Ten destinations to avoid in 2019, and where to go instead

You've already been told where you should go. If you're the sort of person who takes note of lists for travellers, you would already have seen several roll-calls of places to visit in 2019.

But what about the places you should avoid? What about the attractions that are closed, or undergoing renovations this year? What about the cities battling over-tourism? What about the destinations hit by natural disasters that need time to recover?

If you're planning a trip for 2019, these are the places to consider avoiding…

Venice, Italy

It's time to give Venice a break. This floating city is ground zero in the battle against over-tourism, and you get the feeling it's losing, trampled by millions of sandal-clad touristy feet. Citizens are frustrated. Visitors are annoyed. In 2019, cast your net a bit wider: in Italy, try nearby Verona with its Roman amphitheatre, or head over the border to Ljubljana in Slovenia, or Zadar in Croatia.

Washington DC, USA

If the spectre of Donald Trump parading around the US capital isn't enough to scare you off in 2019, consider this: the National Air and Space Museum, a branch of the Smithsonian and one of the US's finest and most fascinating institutions, is undergoing major renovations, with many exhibits closed or moved to other locations in 2019. Not the ideal time to be in DC if you're only going to make it there once.

Koh Phi Phi Le, Thailand


Photo: Shutterstock

The Thai island featured in the movie The Beach has long been suffering due to its popularity, and last year it broke under the strain. Maya Bay, its most famous stretch of sand, was closed indefinitely to allow the area to recover from the damage caused by millions of annual visitors. The beach remains closed in 2019, though as it begins to recover there are hopes it will be reopened to limited numbers of tourists soon.

Kumamoto, Japan

Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu, is home to one of Japan's most famous castles; however, the structure was severely damaged in a 2016 earthquake, and much of it remains either closed or covered in scaffolding. The repairs are expected to take decades, though the bulk of rebuilding efforts are hoped to be finished by late 2019. Still, with so many other amazing attractions in Japan, Kumamoto can be put on hold for now.

Barcelona, Spain


Photo: Shutterstock


Like Venice, Barcelona is on the front lines of the fight against over-tourism. This is a phenomenally popular destination, a city of 1.6 million inhabitants that receives an astounding 30 million visitors a year. There have been protest marches in the streets as residents are forced out of desirable areas and tourists outnumber locals in many parts of the city. In 2019, don't add to the problem. Check out neighbouring cities like Tarragona, Girona or Zaragoza instead.

London, Britain

Scaffolding surrounds the clock face on the Elizabeth Tower, also known as Big Ben.

Scaffolding surrounds the clock face on the Elizabeth Tower, also known as Big Ben. Photo: Bloomberg

You know when you have friends who are going through a difficult time and you figure it's best not to call around to their house at the moment? Britain is like that, as it goes through the Brexit process – in whatever form that eventually takes – in 2019. Though the pound will inevitably weaken, this may still not be the best time to visit. In London, Big Ben is also under renovation in 2019 and covered in scaffolding, and Courtauld Gallery, home to an impressive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art, is closed for renovations this year.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

<i>Tourists crowd the streets of Dubrovnik.</i>

Tourists crowd the streets of Dubrovnik. Photo: Alamy

You can thank Game of Thrones for the incredible popularity of Dubrovnik, also known as Kings Landing. Since the coastal city began doubling as the home of Cersei and the Lannisters, visitor numbers have gone through the roof, with short-stay cruise passengers being a particular concern. The city has now limited daily visitors to its walled Old Town to 4000. This is all as good a reason as any to go somewhere different this year: try Budva in Montenegro, or Sarande in Albania.

Cinque Terre, Italy

The five coastal towns of Cinque Terre are famous the world over, not just for the settlements themselves, but for the stunning, rugged pathways that link them. However, those pathways have proved so popular in recent years that some have now been closed for major reconstruction work. The Riomaggiore to Manarola route, also known as the Path of Love, is a particularly notable closure: it won't be in use again until April 2021. A good reason to go somewhere else.

Copenhagen, Denmark

<i>Copenhagen, Denmark on the Nyhavn Canal.</i>

Copenhagen, Denmark on the Nyhavn Canal. Photo: Shutterstock

Though plenty of destinations would love to be named No. 1 on Lonely Planet's Best in Travel list, the honour is also a guarantee that the hordes are about to descend, which may not be good news for potential visitors. For 2019 the LP's "best city" badge has been bestowed upon Copenhagen, the Danish capital that has been becoming increasingly popular in recent years even without the guidebook's nod. To avoid the crush this year, check out Malmo, Hamburg or Gothenburg instead.

Uluru, Australia

This comes with a caveat: only those who wish to climb Uluru should stay away in 2019. In fact, they should stay away for good. In October this year the wishes of the local Anangu people will finally be respected, and visitors will officially be banned from climbing Uluru. Don't take that as an invitation to get in while you still can, either. Just stay away.

Where will you be avoiding in 2019? Are any of these destinations still on your list anyway?

Email: b.groundwater@traveller.com.au

Instagram: Instagram.com/bengroundwater

​See also: The best bargain destinations for 2019

See also: The ultimate bucket-list experiences for 2019