The big Instagram lie: What these places are really like

There's been an awful lot of hubbub over the last week or so over how Instagram is all a big lie.

Many of you may be familiar with the fine art of employing just the right photographic filter to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary - and then pass it off as the ordinary.

For those previously unaware, the slightly cynical skill was laid bare this week in the confessions of an incredibly photogenic, preposterously popular Instagram-a-holic teenager who decided to slag off the unhealthy, shallow culture promoted by the photo-sharing app, and pack it all in.

Well, yoga shots and tousle-haired beach snaps aren't the only facet of existence to experience the Instagram treatment in a bid to garner as many likes and as much social media kudos as possible. Famous travel sites from around the world have also fallen victim.

From cropping out the scores of selfie-sticks to filtering appearances beyond recognition, tricks of the trade used by travellers to ensure their trips look as enviable as possible only really mean one thing. You shouldn't choose your holiday on Instagram. You'll only end up disappointed.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Romanesque tower may provide a fascinating insight into the architectural quirks of a 650-year-old building - but it also provides a fascinating insight into how funny perspective photos need to stop.

The Instagram

The reality


The Great Wall of China

The beautiful seclusion of an ancient barrier that spans 13,000 miles of one of the world's largest countries - or "let's all visit this bit".

The Instagram

The reality

E4AFYX crowd of tourists on The Great Wall  Badaling  China

Tourists on the Great Wall, Badaling, China Photo: Alamy


Judging from what's within the frame, this Norwegian rock formation provides a secluded balcony to the world, ideal for creative, daring and witty selfie ideas. What you can't see is just out of shot, the waiting rabble.

The Instagram


Trolltunga, Norway By: @opplevodda Who would you hike with? ❤

A photo posted by Mitt Norge (@mittnorge) on

The reality

Trolltunga, Norway.

Trolltunga, Norway. Photo: Odda 5750/TripAdvisor

The Mona Lisa

Ok, so not everyone is Beyoncé and Jay-Z. But it takes a power couple of such monstrosity to be afforded so much as an inch of elbow room when viewing this enigmatic smile in the Louvre, Paris.

The Instagram


#davinci #paintings #art #beyonce #monalisa #louvre #leonardodavinci Beyoncé's Mona Lisa smile.

A photo posted by Discovering da Vinci (@discoveringdavinci) on

The reality

E8HAF1 Tourists take photos of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.

Tourists fight to take photos of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Photo: Alamy

The Little Mermaid

The Copenhagen statue sits serene in the city's harbour waters, with nothing for company but her thoughts. Or so it seems. In reality, the poor fairy tale character, in place since 1913, can't hear herself think for all the tourists.

The Instagram

The reality

CC02C7 Group of tourists visiting The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

Group of tourists visiting The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. Photo: Alamy

The Taj Mahal

The majesty of the marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna River in the Indian city of Agra is undeniable. Now, if there was only enough room to take a photo.

The Instagram

The reality

Tourists photograph the Taj Mahal.

Tourists photograph the Taj Mahal. Photo: Alamy

The Pyramids at Giza

This filtered shot makes it seem like the photographer travelled mile after mile by camel to reach the majestic pyramids. But so did all the others, probably.

The Instagram

The reality

Tourists queue outside the Pyramids of Giza.

Tourists queue outside the Pyramids of Giza. Photo: Alamy

Machu Picchu

You'll notice the Instagrammed version of the Peruvian ruins doesn't feature someone planking on a rock.

The Instagram

The reality

Crowds of tourists in front of the entrance to Machu Picchu.

Crowds of tourists in front of the entrance to Machu Picchu. Photo: iStock


Leg room on planes only exists on social media.

The Instagram


On my way to Europe for a few days. #britishairways #firstclass #rome

A photo posted by John O (@iamnotyeezy2dayru) on

The reality

What's the more likely scenario?

What's the more likely scenario? Photo: Alamy

Angkor Wat

A massive site of temples where you can find a quiet place to reflect on its ancient history? Sure, if you judge by the Instagram photos. However, in actual fact, it's one of Southeast Asia's most popular destinations.

The Instagram


The monk makes the picture ☺️

A photo posted by Deidre Nieves (@dpnieves) on

The reality


See also: The world's 10 most Instagrammed placesSee also: Why travellers should ditch social media

The Telegraph, London