four tips | avoiding overtourism

tourists exploring the grounds at Cliveden (c) 2018 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Overtourism affects all of us when visit popular tourist destinations. Europe had 671 million visitors in 2017, the eighth year of sustained growth in its tourism industry. We've all experienced the loathsome effects of too many visitors in the same places — long lines in front of the pyramid at the Louvre in Paris, huge crowds crowding the Piazza San Marco in Venice, a precious few seconds on a moving conveyer in front of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Overtourism also means crowded airports, long security lines, and wasted time in immigration.

Here are my top tips for avoiding overtourism. Short version — be a contrarian.

(1) Avoid high season. Unless you have school-age children, don't travel in the summer. I can guarantee that Italy will be hot and crowded in June, July, and August.

(2) Visit when everyone else is staying away. For instance, many visitors deserted Paris during Sunday "Yellow Jacket" protests on the Champs Elysées. Hotel occupancy went way down, and some of the more popular tourist sites were closed. I would see this as the perfect opportunity to avoid the Champs Elysées, explore less-known parts of Paris, and plan a Sunday day trip to Versailles, Chartres, or Giverny. Are you a nervous traveler? Just engage a knowledgeable tour guide, and you'll be kept far from any affected areas.

(3) Arrange for special access. Sit in Churchill's chair in the War Rooms (while the crowds filing past the plexiglass window wonder what kind of VIP you are) or witness the Changing of the Guard's concert from inside the Wellington Barracks (with nobody between you and the troops). Visit the Vatican Museum before it opens to the crowds (and without waiting in line). Yes, you'll pay for the privilege — but that's what keeps it exclusive.

(4) Get off the beaten track. You might explore the English countryside as the ten (10) tourists pictured above are doing at Cliveden. Ourisman Travel has partnerships around the world with companies that know their destinations like locals ... because they are locals! Special bonus feature after the break — the outline of a 10-day, 9-night off-the-beaten-track itinerary in Portugal and Spain, suggested by our friends at Made for Spain, completely customizable. Contact us to plan this trip!

off the beaten track itinerary for Portugal and Spain

Day 1 — arrival to Porto, Portugal, check into Hotel Infante de Sagres
Half-day Porto highlights tour: Stock Exchange Plaza, Church of Saint Francis, Cathedral of Porto, Lello Bookstore

Day 2 — enjoy a leisurely day as locals do — drive with your local host along the Douro river to the fishing village of Afurada, visit a fish market, and enjoy grilled fish at a local restaurant. Take the boat back to Porto.

Day 3 — transfer to Six Senses Douro Valley — day at leisure enjoying the spa and the resort.

Day 4 — full day excursion in the Douro River by boat, lunch at a local restaurant, visit a local winery in Pinhào.

Day 5 — private transfer to the Coa Valley, check into Casas do Côro

Day 6 — full day hiking experience to the Geopark Terras de Cavaleiros

Day 7 — private transfer to Salamanca. Visit Cuidad Rodrigo on the way, a fortified town in the west of the Salamanca province with 12th and 17th century walls and streets of Renaissance mansions. Check into Hotel Rector.

Day 8 — half day walking tour of Salamanca, one of the oldest university cities in Europe with everything from medieval towers to Modernist buildings.

Day 9 — visit Avila, a medieval walled city, en route to Segovia. Spend final night at Parador de La Granja.

Day 10 — depart from Madrid.

copyright (c) 2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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