Over-tourism has been a hot topic throughout Europe and abroad as tourism has grown to unprecedented numbers.
And while seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa or basking in the awe of Michelangelo’s art in the Sistine Chapel is nothing short of amazing, it’s hard to truly enjoy these wonders among the millions of cameras, fanny packs, and khaki shorts.
That’s why we encourage you to take a walk off the beaten path and visit some of the many hidden gems of the world.
With a little planning, you can still have an unforgettable experience and vacation – but far, far away from the long lines and Hawaiian t-shirts.
And these 7 destinations will give you everything you want from the most popular tourists spots, but in its purest form.
1. Norwich, England
It’s said that Norwich has a pub for every day of the year and a church for every Sunday.
All across the old English city is breathtaking medieval architecture that will give you days of awe and delight.
Norwich Cathedral is among one of the city’s oldest structures, dating to 1096, and sits between streets dotted with ancient homes.
And if you want to enjoy an ice cold brew while singing merry tunes, head over to the oldest pub in the country, Bishopsgate, dating all the way back to 1249.
2. The Hague, Netherlands
If you’re looking to cross the English Channel and explore windmills and wild tulip fields, then head over to The Hague, Netherlands.
While the Netherlands is most known for its city of Amsterdam, many tourists don’t travel to the other historic highlights outside of the iconic town.
Plus, it won’t be long before visiting Amsterdam will become more problematic as travel restrictions increase and flights in and out of the city become limited.
Spread along the coast of the North Sea, The Hague offers the classic Dutch experience without the hassle of battling angry locals and the hordes of tourists.
So get humbly acquainted instead with the Netherland’s most-coveted architecture, like its intricate canals and the world-renowned museum, Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery.
And it’s okay to mix your artsy and flirty side with a stay at Scheveningen seaside resort.
3. Aarhus, Denmark
Head north to Denmark’s second-largest city for some fun in the sun and priceless pieces of art.
The beloved Bellevue Beach is a local favorite with its white sands set against the forest of Riis Skov.
Make sure to take a day or two at the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum and walk the rainbow panorama walkway.
Culinary experts have also made their home in Aarhus, offering patrons exquisite Nordic cuisine at places like the ARoS Wine and Food Hall and Gastrome in the Latin Quarter.
4. Sarajevo, Bosnia
The hit series Game of Thrones has made traveling to Croatia the up-and-coming thing to do, but has caused tourist numbers to drastically rise.
If you don’t care to hobnob with Game of Throne enthusiasts who believe they’re spawns of a dragon, then go to neighboring Bosnia and experience its real culture and history.
CNN says of Sarajevo:
“At its heart is Baščaršija, the old market quarter that still buzzes with spice stalls, cafés and the fascinating Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque.”
Take a tour through the Tunnel of Hope where the city’s four-year siege during its civil war is chronicled.
Want a classic vacation experience in an atypical environment? Stay at the Pino Nature Hotel with its breathtaking views, superior comfort, and the best Bosnian cuisine.
5. Aberdeen, Scotland
The everyday tourist will head to Edinburgh when traveling to Scotland, but not you. You want something extraordinary.
So why not visit Aberdeen, only a short drive to the north.
You won’t miss the sites of Edinburgh Castle when you witness the ornate architecture on every corner of the “Granite City” of Aberdeen.
Plan a trip soon and catch the re-opening of Aberdeen’s art gallery in November 2019, then grab a drink at Speyside – one of Scotland’s best single malt distilleries.
6. Bern, Switzerland
Switzerland is a diverse country with a lot to offer, but many tourists miss out on all the fun to be had at the Aare River in Bern.
Schedule a little extra time to swim in its cool waters after hiking to the top of the mountain, Gurten, which offers a breathtaking view of the old city.
For all you art connoisseurs, gaze at the priceless works of Picasso and Klee at the Museum of Fine Arts.
And the kids will love visiting Zytglogge, the giant mechanical clock built in 1405.
7. Turin, Italy
Italy has faced some of the dire consequences of over-tourism with sacred grounds being trampled and once-beloved quaint cities like Venice becoming barren of residents.
The country has mainly funneled tourists through a handful of the most popular cities, leaving so many diamonds in the rough.
Turin is one of those places. As the capital of the Piedmont region, there are many attractions nestled in this beautiful city.
Plan to see the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Basilica di Superga, and Museo Egizio, where a vast collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts are displayed.
And don’t worry – you’ll still get to do all the things travelers love about Italy like strolling down its cobblestone streets, enjoying some of the world’s best coffee, and eating delicious Italian cuisine.
All of these destinations will give you the tourist feel – but without all the tourists!
And if you really want to forfeit the classic vacation experience altogether and go for a more unique cultural submersion, head somewhere like Lichtenstein or Niue, which we’ve previously suggested to our readers.
Please let us know in the comments section if you have a suggestion for a less over-run destination or if you have visited any of these destinations listed.