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Europeans Are Sharing 27 Tourist Traps And Red Flags To Avoid When Traveling To France, Spain, Italy, And More

"If you want to know if a restaurant is authentic or a tourist trap, follow this one rule."

When you're traveling to a new place, it can be difficult to distinguish the authentic spots from the tourist traps. So redditor u/BigBoiBen444 asked, "What are some major tourist traps in your country, and what precautions can you take to avoid them?" Here's what some people had to say (and I'm taking notes for my next European vacation).

1. "If you're planning a trip to Croatia, don't bother with Dubrovnik. It's extremely pretty from afar...but far from pretty. The Old Town is just one mess of tacky cafés, restaurants catering to tourists, and tour agencies. People almost had to line up to navigate their way through the narrow streets because so many cruise ships were docked. And it was even a struggle to see the landmarks because crowds of people were hovering around with selfie sticks in the air."

Tourists along the main avenue in the famous Dubrovnik old town in Croatia

2. London: "Avoid the Heathrow Express. You pay a lot more for only a slightly faster journey to the airport. Just look online or ask a hotel staff member how to get to the airport another way. They will help you get the right and much more affordable ticket."

The tube pulling into the station

3. "Throughout Italy, try to avoid restaurants on big, popular squares or near major tourist attractions. If the menu features multiple languages and/or photos of the food, that's another red flag. If there are waiters outside telling you to come eat, it's a universal sign that the restaurant in question is a tourist trap."

A restaurant outside the Duomo in Milan

4. "Hallstatt, Austria. If you‘ve seen photos of it online (they're all taken from the same two angles), then you‘ve seen the town. It is pretty, but it is overrun by tourists and cheap souvenir shops. There are so many more authentic villages by lakes in that region. You can skip Hallstatt altogether."

An alpine village

5. "Leicester Square in London. It's not just actually is a tourist trap designed to rip you off. Most of the bars are very expensive, the restaurants are horrible, and you can find higher-quality versions of everything sold in the area for a lower price elsewhere. Sure, it might be nice to walk through, but just don't spend any money there."

An aerial view of Leicester Square

6. "In Paris, don't go to any restaurant near a big tourist attraction like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, etc. You will likely eat frozen food at an absurdly high price. Stick to restaurants on side streets and quieter areas instead."

A bistro with a Basilica in the background

7. "If you're visiting Tuscany, avoid the torture museums that are scattered around the various medieval towns. They are poor attempts to scare (and scam) tourists. If you've seen one, you've seen them all."

People strolling in a narrow medieval town

8. "In Spain, if a restaurant is serving lunch at noon, chances are it's a tourist trap. Here, we eat lunch between 2:30 and 4 p.m. As a rule of thumb, look for locals. If no locals are eating there, avoid it."

Spanish tapas at a bar

9. "Mykonos and Santorini are just tourist traps shaped like islands. Greece is filled to the brim with amazing islands. You don't have to spend a fortune visiting Santorini and Mykonos when there are literally thousands of other islands that are just as beautiful, much cheaper, and almost empty of tourists."

White buildings with blue rooftops overlooking the sea

10. "In Brussels, avoid the street called Rue des Bouchers/de Beenhouwersstraat and the surrounding neighborhood. Tourists are tricked into thinking it's a maze of cute pedestrian streets, but actually, you will find the worst restaurants in town there. The menus are written in 12 different languages, and the waiters try to hail you inside. They are total overpriced, touristy eateries to avoid."

A busy street with people and shops

11. "Oktoberfest in Munich. Avoid it, especially the Hofbräuhaus. Travel to one of the smaller cities in Bavaria instead. I'd suggest going to the Allgäu, where there's a brewery in every village."

A colorful tent crowded with people

12. "I lived in Berlin for a decade, which is home to plenty of tourist traps. The biggest one, IMO, is Checkpoint Charlie. The museum is mediocre, the 'actors' you can take photos with are incredibly expensive, and the fake Soviet merch can be found for much cheaper elsewhere."

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

13. "The Bran (Dracula) Castle in Romania is overrated. It's just like any other castle in the mountains of Transylvania, except more expensive and crowded to visit."

A castle on a hill

14. "For Iceland, it’s the blue lagoon. It's way too expensive (40–60 euros for a visit) in a country that boasts so many natural hot springs. Not only is the entrance fee hefty, but everything there is expensive, from the massages to 20-euro avocado toast."

People soaking in the Blue Lagoon

15. "Take it from an Italian and don't spend much time in Venice. It is extremely overpriced and caters to tourists who don't know any better. Don't plan on doing your shopping there, and don't eat out in fancy restaurants. Above all, don't order fish or seafood à la carte. Restaurants are constantly trying to scam tourists for hundreds of euros because in fine print, the menu says the price is per 100 grams, not per plate."

Gondolas in a canal in Venice

16. "Temple Bar in Dublin is huge with tourists, but it's massively overpriced. Thankfully, there are countless other pubs in the city, many of them just steps from Temple Bar."

Street scene in Temple Bar, Dublin

17. "In Edinburgh, be aware that the Royal Mile is very touristy. It's nice to visit at dawn while it's still quiet to enjoy the view, but don't buy anything there. It's all expensive. Also, I don't think it's worth the price to go inside the castle. You can get good views of the Royal Mile and the rest of the city from the parking lot."

Royal Mile and clock tower under sunset

18. "In Copenhagen, avoid eating in Nyhavn. Definitely feel free to go there to walk around and enjoy the views, but don't sit down at a restaurant. It's expensive, and you can easily find better food close by."

Colorful buildings on a river

19. "In Spain, walk away from any restaurants that serve paella for dinner. We only eat paella at lunch, folks, and that is a sign of a tourist trap. And if there are photos of the food out front, that's a bad sign."

A big seafood paella

20. "In Amsterdam, stay away from the 'smartshops.' They sell products that they claim contain THC, but the truth is that smartshops do not sell weed. If you're not buying that THC from a coffee shop, it's probably a scam."

A coffee shop with a neon sign

21. "In Paris, don't pay to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. You'll be shelling out 25 euros and waiting, when you can get the same view for free from the roof of Printemps Haussmann department store."

Cityscape of Paris showing the Eiffel Tower

22. "In Portugal, the Algarve can be very touristy. Here's what to avoid and what to seek out instead, from someone who is from there: Stay away from the main towns, especially Albufeira, which is full of crowded beaches, tons of British tourists, and bars. Instead, visit the area around Sagres and the Vicentina coast, which are dotted with castles and gorgeous scenery. Monchique, Aljezur, Loulé, and Tavira are great places to visit for nature and small, traditional villages."

Main pedestrian street in Albufeira full of tourists

23. "In Budapest, never, ever hail a cab from the street. Instead go with a ride-sharing app like Bolt and use that. I've gotten into a lot of uncomfortable and shady situations by hailing street cabs."

A yellow taxicab in Budapest

24. "In Athens, all of Monastiraki Market near the Acropolis is filled with tacky tourist shops with overpriced, poor-quality souvenirs. Not to mention, there are tons of pickpockets in the square and the narrow roads around it. Don't bother stopping here."

A busy square with the Acropolis in the background

25. "When in Barcelona, don't bother visiting Las Ramblas. It's just a street filled with stereotypical "Catalan" shops that really have nothing to do with the culture here (restaurants serving frozen paella, flamenco shops, and overpriced crap). Locals avoid these places like the plague and would never eat anywhere on Las Ramblas."

Busy Las Ramblas

26. "The Champs-Élysées in Paris. It's an impressively big avenue, but it's just made up of overpriced stores, crowded sidewalks, and pickpockets. The only reason to go near this street is to see the Arc de Triomphe."

A busy Parisian avenue

27. "Pisa. It's basically just a photo opportunity, which is severely overcrowded by tourists and street vendors. Once you've taken the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa picture, there's not much else to do. Sienna, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, and Lucca are all way-better places to spend your time in the region."

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

What's an overhyped, touristy attraction in your home city that travelers might want to avoid? Tell us in the comments!

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.