What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I ask-“how to explore a new city?” For most of the people, visiting the top 10 spots of the city will be an obvious response. There is nothing wrong with it and in fact most of us follow that. However, if you have some additional time in hand or want to get away from the crowd, there are plenty of other ways to explore a city. Every city has a unique identity in terms of local customs, traditions, fashion and activities. Being part of the local events not only gives you a change but also a chance to meet local people.
Take an example of Delhi, the capital of India. It has tons of tourist places ranging from historical monuments, religious places to amusement parks. But a great way to explore the city, in addition to these, would be to look for Things to do in New Delhi. These activities have a wide range of interests, are of short duration and do not put a hole in your pocket.
A lot of cities in Europe offer free half day walking tours and let you get the feel of the city by moving across its streets. You will not enter any of the tourist spots during the tour but can gather vital information about them, which is not available in tourist books. You also get a chance to interact with lot of people and the overall experience gives you a new perspective about the city. You can go through my experience here: Free Walking Tours in Europe
Another great way to explore a place is by renting a bicycle. Of course you can’t tour the whole city on bicycle but it is good for exploring a limited area or a small town. For example, I have rented bicycles at a couple of places like Hampi, South Goa and Boston and every time enjoyed the rides. For places like Hampi bicycle renting is the best way to see the small town. In Istanbul, you can take a ferry to nearby island and then explore the island on bicycle. If you haven’t been on a bicycle for a long time, trust me a small bicycle ride will bring a lot of smiles for you.
If you happen to know a friend in a new city, try to have dinner with him at a popular hangout place with his friends. My friend took me for dinner with his friends to a small joint in Sabah Island. We chatted for a long time, laughed together and had a good time. I would not have traded that time with any other tourist site visit. Of course this option is suitable when you are visiting a new place alone.
I understand that when we visit a new place for limited time taking few days out of our busy schedule, we want to cover everything in the guide-book. Thus we don’t get time to focus on other activities, but sooner or later we realize that just ticking off all the places is not the only way to travel. At least for a couple of hours try going off the trail. There lies an experience too.
Note: The activities mentioned in Delhi have not been experienced personally by the author.