Awhile ago, I wrote a post detailing the major landmarks, sights and experiences that I thought were overrated. And in the spirit of lazy writing, I’ve compiled a list of the exact opposite. Iconic places that you’ve heard of over and over again. It’s an experience that either sounds incredibly cliche or incredibly dumb. And when you’re a traveler with precious time to spare, what’s one to do?
Don’t hate me but… give these spots a whirl if you can. Not everything has to be unique or off the beaten path to be a fun time.
7 Famous Monuments You Definitely Need to See
1. Eiffel Tower
Is there anything more cliche than making the trek to Paris and going up the Eiffel Tower? I have no idea, but if you think of something, do get back to me.
I can definitely see why this wouldn’t be top of everyone’s list. It’s iconic to the point of oversaturation. I’m pretty sure the French still don’t like it. C’est la vie.
The thing is… Paris is meant to be viewed from the top of the Tower. The City of Lights shows its best side from hundreds of feet up in the air. In Paris, there’s so much to see when on the ground it can feel overwhelming at times. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, it’s all brilliantly clear.
One of my Italian friends has lived outside of Rome her entire life, but has never once set foot inside the Colosseum! It baffles me, is this what happens when famous stuff is in your arena?
Yes, you’ll have to fight the throngs of locals trying to sell you stuff, but I so enjoyed what I saw. This gigantic structure has been around for centuries, it’s incredible! It was such a treat to walk around the grounds, and see everything from the perspective of a performer and a spectator. And the view of the Forum was delightful as well.
3. Michelangelo's David
Arguably one of the most famous sculptures of all time. It’s considered a symbol of Florence, and is widely identifiable. I know since I trashed “Mona Lisa” in my last post, some might be skeptical about seeing David.
But, you should. Really, it’s worth it.
David is much bigger than I was anticipating, and that’s definitely on purpose. When you walk into the Galleria dell’Accademia, David is waiting for you at the end of a long hallway. I got goosebumps. The power and grace that was meant to be communicated through this sculpture are immediately apparent. You can see why Florence considers it their symbol.
4. The Lennon Wall
Prague, Czech Republic
When I mention this area to people new to Prague and how it’s a must see, they look at me like I’m nuts. “Um…it’s a wall.” No, really, you gotta see it in person. It’s special. The Lennon Wall is iconic, both for looks and for what it represents. Soon after Lennon’s assassination, the wall in question was quickly painted with his likeness and his quotes. Since the Czech republic was under Communist rule, Western images were banned and the secret police quickly painted it over. They were fighting a losing battle.
The Lennon Wall soon became young people’s quest for freedom. Images and quotes of a life without Communism were everywhere. Many credit it as one of the factors leading up to the Velvet Revolution that dissolved Communism in the Czech Republic.
In 2014, it was completely painted over with the words “the wall is over!” in the center. Honestly, you’d think people would learn. Above is how it looked when I visited in 2017.
5. The Shuttlecocks
Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Of course I’m including my hometown in this, I love this area so much! Sure, you could argue such a sculpture array is nowhere near as famous as the Eiffel Tower… fair. But go ahead and search Kansas City on Instagram. I’ll wait. What do you see? The Nelson-Atkins lawn with Shuttlecocks abound.
Everyone and their mother had opinions on this when the sculptures were installed. Most, if not all, were negative. Screw it. I love it. It was installed the year I was born, which seems like more or less a confirmation that 1994 was an awesome year. When people accused the Shuttlecocks of being “silly pop art,” they neglected to see the larger picture. They represent Kansas City in a way no classic art piece ever could. Yes, it’s a little odd, but then again, so is the city. So, it fits.
6. Gondola Ride
Okay, okay, you put up with my nonsense about my hometown, the least I can do is be serious again.
Nothing in the world got me bigger eye rolls than telling my fellow travel buddies that I absolutely was going to do a gondola ride in Venice. And, yeah, I get it. It sounds really dumb. Paying someone to take me around Venice in the most touristy way possible when walking around is much faster and free?
Yeah, I did it.
And I loved it. Yes, walking is free, and a water taxi pass is way cheaper, but there’s something magical about that cliche gondola ride. I went down the Grand Canal at sunset. It was so peaceful (a word rarely associated with Venice’s hustle and bustle). Venice at night is so beautiful.
Really, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that I don’t think I could’ve gotten elsewhere.
7. The Heineken Tour
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This is maybe the goofiest thing on the list. I completely acknowledge that going to the brewery is participating in a tourist trap. Whatever, I had a great time! I sang on a karaoke machine, I got up close and personal with the machinery and got a free glass of beer. What more can you ask for?
I did the Rock the City tour, which includes a canal ride and trip up the A’DAM lookout tower. It’s honestly one of my favorite memories of my time there because everyone else was having just as much fun as I was.
Sometimes the overly touristy stuff can be the most fun. I try (key word: try) to check my ego when traveling, and not write off the obvious. I’d miss out on some pretty killer karaoke if I did.
What travel nonsense have you willingly participated in and enjoyed? Let me know in the comments!