What is the WORST City you have ever visited? And Why?

I have been to almost 200 cities with more than 100,000 people. True to my OCD form.  I have ranked them all from 1 onwards!


Too hot to shave! On this day at this moment, the thermometer had reached 37°C (98.6°F). Humidity 70%

Last week I added Vientiane in Laos, which was better than I imagined. In the same week, I also flew to Helsinki which I loved) bringing me to 194 cities! Can you imagine, I went from a daily maximum of  37°C  (98.6°F3to a maximum of 5°C  (41°F in the same week? That took some ingenious packing and adjusting.


Sunny Helsinki, Finland at Senate Square


This led me to consider that I have a definite list of the worst cities I have been to? What city would you put on your worst ever visited list? And Why?


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  1. Luton, England. Probably the most drab place in England I’ve visited. Not on par with Gary, Indiana, but nothing of note. This was 30 years ago, so there wasn’t even a large airport worth using.

  2. Ugh, Beijing. Dirty, smoggy, way too overcrowded and busy. And don’t even get my started in hygiene. Did not enjoy a single day of my time there except for getting out of the city to see the Great Wall.

  3. Agra and New Delhi. Smell of feces everywhere, people urinating in public, trash everywhere. Worst country ever! India is the only country I’ve been that would leave human feces in public places in addition to the zero concerns about animal feces. I am surprised that very few bloggers mention how much of a culture shock India really is for “normal,” self-respecting individuals.

  4. This is not rational, but I hate Houston. I don’t know whether it’s the pretension, or the climate, or the fact that I had to spend a weekend there with a woman I was dating but was horrible to me, but if I never have to go there again, it’s too soon.

  5. Madrid. To date, the only vacation that I’ve ever cut short. This was 30 years ago, so things may very well have changed, and although I was quite young, I was already a seasoned traveler. Madrid was dirty, expensive, service was awful, the architecture was ugly, and the food uninspiring. Construction was everywhere, tearing down ugly old buildings to install just as ugly new ones. Bad enough overall that I never returned. On the plus side, the Prado was amazing, and I took a day trip to Toledo that was quite nice.
    How about you, Martin?

  6. Naples, Italy. Dirty, crime-ridden, incredibly congested. Only place in Italy I wouldn’t cheerfully return to.

  7. Alexander, India is one of the most confronting places on Earth. Contains some of the most beautiful and the most horrific sights you will see.

  8. Poor old Luton. I have only been to the airport. The town does get a bad rap though. I have a colleague who worked there and she is passionate about defending the place.

  9. Los Angeles. Its public transport is non-extensive (to say the least) and just takes so long to get from one place to another. Everything is way too dispersed and all over the place, no city “centre” of any sort. Probably works fine if you have a car, but even if u do, having to drive everywhere is pain.

  10. I hate to say it because there are some nice parts but most of the greater Philadelphia area. Bad traffic, not that interesting. It’s not nearly as bad as places in India or other third world places but it’s just a feeling. East St. Louis metro area isn’t too great either. Nassau Bahamas and a lot of urban places in the West Bank, Palestine aren’t too great in my experiences.

  11. Hi UK. Thanks for your comment. Overall, I rate Los Angeles 111th on my list of 194 cities. I used to hate it for the very reasons you mention. And the airport! Don’t get me started. Seems representative of the city: sprawling, confusing and staffed with rude unhappy people.
    Over the last 20 years, I have met many people who are proud of their city. Getting to know what they like about their home has helped me to connect better with the city. but faced with a choice between LA and Berlin or Paris or Amsterdam or Wellington, NZ? That is easy!
    Any Angelinos want to defend their city?

  12. Sorry about the date from hell. That would colour the city. My best description of Houston is that it “was better than I expected”. Sorry Houston-ites, I give it 154th place in my top 200. So worse than LA but better than some other places. Thanks for the comment.

  13. Milan. Pretty expensive for a city strewn in graffiti and hardly any historic buildings. The people are rude and there’s only a handful of sights to see. The food is good, at least.

  14. I tend to like the places I go. However, I will mention that Newark, NJ (which I was actually there to see as a tourist!) was so unpleasant that I cut short my walk and returned to my hotel room, and Bucharest was an ugly city with only a few things worth seeing.

    On a different note, I take issue with your top to bottom ranking of cities. I think cities can only be ranked within tiers. The idea that you can compare a city like Ann Arbor, which is terrific in comparison to its size, with Sydney, which let me down a bit as a city but obviously has more to offer than Ann Arbor, is just a bit silly

  15. I’ll second earlier comment of New Delhi. I’m extensive economy traveler, but horror of ……..difficult to even mention….. caused me to cancel Taj Mahal visit and just stay at airport hotel. Chennai was much better.

  16. Hey Mark M, I have a friend who is a travel agent. He says that there are two types of travellers to India: 1. those who arrive at the airport and want to leave immediately and 2. those who arrive and never want to leave. I am sorry you missed the Taj Mahal-it is indeed stunning. I spent an afternoon walking the streets of Agra and the city is horrifying in places. Agra is city #182 for me and Delhi is city #143

  17. Thanks for your comment James K re the ranking but do not be too fast to “take issue”! Being OCD, I do indeed divide my cities into a number of groupings and one is size. I have five size groupings as a midsize city like Victoria, Canada (population around 330 000 for the city) is a very different proposition to a mega city like Delhi with an estimated 19 million people. Compare Small city: Luxembourg City (population 110,000) with Very Large city London (8.7 million).
    So I can give you a ranking by city size! I include a number of factors that are important to me like Aesthetics (which Sydney;s natural beauty propels it up), then add cultural activities per capita, food, transport and more. This gives me an overall ranking of #61 for Sydney on my listing which is much lower than many people would expect. Most other major Australian cities have much more to offer.
    I find my ranking system useful and it is fairly robust having refined and played with it over 25 years (yeah bizarre hobby).
    I think we would agree on Newark. it is a very grim place. I have been there a few times as a tourist and for business as well. I rank Newark at 161 overall!
    I plan to go to Bucharest in the next two to three years so be interesting to compare notes. I have yet to get to Ann Arbor which is a shame because I hear it is a cute town.

  18. Montreal, Quebec Could not get anyone to speak to me in English. Even though most of them speak a little English. My French is mediocre but I at least made the attempt.

  19. Venice. A dump.

    Also, how weird that someone would say a city is the worst because the residents did not speak to them in the visitor’s preferred language. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  20. Venice, Italy was probably the worst place I’ve ever visited because I’m terrified of birds. I nearly had a nervous breakdown in the town square where there are millions of pigeons landing on people. I went on a gondola ride and remember seeing dead pigeons floating in the water as we rode by. I still have nightmares about that vacation.

    I also would like to second the comments about Beijing. The smog was particularly bad on the day I visited the Forbidden City and it made my eyes and throat burn. I actually threw up outside the Temple of Tranquility. Let’s just say I will not be rushing back to Beijing any time soon either.

  21. We all have different criteria and experiences, don’t we? Venezia sits at #65 for me out of my top (almost 200). Why did you find it a dump?

  22. When I was reading through this article, I had my own list in my head of places that weren’t so pleasant, and its funny that ALL of them appeared in the comments.

    Philli – My worst of the worst. Barely anything to do and there’s really just one street with stuff going on. Nothing really to see, and I found every scene lacking. Also the Cheesesteak is overrated.

    Milan – Its good as a stop before you head to Lake Como, and I commend them on their food but there’s really not much to do outside of hitting up the Last Supper. Oh there’s more stuff to do, like a luxury mall, that’s like any other mall, or the Duomo? The Duomo was by far the worst European church I’ve been too, why just google Duomo dupers, who try to force bracelets on you or pigeon feed in your hand. Say no? and they’ll just throw the feed at your feet and have the pigeons come flying. I almost got into a serious fight over there.

    Madrid – It’s only a central point for going to other little towns. If you don’t know Spanish, you’re screwed. No one speaks English, move on to Barca. As a tourist I would say that it was just ok, but I’m sure if you know Spanish it’s probably great

    LA – It’s actually pretty awesome, Santa Monica, LA Live, The Cove, the food,all great on the otherhand Hollywood is overrated, but you can’t do anything without a car. It literally cripples your experience. Its also not uber friendly, 20 minute uber rides can cost $35 (just look up Downtown LA to Hollywood), other rides can take as long as an hour. And what they call a train is really a light rail. Trains don’t get defeated by traffic, their lightrail takes forever. But if you’re able to hit all of the spots, its pretty awesome

  23. Hi Waylo, Glad you said it. Las Vegas is one of my least favourite places on Earth ranked at #180. I have been there seven times (you think I would have learnt). Each time I am hoping to be grabbed. Never had a terrible time but as a city it feels shallow and under the glitz is some pretty depressing stuff.

  24. Varanasi, India.

    The cultural and religious sites were a site to behold but the city itself was an absolute dump! I love India but this was by far the worst experience I’ve ever had in all my travels. The city is littered with cow dung, the scammers and thieves are everywhere. At every turn, someone is trying to either force you to buy something or trick you into paying a ‘fee’

    not for the faint of heart IMO

  25. Trenton, NJ — and I was a kid in that area, and going back for a quick visit, that city hit its peak in the Revolutionary War…

  26. I am hard put to think of anywhere I hated, as I tend to think ‘if I’ve spent my money on it, I’d better get something out of it’ and I look for the good things in each place. Also, I have been reluctant to go to places about which I have reservations (e.g. India). I was a bit iffy about Surabaya, Indonesia, which I passed through on my very first overseas trip, mainly because it frightened me, but when I visited it years later, I liked it and found it much less alarming. Jakarta is a bit of a hassle, because of the traffic, but there are some great things to see there. Even Kuta can be enjoyable if you avoid the Aussies and the nightclubs. No, I can’t think of anywhere I’ve been that I could say was the worst. Perhaps I’m just undiscerning!

  27. Probably Los Angeles, dangerous, dirty, no public transportation, traffic, and literally nothing to see ( despite Hollywood, which is a craphole ).

    Just wanted to note how many people define cities as bad because they don’t speak english. Well… if you are in a different country with a different language, suck it up and speak the damn native language! Do you expect germans coming to USA and complaining about people not speaking in german with them?? .

  28. Venice, Como, Vilnius, Barcelona and Valletta. In that order.
    Venice was packed, full of extremely rude people (especially the locals). Some guy tried to force me to sit in one scorching hot seat in his restaurant, the only one not in the shade. As I refused his forced offer, he started to cry. Literally. Others threatened with a police for asking an innocent question. Apparently it’s forbidden to ask questions from the locals. Prices were also more than high. Had to leave as soon as possible.

    Como also full of arrogant and rude people at the time. I was refused food in some local restaurants, who knows why. No need to go back and the lake was just “Meh!” at best.

    Vilnius… again rude and cold people. Everybody grumpy everywhere all the time, the locals that is. Tourists seemed to be more upbeat. Some threats and curses in the ‘old town’. Totally uncivilized place.

    Barcelona, threats and yelling, continuous drug pushing everywhere and some people attempting to explore my pockets without permit. It seemed that other areas were having some we hate all tourists and everyone who speaks any Spanish campaign with loud yells and fists, and others, well the drug pushing and trying to hang in the sleeves, ‘accidentally’ bump into you etc.

    Valletta full of extremely rude people and a police that doesn’t give a shit. Someone threw up from the window to the main street, in the middle of the early afternoon, straight where all the masses were walking. Some shop-keeps running at customers who were viewing their card selection yelling “Get the fu** out of here! This is no library!” and others raging at customers in an almost empty store for not viewing and selecting items fast enough and for bringing a child in the store, which apparently is a bad thing in a place that seems to be mainly marketed as ‘child friendly’.

    On the bright side, the other around 200 or so cities and towns have been better experiences.

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