9 Ways to Get Lost in a New City
See the Sights! (Walking tour!?)
It may be cliché, but tourist attractions are the perfect places to start getting to know a city! Visit the main attractions and take some touristy photos. This is an ideal way to learn about the history of a city and get yourself oriented.
Take a Bus
Buses are a great way to get used to the layout of a city. You can usually choose between tourist buses and city buses. Tourist buses are a convenient way to visit the sights (item 1!) and usually come with a bit of information on the city. Regular city-buses can help you get a feel for the areas beyond the city-center. ‘Hop on Hop off’ buses have popped up in most major cities and combine the best elements of coach tours with the flexibility of public transit.
You’re in a new place, so divert some focus away from daydreaming and your devices and actually see it! Look up, down and around. Take out your headphones and listen to the world around you. Consider the different smells you encounter. Dress comfortably, bring a water bottle, and don’t rush yourself. It’s nice to sit down and take breaks from time to time so you can see the city from a new perspective.
Use a map
Not google maps - a paper map! Google Maps can be great in a jam but it’s not ideal for every location and if you’re following a blue dot on your phone then you’re not really experiencing the city. It’s nice to wander aimlessly for a bit when you’re in a new place. Follow your instincts, and then, when you decide on a destination, you can pull out your map. Tourist maps often have helpful information about transit in multiple languages and make great souvenirs from your trip.
Plan…but only a little
Going with the flow and getting lost is great but it helps to have a bit of a plan. Some people need to give themselves a detailed itinerary but it’s best to leave some time unaccounted for. For example, plan to see a certain monument before dinner but leave yourself the rest of the afternoon to explore. There are plenty of things worth visiting that you won’t find in a city guide, and it’s usually those unexpected little adventures that end up being the most memorable.
It’s safe to say that we’ve covered exploring a city on foot. Walking is great but sometimes it’s just too slow. Rent a bike, scooter, or Segway and experience the city from a slightly different angle.
Meet the Locals
You could google it….but it would be easier just to ask someone. The best way to find hidden gems in a city is by asking the people who live there. People are usually happy to show off how much they know about their home and if you’re uncomfortable asking random strangers in the street then you can always ask someone working at a local coffee shop, library, or other attraction. They are usually informed and happy to help.
Give yourself little missions while you’re travelling. Maybe you want to find the best pizza or you want to see where you end up if you turn right at every corner with a coffee shop. These little goals can be a bit silly but they’re fun and give your wanderings some sort of immediate purpose.
Stay safe and informed
New cities are great but they will inevitably be quite different from what you’re used to. Make sure you do a bit of research beforehand so that you know what areas to avoid and don’t inadvertently break any important social customs.