Tips on where to escape overtourism


LONDON, 8 October 20128: Research gathered by SpaSeekers reveals that Copenhagen is the most relaxing city in Europe to visit for a city break.

Sofia, Amsterdam and Paris were found to be the least relaxing places for a city break.

The European Relaxation Index ranks 28 cities across the continent for the ability deliver a quality holiday experience.

The key factors studied included: How busy the city is (number of people per sq km); how happy the locals are; living standards; access to public transport; the amount of coastline nearby and the level of passenger congestion at local airports.

Combined and weighted, they produce a potential maximum index score of 10 for each city. So which destination came out on top?

The Top 10 most relaxing city breaks in Europe:

Ranking Country City  Index Score
1 Denmark Copenhagen 4.16
2 Luxembourg Luxembourg City 4.08
3 Estonia Tallinn 4.02
4 Finland Helsinki 3.84
5 Croatia Zagreb 3.67
6 Lithuania Vilnius 3.64
7 Latvia Riga 3.64
8 Sweden Stockholm 3.63
9 Greece Athens 3.55
10 Malta Valletta 3.53

Copenhagen was ranked as the most relaxing city break destination. Denmark’s capital has an overall low population density with just 2,000 residents per sq km making the city less crowded than others. Copenhagen also scores highly for happiness (8.1), living standards (8.3) public transport (6.8), and offers an impressive 7,314 km coastline nearby giving the city an index score of 4.16.

Copenhagen was followed by Luxembourg and Tallinn in Estonia with index scores of 4.08 and 4.02 respectively.

Luxembourg ranks particularly high for local happiness (8.1), and despite not having a coastline, its low airport passenger numbers (3,020,000) and low population density (1,600/sq km) create a relaxing environment and laid back atmosphere.

With the lowest population density of all 28 cities, Luxembourg serves as the perfect destination for travellers in search of a tranquil escape without the hassle of busy crowds.

Tallin, Estonia ranks highly across the index – with one of the smallest population densities (2,100 people/sq km), highest happiness scores (7.2) and public transport satisfaction (7.1). Its cultural beauty makes for the perfect, quaint getaway.

Finland gained the highest population happiness level with a score of 8.1.

The 10 least relaxing city breaks in Europe:

Ranking Country City  Index Score
1 Bulgaria Sofia 2.76
2 Netherlands Amsterdam 2.95
3 France Paris 3.03
4 Spain Madrid 3.06
5 Romania Bucharest 3.09
6 Germany Berlin 3.1
7 Czech Republic Prague 3.1
8 United Kingdom London 3.25
9 Poland Warsaw 3.26
10 Republic of Ireland Dublin 3.33

Sofia in Bulgaria was found to be the least relaxing city in Europe; with the highest city population density of 6,400 people per sq km, small coastline (354 km) and mediocre scores for happiness (6.4), living standards (5.6) and public transport satisfaction (6). The index suggests Bulgaria’s capital is one of the most hectic for visitors.

Surprisingly, Sofia was followed by popular tourist destinations Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin and London as the least relaxing European city breaks.

Despite its low city population density (3,300) relatively high satisfaction levels, Amsterdam’s 63,625,664 annual airport passengers result in a stressful city break experience as soon as touching down at the city’s airport.

Likewise, Paris’ 65,933,145 annual airport passengers at the popular Charles de Gaulle Airport can often result in a chaotic and congested experience.

London was the least relaxing city breaks in two categories;  crowded population density (5,600 per sq km) and local airports noted as the busiest in Europe.

SpaSeekers head, Jason Goldberg, commented on the research:  “Although Amsterdam and Paris are popular tourist destinations, their high airport numbers mean visitors are stressed by the masses of people as soon as they get off the plane.”

Download the full study :

Spa Seekers is a UK spa booking agency, established in 1989 offers specialist knowledge on spa experiences.


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