Europe has long been one of the most attractive destinations for travellers the world over.
In close proximity you can find a range of countries with are extremely diverse, rich in history and disparately beautiful. Berlin, London, Paris, Rome – all the major cities of Europe are easily accessible for anyone to see. But seeing a city is one thing; experiencing it is another. To truly experience all that Europe has to offer you have to abandon the tourist traps and see each country the way a local would, do what the locals do and eat where the locals eat. Read on to discover the best ways to experience Europe like a local.
- The early bird catches the worm
During busy seasons swarms of tourists flock to the famous landmarks and attractions across Europe. Queues for entry into some of the most famous landmarks such as the Louvre and the Vatican can take hours to pass during the day. Across Europe, locals thrive when the tourists sleep, so do as the locals do and get up early. Not only are the streets quieter but early morning sunrises give a warm glow to the continent.
- Speak the language (or at least try)
Making an effort to speak the local language is not only educational but it also makes a good impression. While most Europeans speak English either as their second tongue, you are visiting their country, so make an effort to speak their language – not the other way around. Learning at least the basic manners like ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, and ‘please’ in the local language shows people you are respectful of where you are. There are some great apps, such as Duolingo, which can help you practice the basics.
- Play where the locals play
The most famous attractions aren’t necessarily favoured by the locals. Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, for example, is one of the most visited amusement parks in Denmark. Tourists account for the vast majority of its traffic while another park, Bakken, is visited almost entirely by Danes. Similarly, Disneyland Paris is well known, but Paris’ Parc Asterix is more ‘French’. Ditch the well-known spots and hang out where the locals do.
- Stay where the locals stay
It’s difficult to feel a connection to any place when you’re staying in a different hotel every night, particularly if that hotel is just like every other hotel around the world. So how do you get access to accommodation options that let you live like the locals? Tours like G Adventures’ ‘local living’ options have it all organised for you – whether that means staying in agriturismos, family homes, or converted farmhouses.
- Eat the local cuisine
Food is a hugely important part of many European cultures and each country has its own brand of traditional cuisine for you to try. Whether it’s incredible meats from an Italian deli, an Irish stew, Hungarian goulash, German sauerkraut or Romanian mămăligă, the local dish is always the tastiest and generally the cheapest.
- Sit back and relax
Chances are you won’t get to see everything and that’s okay. Try not to get caught up in all the monuments and tourist sites and take a minute to appreciate the smaller things that are happening around you. Be it in the local park or at a café, take the time to sit back, relax and embrace your surroundings.
- Support the local team
Soccer is without a doubt the largest and most popular sport across Europe and many citizens enjoy going to the local stadiums to support their team. Show your colours and support the local team at one of the city’s sporting events. If you can, try and seek out a sport more traditional to the region. In Ireland for example, hurling is the national sport and spectators can enjoy a magnificent display of sporting action and skill like no other on the planet.
- There’s an app for that
Want to live like a local? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are several. Here are just a few of the best travel apps available.
- Eat With is an app that connects travellers with locals who are willing to cook authentic and traditional meals for free. Locals set up the meals while travelling users simply choose a time and a menu that suits them. Best of all, the app is completely free and all the chefs on the app are vetted before being accepted.
- Party with a local is an app that does exactly as it says on the tin. Local users simply post their plans on the app and you can piggyback on them. The app is location-based, so wherever you are, there are people looking to meet up and party.
- Spotted by locals is designed to give travellers a real insider’s view of the city they’re visiting. Selected writers who live in the cities write about their favourite places to go, things to see and places to eat.
- Local Eats is a great way to find some of the most authentic and independent restaurants in a city as recommended by locals. The app has a very clever GPS system where it can automatically detect great restaurants within your vicinity.
Visiting Europe can be a once in a lifetime opportunity so it’s important to make the most of it. Seeing the sights and taking the photographs is only the start of it. To truly experience Europe you have to embrace the culture, taste the food, speak the languages and live as the locals do. If you’re quick, you can get involved in G Adventures’ 2017 Europe tours with 15% off select trips until October 30th.