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"Overrated" Travel Destinations You Should Visit

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Venice, Italy
Venice's canals give the city a magical atmosphere.
Photo © Cristian Popescu

The fine line between well-marketed and overrated lies in a different place for each of us. I tend to overlook crowds and tacky souvenir stands, both of which bother most people I know. For me, it's all about being where history happened. If I'm walking the halls where Venetian power brokers once cut their business deals, I don't mind waiting my turn or running the souvenir gauntlet.

And so I present my unscientifically-assembled list of destinations I love, despite their reputations for crowds, tourist traps and unfriendly locals. Your results may vary.

Venice, Italy

While locals tend to be indifferent, at best, to the tourists who flock to their canal-laced city, Venice itself defies description. It's frighteningly easy to lose yourself in Saint Mark's Basilica, looking at gem-encrusted treasures and amazing mosaics, or to start wandering the tiny pedestrian-only alleyways and discover that you're looking into an entirely different world, one bounded and defined by water. In a place where deliveries and even funeral processions take place on waterways instead of roadways, why worry about your fellow tourists?

Tip: Avoid visiting in July and August, if possible, when water levels are low and odors are correspondingly high. Don't expect smiles; tourism revenues keep the city afloat, at least figuratively, but many locals would prefer to live lives sequestered from videocameras and sketchbooks.

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