The world´s most popular destinations for tourist are having a difficult time managing the large amounts of daily visitors. Since 2008 overnight stays in European cities have increase by 57% which makes it hard to find accommodation or tour the cities without swamps of eager to see it all in one day tourist.
Even though tourism has positive effects specially for local business and people there are also some negative effects attached to it like destruction of local culture and public monuments, environmental issues and serious problems for housing availability and affordability for the people living there permanently.
At the same time day-trippers from cruise ships bring little value to those destinations because they have meals, drinks and entertainment on board and most of them don´t engage in local commerce or local restaurants, bars or other establishment.
Some of the most overcrowded European cities
- Barcelona, Spain.
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Venice, Italy
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Paris, France.
However, there are still some places to go if the goal is to avoid the crowds escape the crowds without missing out on the European history, culture and cuisine.
Slow paced alternatives
Seville on the south of Spain is a place to find tapas, cortados at sidewalk cafes, afternoon siestas, and the relaxed lifestyle emblematic of Spanish culture and also the city’s architecture and culture. Must see locations are Plaza de España and the mudejar Alcázar palace (also known as Dorne to Game of Thrones fans). Seville has a small town vibe at heart, with neighborhoods like Triana, with its tile workshops, fresh market, jazz bars, and al fresco cafes for an evening glass of wine.
For enjoying the Catalan culture there are other towns along the coastline like the stylish beach resort Sitges although it gets crowded on weekends by Barcelona locals escaping the tourist hoards in the city. Culture enthusiasts will be more than satisfied with the ancient ruins of Tarragona. The oceanfront 2nd-century amphitheater, 12th-century hilltop Cathedral, Roman tombs at the Necropolis and the alleys of the walled old city provide the perfect alternative to Barcelona's medieval attractions.
Also a lovely place to visit and scape the masses. It´s most popular site is its pink and yellow harbor but the city has a lot of medieval places worth visiting they can be found at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Via Garibaldi. Other places include the Cathedral of San Lorenzo with the ashes of St. John the Baptist, the childhood home of Christopher Columbus, the striking baroque Santi Ambrogio e Andrea church from the 17th century and the Caruggi District’s alleyways.
For a traffic free bit of Italy visit the dreamy port towns of the Cinque terre. This place is an agreeable rustic alternative to the resorty Italian Riviera. There are no museums only sun, sea and relaxation. Pick grapes, side trail delicacies, eat lots of mixed sea food, dive from spectacular cliffs and hike through wonderful scenery. What more can you ask for a relaxed vacation?
Tuscany´s Hill Towns.
This region is truly the heart of Italy combining its rustic soul and rural mystique that seduces to stay. In Siena climb at Italy´s tallest secular medieval tower in the City Hall located on the gothic great central piazza for one of the best panoramic views in Italy. The City Hall and the nearby Hospital of Santa Maria de la Scalla show some frescos related to the city´s history. Siena´s Gothic Doumo or Cathedral hosts Duccio´s Enthroned Virgin. Savor local cuisine like wild board prosciutto and panforte.
Explore nearby Hill towns like Vertine that remain almost sleepy even at peak season. Small farms are renting rooms to travelers harvesting their rural charms as well as their products in what is called agrotourism. In Montalcino sample some great wine (Brunello di Montalcino).
The roman city of Verona was named alongside Venice as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its architecture. It is located in the Veneto region an underestimated area for tourism (expect for Venice) yet it has a lot of charm. With a profusion of ancient roman ruins, you can find a roman arena in a modern setting. The most notable attraction is this spectacular Roman amphitheater, still in use today for opera performances.
The popularity of Dubrovnik boomed after the city was chosen as a filming location for King's Landing TV series Game of Thrones. The affluence of tourist has caused Dubrovnik's Mayor to limit the number of cruise ships to two per day, cut down the number of souvenir shops, and impose limits on outdoor seating at restaurants to gain more street space.
However, the entire Dalmatian coastline is a wonderful option to truly escape the crowds, In Montenegro you can enjoy sublime scenery, charming ocean-view villages and historic Byzantine churches. The medieval old town of Kotor makes a great base.
The city of Zagreb originated within the first five centuries A.D., it’s a patchwork from Venetian to Yugoslavian identity to the point of creating its own culture. There are narrow, twisting streets; the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Gothic St. Mark’s Cathedral and you should also try some potent rakija
Prague has been known for years as one of Europe's cheapest, fun places for a quick getaways and although prices have risen people keep coming making the city brake records for overnight stays and number of guests for six consecutive years.
Prague’s historic center has evolved into a tourist ghetto while the direct and indirect effects of tourism development have begun to constrain their quality of life.
For a less crowded option head east to Olomouc. Known throughout the country for its baroque monuments and fountains the town it is almost unheard of outside the country. For those history lovers, the Archdiocesan Museum traces the city's history through the original Romanesque foundations of the castle and covers the baroque period.