14 Famous Places Where Overtourism Could Spoil Your Long-Awaited Trip

Overtourism has become a major issue in many well-known destinations. Here are 14 famous places where it’s particularly prevalent (and that you may wish to avoid as a result).

Tourist dollars can be a lifeline for local economies around the world. Unfortunately, some places become victims of their success.

It’s a reminder that too much of anything is bad. As the situation crosses into overtourism, visitor numbers can overwhelm the infrastructure and drive prices up so high locals can’t afford to live there. Ultimately, the atmosphere and attractions that made a location so special in the first place get ruined.

Of course, this is also frustrating for travelers. Overtourism brings high prices, huge crowds, queues, and competition for accommodation. You end up with a more stressful and less authentic look at the destination in question.

But which places suffer the most in this way? Here are 14 iconic locations where visitor numbers are so astronomical you may wish to go elsewhere.

1. Venice, Italy

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Venice attracts tens of millions of travelers every year. You can’t blame anyone for wanting to go! It’s not every day you get to explore a medieval city built on water. Unfortunately, the narrow, cobbled streets and network of canals weren’t designed to accommodate so many people.

With any luck, the measures Venice is taking (e.g., introducing a charge for day trips and limiting the size of tour groups) to combat the problem will help. Until it does, you can expect enormous crowds and queues.

2. Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Amsterdam’s canals, architecture, history, museums, and nightlife have turned it into one of Europe’s most popular urban escapes. Approximately 20 million tourists visit each year, outnumbering the city’s population by more than 20 to one.

With locals being pushed out and antisocial behavior from visitors ruining the vibe, some feel Amsterdam is at risk of losing its identity to the tourist industry.

3. Machu Picchu, Peru

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An Incan city perched 7,000 feet above sea level on a mountaintop in the Andes, Machu Picchu is the ultimate summer bucket list destination. Made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983, visitor numbers have grown rapidly to a point where over 1.5 million people now visit annually.

The good news is daily tickets have been capped, visitors enter on a staggered schedule, and tourists need an approved guide. Even so, with thousands visiting Machu Picchu daily, you can expect crowds.

4. Santorini, Greece

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Santorini is a dreamy Greek island where whitewashed buildings perched on hilltops overlook glistening cerulean seas below. It’s a breathtaking place, but it attracts far more tourists than it can really cope with. Indeed, Santorini has just 15,500 permanent residents, but 2 million people visit each year.

Imagine the pressure that puts on the island’s infrastructure – not to mention the crowds you’ll jostle with for position while snapping images of the famous sunsets.

5. Bali, Indonesia

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Bali is known as the Island of the Gods, which is an apt description for Indonesia’s most popular island. From the iconic temples to the verdant rice paddies and golden coastlines, it has heavenly vibes. That said, peak-season tourist numbers can be hellish. Bali welcomed almost 5.3 million international visitors last year, which is approximately 1 million more than its population.

6. Rome, Italy

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Italy’s capital is notoriously overcrowded all year round. It’s a big place, with over 4.3 million residents in the metro area. Yet that number’s dwarfed by the 26.9 million tourists who visited in 2019.

Once again, you can’t blame people for going. Rome’s myriad ancient wonders and endless attractions, including Vatican City, make it hard to resist. But you should think twice about going if you hate crowds and queues – both of which are an inescapable part of life there for visitors.

7. Barcelona, Spain

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Packed with history, iconic architecture, bustling markets, and beautiful city beaches, Barcelona is one of Spain’s most popular cities. Highlights include Gaudi’s famously unfinished La Sagrada Familia, the atmospheric Gothic Quarter, La Boqueria food market, and the bustling pedestrianized boulevard, La Rambla.

Overtourism is the Catalonian capital’s main drawback. Tens of millions of tourists flood Barcelona’s streets yearly (many of whom arrive on cruise ships that dock here), making it feel incredibly congested – especially in peak season.

8. Paris, France

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The French capital is another European metropolis that needs no introduction. Known as the City of Love, it enjoys a famously romantic reputation and is full of iconic landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Arc de Triomphe.

Paris is also the most visited city on Earth. A whopping 44 million people went in 2022, which was still significantly fewer than in 2019.

9. Phuket, Thailand

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Thailand’s paradise islands, pristine beaches, incredible food, and budget-friendly prices have turned it into one of Southeast Asia’s best-loved destinations. Over 27 million people visited in 2023.

Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and a particular tourism hotspot. Visitors flock there to enjoy its cultural sights, nightlife, and natural beauty, but they also cause everything from overcrowding to pollution. Sadly, it’s a similar story elsewhere in Thailand.

10. Iceland

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Throngs of outdoor enthusiasts descend on Iceland every year to experience its diverse landscapes, untouched wilderness, and unique natural phenomena, like the Northern Lights.

Tourism is officially booming. According to Bloomberg, about six times as many people visited Iceland in 2023 as there are residents. Expect crowds at popular attractions and competition for accommodation.

11. Mount Everest, Nepal

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Located in Asia along the southern slopes of the Himalayas, Nepal boasts some of the most spectacular mountain vistas on the planet. The country has made headlines in recent years for overtourism in a somewhat unexpected place: Mount Everest.

With more people than ever wanting to climb the world’s highest peak and more tour operators offering to help them do it, there have been actual queues of people waiting to reach the summit.

12. Cornwall, England

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On the southwestern tip of the United Kingdom is the historic county of Cornwall. Its stunning coastline dotted with charming old fishing villages makes it a sought-after holiday destination for both Brits and foreign tourists.

However, between late spring and the end of summer, it heaves with humanity. Towns fill with people, quiet country roads get inundated with traffic, and huge beaches fill with families who sit almost shoulder-to-shoulder on the sand.

13. Hallstatt, Austria

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Nestled on a lake surrounded by mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage site that might be Austria’s most scenic town. It’s called Hallstatt, and it’s as photogenic as places get. A real fairytale destination, some say it may even have inspired the kingdom of Arendelle in the Frozen movie franchise…

Whether that’s true or not, Hallstatt is unquestionably popular. Although it has just 700 permanent residents, a staggering 10,000 visitors walk its streets every day in peak season.

14. Japan

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The Land of the Rising Sun has vast metropoles, beautiful mountains, pristine beaches and islands, ancient temples, and age-old traditions.

It’s a wonderful and diverse place filled with friendly people. Yet, with almost 2.8 million international travelers visiting in February alone, Japan (particularly in the cities) is another country struggling to cope with how many tourists it attracts.


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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.