The world’s greatest cities would take weeks or months to fully explore—not just seeing their museums and landmarks but also wandering their varied neighborhoods and soaking up their distinctive personalities.
And then there are the cities that simply aren’t so interesting.
In this list of the most boring cities in the world, we’ve identified urban centers that lack character, charm, or show-stopping tourist attractions, especially in comparison to other cities nearby. Of course, “boring” is a matter of taste, and we’re not suggesting that the places in this list aren’t worth visiting at all—merely that you might not want to spend too many of your precious vacation days there. (That said, an open-minded traveler can find the fun in any boring place.)
Read on to discover the world’s most boring cities.
Atlanta has several appealing attractions, such as the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Georgia Aquarium, one of the world’s largest. But this sprawling metropolis lacks the compact historic charm of many other Southern cities, and you’ll need a car to get to the interesting neighborhoods outside of the unremarkable downtown.
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In October 2016, a headline in the Japan Times declared Nagoya “the most boring city in Japan.” While that might be a little harsh, Nagoya is an industrial center that was largely destroyed during World War II. The rebuilt city has little historic appeal for tourists, though there are a few museums worth a visit. If your time in Japan is limited, it’s best spent elsewhere.
Where to Go Instead: Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara
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If you’ve seen the movie Casablanca, you probably picture this Moroccan city as an exotic, romantic place, but the reality is a little less interesting. While most Moroccan cities have a historic medina (walled old town) full of colorful markets and narrow alleys, Casablanca’s is small and run-down, with vendors selling mostly cheap modern items instead of traditional goods. You’ll want to visit Casablanca for a day so you can tour the magnificent Hassan II Mosque, but then move on to Morocco’s more beautiful imperial cities.
Where to Go Instead: Marrakech, Fes
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A local columnist once skewered Ottawa as “Coma City” and “the city that fun forgot.” While the Canadian capital has plenty of fine museums and leafy parks, this civil servant-filled city can feel a little quiet and dull, especially when compared to charismatic Montreal or dynamic, diverse Toronto.
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Thanks to heavy World War II bombing that destroyed most of its medieval buildings, Frankfurt is a mostly modern metropolis with only a small Altstadt (Old City) for travelers to explore. The main art and natural history museums are worth a visit, as is Palmengarten (a large botanical garden), but most travelers don’t linger long in this financial hub.
Where to Go Instead: Munich, Berlin
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Swarmed by cruise passengers and built up with duty-free shops and mega-resorts, Nassau offers plenty of attractions—beaches, gardens, historic forts—but you’ll have to contend with the crowds to enjoy them. While it can be fun your first time, people who cruise regularly often find themselves skipping Nassau port calls after a visit or two.
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Australia’s capital city suffers in comparison to its more famous East Coast neighbors, lacking Sydney’s spectacular natural beauty and Melbourne’s cutting-edge cultural scene. Canberra is a quiet, pleasant place with several interesting museums, but its somewhat remote inland location, lack of walkability, and subdued nightlife make it feel rather bland.
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Safe, affluent Zurich offers a beautiful Old Town and refreshing views of the Alps—so why did it make this list? Many tourists find it almost too clean and tidy, to the point of feeling sterile. The high cost of living and somewhat conservative locals (Zurich has a large population of bankers) further knock this Swiss city into the “boring” column.
Where to Go Instead: Lucerne, Basel
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Sprawling Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city and most important commercial center, but it’s not particularly enticing to tourists. Its key sights—the riverfront Malecon area, the historic hilltop Las Penas neighborhood, a quirky park filled with iguanas—are pleasant but not particularly memorable, and can easily be explored in a day.
Where to Go Instead: Quito, Cuenca
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Which do you consider the most boring cities? Share them in the comments below!
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Ways to Make a Boring Place Fun
- The 9 Best Places to Travel Alone
- 12 Places You Only Need to See Once
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.
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