Europe is the most popular tourist destination in the world, but anyone who has traveled in the continent knows how different the countries are. Which countries and which regions exactly are the most visited in Europe? The European Union has vast databases of information on tourism that reveals interesting details where travelers like to stay.
The following statistics from EU is tallied up from the nights tourists have stayed in hotels, B&B, rental cottages and campgrounds. The number of nights is different than the number of visitors, because the number one destination Canary Islands (Spain) is likely to get at least seven nights per visitor because in practice all travelers fly to the islands and stay there for one or more weeks. That’s why number two destination Ile de France (in practice, Paris) may get more visitors than Canary Islands but since they are likely to stay only a few nights in Paris, the number of nights doesn’t add up to the same level as on the islands.
Often, charts show that Paris, London, or Madrid is the most popular destination. Maybe, when airport arrivals are counted, but it doesn’t mean tourists would stay in there. From Madrid, it is a fairly short drive to Costa Blanca or from Paris to Strasbourg.
The total number is million nights stayed by residents and non-residents in each destination. The blue bar shows the number of nights for hotel accommodation, green for holiday homes and the color of sand for campsites.
Top 20 tourist regions of Europe are (based on the number of nights stayed in):
1. Canary Islands, Spain.
2. Ile de France (Paris).
3. Catalonia. The province in Northeast Spain where Barcelona and the Costa Brava are located.
4. Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca).
5. Adriatic Croatia (Jadranska Hrvatska), the coastal region of Croatia.
6. Veneto, Italy. The region around Venice.
7. Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur, France. The region where Nice, Monaco, the French Riviera and the Southernmost Alps in France are located.
8. Andalusia, Spain. The southernmost province of Spain where, for instance, Sevilla, Malaga and Marbella are located.
9. Rhones-Alpes, France. The high Alps, and the city of Lyon in the valley of Rhone.
10. Inner London, UK.
11. Tuscany, Italy. Florence, Siena and other towns on the rolling hills of Tuscany.
12. Valencia region in Spain. Costa Blanca, for instance, Benidorm, Alicante and Murcia are here.
13. Emila Romagna, Italy. Rimini, San Marino, Bologna, Parma are some of the towns in the region.
14. Tirol, Austria. The province in the high Alps, where Innsbruck is the largest town.
15. Languedoc-Roussillon, France. The province is bordered by the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean.
16. Lombardy, Italy. The region where the large lakes of Garda, Lugano and the city Milan meet the Dolomites mountain range.
17. Upper Bavaria, Germany. The region around Munich.
18. Aquitane, France. The province between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees from Biarritz to Bordeaux.
19. Lazio, Italy. The region around Rome.
20. Bolzano, Italy. The high Alps region in Italy.
If we look at the same statistical data and take into account only tourists who have stayed in another country, the most popular travel destinations in Europe looks a bit different.
Destinations that rise to the Top 20 when only foreign visitors are taken into account are: Crete (Greece), South Aegean Sea (Notio Aigaio, Greece), Salzburg (Austria), North Netherlands. Other destinations are the same as in the Total Top 20.