Whether riddled with extreme poverty or shuttered buildings in ruin, travelers took to an online forum to share the most depressing cities they’ve visited worldwide.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: What Once Was
“The port city of Aden in Yemen” is the most depressing city one traveler has visited. “I was lucky that I got shipped out the day before the last civil war started.” Another person who recently moved away from Aden said, “It’s very sad to see what a beauty it once was and what the war has done to it.”
2: Crumbling History
Cairo, Egypt, was mentioned by a few people for its dismal environment. “It could be amazing to visit the remnants of one of the great civilizations, but instead, it’s a littered crumbling place where the local peddlers are harassing tourists to the point of fear,” one said. “Awful, awful place.”
3: A Tough Visit
“Hilariously, I came here to name Cairo, Illinois,” one American added. “It’s just absolutely depressing even to drive by. I feel bad for the families there that are too poor to move away.” Another traveler said almost every city they’ve visited has one measly thing to make it tolerable. “Not Cairo, IL.”
4: Heartbreaking Sights
One traveler said the levels of poverty and suffering they witnessed in Kolkata, India, were unlike any they could have imagined. “Kolkata is one of the poorest cities in India,” another commenter explained. “I wonder why foreigners always cherry-pick the worst places as tourists.”
5: I Want To Believe
There’s nothing “out of this world” about Roswell, New Mexico, according to a few commenters. “Imagine if a run-down Chuck E Cheese somehow grew into an entire city.”
6: Dismal Destination
Gary, Indiana, is notorious for being one of the most run-down cities in America. So, naturally, it made the list of depressing cities from the perspective of several people. “What a sad little spot,” one visitor said. “Nothing like what they described in the Music Man.”
7: Unsettling City
Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia and its most populous city, has “the most seedy vibe you’ve ever felt,” according to one traveler. “Western men all over young Cambodian girls. The horrible history. I couldn’t wait to leave the place. It broke my heart.”
8: Night and Day
After reading people bash on Phnom Penh, one traveler brought up Manila in the Philippines. “It has all this wealth one street up from the most abject poverty you can imagine. Another 30-year-old man says they openly shed tears when he visited. “I saw children living in a cardboard box. I was on a work trip away from my newborn (at the time) child, so my empathy circuits were on overdrive.”
9: Across the Pond
One traveler says Bradford, England, is utterly depressing. “I see your Bradford, and I raise you a Nelson,” another said. “The place felt like a turd dropped near the top of a bleak windswept moor. Boarded-up houses, Greggs, and betting shops. Houses with tatty off-white nylon curtains in filthy windows.”
10: Melancholy in Mexico
One person who lived in El Paso, Texas, in the mid-90s says they frequently visited Juarez, Mexico. While there were nice areas with redeeming qualities, overall, it was bleak. “I’ve been from one end of Mexico to the other, and it is a lovely country with great people…but Juarez is a depressing craphole.”
11: Resident Woes
A former Atlantic City resident says it’s an incredibly depressing place to be. “Social opportunities limited to hustlers, cocktail waitresses, and dealers. Zero culture. Dirty beach and boardwalk,” they said. “Glitzy on the beach block and run-down everywhere else. Did I forget to mention the crime?”
12: It Gets Worse
One traveler points out that the biggest attraction in Uyuni, Bolivia, is an abandoned train graveyard. They said the place is depressing before you even see the city itself, and once you get there, it only worsens. “Shabby low-slung buildings that look like they were designed in Microsoft Paint. Giant empty streets, some covered in a layer of brown sand or dirt. Potholes everywhere.”
13: Takes the Cake
Managua, Nicaragua, is “absolutely the worst, most unpleasant, unsafe, disgusting city” of all the Central American cities one traveler visited. They recommend, “Get in and immediately get out.”
14: Hard to Watch
While it’s not so much a city, one traveler says they’ve seen their fair share of remote aboriginal/indigenous communities in the Australian outback, and it’s not a pleasant sight. “Houses that were ripped apart and barely provided shelter, glimpses of kids abusing substances, men missing or passed out with substance abuse issues, and mothers struggling with it all.”
15: Screw the System
One person had a less-than-ideal experience in New Delhi, India. “I felt angry at the system as I left the country,” one visitor said. The massive slums next to luxury high-rise flats colored the mood for them. She added that as an 18-year-old white woman, many people wanted photos with her, which wasn’t depressing at all, “until a large group of men cornered and assaulted me trying to get photos of their hands on me.”
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