Recently, I was considering how some travel destinations get all the hype. But are they really that great? Has the culture and integrity of the place stood up beneath the weight of tourism? Or maybe some cities just loose their luster? What about the little towns and countryside that may be magnificent, but rarely visited or mentioned in magazines? So I decided to ask some expert travelers about what place they found to be overrated. Keep in mind that each traveler has their own idea of the perfect destination. However, their opinions and suggestions are surely something to consider before traveling to that destination you have pictured in your head.
Travel, for me, is all about being open to a brand new experience, discover what has been previously unknown. For me it's all about arriving in a city or rural countryside that I have never seen with a heart that is ready to meet new people and learn about the differences which can elicit a new perspective from geographically separate communities and cultures.
That being said, I would have to say that according to my experience; Washington D.C. is the most overrated place I have been. Certainly, it is a city rich in history and architecture, but what isn't always shown in movies and popular conception is how much crime and poverty exist in The American Rome. I had planned on spending a week or two there; however, due to being robbed at gunpoint I had to cut my trip short due to utter exhaustion with the place.
I saw the Lincoln Memorial and other tourist sites, which certainly have a grand appeal; however, my best experience in D.C. was happening upon a classic jazz club with a friend as we were wandering the district. The musicians were incredibly talented and friendly to speak with in between sets. If I were to go back to D.C., I would highly suggest spending more time to explore and find places with exceptional music and that classic atmosphere. For me, that was when I began to discover a true sense of what exists in the heart of D.C.
I felt like Pompeii, Italy was overrated. I expected to see artifacts and some people incased in ash. There were almost no artifacts and few people to see within the ruins. I wanted to get a sense of the terror and fear these people experienced and it felt like an archeological site stripped bare. The museum in Naples they had moved the artifacts to was also a huge disappointment. One exhibit hall was closed because of lack of staff and it was clear that most of the artifacts were in storage. Climbing Mount Vesuvius would of been more fun.
In answer to your question... the most overrated place i've visited would have to be Australia's Gold Coast (Surfer's Paradise). I'd heard so many good things about the city and so I made sure to include it in my travel plans. Although plenty of people may be drawn to the hustle and bustle of the big city, and I can completely appreciate the attraction of the theme parks (being a bit of an adrenaline junkie and all!)... But I travelled to Australia to experience the real 'Down Under'. Surfer's Paradise just didn't seem authentic to me. It is Australia's answer to Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Everything from the neon signs, the super clubs and even the tourist-trap identity just didn't float my boat. Australia is chilled, laid-back and all about nature. It shouldn't be about built up, tacky cities with burnt tourists wandering around lost after four too many beers. Give me under-developed beauty over manufactured tourist traps any day! Swing by, spend a day at the theme parks (which are worth a visit) and leave.
Head two hours North instead and wallow in the extraordinary beauty and tranquility of Noosa. This small surfing town is known for it's expansive beaches and is the perfect place to catch a ferry over to the equally beautiful Fraser Island. Noosa is a must visit :).
For me, the most over-rated place I have ever visited was Berlin, Germany. Now I am willing to give it a second chance, because I visited it in the dead of winter (February) and it was not only cold, cold, cold, but it was snowing as well. The city seemed drab, grey and lifeless, while resting on the laurels of the war as tourist traps, things like the Berlin Wall (which was cool to see), but also Checkpoint Charlie and most of the museums. Everything here for a tourist to see seemed based on the war and the ugliness that took place here so many years ago.
Mine is a highly unpopular opinion, however Paris was the most overrated travel destination in my opinion, and it's all because of the hype. People rave about Paris. They talk deliriously about it's beauty, and put the city on a pedal-stool which I sadly felt was too far detached from reality.
In it's own right, Paris is a great city - there are a fantastic range of historical attractions, the architecture is gorgeous, and it's a very European experience. Though it certainly doesn't live up to the hype of "the most romantic city in the world", and as such I traveled with expectations which were way too high. I expected magic. I expected to fall in love. I expected the city to woo me in a way I had never been woo-ed before. But what I found was a city not dissimilar to any other in Europe. I thought it was fairly dirty, that the locals were rude, and that there was too much tourism to make for an enjoyable experience - attractions were crowded, and you couldn't escape street vendors selling tacky souvenirs. I felt a huge anti-climax in traveling to Paris, and after having given it a second and third shot to "woo" me and change my mind, it never did.
The sun rose over the horizon, white marble with hues of pink, the Taj, a wondrous work of art. I attempted to take a picture, someone stepped in front of me, I was jostled from the side, an old man in a turban spat three inches away from me, teenagers queued up to take my picture… the Taj may be amazing but the hordes of local tourists definitely diminished it’s magic for me, the hassle was unrelenting. The Golden Temple on the other hand; serene, relaxed, stunning; this is where you should go if you seek a quiet place to think upon your choices whilst in India.
I had high hopes for Langkawi, Malaysia - I was coming off a whirlwind Asian adventure and after visiting Vietnam and Cambodia I had decided that Langkawi would be the final destination I visited before heading back to the States. I was looking forward to ending our trip on a high note and was eager to soak in the island's culture and beauty. Unfortunately, I wasn't overly impressed by this Malaysian Island. After a day or so on the island, I found myself bored. Langkawi doesn't offer a whole lot to do and see, and I wasn't overly impressed by the activities that were offered, such as the cable car or an island hopping excursion. The lack of options would have been fine had I found the island breathtakingly beautiful, but when compared to the nearby Thai islands, I found Langkawi's beaches to be underwhelming. In my opinion, nothing about Langkawi made it "worth" the trip. If you're headed to Asia and looking to spend some time at the beach, I'd recommend heading to Thailand's southern islands instead.
What place have you visited only to find it was all hype? What did you think of some of the places mentioned here? Overrated or under appreciated?