I firmly believe the best way to explore a city is on foot.
It’s cheap, easy, and gives me the opportunity to see and experience it all along the way – so much more than if I took the tourist bus or subway.
Bonus: it helps burns off all those local sweets. For me, that means dessert for lunch and dinner, and maybe an afternoon ice-cream thrown in just for kicks.
However, sometimes a day navigating new streets can seem a little overwhelming, particularly if travelling alone or suffering from traveller’s fatigue. It’s easy to end up wandering aimlessly from place to place, missing the best sights and interesting neighbourhoods, or lost in a labyrinth of laneways (to be honest, that’s sometimes half the fun).
Luckily, there are plenty of tips and tools available to have an awesome day pounding the pavement, wherever in the world you may find yourself.
Make the time
It seems pretty straight forward, but remember to factor in plenty of time for wandering. If not, you’ll end up rushing from attraction to attraction and miss soaking up the sights and local colour that surrounds you.
When I travel, I try not to plan more than one or two activities each day. That way, I have ample time to check out the neighbourhood I’m in, stop for a coffee, browse bookstores, boutiques and city parks.
Visit the Tourist Office
Stop in at the tourist information office when you first arrive at your destination. They will know all of the interesting events going on, and many cities will have their own suggested walking tours and maps for tourists. In Boston, I picked up a brochure before heading out to walk the Freedom Trail, and also found out about the interesting Black Heritage Trail through Beacon Hill.
Many cities across America hold Art Walks one evening each month, where local galleries open late to showcase new exhibitions. You can spend an evening wandering between different galleries, usually for free!
Free Walking Tours
Simply Google ‘free walking tours in X city’ and you’re pretty much guaranteed to strike gold. Take a guided tour around your new city from a real local: you’ll learn far more about the destination than you will in a guide book.
It’s also a great way for solo travellers to meet other people.
Secrets of Portlandia was one of the most hilarious, engaging and informative walking tours I’ve ever been on. In New York, Free Tours By Foot offers dozens of interesting tours around the city, including niche tours like Bushwick’s street art and graffiti.
Free walking tours often begin in the morning and last for just an hour or two – so there’s plenty of time left in your day to explore more, or hang out with your newly made friends. Remember to tip your guide kindly for the wonderful service they provide.
Utilise guide books
Many travel guide books include suggested walking routes in their city guides.
On my first visit to New York I wandered the streets with my Lonely Planet in hand, and it took me on some wonderful journeys through the city’s different boroughs and nooks. I was led to major sites on the tourist trail, quirky stops (like the Earth Room in Soho), local galleries and cafes, and places made famous by TV shows.
Sure, I could have done hours of research and found each place on my own. It’s just so much easier when someone has done the hard yards for you.
Go digital with GPSmyCity
Perfect for travellers who like to set their own schedule, GPSmyCity is a mobile app offering self-guided walking tours in more than 470 cities worldwide.
All the benefit of a local guide on your phone, but leaving you to explore at your own whim. See famous sights and hidden gems, from architecture to historical sights, art museums to street art, as well as dining and entertainment recommendations.
I have my eye on a Mission District Street Art tour when I visit San Francisco in May!
One of my favourite features is that this app works offline – which means you don’t need global roaming or WiFi to use it! Just download your city guide before you leave and it’ll be at your fingertips the entire time.
Plus, each city guide features several different self-guided walks, so you can do them all or choose the ones that appeal to your tastes. For example, the Seattle Guide currently offers 12 different walks – from famous architecture to Nightlife in Pioneer Square.
Now for the giveaway…
Please note this giveaway has now concluded and winners have been notified. Thanks for entering!
Win a self-guided City Walks app for your next trip!
To help you find your feet on your next adventure, I’ve partnered up with the folks at GPSmyCity to give away their awesome self-guided City Walks app!
20 lucky winners will receive one full-version City Walk app for a city of their choice, for FREE! Here’s a list of cities that the app covers – if you’re a winner, you pick the one you want!
To enter, simply subscribe to my email list! (By signing up here, you’ll receive an occasional email from me covering latest stories, travel tips and other bonuses).
Bonus entries for those who also add me on Snapchat (live-recklessly) or Instagram (live.recklessly).
Quick subscribe here:
Good luck! Please feel free to share this giveaway with your family and friends!
Terms and Conditions
- This giveaway is open worldwide.
- The giveaway will begin on May 4th, 2016 (10AM PDT) and will end on May 31st, 2016 (11.59PM). Winners will be notified by June 4th 2016 via email, and will be asked to respond with the city they’d like to receive a City Walks guide for, along with their preferred operating system (iOS or Android).
- Once winners receive their promo code, they will have 28 days to download their free City Walks guide. Promo code will expire after 28 days. Once downloaded, your guide will be available indefinitely.
- Entries that are incomplete or inaccurate will be deemed invalid. Entrants must confirm their subscription to LiveRecklessly.com to ensure entry is valid.
- This giveaway is hosted by LiveRecklessly.com, in partnership with GPSmyCity.
Happy walking, travelers!
If you could pick anywhere in the world, which city would you be wandering through right now?