a more affordable and culturally rich island paradise, I would suggest heading to Caye Caulker (Belize), instead of Barbados. This incredible island offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, laid-back atmosphere, and a charming Caribbean ambiance, which makes it an irresistible destination for anyone after a serene and picturesque island escape.
16. Rome, Italy
Instead Visit: Matera, Italy
With its ancient ruins and rich history, Rome has long been hailed as a must-visit destination in Europe. However, many travellers (myself included) find themselves underwhelmed by the overcrowded tourist sites and commercialised atmosphere.
Rome’s popularity attracts millions of tourists every year, especially at iconic sites like the Colosseum and Vatican City. However, navigating your way through the bustling streets and intense crowds can seriously detract from the overall experience and make it challenging to appreciate all Rome has to offer.
Also, the cosmopolitan vibe that Rome exudes has diluted any sense of authentic Italian culture, and it often feels like its iconic landmarks have been compromised due to mass commercialisation.
While Rome undeniably holds a significant place in Italy’s history and attracts countless visitors, its commercialisation and overcrowding make other parts of Italy more appealing.
In my opinion, Matera, which is located in the rugged region of Basilicata, is a remarkable alternative to Rome. This cave city offers the opportunity to delve into preserved history, experience genuine Italian culture, and immerse yourself in the serenity of a lesser-known Italian destination and UNESCO World Heritage site.
17. Nice, France
Instead Visit: The Channel Islands
Nice, with its glamorous reputation, is often described as the ‘Paris of the South’, and has long been a coveted destination to visit. However, after checking out the city for myself, I can say that Nice is a destination that does not quite live up to the hype.
In my experience, you definitely get less bang for your buck here. Despite Nice being one of the more expensive destinations in France, the city lacks the character of other French towns. Its charm has also been overshadowed by the constant hordes of tourists.
Instead of Nice, a far more captivating alternative is visiting one (or more) of the Channel Islands, which are located off the Normandy coast of France. This archipelago consists of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark, with each vibrant island showcasing untouched natural beauty, a rich cultural tapestry, and far fewer crowds.
18. London, United Kingdom
Instead Visit: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Iconic London has long been hailed as a bucket-list European city. Yet, for many travellers, the city is considered overrated.
London is undoubtedly a magnet for tourists, and this has resulted in crowded streets, long queues, and a somewhat chaotic atmosphere. This makes the city totally unsuitable for anyone opposed to the sheer chaos of a bustling metropolis.
Another downside of London is that it can be challenging to connect with the true essence of the city due to its fast-paced cosmopolitan vibe, which makes the whole experience feel less culturally immersive.
Instead of heading to London, a refreshing alternative is Ljubljana, which is Slovenia’s capital and largest city. In contrast to London, Ljubljana retains an authentic atmosphere that reflects its rich cultural heritage. Slovenia’s Old Town, with its Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture, cobblestone streets and quaint cafes, create the most amazing ambiance. Ljubljana also offers a far more budget-friendly and chilled vibe than London, where you can still experience the magic of city life, just without the added chaos.
19. Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean
Instead Visit: Antigua, Guatemala
The Caribbean island country of Antigua and Barbuda is renowned for its reef-lined beaches, rainforests and luxurious resorts. However, many travellers now find it overhyped and overrated.
Each year, the high influx of visitors to Antigua and Barbuda has seriously diminished the sense of tranquility that you would expect. The fact that this country is heavily geared towards tourism has pushed up prices, and at the same time, is enough to put off anyone yearning for a more authentic and off-the-beaten-path adventure.
For a more culturally immersive and unforgettable trip, I would suggest doing something different and heading to an alternative Antigua…the one nestled in the central highlands of Guatemala. This hidden gem is renowned for its cultural significance as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is a place where you can fully take in its natural beauty, without an overwhelming tourist presence.
20. ”Dracula’s Castle”, Transylvania
Instead Visit: Peles Castle, Transylvania
Dracula’s Castle (Bran Castle) has long captured the imaginations of travellers with its medieval charm. However, many visitors (myself included) find that it falls short of expectations due to its fictional associations and touristy atmosphere.
Every year ”Dracula’s Castle” attracts a huge number of tourists, particularly those intrigued by the myth and lore surrounding the vampire legend. As a result, the castle (which has tiny rooms and corridors) feels very claustrophobic.
Believe it or not, ”Dracula’s Castle” is not even the castle described in the book and has no direct connection to Vlad the Impaler, who inspired Stoker’s character! The misconception arose due to the location of the castle in Transylvania and its gothic appearance, which matches the general imagery associated with Dracula. The marketing and tourism efforts of Bran Castle have also contributed to this misleading association!
So, while Bran Castle does evoke intrigue and gothic allure, in my opinion it’s not worth venturing to. Instead, I highly recommend exploring Peles Castle. It’s only an hour away from the fake Dracula’s Castle (so technically you could do both) and is set amidst the lush Carpathian Mountains. Peles offers an entirely different narrative— one of true grandeur and royal heritage. This breathtaking place embodies the enchantment of a fairytale castle and instantly transports you to a world of architectural marvels and real-life royal stories. In my opinion, Peles Castle is one of the most underrated things to do in Europe.
Instead Visit: Zanzibar
Mauritius, with its turquoise waters and pristine beaches, has long been synonymous with tropical paradise. However, many travellers have questioned whether it still lives up to this hype.
One of the main drawbacks of Mauritius is that it’s too popular! The influx of tourists every year has made it hard to totally switch off here. Nowadays, the island’s authentic traditions and cultural experiences are often overshadowed by the resort-focused tourism industry, which has also impacted the natural beauty of the island.
Instead of travelling to Mauritius, why not consider heading off to Zanzibar instead, which is a jewel off the coast of Tanzania. What I love about this affordable island is that it exudes a sense of authenticity and has a seriously laid-back atmosphere, where you can immerse yourself in the serenity of the Indian Ocean, away from the crowds.
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While there are certainly travel destinations that have been labeled as overrated, it’s important to remember that opinions on what makes a place “overrated” will always vary greatly. However, for anyone seeking alternative options, it’s great to know that there are countless destinations out there that provide a refreshing change from the more crowded and commercialised spots. So, on that note, let the world surprise you with its hidden wonders!
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