So you’ve just arrived at a new destination. What do you do? Where to start? How do you take advantage of the time you have here and how to you make sure you see everything?
Ask Your Hostel
Generally speaking, you can tell if you’ve booked into a great hostel as soon as you walk through the door. A great hostel will offer you a map, a run down of the city, and a long list of suggestions for things to see and do. Take in as much information as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Do they have suggestions of a walking tour? Or do they offer a pub crawl? Hostels are a wealth of knowledge, and are usually more than happy to help.
Form a Plan
So, you’ve got four days in this beautiful town and there’s so much to do. How do you attack it?
Start by making a list of all the things you want to see and do, divide that up into locations and suitable days and then slot in any recommended lunch spots or make space for a huge sleep in after the pub crawl.
Don’t forget to check the weather forecast – this can always help shape the plan for the days ahead.
Get Up Early
You’ll see a completely different city if you explore it early in the morning. If you’re out the door by 7am you’ll have the streets largely to yourself. It’s a really cool feeling and it’s amazing how peaceful everything is — even in huge cities like Paris and London. I recommend trying it a least a few times.
The light is also the best for photos early in the morning, and by about 11am the most popular attractions will become completely filled with tourists.
Check out my top tips on how to take amazing travel photos
Get A Map
You’re going to want a map during sightseeing because wandering around aimlessly isn’t always fun if you’re on a sight-seeing mission. Most hostels and tourist offices will have some sort of free map that usually points out the main sights.
While old school paper maps are always best when you’re out and about, you can use download areas on Google Maps so you can still access it offline.
Take a Walking Tour
Every city in Europe is drenched in history, but most visitors just wander around and have no idea what they’re looking at. Most cities will have a daily free walking tour which will give your visit some historical context and helps you get your bearings in the new location. These local guides will also be happy to share their favourite restaurants, shops, and sights so it’s another good way to get an insider’s view of the city.
While they are technically free, the tour guides work on a tips basis so you are expected to leave a sum of appreciation at the end.
Don’t be afraid to take some time to simply wander around cities. Plug in your headphones and bring your camera and just take your time. You’ll no doubt find something interesting and get a glimpse at the everyday life in the city.
Find Something Special
While the main sights of a town are important to see, you should also try to find something special and memorable to do. Take a cooking class in Tuscany or watch a football match in Barcelona. Paraglide in Switzerland or go biking around the Dolomite mountains. These activities might be a little expensive, but these experiences will be the things you remember most from your trip. Check out AirBnB or Viator for inspiration.
It is so important to make friends along the way - this will open up so many new opportunities and experiences. Just a simple 'Hey, I'm ___" when someone new checks into your room can kick off conversation and before you know it, you could be off to explore the town or hit the clubs with a new group of people from around the world.
Don’t Feel Guilty For Doing Nothing
If you’re travelling for a long haul, you will reach a certain point in your trip where you will start to feel exhausted and underwhelmed. After a while, churches, monuments, cities, and sights – not matter how beautiful they are – can all start to blend into one and you may lose your enthusiasm to explore and sight see. I call this Travel Fatigue. Take some time to do nothing. Sleep in and do some washing. Go see a movie. Laze on the beach with a book. It’s hard not to feel guilty doing nothing because you feel like you may be wasting time on your trip, but it’s so important to recharge your batteries and spend some time doing mundane boring normal things.