10 tourist destinations ruined by Instagram

The natural and man-made beauties where you can’t move for selfie sticks

Helen Coffey
Friday 16 June 2017 09:51 BST
Remember the days when you actually looked at tourist attractions?
Remember the days when you actually looked at tourist attractions? (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Beautiful places have always been popular with tourists, but the rise of social media means that even the most hidden of hidden gems doesn’t remain so for long. And while in a bygone age visitors would flock to gorgeous attractions simply to admire them, now these delights are merely the backdrop to the ubiquitous Insta-selfie. Here are 10 of the most afflicted attractions ruined by Instagram.

1. Santorini

Those distinctive blue roof tops, white walls and perfect turquoise sea behind are must-snap elements coveted by Instagrammers the world over. But tourist numbers are now so high that the Greek island imposed a limit on the number of cruise ship visitors this year, capping it at 8,000 a day after it reached highs of 10,000 in 2015.

2. Portofino

This attractive fishing village on the Italian Riviera is the Instagram hot spot. Its recognisable pastel-coloured buildings against the popping blue sky (#nofilter) makes for a social media aficionado’s dream. Unfortunately for those not there for the photo ops, you’ll be hard pressed to move for all the iPhones.

3. Marina Bay Sands infinity pool

The iconic infinity pool at the top of Singapore’s most famous hotel has made it onto every “Best pools in the world” list ever written. Probably. Taking a picture for your followers is mandatory – or so it would seem if the number of shots on Instagram is anything to go by. Heaven forbid you might just fancy enjoying a tech-free splash about.

4. Great Wall of China

The world’s most famous wall is like catnip for Instagrammers. China’s biggest attraction was already packed with tourists – but now you have to dodge every other person’s camera phone too. Head to less crowded sections to avoid being an extra in somebody’s 50th smug selfie of the day.

5. Machu Picchu

People just love to pose in front of this Incan citadel in the Peruvian Andes – particularly while wearing a colourful knitted poncho. And who can blame them? But the sheer volume of tourists turning up to get a coveted shot of themselves looking mysterious in front of the rugged green landscape and 15th century ruins is putting Machu Picchu under threat. Over 1.2 million people visited the Unesco world heritage site in 2014, breaking the 2,500 visitors a day limit. Plans are now afoot to limit numbers further by 2019, with tourists having to hire a guide and follow one of three designated paths to access the site.

6. Leaning Tower of Pisa

These days, visitors to the famous Italian monument have to peer past the hundreds upon hundreds of people attempting to catch the perfect “Look at me, I’m holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!” snap for social media. It doesn’t matter how many idiots have taken the same photo already – everyone wants their own. The only remedy is to photobomb as many as possible.

7. Grand Mosque

Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque has played host to controversial selfies more than once. The ornate building is very much a place of worship – yet many Instagrammers prefer to see it as the perfect ready-made set for their chic, hijab-clad photo shoot, complete with white columns and lavish gold ornamentation. Celebrities have brought the trend to the fore – both Rihanna and girl squad mates Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner have been criticized for taking “inappropriate” photos there.

8. The Little Mermaid

This bronze sculpture by Edvard Eriksen is perched on a rock by the water at the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s just 1.25m high but what it lacks in stature it makes up for in likes. There are countless selfie snaps with the mermaid on social media. However, not everyone is a fan – the statue was found vandalised for the second time in a month on Wednesday, covered in blue paint.

9. Sagrada Familia

The distinctive Spanish cathedral makes a dramatic backdrop to a pouting selfie – but this and the quirkily beautiful Gaudi-designed landmarks that define the streets of Barcelona mean the city is overrun with tourists looking to get the perfect shot. Ada Colau, Barcelona's first female mayor, has tried to curb the influx by freezing licences for all new hotels and holiday rental apartments and proposing a new tourist tax and limiting visitor numbers.

10. Holocaust memorial

A trend of taking selfies – often posed with big smiles, peace signs, or even ab-displaying handstands – at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin kicked off a couple of years ago. What should be a place to be quiet, respectful, sombre and reflective, morphed into an upbeat Disney-esque attraction with tourists’ thoughtless pictures posted to social media. Tired of this abhorrent practice, Israeli satirist and author Shahak Shapira challenged it by photoshopping concentration camp pictures of starving Jewish people and piles of corpses into the background.

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