Nothing beats the feeling of uncovering a hidden gem on vacation – that previously unknown restaurant, cafe or shop that turns into your favorite spot as soon as you experience it. But city exploration can offer much more than that. By taking the time to sift through the layers of a city you can uncover many of the locals’ favorite places, cultural experiences and hidden secrets. Get ready to go on a journey – let’s explore what city exploration has to offer!
1. Exploring the Streets: An Urban Adventure
Exploring a new city can be both fascinating and intimidating at once. There’s no better way to get to know a city than walking its streets and exploring its neighbourhoods. Here are some practical tips to help you get started on your urban adventure:
- Do your research. Get familiar with the places and attractions you’d like to visit.
- Check out maps. Physical or online, it helps to know your way around.
See the Sights in the Neighborhood
Experience the city like a local. Go out for coffee or meals at a café or restaurant. Visit a local museum or art gallery. Take in a music or theatre performance. Check out street art, markets, and filming locations.
Walk the streets and browse through the local stores for souvenirs and unique merchandise. If the store owner is friendly, don’t be afraid to chat or ask questions. This is a great way to learn more about the local culture.
Relax in a Park or Garden
Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Parks and gardens provide a peaceful respite from the busy crowds. Take a stroll and observe outdoor sculptures and monuments or take pictures of unique street scenes.
Visit a Local Organisation
Discover one or more local organisations. There are all sorts of non-profits, charities, and religious organisations in every city. Step inside and get a feel for what makes the city unique. Don’t be afraid to attend a meeting or take part in a workshop.
2. Discovering Unusual Sites and Little-Known Favorites
Every now and then, it’s nice to veer off the beaten path and explore somewhere unexpected. Specifically, exploring some of the hidden gems and secret wonders around the world can be a rewarding, enlightening and truly magical experience – often with little to no crowds or tourist traps. Whether it’s getting lost in the far-flung deserts of Chile, letting yourself be immersed in the serene canals of Bangkok or even getting to know the locals in a small village in Madagascar – you’d be surprised at how many remarkable places there are out there, just waiting to be discovered. Here are a few of our uncharted favorites.
1. Lanquin, Guatemala
Known for its mystical rainforest and one-of-a-kind caves, Lanquin is a small, sleepy village deep in the heart of Guatemala’sZacapa province. Its natural beauty is stunning: tall, lush mountain ranges, rushing rivers, and majestic waterfalls. Most visitors come for the incredible cave tubing experience, when they float downriver through a winding network of caverns. You can also explore some impressive Mayan ruins and the local bird sanctuary.
2. Zagora, Morocco
Morocco’s very own ‘Gateway to the Sahara’, Zagora, located in the Draa Valley, is a remote, rustic village that lays at the edge of the great Saharan desert. Don’t miss the Wednesday Souk (market), when traders come from all corners of the region to sell their local wares and crafts, or take a camel ride into the majestic desert dunes. With an incredible night sky, striking Moroccan architecture and blissful seclusion, it’s a must-see destination in the North African region.
3. Bagan, Myanmar
Situated in the heart of Myanmar, Bagan is an ancient city steeped in Buddhist culture. As one of the most sacred sites in Asia, it is renowned for its unparalleled archaeological wonders, with beautiful ancient temples and stupas scattered all across the breathtaking landscapes. You can explore the temples on foot, by bicycle, or even ride hot air balloons to get a closer look. Be sure to get off the beaten path and get lost in the area – it is here you’ll find the truest spirit of Bagan.
4. Valparaíso, Chile
Just 90 minutes away from Santiago is Valparaíso, one of the most unique and vibrant cities in South America. A genuine port city, Valparaíso is a place where sailors, festivals, graffiti and street art, hippies and artists, and delicious seafood all come together. Climb up the vibrant mosaic cobblestones for breathtaking views of the city skyline, or wander through the colorful neighborhoods of Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción. Be sure not to miss the plethora of galleries and museums throughout the city.
3. Unveiling the City’s Secret Treasures
Many visitors to larger cities have taken the mainstream tourist routes, visiting the same places and experiencing the same thing as hundreds of others. To emerge from the tourist tide and unlock some of the city’s hidden gems, you need to take an offbeat journey through its diverse and exciting locations. Here, we will explore some of the secret treasures the city holds.
1. The craft of street food
Beneath the overhanging eaves of cathedrals, between lively street stalls, and amongst the chaos of tightly packed city streets, lies the craft of street food. Passing restaurants pump out already-familiar dishes, but there is so much more to be found beyond the tourist spots. Take a stroll down winding alleyways and seek out the local vendors cooking up unique and delicious recipes that reflect the city’s culture and history. The wide array of wonderful smells and sights will leave you feeling satisfied and content.
2. Underground marvels
From forgotten railway stations, overgrown canals, and eerie networks of sewers, to entire planted jungles that sit benevolently inside city walls, there are a host of forgotten underground marvels that can be explored. Many cities have their own underground spaces that are not as well-known as the high street, and they can be immensely rewarding to explore. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten track and make unique discoveries about the city you are visiting.
3. Nightlife havens
In the night, cities come alive. From stylish cocktail bars to classic speakeasies, the city’s nightlife always has something unique to offer. There are countless hidden gems that you can stumble across as you explore, and these places often turn out to be some of the most memorable places you will visit. The city’s nightlife is full of surprises, so get in the mood and join the party.
4. Alternative shopping experience
If you’re looking an alternative shopping experience, a city market is the perfect place. Local artists, craftspeople, jewellers, street performers, and creatives come along to show off their original wares and unique items, so it’s a great place to pick up some special something that isn’t found anywhere else.
Delve deeper into the realms of a larger city and you’ll uncover a wealth of secret treasures. From street food to underground marvels, hidden cocktail bars and markets bursting with character, these goodies make for the most wonderful and exciting finds. So get out there, open your eyes, and enjoy the journey.
4. An Introduction to the Local Lifestyle
Moving to a new place can be daunting. Learning the local lifestyle of a new city can take time. Living in a new location can reward those who learn the culture and engage with the community. To become involved, the first step is to understand the local lifestyle.
- Nature – Being surrounded by nature is a part of the local lifestyle. Immersing oneself in the natural scenery can be a great way to relax and unwind. The region is a great destination for nature enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking or camping.
- Food – The local cuisine in the area is renowned for its variety in flavors and dishes. From quaint coffee shops to classic restaurants, the region has a plethora of options to choose from. No matter what kind of meal you are in the mood for, you will not be disappointed.
- Culture – The local culture is evident in the region. From art galleries to local museums, one can find different forms of art to admire. People also gather every week to celebrate their cultural heritage through music and dance. People are often invited to participate in these celebrations.
The local lifestyle is always changing. People often gather to find out the latest news and socialize. Local newspapers or radio and television broadcasts often report on the latest developments in the region. Additionally, local festivals are a great way to learn about the culture and have fun.
Getting involved in the local lifestyle does not need to be complicated. Start by exploring the region and participating in local events. Talking to people in the area and learning more about the culture and lifestyle of the region is a great way to become more connected. Embrace the local lifestyle and you will discover a new world of experiences.
Whether you choose to crash in a five-star hotel, splurge on a new wardrobe, or soak up some culture, exploring your city has something for everyone. The hidden gems and local favorites you uncover along your journey are a great reminder of why you chose the town you call home in the first place. Get out there and explore today – who knows what you’ll discover?