Pyramids of Giza, Cairo
Every day about 5,000 people flock out into the desert to see the Pyramids. Although it is possible to get away from the crowd by opting to take a camel ride or even an aerial tour via helicopter, to get close look your only choice is to join the crowd. Your second best option is to make your way farther south to Saqqara and check out the Step Pyramid there which is a little bit more off the beaten path.
Some of the nicest beaches in the world suffocated by some of the most extreme tourist infrastructure you’ve ever seen, you have numerous options that are all much better than Cancun two of which would be Isla Holbox and Celestun.
It’s no secret, India is crowded and if you think the Taj Mahal is any exception then you should really consider tempering your optimism. If you’re the adventurous type you can try crossing to the other side of the Yamuna River to get the big picture through your camera lens. Of course, the smell of rotting sewage may not be very appetizing but we can at least assure you of the solitude.
Sydney Fish Market, Australia
Although it markets itself as a tourist attraction, there isn’t much to see or do here apart from buying some overpriced fish. The view of the harbor isn’t that great either as it’s blocked by several large cement factories.
Old Town, Prague
As one of the most popular tourist destination in Europe Prague’s cobblestone streets are jam packed with tourists flocking to see medieval Old Town. To break free of the crowd consider crossing the Vltava River to one of the many parks on the opposite shore. You’ll get a much better view of the skyline as well as an appreciation for why it’s come to be known as the City of a Thousand Spires.
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Forbidden City, Beijing
Although for centuries it had been closed to outsiders, the Emperor of China’s Palace consists of over 1,000 buildings and has made its way to the top of the “most popular tourist destinations list”. Heck even Starbucks has set up shop within its walls. The key to avoiding lines here is to arrive about 30 minutes before it opens and try to hit the big sites first.
Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong
Constructed in 2004, this tourist trap was built with visitors from the Chinese mainland in mind. Lined with souvenir shops the highlight here is a statue of Bruce Lee in action. If you can get past all the crowds and find a good spot though, the harbor front view itself is amazing.
Notre Dame, Paris
This is one cathedral within whose walls you will be hard pressed to find peace or quiet. They say your best bet is probably to go during one of the services.
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
While it certainly is nothing short of miraculous that such poor architecture could last for so long, unless you are willing to part with 15 euros for a chance to wait in a long line leading to the top of the tower there isn’t much more to do here.
Supposedly a prime snorkeling location, don’t let the brochures fool you. The water is a lot more murky and fishless than advertised. Moreover, you’re going to spend a lot of your time dodging crowds.
The cheapest tour of Elvis’s former home is going to cost you about $30, which is already pushing the envelope.
Willis Tower, Chicago
Formerly known as the Sears Tower, lines to reach the top of this Windy City attraction can be brutally long and once you reach the top you’re going to have to make good use of those elbows to make some picture room.
Walt Disney World, Orlando
Unless you are absolutely in love with Disney and you have never before in your life been to an amusement park you may leave Disney World feeling a little cheated. Apart from the crowds, the price can be a bit overwhelming as well, especially when it comes to buying snacks and food.
If you ever plan on making the trip out here, remember to bring your binoculars. As a result of being overrun by zealous tourists it’s no longer possible to as close (with regular admission) but if you’re a history buff it may just be worth it at any distance.
Once considered to be a romantic getaway, the commercialization and rapid growth of touristy infrastructure, particularly on the Canadian side, has led many to question how badly they really want to see the falls. Also consider that things like parking and waiting in line at customs can be quite a hassle these days.
Empire State Building
For similar reasons to the Willis Tower in Chicago (#14), the Empire State Building can sometimes be more of a struggle than the view is worth. Don’t get us wrong though, if you can beat the crowds then seeing the city from 86 stories up is certainly an experience.
Venice Gondola Ride
It may seem romantic, but be warned – coming with a $110 price tag even a forty minute gondola ride can be a real wallet buster. If it’s always been your dream though, this is certainly a nice way to see the city.
Blarney Stone, Ireland
According to Irish tradition kissing the Blarney Stone will endow you with the gift of gab and possibly flattery as well. Although the history behind it can be quite fascinating to a history buff, consider how much you are willing to wait in a long line to lock lips with something that is covered in the saliva of the millions who came before you.
Nanjing Dong Lu, Shanghai
Although it is often referred to as the “best shopping street in China” do not be led astray by empty words. While it certainly has a lot of history behind it, that history has been for the most part replaced by ubiquitous brands that can be found anywhere.
Central Tokyo, Japan
Situated in the middle of the largest metropolitan area on Earth, most of central Tokyo is nothing but crowds and concrete. There are parts of the city, however, that would be worth seeing. Try to check out the suburbs of Ogikubo and Asagaya or the countryside of Yamanashi.
Winston Churchill’s Britain at War Experience, London
Every year this heavily advertised tourist trap draws in thousands of visitors to see a couple fake mannequins which is a shame considering that several other authentic sites from World War II including Churchill’s actual bunker are just around the corner.
Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica
While the waterfalls themselves are stunning, much of the beauty is inevitably lost to the crowds as hundreds of tourists make their way through the jungle from their respective cruise ships. Moreover, pesky “tour guides” trying to hustle for your cash can be a bit of an annoyance.
St. Marks Square, Venice
Maybe its due to the fact that dry land isn’t as common in Venice as elsewhere, but whatever the reason St. Marks Square tends to be constantly overcrowded. Don’t expect to find it looking anything like the photo above unless you go in the wee hours of the morning.
Tower of London
This 1,000 year old tower was originally constructed to keep people in, although these days it seems to be doing the opposite. The highlight here would obviously be the famous Crown Jewels but keep in mind that you’ll probably spend quite a bit of time standing in line to barely catch a glimpse. A better option is to reserve your tickets about 2 months in advance and try to witness the Ceremony of the Keys.
Times Square, New York City
Essentially nothing more than an intersection, in order to have your senses overloaded with all the neon you’re going to have to lose yourself on some of the world’s most densely packed sidewalks. As with several other places on this list, going during the early morning hours may offer an escape from the relentless crowds.