Top 100 Biggest Tourist Traps Worldwide

When you’re planning the perfect vacation, you don’t want to spend your time or money on a tourist trap that disappoints. To help you avoid a case of destination letdown, we turned to the treasure trove of data found in online reviews that can help savvy travelers make the most of their vacation planning.

In July 2023, we analyzed 23.2 million Google reviews of the 500 most popular tourist attractions in the world, spanning 65 countries in six continents. For each attraction, we asked a simple question: How frequently do the reviews mention the terms “tourist trap,” “overrated” or “expensive”?

We compared attractions to one another by measuring the relative frequency of these mentions, dividing the number of mentions in each case by the total number of reviews for that attraction. We break down our findings, so you are armed with the information you need before planning to visit a popular tourist destination, and offer tips on how to travel in a way that’s good for your wanderlust and your wallet.

Key findings

  • The Four Corners Monument (in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah) is the No. 1 tourist trap in the world, according to our analysis.
  • The Blue Lagoon in Iceland and Penang Hill in Malaysia are the top tourist traps in Europe and Asia.
  • The Great Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia had 397,905 reviews on Google, as of our analysis, and not a single one mentioned “tourist trap.”
  • The California Academy of Sciences, Elvis Presley’s Graceland and the South Carolina Aquarium are the most overpriced attractions in the United States.
  • Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, is the most overrated tourist attraction in the world.

Top 100 tourist traps worldwide

With the distinction of being the only place where four states meet — Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah — the Four Corners Monument sounds pretty cool. It’s also 30 miles from the closest gas station, so it might appeal to travelers seeking to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. However, this attraction also topped our list in terms of the percentage of disgruntled reviews. Of 10,839 reviews analyzed, 139 flagged this spot as a tourist trap.

Meanwhile, Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin got the most mentions of “tourist trap” in the reviews we analyzed of any tourist attraction in the world, with 400 out 76,269 reviews flagging it as one. This spot is a popular stop for travelers because of its historical significance as a border crossing during the Cold War, when the city was split in half between West Germany and East Germany.

Top 25 tourist traps in the U.S.

Eight of the top 10 tourist traps in the world, as determined by our analysis, are in the U.S. Three of the top tourist traps involve paranormal phenomena — witches, ghosts and UFOs.

Those spots are the Salem Witch Museum in Massachusetts, Calico Ghost Town in California and the International UFO Museum and Research Center in New Mexico. Each location had a number of reviews mentioning “tourist trap,” so it seems some visitors left feeling disenchanted.

Most overpriced attractions worldwide

The U.S. is home to the third most overpriced attraction in the world, according to our analysis of reviews mentioning the word “expensive,” with spots in Iceland and Canada taking first and second places. Coming in at most overpriced is the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik, with prices starting at $67 per person but nearly doubling during peak times. This is followed by the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver where tickets are $69.95 per person when you purchase them at the ticket window. The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco comes in third for an entry fee that makes consumers grumble at $49.75 for an adult ticket during a peak visiting time.

It seems that Americans feel aquariums are overpriced in general, with aquariums in South Carolina, Maryland, California and Georgia making the top 50 in our list.

California has seven of the top 25 most overpriced attractions, with Tennessee coming in next with three spots in the top 25 — including Elvis Presley’s Graceland, at No. 5 in the world.

Most overrated attractions worldwide

Unless you just really love doughnuts, one spot you might want to skip on your next vacation is Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon. At least, you might want to skip it if you care about reviews, because our analysis found it to be the most overrated attraction in the world.

Rounding out the top five most overrated attractions are the following:

  • The Little Mermaid in Denmark.
  • The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Japan.
  • The Manneken Pis sculpture fountain in Belgium.
  • The Hollywood Walk of Fame in California.

Tips on how to avoid tourist traps

Get recommendations from your travel card concierge

Your travel card may provide access to a concierge which can help with travel research, planning and booking. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express (terms apply, rates & fees) is a luxury travel card (as evidenced by its $695 annual fee) with a slew of perks and protections, including a highly regarded concierge service. Contact your concierge early on in your vacation planning and tell them you want to go off the beaten path and enjoy unique experiences rather than known tourist traps.

Consider where your rewards can take you

It’s no secret that credit card rewards can help you see the world. But are you getting the most out of your stash? Let’s consider an example using American Airlines miles.

As of the time of this writing, a flight from New York to Honolulu and back at the end of October 2023 might run you anywhere from about 53,000 AAdvantage miles to well over 100,000 AAdvantage miles. By contrast, if you were to fly from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico and back in the same time period, you might find deals in the ballpark of 24,000 or 31,000 miles. While many variables impact the exact cost, being flexible with your vacation options can save you substantially.

Plus, when opting for destinations with less sticker shock, you can still find activities and sites that are every bit as amazing as you’d find in a pricier locale. Continuing our example from above, if Hawaii’s stunning rainforests initially attracted you to Honolulu, consider that Puerto Rico is home to El Yunque National Forest — the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.

If you’ve piled up the points on a card that earns transferable rewards, rather than one that’s specific to a certain airline or hotel chain, you can do even more shopping around. Compare the cost of booking award travel on the loyalty transfer partners your card offers before you commit, because the number of points or miles required can vary dramatically between different airlines.

Plus, savvy travelers know that travel credit cards sometimes offer deals, such as double value when transferring points from your card to a specific airline partner. For instance, the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® offered a deal on Aug. 1, 2023 where cardholders with Bilt Silver Status could get double the number of Virgin Red points for their Bilt points when transferring their rewards to the airline. Keeping a sharp eye out for deals like this could help your earnings take you farther than you’d normally go.

Finally, great deals on award travel aren’t just for people willing to pay an annual fee for luxury cards, either. See our list of best travel cards with no annual fee for budget-friendly options.

If you’re going abroad, it’s best to use a credit card without foreign currency surcharges. Check out our picks for the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.

Follow a trusted travel newsletter

What better way to avoid tourist traps than by getting curated recommendations from a trusted source? By getting a travel newsletter in your email inbox, you can make note throughout the year of enticing destinations and enriching activities, and plan your next vacation accordingly.

For example, people with an Amex Platinum or the invite-only American Express Centurion Black Card

The information for the American Express Centurion Black Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

can receive the Departures newsletter, which the issuer describes as a “lifestyle resource”. Examples of the content you can expect, based on a recent issue of Departures, include “7 Hotels Worth Planning Your Whole Trip Around” with recommendations for stays in Paris, New York City and more, and “How I Escaped City Life and Moved My Family to a Mexican Surf Town”.

In short, smart travel recommendations are just a few clicks away — and can help you craft the dream vacation while avoiding tourist traps that might not leave you feeling fully satisfied.

Seek out lodging that isn’t part of a mega-chain hotel collection

If you have a travel rewards credit card, check if it grants you special access to a hotel collection. For example, Capital One announced the Lifestyle Collection in mid-2024, designed to be exclusively available via Capital One Travel for people with specific Capital One cards.

The Lifestyle Collection is a list of curated boutique hotels allowing guests to stay in popular destinations but avoid the crush of an overcrowded megahotel lobby.  While your choice of lodging won’t necessarily prevent you stopping by a tourist trap, finding a great stay can make it easier for you to have a wide selection of possible vacation activities.

If picking the right credit card has you overwhelmed, we’ve got you. Here are our picks for the best credit cards for every type of person.


In July 2023, we analyzed 23.2 million Google reviews of 500 popular tourist attractions in the world, spanning 65 countries in six continents.

We focused our analysis on mentions of certain keywords that indicate a common negative sentiment among visitors. Those keywords are: “tourist trap”, “expensive”, and “overrated”.

It’s true that a few uses of these keywords do not fit in a negative context (e.g. “It’s kind of a tourist trap but we loved it!”). Based on our analysis, these positive instances of usage were not frequent enough to be statistically significant, and in any case, they are consistent enough across attractions to cancel each other out.

We began with a list of 1,600 tourist attractions for consideration, before narrowing to our final 500. We removed from this list, with only a few exceptions, all national parks, state parks, lakes, and mountains. We also removed sports stadiums. The list was further reduced based on the total number of reviews submitted for each attraction.

All reviews analyzed were written in English.

For rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please visit this page.

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