That’s what I like to call a deep breath of appreciation, after hours of travel, when I’ve finally reached my destination. Or what I do after crying tears of joy that my Ryanair flight landed smooth-ish.
But now, the real fun begins.
You’ve made it to a new city, checked into your hostel or Airbnb, and are ready to explore. Some people prefer to walk around and stumble upon tourist attractions. Others plan their itinerary. It’s a personal choice, but if you need some help I’ve got a guide to help you get on your feet and sightseeing. With these ideas, you can tour a new city and know it well enough to make that flight worth it.
Tinder (and Tinder Social)
Tinder is an unique resource to meet new people without the extra relations and creepy messages. Match with a local and ask what locals do in your city; it can be hit or miss, but sometimes you get the best recommendations. The “meeting up” with said Tinder local match at the recommendation is up to you. If you’re traveling with friends, Tinder Social is an amusing way to meet a group of locals, expats, or tourists and create your own tour group thus making new friends in the process.
For people who like sitesee the nightlife, bar crawls are the best way to the hottest spots in a city. They do cost money, which is why the drinks are “free,” and they can be full of tourists. But, most crawls are led by people working in hostels or locals, thus you are getting a local guide and a fun night all in one! You can pick the brain of the leader to find out where locals hang out and add those places to your itinerary the next day (just don’t drink so much where you don’t remember them).
Bla Bla Car, Taxi and Uber drivers
No one knows a location better than those who drive in it. Bla Bla Car drivers can take you from one destination to the next (ex. Madrid to Barcelona), meaning 9 times out of 10 they are from the area. On the drive, you can ask for recommendations to make small talk. Then taxi and Uber drivers can help you once you get to the city and navigate the touristy streets or the hidden areas people always forget. Either way, talking to any driver in any city can yield wonderful results.
Talking to random people on the street and public transportation
Sometimes you have to put yourself out there! As you wait for the next metro or bus, casually chat up the other people waiting with you. That person could be a local who knows the area or an expat eager to share what they’ve learned. This would require you to know the native language, which is not always the case, but if you do it could be an insightful conversation to your next destination.
Free walking tours
These free walking tours are probably the easiest and cheapest way to see a new place. You can find them online, in tourism offices, in hostel lobbies or get them from your Airbnb host. In Budapest, there were tourist workers who promoted their services by handing out free tour pamphlets at the metro exit. In London, I may found them at major tourist areas such as Buckingham Palace and Covent Garden. Either way, an organized tour is an ideal opportunity to see all the sights and come back to your favorites later.
Side Note: Tip your tour guide too! They don’t get paid much and you saved all your money on the free tour anyway.
Bus, bike and boat tours
Double-decker buses or hop on/hop off? On the ground or in water? Take your pick. Depending on the location, how you get around is an adventure. Amsterdam prefers boats on the canals and Portugal loves a good double-decker. These red sight-seeing mobiles make it easier to visit any and everything with different pass options. You can buy a pass that lasts all day, three hours, or even 72 hours to see what you want on your time. If you’re not a fan of walking everywhere, public transportation in big cities on continents such as Europe are a godsend too.
Flyers and coffeeshops
Good old fashioned flyers never go out of style. As you walk around a city, check out the street walls, windows, bus stops, etc. for postings about events in the city. Most take place in coffeeshop type spaces which are more relaxed and comfortable for meeting new people. Look out for musical events, open mics, poetry slams, etc.
Facebook connects people all around the world so it’s an accessible opportunity to meet new people. When you arrive in your destination, look up what’s going on in the area using your Facebook page. With the “Discover” option under Facebook Events you can see what’s going on near you. Make sure your location on or your search results won’t work.
This is the most logical one of them all. Tourist offices were made for you, a tourist! They are full of travel guides and a variety of ways to travel around a place to see the sights. When in doubt of anything I’ve written, go here. You won’t be disappointed.
In a nutshell, going to a new city is exciting and can be very hectic. There’s no right or wrong way to tour a new place, but I hope these gave you more inspiration. If you have an idea of what you want to see and do, you can make it happen. Like I said, the landing is the hard part.