So you’re heading to a new city and want to get around without the usual taxi or car rental hassle?
Let’s talk about getting around an unfamiliar destination on foot, by bike, or using public transport—it helps you save money, can be less intimidating than you think, and you’ll get a real feel for the place.
Exploring a New City by Walking
Let’s start with just…walking!
It’s straightforward and free, and you can see parts of the city you might miss when taking a car or public transport. When you’re on foot, every little alley and street corner has a story. It’s easy to stumble upon cafes, see beautiful street art, and learn about local hangouts that you’d totally miss if you were zooming by.
Before you step out, make sure to have a plan. Look up the main attractions that you’d like to check out, but also leave room for spontaneity. Plot out a route that includes the must-sees, but be ready to wander off the beaten path. Of course, safety should be your priority always—look up popular walking routes and get a basic handle on neighborhood boundaries so you don’t wander into an area that’s not as safe for a traveler on foot.
Biking: A Faster Track to Adventure
Next up, biking!
Most cities have bike share or rental programs, so it’s easy to hop on and off as you wish. If you’d like to get around a little more quickly, or to travel a bit further than you would on foot, consider biking—it lets you cover more ground, breeze through the streets, and still catch all the sights.
When picking a bike, think about comfort and safety. Make sure the bike’s size suits you and that it’s in good condition. Check the brakes, tires, and gears. A helmet is non-negotiable, obviously—and before heading out, look up information about the city’s bike paths and lanes so you’re sure to follow the local laws and stay on a safe route for bicyclists.
Tip: the best routes are the ones that take you through parks, along rivers, and into quiet neighborhoods.
Navigating a New City Using Public Transportation
Public transportation is your start to living like a local. It’s cost-effective, usually reliable, and you get to people-watch—always a bonus in a new city.
Most cities have a mix of buses, trains, subways, and trams. Each has its charm and use. Buses are great for seeing the city above ground. Trains and subways get you places fast. And trams are just fun!
If you’re a bit nervous about public transport, pick up a transit map and check out the major routes and stops. This will help orient you to the city’s layout, and which line(s) you’ll want to take to your desired destinations throughout your stay. The more familiar you are with the routes you’ll take, the less nerve-wracking the experience will be. As well, it could help to pick up a transit card or pass rather than purchasing single tickets for each trip—it’s usually cheaper in the long run and is super convenient.
Tips: Avoid rush hour if you can! If you’re traveling late at night, stay in well-lit, populated areas (and if you’re nervous at all, opt for a taxi or rideshare). Don’t get on an empty car if the rest are packed.
Other Modes of Transport to Consider
Let’s look at a few more ways to explore new destinations and why you might like them!
- Micromobility: Electric scooters, ebikes, even hoverboards—they’re popping up everywhere. They’re perfect for short distances or when you just don’t feel like walking anymore.
- Ridesharing and taxis: Sometimes, you just need to get somewhere quickly and hassle-free. Ridesharing apps and taxis are there for those moments—they’re especially handy when you’re traveling with others or have a lot to carry.
- Water travel: Cities with rivers or harbors often have ferries or water taxis. They offer a unique view of the city and can be a relaxing and fun way to get around. Plus, there’s something special about being on the water, right?
And as a last note…why stick to one mode of transport when you can mix and match? Walk a bit, grab a bike, hop on a bus. It keeps things interesting and lets you see the city from different angles. To create a hybrid itinerary, plan a route that combines walking, biking, and public transport, all of which will give you flexibility and variety! Keep transitions smooth by knowing where to park bikes or scooters, and where the nearest public transport stops are before heading out.
Ready to Travel?
Exploring a new city without a car is not just possible; it’s fun, immersive, and often more rewarding! You connect with the place in a way that’s not really possible from behind a windshield. And that’s what travel is all about—not just seeing a new place, but experiencing it.
Featured image by Mad Rabbit Tattoo on Unsplash