Nothing says ‘I’m a tourist’ more than wandering around mindlessly, holding a map and crowding around iconic landmarks where locals would never dare to venture.
Truly experiencing the authenticity of new places, means immersing yourself in the native culture – and what better way to do that than with the recommendations of locals.
Booking.com, the world’s largest online accommodation provider, has compiled the top attractions according to area locals in cities across the globe. So leave your fanny pack at home and get ready to explore these worldly destinations based on the recommendations of those who know it best.
Let’s state the obvious – this huge island continent, with its enviably sunny climate, is a premiere destination for surfing and beach culture. But what might be surprising is which destinations are best for riding the waves, according to Aussies themselves. Of all of Australia’s stunning coastline, gorgeous Gnarabup on the West Coast won, beating out Brisbane.
Street Food: China
If you really want to experience China like a local, food is the ultimate way in. You may even find it difficult to return to the West once you’ve experienced the delicacies the Chinese have to offer – from traditional, regional specialties to old family recipes. Find the way to any foodies’ heart by visiting Chengdu or Pingyao, and your taste buds are guaranteed to be satisfied.
Sandy Beaches: Greece
We can all agree Greece has more than its fair share of superb beaches (You’ve seen the posts on social media) – but what everyone doesn’t know is where the locals go to lap up the sun and swim in serene, glistening blue waters. Follow the Greeks and head to Naxos, instead of global favourite Sarti – you’ll thank us when you avoid crowded beaches.
Bar Hopping: Brazil
The sprawling metropolis of Belo Horizonte may have a global reputation for bar hopping (Tequila, anyone?) but it’s the positively pulsating scene of Ribeiro Preto that draws in the locals. While it’s fun meeting other tourists, Brazilian locals will have the best ideas on where you should go next.
Pub Crawls: Ireland
The archetypal Irish pub is a unique and treasured institution. While Galway has been called the ‘most Irish’ of Ireland’s cities, Irish travellers recommend the small town of Dingle for pub crawls. Expect fewer tourists, a delightful fishing port and happening pubs that double up as shops.
The temples of Mysore are no doubt impressive but to access the spiritual heart of India, locals head to Varanasi. This sacred spot on the river Ganges is one of the world’s oldest cities offering a selection of unique temples. You can also take a boat ride along the river at sunset or sunrise to witness bathing ceremonies on the ghats (riverfront steps).
Melbourne has long drawn in punters keen to enjoy its coffee scene; a city where being a barista is a revered and fashionable career. But just an hour away, the charming seaside town of Mornington on the Mornington Peninsula is a better bet for the bean.
Old Town: Germany
Avoid the tourists heading to Tubingen and mingle with locals in the idyllic Old Town of Limburg an der Lahn. The 17th century timber-framed houses and narrow streets will feel like your personal fairytale town.
There’s no denying South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach has a lot to offer in terms of golf, with roughly 100 courses, hotels and restaurants. But, if you really want to impress fellow golfers, head to Mesquite, Nevada, where the weather is sunny year-round and the fine golf courses wind throughout a desert scene.
Gourmet Food: Japan
The Japanese are experts on gourmet food (Hello sushi!). However, the ongoing race between France and Japan for the country with the most Michelin three-starred restaurants can be overwhelming. Don’t be a typical tourist and flock to Kitayushu. Instead, trust the locals who prefer Fukuoka, a cuisine fused with Chinese and Korean flavours.
If you’re seeking spectacular lakes, Canada is the place to go, it does house four of the Great Lakes after all. However, if you swap global favourite Windermere for Vernon, you’ll be spoilt for choices in lakeside beaches, watersports and hilly British Columbian scenery.
Though most head to Arequipa for white water rafting, the thrill-seeking Peruvians suggest the relatively unknown Lunahuana for a better and more unique adventure.
Wildlife: South Africa
If you aim to catch a glimpse of wildlife in their natural habitat head to none other than South Africa. While Stormsrivier is popular to see a zebra or two, St. Lucia is the true gem. Prized by locals, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is the first natural World Heritage Site and boasts diverse habitats, extraordinary scenery and 280 km of pristine coastline.