Experts Reveal European Most Over-touristed Destinations
Hallstatt a town in Austria declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site is so picturesque, as if painted against a dramatic backdrop of mountains and the clear waters of the Hallstätter See, that it’s thought to have inspired Arendelle, the central location of the Frozen film franchise and the birthplace of Anna and Elsa.
It attracts so many tourists — over one million every year — who want to snap selfies with that famous view that residents have had enough. Due to the locals’ protests against over-tourism, the town’s government decided to put up a wood fence to prevent visitors from taking pictures in the most “instagrammable” spot.
The barrier intended to stop tourists from disrupting the lives of residents, produced such a social media backlash, according to Euronews, that it had to be removed.
Instead, Hallstatt’s mayor announced that they will install a banner reminding tourists that people live in the area. “To curb overtourism, Hallstatt has already introduced daily limits on the number of buses and cars that can enter the town,” Euronews reports. “But it regularly reaches these caps and Mayor Alexander Scheutz told the Austrian press that residents just want to be left alone.”
Not just Hallstatt
Blighted by over-tourism, many destinations around Europe are so crowded that exasperated locals are asking for more significant restrictions on the numbers of visitors, particularly at the most popular spots for selfies.
Other recent measures against overcrowding include caps on the numbers of visitors to Marseille, France, and bans on cruise ships in Venice, Italy.
Several Spanish islands have recently expressed frustration with the influx of British tourists. The Spanish island of Lanzarote has declared itself a “tourist-saturated area,” while Mallorca plans to set a limit of 430,000 tourist beds across the island.
The picturesque town of Portofino on the Italian Riviera, with only 400 residents but swamped by thousands of visitors, established “no hanging-around” zones to stop tourists posing for selfies. Anyone caught lolling on the quay for too long between 10:30 a.m and 6 p.m. risks a fine of some €270.
“Overtourism has become a major issue everywhere from Europe’s beaches to popular capital cities,” Euronews adds.
The most crowded cities
Among the most crowded cities that “boast fantastic architecture and culture but attract so many tourists that locals are suffering,” Deutsche Welle (DW) identified:
- Venice, Italy, with millions flooding the city throughout the year, counts 21 tourists per inhabitant and is suffering from serious environmental challenges given its unique location in the midst of a lagoon;
- Rome, Italy, had 26 million tourists last year forcing measures such as restricted access to the Trevi Fountain and barring people from sitting on the famous ‘Spanish Steps’;
- Prague, Czech Republic, with just 1.3 million inhabitants, experiences more than eight million tourists annually;
- Dubrovnik, Croatia, a famous cruise ship destination, was put big-time on tourist maps via Game of Thrones, fielding 1.5 million-plus visitors a year;
- Amsterdam Netherlands, where the vexed locals suffer their streets taken by hordes of noisy tourists, is projected to have 18 million visitors this year;
- Barcelona, Spain, with 1.6 million inhabitants, has gotten a record 12 million visitors;
- Lisbon, Portugal, home to one million locals, gets between four and five million tourists a year.
Other European capitals packed with tourists
The Euronews list of Europe’s busiest capitals for the summer includes:
Ireland’s fun-loving Dublin, with 11 tourists per resident and “home of Guinness, and the beer’s brewery tours that have welcomed close to 23 million people since first opening in 2000.”
Tallinn, Estonia’s capital with 10 tourists per inhabitant.
Paris, France, with nine tourists per resident.
Athens, Greece, with eight tourists per inhabitant.
The European portal The Mayor.EU includes on its list:
Brugge, Belgium, on par with Venice in terms of tourists per inhabitant.
Rhodes, Greece, also matching Venice and Brugge. Along with Mykonos and Santorini, the Greek islands harboring small communities, these islands were never designed to sustain the onslaught of millions of visitors.
Reykjavik, Iceland, with 16 tourists per inhabitant, has become increasingly popular in recent years with its ‘alternative’ and unique landscapes.
The busiest countries for the summer
Spire Global , a space-based data analytics identified the three busiest summer countries according to last year’s international flights:
– Greece: With 287,070 international flights during the summer months, Greece claims the top travel spot. That’s a nine-fold increase in August, Greece’s busiest month, compared to the country’s quieter month of February.
– Croatia: In second, sees a five-fold surge in international flights during the summer, totalling over 55,150 inbound flights in July.
– Albania: Third, attracting more than 35,530 international flights in July, Albania experiences a five-fold increase in flight density over the summer compared to the off-peak season.
Inspired by social media
If you want social media to inspire your next trip to Europe, Holidu, the holiday rental portal, has revealed the most popular cities on TikTok:
Barcelona, has 106,100,000,000 views; Paris, 64,800,000,000, Manchester, England, 10,100,000,000; Lyon France, 9,300,000,000; Stuttgart, Germany, 9,200,000,000; Porto, Portugal, 3,500,000,000; Amsterdam, The Netherlands 9,900,000,000; Marseille, France 9,200,000,000; Dublin, Ireland, 5,600,000,000; Bordeaux, France, 2,600,000,000; Lugano Switzerland, 657,700,000; Madrid, 32,600,000,000; Milan, 13,600,000,000; Mannheim, Germany, 3,000,000,000; and Salzburg, Austria 1,400,000,000 views.
For a less-crowded city break, Holidu suggests Germany’s Berlin, Spain’s Madrid, Belgium’s Brussels and Hungary’s Budapest as ‘least-touristed’ capitals, with a scant two tourists per resident.