I’d wanted to write this post for quite some time now and always found some reason or the other not to (or to keep putting it off).

Thing is, my general idea of travel is to approach it with a fair amount of optimism.

Look for the best in everywhere you visit, try to make the most of what you have (whether that’s the budget you have or even just the amount of time you have to explore a destination), don’t complain about the heat/cold/humidity – embrace it and find a way to get past it… I could go on and on, my point here is that I’m not one you’ll find looking for ways to complain about a destination, I find that energy is better spent looking for ways to actually enjoy your travels.

12 Delicious Foods You Have To Eat In Santorini, Greece (18)

With that in mind, I feel like even before I start with this blog post properly, I just need to clarify a few things straight away! The very first one being what exactly I mean by “overrated”.

Overrated in this context (and in most contexts, I’d imagine) simply means something that is hyped up way more than it should.

It’s definitely not saying that the thing isn’t worthy of some hype, it’s just saying that the level of hype around it is a tad too unrealistic. Like, so much so that you end up so disappointed because you arrive with this gargantuan expectation of what that destination or experience would be, that the thing itself could never ever possibly have met that expectation!

What To See In Rome 2018 (41)

Expectation is truly the root of all disappointment.

I’m also aware that lots of people (ourselves included, on occasion) are prone to hyping things that we’ve enjoyed (as we all rightly should) so I’d like to point out that this post isn’t pointing the finger at anyone in particular! It’s just a bit of light-hearted fun – so please definitely do feel free to see and do everything below if that’s what you really want to! 🙂

With that out of the way, here are 7 seriously over-rated travel experiences in Europe!

1.) Watch the sunset in Oia, Santorini

Sunrise To Sunset in Oia and Fira in Santorini, Greece! (22)

If you’ve never been to Santorini before, you’d be forgiven for almost thinking that seeing the sunset in the town of Oia would give you magical powers.

This has been hyped up so much as being almost this mythical travel experience everyone should have when in truth, it’s a sunset as pretty as many other sunsets in the world.

Sunrise To Sunset in Oia and Fira in Santorini, Greece! (20)

Yes, you are in one of the most beautiful islands, not just in Greece but across Europe and yes, some of the pre-dinner ouzo (or Mythos beers) you’ve had might make it seem like this sunset is the stuff of dreams but trust me, after you’ve seen it once (maybe twice), you won’t even bother searching for the best spots in Oia to check it out, you’ll just take it in from wherever you are on the island.

Going Off The Beaten Track in Santorini... (29)

The sunset is beautiful but here in our bigger island(s) called the UK, notorious for it’s grey weather, we have some pretty spectacular sunsets (especially if you have a really great viewing point) that will make you question everything you’ve heard about how ‘impossibly beautiful’ a Santorini sunset is.

2.) Find the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

Colourful Houses Nyhavn in Copenhagen -

I totally get why this is a sight you have to see in Copenhagen and I get why this is fairly important to Copenhagen but this is definitely not a sight that will leave you amazed when you see it.

I know this sounds wrong but I think a large part of why (pun-intended) is its relatively small size. Statues don’t make for the most impressive of tourist attractions and even when they do, they tend to be gigantic enough to command some level of awe – the little mermaid does not. If no one told you about it, and you arrived to the city not knowing what it was, you’d be forgiven for not even stopping to take a photo.

How To Spend a Weekend in Copenhagen! [PART 2] (7)

This is in large part why it’s so hard to understand why the statue is touted as being a must-see attraction in the city. It also doesn’t help that you have to venture out of the more fun/exciting parts of the city to get to see it.

3.) See the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, Paris

7 Seriously Overrated Travel Experiences In Europe (2)

This is perhaps one of the most famous over-rated attraction in Europe. The Mona Lisa is an amazing piece of art by Leonardo da Vinci and totally worth its critical acclaim but the experience of seeing it in the Louvre leaves a lot to be desired.

For starters, the crowds around it mean that the painting, which is fairly small anyway, will be something of a struggle to see and fully appreciate when you’re being shoved and prodded by lots of equally eager tourists.

7 Seriously Overrated Travel Experiences In Europe (1)

Thing is, I’m a bit of an exception when it comes to crowds while travelling as I grew up in a very busy city and so being in tourist attractions surrounded by huge crowds never seems to bother me – I just get on with it. Even for me though, not being able to take a few moments un-interrupted to see the painting properly kinda dulls the shine on it though. (And sorry, I refuse to get up at the crack of dawn just to see it – I feel like I’d somehow resent it even more if I saw it so knackered from lack of sleep. 😀 Hehe! )

4.) Getting macarons in Paris

7 Seriously Overrated Travel Experiences In Europe (3)

I said it here and I’ll happily say it again, macarons are just the most over-rated sweet treats ever. I seriously doubt most people actually really enjoy them! And when I say ‘really enjoy’ them, I mean, if they were asked “Pick any sweet or dessert in the world” I doubt it would make the number 1 (or even the top 3 choices) for most people.

7 Seriously Overrated Travel Experiences In Europe (4)

Don’t get me wrong, they’re okay – they’re sweet enough but I feel they’re more for Instagram and for photos than they are everyone’s favourite dessert/sweet. It’s not like they’re particularly cheap either (currently, online they are like €3 for 1 macaron in Ladurée) so there’s no angle on which this ‘love for macarons’ exists for most people but for the lovely photos.

5.) Seeing colourful houses in Notting Hill

7 Seriously Overrated Travel Experiences In Europe (2)

Notting Hill is a generally beautiful neighbourhood in London (that’s not to say it doesn’t have its less attractive parts too of course) but there are just too many things one could be doing and seeing in London (and too many beautiful parts of London) for you to overtly go out of your way to head to see the colourful houses of Notting Hill.

7 Seriously Overrated Travel Experiences In Europe (1)

I don’t think you’d ever ask any Londoner what to see as a sight when you’re visiting London for the first time and get told “Top of your list – you have to see those colourful houses in Notting Hill!”. They’re totally worth seeing if you’re in the area and there’s a fair bit to see and do in the area so I’d recommend visiting Notting Hill itself but only if you have spare time to do so. Don’t feel obliged to or like if you haven’t spent time in Notting Hill, you just haven’t truly experienced London. It’s lovely and picturesque but like I said before, so are a LOT of places in London.

6.) Visit Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

Sightseeing In Berlin, Germany - Part 1 (37)

Berlin as a city is very much defined by the war (World War II, to be precise) – the eclectic mix of architecture where new buildings have been built to replaces those destroyed in the war, the many monuments are the city and even the Berlin Wall are all stark reminders of a dark time in Europe and felt across the world.

Sightseeing In Berlin, Germany - Part 1 (27)

Checkpoint Charlie is one of those places (albeit more to do with the Cold War – an aftermath of World War II) and one that people recommended we visit when in Berlin.

Now, although this is still a place that has huge significance in the history of the Cold War, it feels trivialized by the actors who dress up in military costumes and patrol the areas for photos and tips with tourists. Something about that whole thing just kinda feels ‘off’ and a lot of what’s at Checkpoint Charlie feels kinda made up to be something of a tourist attraction than a sombre reminder of the tragic events of the past. I’d say it’s worth checking out but if you have LOTS of spare time on your hands.

7.) Walk up The Spanish Steps in Rome

This was the one sight in Rome which kinda felt like I had to see because everyone kept saying we had to but if we’d missed out on, I’d have been totally fine with that. It’s nice enough to see but there are just too many amazing things to see in Rome that it’s kinda dull in comparison. Also, after spending a few minutes here you’re bound to find yourself very bored here (though it might be a good spot to stop off if you have a pizza or gelato you’re working hard on in that Italian sunshine).

What To See In Rome 2018 (27)

If you are looking for something of an unexpected gem in Rome, you should head down the road (it’s literally down one long street) to Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo where you’ll find so many amazing works of art from renowned old masters like Raphael, Caravaggio and Bernini dotted around this quieter Roman church.

Image via 1


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  • I’ve never been to Santorini, but all the others things I’ve done and completely agree with you!! So overrated and I was so disappointed by the Spanish Steps and Mona Lisa haha! I did love posing with the actors at Checkpoint Charlie as a 15 year old though 😉 hehe

    C x

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Exactly… We felt the same about the Spanish Steps!

      Haha @ your 15 year old self. We can imagine it was a good pose too!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I couldn’t agree more with your two overrated activities for Paris! I think everyone should visit the Louvre (the building itself is beautiful), but the Mona Lisa isn’t the most impressive artwork there IMO. As for macarons, they are a million times nicer to look at that eat.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right, Kate. The Louvre is stunning, just wish the whole scuffle and rummage to see the Mona Lisa wasn’t there… haha!

      YAAAAAS! So glad you agree about macarons – we thought it was just us!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Agreed with the Mona Lisa and the Spanish Steps but I will fight you on the macarons – best sweet thing ever!! Though in all fairness Laduree tastes the same anywhere in the world and I have had some pretty amazing ones in Cape Town so I am not sure I need to go to Paris for them 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha… now that’s fighting talk on the macarons… *cue, sugar induced squabble over which desert is best*. Haha. Really wished we liked them, we’ve just always been so disappointed.

      That’s it! We are coming back to Cape Town to give them a go! 🤣

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Completely agree about the Spanish Steps – I was surprised at how short they were! Luckily in Paris I decided not to bother with the Louvre and did other things instead. I don’t regret that! Lovely post 🙂

    http://www.luxandvitae.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Deanna. We were so disappointed by the Spanish Steps, too.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • We need to visit Pierre Herme for the tastiest Macaron ever…

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You need to take us! Haha! totally need convincing on the Macarons, Emma. lol.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Leny

    I totally agree with you for Mona Lisa and the Spanish steps (which turn out to be…just steps!)
    but I do love macarons (maybe because I’m French, ha!), just don’t buy them at Ladurée, you can find them cheaper elsewhere!
    http://www.vahineotakutravels.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Exactly about the Spanish steps. Really wish we did find some tasty macarons… just never found them yet 🤣

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Thank you! Thank you! Some places really don’t need to be hyped up more than its worth!

    http://www.majeang.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks, Majean 😊

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • If you want to see as couple of really beautiful pictures by Da Vinci- well, two out of 15 Da Vinci oil painting in existence – go to the Hermitage in St Petersburg: you get much closer to them, and dare I say, they are more striking than Mona Lisa…

    I think one of the best sunset I have ever seen was in Devonshire moors… Going back to Oia end of September though!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Exactly, Olga! You’re so right! Devonshire Moors… yaaaaas!

      Hope all is good lovely lady? Are you back in London?

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

      • Swati

        I have just returned from St Petersburg and the Da Vinci paintings in the Hermitage have an equally unruly crowd in front of them. My daughter was terrified as the people were shoving and prodding with some force to get a photo of the paintings. It was a scary experience. Meanwhile rooms of van Dycks and Vermeers went unregarded. I could have cried.

        • HandLuggageOnly

          Oh no… I can imagine. I think it’s so easy for us to focus on one ‘globally famous’ piece and miss lots of the other incredible gems in the galleries. You’re so right.

          Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Chadwick

    This is going to sound snobbish…
    All of these places and experiences are amazing, possibly best-in-kind or unique. But they’ve been overhyped by so many people saying that and (this is the snobby bit) spoiled by so many people flocking to be there.
    The Oia sunset is beautiful, not because the sun sets over the sea/islands, but because of the way the sun lights up the village below you. But the massive crowd that floods through the streets to stand shoulder to shoulder on any vantage point somewhat diminishes the impact. As you say, from the other side of the caldera, you can watch the same sunset from different cliffs with no-one nearby and it is magical as the light washes over and then withdraws from the cliffs and distant white villages.
    All of these places can be enjoyed still; you just need to be a little more creative about when/where/how. Except Checkpoint Charlie. I have my own memories of Checkpoint Charlie from 1989 when it was a functioning crossing point. That pastiche in your picture does not reflect the reality and is just a gimmick.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right about being creative when visiting some places, especially when the amount of visitors can detract from the thing you’re supposed to be seeing. That being said, It’s totally understandable as we all want to see each of the experiences (that’s where that amazing creativity comes into play). We can all still see and experience these things, just in slightly different ways. So happy you agree.

      Lloyd & Yaya 😊

  • Maria Salomonsen

    Totally agree with you on the ones on this list I’ve visited! I really have learned to keep my expectations fairly low, because that way I can almost only be getting a nice surprise 😀

    • HandLuggageOnly

      So true! It’s a really great way to get a nice surprise to be honest, Maria. Love it!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • TOTALLY agree on The Little Mermaid! My friend and I jumped on one of the river cruise boats instead, which took us right into Nyhaven, then out across the bay, past the food markets and round the Little Mermaid. Trekking THAT far for a glimpse of a statue would have pissed me right off, so I’m glad we went the boat route (especially as we were allowed to bring our own wine on board!) xx

    Little Miss Katy

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha! Exactly, right! We couldn’t believe how small she was. I honestly was expecting a much bigger statue. HELLO… did you say wine onboard??? Yaasssss to this!!!!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Agree with you about Mona Lisa and the spanish steps and the Notting Hill. haven’t done the rest so I wouldn’t know..

    • HandLuggageOnly

      So glad you agree, Tanja.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Shannon

    Agree 100% with spanish steps and mona lisa. Mona lisa was a huge disappontment and the steps…we got there and were like ‘is this it? Are we in the right place?!’ As for macarons you reallllly need to find the right ones! Weve been to paris a few times and this last time finally made it to laduree and they are SO disappointing and couldnt even eat some of them they were just not good! But let me tell you, the ones at Carette will change your mind. Talk to me after youve inhaled a giant caramel macaron from Carette, sitting in front of the tower!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Same… we were like that too with the Spanish Steps.

      Okay, that’s it, we have to try the macarons at Carette… we really need convincing! Lol

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

      • Shannon

        Yasss I promise you won’t regret it!! There are a few but i recommend the one at Trocadero. Takeaway to eiffel tower gardens is a must! Xx

  • Danielle Theriault

    Yes, yes, yes! To all of these! Checkpoint Charlie lost its appeal to me when you see McDonald’s and KFC on either side of it and also all the tourist shops. Plus, the fact that the guards don’t like you taking pictures of them unless you pay! -_- I had seen pictures of it from the 80’s when my in laws lived there and not the same, not the same at all. Huge letdown. I also laughed out loud when we saw the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. She’s like 2 feet tall! WHAT?! I did enjoy the Mona Lisa though, but that’s because my husband and I happened to have that room to ourselves for 10 minutes before anyone else came in, so I know that we got a very unique (and very rare) opportunity to actually appreciate the art and not fight the crowd for a selfie 🙂 | http://ourpassportpages.com/

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It’s so funny you mentioned the McDonald’s and KFC… that’s one of the things that did it for us too and the actors requesting payment was a real disappointment. This makes us so happy that it isn’t just us that feels that way.

      Hello!!! 10 minutes before anyone else by the Mona Lisa – now that’s amazing! Wow… that really is incredible.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Yvon

    I couldn’t agree more! Some places are so overrated. I so much more fun to just wander around and get lost a little to discover the best places. xx Yvon

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Totally know what you mean, Yvon.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Taste of France

    Yes to these. All those folks elbowing each other to snap a photo of the Mona Lisa (and not even get close enough to actually see it; all they want is the photo)–ugh. And then they hurry past all kinds of other works of art that would be worthy of museums unto themselves if they were in smaller cities.
    The Spanish Steps are so central in Rome that you almost have to make an effort to avoid them. Anyway, it isn’t so much the steps themselves as the spot as a meeting place.
    And don’t get me started on macarons. I think it’s because they come in such weird colors. I’d prefer a strawberry tartelette or a baba au rhum anytime.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right about the Louvre – there is so much world-class art inside and it’s just over shadowed by the stampede to see Mona Lisa.

      The colours are definitely the selling point for the macarons (for us at least) – we don’t find them tasty at all. Yassssss to a yummy strawberry tartelette.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I never properly understood the hype surrounding the Mona Lisa. I mean, it’s tiny! Sure it’s a piece of beautiful artwork with a lot of history behind it, but it’s so tiny it virtually disappears in that room – especially with all those crowds and the surrounding artwork (which is, like, 10x the size of Da Vinci’s painting). I’d like to be able to see it at least once in my life, but if I don’t get that chance, I’m not going to be too bummed out over it.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      It really does disappear in the room, you’re so right, Vanessa. Totally know what you mean.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Yup. Yes. I also agree re: maccarons, I tried them once and meh.

    (I’ve never been to Rome but my grandfather lived there in the 60s and said the same thing, he was a huge fan of the Santa Maria del Popolo above all else in the city, that’s why I remember the name).

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Exactly! We just can’t get excited over macarons. There are so many stunning sites to see in Rome… your grandad is right! What a city to live in!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Emmanuelle TESNIERE

    Macarons ?? How dare you ! 🙂 It is funny cause I don’t even think the French would pick it as a top contender for a desert award !
    Agree on the Spanish steps, but just because Rome has SO MUCH to offer. And the sunset in OIA , OMG thank you. I just wrote an article on my blog about Santorini and how kinda disappointed I was … !
    Thanks for sharing !

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha! We’re awful aren’t we 🤣 🤣 🤣

      Feel there’s so many amazing deserts in France that are waaaaay more tasty than macarons lol.

      So happy you agree!

      Lloyd & Yaya 😊

  • Y’know, I do quite like a macaron and I had a REALLY GOOD rose vanilla one the other day. But they’re DEFINITELY overhyped. And I didn’t actually go to Checkpoint Charlie when I went to Berlin…there are totally much more interesting things to see relating to the city’s history in wartimes!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right about them being overhyped, Milly. Haha, we’re going to have to give them another try… still yet to find one we like. lol

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I saw the Mona Lisa about 15 years ago and remember thinking it was so tiny. At least then, people weren’t obsessed about photographing everything so it wasn’t too bad! People had a look and then moved on.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      I think you’re right about the photography side of things, it makes it really hard nowadays. You probably visited at the right time, Kirsty.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • 100% agree on these things:
    – the Mona Lisa (I saw it about 12 years ago, said “meh” & moved on – the rest of the Louvre is better)
    -the sunset at Oia (I found Santorini to be completely overrated overall tbh & that part of it was no different – I saw a better sunset from my hotel room porch in Mykonos & have seen better sunsets since)
    – macarons (never tried them in Paris, but they’re an overrated sweet IMO)
    – Checkpoint Charlie (to some extent – I still had to go there & see it for myself when in Berlin last year, but it’s not an absolute must do as there’s other far more interesting wartime/post-war things to see)

    Shell // The Novice Life

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Shell. We thought it might have been us. We really found the sunset to be just (if not more) magical from the other side of the caldera in Santorini.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • The Unending Journey

    Definitely agree on the Mona Lisa – it was such a disappointing experience. The crowds. The massive huddle around this small painting. I walked away. Seeing the Winged Victory in the Louvre made the trip to the museum worth it for me.

    And the better place to enjoy gelato in Rome is by the Trevi Fountain – gorgeous fountain and so much fun people watching as they throw their coins into the fountain. Saying that though, the Piazza del Popolo is my favorite in Rome and the two churches are wonderful to visit!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      The crowds are so crazy aren’t they. Totally know what you mean!

      The churches are incredible too… you’re so right!

      Lloyd & Yaya 😊

  • Eleftheria

    I totally agree for Oia sunset!!! It is beautiful but there are so more many more places in Greece and all over the world that you can see a beautiful sunset too!!! I also agree for Mona Lisa,and macarons which I ate them for the first time in Luxemburg….not in France!!!!
    xxx

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Exactly! So glad you get it… I don’t think we’ll ever get convinced on macarons. Lol

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Katrina Denise James

    I really enjoyed this article, and completely agree! While they are all worth seeing/trying if possible, the level to which they have been hyped has almost taken away what makes them special. You go to these places and expect almost life-changing experiences due to the hype, and are then disappointed as a result (largely due, as well, to the crowds). Great post!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Katrina – totally, so glad you feel the same way too and that it wasn’t just us!

      Yaya & Lloyd xx

  • Deselby

    I know!!!! What is the DEAL with the little mermaid anyway???? At least the manneken pis in Brussels is centrally located.

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