If someone was to accuse me of being a hipster, they’d probably have a fair case. I mean, much of this blog is about places “you probably haven’t heard of” because they’re too “underground“. It’s quite clear that many of my articles focus on destinations that are lesser-seen and off the beaten path. Where that theory falls down though, is why I write about these places. It’s not out of some adolescent need to earn “cool” points or to somehow say I’m better than you.
It’s because I feel that people’s sights keep narrowing in on popular places at the expense of all the other cool places around the world. We’re seeing more and more places struggling with “overtourism” and the backlash against tourists. To me, one of the ways to combat this is to share articles and photos of more unknown places, in the hopes of grabbing people’s attention and inspiring them to look elsewhere.
All that being said, I still like going to popular or touristy destinations too. After all, they’ve typically earned their reputation. Why miss out on a wonderful experience for some inconsequential boycott? So with that in mind, here are five touristy destinations that I loved visiting.
I have to admit, I was worried I wouldn’t like London when I visited a few years ago. Having only visited as a kid and not being a fan of massive cities, I was hoping I didn’t hate it. As it turns out, I actually kind of loved it. Sure, it felt like I didn’t have a spare minute as I rushed between sightseeing and visiting people, but I really didn’t mind. In a big city like London, that pace feels almost necessary. I don’t know if I would want to live there, but I sure enjoyed visiting.
There were probably plenty of factors that led to my positive visit. My visit to London was the first time in about 10 months that I’d been in an English-speaking country. Also, visiting around Christmas time, London was looking particularly festive which gave everything a cheerful edge. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t mind walking miles through the rain to get between places. While I know some people find sights like Big Ben or Buckingham palace underwhelming up close, I never had that happen to me. I just kept bouncing from one sight to the next, admiring everything I came across.
Say what you will about the numerous problems Venice is facing due to overtourism, the place is unquestionably magical. People complain about the crowds, the smell, the cruise ships (one I agree with) but none of that phased me. This after all, is a city built in a lagoon, where canals replace roads and time has stood still.
From an engineering standpoint, Venice is a true marvel. From a historical standpoint, it’s the home of a once great republic. From a visual standpoint, it’s just so damn breathtaking. My time in Venice flew by, as I got lost in the maze of canals and visited different islands. With endless palaces, churches, museums and islands to explore, I could never get bored there. I could wax poetically on Venice on and on, but I shouldn’t.
Probably one of the most touristy destinations in Asia has to be the island nation of Singapore. This multicultural metropolis sees huge numbers of visitors, whether stopping over, for business or for general sightseeing. What I loved about Singapore was that it felt like a perfect blend of eastern and western influences.
The city has the ease and modern convenience of the best western cities, all the while peppered with different asian cultures. I was able to walk from my airbnb in Chinatown to Little India or the Muslim Quarter, each with their own food and feel. Oh and the food! I could have spent my entire time in Singapore hunting down food courts and exploring all the different cuisines. This is genuinely somewhere I could see myself living if I could afford it and survive the humidity.
Few places have exploded in popularity over the last couple of decades than Dubrovnik in Croatia. This is one of those touristy destinations where it’s immediately obvious why it’s so popular. Situated on Croatia’s stunning coastline, the historic city full of Venetian architecture is surrounded by some of the coolest city walls out there Of course, once the city featured season after season in the epic Game of Thrones, its fate was sealed.
Quite a while back, my parents visited Dubrovnik and I had one of their photos as my computer background for years. This, coupled with my dedicated watching of Game of Thrones meant I was basically destined to visit. My entire time visiting, I looked about in awe at the place, ignoring the hordes of tourists. Dubrovnik really is a historically and architecturally fascinating place, despite the old town’s small size. I do hope the city finds a fair and sustainable way to manage tourist numbers to preserve this wonder.
As the main setting off point in Peru for Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, Cusco features on most travellers’ itineraries of Peru. My initial assumption was that Cusco wouldn’t be a particularly interesting place itself and only function as a waiting room for the nearby highlights. In reality though, Cusco is actually a widely popular and interesting destination in its own right. It’s nowhere’s waiting room.
What I liked about Cusco was the atmosphere there. It really felt like a balanced blend of local traditional culture and history, with some of the creature comforts tourists appreciate. It’s certainly a comfortable place to acclimatize to altitude, especially with all the local sights available. From the colonial churches to Incan remains and even the massive local markets, Cusco has plenty going for it. And yet, even though its isolated up in the Andes, you can still find a Starbucks and weekly English language pub trivia nights. It’s rare to find everything somewhere you expect to find nothing.
Which touristy destinations do you love despite the crowds? Which places do you think are simply too overburdened with tourists? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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