Vacation time is a special treat — you get to escape from the daily grind and explore a new spot — but nothing is worse than underwhelming travel. Sometimes we fall for the hype of a heavily advertised destination or we simply neglect to do enough research, but after laying down big bucks to see disappointing tourist attractions, it's natural to feel a little peeved. Save yourself the sour grapes by avoiding these pricey and overrated travel destinations.
Stonehenge — Salisbury, England
- Estimated transportation: $495 from New York to London (96 miles from Stonehenge) plus $103 train fare from London to Salisbury
- Estimated lodging: $103 per night at the Holiday Inn: Salisbury-Stonehenge
- Entrance fee: From $164 per person for a private tour
Constructed in mystery, these huge rock formations have puzzled visitors and given them an insight into the neolithic man as he lived 5,500 years ago — but are they worth the exorbitant price tag? Many would think not. Unless you arrive very early in the morning and arrange an expensive private tour, you won't see much but the backs of other tourists. And even if you do drop the dough, at the end of the day they're just a bunch of rocks. Also, if you're still planning to take a gander at the stones, keep in mind the visit will eat up an entire day — it will take more than two hours just to get to the site from London.
Blarney Stone — Cork, Ireland
- Estimated transportation: $551 from New York to County Cork (13 miles from Blarney Castle)
- Estimated lodging: $125 per night at the Blarney Castle Hotel
- Entrance fee: $16.50 per person
Legend has it that hanging upside down over the edge of a 15th-century castle and planting a kiss on the Blarney Stone is supposed to impart visitors with the legendary Irish gift of gab. But with so many different people planting a smooch on this rock — and the fact that you have to dangle your head over quite a drop to do so — has many visitors claiming the Blarney Stone is an unsafe tourist spot.
Empire State Building — New York
- Estimated transportation: $195 from Los Angeles to New York
- Estimated lodging: $392 per night at The William Hotel
- Entrance fee: $35 to $175
The Empire State Building, one of the most popular U.S. tourist attractions, allows visitors to enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of Manhattan from the 86th floor. Tourists can also splurge and skip the wait lines with a guided tour of the 102nd floor.
Of all the things to do in New York, what really makes this tourist trap not worth it is the unnecessary price tag — you queue up in an extremely long line to ride an escalator and look at an underwhelming view (you can't even see Central Park from here) which you could experience for free at many hotel and restaurant rooftops at a fraction of the cost.
Times Square — New York
- Estimated transportation: $195 from Los Angeles to New York
- Estimated lodging: $337 per night at the New York Hilton Midtown
Another one of New York's famed tourist attractions hits a low note for visitors. Tourists describe Times Square as "dirty and crowded" with far too many wannabe costume characters haranguing tourists at every turn. However, Times Square continues to attract tourists with 80 percent of visitors to the Big Apple flocking to get a glimpse of the square. Wallet beware: Dare to get hungry here and you'll typically pay up to three times more for the same dish at the same chain restaurant, compared to other locations. Also, hotels near Times Square also command very high rates. Another reason to watch your wallet: Crowded Times Square is the ideal location for pickpockets.
Mona Lisa — Paris
- Estimated transportation: $551 from New York to Paris
- Estimated lodging: $393 per night at Hotel Nolinski Paris
- Entrance fee: $17.70
The Louvre in Paris houses one of the greatest art collections in the world, and it is a wonderful way to while away a day of Parisian culture. However, according to museum staff, 80 percent of visitors are there to see just one exhibit: The Mona Lisa. For most of them, it will be a big disappointment — the painting is very small and with such crowds coming just to snap a selfie with it in the background, it can be hard to get close enough for a good look.
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Trevi Fountain — Rome
- Estimated transportation: $529 from New York to Rome
- Estimated lodging: $224 per night at Torres Argentina Relais
- Private tour fee: $817.40
It's almost impossible to get a good photograph of the Trevi Fountain, which dates back to Ancient Roman times, as it is so overrun with tourists. Your photos are more likely to show the heads of giddy travelers than centuries-old Italian architecture. Private tours might get you closer to the 85-foot-tall fountain but will set you back over $1,600 a couple — plus, Rome features some of the most expensive hotels and restaurants in Italy. If you have your heart set on some Ancient Roman ruins, visit on the first Sunday of the month — several of the monuments offer free admission.
Pyramids — Giza, Egypt
- Estimated transportation: $636 from New York to Cairo (16 miles from Giza)
- Estimated lodging: $125 per night at Sheraton Cairo Hotel and Casino
Although the pyramids are the last surviving installment of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, they are a bit of a disappointment. As a tourist hub, the logistics have not been sufficiently covered — from functioning bathrooms to adequate garbage bins, there is a lot of room for improvement in Giza.
The Great Pyramids of Giza were once majestic, but now with views of downtown Cairo — including fast food restaurants and chain coffee shops in the distance — they have lost some of their luster. They are also overrun with tourists, making it tricky to get a good view. Also, aggressive peddlers will often forcefully offer to take your photo — for a fee, of course — which can make you feel harassed.
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The Alamo — San Antonio
- Estimated transportation: $270 from New York to San Antonio
- Estimated lodging: $177 per night at Menger Hotel
The Battle of the Alamo, a momentous Mexican victory in the Texas Revolution, is surely worth remembering as an important history lesson, but a visit to the modern day sight is a bit of a letdown. A plethora of gift shops and tourist trap stores nearby also take away from the allure of the original building. The Alamo isn't worth a separate trip, but check it out if you're in town — it's free to visit this historic site.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa — Pisa, Italy
- Estimated transportation: $738 from New York to Pisa
- Estimated lodging: $111 per night at Hotel Touring
- Entrance fee: $21 per person
Not only is a tower with failing structural support not really that interesting, but the Leaning Tower of Pisa doesn't even lean much to begin with. If you pay a visit to Pisa, you'll be greeted by pushy vendors peddling tacky miniature towers, and hoards of crowds all taking the same 'pushing the tower over' photo. If you want to know more about the history of the tower — the construction of which began in 1173 — you can take a guided tour which will set you back $36 per person. The cost of a guided tour is a hidden expense to watch out for on your trip to Europe. All in all, this venue isn't worth the visit.
Hobbiton — Hamilton, New Zealand
- Estimated transportation: $1,123 from New York to Auckland, then $380 from Auckland to Hamilton
- Estimated lodging: $273 per night at Lake Karapiro Lodge
- Movie set tour fee: $79 to $195 per person
At over $5,000 per couple just in flights, accommodations and entry fees, the man-made village from "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" movies is one expensive tourist attraction. Those who really want to break the bank to see where Samwise and Frodo frolicked could consider booking a private tour for up to 4 people — costing a staggering $750. New Zealand is a beautiful country with many natural wonders and sights worth the long flight, but sadly Hobbiton is not worth the hype.
All flights originate from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, unless the destination is also New York. In those instances, flights originate from Los Angeles International Airport. Prices are for flights departing Nov. 1-7, 2017.