Do As the Locals Do: The Most Popular Domestic Destinations Among Europeans

Although we dream of far-off lands and exotic locales, most Americans stay close to home when traveling; in fact, only about one-third of U.S. citizens have passports. While this number is quite low when compared to passport-holding residents of other countries, like Canada and the U.K., opting for domestic travel is certainly not exclusive to the U.S. demographic. Travelers all over the world choose to stay domestic for numerous reasons, with money and time being chief among them. A report conducted by Eurostat discovered that over 75 percent of trips taken by residents of the European Union are to domestic destinations. So where are they going? 

We decided it might be fun to take a domestic vacation -- abroad. If you want to do as the locals do when you're next in Europe, here are the most popular domestic destinations in five European countries.


1. Spain: Barcelona

Placa de Catalunya

Placa de Catalunya

Particularly over the November Bank Holiday, Barcelona is a hot spot among Spanish travelers, followed closely by Madrid with Seville not too far behind. Tourists pour from every corner of the country — and the world — to experience the town’s vibrant nightlife, excellent cuisine, beautiful Gothic and one-of-a-kind Modernist architecture, and cutting-edge design scene. This — and the great Mediterranean climate — means you might find crowds wherever you go, but it’ll be worth it for sites like the bizarre Sagrada Familia cathedral, world-class MACBA museum, hopping Barri Gotic neighborhood, and unusual Parc Guell.

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2. France: Corsica

View from Demeure Loredana

View from Demeure Loredana

During the summer, the French prefer to vacation in Corsica, a study published by Statista found. And while Paris is one of the world’s most popular destinations, among both domestic and international travelers, we’re not surprised that locals are drawn to Corsica for the warmer months. First of all, it may be a domestic spot, but it feels totally different; the island sits off the east coast of Italy in the Mediterranean sea, and while the official language is French, it has its own Corsican language (although only about 10 percent of residents speak it as their native language). Plus, it’s absolutely stunning; visitors come here to take in the beautiful scenery by strolling, hiking, scuba diving, and relaxing on the beach.

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3. United Kingdom: London

Soho Square

Soho Square

A Travelodge survey found that 65 percent of British travelers opt to vacation domestically. City destinations were the most popular, with London coming in as number one. Considered one of the world’s most vibrant and multicultural cities, London also happens to carry a reputation for being rainy, and a public-transit rider’s nightmare. But like most of the greats, this city’s best qualities lie in its history, culture, and activities. As far as countryside destinations, the Lake District is also a popular spot for domestic U.K. travelers.

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4. Germany: Berlin

View of the Berlin Zoo from 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin

View of the Berlin Zoo from 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin

Thanks to a relatively strong economy, Germany’s tourism is thriving — thanks in large part to its residents. And even though German travelers have more to spend on international vacations than most Europeans, they’re still choosing to spend a significant amount on domestic travel. In 2014,Germans spent 69.7 billion euros on domestic trips, versus 69.9 billion on international travel, and one quarter of Germans say they’d prefer to spend their summers in Germany. The most popular destination among domestic travelers is Berlin; after all, it has become a thriving creative and cultural center. The art scene here internationally renowned, and there is first-rate shopping for everything from global brands to hip, locally designed lines. There’s a legendary nightlife scene, and parties very often continue on through sunrise. And then, of course, there are the city’s iconic sights, from the Brandenburg Gate to the Jewish Museum, with its ultra-modern architecture. Berlin is a city where old, shrapnel scarred buildings abut some of the most cutting-edge architecture in the world.

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5. Italy: Sicily

View of the Coast from Hotel Villa Carlotta

View of the Coast from Hotel Villa Carlotta

Last summer, Italians chose to flock to the island of Sicily, and experts project a similar trend for this summer. The months of June, July, and August can get quite hot, but visitors spend the majority of their time lying on the beach and enjoying the region’s delicious fresh seafood. Other popular pastimes including exploring local markets, hiking around Mt. Etna, and visiting the commune of Piazza Armerina.

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