Here is a collaboration with traveler bloggers that know their city so well that they are willing to share it with you! Even though local immersion may be daunting, however, if you can find the right spot to interact with locals, it will expedite your goal.
Local Guides to…
Darwin City, Australia
By: Ann Owen, a travel blogger based in Australia who provides the in’s and out’s of Australia in her blog, Territory Mob!
Are you partial to a cold beer on a hot day? It’s always ‘beer o’clock’ in Darwin city!
Trust me! There’s nothing more refreshing than an icy cold beer on a hot day – and do you know what? Every day is a hot day in Darwin!
Did you know? The Northern Territory has the highest per capita beer consumption in the world.
Here’s the scoop on Darwin’s 10 best city pubs.
The Deckbar: Offering over 80 varieties of beer, this outdoor bar is one of the popular haunts for locals of Darwin city. Situated at the ‘top of the town’, the Deck Bar is open 7 days a week. The Deck Bar has a great dinner menu and for something light, tapas and bar snacks are available too.
The Hotel Darwin: One of the early hotels in Darwin surviving the bombing of Darwin and Cyclone Tracy, Hotel Darwin was once known as the ‘Raffles’ of Darwin. This revamped iconic pub serves a great selection of tap and bottle beers – both imported and Australian. A good place to chill out with an icy cold beer away from the hustle and bustle of the Mitchell Street strip.
Monsoons Bar: Downtown Mitchell Street, Monsoons is a nice open-air pub to do some serious people watching. The alfresco dining area sports a great menu with tapas, burgers, and steak. Monsoons have and entertainment 7 nights a week and offer one of Darwin’s largest selection of tap and bottled beers.
Wisdom Bar: Centrally located in Darwin’s famous Mitchell Street. Rumoured to have been once a dentist surgery – Wisdom is the local’s choice! A great food menu, a great selection of cocktails, beers and wines and entertainment.
The Tap Bar: A popular open-air pub in Mitchell Street with a gnarly old fig tree right in the middle of the beer garden. Great atmosphere, a good selection of icy cold beers and an ‘all-around’ menu for snacks, lunch, and dinner. The Tap Bar is a popular place to meet friends for a ‘coldie’!
Shenanigans Pub: An Aussie style Irish Pub, Shenanigans is a very popular pub with the ‘in crowd’ of Darwin. A huge range of beers on tap, live music and a good selection of food to ward off the munchies. Always pumping, this pub is a busy little venue. Drop in and check it out!
Ducks Nuts: Located on the famous Mitchell Street, Ducks Nuts is popular with locals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and later! Great live entertainment and an excellent selection of beers and wine make this one of our favorite haunts.
The Cav: A great place to meet friends, 12 icy cold beers on tap, a good selection of wines and great cocktails! A great food menu at the Cav – my advice is to make sure you try the Nam Jim shots – to die for! Locals head to the Cav for the steaks!
Rorkes: Icy cold beers, wines and a mix of contemporary and classic features make this re-purposed old banking establishment a place to visit in Darwin city. Self-serve beer on tap, a wide range of boutique beers and a rooftop beer-garden are a part of the attraction. Rorkes has a following of locals!
Discovery: Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner this venue turns into one of the most popular nightclubs for Darwin locals to party into the wee hours. Discovery is a great venue for hens & bucks nights and somewhere to go clubbing.
Darwin’s 10 best watering holes – a great place to start if you want to meet some of Darwin’s super-friendly locals!
By: Maureen Lobue, a nomad dancer who shares her love of dancing through her travels and even writes about them on her blog, Nomad Dancer!
Eating Locally in Tirana
It Begins With:
A bowl the size of a large cereal bowl filled with the freshest, creamiest yogurt I’ve ever scooped and treated my tongue too, followed by a glass of deep red wine that is surprisingly light.
What goes well with wine?
Cheese of course, in this case, a small bowl of a thick warm almost feta tasting cheese blended with soft, cooked chunks of sweet red & green pepper.
This is all just to tease your taste buds, wondering what comes next. A memory of my mom comes next when I see the dish laid down in front of me, stuffed peppers…yum!
These have a secret mild herb ingredient though that my mom did not have & that was not divulged to me.
Now comes the actual meal, seriously.
The plate set down in front of me smells of wood burning stove, of slow-cooked meat so tender that the knife is useless. The lamb shanks melt in the mouth & even though I don’t think I can eat anymore, that last one somehow disappears.
The Final Touch
How can all of this be digested?
Ah, with a thimble full of Raki, the traditional liquor made from a variety of fruits (ours was mulberry) & also containing 50% alcohol! Smooth does not even begin to describe this going down, warming the throat all the way to our full stomachs.
This feast was my lunch today, an unexpected treat offered by my tour guide of a few days ago.
Knowing I want to learn about the country, he escorted me to this wonderful tiny family-run restaurant tucked into a small alley, a place I would never have discovered on my own. And he carried me out after all that food & the Raki…no he didn’t. I can hold my Raki with the best of them, but I did go home for a nap.
Harlem, New York
By: Talek Nantes, a travel blogger who shares the best information you can get. Check out Travels with Talek!
Red Rooster in Harlem, New York.
This place used to fly under the radar, that is until people started coming here and telling their friends who told THEIR friends and so on.
Even a spot at the bar during the weekday night is a challenge but a sooooooo worth-it challenge.
Red Rooster is the brainchild of the Ethiopian born-Sweden raised celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelson.
That pedigree alone should be enough to tempt you to experience the food here.
It is exceptional, a celebration of American food in all its glorious multi-ethnic iterations.
This Harlem hot spot was originally a speakeasy in New York City’s prohibition days.
The best part?
It’s a cool story to tell visitors.
The place has made up for those bad old days with its wide selection of imaginative cocktails served from the horseshoe-shaped bar.
To top it off:
There is live music almost every night.
The groups tend to be Latino with a heavy Caribbean influence. The musicians encourage the crowd to participate and you get to hear some pretty talented people.
Dancing breaks out spontaneously throughout the restaurant!
Red Rooster is my go-to place for a guaranteed good time.
By: Evan Kristine, a travel blogger dedicated to sharing her thoughts and experiences during her travel/migration to Finland. Check her blog, Pretty Wild World, out!
By: Anisha Mistry, a blogger who specializes in food and lifestyle. She writes mouth-watering recipes on her blog, Anisha Mistry.
Eating out is great.
When dining out in Granada, places with great menus and a vibe, where I have a home away from home experience, is a plus.
But, what makes a local bar truly great?
A unique atmosphere of people enjoying wine, laughing together and sharing some tapas.
Going from bar to bar having a caña or copa de vino (a small glass of beer / a glass of wine) and various portions of distinctive, typical dishes, is a great way of discovering bars with a great atmosphere, full of people, enjoying company and what is really a whole way of life.
Through bar hopping, I discovered my three favorite bars, all within walking distance of each other; Taberna La Tana and La Boteillería.
My two favorite bars are adorned with Spanish-inspired elements, from hung jamón, regional wines to the colorful painting of times gone by.Traditional dining chairs, high ceilings, arches and typical thick walls, with hand-painted pottery, just adds extra Andalucían flair.
Taberna La Tana
They have achieved harmony between attention to detail and a casual yet buzzing ambiance. Pairing the tastiest wines with cured meats, from morcilla to chorizo, proof that magic does exist, it’s an appreciation of good, honest food. The balance is simple and the quality of produce is the most incredible, from a selective range of the finest meats I have ever seen and tasted. From Spicy to flavourful and smooth to velvety, their variety of wines and tapas is certainly a drool-worthy list.
My favorite bar has the most exciting spot. With flawless service, warm hospitality, and delicious aromas, just brings out pure joy and pleasure. The menu pays homage to real Spanish food in one way or another. With the largest selection of wines, vermouths, and other spirits from the country, you can find everything from your classic Calvente to a special Ribera del Duero. La Boteillería is one of those places that transport you to a happy place, making it impossible to leave.
By: Erica Cosentino, a travel blogger that treads the world. It’s even written in her blog, Treading Wander!
The Greater Toronto Area, Canada
Holidays to Toronto tend to center around the downtown core, with visitors usually only venturing away to make the hour-long drive to see Niagara Falls. Downtown Toronto is unique in that locals and tourists alike tend to visit the same spots, with locals enjoying the touristy hotspots for fun. During a visit to Toronto, sometimes the best way to kick it like a local is to visit the city’s surrounding areas and discover the unexpected attractiveness of the suburbs.
Before heading out to the suburbs, be sure you’ve taken the time to fully explore every eclectic corner of the city. Sometimes just walking around to explore Toronto can be intriguing in its own right. While, yes, it’s typical of major cities to have a Chinatown or a Little Italy, Toronto has quite a few neighborhoods specific to its own distinct culture. Places like Cabbagetown (known for its beautiful Victorian houses and peaceful tree-lined streets) or Leslieville (recently described by a local newspaper as “a hip hovel for Toronto’s creative and professional classes”) deliver a certain vibe that you can only find in Toronto.
Just east of the city, in a suburb with a shady reputation, lays a little-known natural gem nestled on the shore of Lake Ontario. The Scarborough Bluffs make the perfect day trip for any nature-loving traveler looking to spend some time outside the city. Start the day with a visit to the beach at the bottom of the cliffs, and then take some time out to sit in the grass and enjoy a picnic lunch. Afterwards, you can walk (or drive) up to the top of the cliffs for some truly breathtaking, Instagram-worthy views. There are a few different itineraries and routes you can use to plan out your day at the Bluffs depending on where you choose to start your day, some including mildly challenging hikes, and others that are a little more peaceful. Regardless of how exactly you choose to spend your day at this natural wonder, you’ll be out in nature, enjoying the sun, water, and greenery.
Easily accessible by catching the westbound Go Train from Toronto’s Union Station, Port Credit is the area that dominates the suburb of Mississauga’s waterfront. Walking along Lakeshore Road, you’ll feel almost like you’re in the downtown area of a small town, though Mississauga’s population exceeds 750,000 people. With boutique shops and unique restaurants lining the main street, you’ll get to experience a culture similar to Toronto, with fewer crowds, better prices, and its own brand of charm.
By: Sarah Trevor, the owner of World Unlost, which focuses on stories, travel, and history.
They say Sydney is a city of villages. Here are my top local picks of areas to check out – in the city center and beyond.
Best waterside views
Starting with the glorious harbor for which Sydney is so renowned, give the touristy buzz of Circular Quay the slip and take a relaxing stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens. At Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, you’ll find stunning views of a certain iconic opera house and bridge.
A new spot to take in harbourside views is Barangaroo Reserve, recently opened to the public for the first time in over a century. Take in the lively park plus nearby shopping, restaurants, bars and art installations.
As for beaches, skip crowded Bondi for prettier Coogee or, better still, smaller harbor beaches like Milk Beach, Nielsen Park or Redleaf Beach. Hikers will also enjoy the trails at Balls Head Reserve, best followed up with a picnic on the rocks watching the harbor boats go by.
Best arty precinct
Once you’ve had your fill of harbor views, head to Newtown, the city’s capital of all things alternative and home to an array of creatives, university students, and all-around colourful characters. It’s famous for its small pubs, vegan restaurants, cheap Thai food (by Sydney’s standards at least; expect to pay around AUD $8, especially towards the University of Sydney end), and street art.
The ‘I Have a Dream’ mural on King Street — the main road that more or less makes up Newtown — is cool, but you’ll see more grassroots work just by exploring the suburb’s backstreets. Wander a bit further south along King Street to May Lane, whose walls are like an ever-changing canvas. The organized chaos of Gould’s Book Arcade is also not to be missed for any visiting bookworms.
For food, non-profit vegetarian restaurant Lentil as Anything offers pay-as-you-feel prices. A short stroll away is Black Star Pastry, a favourite of Sydneysiders for its signature strawberry watermelon cake. Alternatively, venture a bit further afield to neighboring Enmore for some award-winning artisan gelato at Cow and the Moon.
Best inner-city hang-outs
Check out Surry Hills for some of the city’s best small bars, eats and ‘op shops’ (Aussie slang for charity/thrift shops). With its collection of boutique bars and trendy restaurants, the area has definitely been gentrified in recent years, but still, retains a slightly gritty edge in parts thanks to its working-class roots.
Here you’ll find the original Bourke Street Bakery, a local institution, plus Gelato Messina with its ever-changing offerings of quirky yet mouth-watering flavors.
Surry Hills’ more upmarket neighbor Paddington is an inner-city suburb of pretty terrace houses, heritage-listed Victorian buildings, boutique shopping, and a weekly market showcasing Australian-made designs and products. Check out the Insta-friendly Paddington Reservoir Gardens, a bit like Australia’s version of a Roman aqueduct.
San Francisco, U.S.A
By: Billy O’ Connell, the write of Billy’s Cities!
San Francisco Outside the Tourist Zone
San Francisco is one of the most popular spots for tourists in the United States. But there’s much to see beyond Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, and Chinatown.
Murals of the Mission
One of the best ways to spend a day in San Francisco is to give yourself of walking tour of the phenomenal murals located in the Mission District. The artwork is stunning and often political. Much of it expresses a love for San Francisco. The highest concentrations of murals are along Clarion Alley, Balmy Alley, and 24thStreet. And don’t miss the fabulous mural that covers the Women’s Building on 18th Street.
Not far from the Women’s Building is Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco. The simple adobe structure hides a beautiful interior. A visit to the adjacent Mission Dolores Basilica, with its blazing stained-glass windows, is included in the admission.
The Beat Museum
North Beach, San Francisco’s “Little Italy”, is a popular place for tourists to get pizza, pasta, and gelato. Many of them don’t know that in the ‘50s, North Beach was the West Coast home of the Beat Generation. You can absorb yourself in the American counterculture of the ‘50s in the immersive Beat Museum in North Beach and learn how it inspired the hippie counterculture of the ‘60s. Just around the corner is City Lights Bookstore, which was the intellectual center of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and other Beats in San Francisco.
For mouth-watering Asian food far from the tourist throngs in Chinatown, head to the Richmond District in the far west of San Francisco. The food at Burma Superstar won’t disappoint. But get there early or you’ll have a long wait.
For San Francisco’s best ice cream, it’s back to the Mission District where the unique flavors of Humphrey Slocombe await. Black Sesame, Secret Breakfast, Rosemary’s Baby, and Jesus Juice Sorbet are just a handful of the many daring flavors you get to choose from.
By: Aaron Teoh, the writer for the blog, AaronTeoh!
Despite being a small city, Singapore isn’t short on hidden gems.
Here are just 3 of the endless things to experience in Singapore without the huge tourist crowds that surround Marina Bay.
For food: Chinatown Complex Food Centre:
Tucked in the upper floor of Chinatown Complex, this massive hawker center is home to hundreds of stalls selling a huge variety of delicacies at very affordable prices. Somehow, despite tourists flooding the streets just below, not many find their way here. From Michelin starred soya sauce chicken to mouth-watering clay pot rice that takes over an hour to prepare to international craft beers, the range is endless and is sure to satisfy any palate.
For nature/hiking near the city: Southern Ridges
This 10km trail stretches along the lush ridgeline in southwestern Singapore, starting just a little out of the city center. Along the way, you’d encounter many facades of Singapore you’d never have guess existed so near to the city. Leave the bustle of the city behind as you step through the forest, admire panoramas from summits of the hills along the way, and cross the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. For more information, you may also check out my blog post on spending a day in southwest Singapore.
For culture: Kampong Glam
Historically, this neighborhood was the residence of the Sultan (King) of colonial-era Singapore, back in the 19th century. It was also where many Muslim immigrants, including the Bugis, Arabs, and Javanese who arrived during that era settled in. Wandering around Kampong Glam today, you’d find a mix of the old and new, cultures from different eras fitting surprisingly well alongside each other. The palace (Istana Kampong Glam) and beautiful mosque (Masjid Sultan) still stand today, but surrounding them are among the trendiest streets in Singapore. Apart from trying out Malay and Middle Eastern cuisines and admiring traditional kebaya dresses at the tailors, you’d find hipster cafes and boutique shops, colourful murals (or commissioned graffiti) along hidden alleys, as well as pubs and bars to keep you occupied from dawn to dusk. While the area has been gaining in popularity in recent years, it hasn’t seen the crowds (and prices) of places such as Clarke Quay … yet.