Tourist traps that are worth the crowds
(Photo: Blue Lagoon Spa, Iceland via Shutterstock)
The best travel experiences happen when you get off the beaten track, but that doesn't mean all so-called tourist traps are no-nos. While many are overcrowded and underwhelming, a choice few are worth their inherent hassles. So here are some sites we love in spite of ourselves, crowds and all.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
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One of the most visited tourist attractions in Iceland, this geothermal spa lives up to its billing as "an unforgettable opportunity to energize with the forces of nature." Set in an isolated lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula (about 40 minutes from Reykjavik and 20 minutes from the international airport in Keflavik), the Blue Lagoon attracts many visitors who've either just arrived or are about to depart the country—not to mention the many others looking for a way to spend a layover en route to continental Europe. We can't think of a better cure for jet lag or stiff muscles than this unique spa. And the crowds? Not much of a factor. When you're this relaxed, it's hard to even care.
(Photo: Gardens at Versailles via Shutterstock)
Palace of Versailles, France
It may have started as a mere hunting lodge, but Louis XIV's royal residence is no rustic retreat. This ode to opulence boasts too many must-see features to list in full, but among the highlights are the gilded Hall of Mirrors, the gardens and Grand Canal, and 11 ornate fountains. Nearly six million people visit Versailles every year. Count us among those willing to stand in line for the privilege—and we don't regret a minute spent gawking at this historic marvel.
(Photo: Colosseum, Rome via Shutterstock)
Completed in the year 80 CE, Rome's most famous tourist attraction might not have made this list if we'd compiled it before 2010. But now that the gladiator tunnels below the amphitheater have been renovated and opened to the public for the first time in modern history, we think the Colosseum is well worth the trip. Are we not entertained? Oh yes, we are.