Ten of the world's busiest tourist attractions: Are they worth battling the crowds?

The Louvre, Paris

The Mona Lisa may be the world's most famous painting, but going to see it can be a dismal experience. A whopping 10.2 million people visited the Louvre last year, often queuing for over an hour to get a 30-second glimpse of Leonardo's masterpiece. But the world's largest art museum has much more to offer – including Egyptian antiquities, Islamic art and massive collections by French painters. See louvre.fr

Worth it? Yes, but forget the Mona Lisa.

The Acropolis, Athens

Greek tourist board figures reckon more than 2.7 million people traipse around the Ancient Acropolis annually. Which is a lot for some ruined buildings. The Parthenon, in particular, is undeniably beautiful, but the trick is to go with a knowledgeable guide who can bring everything to life. See odysseus.culture.gr

Worth it? Yes, but go early to avoid the selfie-taker hordes.

Times Square, New York City

Times Square is regularly cited as the most visited place in the US, and automated cameras set up to monitor footfall count over 340,000 people per day. The Broadway theatres are based around Times Square, but otherwise it's a sea of neon, adverts and ghastly marketing-based attractions like M&M's World. See timessquarenyc.org

Worth it? Hell no.

The Tower of London, UK

According to Visit Britain's figures, the Tower of London pulled in more than 2.8 million visitors in 2018 – making it the most visited paid attraction in England. The Crown Jewels – the Royal trinketry collection – is often seen as the main draw here, but the Tower turns out to be multi-faceted. It's dotted with mini exhibitions on everything from the young princes imprisoned in the Tower, to the exotic menagerie of animals once kept there. See hrp.org.uk

Worth it? Definitely.

Walt Disney World, Florida

If it's rides you're after, then there are much better rollercoasters elsewhere. But the whole "magic of Disney" schtick extends to much more than thrill rides, and more than 52 million visitors a year seem to agree. The shows, the characters and the slickness are all key parts of the spell. See Disneyworld.disney.go.com


Worth it? Very much dependent on taste.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Speaking of amusement parks where the rides aren't really the point, the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen pulls in 4.8 million visitors a year. That's not a bad effort for what's essentially an oversized fairground. It's far more about the atmosphere, though, particularly in Christmas and the winter months, when food huts and fairy lights bring about that hygge concept the Danes bang on about so much. See tivoligardens.com

Worth it? Ah, go on, you big softie.

The Great Wall of China

Visitor numbers have recently got so out of hand at the Badaling section north of the Great Wall of China near Beijing that they have been capped at 65,000 a day. It's estimated that more than 10 million people visit per year, and it's undoubtedly a scenic stretch, snaking over green hillsides. That said, what makes the Great Wall of China so impressive is its overall length, rather than particularly amazing individual sections. See mutianyugreatwall.com

Worth it? If you're in Beijing anyway, yeah.

Niagara Falls, Canada

Some dubious visitor numbers are bandied about for Niagara Falls, but the local tourist board reckons on 12 million annually. The city of Niagara Falls is tacky as hell, and the multiple ways to see the falls – including the boat ride that goes to the tumultuous spraymaggedon at the bottom – are oversubscribed. But it's still one hell of an impressive sight.

Worth it? Yes, but a tick box day trip is fine.

The Colosseum, Rome

The giant arena is the most potent symbol of Ancient Rome, and pulls in a whopping 7.4 million visitors a year. Fortunately, they no longer release the lions in there, as it would be carnage. The Colosseum's age and size make it hugely impressive, but it should be seen as part of a set with the Roman Forum, Pantheon and the Baths of Caracalla. See il-colosseo.it

Worth it? Yep, as part of a bigger package.

Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

A Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, this is probably not the most impressive shrine in Japan. The architecture is surprisingly simple, but the fact it's surrounded by forest makes it such a welcome diversion in Tokyo. The respite is arguably more important than the sights – although, with 30 million visitors a year, it's not exactly peaceful.

Worth it? Pleasant, but inessential.

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