European Tourist Traps

All over Europe I’ve noticed there are two kinds of sights: legitimate cultural and historic sights that thoughtful travelers seek out, and commercial ventures that advertise aggressively and are on sale all over town with various discounts, promotions, and commissions.


It’s fascinating to see how the crowds that patronize these two groups of sights–cultural and commercial–are distinct and different.



Compare the cost. In Amsterdam you can have a fascinating look at the Dutch Resistance Museum filled with actual artifacts from the days the Nazis ruled the Netherlands; a walk through Rembrandt’s studio complete with his personal inventory of curiosities and his best etchings, and then actually print a replica for yourself; be up-close-and-personal with the very best paintings by Vincent Van Gogh–or you can buy a ticket to a tacky torture exhibit with plenty of papier-mâché gore but absolutely nothing historic inside. Choose carefully how to use your precious vacation time and money.

Do you have any warnings about well-advertised but disappointing commercial sights in Europe? How about sights that might be written off as tacky, commercial ventures that are actually a great value?