Giant’s Causeway, Mona Lisa: the tourist ‘attractions’ you hate
We asked readers what holiday must-dos were actually must-don’ts. Here is what they said
The Giant’s Causeway in Antrim came in for the most ire from Irish Times readers
The Niagra Falls – they ‘don’t put the 25 storey casinos and hotels on the brochures’
The Manneken Pis, Brussels annoyed readers by being ‘too small’ and ‘tucked away in a dark corner’. Photograph: Roy Rainford
Crowds of tourists attempt to take photographs of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre museum in Paris. Readers found the queues and the small size of the painting to be underwhelming
What is the most overrated and underwhelming tourist attraction you have ever visited?
That was the simple question we posted on social media platforms last week and while we are well aware that people who use Twitter and Facebook love nothing more than giving out about stuff, we were still amazed by volume and the depth of the resentment people feel towards some of the world’s most famous landmarks.
And some landmarks closer to home that might not be, perhaps, as internationally famous.
Is the Grand Canyon really nothing more than a hole in the ground? Is it possible to be let down by your first sighting of the Eiffel Tower? Can you really compare a majestic waterfall like Niagara to Courtown on a drizzly day?
We received hundreds of responses to the question with a thread of great expectations running through most complaints and it seems as if the more people build something up in their heads, the more likely they are to be disappointed.
We had one specific world-famous tourist attraction in mind when we posed the question, one we visited earlier this year on a trip to Paris.
While not even the most pig-ignorant Philistine could cast aspersions on the artistry of Leonardo Da Vinci, a trip to the Louvre to see his most famous work is absurdly bad.
The queue to get in under the great glass pyramid, is massive, as is the herd of tourists who move like clueless sheep in the direction of the Mona Lisa.
Mannekin pis in Brussels... its teeny and hidden away on a dark corner.— Leonie (@KhandyMarketing) August 26, 2017
The Mona Lisa. I walked by her umpteen times. Her sad face combined with its tiny size just didn't live up to the history books— Róisín McCarthy (@McCarthyroro) August 25, 2017
Empire State Building! Full of dopes taking selfies, felt herded like cattle. Do the Rainbow Rms in rockerfeller ctr instead and get a 🍸— Niamh (@niamhzie) August 25, 2017
Cliffs of Moher are always thronged in summer so not a great experience. Cliff walks in Kilkee are glorious with the added bonus of a beach— Blackwater Castle (@BlackWtrCastle) August 24, 2017
Hundreds of people are then corralled into the room where the great painting sits behind bulletproof glass and left to their own devices to either elbow their way to the front of the room so they can take useless selfies of themselves and the lady with the knowing smile. Or take even more rubbish selfies in the middle of the throng.
Once the box has been ticked, the herd moves on, largely ignoring all the other fine art on the walls of what is – undoubtedly – one of the finest galleries in the world.
We were delighted many people echoed our view and the painting was in the top five most complained about attractions people have ever visited.
“The Mona Lisa has to be up there? It’s tiny and boring,” said Niamh MacSweeney matter-of-factly. It is “so small compared to everything else in the Louvre,” said Patricia Corduff and “about the size of a phone book,” was Laura Mulcahy’s take.
But we’ll leave the last word on Mona to journalist, author and broadcaster Mary Kenny. “I suppose it’s rather more than a tourist attraction, but the Mona Lisa! You can keep it! Tiny and there is much better stuff to see in Louvre.”
Another tourist attraction did not delight readers was the very tiny bronze statue of a naked little boy peeing into a fountain’s basin in Brussels although with a description like that it is a wonder anyone anywhere has ever had any high expectations of a trip to see it.
Size clearly matters for many and there wasn’t a lot of love for the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen either. “Small and insignificant, “ was how David Fox described it – a sentiment that was repeatedly echoed.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa came in for some flack too. There were the “they really straighten it” jokes – as you might expect – and a lot of people complaining that apart from the tower, there is little to see or do in the town once you have looked at the tower and posed for the pic in which you pretend to be holding it up.
James O’Brien described the Niagara Falls as “fairly underwhelming” and said that while it was supposed to be better on Canadian side, the “US side it is bit trashy”. Adrian Sherlock was as unimpressed and pointed out that they “don’t put the 25 storey casinos and hotels on the brochures”.
Hollywood, Las Vegas, Stonehenge and – weirdly – London (all of it) - all came in for some flack.
However the tourist attraction that received the most negative mentions from readers was one close to home. It was the Giant’s Causeway.
It was “a very long walk for a small gathering of rocks ,” said Dean Healy. “My expectations were huge. I was seriously disappointed.,” said Eimear Hurley. “I was so disappointed. Nothing giant about it,” was Margaret McGee’s memory.
In defence of the Causeway, we liked it a lot.... although we did set out on our visit with very low expectations after a lengthy stop off in the Bushmills Distillery nearyby. And that might have been the key.