I’m not here to debate the off the beaten path versus the typical routes people travel as that’s a whole other story. What I’m getting at is would you go to Rome but avoid the Colosseum or Egypt and avoid the Pyramids just because a bunch of other tourists had the same idea?
Why am I asking this? Well a recent comment by a follower on The Aussie Nomad facebook page had me thinking about the way people travel. While it was a fair comment it left me wondering if other people avoid touristy places when they travel or do they just go with the flow?
On the one hand many places are touristy for a reason. Places like Los Angeles could be tied to some form of historic significance or for other things such as Salons in the Los Angeles. Alternatively these may be iconic natural wonders of the world like Uluru in Australia, Niagara Falls in Canada/America or the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
While these places can be guaranteed to be teeming with tourists there’s a reason for it and skipping it for that reason alone to me seems a little arrogant. You would be missing out on seeing something you may never get the chance to see again just to avoid a crowd or high entry fee.
Is there a point where you decide a certain place isn’t worth your time, money or hassle anymore?
However many countries/money grabbers/entrepreneurs tend to exploit these amazing places for financial gain which can detract from the experience. A ticket to enter the Colosseum for example costs 15.50 euros (approx $22 AUD) and involves standing in a line that can easily take one to two hours before you get inside. Is the view/experience inside really worth that much time and money?
It’s not just paid entry sites that can be a turn off either. Free sites like the Trevi Fountain or the 12 Apostles that I wrote about last week can also be difficult to enjoy due to large crowds of people.
For me I’m stuck in the first option with a little of the second. If I’ve saved my money to travel abroad and this is potentially my only chance to see these tourist hot spots with my own eyes then putting up with long queues, high prices and jostling for the best viewing spots is worth it. But if the price is exorbitant (London Eye is around 20 Pounds at present for a ride, more to get fast tracked) compared to the return on experience then I’m skipping it.
What do you say. Do you make time for popular attractions or do you avoid touristy places when travelling?
I’m reminded of the old Yogi Berra joke about his favorite restaurant: “no one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”
I agree that crowds distract from a place but I agree more that they’re often crowded for a reason. Each person has to decide for themselves whether the crowds so diminish the experience that it’s better to avoid them. For our part, we believe there’s no substitute for the world’s iconic places. We’d rather get out of bed early and beat the crowds that way than to miss them altogether.
Brian I’m 100% behind your way of thinking, places are touristy for a reason and the get there early option is perfect to avoid some of the mass crowding that can happen when lining up for places. I remember arriving in Paris early and had the Sacre Coeur steps and view almost all to myself.
To me, tourist attractions are crowded for a reason – they are most of the time worth seeing or doing. I love doing the tourist stuff, but I also love getting lost and wandering off the beaten a track. I think a nice mix is the way to go.
Sammy thats very true. You can balance the tourist side of travel with getting lost in the back streets very well.
personally I tend to just go with the flow. im happy to see the touristy places, but if its not something that personally interests me il just do something else. I travel to explore places and if that means theres loads of crowds with the same interest then so be it
Its an interesting thought, but having gone all the way, I wouldnt really miss out on something just because its crowded. in fact, as you say, there is a reason its so crowded, so we are prepared, and i generally try to choose a midweek day for places like these, and also go early, to avoid the crowd as much as i can.
Sometimes I feel that people visit places that are touristy just so they can take the picture and say they’ve been there. They don’t take the time to reflect on what they’re seeing and just rush on to the next spot.
That’s why I prefer to travel slowly and take my time… and also ask locals on what’s best to see because then you can skip the touristy stuff that’s not worth doing!
I agree. I want to see a lot of the iconic sites like the Colisseum, the Vatican (get there really early), Angkor Wat etc. There is a history to many of these places that is fascinating. However there are others like the London Eye that really do nothing for me. Do I want to climb the Eiffel Tower – no, but I do want to see it. I went to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and couldn’t even see the Rembrandts Night Watchmen because of the crowds, but I saw a lot of other pieces that I wasn’t expecting to. Serendipity.
I am going to be 100% honest and say no. I tend to like a nice balance between the tourist spots and off the beaten path. A lot of the ‘tourist’ spots are busy because there is something great to see there. If I spend too many days in a row in busy places though, it starts to wear on me. So as long as I mix it up, I have no issues with the ‘hot spots’! 🙂
I think you have the choice to decide where you want to go (and that depends a lot on your travel style). I believe you can have a wonderful time if you visit the touristic places or if you chose to do something else. In my case, I do not skip the touristic places. In some way, the iconic sights of each country or region were the ones who inspire me to go to that place. Then, some of these places are truly beautiful or have some historical significance behind them (and I enjoy that). Now, I know some of these places are insanely expensive. Sometimes, I just decide to pay and other times I just take a quick look and move on. In term of the crowds, I try to visit early or late to get a better chance of enjoying the place.
I generally avoid touristy places as much as possible; however, there are just some things that have to be seen. Either because they’re iconic (Eiffel Tower) or just downright impressive (Trevi Fountain).
I’ve recently been enjoying reading about your travels! I haven’t had the chance to travel often but I did take my mother on a trip to Rome and the Trevi Fountain (in spite of being so busy it was difficult to get a good seat) was absolutely stunning. The Colosseum was incredible but the Trevi was special and probably my favourite part of Rome.
While I highly dislike crowds, I can’t imagine going always to Paris and avoiding the Eiffel Tower because there is a 1km long line or a $50 entry fee!
We went to Sydney not long ago and I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and while 3million other people have done it and its very expensive I’m really glad I did it, it was an incredible expereince, one i dont think i will ever forget!
I think it would be so silly to avoid a main tourist attraction because of crowds or slightly high entry fee!
I have FOMO (fear of missing out), so if I am somewhere like Rome, Cairo or Petra I am 100% checking out those places regardless! These tourist hot spots are busy for a reason, because these land marks or places are of significance. As you said, it is quite arrogant to avoid these places and your right. I think people are stupid to miss something amazing just because of a crowd. As they say, “You never know unless you never go” right, well in the end we all know who’s missing out.
I agree with the famous for a reason type. If I have traveled all the way to somewhere I want to see it properly even if it is a lot. If the long queues bother you then get there first thing or last thing to avoid them. Nowadays I prefer to go to less popular countries and see what they have. Even the most popular places there are going to be fine.
Great post! My husband and I hate the tourist trail – how can you enjoy something when you are breathing the exhaled air of the sweaty, fanny-pack donning tourist packed like a sardine beside you; when every photo you take is obscured by a flag-touting tour guide leading their sheep behind them; when you are fed pizza and American beer, instead of authentic, local cuisine.
That being said, it’s hard to avoid places like the Louvre, or Trevi Fountain. But we balance it with a good dose of losing ourselves in the labyrinthine streets of Siena, or in the Japanese countryside at midnight, not a street-lamp or English-speaker in sight…
That’s my opinion, anyway. 🙂
It varies a lot. But I do try and avoid the really busy places, at least during anything like peak hours.
Eiffel Tower? Yes, on a windy but clear October evening, wouldn’t dream of braving the lines in July! St Mark’s Square? Lovely in November, having a (very overpriced) coffee under warm wooly blankets.
Some really are “can’t miss” destinations… others, well, not so much. The outdoors ones certainly attract me more.
I can’t stand touristy places when I travel. They are more expensive and more importantly, they give you a “less authentic” experience. Thanks for this awesome article.
Cheers and happy travels 🙂
I think it is a balancing act, I try to stay away from tourist resorts and complexes as they are generic and faceless, but some places are tourist attractions just because of how amazing they are. You can’t go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, so it is ok to go there, but I also believe that real travel is also about the other places you discover along the way that are not so popular which give you the real sense of the place. I love just walking off, getting lost and immersing myself in a place too. Give yourself time for both and do some research on less well know places too, talking to locals helps also.