How to break out of the tourist mold

The best untouristy experiences in Europe

Sometimes it pays to take the road less traveled.

I always think of Michael Palin in his first travel show series Around the World in 80 Days when, the first thing he did on his first day in Venice was to cruise the canals... in a garbage scow.

When the sightseeing pressures and tourist crowds start eating at you, go off and do something different for a change. Not only will you recharge, but you'll also be rewarded with a unique experience that travelers who stick solely to the major sights miss out on.

Be different and try the following:

Watch some local TV. When you watch TV in Europe, you're not just being a couch potato, you're having a cultural experience!

Wander a residential neighborhood to meet the locals, drink coffee with them, and play cards or backgammon.

Take a dip in Bern's Aare River. How many capital cities do you know where the river's still clean enough to swim in.

Rent an apartment or villa for a week or two instead of doing the hotel shuffle. Pick a city or region to explore and settle in and become a temporary native. Get to be a regular at the cafe on the corner and the little grocery store down the street.

Visit a small private museum where some wealthy collector once lived and has left a dusty old mansion jumbled with valuable bric-a-brac ranging from Ming vases and Roman reliefs to medieval suits of armor and the odd painting by a Renaissance master.

If you're a jogger, find out where the locals hoof it and join them for a morning's run. You'll clear your head, explore a city park, and perhaps make some new friends.

Hike in the countryside for half a day, leaving the crowds of the big city behind.

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in December 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.