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10 overated tourist attractions

1. The Louvre, Paris
The Mona Lisa is so famous that when you see her for the first time ('But, it's so small!') you may experience a crushing sense of disappointment. The Louvre is one of the world's largest museums, and although in the past few years, the layout has been streamlined, it's still easy to get art-overload. Instead, cross the Seine and head to the Musée d'Orsay, a beautiful and manageable gallery built in a former train station. It has a fantastic collection of big names from Van Gogh and Degas to Monet and Manet, and a really great restaurant too.
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2. Rome Colosseum
There's no argument that the Colosseum in Rome is one of the man-made marvels of the world. The problem is that everyone wants to see it and the guys dressed as gladiators, lurking outside, make it all a bit fancy-dress-party rather than amazing-historical-monument. Try gorgeous Pula in Croatia instead and the far-less-known Arena, one of the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the world. The architecture is astonishing and so far – no gladiator guys to be seen!
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3. The Beach in Thailand
There was a fair amount of controversy over Koh Phi Phi beach where Alex Garland's 'The Beach' was filmed. The paradise location was bulldozed to expand the beach for the cameras, but nowadays it's crowds of day-tripping sightseers who spoil the peace. Instead head to the Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, a collection of some 50 small islands with coral reefs, white sand beaches and waterfalls. Try Koh Mak island for a more authentic slice of paradise.
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[Gallery: 10 'secret' beaches]


4. Stonehenge
Thanks to the crowds of coach parties, it's often impossible to get any of the sense of awe that you should feel at these ancient standing stones. Oh, and there's a rather stiff entrance fee, so can we suggest instead nearby Avebury as an alternative? Not only is it free, but – unlike Stonehenge – you can also get close to the stones, which encircle the whole village. Avebury is also a world heritage site and an important megalithic monument, just so much less known.
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5. Madeira
With its sub-tropical gardens just a short-haul flight away from the UK, Madeira tends to be overrun by Brits seeking winter sun, which can rather destroy the whole tropical island vibe. If you want to experience stunning botanical gardens, spicy Portuguese cuisine and a distinct lack of Brits abroad, try the Azores instead. Only four hours flight away, the Azores even offer a chance of whale watching.
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6. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Again to Italy, but this time to that piece of architectural trickery that's completely surrounded by tourists taking the all-essential 'pretending-to-hold-the-tower-up' photograph. Beat the crowds and head to Suurhusen in northwest Germany instead, to see its 14th-century church which tilts even more than Pisa's tower! The Suurhusen steeple leans by 1.22 degrees more, and has beaten the leaning tower into the Guinness Book of Records.
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7. Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza in Quintana Roo, Mexico is certainly one of the most dazzling examples of Mayan ruins. However, Elton John has played concerts there and the park is packed with souvenir sellers. Which isn't what you need to connect with your inner Mayan panther God... However, if you travel just a few hours away you'll find Coba, a far-less known ruin, with a stunning pyramid too. It's almost certainly likely to be less busy and you can get into a Mayan mind-set in the jungle.
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8. Disneyland, Florida
I know, I know, for many little ones it's Mickey or nothing. But if the kids aren't mouse-mad, then we'd suggest that for less money you may have more fun beating the heat and the crowds at Aquatica instead. Aquatica is Seaworld's waterpark where you can interact with real creatures, not fake-fur ones and the queues are more than manageable. Their dolphin plunge ride sends you through a tube to a pool of black and white Commerson's dolphins. Amazing!
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9. Fisherman's wharf San Francisco
What may have been a quaint folksy place some 20 or 30 years ago, now feels totally Disney-fied. The Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, one of the loveliest cities on Earth, has been the victim of its own success. So take a 90-minute drive along the glorious coast and visit Santa Cruz instead, whose wharf still feels authentic. You can spot sea lions, and often whales too, whilst enjoying a piping hot bowl of chowder.
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10. Prague
Yes, we know that Prague is beautiful. We know that it's architecturally one of the most stunning places to visit in Europe and that the bridges are breathtaking, but it's completely overrun by tourism and in the summer, it's almost impossible to just stand, stare and enjoy the view. Instead try Bratislava, on the banks of the Danube with its gothic churches, hilltop castles and lovely old town. Far less touristy and almost as beautiful, it's a great alternative.
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