The most disappointing travel experiences

We all have our share of disappointing travel stories when something just didn’t work out or our expectations didn’t match the reality. I have few such experiences which were unpleasant or uneventful, much different than I had imagined, and I am sharing them here today.

Morskie Oko, Poland

Morskie Oko is a stunning lake located in the middle of Tatra National Park on the south of Poland. I had seen some lovely photos of the area and couldn’t wait to go and explore myself. We eventually made it there on a long weekend 1.5 years ago. It was the first of May, and we did a long hike (about 2 hours) in the drizzling rain to go to the lake. Much different to what I had imagined, most of the hiking trail was paved, and there were no views to speak of, due to the bad weather. It was drizzling and rather cold. I still hoped that the lake and the surroundings would be worth the uncomfortable hike.

However, when we got to the top, the view of the famous lake was like this:


Not only was the lake still frozen, the mountains surrounding the lake were barely visible! It just looked like a giant frozen field engulfed in clouds.

When normally in clear weather, the lake looks like this. 

I was so disappointed that I couldn’t even bear to be in the area for longer than 5 minutes. We walked down to the entrance with disappointed faces, wet clothes, and cold feet. All I wanted to do was go back to the hotel, change into warm and dry clothes and relax.

The road to Morskie Oko lake

Athens, Greece

It wasn’t the weather that we had problems with in Athens. It was just that I found it to be very overrated. Besides few interesting and historical monuments, there wasn’t much to see. It was just a huge, sprawling city, like any other. I didn’t find any charm or uniqueness to it. I didn’t think that it was worth flying to Greece just for Athens.



Greek islands are a different story however. What would be good for me is seeing Athens for a day before going to one of the islands for relaxing. Besides, it was winter when we visited and about 4 or 5 degrees. With no internal heating in the apartment that we rented, I ended up having the worst flu I had in years right after returning to Poland. The circumstances were just unfavorable; and I was far from impressed with the city itself.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Okay, I am sure not everybody agrees with this opinion of mine, but I found Amsterdam to be very overrated. I visited during Easter break this year, and it was very crowded, noisy and just made me restless. I had heard on and on from people how amazing Amsterdam is, but I had a different experience. I just thought it was terribly crowded. Of course not everything was bad; I loved wandering around the canals and checking out the fantastic architecture, but I think it just wasn’t worth the hype for me.
I wouldn’t spend more than one day in Amsterdam if I were to ever go back to the Netherlands. What I found the best about our Netherlands trip were the places just on the outskirts of Amsterdam; namely Alkmaar town and a small village near seaside called Bergen. In fact we were so in love with those lovely, beautiful places that we were thankful we decided to book our stay outside the city as everything was fully booked in Amsterdam at the time. I found the Dutch villages to be very pleasant, well-kept and just beautiful. A world of difference from Amsterdam if you ask me.

Experience in Georgia

This wasn’t due to the fact that Georgia didn’t meet my expectations; it was primarily due to the circumstances that led me to cut short my 4 day planned vacation to just 2 days and the rainy/cloudy weather the ENTIRE time I was there! Georgia is a gorgeous, off the beaten path country that I had looked forward to going for the whole year, but then when I went there, it was rainy and cloudy the whole time! Luckily we had rented a car and a Georgian driver who showed us around.

On the popular scenic dam that was lost in the clouds in Georgia

We could continue sightseeing despite the rainy weather due to that, but it was a shame that I traveled to such a fascinating area (Caucasus region), only to barely see some of the beautiful mountain peaks, villages and fascinating scenery due to the hovering clouds. I still managed to see Kutaisi city and the surroundings and a beautiful mountain town called Mestia in the beautiful and faraway Svaneti area in those two days.

Clouds, clouds everywhere

I would go back to Georgia in a heartbeat and it is undeniably worth a visit, but the weather was really not on my side this year! It was still a very memorable experience but I remember that grave feeling of disappointment bad weather brings you when traveling in a beautiful place.

Despite these experiences, I don’t regret traveling to these places as I learned lessons and made memories regardless. I would do a few things differently (like extensive checking of weather and right season to visit!) in the future, but I consider these valuable experiences anyway.

//Do you have such bad/disappointing travel stories yourself? 




44 thoughts on “The most disappointing travel experiences

  1. Fantastic blog, Pooja. I haven’t been to that lake in the Tara Park but just driven through the area. It was nice. I totally agree about Amsterdam but almost 100% of people love the place so I guess we are exceptions. I’ve never been to Athens but I absolutely loved Georgia.

    1. Hi Dai. You’re right – some places in Europe are just overrated and I don’t get the hype. Amsterdam was one of those cities for me. Athens has some cool places of interest, but otherwise it’s just a big, normal city. I much prefer the idyllic Greek islands, Dai. How is your Friday going?

      1. Hi Pooja. One of my favourite cities in Europe is Luzern in Switzerland. Maybe it’s because I love mountains and lakes but almost everywhere in Switzerland is scenic for me. I wish I could afford to live there.

  2. I was in Athens in summer time and found it one of the most unpleasant cities I’ve ever been to. I agree with you that Amsterdam’s downtown is overcrowded and noisy. But… Firstly, if you’re prepared for it, then its much less an issue. Secondly, some people actually seek the crowds. Finally, as with most other tourist-trodden cities, if you go left where the crowds go right, you’ll find the authentic charm of Amsterdam with ease. It sure helps to have a local to guide you off the beaten path.

    1. I didn’t dislike everything about Amsterdam, there were some nice things. Maybe we didn’t have the time to find authentic places away from the crowds, but I just thought the city was too overrated. I very much loved other smaller towns near Amsterdam though. Thanks for reading and commenting, Michael! 🙂

  3. I remember smelling weed everywhere in Amsterdam. I certainly have come across similar unpleasant experience such as the overcrowding Venice. 🙂 Luckily I found a way to get away from the crowd.

  4. Hi Pooja, sorry for your disappointments, I can totally relate. This summer I went on a hike which was a bit difficult all to get to the top to find barely any view. Everything was blocked off by trees that weren’t maintained!

  5. Great post Pooja! I’m sorry to hear Amsterdam was a disappointment for you. For me it was the opposite – a pleasant surprise.

    1. Amsterdam is liked by so many people that I am not surprised you found it pleasant 🙂 For me, it was nice but not worth the hype it gets. I think I should do a blog post on the most pleasant surprise destinations as well 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting, Urska!

  6. Hey Pooja, I hope your weekend is better than the travel reports you have posted here. Disappointment can spoil a short trip but I guess that we can’t expect to be totally blissful and happy on every trip, particularly if you are travelling often. I go away for longer trips less often and so when I go, I don’t mind if it rains as it means less people are out and about, so less crowds, but also may mean you don’t get to see the views you might see on a sunny day. And – I am someone who doesn’t mind the rain as I don’t see much of it, so it is self-evident that it skews my views. When I was in the Netherlands the closest I got to Amsterdam was the airport and the smaller towns have SO much more charm than how you describe Amsterdam, so I am thankful I didn’t waste my time there. Georgia does sound fascinating and sorry the lake was all foggy and miserable. It still looks lovely to me! And Athens just got crossed off my list, not that I was planning to stay there very long anyway, but your tip was invaluable advice.

    1. Hi Amanda! You’re right – disappointments are part of the deal especially when traveling so often. Regarding weather, longer trips are indeed a better bet because if it’s the right season, the clouds and rain tend to disappear in few days/hours. I was quite unlucky in Georgia- as right after I left (after 2 days), my friends had 2 more days of clear weather and sunshine 🙂 I flew to Athens just for Athens last winter and I thought it wasn’t worth it- however if you’re flying off to some Greek island ultimately, maybe one day checking out the historical places in Athens is worth it. Thank you for your lovely comment, Amanda! 🙂

  7. Disappointments are an unfortunate part of travel, but they make for some good stories sometimes, don’t they? 😉 Totally agree with you about Athens – with even the Acropolis being somewhat underwhelming. We enjoy the city, but only because we have some family living there that give us a more local feel for it. Hubby also felt the same way about Amsterdam, but enjoyed Rotterdam a lot! As for our disappointments – I’d say our worst one was actually seeing the northern lights in Finland and being bored after 5 minutes because they were not so exciting (as is often the case apparently). Can you believe it?!

    1. Disappointments indeed teach you a thing or two, don’t they. So it wasn’t just me who thought Athens was overrated! I just didn’t find any charm in the city. However, it’s SO different from the Greek islands that are always, always worth visiting.
      Wow you were bored after 5 minutes of Northern lights in Finland 😀 Although to be honest, I don’t remember standing there and watching it for longer than 5 minutes myself either, when I was studying and living in Finland! I remember one incident when it was too cold to just continue watching outside – I saw only greens when I was living there! What about you guys? Was it colorful? Few other times, I saw the display when walking or doing chores, far off on the sky from my apartment window.

      1. Yes they’re often just a bet, I think the folks who live up there all year round see the most beautiful ones.. but often people who travel just to see them might get disappointed with the results or no show at all :/ Happened to my friend who went to Iceland this month.

  8. I can totally understand your disappointment with visiting Greece. Although I loved my experience visiting the country 2 years ago, I also found it a bit overrated. It was a bit dirty and not that “romanticly perfect” as many described.

  9. Yes, yes, yes! Totally agree with Amsterdam. All my friends are dying to go there, and I honestly don’t understand why (well.. I kind of do – I just think there are so many other places that are less touristy and so much more atmospheric!). I went there a couple of years ago with some friends and, even though it’s a nice place, like you, I thought it was seriously overrated.

    1. Yes right?! It’s the same with my friends. Everybody has Amsterdam in their itinerary and I don’t really get it.. But I guess each to their own 🙂 Not to say that the Netherlands is not worth visiting, it’s just that I found Amsterdam in particular very overrated, just like you did!

  10. Hi Pooja, I sent you an email asking you to re-send the mystery photos, as I have had a pc/phone crash and your email seems to be missing. Is it possible to re-send. I would love to post another of the photos you sent me in the next week. I am leaving this message here as I am unsure if the email I sent last week reached you. Many thanks, Amanda

  11. Cool blog post. I haven’t been to Athens but I have heard something similar from a few people. I have been to Thessaloniki and the Halkidiki area and absoultely loved my experiences​​ there – it didn’t feel overly touristy at all. That may also be because we went in September, which is more of an off season, but either way, I definitely recommend!

    1. Hi, thank you! 🙂 Yes, I’ve heard about Halkidiki area and seen photos from there. Looks idyllic. I have actually just been to Crete besides Athens in Greece, but I know many people who have been to other islands and heard their experiences. The thing might be that Greece has such amazing islands and nature, that Athens just pales in comparison.. That’s what I thought. 🙂

  12. Interesting post Pooja. As for me well pretty much all the time i was lucky with weather, views, hotels. I remember in August we were heading to Plitvice Natural Park in Croatia and it was raining raining raining and i was praying it will stop because with rain i could never really enjoy that huge park… we had to walk for like 3 hours… so it wont be that pleasurable with rain!! But fortunately when we arrived there…the rain stopped & we had amazing sun… i could enjoy that well known park and take breathtaking pictures ❤

    1. Hi Maja! So lucky that you could finally enjoy some sun in the national park. I had a similar situation in Crete recently- we were in Balos beach but it was so cloudy! We couldn’t even see the bright blue color of the lagoon properly – but we waited, waited and waited on the beach and after 3 hours of waiting on the beach, we had the most incredible sunshine and the view of blue, crystal clear water! ❤ To me weather is very important when traveling – especially to such coastal places.

  13. It’s so refreshing to see a post with such honest opinions. I’m sorry you had some less than stellar experiences but I can completely relate as we have had a few ourselves. We spent a lot of time and money to get to the Blue Mountains in Sydney but it was a rainy, cloudy day and we could barely see anything. Similar situation in Spain where out of the blue it started pouring cats and dogs. Thankfully though that ended as quickly as it started and we at least were left with an umbrella souvenir 😉

    I personally loved Greece but agree with you that a trip to Athens alone will not cut it. And I also completely second your opinions about Amsterdam. It was one of the most picturesque places we have ever visited (Seriously! I can’t believe half the pictures we have from that trip are real. And this is without any attempts at editing whatsoever). But somehow I was left pretty underwhelmed. Then again it may be because I fell ill while I was there and one of my major plans fell through so I was left disenchanted.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Diya. I can completely empathize with you on the disappointing experiences you had when traveling. Phew there are actually more people than I thought who found Amsterdam underwhelming. I just don’t get the hype about it – but maybe that’s just because I prefer nature and smaller towns much more than big cities for traveling. It’s also a case about expectations – I was in Sri Lanka last year, and since I hadn’t expected any crystal clear water or pristine beaches, I was very pleasantly surprised when we snorkeled on clear and blue water off the coast of Hikkaduwa. Also we found a great secluded beach near Tangalle. So it was pretty awesome as the trip really exceeded my expectations. 🙂

      1. Yes, I’m sure most of the places we find disappointing are because of our own unrealistic expectations.Paris for me was the same as Sri Lanka was for you. I had heard plenty of good but even more bad things about the place so went with zero expectations. I was pleasantly taken by surprise 🙂

    1. I am sure Morskie Oko is very beautiful! The fact that I had a disappointing time there has purely to do with weather 🙂
      Hmm Athens.. well I still don’t think Athens can blow my mind away 🙂 But anyway, liking or not liking a place has mostly to do with our own circumstances, preferences and expectations, and not necessarily with the places alone!

  14. I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience in Amsterdam. I suppose some of it comes down to personal taste really. I just returned from Amsterdam a couple of days ago and wrote a blog post on it. I had a good time, maybe you didn’t know what was on offer in the city? We went on a walking tour that was so informative and really made me appreciate the city a lot more. I hope you have better experiences in future!

    1. I think liking or not liking a place and especially a well-known destination like Amsterdam has largely to do with our own expectations, circumstances and preferences. Maybe I had expected too much from the city, and maybe because of the fact that I generally prefer countrysides and nature much more to crowded cities, I didn’t like it that much. I am so glad you had a great time there! I will check out your blog 🙂

  15. I came across this post, and I have to agree with you on Morskie Oko! I went in April 2017 when it was still snowing– not a surprise that the lake was completely frozen over after a 2-1/2 hour hike! Huge disappointment, but perhaps I’ll go back some day in warmer weather to see it in all of its clear beauty. It’s true that weather circumstances can determine the outcome of the trip, but it shouldn’t necessarily dissuade anyone from hopefully returning some day!

    1. Ooh that’s disappointing indeed! To make all that hike and not get a splendid view. I completely agree that it was just the weather and expectations that made the otherwise stunning lake Morskie Oko an underwhelming experience for us! I should definitely return as I live in the same country hehe.

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