Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The World’s 5 most over-rated tourist sites

The Times lists five well over-rated  “ancient and historical sites” that are on the list of most would-be travellers, and offers five lesser-known alternatives that you might want aim for instead.  The five most overrated are:

  1. Stonehenge.  A sad and inaccessible pile of stones in a cow paddock.  Very underwhelming.
  2. Petra, Jordan. Over-visited, over-crowded, and being overwhelmed by the tourism village itself.
  3. The Colosseum, Rome. Over-visited, over-crowded and now a traffic island.
  4. Machu Picchu, Peru.  Costs an arm and a leg and an uncomfortable journey to get there.  But if you do get there . . .
  5. Angkor, Cambodia. Now far too overcrowded to appreciate the majesty in the peace and quiet they need.

I’ve only been to one of the five myself, but the problem of overcrowding exists in every major tourist site. So how does this list fit with your experience?

Check out the full story and the suggested alternatives here.


  1. Machu Picchu is best done at dawn before the tourists get there. It is fantastic then. Still far and away better than Isla del Sol which is pretty cool but suffers from proximity to the straw boat makes of Puno

  2. Petra is best done in 1980, staying at the government-run hotel and walking in through the Siq at dawn.
    Virtually alone.

  3. 1. better to see it unexpectedly: I turned round, caught sight of it in the distance and was transfixed. Up close, meh(ish). Worth visiting nearby Avesbury (sp?) circle.
    2. n/a
    3. agree. plenty more fine (and working!) examples of col.s around europe (Verona, Orange)
    4. n/a
    5. It must've changed since I wus there: I found it mind-blowing.

  4. The alternative to Machu Picchu would be La ciudad perdida (The lost city) in the north of Colombia. It takes 3 days to walk there (no trains or roads) and 3 days out but worth it as when I did it there were only about 20 people a week who visited. Not on the scale of Machu Picchu but in my view more enjoyable given its isolation and the fact that most of the ruins remain amongst the jungle and bush. It was only discovered some 35 years ago. Spectacular views also.


  5. The problem with any tourist spot is too many other tourists.

  6. For my 2 cents worth, Machu Picchu is popular - and busy - but like @sangez said, you can get their early and catch sunrise, or stay late and catch sunset, and it's still one of the most magical places on the entire planet.

    But the REAL draw is the fact that MP is just one of a countless many sites dotted through Peru's Sacred Valley. Surely a hands-down winner?

  7. There are plenty of interesting sites all over the World. It is a good thing that some of them end up famous while the rest stay relatively unknown. That way the best places remain ready to explore and experience as they should be. Best to keep the locations of the unpopulated ones to yourself (or your close friends perhaps).

    In the end I don't really care much for many of the famous tourist sites. Most are not really that interesting. On the other hand there are certain people who one should make the effort to meet and socialise with during one's life. Who they are depends on one's interests, but these people should be sought out and visited, even if that means an extended journey.

    Who would be on your list and why would you put them there?


  8. Went to Angkor years ago and it wasn't crowded. The problem is that it is spread over such a vast area that you really need 3 to 5 days for it to be relaxing.


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