The 3 Most Overrated Places in Europe

Most overrated places in Europe to Visit on a Cruise Canary Islands

Hey Owlets,

When I’m travelling I like to make the most of every second and even if I don’t love where I’ve ended up I’ll still try to find the beauty in it, both for my own pleasure and because I want my blog to be a positive space that encourages you to get out and explore. Having said that, some places just don’t live up to the hype and despite your best attempts to make the most of your time there you can’t help but sit and think “why does everyone love this place?” so today I wanted to depart from my usual content and have a laugh and a chat about some of the places that just didn’t live up to my expectations.

Most overrated places in Europe to Visit on a Cruise Rome Italy Civitavecchia

Rome, Italy

Rome is the city that everyone is obsessed with, sharing the title of “city of love” with Paris - the difference being that I only loved one of these cities and I’m sorry but I’m going with France on this one. I think part of the problem with Rome is that it’s THE place to visit on everyone’s list. You spend years being told it’s the most beautiful city on Earth, there’s great food and wine, everyone is super friendly and it’s crammed full of incredible architecture. Well when I visited the only things it was crammed full of were tourists and litter (I’m guessing my second complaint is probably something to do with the first).

Walking and being driven around Rome I was unable to go up to anywhere remotely photogenic without being harassed by someone trying to sell me something or asking me for money, often following me up the street and refusing to leave me alone - I’m not easily rattled but in all honesty it’s not a city I felt particularly comfortable in. It is something I’ve experienced in London and I know this is an issue with every touristy city but I have never known street sellers to be quite as pushy as in Italy.

 Secondly, while there is pretty scenery outside most of what you come to Rome to visit is inside, meaning that you waste most of your day standing in huge queues just waiting to get a tiny glimpse through a sea of heads, iPhones and selfie sticks of what you’ve travelled thousands of miles and waited all year to see. The best way I can describe Rome is one giant letdown; I’m sorry, I know people love it but it’s just not for me.

Most overrated places in Europe to Visit on a Cruise Lanzarote Canary Islands

Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Lanzarote is a paradise of sunshine, volcanic landscapes and beautiful beaches in the Canary Islands. If you love lying on a beach all day, swimming in the sea and only getting up to walk to the nearest bar to quench your thirst and maybe eat a little lunch then it’s the perfect place for you. If, however, you’re more like me and like to explore when you visit somewhere new you’re going to be very disappointed. When I visited in 2017 we docked in the island’s capital of Arrecife - why this is the capital I have no idea. The cruise ship we arrived on held 10% of the capital city’s entire population. We headed to Timanfaya National Park to see the volcanic landscapes and in fairness that was well worth the visit. However, we did that in under half a day and with several hours still to kill I decided to walk into the city - I found nothing. There’s a few bars and a shop but that’s literally it. 

There are more well known areas on the island which are busier (Playa Blanca and Puerto Del Carmen) which I’ve not visited yet, but looking at the map both places seem to only exist for tourists, rammed full of hotels, bars and clubs along the beachfront but nothing to actually go and visit during the day. I feel like, as someone who doesn’t drink that much, I’m probably missing the point of both of these places. I don’t know, I want to love Lanzarote so much because it’s genuinely a beautiful place but I’m just not the kind of person to lie on a beach all day so maybe it’s not for me. I’m going back later this year and I am going to Puerto Del Carmen so maybe I’ll have an update for you, but I’m not holding my breath.

Most overrated places in Europe to Visit on a Cruise Bruges Belgium

Bruges, Belgium

My final chronically over-rated city is Bruges - I think Bruges is one of those places that I just don’t get. We visited during our Northern Europe cruise earlier this year and I was sold on quotes like “Venice of the North”, being told to expect beautiful medieval buildings and that the streets would smell of chocolate. Well, the streets did smell of chocolate and there were a few old buildings but Venice of the North was a definite stretch. As I stepped off the bus in a car park on the outskirts of the city I was still naively excited; having walked through a salubrious park and a housing estate my spirits were a little dampened but I was still hopeful. I scuttled through the dodgy alleyways ready to be greeted by the sight of well-dressed men paddling gondolas down the canal, or at the very least a rowing boat. When I arrived at the canal to find a white plastic motorboat full of tourists I couldn’t help but feel like I’d been caught out by a smart-ass in the city’s marketing department. What’s more, only two companies actually run the underwhelming plastic boasts so if you’re smart enough not to have paid the cruise line’s extortionate prices, or unlucky enough to have arrived on the day a cruise ship is in port then good luck actually finding a boat to go on. 

I have to be honest, the marketing spiel wasn’t all lies - the streets really did smell of chocolate; well, apart from the side streets that smelled like drains, but I won’t hold that against them. My main complaint with Bruges is that I felt like I’d landed in one giant supermarket. Street after street, every single shop was either a chocolate shop, a souvenir shop or both, and most of the chocolates on offer were pre-packaged and not even made in the city. Having successfully navigated the sugar-filled streets and made mental notes of which chocolate shops I’d decided to bankrupt myself in I walked further into the city to find a high street full of the usual chain shops, plus a church that everyone seemed to be making a huge fuss of - I think it’s because that and eating chocolate are pretty much the only things to do in the city. Feeling a bit deflated I headed to “Markt” (the central square where all the pretty buildings were) - when I got there I physically couldn’t move because of all the people. Yes there were the pretty pyramid-shaped buildings that I expected, but in all honesty I didn’t think it deserved the huge crowd. I did think about sitting down for a coffee, but between the €6 price tag and the roaming beggars I thought better of it and headed back towards the coach. 

In fairness to the city there was a diamond museum, several beer museums, even more chocolate museums and a museum on chips but I came for the architecture and quaint Belgian streets so I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed. There was a windmill that I would’ve liked to have seen but it a really long way out of the city so it wasn’t going to be possible on foot. All in all, there’s nothing wrong with Bruges, I just didn’t get it - unless someone got creative in the city’s marketing department or I happened to stumble across a thread of particularly enthusiastic chocolate addicts’ reviews, there’s absolutely no reason for it to be as hyped up as it was.

Most overrated places in Europe to Visit on a Cruise

I know I’ve been pretty brutal towards the cities I’ve mentioned but there was nothing unbearable about any of them. For me travelling is all about experiencing different things - most of the time those experiences are positive but sometimes they’re not and you just need to step back and laugh at the situation, otherwise you’re going to find fault everywhere. Even though I didn’t love Rome, Lanzarote or Bruges I would still go back there and give them another try - I enjoy finding what makes a place unique and I genuinely want to love each place I visit, even if they kind of miss the mark. 

Finally, if I’ve mentioned your favourite place EVER then I’m sorry, but instead of leaving me a comment to tell me how wrong I am, I’d really like to hear why you love it and what I’ve missed. I’m always willing to give somewhere another try. I’m always the type of person to be lighthearted about things, even if they go wrong, so hopefully you had a laugh with me. Let me know, have I missed the point of these places entirely? Or is there somewhere you visited that you thought was just as overrated? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

1 comment:

  1. You're right about Rome. I did like Bruges, you're not too wrong there either. Ypres is fab. The museum dedicated to the first world war is thought provoking as is the Menin gate (which you have to go to just before 18.00). I went to Lanzarote with friends. We didn't see much

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