Locals Spill Their Hometown Secrets

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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!

-Margherita


2. Milan, Italy: Aperitivo

Nottingham aperitivo milan italy

Read: Top Aperitivo Spots in Milan

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!

-Lana


3. Budapest, Hungary: Goulash soup and Goulash stew

cannot miss eating goulash 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.

-Barbara


4. Utrecht, Netherlands: The Dom Tower

dom tower utrecht netherlands things you cannot miss

Read: Climbing the Dom Tower in Utrecht 

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!

-Lotte


5. London, U.K. : Street Art in Shoreditch

Read: London Food & Market Hunts

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.

-Shobha


6. London, U.K.: The Sky Garden

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.

-Katie


7. London, U.K.: Fish & Chips

fish and chips london uk famous dish

Read: Dine with a View in London at Hutong or SushiSamba

Fish & Chips is the national dish in England and every visitor, who comes to England should try this tasty food. It is a large piece of white fish, usually cod, battered and deep fried, served with chips. Often they spray vinegar on top or they serve mushy peas on the side. It is a very popular take-away food in England. Usually canteens serve fish & chips on Fridays.

Fried fish was first introduced by the Spanish Jews, who came to England in the 17th century. They called it pescado frito at the time. The English quickly adopted this tasty dish and it became the favorite dish of the working class people by the 19th century.

First the fish was coated in flour and it was deep-fried, later it was also coated in beer or in soda as well as flour. The first Fish &Chips store was opened in London in 1860, that sold “fish fried in the Jewish fashion”. By 1910, there were 25,000 Fish & Chips shops around the country. Traditionally it was served in a wrapping of old newspapers.

The dish became so popular in the middle of the 19th century, that even Charles Dickens mentioned it in his book, Twist Oliver, which was published in 1838. Soon after Fish & Chips became England’s favorite, it has invaded Ireland, India, the United States and Indonesia as well.

-Barbara


8. Munich, Germany: Watch surfers at the English Garden

English Garden surf eisbach

Read: My Favourite Summer Spots in Munich

Munich’s a beautiful city and has so much to offer. And it’s a really active city, especially because it’s so close to the mountains and great lakes. But one active thing that Munich offers right in the heart of the city is something not a lot of cities (at least the ones without the ocean right there) has: A surfspot! And watching the surfers, that don’t care how cold the water (or the air) is, catch the one (natural) wave at the Eisbach at the English Garden is a unique thing you should definitely do when in Munich! And bring some time, because you might not want to leave.

-Lisa


9. Manchester, U.K.: Live music

As the origin of bands like Joy Division, The Smiths and Oasis, Manchester lives for music, and seeing live music should be at the top of the list for any visitor.

You’ll be spoilt for choice; during the day you’ll find talented buskers on the main shopping thoroughfare, Market Street. In the evening there’s a wide range of venues, whatever you’re into.

For big names on world tours, you’re likely to have tickets to the Arena, a purpose built stadium in the city centre. For the next tier down, look for dates at the Academy at Manchester University, the Apollo, or Manchester Central (an old railway station). In the summer look out for open-air gigs at Heaton Park or Old Trafford Cricket Ground, but remember that in Manchester, summer doesn’t always mean good weather!

For the real Manchester live music experience, seek out smaller bands and artists at venues like Albert Hall, an amazing old chapel hidden above Peter Street. Whitworth Street West used to be the home of Madchester club The Hacienda and bars like Gorilla keep the energy alive.

For new music, head to the Northern Quarter, where Manchester stalwarts Band On The Wall and Night and Day Café host local bands.

If classical is more your scene, Manchester has one of the best concert halls in the UK in the purpose-built Bridgewater Hall, and the brand new Stoller Hall at Cheetham’s School of Music. If you’re lucky enough to be in Manchester on Whit Friday (late May/June), take a train 30 minutes out of the city for the Saddleworth Band Contests – an international brass band competition described as the “greatest free show on Earth”.

With something for every taste, it’d be a crime to come to Manchester and not see live music.

-Helen


10. Riga, Latvia: Riga Central Market

View of Riga Central Market hangars from above

Read: Why Visit Riga

When traveling to Riga, capital of Latvia, you shouldn’t miss Riga Central Market! As the name suggests it is a central market of Riga and it is the largest one as well.

It is located in the heart of Riga – close to Riga Old Town and near the banks of river Daugava.

Riga Central Market is one of the largest outdoor markets in Europe. The area of the market is 72300 square metres (778000 square feet). It was built in 1930, and five old German Zeppelin hangars were used to build the pavilions of the market. Now these five pavilions are five of nine World’s Zeppelin hangars, which still exist.

Riga Central Market is one of the best places for groceries in Riga. The products you can get here are fresh and affordable. Most of them come from the local farms and, in my opinion, taste much better than the ones you can get from the supermarket.

Another reason would be – to have a traditional Latvian meal. One of the best restaurants in Riga, offering traditional Latvian dishes, is Siļķītes un Dillītes (English: Herrings and Dills). And it’s located in Riga Central Market.

Even if you aren’t planning to buy anything, head there anyway, to get a glimpse of the amazing mix of Western and Eastern European cultures!

-Una


11. Marrakesh, Morocco: Tangia

Tangia-Urns marrakech morocco

When you visit Marrakesh you really need to try tangia. No, not tajine – this dish is something different.

Made in a clay pot that is shaped like an urn and slow cooked in the charcoal from the local furnace you’ll never experience something similar. The dish is native to the markets (souks) of Marrakesh where men would get together on Thursday to pool their money and someone would be in charge of collecting the ingredients; a bit of lamb, preserved lemon, garlic, saffron threads, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Then the pot would be taken to the coals to cook all night long. On Friday they would take the dish to a park to enjoy as a part of a picnic on their day off. Today the dish is prepared the same way but it’s enjoyed by just about everyone.

You need to try this when you’re in Marrakesh because that’s the only place you’ll find it in it’s authentic form!

Take a trip to the train station and you’ll see people getting onboard with large clay urns in their hands – tangia bound for other Moroccan cities! The shops that sell tangia are usually full of Moroccans from other places who must enjoy this dish when they come to visit.

Head to Mechoui alley at lunch time for the some of the best tangia or take a Marrakech food tour and taste it then!

-Amanda


12. Cork, Ireland: Kiss the Stone

Blarney-Castle-Cork kiss stone

Read: 17 Secret Things to Do in Cork

Cork is the second biggest city in Ireland, and the city is most famous for a kissing stone which is supposed to give you “the gift of the gab”. Legend has it that if you kiss this magical stone, which is located on top of one of Ireland’s most famous castles, you will never stop talking. My parents always said I kissed it one too many times when I was a child, which is why I can never keep my mouth shut these days! The Blarney Stone, and Blarney Castle, are definitely top places to visit in Cork – with people travelling up to 4 or 5 hours from other cities just to have the chance to kiss it!

-Janet


13. Bucharest, Romania: Palace of the Parliament

The Palace of the Parliament is famous worldwide, so you cannot miss it while in Bucharest, capital of Romania.

It is the largest civilian building in the world, and the second largest one after the Pentagon. Built during Nicolae Ceausescu’s ruling, the building is emblematic for the communist period. Initially named House of the Republic, after the 1989 revolution, the building is known as People’s House.

The building is really impressive – the interior has really tall rooms, and opulence is seen everywhere. The Palace of the Parliament houses the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, three museums (the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Communist Totalitarianism, and the Museum of the Palace), and an international conference center.

If you visit the National Museum of Contemporary Art you’ll see that at the top floor there is a cafe with a terrace – you can go outside and get a view of the area.

Palace of the Parliament is lit at night, so if you visit Bucharest and have time, try to see it during the night as well.

As fun facts, it is said that Rupert Murdoch wanted to buy the building for US$1 billion, but his offer was refused (the building is evaluated at US$3.4 billion).

Another interesting thing is that under the building there are several tunnels – believed to be built so that Ceausescu could easily escape from here, if needed. The famous “Top Gear” BBC show presenters drove their sport cars through the tunnels (they filmed a show in Romania, when they also said that the Transfagarasan is the most beautiful road in the world).

While you won’t see the tunnels, the Palace of the Parliament can be visited – tours are available, but you have to book them in advance. The museums can be visited separately.

-Liliana


14. Manila, Philippines: Dirty ice cream

Locals call it “dirty ice cream”, but don’t let the name scare you away!

It’s not really dirty, but it’s called that way to differentiate it from “clean” store-bought ice cream. It’s also because of dirt on the wheels of the colorful street carts they come in, the ones the vendors push across the city. The ice cream often come in old-fashioned Filipino flavors– cheese, ube, chocolate, and sometimes coconut. Ice cream cones are available, but it’s much more special (and unique!) to have it in a burger bun. It’s comfort food in the Philippine heat, and a nostalgic snack for all Filipinos.

Of course, you can buy “clean” ice cream from the store, grab a few cones or a burger bun, and just make some for yourself at home, but the dirty ice cream of Manila streets has a special flavor, a special experience, that everyone enjoys and are addicted to.

-Sarah


15. Philippines: Boracay

If you are traveling to the Philippines, I highly recommend booking a flight to Boracay. An island of pristine white sand and beautiful water. You can enjoy a couple of water activities, like kite sailing, paddle boarding, etc. You can also rent a boat to go on island hopping wherein you can visit other amazing islands nearby. Cliff-diving is also safe here. Bring your snorkeling gear to discover what the underwater world here offers. You can also learn diving here! If you want to get away from the beach, you can go hiking or rent an ATV.

Aside from the many activities that you can do here, the food is delicious! There’s a seafood market where you can choose and buy which ones you like and a few meters are restaurants who can cook your freshly bought seafood however you like them for a min. fee. During the afternoon, refresh yourself with nice fresh fruit shakes or even a freshly sliced coconut.

You also deserve a nice massage by the beach from trained therapists (a personal favourite of mine). You can find them anywhere in the island.

-Chel


16. Mumbai, India: Street Art in Bandra

When in Mumbai, India you absolutely cannot miss the street art in Bandra. As you walk around the streets of Bandra, you will see walls, doors and windows painted with these beautiful murals and graffitis. Several artists have come together to create this fun, quirky and colorful street art. Apart from the local artists, you will also find works of some renowned international artists like Shiro & Rock here.

This trail will also show you the BAP (Bollywood Art Project), an initiative to beautify the walls of Chapel road to pay tribute to Bollywood. You can spot large Bollywood film posters that depict how much we love Indian Cinema. This walk is a must if your in Mumbai – completely offbeat and shows you a different side of the otherwise chaotic & crowded city of mine.

-Divya


17. Kerala, India: Ayurvedic massage

ayurvedic massage kerala india

Read: 14 Reasons Why You Should Never Visit Kerala

When you come to Kerala also known as the God’s own country, you need, and I really mean it, you need to have an Ayurvedic massage. Ayurveda is the oldest healthcare system in mankind history. Started about some 5000 years ago, this natural health system has no side effects as the medicines include naturally derived oils and herbs and not some chemically engineered pill.

The massage includes a certified practitioner applying herbal oil all over your body and massaging the Chakras ( there are 114 chakras in our body according to yoga texts ) to completely rejuvenate your mind and body. No massage in the world comes close to an Ayurvedic massage.

-Shaurya


18. Jodhpur, India: Mehrangarh Fort

Jodhpur, India- Mehrangarh Fort

Read: Jodhpur Itinerary

The fort is one of the largest forts in India built by Rao Jodha. A magnificent property giving a sneak peek into the lives of the royalty. The fort comprises of a vast interconnected network of palaces, museums, courtyards and halls. Also, a winding road leads to and from the city below. The museum inside the Fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan housing a collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, costumes, musical instruments and furniture. If you ever come to Jodhpur and do not visit to this fort, then I’d say you have never visited Jodhpur.

-Neha


19. Hong Kong: The skyline

hong kong skyline night city skyscraper miss

Read: Goodbye Hong Kong

Don’t miss the skyline. Don’t miss it from the top of Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island. Don’t miss it from Tsui Sha Tsui waterfront, where there’s a nightly light show. Don’t miss it from the deck of the Star Ferry, which darts back and forth across the harbour. Don’t miss it from Ozone at the Ritz Carlton in the ICC building, also known as the tallest bar in the world. And certainly don’t miss it from the topmost point of one of HK’s many scenic hikes, where you’ll realise that Hong Kong’s natural skyline – which includes undulating Kowloon (the Nine Dragons), the exquisitely green China Sea and the SAR’s many islands – is just as striking as the dramatic skyscrapers.

Just don’t miss it, OK?

-Amy


20. Sydney, Australia: The Sydney Opera House

Read: 8 Must Eat Food in Sydney, Australia

The Sydney Opera House is one of the unique architectural marvels of 20th century and serves as a symbol of Australia that’s widely recognised all over the world. It is Sydney’s most popular and world’s busiest arts performing centre. The architecture of the Sydney Opera House is based on 20th-century Modern Expressionism.

The building was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007, and the organisation describes it as “great urban sculpture set in a remarkable waterscape, at the tip of a peninsula projecting into Sydney Harbour.”

-Raksha


21. Australia: Vegemite

 

As an #Aussie #Vegemite is a right of passage! So much so I had to have a photo in the #uyuni #saltflats #bolivia with this delicious spread!!

A post shared by Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo (@ljojlo_trvlblog) on

Vegemite is a right of passage for every Australian. This black, yeasty, salty spread is in every pantry in every house in the entire country. This maybe a slight exaggeration as I am sure there is the odd Aussie that doesn’t like but let me tell you that is rare. For this reason, you can’t go to Australia without trying Vegemite, but you should get an Aussie to prepare it for you.

Vegemite is a spread that goes mainly on toast but that isn’t to say it doesn’t belong on a sandwich, on savoury biscuits, the odd pancake goes alright too or even in pasta. So, as you can see Vegemite is unique.

If trying it for the first time, I suggest on toast as this is the best way to have it. BEWARE – don’t layer it on like Nutella and peanut butter you experience will not be pleasant. So, you find yourself in Australia, there is no Aussie in sight, but you have Vegemite, bread, butter and a toaster, well this is how you prepare the most epic piece of Vegemite on toast:

  1. Place the bread in the toaster and toast until light brown (my preferred preference) but could be darker if you wish.
  2. Slather and I mean slather your toast in butter that melts. [This step is supremely important because if there is not enough melted butter on the toast there is a chance I won’t even like it and I LOVE Vegemite.]
  3. Take a small, small amount of Vegemite and smear it sparingly across the melted butter. [DO NOT make the toast look brown! The toast should be mainly yellow from the butter with light smears of the Vegemite]
  4. Voila, you have the best piece of Vegemite toast possible – so EAT!

And as you can see I love Vegemite that much that it is currently accompanying me in South America where I could celebrate with this glorious photo in the salt flats of Bolivia.

-Lauren


22. Maldives: Young honey coconut

Did you know that Maldives has one of the best coconuts in the world and the honey coconut is one of the sweetest coconuts among the coconut family? In Maldives, there are professional coconut tree climbers that spend their whole lives climbing trees to pick and choose the best coconuts.

The tropical sandy atolls of Maldives provide the best climate and conditions for this extremely salt tolerant palm tree to grow and bear fresh fruit. Its shell is used to make ornamental souvenirs while its white fleshy “meat” rich in fibre, is a delicious delicacy among the Maldivians. Coconut water is most popular for both its sweet refreshing taste that leaves you craving for more and not to forget, its health benefits. No wonder it’s a hot favourite for all guests in Maldives after a whole day basking in the sun.

What many may not know is that xoconut water is one of the best things one can consume daily. About 100grams of coconut water contains 95.5% water, 0.05% nitrogen, 0.35% potassium, 0.56% phosphoric acid and more… Research has also shown that coconut water contains more potassium than energy drinks, while it provides natural sugars instead of altered sugars in most energy drinks.

For the party lovers who love to drink, this honey coconut is also best to counter hangovers! These days, beverage companies are leveraging on the increasing health conscious society by selling packaged coconut water, but nothing beats drinking it fresh. Many celebrities and models remain youthful and beautiful by drinking this daily, and it is also a good drink to encourage weight loss and improved skin conditions.

So need I sell it further? The honey coconut from the island of Maldives is a must try for whoever visiting here!

-Lydia


 23. Berkeley CA, U.S.A: Chez Panisse restaurant

BERKELEY-Chez Panisse-exterior-after fire-Jeff+John-c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers-watermark

Read: Berkeley Restaurants - Chez Panisse

Berkeley is famous for sophisticated cuisine and most especially for Chez Panisse restaurant. Alice Waters opened it in 1971, after visiting France and becoming impressed by the use there of fresh local ingredients to make simple, delicious meals. Now her restaurant is world-famous, as is she, for her definitive California cuisine.

You have a choice of eating upstairs in a well-priced cafe that serves a seasonal menu of items such as a baked goat-cheese salad, Spanish-style grilled chicken with lentils, and almond cake with poached Bosc pears and sour cherries. Ingredients are all sourced from the finest local farmers, and though preparations are simple they are always delicious. The pricey downstairs dining room is harder to get into and serves a different fixed-price menu every night (Paul McCartney and President Obama have both eaten here, and limos are often seen parked in front).

Dining occurs inside a beautifully converted art deco-style house with an unusual bunya bunya tree in front. Both venues require reservations far in advance, so make sure you start calling for a reservation a month before. The area surrounding this restaurant is known as the “Gourmet Ghetto” and well worth spending some time to explore, even if you aren’t able to actually eat in the restaurant.

Almost any restaurant in the immediate vicinity is worth a visit – the tapas place next door, the pizza place across the street – and make a good back-up if you decide to try to get in on a same-day cancellation, which sometimes does work. The original Peet’s Coffee house, which was the first in the U.S. to import specialty varieties of coffees and to dark-roast whole coffee beans, is also just around the corner.

-Carole


 24. San Francisco CA, U.S.A.: Tacos in the Mission

USA-San-Francisco-El-Farolito-Outside

Read: Best Tacos in San Francisco

As far as San Francisco is concerned, there is only one real debate. Everyone holds an opinion, but locals and travelers alike are at an impasse. What debate am I referring to? Which taqueria makes the best tacos in San Francisco, of course!

San Francisco is a taco obsessed city, and in my opinion, the only way to fully experience San Francisco is to hop on MUNI to the Mission District for a taco tasting tour.

The Mission is a historically Latino neighborhood, and the taquerias in the Mission are as authentic as they come. With the city’s best climate and an amazing street art culture, the neighborhood makes for a perfect place to wander in between tacos. Head to the taquerias topping “best of” lists but don’t skip out on the little shops that catch your eye along the way. Come hungry and pick your favorite spots based on their tortillas, salsa varieties, meat, and a whole slew of other criteria. It is a unique, fun, and totally delicious way to experience San Francisco!

-Taylor


25. San Diego CA, U.S.A: Mexican food

FAMOUS mexican food in san diego california usa

San Diego is known for lovely beaches, near perfect weather year-round, and our “World Famous San Diego Zoo.” . By all means, enjoy all of these wonderful things when you do visit, but to truly say you have visited San Diego you have to try the delicious Mexican cuisine unique to this region.

If you ask any local who has been away from home for a while what they miss most about San Diego their answer (besides the weather) will most likely be, “California Burritos,” “Carne Asada Fries,” or “Getting good Mexican food.”

The fresh California produce available year-around and the cultural influences from Mexico blend together to create dishes which are uniquely Southern Californian.

Popular dishes include the “Surf n’ Turf taco from Lucha Libre Taco Shop, Carne Asada Fries from Lolita’s Taco Shop, California Burrito from Taco Salsa, or the fried fish tacos from TJ Oyster Bar. The surf n’ turf includes steak, shrimp,and avocado topped with Lucha Libre’s secret chipotle sauce, and was even featured on Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food.

If you do not eat meat, you can partake in the veggie tacos, or unique potato tacos. Everyone has their favorites, and there are many great Mexican food places to choose from all over San Diego, so the hardest part will be choosing which to try first!

Jamie


26. Victoria BC, Canada: Goldstream Provincial Park

When you arrive in Victoria, British Columbia, there is so much to see and do!

You can walk down the cobble stone streets of Government, feed the seals at Fisherman’s Warf, search for peacocks at Beacon Hill Park, taste-test all the craft breweries, but the one thing you cannot miss out on is exploring Goldstream Provincial Park.

Just a fifteen minute drive from downtown Victoria, Goldstream boasts beautiful hikes with great views. If you’re looking for a big adventure hike up Mount Finlayson to enjoy looking out over the Greater Victoria area. If hiking’s not your thing – check out the waterfall and go for a quick dip in the cold water! If you come at the right time of year you can watch the salmon spawn along the river. You can stay for the day or camp overnight and enjoy the built in fire pits to roast marshmallows over.

My personal favourite thing to do is hike up to the Goldstream Trestle. Not only do you hike up above the waterfall for breathtaking photos, in twenty short minutes you arrive at an abandoned railroad track to explore. If heights don’t frighten you, venture past the first trestle to walk across a second shorter one until you get to the tunnel. I like to bring a lunch and eat beneath the shade of the beautiful trees. The trestle offers the most amazing adventures for any fitness level.

After enjoying this park you’ll be wanting to see more so a few runner up “Must See’s” are: Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, Fisgard Lighthouse, Buchart Gardens, Fan Tan Alley, and the Royal BC Museum. Victoria boasts so many great adventures for you to explore you’ll be wanting to extend your trip to see more!

-Megan


27. Washington DC, U.S.A.: Ben’s Chili Bowl

Ben’s Chili Bowl is one of Washington DC’s most iconic eateries, a popular local spot that is a must for anyone visiting. Founded nearly 60 years ago, it has been a mainstay of the U Street corridor from the jazz heyday of the 1950s, through the race riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and continuing through the recent gentrification of the neighbourhood. In a city nicknamed ‘Chocolate City’ for its large Black population, Ben’s is notable for being one of the few Black-owned businesses still operating, for the many celebrities who have graced its booths, and of course for the food.

The signature dish is the chili half-smoke, which involves a half-smoke sausage on a bun with chili ladled on top. There are also hamburgers, fries, and even several vegetarian options. My go-to order is a chili dog, cheese fries, and a chocolate milkshake.

When you arrive – at any time of day or night – there will often be a line out the door and sometimes around the corner and up the block. With many nightclubs and music venues in the vicinity, Ben’s is possibly most crowded in the late night hours, so aim for eating there during daytime and go on weekdays if you can.

Also, plan to eat at the restaurant. The walls of the classic interior are filled with photos of the many celebrities who have enjoyed a meal at Ben’s Chili Bowl over the years. So wherever you end up sitting, be sure to stroll around and take a look at all of the pictures displayed throughout the many rooms before you leave.

Although there are now a few local outposts, be sure to visit the original location at 1213 U Street, easily accessible on the DC metro.

-Lana


28. Nederland CO, U.S.A.: The Carousel of Happiness

must see Carousel nederland colarado

The Carousel of Happiness was born, ironically, in the most horrific and unhappy of circumstances while Scott Harrison was a combat solider fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. Enduring this trial of body and spirit, he held a tiny music box to his ear between the violent exchanges of gunfire and envisioned a carousel turning in a meadow to comfort and calm him. After the war, he came back to my small town in the Rocky Mountains – Nederland, Colorado – and began to bring his vision to life. He purchased the skeleton of a 1910 carousel frame and spent over 25 years restoring it, and hand-carving over 50 animals alone in his garage and painting them with brilliant colours. Our town held several fundraisers to custom-build a home for it in a round building in the town center. The final touch is a 1913 Wurlitzer organ to provide the music.

People come from all over Colorado to ride it (over and over), and you should, too, if you are ever in Nederland (situated in the middle of the Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway). It costs only $1 to ride, and the animals are not your typical carousel horses, but completely unique, whimsical creatures – a fish, a camel, a peacock, gorilla, cheetah, frog, moose and 50 others. Each time you ride it you notice new details on the animals.

In 2010, Shara and her husband bought the house Scott Harrison built and carved all the carousel animals in. You can now find it over the garage where the animals came to life when you stay with them at “Cozy and Quiet” through Airbnb.

-Shara


29. Austin TX, U.S.A.: Barbeque food

Sausage, Brisket, and Ribs Cooking in Pit at Salt Lick

Read: Austin Date Ideas For Everyday Of The Week

If you make your way to Austin, Texas, there are plenty of things to do, see and eat, but you cannot miss the amazing barbecue. Pit-masters in and around Austin have perfected their process for smoking tender, mouth-watering meats. Here are just a few places to choose from. For me, there really isn’t anything quite like a tender and moist smoked brisket with a touch of barbecue sauce. Even as a local, I love to try out new places since everyone seems a little different and offers their own specialty.

Franklins Barbecue
Franklin’s Barbecue is probably the most well know restaurant, but it takes determination to get. The line starts forming early morning and they open for lunch until the food runs out. If you want to go to Franklins, plan on getting there several hours before opening and ready to enjoy waiting for a few hours.

The Salt Lick
There are several locations, but if you can make it out to the original Salt Lick in Driftwood Texas, it is worth the drive. The best part about the Salt Lick is the family style all you can eat option. You can eat as much brisket, sausage and pork ribs as you can handle.

Bowie BBQ in Whole Foods Market
I am biased here because I work at Whole Foods, but the barbecue is consistently delicious and cooked perfectly. I recommend the pulled pork sandwich or the moist brisket. It is centrally located and never runs out. They get my pick for convenience.

Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Valentina’s is located in South Austin, just north of Buda and has amazing brisket and pulled pork. You can buy it by the pound, in a sandwich, or my preference, as part of a taco.

-Dan


30. Montego Bay, Jamaica: Doctor’s Cave Beach

must-do-and-eat-in-montego-bay-mobay

Have you ever been in water so clear that you can see tiny fishes swimming at your feet? Located on the west coast of Jamaica, a visit to Mobay (Montego Bay) is not complete without a day at Doctor’s Cave.

It was made famous after Sir Herbert Barker, a British Osteopath, visited in the 1920’s and later wrote an article about it. He declared that the waters have curative powers and that he was restored to good health after bathing there. After this article was published, many foreigners came to visit and hotels were immediately constructed to accommodate the crowd.

Jamaica has a warm climate year-round, so the ocean remains between 78 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit, 22 to 28 degrees Celsius. The beach is located on Gloucester Ave known as Mobay’s “Hip Strip”, where you’ll find hotels, bars, restaurants, shops, clubs and more.

The well-known Margarita Ville is just steps away. It is also conveniently located within 5 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from the Freeport Cruise Ship Terminal.

You can watch the planes descending to land, while soaking up the warm Caribbean sun. Admission is US $6.00 per person for adults and US $3.00 per person for children under the age of 12.

Did we also mention how eating Jamaican food is some of the most exotic experiences you can find?

-Global Jamaican


31. Ekaterinburg, Russia: Local mayonnaise

Ekaterinburg, Russia, local Mayonnaise

Read: Foods You Must Try in Ekaterinburg (and Where to Find Them)

If you ever find yourself in Ekaterinburg, Russia – I know the name probably sounds unfamiliar, but it is one of the top 5 largest cities in the country – you simply cannot leave without trying local mayonnaise. As crazy as it sounds, getting a pack of “Provansal” mayo in a blue jar should be your top priority!

Russia as a country is known for its love of mayo. We add it to pretty much any kind of food – soup, salad, sandwich, dumplings, you name it. Some people love to spread it on a piece of rye bread, others use it for making pastries. It might seem outrageous to add mayo to a cake, but come to think of it, mayo is nothing more than egg yolks and oil which sounds totally reasonable to add to pastries.

Ural region, where Ekaterinburg is located, is particularly famous for its love of mayo. If an average Russian eats about 8 kilos of mayo per year, a person living in Ekaterinburg eats 11. That is because we have the best mayo in the whole world produced right in the city.

You can easily find it in grocery stores. Look for mayo in blue packaging that says “ЕЖК” (the brand name in Russian) and prepare yourself to try the best mayo there is. It will haunt you in dreams when you leave Russia.

-Yulia


What’s one thing you cannot miss in YOUR hometown? Share it with me below!

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22 Replies to “Locals Spill Their Hometown Secrets”

  1. This is really well done. I’ve got plenty of tips to jot down!

    1. Hope it comes in handy! 🙂

  2. What a fun idea! No one knows a city better than locals 🙂 I’ve heard good things about the Sky Garden in London so it’s on my list for my next trip to the UK. Can’t wait to read more of these!

    1. Agreed! Be sure to find out these details from the locals! 🙂

  3. 1, 3 & 6 look the most interesting to me!

  4. When I was a member of Soho House I always wanted to check out Shoreditch House! It looked like such a cool area. I’ve been to London several times and always seem to have missed it!

    1. Oh no, then you definitely have to go there the next time you’re in London! 🙂

  5. What great information! Will be pinning for later – I want to go to all of these places!

    1. You have to go to each one of them! That’s a given 😛

  6. yes its so true a local person can make a place more interesting with the facts which only a local knows. great post…

    1. Definitely! 🙂

  7. This one is a very interesting article. Locals are the best source of information and you have just compiled amazing stuff here. Thanks for this post.

    1. Agreed! And you’re welcome 🙂

  8. I’ve always dreamt of traveling the world, Europe being top on my list.You had me at Milan (apperitifos), Hungary’s goulash and that yummy looking dirty ice cream from Manila!! the eclectic art described in shoredich London is so intriguing! I now want to visit Europe more than ever before!

    1. Hehe Europe is home to many great attractions so yes, do explore it all!

  9. Some great hidden secrets spilled right here on your article. Bucket list for every country. Some of the finest things I didn’t know about a place are mentioned here. A great compilation!

    1. Aw, thank you!

  10. I love the idea of insider’s guides to famous cities! Apertivo is honestly my favorite thing about Italian culture as well so its good to see that my opinions are in sync with that of a locals! Awesome article and love the instagram additions 😉

    1. Definitely! Hearing it from locals can be so much more insightful 🙂

    2. Thanks for the support, and yes! The best way to get to know a city is to see it through the eyes of a local 🙂

  11. I will be visiting London in just a few weeks. The Shoreditch neighbourhood sounds awesome! I will have to add it to the list!

    1. You got to see it and experience it! It’ll be really nice.

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