Skip To Content

    Travelers And Locals Are Sharing The Things They Wish They Knew Before Visiting Popular Destinations Around The World

    Do you have any to add?

    Travel can be intimidating, but if you do a little research about your destination — familiarizing yourself with the local customs, norms, and faux pas — it can be a whole lot less daunting.

    So I combed through the subreddit r/travel and looked to the BuzzFeed Community to compile some helpful world travel tips. Here's what world travelers want you to know before you take your next getaway. 

    1. Paris

    Stained glass in Sainte-Chapelle.
    Getty Images

    "My absolute favorite attraction in Paris is Sainte Chapelle. It's small but has the most gorgeous stained glass I've ever seen. It's not as well known to tourists as other cathedrals like Notre Dame, so the lines are generally shorter. Plus, it's cheap to visit. It's only a three-minute walk from Notre Dame, so you can easily kill some time there while you wait for your time ticket to climb the more famous cathedral."


    "When you go to the Louvre to see Mona Lisa, turn around and admire Paolo Veronese's 'The Wedding at Cana.' I tell this to every person I know who asks for travel advice about Paris and the Louvre. It’s the most amazing piece and it's truly overshadowed by the Mona Lisa. I’ll never forget the feeling when everyone else was busy looking at the da Vinca and I was the only one to turn around and look at 'The Wedding at Cana.'"


    2. Chicago

    Boats in the Chicago River.
    Getty Images

    "Take the architecture boat tour in Chicago! It's a great way to get a different view of the city, learn something interesting, and get out onto the lake."


    3. Cancun

    The beach in Isla Mujeres in Mexico.
    Getty Images

    "If you're visiting Cancun, Mexico, taking the fast ferry to Isla Mujeres is a great way to spend the day. It's a beautiful island with great beaches and a small Mayan ruins site. Just be sure to bring cash. There are only a few ATMs on the island, and most shops in the main area only accept cash."


    4. New Orleans

    Beautiful buildings in the French quarter of New Orleans.
    Getty Images

    "Instead of spending your time on Bourbon Street, there are literally dozens of other cool neighborhoods filled with bars, cafés, and shops where you can carry your drinks around. Go to the Warehouse District, Uptown, Frenchmen Street, or even Decatur."


    5. Japan

    A train passing through a Japanese city.
    Getty Images

    "Use the JR Pass Calculator to figure out if purchasing one is worth it for your trip. JR Passes are for foreigners only and must be purchased prior to arriving in Japan. If you're going to be traveling to different cities, a JR Pass saves you a ton of money on transportation and makes things so much easier. It's also not worth it if you're only staying in one city or not traveling around Japan much. With the JR Pass, you save a lot of money if you travel between cities both locally and by bullet train."

    Nusrat Sultana

    6. Spain:

    People eating tapas in Spain.
    Getty Images

    "Prepare to eat meals later than you might be used to. If you make a 7 pm dinner reservation in Spain, you could easily be the only one in the restaurant. Plus, a lot of restaurants won't even be open yet. That's because most Spanish people eat their meals later than is customary in the US. A typical lunch hour is around 2 pm, and dinnertime can be as late as 10 pm."

    Hannah Loewentheil

    "Always order the menú del día. Lunch in Spain is the biggest meal of the day, and many Spanish restaurants offer a three-course (aka the menú del día) which also comes with a drink (sometimes this even includes wine) and bread. You typically have a few choices for each course, and rarely does the total exceed €15."

    Jon-Michael Poff

    7. Portugal

    A seaside town in Alentejo.
    Getty Images

    "I’m from Portugal and everyone loves going to the Algarve on holiday. I can understand some of the hype because the beaches are great and you can pretty much count on good weather, but it's overrated. Everything is crowded, expensive, and the food is mediocre. Instead ot the ever-popular Algarve, I would recommend the coast of Alentejo, which has the same nice weather, much better food, nicer people, and is much more fun."


    8. Greece

    A village in Kea, Greece.
    Getty Images

    "Think beyond Santorini and the major beachy islands. There are so many fantastic off-the-beaten-path places. Just for starters, Mani is a beautiful little village; Kea is a tiny island a short boat ride from Athens with great authentic food; Matala is a hippie town with amazing caves you can explore."


    9. Northern California

    The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francsico.
    Getty Images

    "If you’re coming here, you need to pack for at least two seasons. It gets chilly at night no matter how warm it is during the day. Bring sweaters and jackets and plenty of layers."


    10. Miami

    Coconut Grove Bay in Miami.
    Getty Images

    "Avoid eating on Ocean Drive altogether. It's overpriced and touristy. The real Miami is on the west side of the MacArthur Causeway. Explore places like Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, and Downtown Miami. They have a lot to offer."


    11. Ecuador

    A view of Quito, Ecuador
    Getty Images

    "It's surprising for tourists when they discover that Ecuador uses US dollars because they no longer have a currency of their own, and the country is actually on the same time zone as New York because the South American west coast is right below the North American east coast."


    12. Brazil

    The historic center of Salvador, Bravil.
    Getty Images

    "Foreigners always assume everything in Brazil is close to the beach, but Brazil is HUGE. A lot of states are very, very far from the coast, so do your research and choose where to visit accordingly. And even if you live in a city with beaches, it can still be quite a trek to get there. I live in Rio and if i want to go to the beach, I have to take a 50-minute subway trip."


    13. Italy

    A cute Italian Osteria.
    Getty Images

    "There are a few points that will help you avoid the touristy spots and find great, authentic Italian food: Don't eat anywhere that advertises multilingual menus, free Wi-Fi or air conditioning. Don't eat anywhere where the menu contains pictures. The further away from squares and big tourist attractions, the better. Often, the older and dingier places are best. Eat where the locals are eating (ask locals for their recommendations!), and the fewer things on the menu, the better."


    14. Thailand

    Koh Lanta in Thailand.
    Getty Images

    "Most travelers think of Phuket when they think of the Thai islands, but there are so many amazing islands worth checking out. Koh Lanta is a quiet island with very little nightlife. It's never very crowded, so it's perfect for honeymooners or families with young kids; Koh Phi Phi is by far the most picturesque island I've seen. There are no cars because its so small, but everything is in walking distance. Koh Chang on the East coast is my favorite island because it's the only one that still feels authentically Thai. It's much less crowded than the other islands, and lots of locals live there."


    15. South Dakota

    A view of Mount Rushmore from Custer State Park.
    Getty Images

    "If you want to see Mount Rushmore without all the crowds, go to Custer State Park and follow the main road to the summit, then take a short trail to the overlook. You can see Mount Rushmore more clearly from there than from the main attraction. You also don't have to deal with all the tourist stands and tons of visitors. Custer State Park itself is beautiful and filled with interesting wildlife, nice trails, and lovely picnic areas."


    16. Korea

    A cityscape of Seoul, South Korea.
    Getty Images

    "In Korea, and Seoul specifically, the subway system is the best I've seen, even better than the subways I've seen in Western Europe. It's super clean, efficient, reliable, and safe. Get yourself a subway card, charge it with cash, and tap your way in whenever you need to get around from place to place."


    17. Iceland

    A top-down view of Reyjavik.
    Getty Images

    "Consider renting an Airbnb with a kitchen. Eating out is expensive, and you'll pay around $30–50 for an entrée just about anywhere. Cooking at home is a great way to save cash."


    18. London

    A London tube station.
    Getty Images

    "Buy an oyster card rather than pay for single subway trips. London is massive: The museums in Kensington are miles away from the major sights, and it’s a 40-minute walk from St Paul’s to Big Ben. If you're a tourist, you are going to need to use public transport. Understanding the public transportation system and buying an Oyster card will save you money."


    "Don't go to Buckingham Palace expecting something really interesting. It’s just a big building that’s falling apart. The surrounding parks and areas are lovely, but if you miss Buckingham, you're not missing much."


    19. The Netherlands

    Buildings along the canal in  Haarlem, Netherlands
    Getty Images

    "Everyone prioritizes visiting Amsterdam, but don't miss out on seeing other cities, too. Amsterdam is basically Dutch Disneyland — it's overpriced and filled with tourists. Yes, the canals are nice and the Van Gogh, Stedelijk Museum, and Rijksmuseum are definitely worth checking out, but don't forget about the other nearby cities. Delft and Haarlem have the same historic ambiance, but they're much less touristy. Rotterdam has some great modern architecture. Leiden and Groningen are great for shopping and café hopping. The Hague has some of the best art museums. And best of all, these cities are within a three-hour train ride from Amsterdam."


    20. Copenhagen

    People bike riding in Copenhagen.
    Getty Images

    "It's one of the bike capitals of the world, so I recommend renting one. It's the easiest way to get around because bike lanes are everywhere. It's very safe and faster than taking the bus most of the time. Bike rentals are often equipped with a phone holder so you can explore the city with the help of a map."


    21. Australia

    John Crux Photography / Getty Images

    "The big cities like Melbourne and Sydney are pleasant and safe, but generally not that interesting. Australia’s best sights and what makes the continent unique are all found outside the cities. The cities should primarily be used as a base to explore the massive expanse of bush and wilderness all around you. For starters, check out South Coast of New South Wales, the Australian Alps, the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and Margaret River."


    22. Hong Kong

    A view of Lamma Island in Hong Kong.
    Getty Images

    "Explore the New Territories. My biggest regret about my time in Hong Kong was not exploring them enough. Tai Long Wan, Lantau Island, Lamma Island, Sai Kung, and the neighboring areas are some of the most incredible beaches I've ever been to. They are quiet and serene, and the surrounding sleepy neighborhoods have great local markets, restaurants, and phenomenal hiking."


    23. Colombia

    Tayrona National Park in Colombia.
    Getty Images

    "People speak about United States National Parks with such pride (and of course, they are incredible), but IMO, Colombia parallels the US for its natural beauty. Don't miss the River of Seven Colors, Chingaza, Tayrona, Los Estoraques, and Uramba Bahía Málaga, for starters."


    24. Beijing

    A quiet stretch of the Great Wall of China.
    Getty Images

    "When you visit the Great Wall, don't go to Badaling (which is where all the tour buses go). Instead, book a van to Simatai and ask to get off at Jinshanling. Your guide will show you a hole in the fence where you can enter and walk up a short trail to the wall. There, you can literally be the only person on the Great Wall for as far as you can see in both directions. It's incredible."


    25. New York

    The Staten Island ferry in the Hudson River.
    Getty Images

    "Visiting the Statue of Liberty is amazing, but it takes a full day to experience it. Instead, I always suggest jumping on the Staten Island Ferry. It's a ton of fun, it's absolutely free, and you get amazing views of both lower Manhattan and Lady Liberty."


    26. Hawaii

    Sunset over Mokule'ia Beach on Oahu's North Shore.
    Getty Images

    "If you go to Oahu, skip Waikiki Beach. It's overcrowded and overhyped. Instead, go to the North Shore where the locals usually go. There are lots of coves to snorkel in, and it's much quieter. If you visit the North Shore, you're seeing the real Hawaii."


    Do you have travel advice or intel about a popular destination that you wish you knew sooner? Tell us in the comments below!

    Sign Up For The Bring Me! Newsletter!

    The latest travel tips, off-the-beaten-path experiences, and inspiration delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form