Wandering around a new and unfamiliar city can be exciting: so many new sights, sounds and smells to take in and experience. But it can also lead to many wrong turns, dead ends, and realizing that you’ve just spent the last twenty minutes walking in the complete wrong direction (no, just me?!).
Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. Here are my top three ways to explore a new city and avoid getting lost:
Even though they are dorky, my love for hop-on, hop-off bus tours has been well documented on this blog (no shame). An easy and often fast way to see the sights, bus tours give you a great overview of a city, taking tourists and travellers to all the most famous sights usually in under two hours. Many companies offer travellers a full-day ticket so you can hop-on and hop-off to your hearts content, and multiple routes to enjoy so you’ll have the chance to see all the sights downtown, but also those that are a bit out of the way.
The great thing about hop-on, hop-off bus tours is the convenience. If you like the sight, you can either hop-off or make a note to come back later. If you’re underwhelmed by that must-see, highly recommended spot (which happens ) then you won’t have wasted too much time getting there.
The downside: Obviously, it’s a pre-determined route so you have no control over what you see or how long you see it. Must-see attractions can quickly become a blink-and-you-miss-it on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour in traffic.
Free walking tours
Free walking tours are another of my favourite ways to familiarize myself with a new city. Operated by companies such as SANDMAN’S NEW EUROPE, these tours are given by local guides and operate on a pay-what-you-want basis.
One of the benefits of the free walking tour is the level of detail that you get—guides go to great lengths explaining the history of the city, the significance of the attractions and often share fun and random anecdotes. If you have questions the guide can expand upon the basic info, which is something that’s missing from the hop-on, hop-off tour experience. Free walking tours also take travellers closer to the sights, but given the limited time and the fact that you’re on foot there’s only so much ground that can be covered and some times must-see attractions are left out.
I’ve taken free walking tours in Berlin, Hamburg and Tallinn and every time the guide was amazing: knowledgeable, interesting, and really funny. If you’re looking for an inexpensive but guided way to see a city and get a bit of exercise, then this is a great option.
Self-Guided Walking Tours
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, self-guided walking tours are growing in popularity. With a little research and a good map, tourists and travellers can create their own itinerary, allowing them to take in all the sights that they want to see in whatever timeframe they choose.
And they’re not just for travellers.
One of the ways I’ve familiarized myself with my new hometown of Madrid over these last few months was to use the Madrid Maps and Walks app by GPS My City.
GPS My City is an app (available for iOS or Android) that features self-guided city walking tours in over 470 cities around the world, including Madrid. Each app contains from a few to over a dozen self-guided walking tours for a single city, allowing visitors and new residents like me to explore on foot the best of the city at their own pace.
The Madrid Maps and Walks app contains 13 guides, covering most of the city so no matter the day I can always find a guide to suit my mood. Each guide features detailed route maps making it easy to get from point to point (helpful for the directionally challenged like me), and I’ve been able to explore all of Madrid’s best attractions at my own speed.
It was the prefect pocket-sized tool to help me explore the different districts and barrios of Madrid, and all for a fraction of the price of a guided tour.
Whether it’s wandering solo or letting a bus take you from place to place, there’s no wrong way to see a city. As long as you’re getting out and enjoying your time, that’s all that really matters, right!?
Petite Adventures and GPS My City want to help you get out and explore your favourite city—new or old. Simply ‘Like’ the Petite Adventures Facebook page and comment below telling me which city you plan to visit or are most keen to explore, and you could win a FREE copy of the GPS My City app for the city of your choice!
There are 20 prizes to be won!
- Leave a comment below telling me which city you plan to visit, and what you’re most keen to see.
- Like the Petite Adventures Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/PetiteAdventures/
The contest ends February 4.
Please note: The promo codes can be used on iOS or Android devices.
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