When you travel to a new place, you will often have at least some time on your hands that is outside of work, or some organized tour that you’re on. You can use this time to discover some of the lesser known features and hidden gems of your destination. The question I’m often asked is… how?
Finding the out-of-the-way places if often a lot easier than you realise. One of the easiest ways to get started is to just walk around a little. Check out those little alleys off the main roads and streets. You’d be amazed at what lies hidden down an old street. It could be a lovely old building, a park, an ancient square, or even a hotel you didn’t know about.
Another great tip is to ask the people at the hotel, be it the front desk staff, the concierge, or the cleaning staff. They are all usually local residents and know the city or area well. They will direct you to a great viewpoint, a cool night club, or a restaurant tucked away in a basement somewhere. Taxi drivers are also amazing sources of information. Basically the rule is… ask. Ask the people around you if they know of something new and interesting to do, and you will find that pretty much everyone has some suggestion or tip.
Keep your eyes open when you are out, travelling on public transit. Something we all tend to ignore like billboards and posters on fences and walls often will give you ideas. Especially interesting are those small posters and bills you see plastered on fences, and tunnel walls. They are promoting events and things that are usually not found in your Lonely Planet guidebook. Pay attention to them and make a note of the ones that interest you.
Once you get into the habit of opening up your eyes to what is going on around you, you will find yourself stumbling onto street theatre productions, eclectic shops, unusual architecture, statues, and events that you never knew existed.
If you’ve got a few specific tips, please share them here.