AUSTRALIANS may adore travelling around Europe, but that love is not always reciprocated.
This year has seen furious backlash against tourists across the continent, with many European countries complaining that the armies of foreign visitors are overcrowding their streets, disrupting the lives of locals, putting a strain on resources, driving up prices and destroying their culture.
Some 75.3 million people visited tourist hotspot Spain in 2016, which grossly outnumbers the country’s 46 million actual residents.
Anti-tourism protesters have taken to the streets in many Spanish cities and threatening messages to holiday-makers have been scrawled across walls on the Spanish island of Majorca and on tour buses in Barcelona.
Over in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, made popular by Game of Thrones, tourist numbers are limited to 8,000 pat a time in the old town, in accordance with UNESCO advice, because the sheer number of tourists visiting are destroying the World Heritage listed city.
The situation is similar in many other European tourist hot spots, with growing anti-tourism movements cities across Italy and Iceland too.
“Overtourism has become a real issue in many of the world’s most beautiful cities and it’s impacting the experience for locals and for travellers,” says Intrepid CEO James Thornton.
However, Mr Thornton says that doesn’t necessarily mean that we should blackball Europe altogether — there is a lot more to the continent than the typical hot spots.
”In 2018, we’re encouraging travellers to consider the alternatives, and look beyond the typical destinations,” he says.
“The global tourism industry is growing rapidly, but not always sustainably. We need to work harder to tell travellers about lesser-known destinations that are just as worthy of your time.”
Intrepid has released a list of these lesser-trodden European destinations in its “Not Hot Travel List”, encouraging Aussie tourists to swap a popular destination with one of these in order to help combat the escalating issue of overtourism.
Instead of Croatia, you can bask in the warm hospitality of the Turkish part of the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
You can hunt for castles and monasteries, or swim off the shimmering northern coastline in the Mediterranean Sea.
Calabria and Sicily
Instead of Venice, discover Italy’s vibrant south. Calabria, in southwest Italy, or Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island just off the “toe” of Italy’s ‘boot’, are both hidden gems, starring dramatic cliffside villages, clear waters and delicious seafood.
Portugal and Azores
Instead of Spain, experience the food and wine culture of Portugal, or go island hopping and hike around Sao Jorge or Faial Islands in the Azores, a group of islands just off the coast of Portugal.
Instead of Iceland, explore Finnish Lapland in winter. It’s home of the indigenous Sami people and is a magical Arctic wonderland of pristine peaks and snow-dusted woodlands.
Instead of Tuscany, enjoy the largest quality wine collection in the world without the crowds. Moldova is an Eastern European country bordered by Romania and the Ukraine.
Instead of the Alps, combine a sleigh ride, village visits and traditional cooking in this stunning mountain range which forms a natural border between Slovakia and Poland.