World's 10 most incredibly cheesy towns you can't help but love

Some places that are outrageously touristy are just awful. The herds destroy any vestige of charm. But other places manage to throw themselves headlong into the cheesefest, go shamelessly kitsch, pull in huge numbers of visitors and still stay majorly appealing. And these 10 are definitely in the latter category…

Salzburg, Austria

You can barely move without encountering some Mozart or Sound of Music-related tat, but Salzburg mercifully has more strings to its bow. The city is undeniably handsome, the surrounding mountains are marvellous for walking in, and weird excursions head to giant salt mines and ice caves. There's just enough real life to keep it from going full pastiche, and the whole glühwein, schnitzels and schnapps thing is rather enjoyable to throw yourself into. See

Salem, US

Salem is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, in the United States. Salem was one of the most significant seaports in early America and much of the city's cultural identity is reflective of its role as the location of the Salem witch trials of 1692 SatNov30OneOnlySalem
iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.

Salem was one of the most significant seaports in early America and much of the city's cultural identity is reflective of its role as the location of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Photo: iStock

About half an hour's drive north of Boston in Massachusetts, Salem was notorious for its witch trials. This has seen it morph into the Halloween capital of the US, with dozens of witch, ghost and horror movie-related attractions. The embrace of all things spooky is so whole-hearted that it's hard to gripe at it – and the excellent Peabody Museum, boat tours and maritime heritage provide sufficient respite. See

Rotorua, New Zealand

Rotorua, New Zealand - March 17, 2015: Presentation in the city of Rotorua, New Zealand, about Maori culture, their customs and traditions. sunmay14covershort - best short breaks - Ute Junker Credit: iStock

Rotorua is the epicentre of Maori hangi experiences. Photo: iStock

Well, it's more eggy than cheesy, but Rotorua trades heavily on its geothermal turbulence. The geysers and steam vents popping up all over the place are celebrated, and harnessed by spas. Rotorua is also the epicentre of Maori hangi experiences – cultural dances and dinners that are very much an acquired taste – but it's a cracking spot for adventure activities, too. Bungy jumping, zorbing and white water rafting are highlights on an extensive action menu. See

Las Vegas, US

Las vegas, USA - June 16, 2012: people visit Fremont Street in Las Vegas, Nevada . The street is the second most famous street in the Las Vegas. Fremont Street dates back to 1905, when Las Vegas was founded. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. Fremont Street, Las Vegas

Fremont Street is the second most famous street in Las Vegas and dates back to 1905, when Las Vegas was founded. Photo: iStock

The ultimate cheesy destination gets incredibly draining after a couple of days, but approach it with a sense of giddy awe, and that first 48 hours or so can be magnificent fun. The ludicrousness of, well, everything is addictive. A giant replica Eiffel Tower! A rollercoaster running through a hotel! A reconstruction of Venice's Grand Canal! But there's also some serious quality amongst the chintz – especially when it comes to the Cirque du Soleil shows. See

Whitby, England

Whitby has that touch of faded, seaside glamour about it – slightly forlorn-looking amusement arcades and an infestation of fish and chip shops. The hokey factor comes from being the place where Dracula landed, and the town plays host to more than its fair share of goths. But there's a twinkle of magic amongst the grit – especially with the boat trips on the harbour and the atmospheric ruins of Whitby Abbey high on the hilltop. See


Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos - November 13, 2014 : Unidentified tourist enjoy tubing in Song River at Vang Viang, Laos. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. Ben Groundwater's six travel experiences I regret. tra3-online-regret

Vang Vieng is known as an adventure tourism destination for activities such as river tubing. Photo: iStock

Vang Vieng was once hideous. When it was overrun with backpacker bars, and drunks tubing down the river, it was something of a hellscape. But now the party scene has been shifted on, doing the river tubing sober is a delight, and Vang Vieng has reinvented itself as an adventure tourism hotspot. It's still very much just for tourists, but those tourists are now climbing cliffs, trekking and riding mountain bikes rather than using "party" as a verb.

Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls,NY Aerial Panoramic satmar7cover
reuse permitted for print and online

The hotel and restaurants are a bit 'iffy' but Niagara Falls itself is amazing. Photo: Vito Palmisano

Make no mistake, the town of Niagara Falls is a garish nightmare with massive hotels, iffy restaurants and all manner of corporate branding. But the falls themselves are genuinely awesome, and the range of ways to see them – from a high tower, on a helicopter flight, along a walkway that goes behind the falls, on a boat that heads into the spray at the base – is fabulous. See

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov at dusk

Cesky Krumlov at dusk. Photo: iStock

This gorgeous Bohemian town is undoubtedly way too popular for its own good, and in the summer months, its narrow, cobbled streets heave with daytrippers. But it isn't half beautiful. Set in the loop of the Vltava river, the town is topped by a painted renaissance castle. It also does splendid (and cheap) beers, best consumed in a riverside bar after a leisurely rafting trip downstream. See

Negril, Jamaica

Negril is a long, thin resort town that spreads for several kilometres along Jamaica's east coast, and as such it should be a soulless affair with low quality restaurants and bars aimed purely at tourists. There is some of that, but there is genuine local character too. Many of the bars are laughably ramshackle and basic, but that's where the authenticity that saves Negril comes in. So many of the nightly parties are not aimed at visitors. See

Key West, US

Key West, Florida.

Cheesy but great: Key West, Florida. Photo: iStock

Right at the end of the Florida Keys, Key West is the sort of place where men in Hawaiian shirts and sandals sit on bar stools, drinking margaritas, all day. And you know what? That's kinda great. There's plenty to see in the town – including Harry Truman's 'winter White House' and the six-toed cats that inhabit the former home of Ernest Hemingway. But it's the let it all hang out vibe that makes Key West loveable. See

See also: Absolutely terrifying: Australia's ten scariest experiences

See also: The ten most beautiful small towns in Australia you must visit