Pyramids of Giza, Cairo
Every day about 5,000 people flock to the Egyptian desert to see the Pyramids. Although it’s possible to get away from the crowd by opting to take a camel ride or even an aerial tour via helicopter, to get a 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, which is a little bit more off the beaten path.
This place has 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 destinations 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.
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. To avoid lines, 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
Don’t go to this iconic building if you’re looking for serenity. You will find little peace and quiet in this cathedral. Your best bet is to go during one of the services.
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
Its miraculous such poor architecture could last for so long, but is that really worth dealing with the crowds? If so, be prepared to part with 15 euros for a chance to wait in a long line leading to the top of the tower, look out, and then go back down again.
Supposedly a prime snorkeling location, don’t let the brochures fool you. The water is a lot murkier and fishless than advertised. Moreover, you’ll 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. Unless you’re a die-hard fan, it’s probably best to skip this one.
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 snap a picture.
Walt Disney World, Orlando
Unless you are absolutely in love with Disney and you have never been to an amusement park before, you may leave Disney World feeling a little cheated. Apart from the crowds, the price can be a bit overwhelming especially for the 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 be as close (with regular admission), but if you’re a history buff, it may just be worth it.
Once considered to be a romantic getaway, the commercialization and rapid growth of the touristy infrastructure, particularly on the Canadian side, has led many to question how badly they really want to see the falls. Also, 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 – this ride is a real wallet buster. The forty minute ride can cost you up to $110. 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. Sure, it’s historical, but that history has been somewhat replaced by ubiquitous brands.
Central Tokyo, Japan
Situated in the middle of the largest metropolitan area on Earth, most of central Tokyo is nothing but crowds and concrete. Some parts are worth seeing, though. 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. It’s a shame considering several other authentic World War II sites, 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, but whatever the reason, St. Marks Square tends to be constantly overcrowded, pigeons included.
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 famous Crown Jewels are the highlight of the trip, but keep in mind you’ll probably spend most of your 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 overloading your senses with neon advertisements, this trap has one 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.