15 Tourist Traps That Are Totally Worth Visiting

Woman riding on a camel

Tourist traps are a place that attracts ample visitors where prices are often unconventionally high. The transformation of an attraction from “off the beaten path” to a “tourist trap” can be fun and memorable.

Some sites have become so commercialized that the experience feels somewhat tainted. However, there are still those that retain their original charm. If they weren’t remarkable, they wouldn’t be so popular. Here are 15 tourist traps around the world still worth visiting.

1. The Colosseum in Rome

colloseum rome

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The Colosseum is Rome’s most popular attraction. It’s an ancient amphitheater and the largest in the world. In its prime, almost 2,000 years old, this is where blood sports like gladiator combat took place.

Understandably, it attracts a crowd, so avoid the peak summer season. I went in November, and the experience was divine.

2. The Acropolis of Athens

Acropolis of Athens

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Our visit to Athens fell in January, during which the Acropolis was still busy but not overly rammed. This hilltop citadel was once the heart of Ancient Greece.

It took some patience, but we could get photos without anyone in the background. It just goes to show that tourist traps can still feel intimate if you time your trip well.

3. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World

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This world wonder is at the top of many bucket lists, but is it worth it? Without a doubt! I recommend doing the Inca Trail during your visit, after which you eventually end up at this glorious ancient site.

4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

angkor wat cambodia

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Almost all backpackers traveling through Cambodia will head to Angkor Wat. According to the Guinness World Records, it’s a Buddhist temple complex and the largest religious structure on the planet.

5. Golden Circle, Iceland

Iceland, Gullfoss waterfall. Captivating scene with rainbow of Gullfoss waterfall that is most powerful waterfall in Iceland and Europe. Picturesque summer scene with amazing Icelandic waterfall.

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The Golden Circle consists of Iceland’s three most famous natural wonders. These include Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss Waterfall. Each attraction is breathtaking, and you can rent a car to visit them to avoid the crowded tours.

6. The Grand Canyon, USA

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Nestled into the folds of balmy Arizona, The Grand Canyon boasts a width of 18 miles. Certain viewpoints that are good for photo ops get crowded with tourists, but you can start your adventure earlier to avoid this or turn your focus to the stunning landscape ahead.

7. La Sagrada Familia, Spain

sagrada familia barcelona

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This is one of Spain’s most iconic treasures, an architectural masterpiece, and the brainchild of Antonio Gaudi. It does get busy, especially in the summer, with most tourists flocking to the cathedral. However, given the landmark’s history, unique shape, and ongoing construction, can you blame them?

8. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

The Great Pyramid of Giza

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You can’t go to Egypt and not see the pyramids. Yes, it gets super busy with opportunists trying to scam you left, right, and center. But these remarkable stone formations still manage to steal the show.

9. Wadi Rum, Jordan

wadi rum jordan

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Your excursion to Wadi Rum will likely encounter busloads of tourists, but that certainly doesn’t have to detract from its charm. Indeed, this lunar-like landscape will leave you breathless. The scenery is otherworldly and an absolute dream.

10. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

neuschwanstein castle germany

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Neuschwanstein Castle sits proudly atop a peak along the foothills of the German Alps. It’s a 19th-century palace that is said to be the inspiration behind many iconic Disney castles. The vistas that encircle it are also pretty grand.

11. Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

manuel antonio national park

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Nowhere does nature like Costa Rica. It’s the first country in the world to reverse deforestation. Hence, Manuel Antonio may be a tourist trap, but there are plenty of measures to keep visitors in check.

Plus, several of the trails there lead you away from the masses. Whether your time is limited or you’re desperate to see some tropical wildlife, give this National Park a chance.

12. Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

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Cinque Terre gets swarms of bus and boat tours thanks to its striking coastal position. But it’s still possible to enjoy these centuries-old villages. The best move to savor the authentic seaside vibe is to stay overnight. This way, you can experience the rugged towns before and after the day trippers arrive.

13. Dubrovnik Old Town, Croatia

The Panorama Dubrovnik Old Town roofs at sunset. Europe, Croatia

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You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to appreciate Dubrovnik, though there’s a good reason why it became King’s Landing. The Old Town is simply marvelous, a cluster of limestone pathways huddled between towering city walls.

We first visited in May, during which the crowds were still somewhat manageable. The second time round was in 2020. Though it was cool to witness the contrast, the difference in vibe was rather eerie. I’d take the hustle and bustle any day.

14. Kotor Old City, Montenegro

kotor old city montenegro

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Likewise, when we visited Kotor, there were still pandemic restrictions. Mainly, cafes and restaurants remained closed. As a result, the Old Town was always pretty empty. It was an exciting experience, but the bustling atmosphere of the town was missed.

15. St. Michael’s Mount, UK

st michaels mount england

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Perched along England’s southwest coast, St. Michael’s Mount is a tidal island. The causeway connecting the mount to the mainland gets submerged underwater throughout the day. You now have to purchase a ticket to enter, which is a shame, but it’s still an epic land feature from a geographic point of view.

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Kayaking Mountain Fork River in Oklahoma

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Wherever we go, we hope to come across as generous and friendly people. Some places (more so than others) leave lasting impressions on visitors, thanks to the kindness of locals. People in these states seem to be friendlier than others—some of these may even surprise you. 

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Rainbow Mountain, Peru

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Northern Lights Adventure: 17 Must-See Hotspots for Your Bucket List

man camping northern lights

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One of the most enchanting natural phenomena in the Northern Hemisphere is the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. On the proper night, with perfect weather conditions and peak solar activity, you can see the stunning lights that paint the night sky. Here are some of the best places to view the Northern Lights. 

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Where indicated, some images courtesy of Depositphotos.com.

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Mariam Amini

Hi, I’m Mariam! I’m a London-born Afghan and freelance writer interested in culture, travel, and well-being. Following three years of full-time backpacking, I’m pursuing my Masters in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London. My main goal is to shed light on the richness of my country and champion better representation for marginalized communities.