Tourist traps that are actually wonderful - Europe edition
These "touristy" things are greatly enjoyable and worth the price of admission.
- •Miniatur Wunderland - HamburgSo this is a giant model railway and I swear it's really cool. It's huge and amazing. Watching the train go by, pressing buttons to make parts move, discovering the skinny-dippers or murder investigation are all so satisfying. Really, believe me, it's great.
- •Honey cake at the Municipal State House - PragueNow I'm weary of cafes not frequented by locals, this is an exception. The Municipal House is a great way to spend 20 minutes walking around and admiring all the art nouveau goodness. However, the cafe has the most art nouveau goodness inside plus the traditional Czech honey cake is delicious AND they serve it from a cake cart. A ROLLING CAKE CART that comes to your table. Sit inside and enjoy.
- •The Vasa - StockholmThe Vasa is a 333 year old ship that sunk about 10 minutes into its maiden voyage. The Swedes actually salvaged the entire thing whole and have been able to preserve it. The ship is simply astonishing in size and story. The museum surround it is one of the best I've visited. Totally worth it.
- •Neuschwanstein Castle - Southern BavariaThe castle built by "mad" King Ludwig and made even more famous by Walt Disney, Neuschwanstein may be the most touristy place I've ever visited. Ludwig, nostalgic for a bygone era when his title actually meant something, lovingly designed an escape from the world. When I stepped inside I understood why his contemporaries thought Ludwig might be crazy. The castle is opulence on top of opulence. Also, the surrounding hills are beautiful. Just buy your tickets online the day before.
- •Old Town Hall Tower - PragueI love going up tall towers, I hate paying for it but undeniably Prague is a city one must see from above. This view is best taken it around sunset. You will be crushed a little because the walkway is so narrow but push through and get that beauty picture of the city. Plus, it's fun to see the mass of tiny people down below clamoring for the astronomical clock show.
- •Rausch Schokoladenhaus - BerlinThis chocolate shop has scale models of Berlin landmarks carved from chocolate and a chocolate volcano. However I think the real experience is upstairs in the cafe. Order a very decedent hot chocolate and one of their special tarts. This was my 30th birthday treat but everyone deserves a treat especially when they are as yummy as Rausch makes them.
- •Dubrovnik, CroatiaYes, the entire town. The streets fill up with cruise ship visitors during the day, there are countless mediocre restaurants trying to get you to eat, and tacky shops selling Game of Thrones merchandise. However, it's a magical place. Visit off season and try to rent a room inside the old town to make exploring at night easier. It's worth it.