Go here, not there: great alternatives to 5 overcrowded European cities

As overtourism ruins some of the world's best-loved places, we suggest you avoid the tourist hordes by heading to these lesser-known European gems instead

02 September 2018 - 00:00 By Lee Marshall, Caroline Shearing, Helen Pickles, Natalie Paris and Andy Lynes
A view of Trieste, Italy, a much more manageable destination than Venice.
A view of Trieste, Italy, a much more manageable destination than Venice.
Image: 123RF/emmeci74

Europe's most overcrowded destinations are popular for a reason. They offer cultural, gastronomic and architectural delights and - in our opinion - should be seen at least once in a lifetime.

But for anyone looking for something quieter, here are some of the best alternatives:

Instead of Barcelona, go to San Sebastiàn

Andy Lynes, The Telegraph's gourmet travel expert, says: This upmarket seaside town has food and drink running through its veins with its thrilling pintxo (Basque-style tapas) bar scene, sociedades gastronómicas (private dining clubs) and superb seafood.

Instead of Dubrovnik, go to Zadar

Natalie Paris writes: The southern stretch of Croatia's Dalmatian coast is saturated with sunseekers in the summer months. Head north to Zadar, however, and you will find a region rich in history and natural beauty which is still relatively undiscovered. You can wander quiet streets, enjoy cheaper prices than in Dubrovnik, and sail to beaches on remote islands.

Instead of Venice, go to Trieste

Helen Pickles says: To discover the secret of a happy life, head to Trieste, the Italian port tucked alongside the Slovenian border. The Triestini embrace life with a passion that is palpable and infectious, if the chatter at evening aperitivo is anything to go by. And at the merest hint of sunshine, Triestini are off to the nearby seaside, Barcola, even in November - and even though it's a concrete strip.

The conquering hordes

Venice hosts up to 125,000 visitors every day, more than twice the city's population of 52,000. But it's not the only place suffering from overtourism: Iceland has 5.4 tourists for every resident, the Turks and Caicos 13:1, while Andorra in Spain sees a whopping 36.6 annual visitors for every local.

Instead of Skye, go to Sutherland

Caroline Shearing says: Go here for peatlands cloaked in purple heather, white sand beaches washed by turquoise waves and the opportunity to explore a near-deserted corner of Britain. Large lonely lochs, vast glacial valleys and the distinctive shape of inselbergs - monolithic mountains such as Suilven and Stac Pollaidh - dominate the landscape.

Instead of Amsterdam, go to the Hague

Lee Marshall writes: I found myself warming to The Hague precisely because it's the sort of place where you feel under little pressure to tick off sights on a checklist. Which is not to say that this city of half-a-million inhabitants does not have its must-sees - such as the swathes of Mondrians in the Gemeentemuseum, an intimate, rhythmic building that broke new ground in museum design when it opened in the '30s. - The Daily Telegraph