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Thoughts on TripAdvisor’s Best and Worst of Europe May 6, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Travel.
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The results of TripAdvisor’s annual European travel survey are out!  The full list of results can be found by clicking here.

Having been to most of these places on this list by now, I’m going to share some of my thoughts on these results.  Bear in mind, these are based on personal experiences, so I can only speak for myself.

Cheapest/Most Expensive

London was many lists, both good and bad

London was on many lists, both good and bad

The ‘best bargain‘ cities were Prague, Amsterdam and Istanbul.  Having only been to the first two, I must say Prague was very cheap indeed, certainly cheaper than any of the other European cities I have been to.  However, it depends on what you eat.  If you eat at vendors on the side of the street, you can get away with barely spending anything all day, but if you go to touristy restaurants on the main streets, you won’t necessarily be saving all that much, especially if you’re not careful and get ripped off by sneaky waiters who add extra charges!  The local transport is also relatively inexpensive, though you have to buy half-tickets for your luggage, pram etc.  I didn’t notice Amsterdam being particularly cheap, but perhaps those surveyed were talking about weed or prostitute prices!  I did think Rome prices weren’t unreasonable.

The most expensive was London, followed by Paris, then Venice.  When I first arrived in the UK, I was stunned by just how expensive everything was.  You feel like you’re overpaying for everything, largely because the quality does not correspond with what you pay (transport, food etc).  But once I stopped converting, it wasn’t too bad.  With the value of the Pound the way it is now, I don’t think the survey results are totally accurate.  Didn’t find Paris or Venice to be extraordinarily pricey – the one that stood out for me as especially expensive were the cities in Switzerland!  Everything there is ridiculously expensive.  Like 12 Swiss Francs for a medium McDonald’s meal!

Overrated/Underrated

bruges

Bruges was said to be underrated but I thought it was overrated!

The top 3 overrated were Paris, London and Dublin.  I’ve been to all three and I didn’t find them overrated at all!  There are so many things to do in Paris and London (how can you overrate a place with the Louvre or the British Museum?).  I guess it depends on your interests and your expectations.  I had high expectations for Paris and London, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Dublin is much smaller and there’s a lot less things to go, so I can sort of understand where people are coming from, but if you are a lover of writing, you won’t be disappointed.  Dublin’s Writers Museum was a highlight (see my post on it!) when I went, and there’s plenty of other ones I didn’t get to visit.  In my personal opinion, I thought Prague was hugely overrated.  I even devoted an entire post to it.  The other place that disappointed me a bit was Bruges.  People rave about how it is a Medieval city, and while it is pretty, it’s been largely reconstructed and you can see similar architecture in a lot of other places throughout Europe.

The top 3 underrated cites were Krakow, Bruges and Edinburgh.  Having only been to Bruges (which I thought was overrated), I can’t speak for the others.  In my view, the most underrated place I’ve been to is Munich, which was really sensational.  Surprisingly, Berlin was also very good.

Friendly/Least Friendly

This wasn’t a surprise.  The least friendly cities were Paris, London and Moscow.  I haven’t been to Moscow, and I speak English, so I rarely need help in London, but I didn’t find Parisians rude at all.  When we were there, every person we spoke to was extremely friendly and willing to help.  Many even offered help to us voluntarily.  If you’re polite I think you’ll be surprised how friendly French people are.  The only city where I encountered unpleasant behaviour was Prague.  Unfortunate but true.  My Prague post discusses this in some detail.

The friendliest cities were Dublin, Amsterdam and Edinburgh.  The people in Dublin and Amsterdam were quite friendly, but didn’t really stand out for me to be honest.  I thought people in Vienna were quite willing to help.

Dirtiest/Cleanest

Brussels is a dirty place! (and apparently boring too)

Brussels is a dirty place! (and apparently boring too)

London, Paris and Athens were the top 3 dirtiest cities in Europe.  London I can definitely understand.  Whenever I come back from London and blow my nose, it’s guaranteed to be all black.  Same as when I wipe my face with a tissue.  It’s disgusting.  I think it’s the soot in the Tube stations or something.  Paris felt a lot better for me, not sure why it was so high up on the list.  Athens I will be visiting in a month or so (after exams!).  From memory, Brussels could be quite dirty in some parts of the city, and yes, Prague also had that dirty feel to it (seems like I’m picking on Prague, but it’s just the truth!).

The 3 cleanest cities were Copenhagen, Zurich and Stockholm. Haven’t been to any of these yet, but I am heading to Copenhagen and Stockholm after my graduation!

Best Food/Worst Food

Being the pig I am, I was very interested in the results of this one.  The 3 best were Paris, London and Rome, whereas the 3 worst were London, Moscow and Warsaw.  I think this simply shows that it depends where you go to eat.  I’m sure you can find awful food and great food in all of these places, but not everyone knows which places to go.  The only suggestion is to do your research beforehand and find out which restaurants are popular or have good reputations.

Most Romantic

Venice, Paris and Rome rounded out the top 3 of the most romantic city.  I totally agree with the first 2 at least.  I know Paris is supposed to be the most romantic place on Earth, but I was surprised when I visited Venice by how romantic it truly was.  Must be the water in the canals or the narrow pathways or the warm-coloured buildings or something.  Rome just felt like a lot of fun to me, didn’t really see it as a particularly romantic place.

Best Free Attractions

sagrada

La Sagrada Familia is one of the many Gaudi-inspired attractions in Barcelona - free from the outside but have to pay to get in

Another one I agree with.  The top 3 were London, Rome and Barcelona.  Of course, all of these places also have a lot of great attractions you have to pay for, but in general I agree with the top 3.  Most of London’s wonderful museums are free, and in Rome, there are heaps of attractions (churches, monuments, artworks etc) you can just wander up to and take a look at without paying any money.  Barcelona has a lot of weirdo Gaudi buildings there you can take a look at, but honestly I can’t remember there being lots of free attractions (as we had to pay for a lot of them!).

Most Boring

Brussels, Zurich, Dublin.  The top 3 in probably the worst thing to come tops in – boring.  To some extent I agree that Brussels doesn’t have a whole lot going for it in terms of attractions other than Mannequin Pis.  We stayed in the town centre around Christmas though and the streets were quite lively and there were light shows in the town square and so forth, so the couple of days we were there were actually quite pleasant.  But certainly spending more than 2 days there would have been excessive.  As for Dublin, see above.  I thought it was pretty good (because of my love for the great writers from Dublin).

Best and Worst Dressed

Why does anyone care about these categories?  Really, who notices these things.  Usually the worst dressed are the tourists anyway!

There’s a few more other ones, such as Tourist Traps, Night Life, Architecture and Public Parks.

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Comments»

1. Nate - May 7, 2009

You are quite the comedian on this one, I’m still laughing hard at: “I didn’t notice Amsterdam being particularly cheap, but perhaps those surveyed were talking about weed or prostitute prices!” That’s some funny shit and now knowing this, I’m more excited about going there!

So let me get this straight: according to tripadvisor, Paris is overrated, dirty, least friendly, yet romantic, and also most expensive but the food is the best? And then London is also least friendly, dirty, overrated, most expensive, but it has the cheapest attractions and the best food? What a way to confuse people. It just goes to show that one man’s trash is another’s treasure and things are all sorts of things to many people and surveys like this base on prolly a small portion of the millions of tourist who visit europe are pointless. Your own takes on each points proves that.

pacejmiller - May 7, 2009

Hey Nate – I was serious about Amsterdam – not that I would, er, know about the market rates of those things in other jurisdictions…but basic economics tell me that if it’s considered legal, it should be cheaper!

And yeah, my point exactly. The problem with the survey is that the travellers interviewed probably haven’t been to enough cities to make an informed decision…plus everyone has different expectations and experiences, which could vary depending on where you stayed, where you visited, food you ate, budget, how long you were there etc etc. Hence you can have something like London being on the best and worst food list.

2. Laura - May 7, 2009

I care whether the population is well dressed or not… and Paris is the worst dressed city in the world. Women are scruffy, don’t brush their hair, never wear heels in favour of ballerina flats, jeans are five times as common as skirts (which when you find them resemble gypsy sacks). It is straight stereotype that Paris won this – the real, true, only winner is Milan – one hour watching Italian TV vs French TV confirms this. Rant finished!

pacejmiller - May 7, 2009

Really, wow, I guess I was wrong then! But would something like dress sense affect your level of enjoyment in a particular city (I guess even if it’s merely aesthetic) or influence your decision to go there? I had a beef with the category because this was, after all, a survey advising people on travel, not fashion. I just didn’t see the relevance.

3. Nate - May 9, 2009

Hey Pace, I know you were serious, is just that it “reads” very funny. So exactly which Jurisdictions are the ones you know the market share of, well, those kind of products/services? And in your sage opinion which of those jurisdictions offer the best value? This is very crucial information for my own touristic plans around Europe.

pacejmiller - May 9, 2009

Hehe – to be honest I’m not sure! I’m sure the US has plenty of ‘stuff’ flowing over from the border? When I was on holidays in Europe and all we could watch was CNN all they had on was the drug trafficking in Mexico and how it was getting out of hand.

On the other hand, everyone seems to be going to Amsterdam for 2 things – weed and prostitutes – and apparently the prices are reasonable, not that I would know what reasonable is! When I was there I tried the space cake and a weed lollipop but it did absolutely for me. I just got sleepy and fell asleep! But if you do go there make sure you take some time out and visit the Anne Frank house! Preferably when not stoned, though I’m sure it’ll be an excellent experience either way. And the pancake place down the road from there was pretty good too – it’s like a drug, we went there twice in 2 days.


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