These Were The Most Crowded Destinations in 2023 – And Where to Travel in 2024

Since the pandemic, tourism has rebounded worldwide. Popular destinations have reached their pre-pandemic levels, and these surges have led to increases in local economies to help get them back on their feet.

However, some of these locations are seeing the harmful effects of overtourism. Today, we’re looking at seven of the most crowded cities in the world and offering recommendations of places to travel instead.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Overtourism?

Overtourism exists in popular tourist destinations all over the world. These locations have experienced a surge in tourism with record-setting numbers over the last year.

While this may be good for the hospitality industry and local economies, there are significant dangers to overtourism.

A long line of tourists waiting to get inside.

What Are the Dangers Of Overtourism?

The first con to these rising numbers is the increased pollution. With more vehicle traffic comes more air pollution.

More people also means more trash and some of this trash ends up in waterways or roadsides.

Record-setting numbers also put a strain on public resources. When a city is bombarded with a million more visitors than normal, its police force, medical teams, and other civil servant industries are maxed out.

While tourists likely aren’t concerned about the well-being of the locals when they visit a popular destination, their presence can lower the quality of life for residents.

The increased pollution, the strain on specific industries, the increased traffic, and other harmful effects of overtourism diminish the overall experience for locals.

Finally, these increased numbers in hot spots worldwide lead to a poor experience for tourists. Instead of spending time enjoying a cafe or hiking an epic trail, visitors are waiting in lines or sitting in traffic.

Because so many people are trying to see the same iconic structures, do the same outdoor activities, and go to the same popular attractions, the lines are long, and the crowds are packed.

Some popular destinations that are experiencing overtourism have instituted new or increased tourist taxes. While these added costs won’t deter everyone, they will be reasons some visitors will choose to travel somewhere else.

Other places are implementing stricter policies and removing problematic tourists. When public resources are strained, local services don’t have time to issue warnings or deal with these issues.

If a tourist is going to cause problems, he or she will be asked to leave.

Finally, another popular solution to overtourism is limiting visitors. Many popular attractions have set daily attendance caps.

We’ve seen this at popular national parks in the U.S. You have to get a timed entry ticket to visit Arches or a separate ticket to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier. Other popular destinations around the world have followed suit.

What Is Voluntourism? And Why Is It So Harmful?

Santorini, Greece with people filling all the streets due to overtourism.

7 Most Crowded Destinations in 2023

If your heart is set on visiting one of these locations, we don’t want to discourage you from living out a dream.

However, we do want to prepare you for the crowds and chaos that you’ll likely experience. These things could completely overwhelm your once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

We also want to suggest other places to visit that will be less crowded and offer amazing experiences.

1. Amsterdam

Amsterdam has long been a destination for young British males who hit the pubs and streets. Rowdy behavior, drug use, and prostitution have skyrocketed.

As a result, the city warned this particular demographic to stay away to make life for residents and the vacation experience for other tourists more enjoyable.

The city has also implemented the highest tourist taxes in Europe to try to curb the overtoursim problem.

Where to go instead: Rotterdam

Instead of heading to the capital city, we suggest visiting Rotterdam. The Old World architecture mixes with modern techniques for a captivating scenery.

You’ll also find outdoor sculptures and street art spread throughout the city. If you’re looking for nightlife, Rotterdam is home to bars and live music but remains under the radar compared to Amsterdam’s wild and rowdy nightlife.

2. Athens

In 2023, officials began a program to limit tourists at the famous Acropolis. In 2024, they’ll do the same for more than 25 other archaeological sites and monuments in Greece to help curb the problems of overtourism.

Cruise passengers increase the amount of tourists to Athens, and the scorching summer heat doesn’t seem to deter anyone from visiting on of the top destinations in the world.

A long line of people waiting to see the ruins in Athens up close.

Where to go instead: Koufonisia

A lesser-known beautiful Greek location is Koufonisia. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll love this stunning island, as biking, swimming, walking, and sailing are popular activities.

The turquoise waters and laid-back island atmosphere are perfect for an idyllic vacation any time of year.

3. Bali

Like Amsterdam, Bali has run into problematic tourists. This has become such a danger to the sacredness of the destination that you’ll find a do’s and don’ts list attached to tourist passports.

Visitors will also pay a tourist tax in 2024.

While spiritual seekers, backpackers, and beachgoers all have reasons for visiting Bali, Indonesia would rather have long-term tourists who will support the local economy far more than just during a week’s vacation.

Where to go instead: Lombok

Like Koufonisia, Lombok offers a laid-back atmosphere with breathtaking island scenery.

The crystal clear waters and beautiful waterfalls create the perfect setting for beachgoers. Mount Rinjani is a popular destination for hikers, and divers can take advantage of the abundant marine life and corals.

Tourists don’t miss out on dance performances or local markets either, as Lombok has its own cultural traditions.

Aerial shot of Lombok with blue waters and green land.

4. Barcelona

Barcelona has long instituted ban restrictions on short-term room rentals and new hotels in its city center. But this hasn’t curbed the overtourism problem.

Like other destinations, tourists pay a tax when they visit this popular Spanish city.

However, the locals have ramped up their efforts. They’re tired of the crowds and behaviors of tourists, so much so that they’ve created banners and resorted to graffiti to tell tourists to go home.

Where to go instead: Cudillero

Our suggestion is to visit Cudillero instead. Visitors will experience a real taste of local life due to its unspoiled nature.

Houses sit uphill, looking out over the sea. Cobblestone streets create an old town feel.

Bars, cafes, and seafood restaurants provide plenty of options for local flavor. Architecture, paintings, and sculptures also define this quaint Spanish harbor.

5. Miami

The only U.S. destination on the list is Miami. While officials may seem less obliged to ramp up efforts to curb overtourism, the locals are speaking out.

They want more control over the crowds that are destroying their beloved city. They’re seeking changes like those in Amsterdam to lessen the wild behavior and rising crime.

Locals have even seen families moving out of the area for a more family-friendly place to raise their children.

Where to go instead: Key Largo

Less than two hours south of Miami is the laid-back island destination of Key Largo. The beginning of the famous Florida Keys, this city is just a short drive away from Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park.

One of the best state parks in the country is also located here: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The country’s first underwater park protects 70 nautical square miles of colorful coral reefs teeming with marine life.

Aerial shot if Key Largo in the Florida Keys.

6. Paris

If there were ever a year to avoid Paris, 2024 would be it. With the summer Olympics looming, the city is bustling with tourists.

The Eiffel Tower is always teeming with crowds, and the Louvre Museum started limiting daily visitors a couple of years ago.

While the city is an iconic European destination, it’s hard to experience authentic French culture while visiting Paris.

Where to go instead: Florence City, Italy

If art and architecture are your reason to book a trip to Paris, we suggest considering Florence City instead. This Italian destination boasts some of the world’s oldest centers and most famous museums.

It’s compact layout makes it easy to explore by foot, and you’ll experience more authenticity here. The city’s charm is irresistible!

7. Venice

Finally, Venice is another European city experiencing problems with overtourism like wild behavior, crowded streets, and increased pollution.

While officials instituted plans for a tourist tax years ago, these plans will finally go into effect in 2024.

The dangers of overtourism are so bad in Venice that the World Heritage Committee urged officials to work diligently to protect this site.

If you want to explore the famous waterways of this Italian town, we think you’re better off choosing another destination that offers a similar experience.

Overtourism happening in Venice, Italy main square.

Where to go instead: Chioggia, Italy

Chioggia floats atop a Venetian lagoon. This Italian island is home to one of the oldest ports in Italy, and visiting the fish markets is definitely a must-do on your trip itinerary.

Because of its Mediterranean climate, you’ll find abundant flora and fauna that changes seasonally. Beachgoers can experience the dark sand of Sottomarina, and the town’s cafes, restaurants, and shops are the perfect place to experience authentic life here.

If your heart is still set on visiting one of the crowded destinations, try to travel in the off-season. This is the best tip we can suggest to help curb the problems associated with overtourism.

Officials and locals in these cities would also appreciate visitors during the off months.

Even though the weather may not be as comfortable, you’ll enjoy a better experience with fewer crowds. Instead of waiting in line for hours, you might even feel like you have the place to yourself.

You’ll also contribute to the local economies during non-peak seasons, ultimately benefiting each destination.

Where Will Your Adventures Take You in 2024?

We love traveling, and 2024 has some amazing opportunities in store. We hope you also have plans to hit the road or sky to experience a new place or return to a favorite locale.

But these seven popular destinations need a break from overtourism. Perhaps consider a lesser-known city where you’ll still have a memorable vacation.

Maybe you’ll have a new favorite getaway destination!

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