We all have experienced overtourism and huge crowds at the popular tourist destinations: the Statue of Liberty, Yosemite National Park, Barcelona, the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. The statistics of overtourism in Europe are staggering: Barcelona hosted 32 million visitors into the city with a population of 1.6 million in 2018 (Source: Fortune Magazine).
Last may in Paris, workers at the Louvre Museum went on strike for one day to protest the huge crowds. They stated that the massive crowds made the museum “dangerous and unmanageable”. In Venice, in high season, from April to October, 32,000 cruise ship passengers disembark every day (Source: CNN). City officials have installed turnstyles to control the flow of pedestrians and they plan to charge day visitors an $11 entrance fee.
Every visitor wants to see the Gaudi architectural wonders in Barcelona, like this home. We visited in February, off-season and didn’t have an issue with overcrowding.
What can you do to avoid crowds?
- Consider when and where you want to travel. If you can, travel off season. We visited Barcelona (one of the cities sited to be among the worst in Europe) in February and didn’t experience the overcrowding. Other cities in the news recently regarding overtourism are: Amsterdam, Venice, and Dubrovnik.
- Visit attractions late in the afternoon. Take the hike at dinnertime. For example, we hiked Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park at dinnertime and it was not only cooler but also we had very few fellow hikers.
- Look for smaller, overlooked towns and regions. Think of going to the mountains or small towns.
- Do your research before you leave to know what times of the day, or month, are best to visit popular attractions.
Reasons for overtourism?
- The cruise industry. Huge cruise ships mean that thousands of passengers spill out into port cities each day. Ship passengers crowd into the historic old towns, monuments, cathedrals, museums and shops during the day and return to the ship in time for dinner.
- Airbnb and other “home share” organizations have made thousands of beds available in popular cities. They can undercut the cost of hotels.
- The low cost of travel. This includes the cheap cost of flights to Europe and within Europe.
- The ease of travel.
- The growing middle class worldwide.