Travel’s great. You get to see new things, meet new people, get some perspective in life, disconnect from your regular life and recharge, in turn making you happier and giving you peace of mind, improving your communication skills and creativity, possibly boosting your confidence along the way, making memories, helping you understand yourself more, perhaps even improving your health… you get the point. It’s awesome.
But there is bound to be a ‘spoiled egg’ of a destination among travelers that just left a bad taste in their mouths, whether because the expectations were overhyped, or the destination was just not that good. Whatever the case may be, people have been discussing this online.
A Redditor by the nickname of u/0_7_0 posted the question “what city disappointed you the most when visiting?” on the r/AskReddit subreddit. This in turn prompted over 6,600 comments with a modest 5,900 upvotes and a handful of Reddit awards.
Scroll down to see the top cities people were most disappointed with and hence do not recommend. And while you’re at it, tell us which cities you were most disappointed with in the comment section below!
More Info: Reddit
Came here to say Dubai. Decided to spend 10 days there while passing through. Had enough of it after 24 hours. Too many f$#&! malls. No culture.
Learned all about the ABCs though...
Horrid place, fancy malls and hotels for the westerners, but the streets are full of the poor / slaves. You really see what misery the whole place is built on.
I went there for work, I can't imagine how people can go there for fun.
While each city is unique in its own way, with many people on Reddit experiencing the same unique reasons for disappointment, there have been recurring themes among answers.
Most notably, it was things like the city had a certain unpleasant smell to it, or was trashy, whether actually untidy or just very cheap. Or both.
Some other places, like for instance Niagara Falls and Egypt had people feeling weird about the fact that the key attractions in these places, namely the Niagara Falls and the Pyramids, were very close to the cities themselves, and not some distant secret location offering adventure and excitement.
Lastly, yet others found some cities too modern, digital, and “plastic”, with things like casinos and malls creating a sense of unnatural urban development that lacks history and pathos.
I hated Las Vegas so very f**king much. So dry, so trashy, so smokey, ugh.
Las Vegas reminded me of being inside a gigantic McDonalds. Everywhere bright colors, artificial happiness and fake smiles and all mathematically calculated to take the maximum amount of money out of your pocket.
The most charm-free place I've ever been.
Hollywood. And am embarrassed for people who travel around the world to see it. What they imagine it to be vs reality. Sorry, it's not what you expected you can have a good time in Hollywood, but do your research and check your expectations. Also, a lot of you seem to think I said the entirety of Los Angeles. LA definitely has plenty of problems, but if you truly think all of LA has nothing to offer, even for a visit, you've probably never step foot in a museum or tried foreign cuisine. The best concerts I've ever been to have all been in LA.
Bali changed so much the last 10 years. It used to be so beautiful and amazing… now it is full of “digital nomad” douchebags and overpriced food and crap. I remember when it was just a cool surf spot with cheap eats
Bored Panda has reached out to Irmante Sungailaitė, an avid traveler and tour leader of G Adventures and National Geographic Journeys, to tell us more about what makes cities special for travelers, among other things.
"I have been traveling for 16 years, and I haven't meticulously kept a diary of all the cities that I have been to, as after 80 countries it's too easy to lose the count, but I can tell you that some places tend to steal your heart instantly, and some of them, well, you wouldn't even recommend it to your worst enemy," explained Irmante.
"As part of my work as a tour leader, I get to go to see many of the top of the 'bucket list' cities that many travelers are dying to discover. I have to admit that Venice has never been my top choice in Italy, but since my friends moved back there I got to see it in a totally different light--so places do change as well as you and your outlook does too."
Beijing. I arrived at the end of a trans- Mongolian rail trip seeing so many incredible places and I think it was just a huge anticlimax. Was intimidated by the level of armed security everywhere, had to fight off so many scammers, didn't enjoy being touched and laughed at when on the subway (I'm a very white European with curly hair). Overall just found it really challenging despite some amazing sights.
The Atmosphere was toxic, the local fair was rather bland, nothing was showing at the local amphitheater, and it seems like everyone you visit is sleeping.
Quiet neighborhood though.
Atlantic City. It's waayyy dirtier and run down than I thought it'd be.
NJ resident. Atlantic City is terrible outside the casinos. You have to stick to the casinos outside of the boardwalk (Borgata or Harrahs) if you want to have a more classy experience.
There are some pretty old school amazing restaurants off the grid to venture out to though.
I was so disappointed by this city and my expectations weren't even high. It was just nasty there. The whole experience felt like biting into an apple only to realize it's an onion.
"If you choose a well known destination, there is a really high chance of it having a lot of 'tourist traps' but even then you can dig a little bit deeper and go local," elaborated Irmante. "It's also a lot about reality vs expectations--going to UAE, you have to understand that there will be a lot of malls--and if that's your thing--it will be better than heaven for anyone who is into strolling brightly lit miles of stores. Even in places like Dubai you can find gems that are off the beaten path - like going to Alserkal avenue that is full of art galleries, local artists workshops, quaint cafes, an independent cinema and a scrumptious chocolaterie."
Branson Missouri felt like if wish.com were a place
I have heard it called the Christian Las Vegas, couldn't have better described it. However, I did have fun..... went Zip Lining, saw a magic show, had an awesome brunch at the College of the Ozarks. I would rate that trip a 7 out fof 10. Especially since my parents did the stupid time share presentations to get free stuff lol
Miami. I never have allergies and had level 10 allergies pretty much as soon as I arrived. The food was over priced. Clubs were WAY over priced. There were to many plasticy people walking around. The social culture was way to rich for my blood. And I went with a narcissistic jackaloon (unrelated to the city but relevant to my disdain.)
Niagara Falls. I didn’t know the falls would be in a city. I thought it would be a national park. The whole place just felt like a giant shopping mall.
There is a state park to it, that is where the actual falls is. But of course the tourist area is like that. Also you don't want to go outside the tourist area on either the American or Canadian side of the falls, much crime occurs and both sides are extremely run down.
I know everyone loves Marrakesh, but i hated it
it would have been amazing before about 2000, but now it just feels like a disneyland version of their culture to cater to western tourists. ali baba costumes pretending to be desert nomads. half of their ‘hand made goods’ are just cheap s**t from china. and u cant walk 20 feet without being aporoached by scammers. like, literally every block
the entire city just feels like a facade to attract dumb tourist money
i get why ppl love it, but that was my take
According to Irmante, much of one's own experience of a place depends on the travelers themselves. While cities ought to provide a traveler-friendly environment, being able to enjoy the so-called 'tourist trap' is also something that requires a certain kind of skill and appreciation.
"I always wonder, though, what it was like to visit Barcelona or Dubrovnik 30 years ago and how they've changed, these places adapted to travelers' needs, meaning that sometimes they even tend to drift from their authenticity in order to make people feel comfortable being guests. It takes a seasoned traveler to go to lesser known destinations, but to thoroughly and authentically enjoy 'tourist traps' is also an art. So I would say that falling into the 'tourist trap' is up to the traveler itself. The city must have people that are easy to communicate with regardless of whether there's a language barrier, curious culture, different food, and their transport systems are easy to use."
As a Dutch person, I'm actually gonna say Amsterdam. So crowded, chaotic and getting run over by other tourists on bikes they've never ridden before. I feel like it's romanticized a lot because it's our capital but the first time I visited, I was genuinely disappointed. It's definitely dirtier on the streets and the canals have a lot of waste drifting in them.
And the people that are there don't seem to understand. "Honey, you're in Amsterdam, isn't it fantastic?" "I'm living the dream because I'm living in Amsterdam!" "Amsterdam is the heart and soul of the Netherlands!"
Meh. I'll just go to Utrecht or Den Bosch instead.
Austin, Texas. Lived there in the ‘90s and it was pretty great. Now it’s an overcrowded, overpriced douchey mess.
As someone who grew up in & currently lives in Austin, you are 100% correct. The area is great to visit but horrible to stay in for any long-term period of time. And alot of what made up Austin's "Stay Weird" culture has vanished with the population boom, especially in downtown. Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty in Austin and the surrounding area to have a fun & interesting trip if you're visiting. But don't move here. It's so damn expensive, the population in the city & all the surrounding suburbs has exploded too quickly for infrastructure to keep up, and honestly the snobby attitude of some of the people (especially our local leaders) is becoming increasingly more noticeable. It used to still have the combination of Stay Weird hippy town mixed with Southern hospitality and small town community feel. Both of those have pretty much vanished now. I'm getting out of this area as soon as my boyfriend and I have saved up enough to move.
Manhattan smells like trash. Constantly. There is very little infrastructure for waste management for a city filled with 100 stories of office buildings, restaurants, and apartments, so on trash day you walk by 8-foot tall walls of trash bags stacked up on the sidewalk waiting for the trash trucks. And on a hot August day, ugh.
The whole city just stinks.
Paris was so dirty, and I was not prepared for the disdain of the French towards a stupid American. I believed the American Rom-Com movie version of Paris.
Don't forget smelly too. And not just one strong smell so you can get acclimated to it either. Fresh bread, urine, perfume, body odour. Yuck.
"Whether the city is disappointing or not it's totally up to the traveler. It's how you feel in the place and how you can transform those feelings, even if the most annoying thing happened, taking a deep breath and turning it all into an adventurous memory. Being open minded, patient, curious and respectful is the key," explained Irmante.
"Plus, going to lesser visited locations even in the countries that have crazy popular hot cities could help adventurers to expand their horizons and also spread the money that is coming in from tourism more evenly in the country. So maybe instead of going to Barcelona, choose Bilbao, and check out Zagreb rather than spending too much time in Dubrovnik. And instead of going to Switzerland, go for Kazakhstan, and instead of Thailand--why not to checkout Sri Lanka?"
Naples, I think the best way I could describe the city center is as a sticky mcdonalds table
Agreed - my family almost got mugged in Naples in the middle of the day. I literally felt unsafe the entire time and we were only there for a day trip.
Jacksonville Florida is a toilet.
I lived there for a couple of years for work… couldn’t wait to get out. To me it’s because they don’t let the smaller areas incorporate and become their own towns. This allows two things: 1. The reign as the largest city by land area in US to remain. 2. The tax $s are shared throughout, so there are few “good” and “bad” areas, leaving everywhere being mediocre and uneventful
Cairo, what a dump. Poverty-people constantly begging or have something trying to sell, insane traffic-literally horrible traffic. Pollution.
What really bothered me was how close the city was to the pyramids. I thought the pyramids were in the middle of nowhere but nope, just spitting distance from the city, quite surreal actually.
Fresno, CA has entered the chat
laughs in Bakersfield
I think Fresno is just a larger version of Bakersfield lmao. Can't decide which is worse.
I think in terms of air pollution Bakersfield is worse, if you visit that town (or more realistically drive through it to get to LA) it smells like rotten eggs for a while until your nose gets used to the smell lol
It pains me to say this, but Dublin. My expectations were so high. That being said, I left my heart in Cork.
Lived in dublin my whole life and I would say if you're going to live in Ireland permanently then yeah Dublin is the best shout as it has amenities, plenty of bars, restaurants, clubs etc but if you're going on a holiday to Ireland then donegal, Galway, Cork etc give you a much more "Irish" feel. Honestly I think the best way to do it would be to spend a few days in a few different counties, 3 days in Dublin will do then spread out, Ireland nice and small so it's very doable... Expensive though...
Lastly, we've asked Irmante what would she recommend as travel destinations, and she had this to say:
"I love Mexico City. For me, it's the most exciting place in the world for excellent food, fun bars, friendly locals and lots of culture. As a traveler, I found Beirut jam packed with culinary delights, beautiful architecture and charming hospitality, and Addis Ababa oozing intoxicating jazz and incredibly rich in history. And look, if going to destinations that are not necessarily the most popular is not your thing, there's nothing wrong with going to visit 'tourist traps'. It's all about how you do it."
You can follow Irmante's Instagram right here, and yes, she's more than willing to share where to get the best macchiatos in Addis Ababa, if you've got a craving and incidentally are traveling there.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. No offense to the folks that live there but I felt like everybody was angry, the traffic and parking was worse than Manhattan, and it had none of the redeeming qualities of NYC.
Athens. I couldn’t wait to go because I’m Greek. It’s filthy with polluted air and all of the famous ruins are right near city buildings, which are poorly constructed. The place feels very third world. The islands however, are fantastic!
As much as I hate to say it, Athens was in pretty bad shape last I went (6 years ago and hasn't changed). The city has a very nice area called Plaka which is right beside the acropolis and is definitely a must if you go to mainland Greece and of course the general attractions like the Parthenon and the museum and of course the presidential building where if you're lucky enough, you'll catch a riot, so if you see people running... RUN.
But overall, outside of Plaka is a sh*thole. If you're going to Athens with the intent to feel like you've been transported into 500 BC then I've got bad news for you.
Denver. Just a big, hot, expensive city out on the plains. All the cool mountain activities that people move to CO for are 2 hours of driving away unless you can afford to live in the west suburbs so nobody does nearly as much recreation as the would do living somewhere else. Traffic is worse than Chicago to boot.
Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey.
I wasn't really visiting or expecting to go there, just passing through on an Amtrak ride. I awoke from a nap to the train just stopped in what looked like Raccoon City. Trash everywhere, most of the buildings looked abandoned. The sky was cloudy and literally green. Like, sickly yellow-green. And most eerily, I didn't see a single car driving on the street or anyone walking around outside on the barren sidewalks. All the stores and restaurants looked closed and empty. I was actually sort of gripped by fear for a second, in my post-nap haze. Just wanted the doors to shut and the train to pull out of there. Nobody was getting on the Amtrak in Trenton. I didn't even know if there was anybody in Trenton. As the train pulled away and we went through the center of the city, a rail bridge over the river caught my eye. A massive sign was plastered on the side that read "TRENTON MAKES, THE WORLD TAKES."
Surreal and overall grim experience.
Manila, traffic was horrible and it was so dirty, nice buildings but the entire experience was stressful.
Don't forget the slums and street children hounding you for money
But before you go, why not share some of your travel destinations that left you feeling disappointed in the comment section below!
Birmingham, UK. I had a very dreamy idea of it for some reason.
It's probably the shi**iest city in the UK.
Edit: People are asking me why I thought good about Birmingham. To them my only defense is that I'm from India. I didn't know much about Birmingham, name sounded very romantic to me!
I don’t get how the only thing of interest in the second biggest city in the U.K., is a shopping centre. It’s such a grim grey place that’s not interesting at all.
Each other major UK city has its own unique qualities and landmarks that make it worth a visit. I’ve yet to see what that is in Birmingham.
Frankfurt - just kinda seemed like a boring banking / politics city. It's entirely possible I just didn't go to the right parts though. The park by the river was nice.
That's what most Germans think about the city, too.
Every bigger city in Germany is some ugly mixture of old and modern. You should go for some smaller ones.
Only exception I can think of is Hamburg. Has its dirty parts, but overall nice city.
I always give the same answer, Venice.
Beautiful architecture and fascinating history... but dear god is it humid, the water is absolutely filthy, its so overcrowded, and there's gift stands in every corner selling the same cheap wares.
Bratislava. It was further worsened cause I was coming from somewhere amazing (Vienna) before and went to this dump of a city. Nightlife and drinking amazing there though, some cool oddities, but if I was to go back, I'd not spend more than half-day there.
Rome. From d**kheads trying to steal my suitcase off the train, from my bulls**t hotel room I was lied to about, to the a**face who didn’t want to accept my green card as legit. Amongst other things.
Came here for this. Not being able to look at any historical monuments without a selfie stick thrust into your face. And so many tourists.