More Than a Tourist: Why Europe’s Grand Cities Demand More Time

It sounds obvious. Spend more time in a city and you can see and do more. But the reason Europe’s grand cities demand more time is not to tick off more sights. Spending more time in a city like Rome or Madrid creates an entirely different travel experience.

Stop. Breathe. Relax.

Europe’s grand cities have an atmosphere. The true experience doesn’t involve a rushed tour of the sights, but a slow immersion in what really makes a city: the sound of footsteps echoing down a mazy cobbled lane; fragrances that mingle at dusk; a colorful parade of people emerging for their evening paseo (an after-work city walk in Spain). When you stop and relax you can absorb the atmosphere. You can feel the rhythm of the city and start to appreciate its nuance.

Visit a major European city for a few days and you may think you can see it all. Spend a month in a city like Rome and you’ll know that it is impossible to see everything. Europe’s grand cities are too big and too diverse. Not only are they different on different days, they transform over the years: neighborhoods are changing, restaurants are opening, events are happening, and styles are refining. By spending more time in a city, you are able to embrace these changes and celebrate the new experiences that the locals are also excited about.

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The Feeling of Possibility That Time Affords

Don’t feel bad that you can’t experience everything. The great feeling that time can afford is that of possibility. Knowing half a dozen local restaurants to try for lunch; following a historical tale into the corners of the city; waking up with a sense that the day can travel in a thousand different directions. The more time you spend exploring the more you will discover. And through this endless possibility you can really fall in love with a city.

This feeling of possibility also increases the range of experiences you can enjoy. Most visitors have to pick one art gallery experience in Madrid – with more time you can explore all three of the world-famous galleries. Many tourists in Crete choose between a Koufonisi cruise and a Hrysi cruise – you can easily do both and more when you have more time. For every experience you enjoy another one is added to your list. And after a month you’ll find that the city still holds secrets you may never know.

The True Concept of Living Like a Local

Living like a local” is a travel buzzphrase at the moment and the concept is simple: wake up in a city for a few days and experience it through the locals’ eyes. But you can’t live like a local on a two-day Airbnb excursion. Nor can you live like a local by visiting the hidden gems or off the beaten track places from the guidebook – they are inevitably packed with visitors that have the same guidebook.

You can only live like a local by actually living. And to live you need more time, like with our 90-day Mediterranean itinerary. Knowing the cute backstreet shortcut to get home; understanding the gestures shared on the street; getting a cheaper drink at a bar because you know the owner by name; understanding how and when to sidestep the tourist crowds. By investing time you can live out what it means to be a local in Madrid, Rome, Crete, or anywhere else in the world. And you’ll quickly discover that living like a local isn’t just about places to go, it concerns feeling and atmosphere. 

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Uncovering the Secrets That Suit Your Mood

When the guidebooks suggest city secrets they refer to lesser-known places or experiences that the authors particularly liked. With only a few days you must trust their opinion. Spend a month and you have time to search for secrets that represent your own tastes. It could be a dancing class, a shaded park bench for watching the world go by, the golden reflections on a specific plaza at dusk, or the post-siesta atmosphere in an inviting neighborhood.

Secrets are only secrets if nobody knows about them. With time you’ll discover all the unique places and experiences that really suit your mood. They become your secrets and you may not be willing to share them. Gradually you discover a city that reflects how you feel. And when you accept that you can’t possibly discover it all, you’ve turned from tourist to local.

90 Days In The Mediterranean

Get to know Italy, Spain and Greece over the course of 90 days, or approximately 1 month per country, in our upcoming trip. With this extended and curated adventure, you'll be able to immerse yourself in the culture, customs and history of 3 of the most vibrant countries in the world. Reserve your spot today by clicking below!


Ross LonsdorfComment