What are some good ways to find things to explore on-site in an unfamiliar place?

What are some good ways to find things to explore on-site in an unfamiliar place? - Crop man with map in automobile

When traveling, one of my favorite things to do is simply explore the local area and see what's going on. I do enjoy guided tours on some occassions, but I'm more interested in finding cool local markets/restaurants/historical sites, photography opportunities, or nearby nature walks/hikes that are hidden gems.

For example, when in Sydney, a relative pointed us to a small nature reserve (one of hundreds or thousands when simply looking at a map) that turned out to be a deep, beautiful forest in the middle of a neighborhood.

Before a trip, I usually search online for reviews of "things to do" but mostly I just come up with tourist traps. So how do I find the opposite of tourist traps once I'm actually on site?

Best Answer

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.

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How do you navigate when you are in an unfamiliar place?

Tips for Traveling to Unfamiliar Places
  • Carry Wireless Charger and Connectivity Solutions Always with You. ...
  • Read traveler reviews. ...
  • Email lodging accommodations before you arrive. ...
  • Look up health and safety advice. ...
  • Equip yourself with sleep supplies. ...
  • Sign up for a guided tour. ...
  • Connect with the locals.

  • What is the best way to explore a city?

    Top 10 Ways to Explore a City
  • Take a city bus/trolley tour. ...
  • Explore one museum in depth. ...
  • Visit the botanical garden or local park. ...
  • Go on a historic walking tour and get to know one part of thecity really well. ...
  • Use your concierge. ...
  • Keep a daily journal. ...
  • Buy postcards of major attractions.

  • How do I explore a new area?

    7 Tips for Discovering Your New Neighborhood
  • Walk around. The most simple piece of advice is also one of the most effective. ...
  • Meet your neighbors. The people who live around you are a big part of what defines your community. ...
  • Volunteer. ...
  • Shop locally. ...
  • Check out local clubs and meet-ups. ...
  • Ask for recommendations. ...
  • Be a tourist.

  • How do I find local attractions?

    Google Maps To use this feature, just tap the \u201cExplore\u201d button on the bottom right corner of your map to get a look at what is nearby. You will see different places and activities in each area no matter where you are.

    Karen Messes with a Guard Of Tomb Of Unknown Soldier... (BIG MISTAKE)

    More answers regarding what are some good ways to find things to explore on-site in an unfamiliar place?

    Answer 2

    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.

    Answer 3

    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 than one ;)


    I'd also like to add that wikitravel - because of its wiki nature - is often more up to date than other sources, especially in volatile areas. I used it in South America when strikes were on, and it proved useful on more than one occasion to identify blocked roads / borders.

    Currently in Uzbekistan and it's showing its form once more, having correct information on Khiva, whereas the Lonely Planet I'm carrying has led me astray on four occasions in 24 hours :(

    Answer 4

    Travel Books is the traditional option: Lonely Planet, Fodors, Rick Steves, Rough Guide, etc.

    These days, another good place to look are the travel blogs. There are a handful of dedicated sites (here's a review of several: http://www.travelfish.org/feature/91) or you can search for the name of your destination along with "blog" and you are bound to run into some interesting / useful experiences.

    Answer 5

    Couchsurfing is a great way to explore an unfamiliar place. Most Couchsurfers are locals and always have amazing ideas of what to do.

    If you want to explore eating places, ask the common man, they know the choicest joints with the most delicious food.

    Answer 6

    Although maybe not the best strategy compared to what is already written, one thing I like to do on unfamiliar or even familiar places (usually a city) is to take random turns left or right and walk in a random way. I even played it as a game with friends where we took turns in deciding. In this way you go to places you would never go to and you'll always discover something interesting (if you are open for it). It is also perfect for photography opportunities.

    Answer 7

    One site that lets you explore places through photography is http://fotons.com/. It focuses on high quality photos from around the world and lets you add additional photos and places.

    Answer 8

    Besides asking the locals (as many have pointed out), I like to have a look at Frommer's "Best Of" for the area. I've yet to be let down by them.

    (no, I don't work for Frommer's, but I do enjoy their guides).

    Answer 9

    I use the following

    • Yelp (mainly for North America and Paris/London) is a location based app. It tells you whats nearby and reviews. The database is commercially sourced.
    • foursquare (explore / trending feature / sometimes tips that others leave) similar to Yelp but the coverage is worldwide. However the database is crowd sourced so in some areas where theres not a lot of users, it may be inaccurate.
    • Gogobot more a review website like TripAdvisor.

    Answer 10

    I normally do some research before going there, e.g. googling "best things to do in x" or looking at travel sites and forums, reading a good guide, or if you are lucky asking some friends who have been there. That would be able to give you an idea. Once I am abroad I simply talk to people and ask to everyone - either local (touristic info, hotel personel, restaurants/bars personel, taxi drivers etc... ) or tourists who may have been there for a few days before me and can tell me what they liked or disliked.

    Answer 11

    I've had trouble finding places to see many times. I've tried using a combination of Flickr, Wikipedia and Google Maps, but that's a lot of work.

    So I created a website to do just that: Awespot.

    The main goal is to be able to find places (spots) on a map, and see photos, descriptions and comments about those places.

    For now it's mostly Iceland and a bit of France, but anyone is welcome to make the website grow on content.

    Answer 12

    I don't know if it is a rule in another countires, but in Poland sites of communes are very good source of unique information about local area (writing "commune" I mean the lowest level of local authorities; in Poland it's "gmina" and usually consist of small city and about 10 villages).

    In most cases you can find on such websites very detailed informations about history, about monuments or attractions which are not well-known. Very often texts on those websites are written by some local scientist, enthusiast or teacher from local school.

    It's always the first source I check when going somewhere, because I know that it very often has original content from first-hand.

    One example: detailed information about Dar?owo Commune on it's site (even about very small villages): http://www.ugdarlowo.pl/499-4a1bdbc6c45a2.htm (polish language).

    Answer 13

    This question is quite vague. I am quite surprised that it has not yet been closed ;-) It is also subjective. It depends on what you understand by "tourist traps".

    Anyway, here are some suggestions:

    • Forget about guidebooks and other internet sites. Once a place is mentioned there, thousands and thousands persons know about it. It will not be a secret anymore. Don't think that you are smarter than anyone else and that you are the only person reading LP thoroughly or finding out about the wikisomething entry on whatever destination.

    • As a corollary, choose your destinations carefully. Prefer those who are hardly mentioned in the paper and online guides.

    • Asking locals can be a good approach. It depends on the type of locals. If these are friends, than it's fine. Receptionists or employees from tourist offices can be a good source. It depends where you are. Here it can also help if you have a good command of the local language or if you go to places where the locals have a good sense of hospitality.

    • If you go to a city, use the public transport, such as busses and tramways to go around. What I really like to do is taking a random bus and have a ride. That way one can see parts of the city, more or less interesting and more or less beautiful. And it is a bit like a human game drive. You get to see the inhabitants of the city in their natural habitat. Very interesting. This activity is particularly cool in cities where there are double-decker busses!

    • In cities avoid the metro and walk instead. You get a feel of what's going on and you get to see a lot of more and less common sights. Or rather than taking the bus, just have a random walk, outside the center or the "tourist trap" district.

    Sources: Stack Exchange - This article follows the attribution requirements of Stack Exchange and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Images: Dziana Hasanbekava, Kamaji Ogino, Andrea Piacquadio, Nothing Ahead