top of page

The Most Overrated Cities in the World, and the Underrated Alternatives You Should Visit Instead

There's no doubt the tourism Gods of this world have smiled upon some places more than others. Whilst certain cities rake in the visitors, others are left relatively untouched. And this is rarely a reflection on the quality of each place. If anything, the unspoiled air of some of the less tourist-heavy locations only adds to their charm. So if you're planning a trip, here are some of the places you might be thinking of, and some lesser-appreciated options to consider instead.

Overrated: Milan

It might be one of the world's fashion capitals and you can be forgiven for being drawn in by postcard images of its stunning Duomo. But, in reality, Milan's offerings are limited. Unless you can actually afford to shop around in Prada and Armani, a stroll down Via Montenapoleone won't take you more than ten minutes. The city itself is extremely busy and the vibe more closely resembles that of London than the charming hospitality famous of Italian culture.

Try instead: Bologna

You'll have heard of Bologna, if only as the home of the famous spaghetti Bolognese. This red city, capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, is a constant parade of stunning medieval and Renaissance architecture, the food is impeccable, and if you're in it for the shopping, it certainly won't let you down. It's also an easy day trip away from other cities like Verona, Mantua and Padua, so it makes a great base for further exploration.

Overrated: London

If you're not from the UK, visiting the UK tends to mean one thing: London. The call of Covent Garden, Oxford Street shopping and the opportunity to take a selfie with Big Ben or one of those iconic red phone boxes is generally too much to resist. But, like Milan, London is unfathomably busy, overpriced, and it just lacks some of that genuine British charm.

Try instead: Bristol

Around two hours West of London, and with its own international airport, is the city of Bristol. Still a huge city, Bristol offers a more genuine (and affordable) experience of a British city, away from all those tacky London bus souvenirs. It's a thriving, friendly city with a great night life, interesting museums, and a buzzing arts and music scene. It's well known as home of elusive graffiti artist 'Banksy', so look out for some of his enigmatic masterpieces along the way.

Overrated: Barcelona

Famous for its central street, La Rambla, Barcelona is swamped by tourists almost all year round. It's unrelentingly busy, and has become a sporting ground for pick pockets. Its rows of identical, paella-offering restaurants leave the more discerning traveller grasping for a more authentic experience. There's no doubt it's worth a visit once in your life, but Spain has so much more to offer than this tourist hotspot.

Try instead: Valencia

Located on the south east coast of Spain, Valencia is a striking mix of historical buildings and futuristic architecture. Far from trying to compete with bustling cities like Barcelona and Madrid, Valencia moves to the beat of its own drum. The cuisine of this fertile, farm-flanked city is fresh and delicious, the culture is vibrant, and the nightlife is incredible.