The anti-bucket list

Tuesday, 7 November 2023 by Vision Direct


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

Rank Sightseeing Location Country Underwhelming%
1 Berlin TV Tower Berlin Germany 94.2%
2 Moulin Rouge Paris France 92.1%
3 Tegalalang Rice Terrace Bali Indonesia 89.4%
4 The Grand Palace Bangkok Thailand 87.3%
5 Atomium Brussels Belgium 78.9%
6 Toyko Tower Tokyo Japan 76.9%
7 Seoul Tower Seoul South Korea 75.7%
8 The White House Washington DC USA 70.6%
9 The Great Buddha of Thailand Phuket Thailand 67.6%
10 Guggenheim Bilbao Bilbao Spain 65.5%
11 Royal Palace of Madrid Madrid Spain 64.1%
12 Basilica Cistern Istanbul Turkey 63.9%
13 Hallgrimskirkja Reykjavik Iceland 63.4%
14 Tian Tan Buddha Lantau Island Hong Kong 63.2%
15 The Hollywood Sign Los Angeles USA 63.0%
16 Taipei 101 Tapei Taiwan 62.0%
17 Cerro Santa Lucia Santiago Chile 62.0%
18 Eden Project Cornwall England 61.8%
19 Chateau de Versailles Versailles France 59.0%
20 Seattle Space Needle Seattle USA 58.6%

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 again. 

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.

Rank Destination Instagram hashtags
1 Central Park 8,152,615
2 Eiffel Tower 7,529,101
3 Burj Khalifa 7,317,151
4 Centro Histórico De Cusco 4,042,463
5 The Louvre 3,843,376
6 The London Eye 3,440,717
7 Big Ben 3,406,764
8 Golden Gate Bridge 3,287,995
9 The Empire State Building 3,212,804
10 Notre Dame 3,138,003

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.

Rank Destination TikTok views
1 Burj Khalifa 5,700,000,000
2 Centro Histórico De Cusco 5,000,000,000
3 Eiffel Tower 3,100,000,000
4 Buckingham Palace 3,100,000,000
5 Central Park 1,500,000,000
6 Big Ben 1,000,000,000 
7 Machu Picchu 1,000,000,000
8 Notre Dame 989,000,000
9 The Louvre  929,800,000
10 The Empire State Building 786,200,000

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.

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