You’ve landed somewhere brand new, and you’re ready to explore the new city, but you have absolutely no idea where to start. This is where your trusty smartphone comes in. There are loads of cool travelling apps you can use to help you find awesome spots around town. Here are 9 of our favourite apps for discovering new places in unfamiliar surroundings, beyond what the more well-known travel guides have to offer.
1) Spotted By Locals
No one knows a city like the locals do—at least that’s the idea behind the tidy Spotted By Locals app. It uses suggestions put forward by hand-picked spotters who know the best places in town and the areas you can ignore.
The app grew out of a city blog covering Amsterdam and now has guides for 66 cities across the world. You do have to fork out a few quid (£2.99) for each guide, but that gives you all future tips added to the location as well, and it works offline.
One of the first things you might want to do in your new location is go for a run, but finding a good path can be tough. RunGo hits the rather neglected intersection of fitness apps and travel apps by giving you the best local routes to take in nearby sights.
There are featured routes in major cities and the option for users to upload their own preferred paths around town for others to benefit from. If you want to check out the interesting places in a city and top up your fitness at the same time, RunGo is for you.
Musement wants to be your perfect pocket guide no matter where in the world you happen to be. It covers neighbourhoods, attractions, restaurants, bars and concerts, and covers 350 destinations worldwide, with “tailored local content” in 25 of the biggest cities.
There is a commercial element to the app in the form of event and reservation bookings, but it’s not pushy, and the app itself is clean and tidy one that’s simple to navigate around. Perfect for exploring, but as usual be wary of booking anything through a third party.
Maybe you don’t want to see any local sights in the place you’ve just landed in, and instead you just want to make a few new friends. If that’s the case, Meetup can help. After all, you can always ask your new buddies about the most interesting spots in town after you’ve been introduced.
The app is essentially a listing of local events and groups, so you can browse for something that looks like it’s up your street (literally and figuratively) and then get connected to like-minded souls in the area. Alternatively, get your own meetup started.
Simply put, Nearify plugs you into local events and gigs that you’re likely to be interested in. You can have a browse through what’s happening, pick something of note, and wander along to learn more about the city you find yourself in (and perhaps make a friend or two).
There are stacks and stacks of categories in here, covering all types of music, comedy, eating out and drinking experiences, so you certainly shouldn’t be short of something to do unless you’re in the middle of nowhere. You can get alerts about events in advance too.
6) Like A Local
Like A Local is another app that wants to bring you the best tips from the people that live there—as you may have guessed from its title—and it’s one of the most polished options out there, as well as one of the most comprehensive in terms of the cities it covers.
The focus is on fun stuff to see and do in your city of choice, and while there are some touristy selections here (which you might not mind), there are plenty of relatively off-the-beaten-track options to explore too. Individual city guides will cost you $1.99 each.
You’ve probably heard of Instagram before, but have you ever used it as a travel aid? Tap on the search icon from the front screen, open up the Places tab, and you can browse through all of the popular and recent photos people are posting to a certain location.
Sure, you’re going to get a lot of selfies in there, but you might be surprised at how many interesting views, locations, bars and restaurants you uncover as well (everyone loves posting food pictures). It’s an alternative way to stumble across some places of note.
8) Apple Maps
While we’ve avoiding mentioning the usual travel apps pretty much everyone already knows about in this list, it’s worth ending with a nod to Apple Maps and Google Maps. New ‘exploration’ features are being added to these stock apps on a fairly regular basis.
Apple Maps for iOS 10 has a cleaner look and new filters for finding nearby places of note more easily: search for pretty much anything (like “bars”) then swipe across the bottom of the results list to narrow down your search (“wine bars” and “sports bars” for example).
9) Google Maps
Some Google Maps users are seeing a revamped ‘explore’ section that may well have gone live by the time you read this, but whatever version you’re on, it works really well: tap the GPS icon, then the Explore link at the bottom, to see what’s in your current vicinity.
The beauty of this Google Maps feature is the way you can drill down into “where the locals go” or “seats outside” or “great beers” depending on the feedback and reviews left by other Maps users. It can help you uncover spots you wouldn’t otherwise come across.