Where in Europe are the most and the least tourists from the US?

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When you are keen to travel Europe in a different way than most of your compatriots it is helpful to know which places they usually visit so that you can avoid these. The reward is that you can shine as a pioneer among your friends and family back home as you have decided to visit cities which seem a bit odd at first. In this post you will see the EU member countries most and least popular among tourists from the US.


The most popular EU countries among US tourists…

According to Eurostat data from 2014 (the latest year where I could find data for every EU country except the UK) there were over 21 Million tourists from the USA in the European Union. These are the top three:

  • Italy: Over 4.7 Million US visitors made Italy the top EU country in this ranking. I assume the lion’s share of them visit Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan.
  • France: About 3.5 Million US travellers found themselves here. Most likely most of them stayed in Paris.
  • UK: The UK had about 2.4 to 2.7 Million US visitors up to 2012. I assume the stats for 2014 would be in the same range, which still put the Island nation on the 3rd spot, slightly ahead aof Germany and Spain. However I assume that overwhelmingly most of them stay in the London area.

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…and the least popular ones

On the bottom of the table are those five countries:

  • Cyprus: with just over 13,000 US visitors it ranks at the bottom of the list.
  • Malta: Although it is an English-speaking country (it was a British colony until 1964) it has received only about 16,500 US folks.
  • Latvia: The fact that this country is a bit far off the usual tourist routes surely leads to a small number of American visitors (Just above 27,000 in 2014)
  • Luxembourg: Just above 29,000 American travellers found their way to this principality.
  • Slovakia: Once the other half of Czechoslovakia, this country struggles to get international tourist attention. For example only about 30,000 US tourists decided to make Slovakia their destination.

All these countries have one common characteristic: They are small. But there are also some bigger EU countries which don’t get the attention by US travellers despite their size. Romania and Poland come to my mind.


How likely would I run into compatriots in each EU country?

Absolute numbers are not everything as every country is different in area size and population. So let’s play another numbers game: In the following two lists I have ranked the EU countries by density of US tourists per square mile as well as by number of US tourists per 100,000 local inhabitants. Of course that still doesn’t take into consideration that touristy cities are overrun by tourists, while other heavily populated areas receive very few visitors. What the statistics reveal however: Over 92% of all US tourists stay in Hotels, Hostels and Pensions. So a sure way to avoid other compatriots (for whatever reason) is to choose other accomodation types such as camping grounds and holiday homes. Keep in mind that tourists don’t distribute evenly across the whole year. Most tourists in Europe travel in summer. Also note that I haven’t considered US citizens who live in these countries.

US Tourists per sq mi

  • Malta: 137
  • Netherlands: 62
  • Italy: 41
  • Belgium: 31
  • United Kingdom: 30
  • Luxembourg: 29
  • Austria: 19
  • Germany: 17
  • France: 16
  • Greece, Czech Republic, Ireland: 14
  • Croatia: 12
  • Portugal, Spain: 11
  • Denmark, Slovenia: 8
  • Hungary: 7
  • Cyprus: 4
  • Estonia, Poland, Slovakia: 2 (I live in Poland and the only Americans I meet are English teachers)
  • Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Sweden: 1
  • Finland: less than 1

US Tourists per 100.000 locals

  • Ireland: 8.253
  • Italy: 7.792
  • Austria: 7.211
  • Greece: 6.733
  • Croatia: 5.951
  • Netherlands: 5.838
  • France: 5.275
  • Luxembourg: 5.182
  • Spain: 4.756
  • United Kingdom: 4.282
  • Czech Republic: 4.189
  • Malta: 3.880
  • Portugal: 3.620
  • Belgium: 3.254
  • Slovenia: 3.128
  • Germany: 2.916
  • Sweden: 2.504
  • Estonia: 2.457
  • Hungary: 2.371
  • Denmark: 2.356
  • Finland: 1.708
  • Cyprus: 1.550
  • Latvia: 1.374
  • Lithuania: 1.206
  • Bulgaria: 635
  • Poland: 612
  • Romania: 569
  • Slovakia: 556

Conclusion: If you want to travel in Europe without any contact to other fellow US-citizens, then Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Slovakia are your best bet – as long as you avoid the main tourist spots in high season. If you however would like to meet compatriots to have a beer together and talk about your travel experiences or events at home, then Malta, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Austria are high up the lists.


What about other European countries?

Please be aware that we were looking only at the 28 EU countries above. Not included above are countries which I count as European such as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, Vatican City, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Former Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Moldova, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Eurostat has some stats for some of these countries, but finding info for the other countries can be very time-consuming.

I hope that you find the above information entertaining and makes you curious about some of the mentioned countries. About which country you would like to get to know more? Tell me in the comments. Also, please follow me on Twitter.


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