5 Places I Wouldn’t Go Back to Even if You Paid Me

5 hated places

We all have the places we love when we travel. I have a list of places I would love to return to and savor the food, atmosphere, or to meet the people again. In fact, I’ve found that returning to a location is why travel never gets old for me. Like having an unlimited stash of books to read and things to learn, locations change and your perspective on the world changes. It’s one of the most beautiful things about traveling, in my opinion.

However, there are some places where I would simply never choose never to go back again. Even if you paid me, I would refuse (which is saying a lot—I’m open to going almost anywhere new). Keep in mind, these are just my places—everyone has their own and one person’s hated locale is another’s home or favorite spot.

1. Zagreb, Croatia

Looking back, I know I should have spent more time in Croatia. I missed the highlights of Split and Dubrovnik, and I was too broke to head to Plitvice Lakes. I was stuck in Zagreb, which had very little culture (despite the dozens of museums the city boasted), and I had four days to wander around by myself. Also, Zagreb has a huge café culture, but not many food options. While the locals spent their time on the streets under umbrellas and chatting with one another, I was busy trying to find a place to eat lunch unsuccessfully.

2. Vienna, Austria

I know, I know. It’s very likely that I’m crazy (well, we knew that), but there was something about Vienna that felt cold to me. The people were pleasant enough and kind when I asked for directions, but after seeing the main highlights of Mozart’s house and the museums, I was ready to leave. For me, the places that have left the largest impressions are the ones that are teeming with life. Vienna, while peaceful, felt slightly dead.

3. Lisbon, Portugal

I wanted to love Lisbon so badly! So much was promised to me: great seafood, wine, beautiful views, history. But when I got there, it felt stoic. As I mentioned in a blog post, I think much of it was me. I was tired after a six-hour flight with no rest and was rushing to see everything in a day. Regardless, I thought Lisbon would have a bit more character, and I was disappointed because this was a place I had heard so much about. (Side note: This is one place I would return to with someone who loved the city—I felt like I missed a lot.)

4. Guatemala City, Guatemala

Guatemala was amazing, and I can honestly say that it was a trip I look back on especially fondly. Antigua was a hub of sights, sounds, and good food and Tikal was unlike any place I had ever been (and probably will ever go again). But you would have to tie me up and kidnap me (which could easily happen there) before I would ever go back to the capital. Daniel and I left for five seconds to get food, but other than that, we spent two days in our hostel room—way too freaked out to walk the streets. Danger level for tourists: 10 out of 10.

5. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia was one of the highlights of my travels last year, but the capital was pretty dead in terms of touristic activity. While I encourage all travelers in Cambodia to go to the Killing Fields, Phnom Penh itself had very little to offer. Other than a few historic sights, there are very few good restaurants with local foods. I’m glad I visited because it gave me a good idea of what a major Southeast Asian city looks like, but of all the places in the world, I wouldn’t go back.

Where is it that you would refuse to go back to if someone offered to pay for it?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander


  1. Jerry

    I do agree on Vienna, the city really didn’t live up to expectations. But I would definitely add Verraderos (Cuba) to the list.

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  2. Sophoe

    Ooh wow this was a really interesting post! I’ve never been to any of these places but it’s so interesting to see different peoples takes on different places – for me the one place I would never go back to is Venice! I lived there for six months and although I loved it, it’s a small city and I’ve done literally EVERYTHING there is to do there 😂 Great post, really glad I discovered your blog!

  3. Suzanne Fluhr

    Hmm. I didn’t love Vienna either, but give me a plane ticket and I’d give it another try. Recently, we went on a cruise tobthe Sea of Cortez that made port stops in the Mexican province of Sinaloa. Yes, the Sinaloa of drug cartel fame. When your tour bus acquires a police escort and most of the police have their faces covered and are dressed like SWAT team members with armaments to match. Yeah. No.

  4. Catherine

    I agree with Vienna… felt very commercial and a bit dead to me. The one highlight was The Leopold Museum and discovering Egon Schiele. I couldn’t bring myself to buy a meagre slice of very expensive Sacher Torte. It just seemed too ridiculous.

  5. obrazemblog

    I agree with Vienna! And also with Zagreb – well vienna is pretty close to my home (I am from CZ) but I do not like the city! And I was on Erasmus in Zagreb and yes – some cafes are pretty awesome but I felt very frustrated there. When I was leaving I was like – I won’t go to Zagreb anymore.

  6. Medha Verma

    I agree with Zagreb. I mean I love that they have so many al fresco cafes but there’s only so much time you can spend exploring that. I wasn’t impressed with the museums either! Everything else in Croatia is so much more worth spending time exploring than the capital city, which was a huge letdown.

  7. RyanC

    haha such a great idea for a blog post!
    Scary stuff about Guatemala – but I can understand Phnom Penh. When I was in Cambodia in January, everyone in Siem Reap told me not to bother with it!

    I can’t think of any places I wouldn’t go again – but I did have a bad experience in Amsterdam. I was in a restaurant, and the employees gave me a hard time because they didn’t want an Asian in their fine establishment – so that was not so fun 😛

  8. rachelhell

    Cairo! Dusty, trafficky … You risk your life every time you get in a car or cross a street. And even breathing was uncomfortable; not sure if it was because of pollution or dust or both.

  9. Tilly Horseman

    It would be Amsterdam for me! I am allergic to weed and the stench is everywhere, my breathing was terrible all the time; and the crazy cyclists had me on edge the whole time while walking around. I loved the canals, the architecture and the museums – fantastic; but for the two aforementioned reasons, I don’t think I could go back!

  10. Razena | Tantalisemytastebuds.com

    Of the places I’ve travelled to, the only place I haven’t been back to and have no inclination to go back to, is Cairo. The place was clean enough but I didn’t particularly like feeling that everyone was a scam artist trying to make a fast buck or being fondled at the scene of an accident. I have been thinking of Vienna or Lisbon later this year but will do much more research after reading this post.

  11. Elizabeth

    A little less exotic, but I’d never go back to Detroit. I went there and stayed in a historic hotel which I really wanted to like but the service was terrible and it turned out there wasn’t really anything interesting to do.
    Elizabeth – confidentlyelegant.com

  12. Nicoleta Risteiu

    I lived in Lisbon for almost a year and I agree. Mine would definitely be Lima, Peru. The noisiest, most polluted, unsafe place where you get to cross the street at a green traffic light only if you’re lucky. People always trying to sell me stuff or trick me and they didn’t even have a good attitude.

  13. Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad

    Interesting! I think circumstances can definitely dictate how you feel about a place, but sometimes you just don’t click with somewhere and there’s nothing wrong with that! I felt the same about Athens, Auckland, Barcelona, and I’ve felt very indifferent to a few European cities that everyone else raves about (hello Copenhagen).

    I TOTALLY agree with Phnom Penh though! It was one of the few places in SE Asia I really didn’t like and have absolutely no desire to go back to. Like you said, it’s important to go for the Killing Fields (and the S-21 prison) but outside of that I hated it.

  14. sharonceestheworld

    An interesting list, I am actually planning to go to Lisbon in October but I have only planned for about 3 days at most as I have heard there isn’t much to see. As for Croatia, I am dying to go!

  15. Pingback: 5 Places I Would Go Back to in a Heartbeat – The Wayfaring Voyager

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