If you’ve ever planned a trip to a popular city, you’ve no doubt realized that people have pretty intense opinions on what you’re itinerary should look like.
“OMG, you’re going to [major travel destination]?! You’ve gotta see [famous landmark, monument, sight and/or experience]! Otherwise, why bother going?”
I think we can all agree that just because something is famous, doesn’t mean it’s good (see: Logan Paul). Sure, sometimes the hype is well-deserved, but that’s another blog post.
I’ll try to be as in-depth in my explanations as possible, so you can decide if you’d still like to see the stuff in question. Who knows? Everything on my list might sound absolutely peachy to you. A visit might be exactly what you want. Do you. A traveler’s time is valuable, I don’t want you to waste it.
Famous Monuments You Can (Probably) Skip
1. The Little Mermaid
Maybe the most irritating thing about this little statue is how far removed it is from the city center of Copenhagen. You do have to go a bit out of your way to see the damn thing.
Once you’re there, it can be a bit of a disappointment. For one, it’s just…so small. Why did they take the title “little mermaid” literally? Who can say. Not to mention that the statue is constantly swarmed with tourists trying to get a picture. It seems impossible to get a single solitary photo… unless you use Google Images.
Your time is better spent in other parts of Copenhagen.
2. Manneken Pis
Much like the Little Mermaid statue, Manneken Pis is much tinier than you were probably expecting. While it is much easier to access (5 minute walk from the Grand-Place), it’s so small you can almost miss it. There’s cooler stuff in Brussels worth seeing. Manneken Pis is not one of them.
Also, I’m pretty sure if you tell a Brussels native that you came to their city just to see that statue, they die a little inside. So, don’t do that.
3. The Mona Lisa
This is a “skip-but-with-a-caveat” kind of deal. Until the Louvre can figure out how to accommodate the massive amounts of people who are fighting their way to the front, you’re better off looking around elsewhere in the museum.
Milan houses “The Last Supper” and gives ticket holders 15-minute access to the painting. It sounds trite, but you do get to actually see the painting as opposed to a brief glance with “Mona Lisa.”
I guess it sort of depends on how you like to view artwork. I really like getting up close and personal. If I can see brushstrokes, I’m a happy camper. Some may not mind the crowds and the insane amount of effort it takes to get a glimpse of the painting. If you think you can handle it, give it a go.
This isn’t me telling you to skip the Louvre either. It’s crowded as can be, but way, way cool.
4. Grand Ole Opry
I really hate saying this, especially considering how important this building is to country music. But, out of all the places I visited in Nashville, this was the most gimmicky.
We booked the VIP tour and I don’t think I’d do it again. Our time viewing the actual stage was so brief compared to the rest of the tour. It’s just…obscenely touristy and overly sanitized. “Here’s a dressing room, here’s another dressing room. Here’s Blake Shelton saying words again.” It just reeks of desperation.
What I loved about the other places I visited (Johnny Cash Museum and the Ryman Auditorium) were how they didn’t shove money-grabbing attempts in your face. There’s a photo spot if you’re interested. If not, no biggie. The Opry tour pushed us through. And wanted $25 for the photo. Yeesh.
In all honesty, I probably would’ve had a much better experience going to the Opry for a show. There’s really not a bad seat in the house. You can still get a feel for how important this venue is, not to mention, see some good acts.
And, I don’t mean to get picky here, but during the tour, our guide kept referring to the wooden circle in the center of the stage as “the infamous circle.”
Famous circle, just say famous circle.
5. Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint C, which was became Checkpoint Charlie by Western Allies during the Cold War, is it’s own important part of history. It became the most iconic Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin.
Look at old photos and you can see how intimidating it was to go through.
Now… it’s by a McDonald’s.
It’s smack dab in the middle of a crowded street with everyone and their mother trying to sell you something. Try to take a picture and not be hounded. I dare you.
If you really want to see it, just drive past it. The sign is creepy in its own way. So much so, that I bought a sticker because of course I did. It’s eerie and I can’t quite place why.
6. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
One of my fellow travel buddies, Jael, made the trek to Pisa during her time in Italy. While she was happy to be able to cross it off of her bucket list, that’s about where all the good feels end.
“You can spend about one or two hours there and see all there is to see,” she said.
Having skimmed Reddit, who has nothing nice to say about this area, I thought I’d ask her if what I had read was true. Most common complaints; it’s dirty and there’s nothing to do.
“It’s all of the above,” said Jael, and recounted an experience with a pickpocket who almost walked away with her phone. “So, if it’s not on your bucket list, close to where you’re already going to be, or you don’t want the Instagram cred, you can probably skip it.”
Hopefully this gave you some ideas as to whether you should or should not visit a place. For all I know, everything I mentioned may have totally appealed to you. If so, awesome! I don’t want to be an asshole who rolls their eyes when everyone and their mother makes a beeline for “The Mona Lisa.” It’s famous for a reason. And sometimes we gotta let loose and be touristy every now and then. While these spots certainly aren’t for me, I won’t begrudge anyone who read this post and immediately wanted to see it all.
Any tourist hubs you can take or leave? I’m all ears, let’s chat!