Two of the most annoying things to contend with on a holiday, are long queues and hordes of people. Doesn’t the idea of a getaway mean getting away from crowds?! If non-conventional sightseeing is your idea of fun, then don’t be afraid to give the must dos a miss. Some may consider it sacrilegious to do so, but hey, remember it’s your holiday, and you can go where you please! We’ve shortlisted below some cliched destinations along with suggested alternatives that are less mundane.
1. Ellis Island
New York, USA
Unless your ancestors were immigrants who landed on this island, you can give it a skip! Yes, the Statue of Liberty does stand here, but you can get a pretty good view of it from the shores of Manhattan. Your pictures will turn out just as good, and no one will be able to tell that you cheated!
A better alternative: Make your way instead to Soho, the ‘bohemian meets chic’ district of New York. Visit a delicatessen for some lip smacking cheesecake. Soho is also home to several galleries with quirky art, modeling agencies, boutiques and antique shops. Have a ball!
2. Ancient Olympic Stadium
The stadium has huge historical importance, but do you know – it’s a ruin! If you’re sports crazy or a history buff, do go there. For others, the reaction maybe a bit like, “Huh?”.
A better alternative: Close to the Acropolis, is the neighbourhood of Ananfiotika. The suburb is a visual delight and an architectural marvel. Houses are painted in stark white, a sharp contrast to the vibrantly coloured bougainvillea lining the streets. Ananfiotika should be on your radar also for the magnificent view one gets of the Parthenon, and the whole city.
3. Leaning Tower of Pisa
The tower is one of the wonders of the world, but once you’re done with taking photographs, there’s not much to do.
Driving down or taking a train ride all the way from a main station in Italy, can be a pain and time consuming. Is it worth it?
A better alternative: We suggest a trip to Spello. A three hour drive from Rome will take you to Spello, a town in the Umbria region of Italy. The residents here seem to be born with green fingers. From the windows of rustic, amber coloured houses hang flower pots overflowing with blooms of every possible shade. The surrounding valley is verdant and lush too. Combine this with the region’s famous food and wine, and you have a wonder on your hands!
Do you really want to spend your precious time looking at stones arranged in a circle? Not only will you have to shell out £15 for entrance to this ancient burial site, you also need to book tickets in advance.
A better alternative: We suggest heading off to one of the prettiest villages in England. Hambleden, in Buckinghamshire is the stuff dreams are made of. Cottages with thatched roofs, a church where the bell tolls, an old fashioned bakery, and even a gurgling brook with clear water! It doesn’t get more quintessentially English than this. Just the place to enjoy a pot of Earl Grey with some dainty sandwiches.
5. The Merlion
The half-lion, half-fish statue has inspired many a souvenir from t-shirts, mugs, coasters to key chains. Just buy a memento, for the real life thing may leave you a bit disappointed.
A better alternative: The Mandai Mangroves, on Singapore’s northern tip is a secret not known to many. The green retreat is a welcome oasis in an otherwise sterile city. A kayaking tour through the mangroves will take you past traditional wooden huts, while you spot local wildlife on the shore and listen to squawking birds soaring above. If it’s peace you’re looking for, this is the place.
Beautiful it is, but Interlaken has been done to death by Hindi movies. Let’s take our song and dance someplace new!
A better alternative: Gstaad, nestled in the Swiss Alps, is right out of a story book. Wooden chalets, placid lakes, grassy meadows complete with cows grazing, and cowbells tinkling. And yes, in the background mountain peaks carpeted with snow. Don’t let Gstaad’s rural appearance fool you. It is a favorite haunt of fashionable jet-setters, and every major luxury brand has a store here. A perfect mix of quaint and modern!
Phuket can get extremely overcrowded, with tourists jostling for space on the beach. Hotels and water sports are overpriced, and the streets are usually jam packed.
A better alternative: Koh Lanta is a little haven tucked a few hours away from Phuket. There are two ferry crossings en route, and your car can be driven directly on to the large barge to get across! The clean, white-sand beaches of Koh Lanta are to die for. Relax, sunbathe, with no one breathing down your shoulder. A Nature Reserve on the island is worth going to. Choose from modest accommodation to plush fancy resorts. They’re all here!
8. Eiffel Tower
If you survive the thronging hordes, pick-pockets and serpentine ticket queues, don’t get too excited. Parisian weather plays spoil-sport often. You may get to the top only to find mist and clouds as view, not the spectacular city skyline you’d hoped for. Better to view the structure from ground level, for free!
A better alternative: We recommend a walk through Montmartre. Sample a croissant at a patisserie, watch skilled painters create a masterpiece on their canvas or get a portrait made for a few euros. The artistic, informal atmosphere will surely captivate you.