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After travelling to a few cities and even living a train journey away from one, I have learnt the best ways to enjoy cities and finding the wonders deep inside them!
Food & Drink
When travelling to Barcelona, my family ate at many restaurants around the city. However, the best advice I could give is to not always stay around the hustle and bustle of the city (for example, Las Ramblas). Instead take a walk away from the centre. It could be five, ten minutes away from the busy streets but I can guarantee that you will be able to find the best local restaurants (with lower prices too!). Sometimes these family-run businesses provide the better food than big chain restaurants with extortionate prices! (Also try a Pans Company sandwich if you get the chance!)
From the Empire State Building to the Sagrada Familia, all famous buildings and landmarks work in the same way. You could spend an hour waiting with hundreds of other tourists just to get as far as the ticket office or you could skip these queues with pre-paid tickets! Before going to Barcelona and other cities, my family always plan each of our days out. We don't waste time wandering the streets of New York trying to decide where to go or what to do; we get the most out of our days there. When visiting the Sagrada Familia my family had booked to go with a tour guide, this made our entrance swift and we had the added extra of an experienced local tour guide. He had lived in Barcelona all his life and was able to tell us how the city had changed over time. Therefore, the group learnt much more about the city itself and not just the Sagrada Familia.
Hop-on. Hop-off. These tour buses are brilliant to use during your first and second days in a city. They allow you to get your bearings so that you know where different landmarks are, whilst also learning more about a city's culture, development and hidden treasures! The beauty of these buses is that they only stop at popular tourist areas so you can always get off to look around. After using these buses for a day or two, the tour guide's voice and the background music can become irritating and no doubt you will be listening to the same information again. Therefore, using the metro (subway!) is a quick and easy method to get around without paying a taxi fare. Several cities offer tickets that you can use a certain amount of times for a low cost. In addition to the quick travel, the metro also allows for you to experience a city lifestyle!
I would definitely recommend finding accommodation that is near to the city but not in the very centre! If you are too far out of the city you will spend half your day travelling to and from the centre; but, if you are staying close to all the action you will find it very hard to get a peaceful nights sleep! Also, if you are staying in cities with highrise buildings, it is always best to try and ask for a room high up in the building as you will be further away from taxi horns and busy streets! The prices of accommodation can also vary depending on where you are in these cities so its best to look around before booking. I would also recommend not having breakfast included as you can go and explore the streets of the city and find cute delis or shops that sell fresh goods. (A fresh croissant in New York is always a good shout!)