5 Things I Do When Visiting A New Place!

When you are travelling, arriving into a city or town can be a bit daunting if you haven’t been there before, you don’t know really know where anything is or how easy things are to get to.

In this post I go into the top 5 things I generally make sure I do when in a arrive in a new place and what I make sure I do when I am there. The easiest way to find to locate all of these places is just simply searching for them in either Google or Apple Maps!

Although not part of this 5 things post, some things I also generally do when arriving into a new country are;

  • Pick up a local SIM card if I am visiting a non-EU country or a country that is not included in my data plan (for me this includes the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand!) make sure your phone in unlocked from your home network otherwise your phone will not accept the local SIM card!
  • The local emergency number and the local police station to where I am staying – in case you get involved in an incident (travel insurance companies generally wont pay out unless you report a crime and obtain a report number!)
  • The local UK embassy address and contact number- in case you lose your passport or find yourself in some kind of trouble and require consular assistance

1 – Find a Supermarket and/or Pharmacy

Even when staying in a hotel or hostel I always try and find the nearest supermarket and if it doesn’t have a small pharmacy in it (a lot of the European supermarkets do) then I usually try and find the nearest separate pharmacy as well.

In Europe a lot of the supermarkets are a great option for a quick and easy breakfast and/or dinner which is handy if you are not wanting to have a sit down meal and would rather get out there and explore.

2 – Find an ATM

Although a lot of places accept debit card for transactions (especially in Europe) it is always good to know where is the nearest place to where you are staying to get cash out at are. Also if you are planning on having a night out where you are at then it is always better to have cash on you as a lot of bars and clubs will only accept cash!

EuroNet operates a lot of the cash machines around Europe, when using these, you must be careful to not get scammed by them if you are using a bank card and currency not local to the country you are using the ATM in. Prior to withdrawal of your money you will be asked if you want to withdraw with an exchange rate set by the ATM as opposed to allowing your bank to do the exchange rate, ALWAYS let your bank do the exchange rate as it will always be a better rate than what the ATM would offer.

3 – Find the Highest Point!

One of my favourite things to do in a new city is search for the highest (or one of the highest) lookout points and either walk up to it or go in a building and take the lift to get up to it. Its one of the best places you can get a photo of where you have been to!

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The view from the top of St Peters church in Riga, Latvia! At the top of the Church in the spire is an observation area that gives you a 360 degree, completely uninterrupted view of the city. It cost about €5 to visit the top via a lift but totally worth it!  – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Generally any look out point that is in a building will have an admission fee, its usually not much – a couple of Euros at the most. Any lookout point that is in a public area will be free to see however depending on where it is you might want to consider taking some transport to get up to it.

4 – Find a Walking Tour

In pretty much every city and place of interest in Europe (and other places around the world) you will be able to find free walking tours, these tours usually last between 1 and 2 hours and are led by university level students and/or knowledgeable people whose speciality is the area you are visiting. Most tours are not physically demanding, going at a slow place with plenty of time to take in the information been told to you, ask questions and take photos, etc.

Take the term ‘free’ with a pinch of salt as it is entirely tip based, usually between €5 an €10 depending on the duration and quality of the tour. In my opinion usually very well deserved as every tour I have been on, the person leading it has been extremely knowledgeable and taken you to see things that you might usually miss yourself.

To find them you can ask the local hotel or hostel you are staying at but another option is by searching on FreeTour.com. This site allows you to search for a walking tour in a city you are about to visit or are currently in and advises on the time and place! They also have an app so you can do this whilst you are away as well!

5 – Find the Best Local Cafe/Bar/Restaurant

I am certainly not a burger and fries person whenever I visit somewhere and always like to try the local cuisine and tipple wherever I go. Whenever I arrive in a new place I always ask the place I am staying at if they recommend anywhere good to eat or drink at (and if they have any discount offers anywhere!)

Another way of finding where is good to eat is by searching on TripAdvisor. Pretty much every place open for business has had something said about it on there and 9/10 times when I have visited I agree with the previous comments!

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The Gingerbread Sorbet desert from Rataskaevu16, Tallinn, Estonia! After a quick look through TripAdvisor I was able to find one of the highest recommend places for in Tallinn on the app.  Rataskaevu16 offered an excellent 3 course Christmas orientated menu (due to me visiting over the Christmas season!) – © Lewis Pickthall – 2018

Doing this has allowed me to try Whale in Iceland, some of best Garlic Bread I have ever tried in Latvia and one of the best dishes of Pho in Vietnam, to name a few!

In Conclusion…

There you have it, there is 5 things I always aim to do in every new place I visit.. but what are your travel habits whenever you visit a new place? Let me know in the comments below!

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