Unforgettable Ways to Explore a City by Foot
Photo Courtesy by Nomads Spain
By Allison Yates
We travel to escape our daily realities and for at least a few days, get swept up in a romantic notion that life is more colorful elsewhere. We could marvel at a gridded city from a helicopter or cycle beside the flow of taxis and trucks. But the simplest – and slowest – form of touring cities throws us into the laughter and smiles of locals and smell of roasting meat or crackling fried donuts.
In other words, by foot, we become a piece of the puzzle instead of merely observing it. Either with the helpful guidance of a local or a smart phone application, below are some of the best ways to soak in the culture, history and daily life of a city using your own two feet.
Download a Guided or Self-guided (or Create Your Own) Walking Tour
Photo Courtesy by iMORE
Perfect for a short layover or independent travelers wanting to explore at their own pace, dozens of Android and IPhone applications provide guided, self-guided and creatable walking tours in destinations around the world. You’ll have the flexibility to stop and start when you wish without skimping on rich information.
For exciting history and fun facts to share when you return home, try the audio guides Cities Talking for Europe or GPSmyCity, which boasts the most extensive offering of walking tours (1,000+ cities worldwide).
Want an insider’s perspective tailored to your interests? Sidewalk for U.S. cities and Geotourist and Detour for both U.S. and international destinations feature local’s voices and favorite sites around the streets they call home.
Or, want the map and information but not the audio? Create your own walking tour with Field Trip. Simply select your interests and location and suggestions will appear. Or try Passant, which allows you to follow other travelers and publications who have already pinned their top museums, shops and restaurants.
Link Up With a Local
Photo Courtesy by SuiteLife
You know your hometown like the back of your hand – imagine if you could give visitors a tour. Well, around the world there are others thinking the same thing. Taking a walking tour with a local – Free Tours by Foot and Free Tour are the most affordable – is a great way to stretch your legs and learn history and culture, all from a local’s point of view.
Run Your Heart Out
Photo Courtesy by La Sueur
Forget the buffets and couch potato vacation attitude, lace up your sneakers and use your speed as way to cross the city and pass by monuments, botanical gardens and architecturally-impressive bridges. You can plan your route using Map My Run, downloading Maps.me’s tourist routes or pin points of interest on Google Maps.
Let Stories Be Your Guide
Photo Courtesy by Skift
Rather than historical sites, stories often draw us to a place. So why not craft your own literary tour based novel’s setting or important moments in a memoir? If you admire a famous local from the destination, research their favorite spots. This way, you’ll walk the city while fostering a personal connection to it.
Or, try Jane’s Walk, citizen-led walking tours worldwide focused on community building. Visitors join locals as they share heartfelt stories and reflections focused on points of interest around the city.
For a full auditory experience that uncovers contemporary life and personal stories of locals, immerse yourself in a Soundwalk, guided tours through neighborhoods in select cities worldwide.
In Australia you can download Invisible Cities, an application that uses GPS to “unlock” audios of locals reading their deeply personal stories. You have to physically be in the place the story took place at to hear it.
Once you’ve spent the day traversing the city either with a local, on your own or through the eyes of stories, you’ll be tired, but satisfied you made your time worth the while.