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41

Well, if you want to know something about culture of other country, why not to try solving general problems in that country? For example: Try to buy food in a supermarket. Or even in a small shop near the center. Try to go and use a barber. Try to find a battery for your cell-phone Try to ask people where is the best cafe they know (this is a fantastic ...


28

First, it's not a binary you're-in-the-tourist-zone-or-you're-not kind of thing. There's a spectrum. Second, often the "real" is only 20 feet from the "for the tourists". Something as simple as sitting down in a park and watching people go by can tell you a lot. I like to talk to the hotel clerks. On my most recent trip (to Venice), the woman who was at the ...


26

There are some strategies that you can use: Prepare: Check websites like Tripadvisor or Yelp before you go there. If you really want to plan, write down the restaurants you want to visit. Based on the ratings and comments there, you should be able to judge if it is an authentic restaurant with a good service. Don't stick to the main street: Very often, ...


24

I am glad that the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide etc exist - for the average tourist to find good places. However those then inevitably become the very tourist traps they were intended to avoid. I prefer Wikitravel - it's up to date and because most use the books, the treats on that site are often less visited and still diamonds hidden in the rough. In ...


23

The best advice you can get is from the guy that work late night in your hotel. Ask for things that he/she does in their free hours. Why late night? Usually they have some concierge services that work only during the day and try to give you the standard advices. I also got some very good deals asking taxi drivers but the better ones were from bus drivers! ...


22

Contrary to @Ginamin's answer, my advice, based on traveling in Mexico, as well as practically everything I've ever read on the subject, is to never use a metered taxi and always agree to a price up front. The best prices are usually had when you pay at a kiosk, such as found at a bus station or airport. Case in point: Yesterday I arrived in Morelia, ...


21

There are a number of different types of these "Free" walking tours, with the business models varying dramatically. In some countries you can expect to end up at the guides "cousins" carpet shop, where the guide will take a kick-back for any sales. Some tours are run by the local community and/or volunteers and truly are free (although with the potential ...


20

I always consult Happycow. This is a website for vegetarian, vegan, and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. A good side-effect is that I end up at some very unusual and non-touristic places, and that the number of options reduced from hundreds to a handful or a few dozen at most. Perhaps you don't always want to eat vegetarian, but even as a non-vegetarian you ...


14

In my experience, the biggest factor in overcoming limitations while traveling is time. The longer you are there, the more chance you will have to filter out that which is designed to catch your eye when making snap decisions on how to use your time. If you want a more genuine, in-depth experience, consider staying for longer. If you can find volunteer work ...


14

Ask the locals! Hands down the best way. The people that live in the area will have the best knowledge of the area. If you are in the area long enough to befriend someone, I can guarantee you will see something you did not expect or see in a magazine.


14

Oh now this is my question :) If you like parks, there are the 'tourist' ones in town - Hyde, Regents, St James and so on. But take the tube down to Richmond and walk up the hill to Richmond Park. Firstly you'll get a great walk along the Thames on the way up, and then you're in the biggest open air space in London. Originally a hunting ground for King ...


14

Just some days ago, I was on the streets in Spain with a friend, and she decided to ask a policeman for a place to have lunch. The restaurant he recommended was indeed popular with policemen. There were several daily menus on offer, at low price, and food was a plenty - I could not finish the desert. Concerning asking locals: Sometimes I ask several, and it ...


12

Always, ALWAYS get a metered taxi. If the taxi driver says no meter, get a different one. Meters almost always run cheaper than the flat rate taxis. Also, know where you are going. I usually have my iPhone with GPS so I can watch where we are going in case the diver decides to circle the block a few times. Getting to know the major street names is also ...


10

Barcelona had more pickpocketing than any other city I've gone to for a conference. One year every single person I spoke to had a theft story. One person had been mugged, a woman had her laptop bag slit in the elevator and the laptop removed without her knowledge, and I was in a group of 4 who ate in a sandwich shop with our bags at our feet and stood up to ...


9

Parks - London has great parks. Richmond park is huge and great for a day hike. It also has a population of deer which is fun to see. Hampstead Heath is a great natural park for exploring and has Kenwood House and Parliament Hill with view of the city. North of Regent's Park is Primrose Hill which is popular for picnics and has a great view. Theatre - The ...


9

There is actually a monument called 'Mitad del Mundo' (Middle of the World) in Ecuador. However they claim this is based on being on the equator (it turned out later they were off by 240 meters when choosing the spot). Why the place is more special (middle, centered) than any other place on the equator I don't know. It is a bit of a cheesy place but makes ...


9

A 45 min bus ride from Quito (any local can tell you which bus) will get you to the Equator monument. However as Peter mentioned, it's a bit of a cheesy place. On arrival, there's a huge monument which costs to see, and costs more to go up. However, you can take photos and jump back and forth between "Spring" and "Autumn" or "Winter" and "Summer" as you ...


9

For classical music you cannot really go wrong with the two main concert halls (the Musikverein and the Konzerthaus) and the two main opera houses (the State Opera and the Volksoper). The concert halls also offer good non-classical music — the Konzerthaus in particular offers great Jazz and World Music performances. Tickets are actually usually pretty ...


8

If you have you have a GPS unit at your disposal, I would suggest geocaching.com. Geocaching is a game where locals hide something for you to find. Usually these so-called caches are hidden at superb locations. I really like them since they are often at nice locations not mentioned in any tourist guide.


8

I have to say that Las Ramblas in Barcelona is the most thief-ridden part of the world I've been to. Moreso than all the other big cities I've been to in Europe east or west, Central America, or India. In the week I was there I either saw at least one person robbed or met at least one person who'd been robbed each and every day, some involving violence. It ...


8

Barcelona is like every big city in Europe. Generally very safe, but obviously there are some pickpockets especially in tourist region. But normal precautions should be way enough. I would just pay special attention when visiting Las Ramblas. There are a lot of tourists and a lot of pickpockets and other dodgy people. In night time, you will also met some ...


8

There are two types of free walking tours. Free ones sponsored by companies. For example, in Berlin - Sandemans has one, where you're offered and told about their other tours while you go on the 'free' walking tour of the city. In addition, you'll have it suggested that you tip your guide. The same occurs in Krakow through another tour group there. This ...


8

One option is to go on a tour of your own city. It sounds odd, but it's really not - I've often been on a city tour and found people from that city on it. Sometimes they're with out-of-town friends, or are new to town, but there's no reason not to! Sydney, for example, has the hop-on, hop-off bus that you could take. Obviously that'll still only take ...


7

I've been to Rome several times for long durations and I did not notice any particular day of the week to be more busy than any other. However, weekdays I found were less busy and especially in the early morning you can see tourist sights and not be as overwhelmed with other bodies. Since you will be there in the summer the sun rises early so if you don't ...


7

One of the things you can do is go to restaurants that are popular with the locals. Use Google Translate to find sites that show where locals like to eat. For example, "best restaurants in buenos aires" = "los mejores restaurantes de buenos aires". Search for that in Google and Guiaoleo shows up, which is a Spanish language review site for Buenos Aires ...


7

More and more, I actually go *un*prepared. This lack of preconceived notion results in an experience that's much more unique. Sure, you will not always end up at the 'best' place, but, clearly, that's not what you are (or I am) looking for. For that, there's a whole slew of apps and guidebooks. And, it's easy to avoid the tourist traps and overly popular ...


7

Local food groups Like I mentioned in my answer on how to become a better tourist guide in your home city / country, one of the best ways of discovering of discovering the best local (and usually cheap) places to eat is to find out about the local food-lovers groups in the city. Some of these run scheduled, professionally organised walking food trips (like ...


7

There isn't a lot, culturally speaking, on either side of the U.S./Mexican border. So where to go depends a lot on exactly what you're looking for. The main U.S./Mexican border crossings along the Texas border are: El Paso, Texas / Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua Laredo, Texas / Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas McAllen, Texas / Reynosa, Tamaulipas Brownsville, Texas / ...


6

Wikitravel - a gold mine for up-to-date information on all sorts of places. It's amazing just how much has been written about places you felt like nobody else had ever visited. And of course - ask the locals! Nothing beats local knowledge of their own city. Be aware of course, that not everyone knows that much about the city - you may need to ask more ...


6

You have a good chance meeting locals when hitchhiking. I usually go almost blind - no travel guide, no plans, and just ask the drivers. Some of them are really fond of their country/city and like to talk about it. People taking hitchhikers tend to be travellers themselves and often know English, at least in my experience.



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