Study Abroad Tips: Sight Seeing

Once you’ve booked your trip, you need to find things to do in the city you’re visiting!

My biggest advice with finding things to do is to know the people you’re traveling with. When I say this, I mean figure out if they’re the type of people who:

-Are kinda cheap and won’t do certain things because they cost a few extra dollars

-Want to sleep in all day

-Want to take tours? Go to museums?

-Want to go out to bars/clubs at night

*There’s nothing wrong with doing any of these things above, however if you’re someone who wants to do certain things like tours or museums, you should probably not travel too much with someone who wants to go clubbing every night.

Usually, this is harder to coordinate as the group gets bigger. My best advice is to travel with just one or two people who are like you and have the same goals and desires of what they want to get out of their trip!

Now, obviously some cities are known for certain things-

Paris = Eiffel Tower, London= Big Ben, Athens= Acropolis, Rome= Colosseum, etc.

BUT Once you’re done with those big things, how do you find other things to do?

Hitting those big attractions usually doesn’t take as much time as you’d think. So once you’re done with them, you need to find other equally cool things to do.

Here are some of the ways I figured out things to do:

Before you go:

  1. Look on social media-
    • See if your friends who are/were abroad went to that country/city, and if so what did they post?
    • On instagram: search the location (by city or by tourist attraction) and you’ll see photos of things close by
    • Look at travel insider / other travel influencer Facebook videos
  2. Google “____ (name of city) blogs”
    • I usually did this to find good food places. For example, I’d google “Foodies in Brussels blog”
    • Searching this will result in everyday peoples’ blogs (LIKE ME!) or travel websites that are usually made and run by millennials
  3. Ask around at school or in your home abroad city in general
    • When you start to make friends at school, the biggest and most frequent conversations you’ll have is about traveling.
    • This is great because you can ask people that have already gone what they did and what you should either do or skip

When you’re already there:

  1. Buy one of those touristy maps for 5 Euro. I know it sounds dumb, but it will show you a lot of the things worth seeing if you’re only in a city for 48 hours.
    • This is also good because it will show you what’s close to where you currently are. That way you’re not spending time and money running around the entire city
  2. Ask your Airbnb host, front desk person at your hostel, people you meet in line/at restaurants/ in your hostel
  3. Ask cab drivers, Uber drivers, servers, and any locals you might meet
  4. Take a free tour! These tours are around 2.5 hours and cover a lot of land and history, however they’re not permitted to go inside most attractions.
    • This is a good way to figure out where to go because things will either pop out to you or make you realize they’re not as great as you thought they would be
    • It’s also nice to kind of have a historical background of the place before you go!
    • Usually tour guides will tell you the best times to go/ if there’s any discounts/ if it’s even worth going
    • All of the guides I had always gave me food recs and told me about hole-in-the-wall spots after the tour was over!
  5. Go on a hop on- hop off bus
    • This is painfully touristy I know, but honestly who cares.
    • I did this in Barcelona and bought a 2 day pass for like 35 euro and I’m so glad I did. Barcelona is a huge city with a complicated metro and a lot of pickpocketing, so it was so convenient to have a driver take you where you wanted to go safely.
    • Ride it around once, learn the history, and mark down where you want to go.
    • If you see something that catches your eye at any point, get off and go explore. These busses run all day and definitely don’t drop you off in sketchy areas.

Here are some of the places that I’ve visited just because I went on a tour or asked someone for recommendations!

Scroll down to see the list of cities I used free/paid tour guides for- 

*Bus2Alps is the only paid tour I used (the rest were free, except for the 10 euro tip)

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La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Bus Tour/ Instagram Pics/ Friend Rec

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Park Guell, Barcelona Bus Tour/ Friend Rec

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The Louvre, Paris- Sandeman Free Tour

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Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris- Sandeman Free Tour

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Grand Place- Brussels, Sandeman Free Tour

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Place Neighborhood, Athens- Greece Free Tour

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Grand Place- Brussels, Sandeman Free Tour (also did their beer tour)

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Main Square in Bologna, Italy – Free Bus2Alps trip

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In front of the Royal Palace in Madrid- Sandeman Free Tour

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Temple Bar Area, Dublin Ireland- Sandeman Free Tour

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Dublin Ireland- Sandeman Free Tour

 

Overall, I used some type of tour guide service for the following places:

  • Bologna (Bus2Alps)
  • Interlaken, Switzerland (Bus2Alps)
  • Madrid (Sandeman Free Tour)
  • Florence (API group tour)
  • Morocco (Bus2Alps)
  • Ireland (Bus2Alps + Sandeman)
  • Athens (Free Tour Company)
  • Brussels (Sandeman Free Tour + Paid Beer Tour)
  • Paris (Sandeman Free Tour)
  • Barcelona (Hop on- Hop off Bus)
  • Rome (Free Tour)

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