Instagram Vs. Reality: What These Popular Attractions Really Look Like In Person

When looking for inspiration for your next trip, there’s a good chance that you’re going to turn to social media or at least the world wide web to help you decided where you want to go and which attractions you want to see.

The problem is that those perfect photos of monuments and landmarks don’t always show the full picture, and it might end up looking a little different when you arrive.

The Leaning Tower Of Pisa

leaning tower of pisa fails
Photo Credit: Instagram / @penn_e & Flickr / Barney Moss
Photo Credit: Instagram / @penn_e & Flickr / Barney Moss

Standing at 183 feet tall, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a historic monument that’s perfect for taking those “look I’m holding up the Leaning Tower” selfies that we all love so much, but the building itself is often said to be a tad…underwhelming according to tourists.

The Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower France instagram vs reality
Photo Credit: Flickr
Photo Credit: Flickr

You want that perfect shot of you having a picnic in the park next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris or an amazing picture of the view from the top, but with the amount of time you’ll spend waiting in line and the number of people who are also looking for their perfect picnic opportunity, you’re better off taking the photo from afar.

The Pyramids Of Giza

Pyramids of giza view from pizza hut
Photo Credit: Flickr / Bruno Girin & Reddit / elliedstapler
Photo Credit: Flickr / Bruno Girin & Reddit / elliedstapler

If you take your photos from the right angle, it’s easy to believe that the Great Pyramid of Giza is tucked far away in the desert away from civilization, but the pyramids are actually far closer to the city of Giza and the millions of people who inhabit it than you’d expect.

The Mona Lisa

the mona lisa at the louvre
Photo Credit: Instagram / @natalie.engelbrecht & Twitter
Photo Credit: Instagram / @natalie.engelbrecht & Twitter

It’s basically the painting you have to see if you’re going to go to the Louvre, but you’re going to need a good zoom lens if you plan to get an up-close look at the Mona Lisa. You can also expect Lisa to look a little smaller than you might have thought.

The View From The Empire State Building

empire state building views from the top
Photo Credit: Instagram / @jacob & Getty Images / Robert Machadao Noa
Photo Credit: Instagram / @jacob & Getty Images / Robert Machadao Noa

You and every other person who has seen Sleepless in Seattle wants to meet their true love at the top of the Empire State Building. The view from the top is impressive, and it’s still worth the trip up to the observation deck, but don’t be surprised by the fencing and the crowds you have to elbow your way through to get to the edge.

La Sagrada Familia

real life instagram la sagrada familia
Photo Credit: Instagram & Reddit
Photo Credit: Instagram & Reddit

Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia is considered one of those “must-see” buildings when you’re visiting the city, but there’s no guaranteeing how much you’ll actually be able to see. The basilica has been under construction for over a century, so be prepared for some scaffolding.

The Forbidden City

the forbidden city instagram reality
Photo Credit: Flickr / Baron Reznik & Instagram / @travset
Photo Credit: Flickr / Baron Reznik & Instagram / @travset

It seems the Forbidden City in Beijing isn’t so forbidden after all, considering how difficult it is to find a time to visit when the city isn’t packed full of other tourists.

The Sistine Chapel

sistine chapel real life
Photo Credit: Getty Images & YouTube
Photo Credit: Getty Images & YouTube

There is no world in which we’ll tell you that it’s not worth your time to go and marvel at the beauty that is the Sistine Chapel, just don’t expect to share that beauty with anyone but all the dozens of other people in the room; photos are strictly forbidden.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore in real life
Photo Credit: Flickr / Atibordee Kongprepan & Instagram / @thekentuckymom
Photo Credit: Flickr / Atibordee Kongprepan & Instagram / @thekentuckymom

We’ve all seen the pictures of those giant historical heads that are carved into the side of a mountain in South Dakota, USA, but if you pay a visit to the presidents, you’ll quickly realize their stature is more metaphorical than literal—they’re a lot smaller than the close-up photos show.

The Taj Mahal

the taj mahal real life compared to insta
Photo Credit: Instagram
Photo Credit: Instagram

Built more than 300 years ago, the Taj Mahal is one of India’s most popular tourist attractions and one of the world’s most popular attractions, but that means there’s going to be a lot of people fighting to get a good picture.

If you’re not willing to get up at the crack of dawn (or a little before that), then you’ll have to make peace with the people.

The Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain Rome instagram vs reality
Photo Credit: Instagram / @tradingtravelers
Photo Credit: Instagram / @tradingtravelers

You really can’t go to Rome without tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, but you might need to warm up your throwing arm before you go if you want to be able to toss it over the crowd.

The Grand Bazaar

Istanbul Grand Bazaar photo comparison
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Flickr / Mewok
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Flickr / Mewok

One of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is definitely a must-visit on your trip to Turkey, but be prepared for the fact that it’s not going to be as magical or extravagant as you might expect.

The Blue Lagoon

the blue lagoon iceland real life
Photo Credit: Instagram / @neenamarie & @bluelagoonis
Photo Credit: Instagram / @neenamarie & @bluelagoonis

Arguably the most popular tourist attraction in Iceland, if you’re taking a trip to the Blue Lagoon, you should be prepared for it to not look as…vibrant as you might expect. It’s more of a gray-blue lagoon.

Trolltunga

Trolltunga Norway instagram vs reality
Photo Credit: Flickr / dan.kristiansen & albedo20
Photo Credit: Flickr / dan.kristiansen & albedo20

The view from Norway’s Trolltunga is going to be amazing no matter how many other people are there with you, just don’t expect to be floating on top of the world all by yourself like your favorite Instagram accounts depict.

The Great Wall Of China

The Great Wall of China instagram vs reality
Photo Credit: Instagram / @nathan_ackley & Pinterest
Photo Credit: Instagram / @nathan_ackley & Pinterest

The Great Wall of China spans for miles and miles, but those miles are also filled with people just like yourself who are there to admire its beauty—so don’t expect a solo shot.

Niagara Falls

niagara falls real life
Photo Credit: Flickr / Peter Miller & Pinterest
Photo Credit: Flickr / Peter Miller & Pinterest

Whether you choose to visit the Canadian side or the American side of Niagara Falls, you’re going to be impressed. But you also need to be prepared to get a little (or a lot) wet. Niagara Falls takes the “spray it don’t say it” approach.

Christ The Redeemer

Christ The Reedemer brazil real life photos
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Flickr / Dennis Jarvis
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Flickr / Dennis Jarvis

Do you know how hard it is to get the entirety of a nearly 100-foot-tall statue into a picture from the observation deck below it? When in Rio, your best bet at getting a shot at the full Christ the Redeemer statue is going to be taking it from a distance.

Charles Bridge

charles bridge day and night time
Photo Credit: Instagram / @1511martina & Unsplash
Photo Credit: Instagram / @1511martina & Unsplash

When in Prague, you’re going to want to take a stroll across the Charles Bridge to look at all the statues, but after you bump elbows with a few hundred other people doing the same thing, you might consider taking a different bridge back across the water.

Manneken Pis

manneken pis
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Flickr / diamond geezer
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Flickr / diamond geezer

You’ve probably seen photos of the bronze statue of the little naked boy urinating in Brussels, but many people don’t realize just how little he is. The statue itself only stands at 24 inches tall, and it’s tucked into a street corner.

Hobbiton

the shire new zealand set
Photo Credit: Flickr & Instagram
Photo Credit: Flickr & Instagram

If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings and you’re taking a trip to New Zealand, you’re going to want to take a trip to the Shire, or at least the Hobbiton set. What you don’t realize is that the set is incomplete, a little small (even by hobbit standards), and you can’t actually enter those little buildings.

The Gates Of Heaven At Pura Lempuyang

gates of heaven bali temple
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @gabicarvalhogb
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @gabicarvalhogb

The most popular type of photo you’ll see taken at the Gates of Heaven at Bali’s Pura Lempuyang temple features the perfect reflecting pool next to the gates, but when you get to the gates it’s a different story. That reflecting pool doesn’t actually exist. It’s still worth the more than 1000 steps up to the top, but the pool you’re expecting is actually the result of strategic use of puddles, or photoshop.

Figure Eight Pools

figure eight pools sydney
Photo Credit: Instagram
Photo Credit: Instagram

Australia’s Figure Eight Pools, located south of Sydney, make for a great picture as long as you don’t get injured or swept away by the huge waves in the process. The pools are considered to be a dangerous spot, yet tourists still flock to the pools to get their perfect picture, so you might want to rethink the trek.

Venice Canals

venice canals gondola ride
Photo Credit: Instagram
Photo Credit: Instagram

If you’re looking for the perfect romantic outing with your partner while in Venice, you’re obviously going to think of taking a gondola ride through the canals, but remember not to get your hopes up too high. The water isn’t going to be crystal clear, there’s going to be other people on the canals with you, but you still get to be in Italy! Focus on that.

The Little Mermaid

the little mermaid copenhagen
Photo Credit: Flickr / Jim Nix & Pinterest
Photo Credit: Flickr / Jim Nix & Pinterest

If you want to be part of Ariel’s world while in Copenhagen, you’re going to pay a visit to The Little Mermaid statue that pays tribute to Hans Christian Andersen. Like the Manneken Pis in Brussels, be prepared for this bronze mermaid to look a little smaller than you expected, and be ready to elbow your way through the masses.

Angkor Wat

angkor wat siem reap cambodia
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @lucaspaulobarbosa
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @lucaspaulobarbosa

Temples are meant to be a place of quiet reflection, and if you’re taking a trip to Cambodia you’re almost definitely going to pay a visit to Angkor Wat, but don’t expect to be able to find many peaceful quiet moments.

The Spanish Steps

spanish steps rome instagram vs reality
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @carolneves13
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @carolneves13

The Spanish Steps are the perfect place to get that quintessential Instagram photo showing what a fabulous time you’re having in Rome, but if you don’t want anyone else having a great time in the background you should aim for a sunrise photoshoot.

Machu Picchu

machu picchu peru climb
Photo Credit: Instagram & YouTube
Photo Credit: Instagram & YouTube

Arguably the number one reason that people plan a trip to Peru, Machu Picchu is a once in a lifetime experience. Unfortunately, due to it being such an incredible experience, that also means that you and every other person on earth want to experience it so don’t expect to be by yourself at the top.

Big Ben

big ben construction
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Reddit
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Reddit

If you’ve paid a visit to London’s Big Ben any time since 2017 you were probably a little disappointed to find out that the building is actually under construction and is covered in scaffolding.

Shipwreck Beach

shipwreck beach navagio greece
Photo Credit: Instagram
Photo Credit: Instagram

Greece’s Navagio Beach, also known as Shipwreck Breach or “Smugglers Cove” is the perfect place to live out all of your Mamma Mia fantasies while on your trip to Greece, as long as you’re okay with a few extra ensemble members in the background of your photos.

The Brooklyn Bridge

brooklyn bridge instagram vs reality
Photo Credit: Instagram / @thewilliamanderson & Pinterest
Photo Credit: Instagram / @thewilliamanderson & Pinterest

Located in what’s known as the city that never sleeps, it should come as no surprise that it would be a rare sighting to find the Brooklyn Bridge completely empty of cars, bikers, or tourists on foot regardless of what time of day you go. You can learn to edit people out of the background or use your imagination to pretend there’s no one else.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

plitvice national park croatia
Photo Credit: Instagram / @kyrenian & @nonexistent_woman
Photo Credit: Instagram / @kyrenian & @nonexistent_woman

Other than to see the filming locations for Game of Thrones, one of the main reasons people visit Croatia is for the beautiful scenery like you’ll see at Plitvice Lakes National Park. What people often forget though is that any photo that has water this perfect has probably had a filter or two added on top.

Parthenon

parthenon acropolis of athens
Photo Credit: Pinterst & Flickr / Wally Gobetz
Photo Credit: Pinterst & Flickr / Wally Gobetz

With over 2 million visitors every year, The Acropolis of Athens is one of Greece’s most visited archeological sites. The Parthenon, dedicated to the Greek goddess of wisdom Athena, is part of the historical sites of The Acropolis. You’d be wise to plan your trip to the Parthenon accordingly if you want to avoid the crowds and get your perfect picture.

Stonehenge

stone henge sunset compared to real life
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Flickr
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Flickr

Considered to be one of the most mysterious places on Earth due to its unknown origin, Stonehenge is a place that people flock to in order to see the stones and speculate about how they got there. No matter how many other people are there with you, it’s still an impressive structure.

Giant’s Causeway

giant's causeway northern ireland
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @delightfully_boho
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @delightfully_boho

An area of around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns in Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s considered a must-see on your next Irish trip. Due to the myth and fame surrounding the Causeway, you and every other person on a road trip through the Irish countryside is going to stop there.

Mount Fuji

mount fuji instagram vs reality
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Getty Images / Koichi Kamoshida

You might not be interested in actually climbing Japan’s Mount Fuji but that doesn’t mean you’re not interested in taking a great photo. If you want to get the best photo, make sure you check the weather so pesky fog or other weather systems don’t get in your way, and go for a time when the cherry blossoms are blooming.

Times Square

times square empty vs real life
Photo Credit: Imgur & Instagram / @meleksevig
Photo Credit: Imgur & Instagram / @meleksevig

Featured in just about every movie or television show that takes place in New York City, Times Square is one of the places you simply have to go to when you’re visiting the Big Apple. What you don’t want to do is plan to spend too much time there unless you’re interested in rubbing elbows with every other tourist and being blinded by the billboards and bright lights.

Palace Of Versailles Hall Of Mirrors

hall of mirrors palais de versailles
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @abouteurope_paris
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @abouteurope_paris

We all want to feel like royalty every now and then so it’s natural that you’re going to want to pay a visit to the Palace of Versailles while in France, and check out the palace’s Hall of Mirrors. What you didn’t think about, though, is the fact that the mirrors are going to amplify the number of other people who are also in that hall along with you…

James Bond Island

james bond island thailand
Photo Credit: Instagram / @levinna & @hueofmoodd
Photo Credit: Instagram / @levinna & @hueofmoodd

Featured in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, James Bond Island in Thailand — also known as Khao Ping Kan — is a bucket list destination for anyone visiting Phuket. Sadly, Roger Moore isn’t going to be waiting on the island for you, but hundreds of other people will be there to keep you company.

Mount Everest

mount everest instagram vs reality
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @thisadventurelife
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Instagram / @thisadventurelife

Climbing Mount Everest is no small feat by any means, and while it’s not going to be completely overrun by tourists by the time you get to the top of the summit, don’t expect to be the only person. Be prepared to wander a little ways away from the group if you want to get that perfect shot.

The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

hollywood walk of fame instagram vs reality
Photo Credit: Instagram
Photo Credit: Instagram

It’s exciting to think about walking the Hollywood Walk of Fame and getting to spend time amongst your favorite Hollywood celebrities and stars, but many have said they didn’t even realize it was happening. The Walk of Fame stretches for more than 15 blocks and many have stumbled upon it accidentally, plus you’re going to run into a few traffic jams at the most popular stars.