As a traveler, few things are more annoying than filling your bucket list with destinations that look divine on your Instagram feed, only to arrive at the location to discover it's overhyped, overcrowded, and nothing like the dream hot spot you'd envisaged. Why doesn't anyone pass on the memo?
To help curate a well-informed list, we went in search of the best attractions that never disappoint. Don't get us wrong, there's no need to strike the Louvre off your list altogether. Instead, save the experience for when you have the time and patience to explore it at length during off-peak, and head to these alternative hot spots instead. Trust us: These top tourist attractions live up to the hype.
Save: The Spire of Dublin
See: The Cliffs of Moher
Nothing—we repeat, nothing—is anticlimactic about the Cliffs of Moher. While the soaring green cliffs above the Atlantic actually count as Ireland's most visited tourist attraction, their sheer scale and breathtaking views are worth the trip to County Clare in every way. Pictures can't possibly do this majestic bit of nature justice.
Save: The Hollywood Walk of Fame
See: Griffith Observatory
Located in the most perennially hectic part of Hollywood, the Hollywood Walk of Fame sidewalk stars are, when all is said and done, quite lackluster. What isn't lackluster are the expansive views of Los Angeles on offer at Griffith Observatory and the very likely chance you may spot a real, live celeb going for an afternoon hike through the park. Go around sunset for a beautiful sky show.
Save: The Louvre
See: Musée d'Orsay
Save the swelling crowds of selfie stick–touting Mona Lisa onlookers at the Louvre for another trip. The line to enter the Louvre can literally stretch on for miles, and though the museum is undeniably spectacular, it is severely overcrowded, which makes actually seeing and enjoying the art a difficult task. The beautiful Musée d'Orsay offers a viable alternative—the museum's impressive collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, the largest in the world, are housed in one of the most stunning buildings (a Beaux-Arts railway station from the late 19th century) in all of Paris.
See: Avebury Stones
Visited at the right time, Stonehenge is an enchanting place. But more often than not, this attraction is overcrowded and polluted by the sounds of the nearby roadway. The nearby Avebury Stones offer a similar sight that is almost always free of crowds and free to view. Plus, you're allowed to weave through the land and explore the stones up close.
Save: The Spanish Steps
See: Capitoline Hill
Both the Spanish Steps and Capitoline Hill offer great history and people-watching. But if you're looking to get away from the crowds, Capitoline is a wonderful alternative for exploring the political and religious epicenter of ancient Rome. Not to mention that the on-site museums include some of Italy's finest classical sculptures and paintings.
Save: The Little Mermaid statue
See: Gefion Fountain
The popularity of this diminutive Little Mermaid is something a mystery. Certainly interesting for its history of politically oriented vandalism, the Little Mermaid statue is a bit of letdown if it's grandiosity and impact you're after. Instead, opt for the Gefion Fountain, the largest monument in Copenhagen, which depicts the legendary Norse goddess Gefjon.
See: Ostia Antica
When asking people how the ruins of Pompeii in Rome were, lots of people tend to reply "hot." Pompeii—though an impressive and vast site of ancient history—often swarms with tourists and can make for a long day trip from Rome. Ostia Antica, a comparatively swift trip and smaller in scale, is similarly well preserved and wonderfully atmospheric, and it's fascinating to imagine what daily life might have been like in an ancient Roman town. For a day trip, it's simply more manageable.
Skip: The Golden Gate Bridge
See: Sutro Baths
Hear us out: We're in no way denying the iconic beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge. Rather, we're simply suggesting you widen your tourist activity to include these oft-overlooked ruins at the north end of Ocean Beach. The Sutro Baths—remnants of a large privately owned swimming pool—meet the crashing waves of the ocean in a truly picturesque manner. Explore cliffs and caves, and scramble over to the side where you can still catch a glimpse of the bridge.
Save: Times Square
See: The High Line
Trade jam-packed Times Square for a trip to the High Line, an elevated linear park that stretches more than a mile above the hustle and bustle of the city, offering great views, people-watching, and even art installations. The path can become overcrowded, so be sure to time your visit during the week or early in the morning. If you're looking for a more "in the mix" New York experience, spend an afternoon making your way through Museum Mile, one of the most dense displays of art and culture (10 museums in one mile!) in the world.
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Save: The London Eye
See: Victoria and Albert Museum
Skip this staid attempt at creating a city monument the likes of Paris's Eiffel Tower, and soak up some real history at one of London's many incredible museums. The Victoria and Albert Museum, the foremost museum of decorative arts and design in the world; the Tate Modern; and its nearby Millennium Bridge are stellar options.