13 Ways to Travel Like a Local
Everyone wants to feel like a local in their travel destination these days. 59% of global travellers said that going somewhere they could feel like a local or do as the locals do was a likely consideration for travel.*
But now that this experiential ‘local’ trend has become so mainstream, how do you know for sure what’s authentic and what’s just being touted as the real deal?
We've got the inside track. For a selection of popular attractions, we used information shared by reviewers after they’ve visited a destination to segment domestic vs. international travellers. Significant differences emerged between the two groups in terms of where they’d recommend.
The list below reveals the places locals prefer for everything from surfing and sandy beaches to wildlife and temples. You heard it here first.
Surfing | Australia
A huge island continent with an enviably sunny climate, it’s not surprising surfing and beach culture are such a big part of Australian life. But what might be surprising is which destinations are best for riding the waves, according to Aussies themselves. Of all of Australia’s stunning coastline, gorgeous Gnarabup on the West Coast won, beating global favourite Brisbane.
Street Food | China
If you really want to experience China like a local, food is a great way in. A far cry from the watered down version of Asian food in the West, authentic Chinese street food really packs a punch. Vendors here offer all the traditional, regional specialties and old local family recipes. While global travellers picked Chengdu, Pingyao is really where it’s at.
Sandy Beaches | Greece
Greece has more than its fair share of superb beaches. Everyone knows that. But what everyone doesn’t know is where the locals go to lap up the sun and swim in serene, glistening blue waters. Follow the Greeks and head to Naxos, instead of global favourite Sarti.
Bar Hopping | Brazil
The sprawling metropolis of Belo Horizonte may have a global reputation for bar hopping but it’s the positively pulsating scene of Ribeiro Preto that draws in the locals.
Pub Crawls | Ireland
The archetypal Irish pub is a unique and treasured institution. But while Galway has been called the ‘most Irish’ of Ireland’s cities, Irish travellers recommend the small town of Dingle for pub crawls. Expect fewer tourists, a delightful fishing port and jolly pubs that double up as shops.
Temples | India
The temples of Mysore are no doubt impressive but to access the spiritual heart of India, locals head to Varanasi. This sacred spot on the river Ganges is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities offering a selection of incredibly significant temples. You can also take a boat ride along the river at sunset or sunrise to witness bathing ceremonies on the ghats (riverfront steps).
Coffee | Australia
Melbourne has long drawn in punters keen to enjoy its coffee scene; a city where being a barista is a revered and fashionable career. But just an hour away the charming seaside town of Mornington on the Mornington Peninsula is, according to Australians, a better bet.
Old Town | Germany
Avoid the tourists heading to Tubingen and mingle with locals in the idyllic Old Town of Limburg on der Lahn. One of the best-preserved of its kind, its 17th- and 18th-cenury timber-framed houses and narrow streets make it not only historically rich but also fairytale-pretty.
Golf | USA
There’s no denying that South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach has a lot to offer in terms of golf, with roughly 100 courses, hotels and restaurants. But keen golfers should heed American travellers’ advice and head to Mesquite, Nevada, where the weather is sunny almost all year round and the fine golf courses are set into the desert.
Gourmet Food | Japan
The Japanese are experts on gourmet food, frequently taking the lead in the ongoing race between France and Japan for the country with the most Michelin three-starred restaurants. So don’t be a typical tourist and flock to Kitayushu. Instead trust the locals who prefer Fukuoka, with its cuisine influenced by Chinese and Korean flavours.
Lakes | Canada
If you’re after spectacular lakes, Canada is the place to go. Nearly 9% of the nation is covered by freshwater, including four of the Great Lakes. But swap global favourite Windermere for Vernon, a city surrounded by lakes where you’ll be spoilt for choice in lakeside beaches, watersports and hilly British Columbian scenery.
Rafting | Peru
Of those keen on white water adventures, many global travellers recommend Arequipa. But Peruvians themselves believe that the relatively unknown Lunahuana offers a better experience than what’s on offer on the typical tourist trail.
Wildlife | South Africa
A good launch pad for the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, St Lucia is a gem prized by locals. While Stormsrivier comes recommended by global travellers, South Africans would rather spot wildlife in iSimangaliso. The latter is South Africa’s first natural World Heritage Site and boasts diverse habitats, extraordinary scenery and 280km of pristine coastline.
*This data was taken from a global survey of 34,000 nationally representative respondents across 17 markets. Respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in 2015 and be planning at least one trip for 2016. All respondents had to be at least part of the decision-making process when planning most of their trips. Data was collected in October 2015.