How Can I Find Off-The-Beaten-Track Things to Do When I Travel?

Let’s face it, most of the time when you read the “Top 10” list of things to do after you reach a destination you think to yourself… “duh!”

After all, most of the time the lists feature the most obvious tourist attractions – the ones that everyone has heard of.

Yes, those main attractions may be nice… but what if you want to go beneath the surface of your destination and visit some of the more obscure, off the beaten track spots? Or, what if you have covered the main attractions within your first few days and you want to dig deeper and find something different?

Visiting strange and interesting places on your travels can really enhance your experience and give you more intriguing stories to tell when you return home. But, how can you find odd and interesting things to do in your destination that aren’t so obvious? Here are a few strategies:

Search With a Theme

Make your travel experience unique to your interests by searching with a theme in mind. This will help you to narrow down your search for things to do and find something different and interesting.

For example, consider searching with a foodie theme and you’ll be able to dig deeper into the restaurant scene, discovering suggestions that might not be on the main lists of top attractions. Or, you could search for architectural wonders, historical sites, museums and art galleries or live music joints.

By narrowing down your search to a niche, you’ll not only go off the beaten track but you’ll also find something that is more suited to your tastes. You could find yourself on an adventure to find the best used bookstores in Paris or the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

Or, perhaps an opera themed trip through Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, Munich and Budapest to catch performances at their opera houses and visit museums devoted to different composers?  No matter what your theme, you’re sure to end up doing something you wouldn’t otherwise have discovered.

Try The CouchSurfing Community

Couchsurfing is a hospitality exchange network where travelers connect with generous locals who are willing to offer them free accomodation on their couches or in their spare rooms. However, it isn’t just for budget backpackers looking for a free place to crash. It’s also a great resource for reaching out to local people and finding out cool things to do in your destination – even if you aren’t staying with a host.

You can check out the MeetUps section on the CouchSurfing website and hang out with some locals who will be more than happy to show you around the city. Often, Couchsurfers and their hosts plan events such as barbeques, wall climbing, bowling, hiking trips and other fun activities.

The typical advice for finding off-the-beaten-track things to do is to ask a local – but asking a Couchsurfing host is even better. They are not just any local, they are a local who has publicly professed their passion for welcoming guests to their city and making sure they have a great time!

There’s An App For That

When it comes to finding interesting things to do in your destination, your smartphone can be your best friend. There are many great apps out there that help you to discover cool stuff around you.

Here are a few you should try:

  • Spotted by Locals: This app offers handpicked suggestions from locals who are savvy about the best local spots.
  • Musement: A stylish little app that offers tailored local content for 350 destinations worldwide.
  • MeetUp: A handy app for finding exciting events and things to do in the area.
  • Nearify: This clever app connects you to concerts, shows, comedy, dining experiences and more, all within a specified distance radius of your location.
  • Like a Local: If you couldn’t guess from the title, this app connects you with cool local things to do in many different cities around the world.

Check Out Instagram

You might think Instagram is just for photographs of lattes, cute cats and girls in stylish hats, but it’s so much more than that. You can use it as a location-based search engine for finding things to do in your destination.

Go to the Search page in Instagram and type in the name of your travel destination. Tap on “Places” in the top bar, right underneath the search function. Then, select the place tag for your destination. This will allow you to see all of the Instagram posts that have been tagged at your destination.

You’ll be able to see the neat cafes, restaurants, galleries, museums, historic sites and scenic spots that people are snapping photos of nearby. You can even send a message to other Instagrammers in your area and maybe make a friend.

Read the Local Arts and Culture Magazine

Most of the big cities in the world have their own culture, arts and events magazine. Some of the mega metropolises will have several magazines or newspapers, each catering to a different interest or niche.

These types of publications can be a great source for finding out off-the-beaten-track things to do, because they are tailored towards locals rather than tourists. You’ll find out about the poetry reading, jazz night or stand up comedy showcase that you might never heard about in a guide book. It’s also a great way to get an insight into what life in that city is like for the locals.

Where Do You Find Off-the-Beaten Track Things to Do?

These are just a few ideas to get you started on your search, but if you have more suggestions we would love to hear them in the comments. Or, if you have a story about somewhere strange and quirky you discovered on your travels, we would love to hear that too!


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