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10 Tourist Traps in the UK

Planning a trip to the United Kingdom? Learn how to travel like a local by avoiding these common tourist traps.

Tourist traps are areas that carry a mediocre experience despite a high level of interest. The interest is usually garnered by advertising campaigns or word of mouth, which can sometimes lead to overhype.Tourist traps are scattered all over the world from Times Square in New York to the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong. The UK is not left out and has several sites which have less appeal than what is typically portrayed in the media.

10. Bus Tours

A tour bus passes over the River Thames on the famous Tower Bridge.

The tour of London is marketed as being incomplete without sampling the famed bus tours where tourists board the bus (usually double-decked buses) and travel around the city for a view of the city. However, these overcrowded buses are usually overpriced and don't offer anything to the average visitor that they couldn't see themselves from a public double-decker bus of London.

9. Buckingham Palace

It might be wise to skip the expensive tours and observe Buckingham Palace from afar instead.

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of Her Majesty, The Queen and administrative capital of the Commonwealth. It is also the headquarters of the monarch of the UK. While tourists are attracted to view the heart of the ancient British Empire, many are left disappointed by the overpriced tickets. The grounds are usually overcrowded, which leads to long lines for the bathroom and a feeling of irritation, which for many is a common side effect of spending time in large crowds.

8. Stone Henge

Stone henge: big rocks.

Stonehenge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose construction dates back to approximately 3,000 BC. The prehistoric site provides crucial evidence of prehistoric England and is an important site for archeologists and historians from all over the world. However, visitors who are attracted by its global reputation are often disappointed by the exorbitant charges with entrance tickets fetching $20.50 per person while parking fees reach $6.5 only to have to view the famed stone structures behind barriers.

7. Tower of London

The Tower of London carries a steep admission price in a city where many fabulous museums are free.

The Tower of London is an 11th century Castle located on the banks of River Thames. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is owned by Queen Elizabeth II. The historical building hosts a display of the Crown Jewels which date back to the 12th century. The Tower of London is viewed as one of the most overrated tourist sites in the UK with tickets going for $31 per person. Additionally, visitors also report the annoyance of long queues. The management of the tower is yet to ban smoking in the ticket area, and so visitors have to deal with passive smoking. The many empty halls make the visit quite boring.

6. Shakespeare's House

This house in Stratford-Upon-Avon is believed to be the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

The Shakespeare’s House is a restored 16th-century house believed to be the site where the greatest English writer all of time, William Shakespeare was born. The building, located in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, attracts visitors who are interested in learning the history of the great Englishman. It is managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. However, visitors are disappointed upon arrival and realize that majority of the “original artifacts” are dated many years after the death of William Shakespeare. The tickets are also quite expensive with the cheapest going for $21 for adults.

5. Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel.

Located in Scotland, the Falkirk Wheel is fancy name for a rotating boat lift. The 79-foot tall wheel is used as a connection between the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal and was constructed as a replacement of the previous system which involved 11 locks. The Falkirk Wheel is a popular tourist attraction with it visitor center attracting over 400,000 people per year. However, some say that the lack of other attractions makes the site seem “soulless” and exceedingly artificial. Although it may be the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, the steep $14-price tag for a 10-minute boat ride makes the Falkirk Wheel Scotland’s leading tourist trap.

4. London Eye

The London Eye - a cool experience, but not worth the high admission and long wait times.

The London Eye is a 443-foot-tall Ferris wheel located in London along the River Thames. The popular Ferris wheel has in recent years become a symbol of London and is dubbed as “London’s Eiffel Tower.” The London Eye is the tallest ferris wheel in Europe and offers spectacular panoramic views of the city. The Ferris wheel is an important tourist attraction with numbers of annual visitors reaching 3.75 million. However, the immense popularity of the London Eye is a major disappointment to visitors who have to endure long queues. One is left wondering whether the $28-price tag is worth the few pictures, especially if visited during days with poor weather conditions.

3. Greenwich Line

The Greenwich Line.

The Greenwich Line is the location of the Prime Meridian which is the basis on which international time zones are derived from and is also the zero degrees longitude from which other longitudes are calculated. The Greenwich Line was critically important during the 19th century and was used by the majority of ships as the reference meridian. The Royal Observatory, where the meridian is located, was built in 1675 by King Charles II. However, to visitors who have no interest in the geographical significance of the location, the Greenwich Line is just but an overpriced park and the pricey tickets to access the Royal Observatory reaching $15. The additional irony is that the imaginary line runs around the entire globe - not just in this location.

2. Leicester Square

Signs in Leicester Square.

The Leicester Square is a pedestrianized square located in West End, London and was named after the Leicester House. The area is marketed as “London’s home of entertainment” due to the presence of several cinemas located in the square whose red carpet premiers attract global stars of the big screen as well as many casinos including the 93,000-square-foot Hippodrome Casino. The square has a rich history as it was established in 1670 making it over 300 years old. However, due to its overhyped reputation, Leicester Square is an overcrowded and noisy location where visitors find it hard to find a calm place to relax and wind down.

1. Madame Tussaud's

A map showing Madame Tussaud's.

Madame Tussaud's is a wax museum located along Marylebone Road in London and represents the oldest of several museums bearing the same name. With the original museum being opened in 1835, the Madame Tussaud enjoys rich history and heritage with some of the wax sculptures dating to the early 19th century and done by the museum’s founder, Marie Tussaud. The museum attracts thousands of visitors who come to see the many replicas of historical figures and modern celebrities including John Lennon, Walt Disney, Nicki Minaj, Charlie Chaplin, Mahatma Gandhi, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite its reputation, tickets to access the museum are quite expensive with adult tickets fetching as much as $90, a relatively high price to see wax mannequins.

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