It’s easy to get lost in a vast diversity of people, places, attractions, and things to do—especially in big cities where everything seems grotesque and unfamiliar. How can you ever know what’s the right path to follow, which places will welcome you dearly or what you should stay away from? How do you get the best out of your journey and is there a universal guide to follow, no matter where you go? Nobody can give you an exact answer, but there are certain “must try” options for every traveler to experience and here we’ll narrow it down to just five simple recommendations. Let’s begin!
If you want a more intimate feel for the city, it’s a great idea to start with a local market. This is a hotspot of all the best things a place can offer. From the tiniest cultural relics to colorful cavalcades of traditional clothes, carpets, and houseware; from a rich variety of fruits and vegetables to handmade snacks, sweets, and seafood—here you can see it all. Every local market is a perfect gastronomical, cultural, and traditional depiction of a city, and besides, you can always go for cheap lunches or snacks and savor an authentic taste of the area while saving your finances for future endeavors.
Cultural connoisseurs and budget travelers, this option is for you! It goes without saying that most cities in the world have free-of-charge galleries, museums, and even seasonal exhibitions. In bigger cities like London or New York, even some of the top museums are completely free. However, you should check out the schedule and list of the venues available during your planned visit beforehand. It might even be useful to find some locals to accompany you and tell you more details about the history of the place and its cultural value—Couchers.org friends could be your best option in this scenario. Just reach out to someone and arrange the meeting; you will find most people to be very welcoming and eager to be your guide.
If you find yourself wandering down different alleys, you might want to treat it as an enchanting adventure through the city’s interior. Going off the beaten path often leads to the brightest gems enveloped in the shadows of dark passage corners. You can find antique stores and unravel some historic mystery hiding in the city closets, or you can discover a miniature cozy café where a kind old lady would pour you a cup of warm tea and engage in an amusing conversation about how this place came to life. You might end up knowing more about the city than any other tourist reading the guidebook could ever fathom. You will start to vibe with the place as if you’ve always been a part of this ecosystem. And besides, isn’t it truly worth it to be lost once in a blue moon?
If you admire nature and love walking a lot, going to the park might be a great idea. Besides marveling at the tranquility of local flora and fauna, you can also observe locals and their everyday life. What do most people do in this city when they go to the park? Do they run or walk? Do they play with children? Or do they just chill under the sun on a warm blanket? How do they spend their time? You would be surprised, but habits of people vary from city to city and it's fun to observe the difference. Also, the foliage might be different from what you are used to so you have a good chance to admire all the unfamiliar beauty and ponder the important things in life.
Last but not least is finding local entertainment. Find out what the best live music venues, dancehalls, or bars around town are and go mingle! At nighttime, many cities turn into a charismatic playground with the glamorous noise of human chatter, street performers, music pouring from every corner, and an energetic atmosphere. You can become a witness of the best talents the city has on offer and indulge in fizzy drinks and exquisite dining. Afterwards, you can listen to live music or go to a bar to play games and make new friends. After a busy day of wandering the city, it can be a good way to relax and enjoy a whole other side of life.
Written by Anna. Published on 2022/02/07
Anna is a graduate MA student from Russia, living in China since 2016. She has been an active member of Couchsurfing, hosting people at her house in Russia and China as well as being hosted by locals in South East Asia, making friends along the way. She is keenly interested in international community and is eager to give her best to make this world a better place for all of humanity and beyond.
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