Travelers are headed to Europe in record numbers this summer, with one concern top of mind – overcrowding.
Everyone wants to actually be able to enjoy the city they’re visiting, right?
Massive crowds at your destination’s main attractions keep you from seeing what you came to see.
De-stressing your summer Europe trip can mean arriving early for the most overcrowded attractions, or even avoiding them entirely.
Travel site The Thinking Traveller analyzed overcrowding keywords in thousands of TripAdvisor reviews for attractions in Europe this summer to help you plan around the crowds.
Here are the ten most overcrowded tourist attractions in Europe this summer:
1. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
This list is dominated by U.K. attractions, but Scotland’s iconic Edinburgh Castle takes gold.
Last year, 3.2 million international visitors traveled to Edinburgh, and 1.3 million tourists visited Edinburgh Castle specifically.
Edinburgh is one of the top 5 trending summer destinations in 2023, according to Hopper, so those castle visitation numbers aren’t likely to slow down anytime soon.
Overcrowding isn’t a new problem for this historical site, though.
In 2018, 10,000 tourists a day overwhelmed the castle’s staff and threatened to shut down the attraction. At the time, Edinburgh World Heritage raised alarm bells that the city was “suffering the same fate as Venice” and on track to become a “hollow museum shell” due to unsustainably high numbers of tourists.
To escape the crowds and explore a castle near Edinburgh city, visitors might try Lauriston Castle or Craigmillar Castle instead.
2. Buckingham Palace, London, England
More than a third of the 16 million tourists visiting London each year list Buckingham Palace as a ‘must see’ top preference.
While only 121,000 visitors paid for a ticket to tour the royal home last year, countless others – estimated at more than 5 million – came to see it for free from outside the palace gates.
California tourist Becky M described her disappointment when she arrived at Buckingham Palace a half hour before the changing of the guard, only to realize that tourists needed to get there at least 2 hours early to even see the tippy tops of the guards’ hats.
She wasn’t able to get close enough to the gate to see the iconic event she came to London for. “You can’t get any pictures,” she said. “And you really won’t understand what the heck is going on.”
Tourists can avoid the crowds this summer with alternative royal destinations like Kensington Palace and The Household Cavalry Museum.
3. Siam Park, Tenerife, Spain
Siam Park is the most visited amusement park in Spain, and has been named the best waterpark in the world by TripAdvisor for nearly a decade.
Once opened by the Princess of Thailand, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the park features a Southeast Asian theme.
With summer temperatures in Spain sometimes reaching highs of 47° C (117° F), It’s easy to see why nearly 2 million visitors flock to Siam Park to cool down.
Tourists can try hidden Spanish beaches like Playa el Puertito instead, or head to these lesser known Mediterranean islands to beat the heat and the crowds with a nice swim.
4. Canal Grande, Venice, Italy
Nearly 9 million tourists visited the small canal city of Venice last year.
With over 100,000 tourists per day during peak season, Veneto’s narrow cobblestone alleys and tiny water taxis can easily get too crowded to function.
This summer, tourists outnumber locals by more than 2 to1.
While the city has introduced an entry fee to try to tackle overtourism, visitors to the city’s lovely Grand Canal can still expect to be packed like sardines into overcrowded bridges. And we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but chances are you won’t manage to get the iconic photo op either.
Tourists can aim for shoulder season, or check out these four lesser known destinations with picturesque canals instead.
5. The Roman Baths, Bath, England
These Roman Baths have been welcoming visitors for nearly 2,000 years.
It’s no surprise that more than 6 million tourists come to see this iconic attraction each year. However, the city’s narrow streets and the attraction’ tight quarters make a visit to England’s Roman Baths especially chaotic.
The tourist buses in front of The Roman Baths in particular create problems with “noise, air quality, and visual intrusion, …unofficial parking, …and public safety,” according to Bath’s tourism board.
If unspoiled Roman history is all you’re after on an English holiday, you still have plenty of peaceful options. Try lesser-known Fishbourne Roman Palace, Caerwent, or Wroxeter.
6. Tower of London, England
Over 3 million visitors each year come to see the crown jewels and spectacular views from the Tower of London.
But 1-2 hour waits, overcrowded staircases, and short time limits on jewel rooms leave many tourists questioning whether it’s worth the crowds.
Visitor Hannah went to the tower this June, and found that the crowds spoiled her experience. “Amazing place,” she wrote in her review, “but the crowds had a big impact on my day.
“You are herded like cattle through all of the attractions and it’s really too busy to enjoy properly. The queue for the Crown Jewels was over an hour long. I went Monday morning. At over £30 pp ($40) … would be good to see limits on the amount of guests per day.”
Instead of the Tower of London, London tourists can view the jewel collection at nearby Victoria & Albert Museum for free with fewer crowds and no time limits. Queen Victoria‘s stunning sapphire and diamond crown is on permanent public display there.
If the Tower’s views are what you’re after, try the free viewing platform at the Tate Modern instead.
7. Louvre Museum, Paris, France
A whopping 8 million people visited the Louvre Museum in Paris, France last year.
Travelers hoping for a glimpse at the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo might be disappointed after elbow-fighting with the roughly 30,000 daily visitors for a partial view from afar.
But don’t worry – there are less crowded places to get a little culture in the City of Lights. For something historical, try Musée Carnavalet. For a more modern touch, try Fondation Louis Vuitton.
8. Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Over 6 million tourists visit the Greek capital each year.
Every day, over 16,000 tourists flock to the Acropolis, creating such serious overcrowding that Greece is introducing new crowd control measures this summer for the first time.
The situation is exacerbated by the bottleneck at the ancient Propylaia, or gateway, where these thousands of tourists have to cram through to enter.
It’s also fueled in part by large cruise ships docking in the Greek capital.
Lysandros Tsilidis of the top tourism association in Greece recently told The Observer that these cruise ships have “the size of a small state on board, and at least 30% of all of those passengers will have pre-purchased tickets to visit the Acropolis.”
For a dose of Athens’ ancient history without the insane crowds, visitors can head to Plaka or Mount Lycabettus.
9. The British Museum, London, England
The British Museum receives a staggering 6.5 million visitors per year. While the oldest public museum in the world is pretty spacious, tourists here still feel the effects of big crowds.
Tourist SJ visited the museum this month and had this to say: “The museum itself is huge and yet it seemed every room or corridor was packed with people, so it made it hard to see a lot of the artifacts properly or look at them for long enough.”
For some under-the-radar culture, London travelers can enjoy Guildhall Art Gallery, The Queen’s House, or Leighton House Museum with fewer fellow tourists.
10. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
Like the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay is as iconic as it is crowded.
This museum welcomes over 3 million visitors per year, with crowds of nearly 7,000 per day in the off-season and even more in peak summer months.
If you have your heart set on Musée d’Orsay, try an early morning Wednesday visit for the smallest crowds on average.
Better yet, head to the lesser-known Musée de la Vie Romantique to view works from similar time periods without hordes of tourists.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com