8 Fantastic Ways to Explore a New City

There is nothing quite like a city break to help you actively relax. Cities are buzzing with activity and culture that you can pack a whole lot into your time there while still having a wonderfully rejuvenating time.

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

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If you are planning a city break any time soon, here are some top travel tips that will help you have the best possible time exploring a new city you’ve never been to before.

1. Book a tour

scooter in Prague, Czech repulblic
Prague, Czech Republic

If you want to make the most of your city trip, then booking an official tour, like these England tours, is often a good idea. By doing so, you get access to a ready-made itinerary that takes in all of the highlights and access to a guide who will show you around the place too.

If you’re on a budget, there are also plenty of free walking tours as well organized by locals in many cities.

Some of my other favorite sites to book tours on are Viator and Get Your Guide. They have many options and operate in many different cities!

2. Pack comfortable clothing

Comfortable but still stylish outfit in Gdansk, Poland in the fall. Girl by water, outfits for Poland Fall
Comfortable but still stylish while walking around Gdansk, Poland in the chilly months.

When you travel to a city, you will want to spend a lot of time exploring, that will mean you will spend a lot of tie walking around the place Comfy shoes, and clothing like sneakers, jeans, and t-shirts, will mean that you stay comfy while you explore the ruins of an ancient castle, the modern art museums or the many amazing restaurants you’ve been dying to check out.

3. Visit local markets

Flower market in Warsaw, Poland
Flower market in Warsaw, Poland

If you want to get the most out of a city break, then visiting the local markets are a must. Packed with bargains, they are also a great location to get a flavor of the place you are in and meet lots of nice local people who will be only too happy to let you in on the best restaurants or the quietest beaches as they sell you a trinket or two.

4. Buy a public transit card and use public transportation

Most big cities around the world have some kind of public transit card that gives you discounted travel on buses, trains, and trams. Buying one ahead of your journey will save you money and ensure that you can get around the city with ease. Taking public transport also allows you to get more immersed in the culture of the place and saves you more money than renting a car.

4. Plan your itinerary

Before you head off, if you are not going on a planned tour, you should take the time to plan your own itinerary. Why? because cities are packed with more things to do and see than you can possibly fit into the average vacation. If you want to maximize your chances of seeing as many attractions as possible, you need to plan very carefully taking into account the attractions, the route between them, and the amount of time you have available. It will take some work, but it will be worth it when you can explore the city to its fullest.

One of my favorite ways to plan a trip is by using Pinterest and reading other travel blogs for inspiration! Many will list some great hacks and hole in the wall places I wouldn’t have known about before.

5. Scout out local restaurants

Gelato and fruit inside a trdlo which is a Czech dessert made with dough, sugar and nuts.
Gelato and fruit inside a trdlo which is a Czech dessert made with dough, sugar and nuts. 

I’m generally not a fan of touristy restaurants. The prices are inflated and the food isn’t usually authentic or as tasty. One of my favorite ways to find great local restaurants is by using Google maps and zooming in and looking at details and reviews for places within walking distance of my hotel or where I currently am walking around.

adorable cafe in Budapest called Zoo Cafe

I found this adorable cafe in Budapest just by looking around on Google maps – I did have to make a reservation here so if you go be sure to check it out!

6. Get lost a bit and wander in a different neighborhood

Times Square, NYC

Don’t be afraid to fully immerse yourself in the city you’re visiting and wander around the area by your hotel. I’d also recommend looking up popular and safe neighborhoods in the city you’ll be in ahead of time to check out and wander around. If you’re not staying in the area you can usually take a short bus or Uber to that part of town. I did this last time I was in London and took the tube to Notting Hill and spent the day there shopping and checking out local cafes.

7. Don’t be afraid to talk to locals

A lovely, non-touristy neighborhood in Paris I discovered thanks to the suggestion of a new friend. 

Depending on the city and culture, I love striking up random conversations with people. I’ve gotten great recommendations for restaurants and activities this way. I’m also not afraid to ask strangers for directions if I’m lost. If English isn’t the first language in the city you’re visiting, learning a quick “hello” or “do you speak English” in their language really helps before asking.

8. Relax 

The view from my lovely hotel room in Vancouver, Canada. To see current rates, click here

Of course, you need to take time to relax, walk around at leisure and see what surprises you find too, so plan in some free time out of your itinerary too.

Whether you’re visiting London. Lisbon or San Francisco, or somewhere else entirely, I hope you have an amazing city break!

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