Which places in Spain have too many tourists?

The Local Spain
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Which places in Spain have too many tourists?
Tourists walk in the shade in Seville. The Andalusin capital is the second city in Spain with the highest ratio of tourist to resident. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

New data reveals the cities, towns and villages in Spain where holidaymakers far outnumber locals, as many places across the country deal with the unintended consequences of being 'too popular'.


Spain, a country of 47 million inhabitants, is expecting to receive 85 million tourists in 2023, a million more than in 2019 - the last pre-pandemic year.

The country depends on tourism; it represented 61 percent of the country's economic growth in 2022 and 12.2 percent of its GDP.

However, just like Spain's population isn't evenly distributed across the territory, the millions of foreign and national holidaymakers aren't either, putting great pressure on certain cities and towns.


Their streets are swarming with people during peak holiday season, locals are getting priced out as rents increase and the overall quality of life of residents has taken a dip. 

A study by vacation rental search engine Holidu which analysed the places in Europe where tourists outnumber locals has shed light on where the issue of overtourism is particularly serious. 

Their metrics don't look at the number of tourists themselves in each place, but rather the ratio of tourists to local residents.



Barcelona as many would expect is the Spanish city with the worst overtourism problem.

According to Holidu's data, there are 4.8 tourists for every resident of the Catalan capital.

Barcelona city has a population of 1.45 million people but receives 7 million holidaymakers on average every year.

However, it's worth noting that it came in 20th place in the European rankings, which reflects that there are more oversaturated cities across the continent. 

Tourists on bicycles listen to a tour guide at Plaza Real in Barcelona. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)


Andalusia's capital is the second Spanish city with the highest ratio of tourists to local, and came in at number 31 in Europe,

Seville has two million visitors every year and has 695,000 residents, so there are roughly three tourists for every sevillano


Next in third position in Spain and 33rd in the European rankings is Madrid.

The Spanish capital welcomes two tourists per inhabitant, receiving 5.59 million travellers annually even though its inner city has a population of 2.8 million.



The European cities which are most overcrowded with tourists are Croatia's Dubrovnik (36 tourists per inhabitant), Venice in Italy and Bruges in Belgium (both with 21 tourists per inhabitant).

Other locations in Europe with a high volume of tourists are Rhodes, Reykjavik, Florence, Heraklion, Amsterdam, Dublin and Tallinn. 


Nevertheless, it's not just cities and islands that withstand massive volumes of travellers.

In Spain, there are villages and towns where the number of holidaymakers far outweighs the people who live there.

It certainly is a valuable source of income for locals but it's also putting immense pressure on their infrastructure and purchasing power.




If every resident of the town of Peñíscola in Valencia province invited 25 friends to visit, that would give you some idea of how many tourists come to the coastal treasure every year.

Peñíscola, a town of just 7,000 people receives 200,943 visitors every year.

It is the town with highest level of tourist overcrowding in Spain, according to a ranking compiled by Holidu. 

Peñíscola is loved by tourists for its beaches and mediaeval castle. Photo: Gayulo/Pixabay



Albarracín, in the northern region of Aragón, has a population of just 990 inhabitants, but welcomes a whopping 23,119 tourists, or 23.35 travellers per inhabitant per year.


Sant Llorenç des Cardassar

On the east coast of Mallorca is Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, the third most overcrowded town in Spain, which registers 21.19 tourists per inhabitant.

The tiny Mallorcan town of 1519 people receives 32,184 tourists every year.



The fourth most overcrowded tourist town in Spain can also be found in Aragón, in the town of Sallent de Gállego, in Huesca, which has 21.19 tourists per resident.

In fifth place, Salou in Tarragona, with 16,.44 tourists per resident. In sixth, Mojácar in Almería (16,.44 tourists per resident); seventh is Cangas de Onís in Asturias (14.57); eight is Benasque in Huesca (14.29); ninth is Capdepera in Mallorca (14.06); and in tenth place is Vielha e Mijaran in Lleida (11.88).




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