Move over London, Paris and Berlin, make way for Manchester, Marseilles and Munich. While the proliferation of smart, accessible travel technology has made the world's most iconic destinations easier to reach than ever, they have undeniably had a detrimental impact on the experience. Globetrotters can no longer enjoy the once breezy and calming experience of strolling through Barcelona's iconic Gothic Quarter, given that it's now so overwhelmed by tourists that you can barely move. The local government is taking drastic measures to make the area less welcoming to the ever-growing crowds.

The same story has repeated itself across all of the planet's most popular tourist destinations in recent years. Cities like New York, Amsterdam and  Reykjavik are now admitting that they're reaching a breaking point, as millions of tourists begin to put unbearable pressure on local infrastructure and services. Even revolutionary apps like Airbnb are feeling the pinch, as city governments clamp down on the platform in an attempt to stabilise the spiralling rents propelled by tourism.

In 2018, being an ethical traveler is more important than ever and this means avoiding oversaturated destinations for places that could actually benefit from your tourist dollars, where you're more likely to meet some locals. You also want to be able to have an enriching, enjoyable travel experience, which means actually being able to relax at a pavement cafe with a glass of wine without a forest of selfie sticks spoiling the view.

That's why, when you're planning your 2019 city breaks, instead of opting for the iconic, opt for the off-the-radar. Here are the top cities you should visit in 2019.

Source: Pixabay

Instead of Amsterdam, Try Rotterdam

Amsterdam is a great place to start, given that the suffering of local residences misplaced by mass tourism has been one of the most heavily-documented stories of the year. Amsterdam is great, but it really doesn't need you, your money or your carbon footprint. For a true Dutch experience which still retains all of the charm, grit and good times of Amsterdam, head to Rotterdam, the sprawling port city and economic powerhouse of the Netherlands.

Although the atmosphere is decidedly more fast-paced than in the capital, you can still get plenty of those laid-back Dutch vibes in Rotterdam. Prices are considerably lower too, meaning all those euros you had earmarked for beer, frites and urm... other substances will go considerably further.

While much of the architecture is rather modern and corporate, a quick tram ride to the historic Delshaven district will give you all of the 17th Century architecture and canal-filled selfies that you came for. Licensing laws are a lot less strict than in Amsterdam too, meaning this is the place you really need to go to if you want to party it up in true Dutch fashion. To cure your hangover or to satiate your munchies, head to the stunning Markthal for all the delicious Dutch junk food you could possibly dream of. 

Instead of New York, Try Philadelphia

New York New York, it's a... crowded town. Although it's pretty hard to beat the Big Apple for attractions, you really need to assess whether it's worth the two-hour queues to get into The Met, the critically overcrowded pavements which have ruined the lives and commutes of the locals and the spiralling ticket costs for most attractions, with NYC's museums being some of the most expensive on the planet. For the bright lights, rich history and booming nightlife of a cosmopolitan and culturally relevant American city, head south to Philadelphia.

America's oldest city has more than enough cultural highlights to keep you entertained for weeks on end, with none of the crowds and ticket prices, which are a fraction of what you'd pay in NYC. The historic Old City has a landmark or building connected to pretty much every important event in America's history and you can access them all with a Philly Museum Pass.

Although New York might have the reputation for romance, Philly is clearly the better place to go if you're looking for love. The cost of a date is a fraction of what you'd pay in New York and there's a rich enough nightlife, dining and arts scene that'll ensure any couple has the night of their lives. Just head into town on the excellent tram system, load up Badoo and take your pick from the beautiful locals.

As with the previous entry on this list, Philadelphia does not suffer from the same choking licensing laws that have plagued New York in the past decade, meaning if you really want to stay out late, you can. Even better, a huge number of venues across the city allow you to BYOB, meaning you save even more on costs. 

Instead of Copenhagen, Try Helsinki

Copenhagen is a gorgeous, colourful city which features on pretty much everyone's bucket list. People are clearly managing to get it ticked off, as the city is so inundated with tourists that it recently declared the situation an emergency and has taken dramatic steps to stem the flow of tourists. With this in mind, it's better off to head to somewhere you'll be more welcome when looking for your ultimate Nordic experience, as well as somewhere you can actually enjoy the famously relaxed Nordic pace of life.

Enter Helsinki. The Finnish capital long suffered from a reputation as a somewhat dull backwater, outshone by its neighbours Stockholm and Copenhagen, but these days there's no better place to be and Helsinki looks set to become the trendiest destination in Northern Europe. The city, while expensive, is still markedly cheaper than Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo and Reykjavik, so this is definitely the place to go if you don't want to be (completely) bankrupted by a pint of beer. Head here for true relaxation in the form of the sauna, of which there is one for every 2 residents - it's a cheap, invigorating way to spent a perishingly cold winter's day in Helsinki.

You're also only 90 minutes away from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, where the beer is about half the price. Similarly, a two-hour train ride from central Helsinki will land you in the Russian city of St Petersburg, while a quick voyage will take you to Stockholm. It's a quiet, up and coming city with great location links and is definitely the place you should base yourself on your next Nordic odyssey.

Source: Pixabay

Instead of Bangkok, Try Hanoi

Bangkok is manic. A truly 24-hour city and the global center for backpacking culture, the Thai capital also just happens to be the single most visited city on Earth. While crowded city centers are a mainstay feature of all major urban areas in South East Asia, Bangkok's soaring popularity has taken this to another level entirely, with parts of the city center now almost being unnavigable due to huge crowds of tourists. Prices have begun to rise exponentially as a result, meaning a trip to Bangkok won't even give you the big bargains you were hoping for.

For the best of the South East Asian city experience, a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam's second largest city, is always a good idea. The city happens to be one of the most affordable travel destinations in the world - although, with Vietnam recently being voted the best vacation country in the world, don't be surprised if Hanoi's relative obscurity doesn't last too long.

This city has all the draws of Bangkok: a rich history and plenty of ancient temples, a booming nightlife culture and a truly unbeatable food scene, all for much lower prices and with a lot less tourism. A downside to this is that tourism infrastructure such as information points, public transport and English-speaking service providers is quite thin on the ground. But that's all part of the adventure, if that's what you're looking for, so this is the place to go. 

Instead of Rio, Try Montevideo

While no-one would blame you for wanting to experience a stroll down the iconic Copacabana beach or a trip up Sugarloaf Mountain, give it a miss in favour of the compact and uncrowded Uruguayan capital, Montevideo. The city is certainly cheaper than Rio de Janeiro and also ranks as one of the safest and most highly-developed regions in South America. The nightlife is one of the most liberal on Earth and the people are famously friendly. What's more, you'll actually be able to bag a spot on the pristine white sandy beaches that surround the city, rather than elbowing your way through the tourist crowds just to be able to sit down on the jam-packed beaches of Rio.

All of the iconic destinations mentioned above have their merits; otherwise, they wouldn't be the most visited places on Earth. But giving them a miss in favour of these equally interesting and vibrant alternative cities means you're much more likely to enjoy yourself and, more importantly, you'll be helping take the strain off over-subscribed cities to provide a little relief to some long-suffering local populations.

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