During my travels, there have been cities that were a let down. I’ve sometimes found that what I thought a place was going to be like and what it was actually like are two totally different things. Usually, being in a new place, discovering the unknown, wandering streets and getting lost, and experiencing new architecture and culture leads to a great experience. Traveling around, you’re seeing these new places through rose-colored glasses.
Well, most of time.
Other times, I take a trip somewhere and leave underwhelmed and unimpressed. There could be a lot of factors for why I end up thinking “this place just didn’t cut it”. It could’ve been because of the weather. It could’ve been who I was with. It could’ve been because I was comparing it to the amazing place I had visited right before. It could’ve been that I didn’t have enough time there. Or, it could’ve been that I hyped it up so much in my head that it was destined to not live up to my expectations.
Throughout my many travels throughout Europe over the years, I can think of a few places I visited that I’m not in any rush to go back to. The majority of places that I’ve visited have been absolutely amazing, but there are a handful of places that were just OK. Here are 5 of those European cities that were a let down for me.
One of Italy’s biggest, most well-known cities. A fashion capital of the world. I was excited to visit this metropolis, but left feeling a bit disappointed and wanting. I’ve been to many places in Italy, but in terms of arts, architecture, and scenery, Milan just didn’t compare to others I had visited like Florence, Venice, and Rome. It is known for it’s shopping, but since I’m always #BallinOnABudget, I don’t spend my travels shopping in expensive or high-end stores, which is what Milan is known for. I was there for 2 days and felt like I could’ve been fine staying for one. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, and maybe I didn’t do Milan the right way, but that’s just how I feel! Although I’m glad I got to go and see a bit of it, it’s definitely not the most charming city in Italy, nor am I in a rush to return.
To me, Frankfurt was kind of, like, aight. This is one of those classic cases where weather plays a significant role in how much you love a city. I’m sure so many travelers have experienced this – you arrive somewhere and the whether is so crappy the whole time that you can’t do much, and you leave feeling underwhelmed by your trip.
That basically happened to me in Frankfurt. The weather was pretty crappy the whole time, meaning we didn’t really have as nice of an experience had we gone during warm, sunny weather. We had just left Strasbourg, France, which I fell IN LOVE with and didn’t want to leave, and then arrived to a rainy, dreary Frankfurt. So I wasn’t too impressed at the time. I did a bit of walking and a bit of eating and drinking, but then I got that feeling of “what else?” The sights just didn’t compare to the Hansel and Gretel fairytale that is Strasbourg. So, maybe Frankfurt is great in its own right, but the weather we had, combined with the contrasts to Strasbourg, just didn’t work in it’s favor.
I feel like there’s not one person on planet Earth that would say that Pisa is their favorite Italian city. I’m not exaggerating when I say that in Pisa, there is the Leaning Tower of Pisa attraction, and the rest is pretty much a shit hole. Excuse my French. I was not impressed at all by anything outside of the Piazza dei Miracoli, which houses the Cathedral, the Baptistery, and the Leaning Tower, which was cool to see but flooded with tourists. Pisa is fine as a stopover on your way to other Italian cities, but I don’t find it worth staying the night. Fun fact: I DID stay the night, and my hostel had no air conditioning and it was July and it was so hot and I wanted to die (probably another factor in why I didn’t enjoy Pisa).
Sometimes, the locals can make or break a place. That is exactly the case with Paris. Don’t get me wrong, Paris was one of the most stunning cities I’ve seen in terms of architecture, history, and art. But every single local I interacted with was pretty rude. OK FINE, they were pretty much assholes, which really put me off. From the waiter working in a cafe next to the Notre Dame who refused to serve us unless we spoke to him in French (I speak English AND Spanish, thankyouverymuch), to the cashier at the H&M on the Champs-Élysées who pretended like she didn’t speak English after she asked where I was from (and looked at me in disgust when I said I was American), to the bartenders who begrudgingly served us drinks – all Parisians had an attitude that I was not a fan of. Another thing that I didn’t like about Paris was that every couple yards I’d walk, there would be someone trying to sell me an Eiffel Tower figurine or some fake RayBan sunglasses. JUST LEAVE ME IN PEACE, PLEASE.
I really did enjoy Paris as far as sights and sounds are concerned, and would love to go back to visit some spots I didn’t have time to see. But, I won’t be in a rush to meet any locals next time I return, which is one of the things usually I love to do when traveling. The rude locals is the reason that Paris is even on this list, and the aspect of my trip there that let me down. (I don’t think anyone would ever say anything bad about the locals in Dublin, just sayin’)
Zadar wasn’t bad, and I think it’s on this list through no fault of it’s own. But on a roadtrip through Croatia last fall, Zadar was the last stop. And after visiting Split and Dubrovnik, Zadar just didn’t compare. It didn’t have that WOW factor that I found in other places in Croatia. It was also a little overcast with spots of rain, so that didn’t help that whole situation. The whole time I was in Zadar, I was just thinking back on the beauty of Dubrovnik and how much I wish I would’ve had more time there.
Another factor that has Zadar on this list is that I wasn’t there for very long, so I’m sure I missed a lot of what Zadar has to offer. This was the last stop on a Croatian road trip I did, and I was flying out of Zadar. Because of the timing, I was only able to visit Zadar for 2 days. So I think I missed out on a lot here that could’ve changed my opinion.
What cities have you visited that were a let down? And what cities exceeded your expectations?