There are plenty of tourist attractions around the world that aren’t worth battling the crowds to experience. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is just one that comes to mind, but there are some that you really should visit once. These, in particular, are worth standing in line and perhaps even bumping elbows with all the other visitors.
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Times Square, New York City (Nearby Hotels)
The most frenetic part of NYC is the cinematic epicenter of New York City tourism. While locals tend to avoid all those flashing lights and thick crowds in Times Square, it’s an exciting, colorful place to experience with tons of things to do. Go after dark where you’ll be immersed in the neon lights, hustle and bustle. If you want to be immersed in those lights without all the people, take a stroll here after midnight – it feels even more surreal. Head here early in the morning for a chance at appearing on a major news show like “Good Morning America,” which is broadcast live from here.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland (Nearby Hotels)
The Blue Lagoon is famous worldwide, appearing on must-experience lists for years now. The man-made lagoon was founded when a pool of geothermal power plant runoff formed and locals began to notice the healing effects after bathing in it, due to the mix of sulfur and silica that’s believed to provide all sorts of benefits. The milky turquoise water and surrounding volcanic landscape is magnificent, but it can be very crowded with more than three-quarters of tourists heading here when visiting Iceland. It’s still worth going once, but you might also want to check out some of the more remote natural hot springs too.
Taj Mahal, India (Nearby Hotels)
A symbol of enduring love, millions of images have been taken from the exact same spot at the Taj Mahal’s reflecting pool. It’s touristy, yes, but capturing a shot here is a pilgrimage, just to see for yourself what countless others have also seen. If you arrive as early as possible you’ll have a better chance of capturing that perfect picture without dozens of others around – and the water tends to be calmer, so you might even get that magical reflection.
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (Nearby Hotels)
Niagara Falls can be viewed from both Canada and America. One of the world’s most popular attractions, it definitely draws the tourists crowds, but if you head to the Canadian side, the area around the cascades are slightly less touristy. Join the Mist boat tour and you can get a close up look at the falls. You can also explore Butterfly Conservatory, home to more than 2,000 free-flying colorful butterflies, and enjoy an outstanding meal and a magnificent view of the falls about 775 feet above in the Revolving Dining Room at the Skylon Tower.
Blarney Stone, Ireland (Nearby Hotels)
Locals and visitors alike generally agree that Blarney Castle is number one when it comes to touristy attractions in Ireland. Despite that, it is worth visiting once just to say you’ve gone, and the castle is undoubtedly cool. Few have regretted going just to be able to say they’ve kissed the stone. Keep in mind that you might have to stand in line for quite a while, and you will have to climb up very steep, winding stairs to eventually be dangled over a crevice to kiss the rock.
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California (Nearby Hotels)
Alcatraz is one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco. It may seem cheesy, but there are few places that have such a haunting history, with the infamous federal penitentiary operating here from 1934 to 1963. It once imprisoned some of the most notorious criminals in America, like Al Capone, the “Birdman” Robert Franklin Stroud and James “Whitey” Bulger. Take a tour after dark to this formidable fortress in the middle of the often foggy bay for an extra eerie feel. An audio cell house tour narrated by former inmates and guards recounts harrowing tales of prison life as well as the numerous tragic escape attempts.
Space Needle, Seattle Washington (Nearby Hotels)
Seattle’s iconic Space Needle is one of its most popular attractions in the city and decidedly touristy, but from the top (520 feet above ground) you’ll get a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. Gaze out at the dramatic mountains that surround it on nearly all sides, including Mount Rainier and the Olympics on a clear day, as well as the bustling waterfront along Elliott Bay. The view comes with a high admission cost, but if you make a reservation at the Needle’s revolving Sky City Restaurant, you can enjoy it for free, along with revolving views and delicious Pacific Northwest cuisine.
The Grand Canal, Venice, Italy (Nearby Hotels)
Venice’s largest canal is the main thoroughfare for selfie-snappers and tourists of all types, but it’s also one of those places you just have to experience. It provides a window into the past, lined with precariously teetering buildings built 13th and 18th century, and it’s the only remaining trace of an ancient river that’s submerged beneath the Venetian lagoon. Yes, there are crowds, but you can enjoy it more by visiting during Italy’s low season, from November to February.
Palace of Versailles, France (Nearby Hotels)
One of the most visited sites in all of France, the Palace of Versailles draws some three million visitors annually, and for good reason. It’s one of the most magnificent examples of a royal residence from the 17th and 18th-century you’ll find. It boasts around 2,143 windows, 1,252 fireplaces, 67 staircases and five chapels. One of the many highlights is the Hall of Mirrors, which is made up of 17 arched windows, with each window embellished with 21 individual mirrors. The gardens are a highlight, spread across 250 acres with meandering paths leading to flower beds, ornamental lakes and tranquil corners, decorated with statuary and a canal, used by the king himself for gondola rides.
Cinque Terre, Italy (Nearby Hotels)
While it’s become far too popular, this top Italy destination is jam-packed with photogenic spots and is one of the most beautiful destinations one could visit. Cinque Terre, or “Five Lands,” is made up of five seaside villages, including Vernazza, Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia and Monterosso, lying along the Ligurian coast in northern Italy. Each one is as equally as stunning as the next, with the coastline, villages and surrounding hillsides all part of Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The scenery is hypnotizing, the locals are friendly and the cuisine out of this world, not to mention the wine.