When you visit a new city for the first time, the best thing to do on the first day is to do some sort of city tour, it helps find your way, understand the city layout and find out a bit more about the history of the place. But there just seems something so old fashioned or even boring about getting a “hop-on, hop-off” bus, being given some cheap ear phones and trying to listen to the audio is almost impossible. That said depending on the city and the buildings this can actually be a great way of exploring and taking some nice pictures.
But there are different ways to explore a city, which seem less of a choir and probably something that might suit you better.
Here are my top 5...
Stockholm isn’t the only city to offer kayaking, but as it’s often referred to as “the Venice of the north” due to the unique layout of the city, it lends itself very well to offering tours of the city from the water. Kayaking is generally easy and as long as you can swim they usually give you 15 minutes or so training at the start. During the tour, you’ll get some of the historic information given in other standard tours, but you’ll have the fun of doing something you wouldn’t normally do and what better way to maintain fitness levels whilst taking a break from the gym?! A 2 hour kayak tour of Stockholm costs around £25.
Berlin is renowned for its street art and legal graffiti walls, not surprising given how the Berlin Wall was maintained all those years. Opting to do a street art tour, usually lasts around 4 hours. The first 2 hours you are taking to certain parts of the city, where you’ll learnt more, not only about street art and the local artists, but also historic information about the city itself. The second half of the tour you get to do your own street art master piece. Don’t worry if you are not the worlds best artist (neither am I), but it’s fun! You’ll have fun doing it with your friends, or if your own your own you’ll meet people in the small group your in. A street art tour of Berlin is around £40. More and more European cities now have similar tours.
Ok so if your on a budget this probably isn’t going to work out for you. That said, it may be cheaper than you think. Tours from the sky are becoming more and more popular over cities, due to the fact they are coming down in price. This isn’t an option for all cities of course, but if you are a fan of heights and the £130 price ticket doesn’t put you off its well worth doing a search and seeing what’s available. If you visit New York, a helicopter ride is an absolute must!
This is becoming more and more fashionable, and a lot of hotels are jumping on the bandwagon. Some hotels offer its guests a morning or evening running group, where you’ll meet in the hotel foyer, and the guide will come and let you and take you running for an hour. Fast run or light job, they’ll tell you the pace! They’re might not be a chance to be given much historic information about the city, and probably 30minutes into the run you won’t care! But they’ll take you on the most scenic route, perhaps see things you wouldn’t otherwise have seen. If your a keen gym goer or fitness fanatic at home, it’s always good to keep that work up during a holiday, even if it’s just for one hour. Mostly these are free when organised within the hotel or hostel, but you can find cheap paid ones.
Most cities have local Guides now, these are just ordinary people (not employed by the local authorities or tourist board) who want to make some extra money and meet new people, and do so by hiring themselves out. It’s all above board and are checked out by the tour operators first. For a 2 hour session you’ll pay anywhere between £15-£30 depending on the city, and it’s a tour just for you (usually a maximum of 4 people allowed). Upon booking the tour you’ll be asked questions about your likes and dislikes so they can get a feel for the sort of things you like doing. The local guide will then plan a bespoke itinerary. It could be your local guide will take you for a coffee and pastry, a walk to the most historic part of the city or a session at a near by spa- whatever you want to do really. A perfect opportunity for you to ask them questions about the city or about the country and it’s culture in general. I guarantee you’ll make a new Facebook friend for life!