The Most Overrated Cities In The World, According To Tripadvisor

by SharonKurheg

With the pandemic waning and life for most of us going back to normal, lots and LOTS of people are traveling. Some of us are going to places we know and love, others are going to spots they’ve been dreaming of since the pandemic began, or even before that.

There’s something to be said about revisiting places you’ve gone to before. There’s that sense of familiarity. You know what to expect. It’s usually super easy to plan.

However going somewhere you’ve never been to before has its own set of positives. You get to explore. See something new. Perhaps even find some surprises you never even thought about.

But when you go to a place you’ve never visited before, you may also discover that what you see is nothing like what you expected. My mom used to say that planning for a vacation is sometimes better than the actual getaway. I think she was right. Because something you wind up somewhere and it just doesn’t live up to the image you’ve created in your head. Is it the location’s fault because it really wasn’t “all that?” Is it your fault for building it up so much? Who knows? But the bottom line is that you’re underwhelmed.

If you read Tripadvisor with any sort of regularity, you see complaints all the time that a place wasn’t what people were expecting, and not in a good way. Keywords and phrases pop up, like “disappointing,” “overrated,” and “didn’t meet expectations.”

Radical Storage, a luggage storage network, decided to see which cities around the world got the most complaints on Tripadvisor about being underwhelming. Here’s their methodology:

We collected 826,292 TripAdvisor reviews from the ten most-reviewed tourist attractions in 100 cities around the world based on international visitor numbers from EuroMonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations report and Mastercard’s ‘Global Cities Index’.

Russian cities and Kyiv were removed due to the Ukraine crisis, and Mecca was discounted due to the fact that it is inaccessible to non-muslim travellers. Other cities were discounted if they had less than 1,000 instances of positive and negative comments from tourists. Data was collected on 10/11/22.

To analyze which cities are most overrated versus most underrated, we looked at the occurrence of a set list of keywords to determine the words that are most frequently used to describe a destination. We then worked out a ratio of how often words associated with “overrated” versus “underrated” were being used to rank the destinations.

Important Note: Radical Storage labeled the most underwhelming cities as “Paris Syndrome,” which is a real-life psychological condition that can be experienced by first-time visitors to Paris who are extremely disappointed that the city did not meet their expectations. However for it to truly be labeled as Paris Syndrome, tourists would be experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, depersonalization, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, sweating and/or vomiting.

I’m personally not suggesting someone simply being disappointed in a city is experiencing Paris Syndrome. The symptoms would need to be extreme, and a doctor would need to make the call of an official diagnosis, anyway. But since Radical Storage throwing the name around a lot, I wanted to make that clarification. Anyway, back to disappointing cities.

Top 10 Most Disappointing, Underwhelming & Overrated Cities

10. Beijing, China (9.01% of reviews had negative comments)
9. Shenzhen, China (9.05% negativity in reviews)
8. Ha Long, Vietnam (9.15%)
7. Da Nang, Vietnam (9.17%)
6. Johannesburg, South Africa (9.25%)
5. Guilin, China (9.70%)
4. Denpasar, Indonesia (9.98%)
3. Pattaya, Thailand (10.50%)
2. Jakarta, Indonesia (13.49%)
1. Orlando, United States (19.52%)

Orlando, Florida? Home of Disney World, Universal, SeaWorld? Oof!

OK, seriously, in a way, it’s not at all surprising that Orlando ranked the worst. The prices for the theme parks have continually increased, with significantly less “bang for your buck,” including:

  • The parks (particularly Universal) have been significantly more crowded
  • But because the parks still have worker shortages, not everything is open, or not at full capacity, so waits are longer
  • “Nickel and diming” tourists for upsells (like “skip the line” passes) is occurring on a more frequent basis (oh, and those “skip the line” passes also makes the standby lines go much slower, which means they’re even longer)
  • Particularly at Disney, things that used to be free are either no longer free (i.e. Fast Passes) or non-existent (tram service between park entry and their respective parking lots)

And yet, the parks, and the Visit Orlando and Visit Florida tourism marketing corporations continue to tout what an amazing family vacation you’ll have if you visit Central Florida.

So yeah, I could see how people might feel like they were ripped off if they come here (if you’re new: we’ve lived in Orlando for about 20 years now).

On the other side of the coin, Radical Storage also noted there were several cities that EXCEEDED tourists’ expectations:

Top 10 Cities That Exceeded Expectations

10. Sydney, Australia (95.44% of reviews had positive comments)
9. Auckland, New Zealand (95.45 Positivity in reviews)
8. Nice, France (95.63%)
7. Mexico City, Mexico (95.74%)
6. Lisbon, Portugal (95.74%)
5. Lima, Peru (95.87%)
4. Dublin, Ireland (95.90%)
3. Zurich, Switzerland (96.02%)
2. Brussels, Belgium (96.04%)
1. Budapest, Hungary (96.17%)

Yay, Budapest!

One Final Note: Because Orlando was #1, and not in a good way, one of out local newspapers, Orlando Weekly, wrote an article about The City Beautiful’s poor performance. According to them, Tripadvisor contacted them after their piece was published, with the following statement:

“Radical Storage … has performed its own, flawed analysis using Tripadvisor’s online reviews. Please note, Tripadvisor has not approved the use of these reviews in such a report and as such, our data has been significantly misappropriated. … As the world’s largest travel guidance platform, Tripadvisor views content moderation with the utmost importance, and as such, reviews by our community must be showcased accurately and are not subject to interpretation.”

Take that ask you’d like 😉

Meanwhile, check out this page of Radical Storage’s website for more insight regarding why and how some cities got the ratings they did, as well as a list of the 95 most/least underwhelming cities on their list.

Feature Photo (cropped):

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


NedsKid December 16, 2022 - 7:26 pm

And I’ve had friends chide me for not glowing about Paris when they ask before going themselves for the first time… and agree with me when they return. Some beautiful sites but the aroma (and its causes) leaves a bit to be desired.

I’ve a firm believer one can have a pretty good weekend just about anywhere. I’ve enjoyed even visiting Cleveland, as example. But Orlando…. I’m not a theme park or outlet shopping person and just find visiting the city so tedious. I worked for a company headquartered there for years and had a few direct reports there which caused me at least a visit once a week. So thankful for skipping the line at rental cars now… being behind a British tourist ranting about how they rented a 7-passenger van for their 3 week road trip and have 7 people in their party and there’s no room for their luggage is just…. awful.

CH January 4, 2023 - 12:46 pm

Haven’t visited any of the 10 on the “disappointing” list. Been to Brussels twice (delightful) and will be in Budapest late summer this year. Looking forward to that. As for the rest of the “exceeded” list, some are on our “bucket list.” And regarding Paris, we had a great time there in September 2022. We’ve talked about returning — friendly people, great Metro system, excellent UBER and taxi services, fantastic food and wine and a rich history. All of the famous landmarks were “icing on the cake.”


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