During a trip to the Czech Republic this year, Bret Love desperately wanted to escape the crowds at Prague Castle but couldn’t. He was stuck in a Vltava River of humanity.

“There were thousands and thousands and thousands of people jostling for space,” said the Green Global Travel co-founder. “You start to feel like cattle being herded.”

No matter what you call it - overtourism, overbooked or a foreign invasion - it’s the same squeeze: a handful of destinations across the world are under siege by too many tourists. The stampede is having a deleterious effect on the culture, environment and spirit of these places. Locals are getting pushed out. Foundations are crumbling. Tourists are complaining about other tourists.

The issue is not the industry but the hordes of people who descend on one place during the same time period (often summer). Destinations that are ill-equipped for the masses can’t keep up with the demand, and everyone suffers for it.

We singled out 10 spots buckling under the weight of too many feet and provided alternatives that are similar in all but one category: They could use more - not fewer - tourists.

Overbooked: Venice

As if sinking weren’t enough, the Italian city of canals and masquerade balls is drowning in tourists. More than 30million people visit annually, swamping the population of 50000.

Several years ago, Unesco warned Venetian officials that the city could end up on its endangered list of heritage sites if they did not curb their enthusiasm for tourists - an estimated 60000 a day during peak season. Officials responded with a raft of initiatives, such as relocating the cruise ship port to the mainland and banning new hotels in the historical city centre.

The city is also promoting Detourism, a movement that urges visitors to avoid beaten-to-a-pulp routes and to behave like a local.

Overlooked: Verona

The Italian city, 120km west of Venice, is the setting of two Shakespeare plays. Bard fans can practise their lines beneath Juliet’s balcony while relationship-seekers can give her statue a hopeful tap instead of swiping right.

The Unesco World Heritage site comes with old-world charms, such as a piazza populated by statues of Greek gods and a performing arts venue inhabiting a Roman amphitheatre. The destination is known for its EU-protected variety of rice. Follow the grain along La Strada del Riso Vialone Nano Veronese IGP (the Rice Route). For a wilder ride than a gondola, go rafting down the Adige River.

Overbooked: Barcelona

The capital of Catalonia is the most-visited city in Spain, drawing 32 million people, more than 30 times its population. In addition to land travellers, nearly 3million passengers