Best Travel Destinations to Avoid, Maybe

Athens (Photo credit: Arian Zwegers)

I have done a lot of travelling. A lot. It is probably my absolutely most favourite thing. I love observing the culture, trying the food, learning about the history, exclaiming over the scenery.

There are things that I have learned, however, and one of them is that I should be a little cautious about the more famous tourist hotspots.

So, here are some of my best travel destinations to either avoid or be more pragmatic about, given whatever your interests, time and/or financial constraints might be.

Stonehenge. I was a child the first time that I went there. That was a hundred years ago when you could walk among the stones. Alas, this is no longer possible, the result of vandalism and stupidity.  Because one can now only view them from quite a distance, I would recommend spending your time (and your money) in Salisbury instead. Beautiful cathedral, interesting city.

Eiffel Tower. The first time I viewed Paris from the Eiffel Tower I was 12 years old and I could actually view Paris! Now it’s bound up with so many protective layers that you can’t really see much of anything. Unless you’re an architect,  going to the Musee d’Orsay to oooh and ahhh over some of the world’s most impressive art works might be a much better choice. A lot smaller than the Louvre – you can enjoy the art without being totally overwhelmed by the size of the place.

Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s out of the way and it takes about five minutes to see.  A much better spot is Verona, a very charming, laid back city  with an old Roman amphitheater that’s still in use – see an opera there. Juliet’s (of Romeo and Juliet fame) house is also supposedly preserved; it’s unlikely to be hers but it’s a great old house and fun to visit. Check out her statue!

Verona (Photo credit: G_Malaussene)

Venice in July and August. Venice has really suffered of late, especially with the concerns about its elevation. There have been attempts to limit the number of tour ships coming through because those large groups of people are doing a lot of damage but aren’t spending much money to help with the upkeep. If you go, it’s much better to visit in May, June or September. I have been there in all three months. The weather is great but not too hot and it’s also not so crowded. Try visiting some of the lesser known, smaller islands rather than focusing on Venice proper – you will find some of the very best local food and you will be able to take your time and explore.

Westminster Abbey. Seriously impressive, of course, and everyone should go there once. But right next door is St. Margaret’s Church, almost as old as the Abbey, and beautiful, historical, and very overlooked. Its smaller scale makes the history of the site much more accessible.

Florence. Don’t get me wrong. I love Florence, but the locals are weary of tourists and this attitude will colour a visit there. If you go, expect it and accept it. I recommend staying outside of Florence, in Siena (a completely gorgeous ancient city about 30 minutes outside of Florence), perhaps, and taking day trips into the city to visit the museums and the Duomo. This is Tuscany and the food, wine and scenery are fabulous almost anywhere you go, and staying outside of Florence will give you more exposure to the Tuscan people and culture.

Santa Fe. I love Santa Fe. But if you have limited time to visit the area, I would suggest spending it in Taos, which is about an hour and a half, very scenic drive into the mountains away. Artistic, beautiful, historical and slightly eccentric, Taos should not be missed.

Quebec City. Again, very beautiful and historical, but Montreal has everything that Quebec City has with the addition of being more cosmopolitan. The restaurants are fabulous and I love the Old City and markets!

Banff National Park. This is Canada’s oldest national park and also one of the oldest in the world. I love this park, especially the Lake Louise area. However, if you’re looking for something a little less crowded or touristy and that will really give you a taste of the vastness and beauty of Canada’s mountains, try Jasper National Park. It’s more off the beaten path and much less well known.

What destination suggestions or tips do you have?

11 thoughts on “Best Travel Destinations to Avoid, Maybe”

  1. Leave New Caledonia off your list if you are contemplating (really not worth the visit) – I have been to most of the above apart from Venice, Pisa, Florence (oh how I wish!) oh and the last 3. I adore Europe, I am in love with the UK and Ireland. I love Asia. One suggestion would be Vietnam – I think I preferred it over Thailand and Bali. Spending a night or two on a rather impressive ‘junk boat’ with all the mod cons as you sail into the sunset through Halong Bay, watching the mystical mountains that have risen from the sea is pure magic. As are there markets, their food, their cooking schools where you learn and taste. Their shopping of course being fitted for an outfit in the morning to pick up the same night… what can I say Vietnam is a must see! Great post Lyn xx 🙂

    1. Thanks for the suggestions. I haven’t been to Asia at all but have heard that Vietnam shouldn’t be missed. I really appreciate your comments as M and I get our plan underway to start more travelling (unfortunately not for another couple of years) as we move into semi-retirement. I love your description of Vietnam – perhaps you should post about it! 🙂

  2. Hmm, I don’t know what happened to the comment I posted so I’ll try again. I agree with you on the Venice. We were there one November and it was so rough the gondolas weren’t running. It was also windy and raining and I was never so glad to get to the glass factory where the kilns at least kept us warm. There was also the distinct smell of sewage in the air and St. Mark’s Square flooded.
    Pisa was a complete disappointment for me. After hearing about it in school with Galileo doing his experiments, I had it built up too much on my mind. Also, seeing the mummified Saint in the cathedral didn’t do much for me.
    Jasper is one of my favourite places. I may be a little biased as I spent quite a bit of time there in the early 70’s when my Dad was Chief Park Warden there.
    On my person, “I don’t care if I ever go back” list is the site of ancient Olympia. It was to the say the least a little underwhelming.

    1. I hear you about the sewer smells in Venice – very pronounced during August! I also understand about the cold – I was there one time in early April and it was windy, raining and freezing. Yes, you might be biased about Jasper but I believe that it is spectacularly beautiful! 🙂 Thanks for the tip about Olympia. I haven’t been there but I have heard similar comments before.

  3. Super fun post! I agree that travel is the best! And I agree with you on much of your Europe. I did a study abroad in Oxford and its not to be missed. Especially the pasties you can buy on for market street! And I will have to let you know about Taiwan! Man beast and I plan on seeing lots of places in Asia while we are there! Xo

  4. Hi Lynette,
    Great advice; Some of things you mention I find to be true. The icons give you such grand expectation and then it can be such a let down. The best holidays I’ve had is when I do the things I enjoy doing not because a guide book called it a must see.


  5. All helpful hints Lynnette. As to Quebec/Montreal, I love them both, but Montreal is so broken right now. Maybe better in 3-4 years things will improve. As to Banff/Jasper….My comment has always been “Banff is a shopping center with mountain scenery” Jasper is the way the Parks used to be. Banff is too close to a major population center and airport. I have no problem with the 4 hour drive to Jasper. Cheers. Allan

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