You’ve landed at the airport, snagged an americano from the coffee kiosk, and grabbed a taxi to escort you into the city of your dreams.
You’re excited, invigorated, and quite honestly, a little bit overwhelmed (and that’s okay).
Exploring a new city is an incredible experience, but it can also leave you feeling like you don’t quite know where to begin.
Whether you’ve just arrived for an overnight stay or are ready to embark on a weeklong adventure — put these seven strategies in your back pocket and have fun!
Talk to the Locals
No one is going to know the area quite as the locals do. They’re familiar with all the best spots — the dive bar covered with dollar bills, the perch that gives you that epic view down to the teal waters, the hole in the wall with the city’s most famous slice of pepperoni pizza. It might seem intimidating at first, but locals genuinely love sharing their favorite spots. So go for it!
Use Public Transportation
It’s said that the art of travel rests in the journey, not the destination, which is especially true when it comes to modes of transportation. It might be tempting to effortlessly book a Lyft ride from your hotel, but consider using public transportation to explore the city. Not only does it give you a glimpse into the daily routines of the locals, but it also allows you to see and absorb parts of the city you otherwise wouldn’t. Sit up front and consider the bus driver your personal tour guide.
Explore the Cafes, Restaurants and Bars
Every city in the world is going to have a different food scene — some might be known for dim sum while others are known for their Mai Tais. Exploring cafes, restaurants and bars while traveling lets you experience the culture and story firsthand through community and a sense of taste. Plus, if you’re traveling solo, food and drinks are the perfect vessels to forge new friendships.
See Life Through a Lens
Though you don’t want to be behind the lens so often that you lose sight of the moment, taking photos encourages travelers to see different perspectives. When you’re snapping photos, you’re focusing on the unique details of a place — like the regionally specific flora and fauna or the expansive color palette of the area’s homes. Photos are also the perfect way to relive the places you’ve traveled once you return home and share your experiences with friends and family.
Visit the Museums and Landmarks
Visiting museums and landmarks gives you a sense of a place’s culture and history. Depending on where you’re traveling, you can often find free museums (like the National Gallery in London) or pay-as-you-wish museums (like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York). You can also do a bit of research beforehand to see when free days are held — like the first Monday of the month or the last Friday. Landmarks, like bridges, are often open to walk or bike across and may enable you to see your surroundings from a fun vantage point. And if you have the time, consider a hike or a stroll through a nearby park to take in the scenery.
Make Room for Spontaneity
Even if you’re a short stay traveler, carve out time for spontaneity throughout the day. Put on a pair of comfy shoes, grab a map of the area, and give yourself time to meander through the streets. Maybe this leads to a stroll through the library downtown or a quick stop for a souvenir or two. Making time to do the unplanned can often lead to delightful surprises.
Read Local Publications & Visitor’s Boards
Pick up that copy of the city’s newspaper or weekly/monthly publications to see what’s happening in the area. Maybe you’ll find an event, like the annual grape harvest or the opening of an exhibit at a local art gallery. But you don’t need to go to these events to get a taste for the local flavor. Sitting with a cup of coffee in the morning and perusing the paper while observing the morning city bustle gives you plenty of insight and then some. Lots of cities have fantastic online visitor’s boards, too, that will give you the rundown on all the best ways to explore and enjoy the area.
With an array of tips and tricks handy, we hope you’re feeling inspired to get out there and dive into the experience of exploring whatever city you’re in to the fullest.
And when you feel tired and need a nap after all your walking, talking, and eating — we’ll be here to help you find a comfortable day use hotel room in the city of your choosing.