Ever found yourself in a queue for hours only to discover that the must-see attraction at the end wasn’t worth the wait? Or turned up at that architectural gem you’ve heard so much about only to feel a bit, well, deflated? You’re not alone. Turns out, there are a whole lot of bucket list destinations out there that don’t live up to the hype. More miserable than mind-blowing for many, these spots have been reviewed again and again by disgruntled sightseers – called out for being overpriced, over-commercialised and just plain disappointing.
When you’re spending hard-earned money visiting a ‘bucket-list’ destination, you want it to be worth it. To help you separate the epic hits from the dismal misses, we’ve done some in-depth research to uncover the world’s biggest bucket list fails.
In order to give each location an underwhelming percentage score out of 100%, we ranked 106 sights on the percentage of average/poor/terrible reviews on Trip Advisor, as well as average rating. We combined this with the number of Instagram hashtags and TikTok views. So, the higher the score, the more disappointing the location.
One-star wonders of the world
According to our data collection, the 20 worst-reviewed bucket list destinations are (drum-roll please):
20 most underwhelming places to visit
||Berlin TV Tower
||Tegalalang Rice Terrace
||The Grand Palace
||The White House
||The Great Buddha of Thailand
||Royal Palace of Madrid
||Tian Tan Buddha
||The Hollywood Sign
||Cerro Santa Lucia
||Chateau de Versailles
||Seattle Space Needle
From the most recent 60 negative reviews of each location, we also compiled a list of the most commonly used words to describe the place. Needless to say, they paint a pretty clear picture of why these tourist spots made it onto our one-star wonder list.
Check out the top five most underwhelming bucket list destinations in more detail below (pens at the ready – you may choose to scratch these off your list):
1. Berlin TV Tower, Berlin
The Berlin TV tower soars to epic heights – 360 metres into the sky, in fact. It’s definitely an iconic
image… when viewed from afar. But our research reveals that the experience of actually visiting the tower,
and eating in its sky-high restaurant, often results in bitter disappointment.
It seems one of the top reasons for this is due to the cost-to-value ratio of the attraction. The words
‘Expensive’ and ‘Waste of money’ are a few of the choices people use to share their experience
of the Berlin TV tower –as are ‘Disappointing’, ‘Poor’, ‘Overcrowded’, and
‘Rude’. Sounds like many have had a poor experience here – no surprises there if they’ve had to deal
with overcrowding and rude staff!
2. Moulin Rouge, Paris
A 120-year-old institution, The Moulin Rouge is synonymous with Paris itself. On offer? A night of cabaret,
Cancan dancing, and truly flamboyant costumes – all taking place within the walls of one the city’s most
iconic buildings, marked by that conspicuous red windmill.
Now let’s talk reality. Coming in as the second worst bucket list destination on our list, the Moulin Rouge
has garnered some pretty terrible reviews over the years. Some of the most commonly used words across these
negative reviews are damning, to say the least: ‘Disgraceful’, and ‘Terrible’ are among them.
More of the most used words are perhaps less extreme but are still definitely off-putting:
‘Disappointing’, ‘Cheesy’, ‘Rude’, and ‘Outdated’ pop up time and time
It seems clear that those leaving negative reviews of the Moulin Rouge felt ripped off too, with
‘Overpriced’, ‘Low quality’, and ‘Waste of money’ being iterated very frequently.
3. Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Bali
These ancient Bali rice paddies are so beautiful and historic that they’ve been given UNESCO World Heritage
Site status. But has the sheer number of eager crowds killed the charm of this once-unspoiled wonder? It
seems many think so. The most often used words to describe Tegalalang Rice Terrace across negative reviews
include ‘Tourist trap’, ‘Commercialised’, and ‘Overexploited’.
In short, it seems those who’ve had a bad experience here feel these paddies – regardless of how ancient –
are overpriced and underwhelming as a tourist destination. Other words used to describe the Tegalalang Rice
Terrace include: ‘Disappointing’, ‘Overrated’, ‘Rip off’, and ‘Cheesy’.
4. The Grand Palace, Bangkok
The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a complex of breathtaking buildings, steeped in the country’s rich royal
history. Boasting endless grandeur and architectural magnificence, it’s understandable why so many would put
this palatial destination on their Thai-travel bucket list. But our insights highlight a very different side
to the palace. Ranked as the fourth most underwhelming bucket list destination on our list, it seems this
tourist spot has lost its shine thanks to scammers taking advantage of unsuspecting tourists.
The most frequently used word across negative reviews of The Grand Palace is ‘Scammers’, and others
include ‘Terrible experience’, ‘Beware’, and ‘Tourist trap’. Yikes. Another of the most
often used words would suggest that no matter how grandiose and impressive the buildings themselves are, the
cons outweigh the pros with this one. Those words include: ‘Not worth it’, ‘Crowded’,
‘Overpriced’, ‘Poorly managed’, ‘Underwhelming’, and ‘Miserable’. Ouch.
5. Atomium, Brussels
An eye-catching silver structure that represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times, the Atomium was
created in 1958 and is the perfect representation of Belgium’s quirky charm. The structure boasts nine
spherical rooms which host exhibitions for tourists to enjoy. But despite all its promise it seems this
Brussels tourist hotspot may not be worth the effort or the money.
‘Waste of time’, ‘Not worth it’, and ‘Overpriced’ are the three most frequently used
words used across negative reviews of Atomium. ‘Expensive’, ‘Disappointing’,
‘Underwhelming’, and plain old ‘Bad’ make it to the list, too. Then there is the age-old
problem of overcrowding; the phrase ‘Long queues’ is mentioned again and again across bad reviews. Our
findings would suggest that many feel this attraction simply wasn’t worth the wait.
On the flip side – the bucket list destinations that are still worth visiting
Our research isn’t all doom and gloom – it also means we’re able to reveal the bucket list destinations with the least underwhelming scores. In other words, those that are, according to their reviews, deserving of that precious spot on your must-see list.
The top five places that justify the hype according to our data are:
1. Centro Historico De Cusco, Cusco & Machu Picchu, Andres Mountains
A quaint, historic city sat in a lush valley in southeastern Peru, Cusco sits at 3,400 metres (11,152 feet) above sea level, attracting visitors year-round. Boasting cathedrals, churches, and stunning ancient buildings, the historic centre of this small city definitely deserves a place on your bucket list.
2. Central Park, New York
The fifth-largest park in New York City connects Manhattan’s Upper West Side and Upper East Side – a perfect green rectangle among glinting skyscrapers when viewed from above. So much more than just a park, this city-centre nature spot is revered for its beautiful landscape architecture and idyllic scenery. All-in-all, our investigation suggests this is well worth checking out if you ever find yourself in the Empire City.
3. The Taj Mahal, Agra
Our data suggests The Taj Mahal lives up to expectations, with the third-lowest underwhelming score on the list. This majestic marble mausoleum is considered to be a masterpiece of architecture and art. In fact, it’s revered for being the single greatest Indo-Islamic architectural achievement of all time. Considering all this, it’s hard to see how this bucket list destination could be underwhelming on any level. Well worth making a permanent fixture of your must-see list.
4. Bagan, Mandalay region
Considered the most important of all Myanmar’s historical sites, this incredible ancient city has an almost mystical feel, with many ancient murals, monuments and pagodas to explore. The origins of Bagan are debated – some say it dates back to around the 9th century while others argue its roots go all the way back to the second century AD. One for history lovers and those in search of a truly awesome, mind-bending experience.
5. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Witness to many a marriage proposal and a symbol from plenty of much-loved films, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge doesn’t disappoint according to our findings. It’s safe to say this must be one of the world’s most impressive and eye-catching bridges, with its imposing towers, punchy orange colour and stark industrial design. Whether you’re interested in seeing this symbol of American power first-hand, want an epic place to propose or just want to see what all the fuss is about – the Golden Gate Bridge is sure to deliver.
For the ‘Gram and top of the ‘Tok
For some, a bucket-list destination needs to tick just one box and that is making your socials pop. And while some of the locations will offer incredible views, you may not get enough insta-gratification when sharing your holiday pics.
As our data also included the popularity of each destination on Instagram and TikTok we have been able to reveal which are your must-see spots based on shareability and platform. Top 10 most Instagrammable bucket list destinations
First up, for those doing it for the ‘gram, we looked at the number of times the most popular hashtag of each location was used in posts, and were able to determine the most Instagrammable sights and landmarks.
||Centro Histórico De Cusco
||The London Eye
||Golden Gate Bridge
||The Empire State Building
Top 10 most TikTok-friendly bucket list destinations
But not everyone is Insta-first nowadays, for those who are trying to rack up their TikTok views, there is a slightly difference list of important places to add to that travel checklist.
||Centro Histórico De Cusco
||The Empire State Building
Don’t miss a thing
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We gathered the number of average, poor and terrible reviews on Trip Advisor for over 100 popular bucket list destinations, with over 5000 reviews, and worked out the percentage of these reviews out of the total reviews. We then collected the average rating on Trip Advisor, the number of uses of the most popular hashtag per destination on Instagram and the number of views for the most popular hashtag on TikTok.
Each factor for each location was ranked against the others in the list, these ranks were added together and worked out as a percentage of the total that could be achieved, this then gave the underwhelming percentage score.
That’s a wrap on our anti-bucket list – we hope browsing through these exclusive research finds helps you to hone your travel plans and avoid disappointment. All the better for bucket list experiences that genuinely blow the mind… and not your patience.