Visiting a city you’ve never been but not sure what you cannot miss?
No recommendation is better than hearing from the horse’s mouth. In this case, it’s hearing what locals personally recommend from their own city.
I posed a question to the local experts from around the world:
What is one unique thing you have to try and cannot leave without visiting when I’m in your city?
The best part about travel blogging is that you have friends from all over the world. Hearing their submissions allows me to step in their shoes and be a local in their city myself. They take me to far flung places like Jamaica and the Caribbean Islands, places I can only dream of visiting. Hearing their stories opens up the world to readers like you and me, and we all learn from the cultures and sub-cultures of the world. 🙂
We’ve got such an incredible mix – from massages in India to unique spreads in Australia and Russia.
Hear it from the locals in their city, who offer their hometown’s best sights, and what you cannot miss when you’re there!
1. Milan, Italy: The Duomo
Milan, my hometown, is not really an ‘Italy must visit’ – unless you’re a fashion lover, of course. Milan is the largest city in Northern Italy and one of the main transport hubs, so most tourists simply pass through Milan on their way to Lake Como, Cinque Terre or Venice. I always recommend people to spend at least a couple of nights to enjoy Milan’s sights – and trust me, it’s not an expensive destination, there are so many free things to do in Milan!
If you only have time for one stop, my recommendation would be visiting the Duomo, Milan’s Cathedral. I have seen it countless times, yet it is still one of my favourite places in town. The Duomo is a massive church, one of the largest in Italy, so I would suggest saving at least 2-3 hours to enjoy it properly. After all, it took 600 years to be built – construction started in the Middle Ages, and it was completed only in 1965!
The most striking feature of the Duomo is its pink marble façade, with carved buttresses and spires, decorated with many statues. Take some time to walk around the cathedral to admire all the details. Then, it’s time to go in – there’s always a bit of a queue at the entrance, so that needs to be taken into account. If there’s no mass going on, you can take your time to admire the beautiful stained glass and Gothic interiors. If it’s a sunny day, don’t miss climbing up to the roof terraces to see the spires and gargoyles up close. If you’re truly lucky, you’ll get a view stretching all the way to the Alps!
2. Milan, Italy: Aperitivo
In Milan, you’ll know you’ve stumbled on an aperitivo by the people crowded around a bar laden with food and spilling out onto the streets in the early evening hours. You’ll see aperitivo specials prominently advertised, and there are even certain areas of the city where there are aperitivo spots one after another as far as the eye can see. Enjoying an aperitivo is a must for any visitor to Milan!
While aperitivo is literally the Italian word for an aperitif, or pre-dinner drink, this Milan tradition has taken on a whole new meaning. Of course, Italian sensibility tells you that you cannot have a beverage without some food to nibble on, which is served along with your aperitivo drink. The Milan tradition then evolved to bars and restaurants offering wider and wider arrays of snacks to entice customers, leading to the present day when many aperitivo spots offer a full buffet of food, enough to serve as your dinner and even sometimes with dessert options.
There are places that still offer just a few small bites, there are those aperitivo spots with a giant spread of food, and other variations in between. The typical beverages served at aperitivo can range from prosecco to wine to cocktails, although the most typical drinks will involve some sort of bitterness – often from Aperol or Campari – that is believed to stimulate your appetite. For locals, aperitivo is happy hour, a night out with friends, or your monthly book club meeting all rolled into one. And not to be missed to get the full experience of the city.
If you only have one night for aperitivo in Milan, I recommend heading to the Navigli, the city’s canal zone and join the many locals in enjoying this tradition!
3. Budapest, Hungary: Goulash soup and Goulash stew
Read: Things To Do In Budapest
Budapest is a great place to visit, especially because it has a great cuisine and many delicious dishes to choose from. One of the most important dishes of the Hungarian cuisine is Goulash soup and Goulash stew.
Goulash is a national dish of Hungary and the symbol of the country. Its long history dates back to the 9th century, when shepherds wandered the fields with their sheep and cooked goulash in a pot over fire in the open air. Goulash soup is prepared with onions, paprika tomato, beef, potato, carrots, celery and dumplings and lots of spices. Goulash can be prepared from veal, beef, pork or lamb. It is a rich soup and a whole meal in itself.
Every visitor who comes to Hungary should try the goulash soup. Traditionally, it is served in a small pot in restaurants. “Goulash” comes from the Hungarian word gulyas. Gulya means herd and gulyas is the person who looked after the herd of sheep. It is a tasty dish, especially in the Winter months, when visitors want to sample warming comfort food.
4. Utrecht, Netherlands: The Dom Tower
One of the iconic buildings in Utrecht is the Dom Tower, which can be seen from pretty much everywhere in the city. The construction of the Dom Tower started in 1321 and took 61 years to complete. The Dom Tower is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands. You have to climb 465 steps to get to the top of the Dom Tower. It’s worth it though, the view from 95 meters up is breath-taking. You can even see Amsterdam and Rotterdam on a clear day!
5. London, U.K. : Street Art in Shoreditch
You cannot miss the street art in the Shoreditch neighbourhood of London when you are visiting the city. Shoreditch is one of the trendiest areas in London full of young creative types. Interspersed among the cool boutiques, cafes and restaurants, are dozens of works of street art. The streets are so crammed full of street art that you feel like you are in an open air gallery. Similar to a gallery, the art is also every changing. Street art by its nature is ephemeral – it gets weathered by the elements or even covered up. You are not guaranteed to see the same thing on the same street twice.
Artists from around the world come to Shoreditch to leave their mark on the neighbourhood’s walls. For example, Australian Jimmy C, the Belgian Roa and Frenchman Thierry Noir are some of the artists you can expect to see. In an area known for its eclectic multiculturalism, even the street art is international! You can have a walk around yourself or you can take one of the street art tours that are popular in Shoreditch in many cases lead by artists themselves. I took a street art tour which had a painting component to it which gave me a newfound appreciation for how hard it is to spray paint on the quick and sly.
6. London, U.K.: The Sky Garden
London is an expensive city but one of my favourite attractions is completely free. The Sky Garden offers sweeping views of the city and is a must for anyone visiting London. Read more on our blog. #London #SkyGarden #England #UnitedKingdom #UK #tourist #travel #wanderlust #Europe #free #walkietalkie
Read: London Top Attractions
When in London, you must visit the Sky Gardens in the “Walkie Talkie” building. The top floor deck gives you incredible 360 views of a fabulous city, with an outdoor observation deck towering high over the streets. They don’t call it a Sky Garden for nothing too, you can admire some beautiful flowers and sit among the greenery or enjoy a glass of wine from the Sky Bar (beer £5 and wine starts at £8). You may choose to eat at Fenchurch Restaurant for a truly memorable splurge.
And the best part about it; it is free! You can reserve your entrance directly on the Sky Garden website and I recommend booking a slot an hour before sunset and arrive half an hour before your slot so you can enjoy the views in daylight and watch the sunset.
You can head to the Shard but it is expensive and busy, with reservations needed months in advance. The Sky Garden is open 7 days a week and is ideal for those wanting to get a different perspective of London.