Avoiding the Crowds: Europe's 12 Biggest Tourist Traps

European tourist traps

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European tourist traps
Cheapism / kellygarciaphoto.com/iStock / andreonegin/iStock / kateafter/iStock

When in Europe

Europe is bursting with history and destinations so pretty they'll make your Instagram feed weep with joy. Yet for every historic gem, there's a tourist trap waiting with open arms (and an overpriced ticket) across the continent. We're talking about those places where you elbow your way through a sea of selfie sticks, only to wonder: "This is it?" If you want to make like a local, avoid these 12 tourist traps across Europe.

Trevi Fountain
Giuliano Benzin / iStock

1. Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

The good thing about Trevi Fountain? It's free and open to everyone. The bad thing? It's free and open to everyone. Unless you’re out the door at dawn racing to this architectural gem, don’t expect an Anita Ekberg in Fellini's "Dolce Vita" moment — instead, you'll be squeezed by tons of tourists all angling for that perfect “It’s just me here” photo. Plus, the fountain is under the watchful eyes of extremely annoyed police who have absolutely zero patience for tourist antics. So when in Rome, do as the Romans do and don't stay too long at this tourist hot spot. 

Eiffel Tower
andreonegin / iStock

2. Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

It's understandable that, upon visiting Paris, you'll want to take a photo with or simply visit the "Iron Lady." After all, what's more Parisian than the Eiffel Tower? According to the locals, practically everything else. Nevertheless, visiting this metal magnificence should undoubtedly be on your list, but do yourself — and your wallet — a favor: Skip the climb to the top. Shelling out $20 and wasting your day in a line longer than the tower itself is the ultimate tourist faux pas.

Manneken Pis
thehague / iStock

3. Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium

It's baffling, really, how a tiny statue of a boy doing his business manages to draw crowds of tourists, clogging up the narrow streets in the historic heart of Brussels. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to swing by the "Manneken Pis," but honestly, sticking around for more than a fleeting moment is a miss.

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Red Light District in Amsterdam
Hollandfoto / iStock

4. Red Light District in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

If ogling at sex workers, moving through swarms of rowdy bachelor parties, and dodging drunk frat boys is your thing, then sure, visiting the Red Light District in Amsterdam might seem appealing. However, if you're looking for something a bit different, Amsterdam has loads more to offer. Check out the city's beautiful parks and gardens or wander through the lively De Pijp neighborhood for a taste of local life away from the neon buzz.

Related: 50 Tourist Traps That Locals Still Love

Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Jarretera / iStock

5. Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen, Denmark

The word 'little' is far from an overstatement to describe the size of the Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen. If elbowing dozens of tourists out of the way to take a photo with a 4-foot sculpture is your definition of a day well spent in a city that has so much to offer, then sure, visit the sculpture. But take our advice: Skip this tourist trap and do literally anything else in Copenhagen.

Related: Watch Out for These Tourist Traps in All 50 States

Gondolas in Venice, Italy
cheyennezj / iStock

6. Gondolas in Venice, Italy

Few things are as corny and touristy as riding a gondola across the Venetian canals, captained by someone dressed like what Americans imagine Italians to look like. But it's also an experience that costs $80 for twenty minutes. Expect to pay more if you want the captain to serenade you for an even cheesier experience.

The Blarney Stone in Blarney, Ireland.
chrisdorney / iStock

7. The Blarney Stone in Blarney, Ireland

To reach the Blarney Stone and gain eloquence — as local legend has it — you'll need to pay $20 and endure a 90-minute wait in line. Then you'll join the ranks of countless others kissing a random rock, lying flat on your back and arching backwards, sharing germs in the process. Additionally, there are rumors that local teenagers play pranks by peeing on the stone. So you might leave Ireland bereft of the legendary gift of eloquence and instead come home with a souvenir in the form of an unwelcome virus. 

La Rambla
cenkertekin / iStock

8. La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain

Heading to Barcelona? You might be tempted to stroll down La Rambla — it's free and has all the Catalonian vibes. But guess what? Over 150,000 tourists daily flock to the street notorious for pickpockets, cheesy street performers, and sky-high prices for everything. Locals steer clear of it like it's the plague — and so should you.

kellygarciaphoto.com / iStock

9. Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK

Stonehenge is definitely a sight to see, but consider driving around it instead of shelling out $40 for an entrance fee. This way, you can still marvel at the fascinating history while dodging gift shops and avoiding hordes of buses filled with tourists.

London eye
kruwt / iStock

10. London Eye in London, UK

Sure, the vistas from the London Eye are the stuff of legends. But is braving absurdly long queues and forking out $50 for a spin on what's essentially a glorified Ferris wheel really worth it? Your call. If you're after breathtaking London views without the wallet-wilting price tag and the hassle, we suggest hitting up Primrose Hill — no tickets, no lines, just pure, unadulterated London at its finest.

Checkpoint Charlie
brunocoelhopt / iStock

11. Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, Germany

Checkpoint Charlie can be vaguely described as a Cold War era-themed photo booth with cheesy actors and souvenirs you never knew you didn't need — minus the history. It's one of those "if you blink, you'll miss it" spots, and honestly, you might not be too bothered if you did.

leaning  Tower of Pisa
kateafter / iStock

12. The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy

Would you ever bother visiting a city if its only claim to fame was a cheesy photo op in front of a surprisingly underwhelming tilting tower? That's Pisa for you. Italy is chock-full of stunning, historically rich spots that deserve your time way more. That cannot be said for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

However, if fate, a wrong turn, or your love for flawed architecture lands you in Pisa, do yourself a favor and at least skip the pricey climb. Upon shelling out 30 bucks to climb the tower, most find themselves wishing they’d just stuck to the ground, striking that unique, nobody-has-ever tried-before, “Look, I’m holding it up!” pose.