Worst Tourist Traps: 2007
Many places are actually fun to visit just to watch the miserable tourists who don't know there's a less congested, crowded, over-priced, and polluted alternative. Help us avoid the worst of Europe's tourist traps with your hard-earned experience.
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learn your history before complaining
those of you who have any basic knowledge about the history of the Catholic Church will know that churches have been hawking since the beginning of the religion. What do you think the selling of relics and the selling of indulgences were? Pilgrams used to go to various churches, and buy "relics" as a momento of their pilgrimage. In fact, have y'all heard of the HOLY YEAR?? Origially the Church had one every 100 years. In 1450 there were so many pilgrims in Rome that the pope (Martin V) realized that Holy Years were hugge money makers, and so had them every 50 years. Now the Church has them every 25 years. How do you think Julius 2 and co built that Church? or any other church in Europe? It wasn't donations. Americans are sometimes very ignorant about history and get angry when things in Europe aren't quaint and "european" as you want them.
Milan, USA Tue 01/01/2008
Churches and $
Churches in Europe don't necessarily get government support or have had their support cut back, and when you have a vast, 1000-year-old building, the upkeep costs are tremendous. I've never visited a major church in the UK that didn't have scaffolding around it. One of them had a sign posted saying that it cost £2000 per day just to maintain the building. That's why they charge admission to people who aren't attending services.
Minneapolis, MN USA Fri 12/14/2007
Don't skip Edinburgh
All of you who are troubled by Edinburgh need to get off the Royal Mile after you see the castle! Check out the Georgian House, the Royal Botanical Gardens, climb Calton Hill or Arthur's Seat. If it's a downpour check out the Museum of Scotland. Wander through Stockbridge. Stroll along the Water of Leith. Tour the new Scottish Parliament. Lastly listen to some music and drink an ale at Sandy's Bells.
MADISON, WI USA Sun 11/25/2007
Chuches and $
churches may have to collect $ to keep the place in good condition. You can give or not give. Its up to you.
Chicago, IL USA Sun 11/18/2007
RE: Avoid Edinburgh Dungeon
I actually paid to go into the Edinburgh Dungeon and spent the entire time thinking to myself
"I paid HOW MUCH for this!?"
If you have the pass and it is free for you, go for it but only if you have some time to spare. It was kind of entertaining. (though poorly acted)
Other wise, skip it.
Long Island, NY USA Sat 11/17/2007
Oh I know I'm going to make a lot of people angry with this post but I have to be honest.
I've been to the Guiness Brewery 3 times and I didn't even like it the first time! It was costly and boring to me. I don't particulary like Guiness
(everyone say "Why did you go then!" and i'll say "because I was with a group of people who wanted to go.)
so the end pay off of a free Guiness wasn't worth it for me. Plus, their was NOOOOO seating and we had to stand around.
However, I did enjoy the email kios in the lobby where I could send a photo of myself to my family and friends.
Long Island, NY USA Sat 11/17/2007
Re: Making money on religion
The churches could also have set up the gift shops in "self-defense". I've been in lovely medieval churches where tourists have been so eager to bring home remembrances of their visits that they have stolen hymnals, candles, and chipped off little pieces of pews and wall carvings. I'd rather see a cheap gift shop in the church foyer than souvenir-hunting vandalism.
Philadelphia, PA USA Wed 11/14/2007
Making money on religion
I wouldn't necessarily call it a tourist trap but did anyone else find it odd that a lot of the churches in Europe are unashamed about hawking crap to tourists? The Notre Dame has little tick tack machines throughout the church(which is still used for services) to buy guides or to buy 'commemorative coins', St Pauls Cathedral has a huge gift shop in the crypt below the church. I kept seeing things like this everywhere I went. I'm not a religious person otherwise I would have been more offended. It just further makes me believe that religion and churches are more interested in making money(and their tax free status) than they should be.
Sacramento, CA USA Tue 10/30/2007
Amalfi Coast and Rome
I was distressed to read the negative comments about the Amalfi Coast and Rome. We just got back from there and had a wonderful time! Maybe it's because of what we were looking for? Sorrento made an excellent base (much nicer than what little we saw of Naples) for day-tripping and Capri was lovely - especially if you get away from the piazza during peak tourist hours. We hiked up to Villa Jovis, took the bus to Anacapri early in the morning and walked a lot of back/side streets. Positano was gorgeous - walked way up the hill to see the town and coast from above. Rome was amazing - an architectural/historical marvel around every corner. We met fun and interesting people from all over the world, over terrific meals and cocktails, and had very little trouble with panhandlers/hawkers. Just say no. We don't go on vacation to shop so didn't really look in the stores - too busy looking at the beautiful sites. I guess one person's heaven can be another person's dark place (don't ask me about Las Vegas!!!).
Minneapolis, MN USA Wed 10/24/2007
I wish I could find the receipt for this place in Venice. It is a small 6 table restaurant about 5 minutes from the Rialto and advertises "home cooking" and "reasonable rates". The menu in the window showed only the food prices which are reasonable. We asked for a half bottle of local wine (there was no wine list), that cost 16E, the bread was burned and hard (that's all we have) and cost 4E, the cover charge is 25% (that's what we charge)and when asked if I wanted ice cream or lemonchello for desert, I was charged 7E for lemonchello. Total bill for a small slab of lasanga 73E ($105).
Tampa, Florid USA Thu 10/18/2007
Sorry that you got caught. This topic has been widely discussed on numerous travel web sites. While it may be true that some ticket inspectors target tourists, we were in Budapest this past spring and watched them stopping almost everyone.
The day we arrived at the airport, we bought the tree day pass - it was immediate peace of mind. We were stopped three times during our three days and a simple glance at the pass was all it took.
It is my understanding from Budapest natives that the city started a concerted effort to enforce ticket regulations because the transit system was loosing alot of money from "freeloaders", mainly natives trying to beat the system.
Richmond, VA USA Wed 10/17/2007
Budapest Metro - Beware
On leaving Budapest today our hotel clerk cautioned that we make sure to have valid metro (and tram)tickets because the Metro agents targeted tourists (tourists are easy prey due to language barriers and don't know legal rights in Hungary). Our Hungary guidebook had a similiar warning. We requested a ticket to the Keleti train station from the Metro ticket office window and paid our cash. When departing the Metro station at the train station, Metro agents were there stopping everyone with a suitcase including us. We were certain our tickets were valid but instead we were told we had only a section ticket (good for only three metro stops) and not a single ticket (good for all stop on a single metro line) so we were in violation. We tried to explain that the Metro ticket office had sold us the invalid ticket. The agent turned over the ticket to show us that we had the wrong ticket. Of course everything was in Hungarian and didn't mean squat to us. Botton line we were charged a 10,000 HUF ($56) fine before we were let on our way. Word to the wise don't trust the ticket agent to sell you the right ticket. This put a bad taste in our mouths on an otherwise great stay in Budapest.
Seattle, WA USA Mon 09/17/2007
Avoid Sorrento & The Amalfi Coast...
...unless you must see Pompeii and Herculanum, which are both well worth the depressingly abundant tourist crowds. We stayed in Sorrento (Hotel Il Nido - very so so, crappy breakfast with low quality food) and were *not* impressed. After a heavenly week in Rome, pulling out the Naples train station and seeing where we were headed left both my husband and I with a very bad feeling. And we were right. Other than the day trips we took from Sorrento to Pompeii and Hercu., it is completely not worth it to go to Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, etc. Chock full of tourists and kitch and the same kind of crap you would buy in say, Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. I kid you not! I would almost recommend making Pompeii a day-trip from Rome (using the high speed train to Naples), leaving early in the morning. You can still get back by early evening and see as much of Pompeii as humanly possibly in one day (it's huge.) On that note, Herculaneum is actually much better - less people and more to see. And if you're coming from Rome, closer to the Naples station. Rick's books are immensely popular and I think they're as good as they are bad. We will no longer rely on them as a guide for where to, as he seems to favor very, very touristy locations. The books seem to work well for a certain type of tourist, but if you are fairly well educated, sophisticated, maybe even speak a foreign language or have lived abroad... Rick's books are *not* written for you. There are some good tips in his books regarding certain transportation and how to avoid lines, etc. and we may continue to consult them for that but... not much else.
San Francisco, CA USA Tue 09/04/2007
Cartoon Museum in Brussels
This has hardly any of the great cartoon stuff that we were looking for from the Land of Tintin and Asterisk. There is a big gift store, which is pricey, but more appealing than the museum. All exhibits in the museum are in French, with no translations whatsoever. Even kids would enjoy a Disney store more.
Bombay, India Sun 08/26/2007
Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
At the Dolmabahce palace, one has to see the palace in 'groups' which are formed by the administrators of the palace. It says 'guided tour' on the ticket, but there is almost nothing the guide will say except 'please hurry- please walk faster'. After charging 20 euros, and waiting in a queue for about an hour, we were forced to rush our visit by the palace administration and had to see 60 rooms in 60 minutes. That's less than a minute a room- to read the literature, to see the paintings and furniture in the room and to take snaps(we paid extra for a camera). The palace itself is nice, but the rush and the price make the experience highly avoidable.
London, UK Sun 08/26/2007
The Texas Embassy was great.We found a place to get a coke with refills.I was ready to sit and relax with a coke.The staff offered to look for a bottle opener with their logo .Only they were out .You cares if you are from Texas.We now plan on visiting the Embassy on every visit to London.
Kansas City, MO. USA Sat 08/25/2007
London Theatre discount tickets
The tkts booth in the Square is apparently the official outlet and fairly straight. The others advertise half-price tickets but, in our experience, don't deliver anything like that level of discount. Our worst experience was with the booth in the Crest of London store run by 'London Ticket Centre'. We paid 25 pounds each for 4 tickets and, on arriving at the theatre, found they'd given us 13.50 face-value tickets. When we went back to the booth, we finally got a refund but not before the operator had abused and sworn at us at length. Steer clear of this one and treat the claims of the others with a pinch of salt.
London, UK Mon 08/20/2007
Fat Tire Tours
We took 2 Fat Tire tours- one was fabulous, one was less so.
The wine tasting was excellent- the wines, the guide, the tiny group. Would recommend in a heart beat. Felt it was a value for the money and being a newbie to wine, did not feel intimidated and the teacher went out of his way for everyone.
The Fat Tire office was Americans and very nice and helpful.
The Versailles bike tour was challenging- guide was great and Versailles nice, but HUGE, HUGE group, hard to ride a bike having to stop every 20 feet, get everyone's bike on and off the metro which was a process, stay together thru the city and the town, etc... Versailles was nice, but smaller tour area than I thought and I wanted a gift for my mom from the gift shop there but as we were in a group- we couldn't stop. Also it was POURING cold rain in June and we just had to keep on going- soaked and cold and cranky. On the metro/bus/walking, we could've dashed into a shop or bakery to wait out the rains.
The market in Versailles town was super and we bought a great picnic lunch. I can't say I really enjoyed the day though it had high points. Would have enjoyed the day taking a bus instead, I think.
So Fat Tire is good outfit- just ask questions about how many, what you will do, etc...
GA USA Wed 08/15/2007
Jane Austen Museum in Bath, England
This place was an utter waste of time, very little that was even of historical significance related to Jane Austen. It was mostly comprised of clothes/items that had been used in modern-day movies of her books. I was quite bitter about spending the money/time there. By all means skip this place!
cypress, tx USA Wed 08/15/2007
i just want to say that it appears to me that all of you who complained either did not prepare or did not relax.i am a type a personality and returned from the venice,florence rome tour,used the rick steves books and found it all excellent.if you go during high season expect crowds.
sma, gto mex Sun 08/12/2007
Care for the animals on the farm.
This isn't a tourist trap, but more of a warning to those traveling to Killarney, specifically the Muckross Traditional Farms. The farm tour is composed of three working farms; small medium and large. The farm itself is a nice place to tour and I do recommend it, with a word of warning. The middle farm is usually where a few cats or kittens are kept. Cats are curious creatures and may try to follow you on your progression to the large farm. Please DO NOT allow the cats/kittens to follow you or otherwise accompany you to the large farm. While we were there we had the misfortune of witnessing a tragic scene. The large farm is where two gigantic (no I'm not exaggeration) Irish wolfhounds live. They, the dogs, WILL kill the cats/kittens, without doubt or hesitation. We inquired about these dogs and were told that the dogs have to be locked up anytime that the goats or sheep are moved on the large farm or the dogs would kill them as well. It was just a bit surreal to see small children playing with these dogs that were as tall as my chest (I'm 6'). Please mind the cats/kittens if you go there. Thank you.
Rosamond, CA USA Tue 07/31/2007
Bad guides begging at the Vatican and Coliseum
The guys standing outside the coliseum and the Vatican beg you to join their tours, avoid them. We heard bad stories about them at the coliseum, they seem cheap but the groups are big, they dont speak good english and some of them dont actually take you inside the coliseum. I actually saw them while I was inside and the guide was bad, our guide was much better. Then at the Vatican an english girl from "when in Rome tours" hounded us to join a tour, she wanted €40 euros per person, then she said we would have to stay in line and pay the ticket fee, then the cops came close and she left in a hurry and told us she would come back when the police went away. Can you imagine that, we still had her card but then threw it away. I think there are many gouge guides in Rome, so avoid them at all costs. The girl at the Vatican had a red umbrella, her friends had the same type.
USA Sat 07/28/2007
Venice is a waste????????
I beg to differ! When I got off the train and onto the top of the first bridge in Venice my heart stopped! Okay, compare it to Disney if you want, because it was like a fairy tale! The whole time I was there I was surrounded by romance and tales of days gone by - is that not part of why we visit such places in Europe? To each his own I guess ;)
London, USA Thu 07/26/2007
Venice = waste
Venice is a joke. Crowded and terribly expensive. Very poor value for your tourist dollar/Euro. I know, I know, it's been said 1,000 times. But now that I've finally been there it is 100% a trap. Disney should just buy the entire city and the theme park coupe would be complete.
Chicago, IL USA Tue 07/24/2007
Fat Tire is too crowded
I took the Fat Tire bike tour of Paris in June, and it was a huge tourist trap. There were 30 other tourists on my bike tour, and the guide was an American student who did not know French. It wasn't very authentic & wasn't worth my money.
San Diego, CA USA Fri 07/20/2007
Vatican and Rome
While both St Peters and the Vatican museum can be completely overcrowded, there are ways to deal with it. Get to St Peters early in the morning (it opens at 7, iirc) and you will not have the massive crowds that roll up later in the day. Similarly, the huge morning lines for the Vatican museum seem to disappear by afternoon.
In general, my tactic in Rome is to visit the big tourist sites either early or late, and then use the middle of the day to get to places further afield that aren't overrun.
San Francisco, CA USA Fri 07/20/2007
Fraud near Venice Lucia train station
Ristorante Roma near Venice Lucia train station overcharged us 114 Euros ($155 US) for a meal that should have been $30-40 US. We have filed a dispute claim with VISA. Stay clear of businesses near the train station and make sure you have a fixed price for what you purchase. Note that the money changer at this train station charges over 20% and use the ATM. Also sandwiches at the train station can have most most of the contents missing. Venice has degenerated into an overcrowded tourist trap. Go to the smaller, less discovered towns instead.
Fox Island, WA USA Thu 07/19/2007
skip the Vatican
The Vatican Museum and St. Peters are too crowded to even enjoy. Don't even go! We paid on July 2nd 2007 for a useless tour, the guy didn't speak English well, we left him the other 37 peoople and walked, or pushed our way through to see the Rafael rooms. The Sistine Chappel was so crowded, I thought I would pass out, you couldn't walk one step without pushing someone. Sienna's Basilica is much prettier. We wasted 3/4 of our one day in Rome in line, or pushing throught the Vatican
tustin, cA USA Tue 07/17/2007
Worst Tourist Traps
To identify where the worst tourist traps are in Europe are just look at Rick's books. If he advocates a place (e.g. Cinque Terra) stay clear. If he is luke warm or hostile, base yourself there - there won't be too many Americans! I am not blaming Rick--it is testament to the success of his books.
San Jose, CA USA Sat 07/14/2007
A line dividing Italy at Siena.
We traveled in Florence, Siena, Venice and Milan in 2004 and had a great time. It was very romantic and wonderful. This year we went to Rome and points more south.
I hate to express it, but Rome isn't a romantic city anymore, nor is it a walkable city if you want to walk arm in arm.
It is completely over run by people begging and trying to sell you stuff on the street and at the sights. We briefly visited in 2004, but it wasn't as bad as it was this time in Late June, 2007. You simply can't sit and relax and talk to your partner for more than three minutes before some one wants to "give" you a rose or sell you a little flying machine or a soap bubble maker, ignoring them didn't work. They stay till you tell them to go away. It was constant and distracting. I had beggers even jumping into pictures I wanted to take just so I'd pay them off to get out of the shot. If I changed position they would even follow to be in the way. I didn't pay them of course, but they were there and waiting in certain places. Rome eventually annoyed us and wore us down. Aside for a few shinning wonderful people we met that wanted to make our visit pleasent, mostly older Italian men, the rest of the Romans were petty, drunk, greedy and obnoxious. And just when you think they can't be more annoying, they do something that is.
ROME is a tourist trap. I think it would be great if tourists just boycotted the whole city for one year till it got cleaned up. You would think Prada and Monte Blanc would have an interest in this also with all the illegal counterfeits.
Never try to fly out of Naples!!!! Don't even consider it.
Including and South of Rome, you just never get to relax. You can't plan or trust or count on anything.
Springfield , OR USA Thu 07/12/2007
Why would anybody book a "Tour" of Murano and Burano when the vaporetto services both of the islands with regular schedules...just like the rest of Venice? Murano and Burano are both so small you could easily hop on the vaporetto and do your own little walk. Burano is especially tiny.
USA Wed 07/11/2007
Walking tours of Florence
Don't book your tours through this company! They make their tours seem spectacular but in reality you can organize most of what they offer to do on your own without having to pay the hefty price. One of the staff members in the office is really negative and gives off an "I hate Americans attitude" as if to bother her while she is working. Not a very welcoming company
USA Fri 07/06/2007
Venice day trip
A friend and I went to Venice last March...we decided to take the tour out to the two surrounding islands. I believe they were Murano and Burano (something along those lines). The tour begins in Venice, then you head directly out on the water to the first island. It's said to see the "local glass blowing", but we found it was more of a 'here's a guy blowing glass, now go upstairs and buy some' tour. Then we went to the next island to see how they make lace. Again, we were ushered into a building to purchase local merchandise. It seemed like the entire tour was more of a forced shopping trip than leisurely day trip. We were sent into these stores, and they would hound us and stare at us until we either left or purchased something. In all honesty, unfortunately it was a complete waste of time.
Regina, Canada Tue 07/03/2007
Capri: not worth it.
My wife and I just returned from 18 days in Italy and had the time of our lives. However, we took a day trip to Capri from Sorrento one day and it was a total waste of time and money. I should have taken Rick's advice! But it's like, "Hey there's Capri. Shouldn't we see it? How can we be sure we'll ever be back here?" So we blew 50 euro on ferry transfers and got a hot, crowded, trouist infestation (albeit a beautiful one.) The views are stunning but no better than those along the Amalfi drive. If you must go to Capri then at least ask around for VillaVerde restaurant. It's at the top of the Funiculare. We had an amazing meal here.
Fort Worth, TX USA Mon 06/04/2007
I stay at the Cinque Terre every year and love it. Except this year I happened to be there from April 25 to May 2 and it was horribly crowded and unpleasant. It turns out that the week I mentioned is a holiday for Italians; schools were out and the CT was packed with mostly teenagers. The trains were over-crowded, etc. It's really important to know when the holidays are and what that means to tourism.
USA Mon 06/04/2007
Amalfi Town - skip it in summer
Disney World is cooler, fewer tourists, and you can actually ride on the public transportation after you buy the ticket. Not so here. We gave up trying to squeeze onto the bus to Ravello after 1 hour and took a $30 euro cab. This was a wasted day, better spent somewhere else on the coast. Ravello was the only saving grace.
Jacksonville, FL USA Thu 05/31/2007
Can't disagree more with the comments below on Cinque Terra. I loved the place ! Visited in May 07 - only stayed 1 night but wish I had stayed 2 nights. I stayed in Vernazza at one of the places mentioned in Rick's book. It was a little crowded, but still very pretty, quaint and relaxing. Was much less crowded than the rest of Italy. I hope to go back again some day. I would highly recommend it. Beautiful scenary, beautiful atmosphere, relaxing......
USA Thu 05/31/2007
FYI: That restaraunt that you went to where "Fetticini alfredo" was invented was probably a scam invented for American tourists as Fetticini alfredo is not an authentic Italian dish. If you go to any traditional restaurant in Italy and ask for Fetticini alfredo the waiter will ask you who Alfredo is.
USA Tue 05/29/2007
London Dungeon sidenote
Yes, not the best choice UNLESS you are traveling with an antsy 11 or 12 year old! After 2 weeks of hot summer travel in Easter Europe, this activity on a short stop over in London was a cool and welcome change of pace for a hot, tired 12 yr old boy (they do throw in some history so not a total waste..the rest of our family just made the best of it). He was happy and we were able to carry on our sightseeing as usual with no complaints.
Edmonds, WA USA Fri 05/25/2007
Visit, April 2007. Can't imagine what it would be like in high season. Noisy,way too many people, capitalizing on Rick Steves - recommended restaurants, huge sign for one of the recommended restaurants when being herded down a very busy, noisy touristy road. Beautiful scenery, spoiled by the thousands of tourists. After reading the Rick Steves write up, our image was spoiled. Not quaint or quiet nor does one have to keep their voice down. Did not stay here, could hardly wait to get out.
Gail, Richard, Jo and Greg
Ottawa Ontario and Pittsfield Mass, Canada and USA Thu 05/24/2007
Dali Universe, London
Art museums are one of the main reasons I travel. So when I heard of the Dali Universe gallery in London, I had to go. What a ripoff. I'd been in so-called art museums before only to find nothing but reproductions, lithographs, 'interpretations' of the artist's works, etc. So I asked the ticket taker right away if this was the case, and was told that all items inside were original works of art. What B.S.- It was all reproductions, prints, etc. and if there was anything original in there at all, it certainly wasn't of note, mostly pen and ink book illustrations. The one thing they did have was a lot of was disappointed art enthusiasts. To make the scam worse, you can pay an extra fee up front for the 'Picasso Annex' which is more of the same- reproductions, a couple of tapestries and ceramics. And you could walk right into this area without paying the extra as its entrance is unmanned. Complete waste of $30.00 CDN. If you're in a group and really want to see for yourself, send one person in as a scout and they'll verify that it is NOT WORTH IT! If you like Dali or Picasso, head to Madrid or Figueres- you won't be disappointed:)
Toronto, Ont Canada Thu 05/24/2007
I have to highly agree with you. the first time that i went there was in 97, and it was ok, but been back 2 times since and i think it gets smaller and smaller and you go thru quicker and quicker. I tell friends that are going to london, if you realy realy want to go, check it out, but you could do better things in london with the time and money you are going to waste at Madame Tuassauds.
Easton, PA USA Mon 05/14/2007
blenheim palace - near oxford
to see the grounds (gardens, outside of the palace etc) was around 7 pounds for a student.
for grounds + inside the palace = 13.5 pounds (nearly double the price)
the inside tour was short, and very limited. including only about 10 rooms in total, and photography was not allowed. they even told me i couldn't wear my backpack on my back, i had to carry it in my hand.
the outside of the palace, in contrast, was beautiful and vast. there are several nice walking paths, and a maze.
i recommend the outside package, but skip the interior tour. it's a waste of money
waterloo, on USA Sun 05/13/2007
I agree that Stirling Castle is not to be missed. But what about the quiet towns and countryside of Northern Scotland? Drive up to the north coast, stop at Inverness (Shakespeare's MacBeth!) on the way, and enjoy some peace and quiet in the Orkney Islands! They are accessible by ferry. Certainly enough to see there--such as Skara Brae ruins and St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall--without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. I was there in 1994 on a July mission trip with my brother and absolutely fell in love with Orkney. The Orcadians themselves are terrific, warming, and hospitable.
MN USA Tue 04/24/2007
Before we left for Rome a couple of friends talked about the Restaraunt Alfredo's. Where Fetticini Alfredo was invented. So we went our 2nd night in Rome. The Waiter, was very nice. The fetticini was very good, we had a pleasant evening. It was very expensive. We had better food and much lower prices all over Rome.
boston, ma USA Fri 04/20/2007
worsst tourist trap
Harrys Bar in Venice!! We thought we had to try it! Us and 5 other (tourists)couples in the entire place sat at tables looking at each other, drinking $18 bellinis!!
ocean city, md USA Thu 04/19/2007
In Bruges, friends & I purchased the 15 Euro, 5 visit combination ticket at around 2:00 p.m. on a recent Sunday. Considering the sep't enty fees, it seemed to be a deal and even though it was late in the day, based on all the museum signs we had 3 hours to see the 4 sites we wanted to see and each was within 5 mins of the other. We enjoyed the Groeninge Art Museum then headed for Groothuse (sp?). A small sign told us it is CLOSED for renovations until 2008 but no one told us when we purchased the combo ticket. Next to Notre Dame - very nice but we didn't need a ticket for that. Next we headed for the Memling Museum right across the street. What? The guard wouldn't let us in - no entry after 4:30 he said. We argued that the signs say the museums are open until 5 and none of the exterior signs said anything about last entry times. He pointed to an interior sign as proof of the entry time but you had to be in the entry way to see it. We were not allowed in and there is no refund. The best an administrator to tell us to do was to write for a refund.
Grand Rapids, MI USA Tue 04/10/2007
Worst Tourist Traps
Just got back from Italy. The Colliseum: 20 minute wait (go in the morning). The Doges Palace at opening: no wait. The Vatican Museum: no wait but jammed inside. We walked past most exhibits but spent a lot of time in the Sistine Chapel - you can see everything else in any good US museum.
Venice was the most touristy, most expensive and worst food. But it's one of those 'you gotta go once' places. Rome was manic but a blast (Rick, you're right about using the taxis!), Florence was the best - you can walk everywhere, Pisa was cheesy but also 'you gotta go once' and Cinque Terre was relaxing! We did two of the village to village hikes - what gorgeous views!
USA Fri 03/30/2007
I can't agree about the Coliseum tours. I've done these twice and both times had an excellent tour. While the wait may not be two hours, the line is horrendously long and both times I've been, it was in the off season. Our group didn't wait for any official tour group.In fact, we didn't even see an offical group. One of the things I most enjoyed both times was the tour of the Forum. These actually lasted longer than the Coliseum tour and included loads of information that I didn't know. The first time we even got to have our picture made with the gladiators for free! Certainly not a deal breaker but we really laughed about how incredibly cheesy they are!
USA Tue 03/13/2007
Avoid Edinburgh Dungeon
Avoid the Edinburgh Dungeon at all costs! We didn't actually pay to get in to this since we had the Edinburgh pass, but it was truly, truly the most cheesy, vulgar tourist attraction I've ever visited! Don't waste the precious time you have in Edinburgh on this when there are much prettier things to see!
Atlanta, GA USA Fri 03/09/2007
I wouldn't really say the Cinque Terre is one of the worst tourist traps in Europe, but it is becoming increasingly busy. If you've never been, you should know that Rick is God in the Cinque Terre! When we visited in September of last year Rick Steves Guidebooks were everywhere. However our stay there was absolutely wonderful. The best part of our trip. But I wouldn't recommend arriving in the late summer without a room reservation. Arriving on a Monday instead of a weekend is not a bad idea too.
St. Helens, OR USA Mon 03/05/2007
Mid Day Venice
Rick is absolutely right....the cruise ships discharge floods of tourists who ovewhelm the primary sights from 10-4. On my second trip, I stayed across the Grand Canal, three minutes from the Guggenheim. I visited the Doge's Palace at opening and walked in with no lines (in June!) and had the run of the place. I returned after dark to enjoy the square and could sit where I wanted. Meanwhile, as the tour crowds swarmed the City during the day, I crossed back over the canal and leisurely enjoyed the Guggenheim, Accademia, churches, shops and dining in relative peace. By the way, 730 am on the Grand Canal, just as the boats are starting to get in position, is a perfect moment.
Seattle, Wa USA Wed 02/21/2007
Texas Embassy in London
The Texas Embassy resttaurant in London, right off of Trafalgar Square just begs for us simple-minded country folk to walk in. My husband and I ate there and thought the restaurant would enjoy having some Texans in there, and also, possibly a discount with our TX driver's licenses. Anyways when we told the waitress we were from there...she just sighed and said we (texans) come in a lot. We definitely should have chosen somewhere else to eat. We shared a meal and spent about 50USD. Though the margaritas were top notch!
TX USA Tue 02/13/2007
Re: Leaning Tower of Pisa
My husband and I really wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but didn't want to stay there. So we were traveling from Cinque Terra to Rome, and it was one of the stops on our train ride. So we literally got off the train, walked to the Leaning Tower, took our pictures, walked back and went the rest of the way to Rome. It was something that we didn't want to miss! The street vendors near the tower are merciless, though. I would definitely watch your pockets, too.
Clarksville, TN USA Sun 02/11/2007
Whiskey Heritage Tour Edinburgh
While I loved Edinburgh and Scotland/England over all. This may have been the worst tourist attraction I have ever been to. For the equivalent of about $35 US dollars you did get a shot of Whiskey and a keep sake glass. Unfortunately you also get a long, boring, hot, tedious tour. Exhibits were laughable, actual cats and dogs were stuffed as part of some exhibits. Tour seam to be geared toward children, if your children enjoy whiskey? By the end of our tour 30 or so participant were laughing or angry. Even the tour guide looked embarrassed to continue her speeches. Her final quote sums it up "It's not entertaining, it's educational".
San Jose , CA USA Fri 02/09/2007
We were so glad that we had read Rick's assessment of this attraction before we went to London. It's unlikely we would have chosen to go there anyway, but we were staying in nearby Bermondsey and walked past the teeming crowds of people queueing up to get in almost everyday. It was Easter holidays for the British kids and it looked like every kid in London had convinced his parents to take him there! We felt bad for them, knowing the high price they were going to pay and the long lines they'd wait in for not much of a thrill. Thanks for suffering through it, Rick, so we didn't have to!
new port richey, fl USA Thu 02/08/2007
Athens? Not a worst destination!
From Rick's heading of Worst Towns and Tourist Traps, "Athens, while worth visiting, is probably the most overrated city in Europe. A century ago Athens was a sleepy town of 8,000 people with a pile of ruins in its backyard. Today it's a giant mix of concrete, smog, noise, tourists, and 4 million Greeks. See the four major attractions (the Acropolis, the Agora, the Plaka, and the great National Archaeological Museum) and get out to the islands or countryside." I couldn't disagree more. When was the last time that he really visited Athens? Come on! Athens has a sparkling new metro, pedestrian walkways, and charming up-and-coming districts bustling with new restaurants and nightlife, not to mention all the great museums and historical sites. Sure glad we didn't listen to Rick's advice on this one.
Madrid, Spain Sat 02/03/2007
The London Dungeon
avoid the London Dungeon..over priced cheesy..a waste of time. Really stay away!!
Denver, co USA Thu 02/01/2007
Italy has so much to offer from great sights, amazing food and unbeatable fashion; however, the town of Pisa does not encompass any of these things. When traveling to Italy, if you have all the time in the world, then by all means go and see the infamous Leaning Tower. But, if like most people who want to see "real Italy" then skip this town altogether, for there are more gems of towns that have stunning churches, wonderful piazzas, and mouth-watering food.
Chicago, IL USA Sat 01/20/2007
My husband and I were in Rome last Spring and as soon as we got near to the Coloseum hawkers were trying to sell us tours for 20 Euros each. When we declined, they warned us that we would have to wait at least 2 hours to get in otherwise. We were approached with this 4 times before we even got to the entrance. Not only did we only wait in line for 20 minutes, the price for an offical tour was only slightly more than the entrance fee. We saved at least 10-15 Euros and our tour guide had precedence over the unoffical ones, so they were often waiting for our group to finish.
Canada Tue 01/16/2007