The 25 worst-behaved tourists of 2023


By Julia Buckley | CNN

Stripping off from the waist down at a sacred site. Driving a car across a medieval bridge, as fragile as it is famous. Carving your name into a world icon, and going on a punishing hike… to take illegal drugs.

These are just some of the things tourists have got up to in 2023. They’ve damaged heritage sites, eaten endangered species, and – in the case of one couple – stolen nearly $2 million worth of wine from a Michelin-starred restaurant. They’ve (allegedly) insulted border guards, and flashed in front of kids. And when they’ve been caught out, they’ve often pleaded ignorance.

Here are 25 of the worst incidents we saw in 2023.


A bridge too far: The Ponte Vecchio in Florence.(mustafacan/iStockphoto/Getty Images) 

Italy has long been a center of bad behavior for tourists who treat it like a theme park, and the year kicked off in a predictably grim manner when an American was caught driving across the pedestrianized Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence. Italy’s most famous bridge, built in the medieval period and then rebuilt to connect Palazzo Pitti to the Uffizi Galleries under the rule of the Medici, who lived in the former and worked in the latter, the Ponte Vecchio was allegedly so beautiful that the Germans left it intact in World War II because Hitler had fallen in love with it on a visit with Mussolini. The 34-year-old American was fined 500 euros for driving across it.


The year also got off to a bad start for wildlife, as well as heritage. In February, a Chinese influencer was fined after she livestreamed herself cooking and eating a great white shark – a protected species in China. She was reportedly fined 125,000 yuan, or $18,600.


Dispirited away: Studio Ghibli cracked down on visitors taking "indecent" photos.(Franck Robichon/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock via CNN)
Dispirited away: Studio Ghibli cracked down on visitors taking “indecent” photos.(Franck Robichon/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock via CNN) 

Spring had only just sprung in the northern hemisphere when, in March, a Russian tourist provoked outrage by stripping off to take a semi-nude photo at a sacred site in Bali.

The man – Yuri Chilikin – went naked from the waist down in his impromptu photo shoot at Mount Agung, a volcano sacred to the god Shiva. Yuri later apologized and called Ni Luh Djelantik, Balinese businesswoman and fixer extraordinaire for tourists in trouble, to mediate between him and the locals.

He eventually took part in a ceremony at a temple, where he prayed alongside Hindu priests. That didn’t stop him being deported, however.

Chilikin wasn’t the only tourist behaving badly in Bali. In the same month, authorities announced a ban on tourists renting motorbikes, because of the accidents they cause.

Meanwhile in Japan, authorities announced a crackdown on visitors to the Ghibli Park theme park, dedicated to the work of popular animation company Studio Ghibli, taking “indecent” photos.

In February, photos were posted to social media showing men “pretending to sexually assault young female characters” in Ghibli Park, Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper reported.

“For those who come to the park to do this kind of thing, I would much prefer them not to come at all,” Hideaki Ōmura, governor of Aichi Prefecture, said.

And as spring got going in Hong Kong, residents noticed the resurgence of “begpackers” busking, selling things or simply asking locals for money to fund their travels. Resident Ashley James told CNN: “Hong Kong is a very expensive place to live… The locals can’t even afford (to live) here. Why are you in one of the most expensive places in the world and asking us to buy beads? Travel is a luxury around the world, and people saying ‘pay for my travel’ is stupid and entitled.”

Back in Italy, Florence was at the mercy of another American tourist at the wheel. A 43-year-old man was fined 470 euros ($506) for illegally driving his rental car – a bright red Ferrari – into the pedestrianized Piazza della Signoria, the main square of the seat of the Renaissance.

Meanwhile, Venice is no stranger to bad tourist behavior, but in March a visitor put himself at risk while jumping into a canal from the top of a three story building. Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted that he would give the perpetrator “a certificate of stupidity and a lot of kicks” once he was traced and blamed social media: “They do these stupid things for the likes.”

There was one piece of good news at the start of Europe’s season, though. In March, a couple was jailed for their 2021 heist of wine valued at $1.7 million from a Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain. The pair left restaurant Atrio in Caceres, western Spain, carrying 45 bottles of wine wrapped in hotel towels and hidden in travel bags, the court heard – including an 1805 bottle of Chateau d’Yquem that was listed on the menu for 350,000 euros ($371,000). The couple had visited the restaurant three times while planning the heist, before having a 14-course dinner and a guided tour of the wine cellar. They then broke in during the night from the adjacent hotel.

Sometimes it’s not an individual behaving badly – it’s an entire country. In March, Amsterdam launched its “Stay Away” campaign to deter young British men from coming to the capital to cause mayhem on “stag dos” – or bachelor parties. The campaign used targeted ads to pop up for anyone googling terms from “cheap hotel Amsterdam” to “pub crawl Amsterdam,” warning would-be raucous travelers of the chance of being arrested, fined or ending up in hospital after a drugs binge goes wrong.


They may not have been doing it for the benefit of social media, but one group of “young adult males” got into trouble in the UK’s Lake District. The area is known for its beautiful panoramas, but for this group, natural beauty wasn’t enough – and they decided to amp up the experience with magic mushrooms. Volunteer rescuers were alerted to them by passersby and found the group “who appeared to be disorientated.”


Let it go: The Austrian village of Hallstatt built a fence to stop selfie takers.(Reinhard Hörmandinger/AFP/Getty Images)
Let it go: The Austrian village of Hallstatt built a fence to stop selfie takers.(Reinhard Hörmandinger/AFP/Getty Images) 

And as the European summer season commenced, an Austrian village got so fed up of tourists snapping selfies that it erected a fence to block the view. Hallstatt, said to have inspired the Disney movie “Frozen,” put up the fence after enduring up to 10,000 visitors per day in the village of about 800 residents.

Sometimes behaving badly has tragic consequences – and not just for the tourists. On May 20, a visitor to Yellowstone National Park “disturbed” a newborn bison calf after it was separated from its mother and the rest of the herd crossing a river. The man lifted the calf from the river, despite park regulations stating that visitors must stay at least 25 yards from the animals. After the interaction, the herd rejected the calf, which then began to approach park visitors. It was euthanized by rangers.

Horrifying consequences were narrowly avoided when YouTuber Trevor Daniel Jacob deliberately crashed his plane in California while making a video to promote a wallet. Jacob, a pilot and skydiver, filmed himself ejecting and parachuting to safety. He pleaded guilty after the footage went viral for all the wrong reasons.

But it’s not always humans behaving badly. An “exhausted” and possibly injured dog had to be rescued in the UK’s Lake District, after he refused to walk any further. A Mountain rescue team stretchered him down from landmark Scafell Pike in just over four hours. At 77 pounds, he’s a hefty dog, but no match for a team of pros with a stretcher.

“Despite being quite a large dog at 33kg it was a joy to carry such a relatively lightweight casualty. The casualty remained cool, calm and positively regal throughout,” the rescue team said in a statement.


Who knew the Colosseum was old?(Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)
Who knew the Colosseum was old?(Antonio Masiello/Getty Images) 

In June, a tourist at Rome’s Colosseum was caught carving “Ivan + Hayley 23” into the 2,000 year old monument. As he was being filmed, he grinned – but he was less perky when police tracked him down just day later. The British resident immediately begged the Italian authorities for forgiveness, according to a spokesperson for the carabinieri police force, and said that he didn’t know how old the monument was. He is now thought to be now awaiting trial in 2024.


As the summer progressed, tourists in Italy continued to damage its delicate heritage. In July, two teenagers were caught defacing the Colosseum on consecutive days: first a girl from Switzerland and then a German youth. Both were caught caring their names into the structure.


Naked people became a problem on a UK sunflower farm.(Sams Sunflowers via CNN)
Naked people became a problem on a UK sunflower farm.(Sams Sunflowers via CNN) 

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