Overtourism: 6 Best Alternative Destinations to Visit in 2024

View across flooded rice terraces in Lombok, Indonesia

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There’s a lot to love about travel. As cliche as it sounds, it’s one of those experiences that gives you an insight into another way of life.. You also get to experience the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring settings, which is reason enough in my opinion!

But, as travel gets more popular, a lot of these places have become overcrowded. 

So, you’re not alone if you’re looking for eco-friendly and alternative destinations that offer some peace!

If that’s you, in this post, I’ll be sharing some of the best alternative spots to visit in the coming year, as well as why these switches are definitely worth it!

Why choose an alternative destination

Travel is an amazing thing when done right, but overtourism is becoming a huge problem.

With visitor numbers increasing in many destinations, it’s having massive implications for local residents and the environment.

One of the main problems is that tourists drive prices up. And with a spike in the demand for short-term rentals, rent prices have also increased, meaning that many locals can’t afford to stay in their homes.

There’s also a huge impact on the environment through erosion, pollution and water consumption. And a lot of the time, the countries that face overtourism aren’t equipped to deal with this environmental impact.

Rustic accomodation set in dense jungle on the side of a lake in Bacalar, Mexico

But – the world is huge and there are so many incredible places to see – and many offer similar experiences to the tourist spots!

Best alternative destinations

By choosing off-the-beaten-track or alternative destinations, not only will you get a more authentic experience, but you’ll help bring the benefits of tourism to the places that actually need it.

It really is a win-win! So keep reading for the destinations that tick the right boxes for a more sustainable vacation…

1 Rovinj instead of Dubrovnik

View across the sea towards traditional pastel buildings in the town of Rovinj

We all know and love Dubrovnik. It’s famous for its gorgeous old town and picturesque beaches, but this is a city that’s really struggling with overtourism.

Cruises have played a part in this. And in summer the tiny streets have become way too crowded.

If you love the thought of Dubrovnik but can’t visit during a quieter season, consider Rovinj instead. This lively Croatian town can still get busy in July and August, but it’s less known than Dubrovnik and still has lots to offer.

A photogenic spot with Venetian vibes, Rovinj makes a lovely vacation. From its cobbled streets and sparkling waters to cute cafes and restaurants, it’s a pretty destination that’s bursting with charm.

How to get there: The main airport for Rovinj is Pula (PUY), which is about a 45-minute drive away. There are also ferries from Venice that take around 4 hours.

2 Tinos instead of Santorini 

Santorini is one of the most popular islands in Europe. It’s a dream destination and offers some of the world’s most iconic, picture-perfect views.

You can’t be blamed if you want to visit – it’s still one of the best honeymoon destinations in Europe. But it’s hard to ignore the impact of tourism.

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of islands in Greece and plenty of places will still give you those balmy summer vibes!

Better yet, you won’t have to battle crowds for a photo, and you’ll get a more authentic experience. One of these islands to have on your radar is Tinos.

Located in the Cyclades group, close to Mykonos, this is an enchanting destination. It’s a calming island that’s known for its spiritual roots, traditional villages and pretty beaches – it’s lovely for a relaxing break.

How to get there: The closest airport is in Mykonos (JMK) and from there you can catch a 30-minute ferry. You can also arrive from Athens – the ferry takes 3-4 hours.

3 Lombok instead of Bali 

Despite the rest of Indonesia having so much to offer, it’s Bali that visitors flock to. I guess it’s not really a surprise – it’s a gorgeous destination that flaunts a lot of natural beauty.

But away from Bali, Indonesia has loads of other gems that are often overlooked. And with the influx of digital nomads taking over Bali’s hotspots, you might want to try somewhere a little more peaceful!

So, for an alternative holiday destination to Bali, consider the neighbouring island of Lombok.

Although it’s nearby, Lombok has a different vibe to Bali.

It still has the breathtaking scenery that Indonesia is known for – think tumbling waterfalls, pretty beaches and epic volcanic landscapes. But it’s much less crowded than Bali so you’ll have more time and space to enjoy it all.

Plus, there are fewer resorts so you’ll get a more authentic experience.

How to get there: Lombok has its own airport (LOP) with direct flights from Jakarta, Bali Denpasar & Kuala Lumpur. You can also catch a ferry or fast boat from Bali.

4 Choquequirao instead of Machu Picchu

Inca ruins set within a green mountaintop in Peru

Even if you’re not an avid hiker, Machu Picchu has probably been on your bucket list. The views are iconic and the Inca Trail boasts jaw-dropping rural scenery steeped in history.

This World Heritage site is a magical setting – but overtourism is leading to the erosion of sites like these.

If it’s your dream destination, you need to be conscious when you visit Machu Picchu – staying on designated paths and being careful not to cause damage. You also need to remember to book your Inca Trail permit well in advance!

But, if you want something off the beaten track, there are alternative travel destinations that are just as awe-inspiring; such as Choquequirao!

Located high in the mountains in southern Peru – and currently only accessible by foot – Choquequirao is one for serious hikers (the hike is tough).

This archaeological site has many similarities to Machu Picchu but only sees around 20 visitors per day!

It’s an amazing, remote setting if you want adventure, but be quick – there are plans for a cable car to the site which will bring hundreds more tourists to the region.

How to get there: There are several hiking routes to Choquequirao. The classic route takes 4 days and starts and finishes in Cachora. You can reach Cachora by taxi or bus from Cusco (CUZ). 

5 Bacalar instead of Tulum

View from a tropical hilltop overlooking a brilliant turquoise lagoon

Dreaming of tropical beaches without the crowds? Tulum is famous for its chilled-out bohemian vibes, but it’s another destination that’s a hub for digital nomads.

I still LOVE Tulum, but because of its popularity, some of these areas are beginning to lose their charm. 

If you’re after a more authentic experience – or want more privacy – there are gorgeous beach spots further south in Quintana Roo. Near the border of Belize, Bacalar is a stunning place for a paradise escape.

This is a destination that’s famous for its gorgeous lagoon, but there are also Mayan ruins and cenotes to explore so it’s a great alternative to Tulum.

Without mega resorts, Bacalar is low-key and laidback making it perfect for those wanting a dreamy setting with a rustic edge.

How to get there: It’s best to fly into Cancun (CUN) and get the bus or hire a car to Bacalar – it takes around 5 hours.

6 Sri Lanka instead of Thailand

Thailand has my heart in every way – it’s an amazing destination but there’s no denying that it’s a tourist favourite.

Of course, there are some more undiscovered spots in Thailand that you could explore, but a great alternative is Sri Lanka!

Unlike some of the other places on this list, Sri Lanka isn’t exactly a hidden gem. This is a country that’s firmly on the map yet it’s still a great alternative destination.

In fact, since the bombings in Easter 2019, followed by Covid and an economic crisis, tourist numbers have been seriously down in Sri Lanka.

And while all those things are awful – in 2023, Sri Lanka is considered by many to be safe to now travel to.

As a country that was once on the verge of overtourism, it seems that Sri Lanka now needs tourists to rebuild, meaning it could be a great time to visit and help support the locals!

And what’s not to love about a trip to Sri Lanka? You’ll be blessed with spectacular scenery, incredible cultural sites and glorious sun-kissed beaches, too.

How to get there: The main airport for Sri Lanka is Colombo Airport (CMB) which has direct flights from the UK.

– – –

Being an eco traveller is hard and it’s normal if you’ve felt guilty about some of the trips you’ve taken.

It’s impossible to be perfect and I don’t think it’s realistic to cut out and sacrifice everything you love. However, being more conscious about your choices makes a big difference and if everyone took small steps, there could be real change for the planet!

I hope this has inspired you for your next trip. If you want more ideas you can check out some of my favourite ecotourism destinations here, too.

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