Seasoned travelers often grow tired of visiting “touristy” areas, or attractions that are overflowing with foreigners. Yes, museums and tours can be a great way to get to know a new city, but if you’ve traveled a lot, you might be more interested in attractions that are off the beaten path. Take a look at a few of the best techniques for finding unconventional sights and non-traditional attractions when traveling to a new city.
Get Help from TripAdvisor and WikiTravel
When you are going off the beaten path, it is especially important to read up on how to get around your destination—which is information both of these websites offer. The key to a great trip is not an itinerary, but the spontaneous events that happen along the way. If you are unfamiliar with the territory, transportation systems, and the best ways to get around, you could miss out on what your host city really has to offer.
Make Friends with the Locals
This suggestion is particularly difficult to come by, especially when there is a language barrier involved. However, there are websites such as Couchsurfing.com that can help connect you to locals. Couchsurfing is helpful because people who wish to practice a language, usually English, will help out foreigners and show them around the city in exchange for the language practice. All of this is completely free.
Live with the Locals
Hotels are great for the "home away from home" feel. However, many hotels have been westernized, and don’t offer much in the way of culture. There are websites such as Airbnb and (again) Couchsurfing, which allow you to bunk up in the home of a local. Apart from getting the real experience of living in your host country, your host can direct you to lesser-known attractions for real adventures.
Explore Abandoned Areas
While theme parks, museums, and historic sites can be fun for tourists, the unique tourist who is looking for an experience off the beaten path should look into abandoned attractions to visit. There are plenty of world-famous attractions and neighborhoods where travelers can walk through abandoned places that are eerily romantic. For an experience that is way off the beaten path, do a little Internet research about any cool or creepy abandoned places in the area that you’ll be visiting.
Pay Attention to Local Events
This is especially important if you wish to connect to the culture. Usually the websites of local governments, in order to encourage more tourism, will post calendars of local events to attract people away from the beaten path. You can also use apps to find the best local events that are going on during your trip. These can lead you to artisan markets, local dance events, or cultural festivities.
Any veteran traveler will tell you that the best experiences always come from the least traveled paths. In addition to the above tips, a tourist should always take the time to duck into local shops or restaurants and avoid the big fancy places that scream tourist trap. With a little research and perhaps some spontaneity, you’ll soon find yourself enjoying unique cultural experiences that are off the beaten path on your next adventure.