When I explored new cities I used to make a “To see-List”. The downside: Instead of having some relaxing days, I rather ended up doing a stressful hunt for sights. Ticking them off didn’t give me any pleasure so I changed my routine – and found three things I do each time I visit a new (or old) city. I may not see every sight and hotspot, but I do get different perspectives and have a much more enjoyable stay.
1 Do a free walking tour
On the first days I love doing a free walking tour to get more information about the citys’ history and background facts. A free walking tour is free because you don’t pay in advance but give a donation in the end. You can basically decide how much money you want to give for the tour. The recommended donation is between 10-15 Euros and in return you get to see the most important stuff within 2-3 hours. So far, there hasn’t been a tour I didn’t like – even when I moved to Munich I participated in a walking tour on my first day and learned many things. 3, 2, 1 … – look for “[City Name] free walking tour” on the internet.
2 Explore the city by bike
Taking public transport is nice, because you get to know the citys’ network and you can go far. Walking is a great thing too, because you have enough time to look at everything. But when I get sick of both, when my feet hurt and when the metro is only underground, I switch to something else: the bike. Many cities – e.g. Amsterdam, Melbourne or Paris – have a very well established bike system. You pay a 24-hour rate, get your bike at one station and return it at another station. What I love about this way of exploring the most, is that you get to see different suburbs and can stop wherever you like to. Furthermore, you become “part of the city”, as taking a bike is normally something the locals would do.
3 Take time, sit down and observe
This point might sound a bit weird, but I love observing people. Whether it’s locals or tourists – it’s just super interesting to observe how they behave. When I visit a new city I look for a nice café, order a coffee and a slice of cake and observe. I could sit at these places for hours. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a café or just a bench in a parc. One of the coolest moments was for example observing how people reacted when they saw Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris for the first time. Like I said, I could spend hours doing this – so enjoyable!
Summing up, I realized at one point that I tend to do all of the things mentioned above each time I visit a new city. It gives me the chance to learn about history, see the most important sights and also to feel the city – to fully dive in. Plus, I can have a much more relaxed stay.
How do you spend your city trips? Btw, if you have one planned and you’re travelling alone you should check out my five ways how to meet new people.