The world's worst-behaved tourists and the chaos they caused

Tourists in the wild



Smashing ancient sculptures, running naked through an airport, scribbling graffiti on sacred walls... most of us know that we shouldn't do these things while travelling (or at home, for that matter). But for a select few tourists, common sense has apparently left the building. From genuine mistakes to unashamed ignorance, a few of these entries will make you giggle but others will leave you baffled and appalled.

Read on for the infuriating exploits of badly-behaved tourists around the world...

Angry tourist smashes two Roman sculptures in Vatican Museum

<p>Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock</p>

Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock

When it was explained to one American tourist at the Vatican Museum that he couldn't see the Pope as requested, he knocked a Roman sculpture over in anger, before toppling another as he fled the scene. It all kicked off (and fell down) in Museo Chiaramonti, which houses around a hundred busts and statues. The two statues were 2,000 years old but, luckily, were secondary rather than famous works. They were later sent to a workshop to be restored and returned to the museum.

Speedy tourist zips around Pompeii’s ancient site



An Australian tourist illegally entered the ancient Roman site through the service entrance (Porta Vesuvio) by tailing onto the back of other cars. He travelled about one mile (1.6km) by moped before he was apprehended by site security and police, claiming he didn't know he was in an off-limits area. It's a good job that nothing was damaged; Pompeii is one of the most fragile ancient sites in the world.


Big wheels damage Spanish Steps in Rome

<p>Jon Chica/Shutterstock</p>

Jon Chica/Shutterstock

Two American tourists were fined and briefly banned from Rome after chucking their electric scooters down the Spanish Steps which, unsurprisingly, caused minor damage; they were caught by surveillance cameras and briefly banned from Rome. Then, a Saudi tourist drove his rented Maserati down the first flight of steps, fracturing the 16th and 29th steps of the right-hand flight. He was charged with aggravated damage to cultural heritage and monuments. Today, you can't so much as sit on these historic steps without facing a potential fine.

Passenger fined for trying to bring McDonald's into Australia



Australia requires travellers to declare 'risk' items that may harbour 'exotic pests and diseases' and this includes cheese and other animal products. One passenger travelling from Bali to Darwin discovered first-hand just how strict their biosecurity measures are when a McDonald’s breakfast landed the traveller in hot water. Zinta the detector dog sniffed out a pair of undeclared sausage and egg McMuffins and a ham croissant, resulting in the hungry traveller being hit with a £1,524 ($1,849) fine.

Tourists fined for surfboarding down Venice’s Grand Canal

<p>Venezia NON è Disneyland/Facebook</p>

Venezia NON è Disneyland/Facebook

When it comes to tourists behaving badly, poor Italy can't seem to catch a break. Common sense escaped two tourists when they were filmed riding electric surfboards down Venice’s Grand Canal, the city’s main thoroughfare and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Venice's mayor branded them "overbearing idiots" – they were subsequently fined and expelled from the city. Also in Venice, two French tourists were apprehended by police after going for a joyride on a stolen gondola, tossing decorations and expensive items into the canal as they went.

Illegal driver fined for driving over Charles Bridge, Prague

<p>Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock</p>

Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock

Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most-loved tourist attractions, with locals and tourists crossing the 1,700-foot (515m) bridge every day. A tourist driving a white Audi was seen (not that it was hard to miss) mounting the pavement on Mostecka Street and driving across the 15th-century bridge. The unnamed man managed to dodge confused pedestrians and sandstone statues of saints before parking in a paid parking zone without paying. Needless to say, he incurred £212 ($244) of fines for his various offences.

Man enjoys foot spa in scorching Yellowstone hot spring



Yellowstone National Park is famous for its steaming hot springs, with temperatures known to reach scorching heights of 87°C (189°F). Barricades and boardwalks keep visitors at a safe distance but that didn’t seem to deter one man, who washed his feet in the geyser basin. Miraculously, he appeared to be relatively unharmed, though more than 20 people have lost their lives to the park's geothermal phenomena in the past.

French couple steal sand from a Sardinian beach, Italy

<p>Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock</p>

Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock

Sand from your favourite beach may seem like a harmless travel keepsake, but it can be detrimental to local environments. Two French tourists narrowly avoided jail time after being caught with 90 pounds (40kg) of sand from Chia beach on the Italian island of Sardinia. The practice was made illegal in Sardinia in 2017 but despite warnings (which are signposted across the beach), the tourists stashed the sand into 14 large plastic bottles, stowed away in the boot of their car.

Tourists take home stalactite as souvenir



Surveillance cameras captured three tourists repeatedly kicking a million-year-old stalactite at the Yishui Underground Gallery in eastern China's Lingyi city, Shandong. The men used a large rock to smash part of the ancient rock formation before each walked away with their unofficial souvenir. The destroyed piece was believed to be about four inches (10cm) wide and eight inches (20cm) long, but the culprits were never caught.

British tourist gets jail time for slapping Indonesian immigration officer

<p>Thomas Dutour/Shutterstock</p>

Thomas Dutour/Shutterstock

A British tourist was sentenced to six months in an Indonesian jail after slapping an immigration officer at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. Auj-e Taqaddas was prevented from boarding her flight to Singapore when staff discovered she had overstayed her visa by five months and was fined £2,663 ($3,430). A video clip of her swearing at the immigration officer, where she blames Indonesian immigration for missing her flight, went viral and highlighted the case.

Passenger tosses coins at aircraft resulting in cancelled flight



Tossing coins at aircraft engines is a relatively common good luck ritual in China although the practice is illegal in the country. Still, that doesn't stop people from trying, despite the fact that any metal that falls into the engine damages turbine blades at high-speed rotation. One first-time flyer in eastern China had his flight evacuated after ground crew found two small coins near the engine. The flight was eventually cancelled and the passenger fined £15,139 ($17,200).

Tourist jailed for flying drone over Myanmar's parliament

<p>Chaton Chokpatara/Shutterstock</p>

Chaton Chokpatara/Shutterstock

One French tourist visiting Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw claimed he was unaware of their Aircraft Act, which forbids flying drones over or near government buildings. He unwittingly violated an import-export law, prohibiting the use of banned items brought into the country without a licence, when he launched his drone near Myanmar's parliament complex (pictured). After serving a month-long prison sentence, he paid two fines before being deported.

Naked tourist throws his faeces at Phuket International Airport



Most travellers try to relax before take-off, but some have to be taken down by six security guards instead. That was the case for one American tourist, who overdosed on Viagra before completely stripping off and throwing his own faeces at staff. As he ran through Phuket International Airport, one witness claimed it was "the scariest and most disgusting thing" they'd ever seen. Once he'd regained his composure, he apologised and agreed to pay for any damages caused.

Tourist nearly crashes drone into Leaning Tower of Pisa



A mind-boggling feat of medieval architecture, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of Italy's most-loved attractions. But one Romanian tourist fancied a different angle of the tower and flew his drone over nearby Piazza dei Miracoli. Not realising he needed a special licence and authorisation from the prefecture and the police, he was stopped before any damage was caused. In a similar case, another drone did actually hit the centuries-old landmark but thankfully neither instance caused any major damage.

Tourist breaks off Moai ear at Easter Island

<p>Erlantz P.R/Shutterstock</p>

Erlantz P.R/Shutterstock

In an outstanding act of bad behaviour, a tourist broke off the ear of an ancient Moai statue at Easter Island. The monolithic structures date back to around AD 1400-1650 and were carved using basic stone picks. Clearly, its painstaking construction didn't faze the Finnish tourist who opted for his own slice of the sacred site. He received a hefty fine and was banned from the island for three years, later saying it was the "worst mistake" of his life.

Teenager defaces the Luxor Temple, Egypt



A 15-year-old boy defaced an artefact at the 3,500-year-old Luxor Temple, scribbling 'Ding Jinhao was here' in chalk over a wall carving. It sparked widespread online criticism and although the family apologised for the act, the Chinese government had to step in and remind its citizens to respect the customs and traditions of the places they visit. The scandal even has its own Wikipedia page.

Couple splash water at holy temple in Bali

<p>Stanley Kalvan/Shutterstock</p>

Stanley Kalvan/Shutterstock

An Insta-famous couple were criticised for inappropriately playing with holy water at a 15th-century Balinese temple, and were dubbed "disgusting" and "insulting to Indonesia". The Czech couple, who have 80,000 Instagram followers, posted videos of themselves laughing as Zdenek Slouka splashed water onto Sabina Dolezalova's bare backside at the Beji temple. Following a public backlash they released an apology video claiming they didn't know they were at a holy site or using holy water.

Family from hell take over New Zealand

<p>Fabiana Presoto Fernandes/Shutterstock</p>

Fabiana Presoto Fernandes/Shutterstock

One family caused so much havoc during their visit to New Zealand that a petition to have them kicked out of the country received over 2,500 signatures. The chaotic crew were accused of theft, polluting North Island’s Takapuna Beach with rubbish, refusing to pay restaurant bills and damaging their accommodation. Even Auckland’s mayor brandished them "worse than pigs" but the family claimed they'd had the "holiday from hell".

Tourist stands atop sacred chorten in Bhutan

<p>Nitish Waila/Shutterstock</p>

Nitish Waila/Shutterstock

An Indian tourist, part of a visiting group of bikers, was filmed standing atop a chorten (pictured) at the National Memorial Chorten in Dochula, Bhutan. Apparently, a carpenter repairing the chorten helped him climb the significant Buddhist monument with the aid of a ladder. After being detained by police and issuing an apology, he was released.


Photographer gets charged at by bull elk

<p>David McMillan/Shutterstock</p>

David McMillan/Shutterstock

One badly behaved photographer got too close to a bull elk, which already sounds terrifying enough, but he made the mistake during mating season – when the creatures are (understandably) more territorial. The photographer narrowly avoided being hit as the elk charged at him in Estes Park, Colorado, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. One witness said he had made noises to try and get a response from the elk. The US National Park Service warns visitors to keep a comfortable distance from the wild animals.

TikTokers banned from Nepal’s sacred sites



Tourist hotspots like Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu (pictured) have banned TikTokers from making videos in an effort to restore peace and diminish selfie-taking crowds. Religious sites like Ram Janaki Temple in Janakpur and Gadhimai Temple in Bara now feature ‘no TikTok’ signs, with posing, dancing and playing loud music blamed for disrupting the areas. In 2021, Boudhanath Stupa even installed CCTV cameras and patrolling security guards to ward off nuisance from influencers.

Tourist climbs Mayan pyramid in Mexico



An ignorant tourist climbed 91 steps to the top of El Castillo at the famed Chichen Itza archaeological site in Mexico. After waving from the top she made her way back down – only to be met with angry crowds booing, throwing water bottles and calling for her to be jailed as she was escorted out. The public have been banned from climbing the centuries-old site since 2008, so we're not sure what her excuse was. Watch the full video of her shenanigans here.

High hikers rescued in England’s Lake District

<p>Duncan Andison/Shutterstock</p>

Duncan Andison/Shutterstock

2023 seemed to be the year tourists really lost their minds – quite literally in this case. In April, mountain rescuers in the Lake District National Park responded to several calls from the hiking community about a "group of young adult males" who had fallen ill after taking magic mushrooms, which are illegal in the UK and known for their psychedelic properties. Volunteers from the Keswick Mountain Rescue Team found the disorientated party, who were later seen by a medic, who walked them safely down from the fells.

Tourist scratches love message on Colosseum

<p>Calin Stan/Shutterstock</p>

Calin Stan/Shutterstock

In June 2023 a British tourist was filmed carving his name into a wall of Rome’s 2,000-year-old Colosseum. The man allegedly scratched “Ivan+Hayley 23” on a wall of the famous arena as his adoring girlfriend watched on. Fellow tourists heckled him as he did it and the Italian police tracked him down shortly after. It was last reported that the man faced a fine of up to €15,000 (£12,500/$15,540) and 15 days in prison, despite a grovelling letter of apology in which he claimed he was unaware of the "antiquity of the monument".

Trevi Fountain trespasser fills water bottle in landmark waters

<p>Andrew Linscott/Shutterstock</p>

Andrew Linscott/Shutterstock

Another day, another trial by TikTok. In July 2023, a woman was videoed walking across the rocks of Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain to reach one of its cascades, where she proceeded to fill her water bottle with the famous waters. Just when it looks like she’s getting away with it, a guard can be heard blowing their whistle before striding towards the trespasser. After what appeared to be quite a stern chat, the guard led the woman away. It’s not known if she was later prosecuted for entering the Trevi Fountain, which typically carries a substantial fine.

Drunk tourists have a sleepover up the Eiffel Tower

<p>Matt LaVigne/Shutterstock</p>

Matt LaVigne/Shutterstock

Security guards at this popular Parisian attraction got more than they bargained for on a Monday morning in August 2023, when they discovered two American tourists asleep in an area of the tower usually off limits to the public. The men had got drunk and visited the monument late on Sunday, before hopping the security barriers and getting trapped. Police, fire and specialist services were called to recover the men, who had caused no damage to the landmark but faced criminal charges.

Football fans graffiti Florence’s Vasari Corridor



Also that month, two rowdy German tourists were accused of damaging a 460-year-old landmark in Florence with football-related graffiti. The Vasari Corridor, built by Italian Renaissance painter and architect Giorgio Vasari, initially served as a clandestine passageway for the notorious Medici family, and today connects their former residence to the Uffizi Galleries. The men apparently sprayed graffiti related to third-division German football club TSV 1860 Munich. Italy’s Culture Ministry said the act of vandalism required €10,000 (£8,532/$10,656) worth of repairs.

Neptune takes a knock in Florence



A German tourist caused €5,000 (£4,330/$5,394) worth of damage to Florence’s famous Fountain of Neptune when he clambered up it to pose for a photo in September 2023, knocking a chunk of marble off the sea god’s chariot and cracking a horse’s hoof in the process. The fountain was created by Bartolomeo Ammannati and was famously described by Michelangelo as a waste of Carrara marble. Regardless, the tourist was slapped with a hefty fine. "There is no justification for vandalism of cultural heritage", said the Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella.

Belgian statue broken just one day after it was restored



Also in September 2023, an Irish tourist broke a historic statue in front of the Brussels Stock Exchange just one day after it was unveiled to the public following a three-year restoration project costing €17,600 (£15,039/$18,746). The man clambered onto the statue to pose for a photo and snapped off a part of it as he steadied himself climbing down. Police arrested him in a nearby fast food joint and the Stock Exchange has taken action to recoup the cost of the damage directly from the man.

Couple escorted off easyJet flight for getting frisky en route to Ibiza

<p>Wirestock Creatora/Shutterstock</p>

Wirestock Creatora/Shutterstock

An amorous couple travelling from London Luton to Ibiza with easyJet in September 2023 were quite literally caught with their trousers down when flight attendants found them together in the plane toilet. The embarrassing moment was filmed by a fellow passenger and later shared on social media, where it has racked up over five million views. The couple were escorted from the plane by police on its arrival.

Bitey Brit arrested for scent-sational fight at Austrian ski resort



In February 2024, two parties of British tourists ended up in a fistfight while holidaying at St Anton in Austria’s Tyrol region – with one of the brawlers resorting to particularly violent measures. The rival groups began clashing in a pub before spilling out onto the street. During the altercation, one man sank his teeth into his opponent’s nose, apparently biting off the tip. The injured man was shipped off to hospital while his attacker was later arrested and taken to a prison in Innsbruck.

Now see which destinations don't want tourists to visit – and why