Have you ever checked out the reviews for the famous landmarks of the world? The Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, the Great Pyramids: they all have something in common – someone is out there calling them “overcrowded,” “overhyped,” or a “tourist trap.”

We disagree.

We firmly believe that most tourist hotspots are hotspots for a reason. Yes, everyone goes, but that’s usually because they’re worth seeing.

We’ve heard so many people belittle places on the tourist trail, saying “there’s so much more to see! Do you just want to go because everybody else has?”

And while we agree that a truly worthwhile trip goes off the beaten track for a bit, we’d never discount a city’s most popular sights as a waste of time.

We like to make our own discoveries, but we also appreciate the experiences and recommendations of others – and we want to make our own memories there, too!

We haven’t regretted a visit to any tourist hotspot, even when we don’t stay long. An hour or two is usually enough time, so we still have plenty of time to see the rest of what a new city has to offer.

Here’s a few of the famous landmarks (or events) we’ve been to so far. We would certainly recommend them!

Taj Mahal, India

We saw the Taj Mahal at sunset and sunrise when the lighting was just right (and the heat not so extreme). Even with a little scaffolding, our pictures turned out amazing.

At sunset we were in the gardens where there was a lot of room to avoid crowds. We found an empty area with plenty of shade to snap photos, take a seat and watch the sun go down.

The next day we arrived at the Taj Mahal right at sunrise. There was a line to get in, but the crowds weren’t overwhelming yet so we were able to get several pictures without anyone wandering around in the background.

Things to consider:

  • Avoid the Taj Mahal at midday. Not only will it be very hot, the sun will reflect off the white marble making photography difficult.
  • Don’t forget to visit the gardens around the back for a relaxing viewpoint and a different perspective.
The Full Moon Party, Thailand

It’s hard to find many positive reviews of Thailand’s infamous Full Moon Parties.

The thousands who attend each month are often mocked or used as a negative example of a “fake traveller.”

It’s true, a Full Moon Party is in no way an authentic Thailand experience. But it’s still one of the best nights we’ve ever had! Why does it need to be more than that?

It’s crazy, it’s cheap, and who wouldn’t love a party under a full moon on a stunning beach in the South of Thailand Seriously, give it a try! If you love nightlife, you won’t regret it.

Things to consider:

  • Be smart, like you’d need to be on a night out anywhere. Keep an eye on your drink, don’t accept a drink from a stranger, and protect your valuables.
The Great Wall of China

Seeing the Great Wall was an expensive journey for us. We ended up paying for a private car, a bus, a cable car and, of course, the entrance fee. But we believe it was worth the cost, because up in those mountains we saw one of the world’s most incredible creations! It was so surreal to walk along the wall taking in the stunning views.

Things to consider:

  • The Great Wall is huge! There are many entrances, and some are more crowded than others. We asked our driver to take us somewhere with fewer crowds, and we loved where we ended up.
  • Yes, the Great Wall is very long – but you don’t need to see the whole thing. It looks the same, with similar views, nearly everywhere. We kept our visit to only an hour or so.
  • The Wall goes up and down very steep mountains. Be prepared for a lot of inclines and steps!
  • When you’re finished, you can slide down the mountain instead of using the cable car again. Ask about it when you get your tickets.

The Patronas Towers, Malaysia

If we had to choose our favorite building or urban backdrop, it would definitely be the Patronas Towers. They are iconic and stunning. If you’re a sucker for a great photo opportunity (like us – we’re shameless!), they’re seriously worth a look.

Things to consider:

  • Go at nighttime. While they’re stunning in the day, they’re unbelievable at night!
  • You can also tour the towers, but we were happy just walking around the outer grounds for free.
Sydney Opera House, Australia

We’ll admit, the only draw was the photo opportunity. But that alone is worth a recommend for any famous landmark, in our opinion. It’s free, nobody can stop you taking pictures of the outside of these buildings, and it’s far less crowded.

Things to consider:

  • Unless you’re interested in one of the performances, there’s not much point in this other than the photo. However, the surrounding views of the harbours could be a great place to spend the day.
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

We came so close to missing out on this because every review warned us that it was an expensive tourist trap. It ended up becoming our favorite traveling experience to date! While most landmarks are good for a quick look and a few photos, we easily spent many blissful hours here. You can read more about our experience here.

Things to consider:

  • Book in advance. We usually like to do things more spontaneously, but tickets for the good time slots (morning or early afternoon) disappear weeks beforehand.
  • Give yourself plenty of time there – you’ll want it!
  • The basic ticket is fine. You’ll feel relaxed and pampered without handing over any extra money for added luxuries.
  • Winter is probably the best season to go. We enjoyed the Lagoon during a beautiful snowstorm that made our day (and photos) look like a dream world.

We have so many more famous landmarks to see! We’ve barely even made a dent on our wishlist, and we can’t wait visit more. Next up, hopefully Petra in Jordan, The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and Machu Picchu in Peru!

Don’t listen to the bad press. These places are famous for a reason. Don’t be stubborn and miss out on something you could truly love.

Have you been to any famous landmarks or taken part in a famous organised event? We’d love to hear your experiences.

 

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