Looking to avoid the crowds for your next holiday? There's nothing worse than having a beautiful moment or setting ruined by those around you, and in some destinations more than others you'll be breathing a sigh of relief after closing the hotel room door behind you to escape the crowds.
From the twinkling lights of Paris (if you can get a glimpse past that tourist's large head in front of you, that is) to the rowdy festivities of Munich's Oktoberfest (good luck getting a seat though), and even as far as the relatively modern megacity, Dubai, the harsh truth is that seemingly endless crowds of foreigners can (and do!) dampen our experiences in these otherwise incredible destinations.
So when planning that next vacation that you oh so desperately need, make sure to be aware of the tourist hubs and cliches, and see what you can do to avoid them. Trust us, the natural, authentic beauty of a city is far more enjoyable than the fake allure of the glitzed-up tourist scene.
To provide some insight here are fifteen incredible destinations already overrun by groups of tourists, and five that will likely join those ranks sooner rather than later.
20 1. Already Overrun: Paris
One of Europe’s centers of fashion and culture, La Ville Lumière (the City of Light) is full of beautiful sites and landmarks that draw millions of tourists to the city each year. The cobblestoned streets and boutique cafés create a welcoming atmosphere and a romantic image.
If Paris is on your list of cities to visit however, just be aware that you’ll be competing for space for that iconic photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. Be prepared to spend some time lining up for Le Louvre Museum and sharing the views from the Sacré-Couer Basilica with hundreds of other tourists.
19 2. Already Overrun: London
London Town has been a tourist hot spot for years. This incredible city has something to offer for everyone with its numerous attractions and distinctive neighbourhoods. The history of the city and the allure of the Royals keep drawing millions to the city each year.
Buckingham Palace and Big Ben are most definitely sights to see, but if you’re trying to avoid the crowds London may not be the best city on your next-to-visit list. Its no wonder Her Majesty normally retreats to her residence in Scotland for most of the year!
18 3. Already Overrun: Barcelona
Barcelona is a known tourist hotspot. Its beautiful beaches and nightlife combined with the numerous UNESCO world heritage sites make this city one of the most visited cities in Europe. However, the city is so overrun by tourists that locals have started to protest on the streets, definitely making for an unfriendly welcoming for visitors to the city.
Visiting the Park Güell or the Sagrada Família may feel a little less rewarding when you’ve been receiving the cold shoulder from the locals for your entire trip.
17 4. Already Overrun: Dublin
The Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar, Dublin Castle, or anywhere on St. Paddy’s Day. Just a few spots that Dublin has to offer. If you’re looking for good Craic (Irish for fun), Dublin might be at the top of your travel list.
Though there are some good quieter spots in the city, the go-to tourist attractions can be quite overrun with groups of tourists, and the crowds and lineups can be intimidating unless you show up early. If you show up anytime coming up to or during St. Patrick’s Day, expect that to be the norm around the city!
16 5. Already Overrun: Rome
Rome is an incredible city to visit if history and culture are must-have’s for your next vacation. The city is alive with incredible stories and stunning locations, which has made it one of the most visited destinations in Europe. Its archaeological treasures and immense beauty attract millions of visitors to the city, with crowds common throughout the year at sites such as the Coliseum, the Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Basilica, and so forth.
You’ll be sacrificing any peace and serenity to experience these sights among the thousands of other visitors wishing to do the same while you’re there, not to mention battling off the street vendors attempting to sell their wares.
15 6. Already Overrun: Venice
Another Italian gem, Venice is truly a unique but incredibly overrun city to visit. The beautiful architecture and piazzas sprawled throughout a city built on a group of 118 small islands have made the city world renowned for its beauty and splendor. Taking a gondola through one of its many canals or sipping a cappuccino on the Piazza San Marco are on many peoples’ bucket lists.
However, the city is hoarded by visitors every year, roughly 30 million of them, which is slowly “killing Venice” according to an advocacy group representing 2,000 Venetian residents. That can make the city feel a whole lot less magical.
14 7. Already Overrun: Munich
Sporting your new Lederhosen in time for Oktoberfest? You’ll be doing that with roughly seven million other visitors if you come for the annual festival. Munich has become Germany’s most popular city for visitors, and has become busier every year with visitors wanting to indulge in traditional German beer and cuisine.
Locations such as the Hofbrauhaus have become almost void of locals and the Marienplatz in the city center is packed shoulder to shoulder when people come to enjoy the Glockenspiel at the city’s’ City Hall. Beer Gardens offer some respite in the summer months, however large tour groups and bachelor parties often spoil the traditional atmosphere.
13 8. Already Overrun: New York
New York, New York. The Big Apple welcomes about 63 million tourists a year that come to experience Times Square, see the Empire State Building, pay their respects at the World Trade Centre Memorial, and explore Central Park among other things. This incredible city has so much to offer, which is why it attracts so many visitors each year. Expect the only place to find some peace and quiet to be your hotel room. Be prepared to deal with the crowds if you want to enjoy your time in New York City!
12 9. Already Overrun: Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a city essentially made on tourism. It’s no wonder that it's overrun by visitors, either looking to strike lucky at one of the cities numerous casinos or those there just to enjoy the bright and glitzy atmosphere.
You’ll be sharing the Strip with the roughly forty-three million other visitors that come to enjoy Las Vegas every year. But hey, that could have been expected! If you want to avoid a jungle-like atmosphere, maybe Las Vegas should be crossed off your list.
11 10. Already Overrun: Vancouver
The picturesque city on the Canadian West Coast has been increasingly in the spotlight, particularly after the success of hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Now frequently mentioned in numerous travel guides, Vancouver is bustling with tourists in the summer looking to get out and explore the surrounding nature in and out of the city, hiking on the local mountains or biking around the Stanley Park Seawall.
As winter rolls in, visitors come to test out their ski or snowboard skills on the local mountains. The tourism boom has led to overcrowding in many areas of the city, however, frustrating locals and other tourists alike.
10 11. Already Overrun: Dubai
Between the Burj Khalifa and the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai is full of modern wonders and they haven’t gone unnoticed by travellers. Tourists increasingly visit this desert city every year to indulge in its shopping options and experience both its ancient and modern sites.
The city receives sunshine and warm temperatures throughout the year and is easily accessible through its airport hub serviced mainly by Emirates. It’s become such a popular destination for foreigners that only 10% of the population are UAE citizens. It’s no wonder that tourism has become a key strategy for the Dubai government to maintain cash flow into the Emirates!
9 12. Already Overrun: Bangkok
As the geographic heart and capital of the country, Bangkok has become the gateway to Thailand for most overseas tourists. It welcomed almost twenty million visitors in 2017 alone and was named the Most Popular city for International Tourists by Forbes Magazine.
The city has so much to offer from stunning architecture at the city’s Grand Palace or the many temples throughout the city, to the crazy atmosphere at Khaosan Road, and to the historical ruins of Ayutthaya a short train ride north. However these sites are busy throughout the year with visitors, so if you’re looking for calm, you won’t find it in Bangkok.
8 13. Already Overrun: Singapore
Singapore comes in as another of Asia's tourist hotspots. In 2016 the city-state welcomed almost seventeen million tourists hoping for a glimpse of the Gardens by the Bay or wishing to enjoy a drink on the rooftop panoramic pool of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. If you're looking to stay off the beaten path and avoid the crowds, you may have to consider an alternative to Singapore!
7 14. Already Overrun: Sydney
From the Opera House to Harbour Bridge, and from Manly Beach to Bondi, you're unlikely to escape the crowds in Sydney. This is many tourists first stop in Australia, for backpackers and business people alike. The city welcomed fourteen million overnight visitors in 2017 alone.
It's beautiful coastal setting and typically pleasant weather attracts visitors from around the world, which has made Sydney both a popular as well as an expensive destination for tourists.
6 15. Already Overrun: Istanbul
Istanbul, a city split between two continents and where East meets West. Set on the banks of the Bosphorus River, the city attracts millions of visitors from around the world each year. In its historic center you’ll have difficulty to avoid running into the numerous tour groups shuffling in between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, both renowned UNESCO heritage sites. And if you’re looking to stay away from those crowds, you’ll have even worse luck navigating the Grand Bazaar market!
5 1. About To Be Taken Over: Berlin
Germany’s capital and largest city has been making a come back following the destruction of WWII and the consequences of separation. It’s a city that has become known for its art scene and its come to develop a distinct cultural flair in comparison with the rest of the country.
Classic attractions such as the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag building continue to attract visitors, as increasingly trendy districts like Kreuzberg and the unique entertainment scene expand Berlin’s reputation beyond the city limits.
4 2. About To Be Taken Over: Cape Town
Wedged between the idyllic shores of Table Bay and the slopes of iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town is one of Africa’s most iconic popular international tourist destinations. From Africa’s most southwestern point, to stunning beaches, and spectacular vistas from Table Mountain, it’s easy to see why Cape Town is becoming such a tourist hotspot.
With more flights heading to South Africa and a piqued interest among travellers, Cape Town won’t be a quiet destination for much longer.
3 3. About To Be Taken Over: Porto
The smaller Portuguese city of Porto in the country’s north has seen a significant increase in tourism in the last few years, and most recently won the European Best Destination award in 2017. With expanding nightlife and entertainment options, and an eclectic arts and culture scene, the city on the Douro River is only becoming more popular.
With increasing mentions in travel guides and cheaper airfares with carriers such as Ryanair, Porto and its charming character are unlikely to remain a travel secret for much longer.
2 4. About To Be Taken Over: Mexico City
As the geographical centre and capital of the country, Mexico City has a storied and rich cultural history that gives it a contemporary edge. Revamped public areas and a developing culinary scene are lending to the cities renewal and more travelers are deciding to ditch their beach plans in Cancun to explore this stimulating metropolis.
From museums dedicated to art greats such as Frida Kahlo and infinite dining options, to impressive monuments and public plazas, Mexico City has so much to offer at an affordable cost to travelers. For now, there's minimal distraction from groups of other tourists.
1 5. About To Be Taken Over: Bogota
Bogota’s engaging and vibrant character is embodied by its spectacular location nestled in the Andean mountains in central Colombia. Cultural events and fairs are common while the entertainment scene is lively and animated. The city’s historical La Candelaria district boasts stunning preserved colonial-era buildings and centuries-old churches dotted with exquisite restaurants and noteworthy museums.
Bogota also offers a multitude of outdoor activities and the city can quite budget friendly. As an added bonus, you won’t have trouble finding freshly brewed Colombian coffee to energize your trip!