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12 Places You Only Need to See Once

Some destinations leave a positive impression so strong that we want to go back and see them again and again (or even relocate our lives to be there long-term). Others, however, are so disappointing that we wonder why we even went in the first place.

In this slideshow, we look at the destinations that fall somewhere in between. We surveyed a mix of staff and readers to find out which places they felt were worth seeing, but not more than once. They came back with some thought-provoking and sometimes controversial choices (Paris, anyone?). Read on to check out their picks.

1. Pisa, Italy

“Going to Pisa is all about checking a famous sight off your list. The only things there are the tower and cathedral, surrounded by tourists, chintzy souvenirs and vendors who tail you all over the place. Once you’ve taken the requisite corny photos, you’re done — and wondering why you didn’t go to Florence instead.” — Colleen McDaniel

2. Hanoi, Vietnam

“It was beautiful and amazing to experience, but it was quite tiring being hassled by sellers and beggars.” — Macy Tramblay

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands

“Sure, it’s pretty, and the canals are nice, but Amsterdam is also very Americanized in the city center. The smoke shops for which the city is known are also dark and dingy. It doesn’t really have that charming, old-city feel you hope to get when visiting Europe.” — Morgan Agesen

4. Portland, Oregon, U.S.

“I love craft beer and quirky towns, but didn’t love Portland as much as I thought I would. The beer was great, but the city wasn’t unique or nearly as ‘weird’ as it touts itself to be. Go once, but only for a day or two. Four days was too much for me.” — Amanda Geronikos

5. Paris, France

“I think it’s absolutely essential to go once and see the major attractions, but overall I found Paris to be dirty, chaotic and not at all romantic.” — Ashley Kosciolek

“The Mona Lisa. If you find yourself in the Louvre with limited time, spend it wisely. Unless you’re a devout da Vinci fan or studying Renaissance art, don’t struggle too hard to catch a glimpse of ‘the real thing.’ There are literally thousands of pieces of artwork just steps away, vying for your attention and just as deserving.” — Brittany Chrusciel

6. Niagara Falls, Canada/U.S.

“It’s very cool to see the first time in person, but I feel like once you see it, appreciate the magnitude, etc., that’s basically it. There’s no interactive element, so even if you stand there staring for 30 minutes at a certain point, you’re just done.” — Dov Breatross

7. India

“The Taj Mahal was exquisite, so I am glad I went there. But India had too much filth and poverty for me. My friend and I couldn’t wait to hit the bar every night. We were so horrified by the sights we saw!” — Wendy Offill

8. Pompeii, Italy

“I swear Pompeii was contrived by Walt Disney in the 50s. All the souvenir carts at the entrance/exit, as well as the cheesy tour guides, make it seem like it was a tourist trap rather than the hallowed grounds of a natural disaster.” — Kim Coyne

9. Tangier, Morocco

“Street hustle from ‘guides’ and beggars following one down the street is overwhelming — can’t enjoy the history.” — Orlando Manuel

10. Guayaquil, Ecuador

“I visited Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, as a gateway to the Galapagos Islands. It was a pleasant enough place, despite the intense heat and humidity, but there weren’t a ton of things for tourists to do — and in a day and a half, I feel like I did most of them. I enjoyed the pretty historical neighborhood, the waterfront esplanade, the park filled with green iguanas … but once was enough.” — Sarah Schlichter

11. Podgorica, Montenegro

“It’s a nice enough city, but better as a gateway to the country’s best destinations.” — Kevin Bicknell

12. Nowhere!

“Unless you truly despise a place, there’s always some reason to go back.” — Erica Silverstein

“Don’t think that has happened [to me] yet … if anything, there have been unexpected ‘that was great’ surprises. An experience is valuable no matter what; there’s value for us in each one.” — Colleen Costello

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–written by Amanda Geronikos Norcross

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

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