Do you have moments when time, budget, or other challenges conspire to clip your travel wings when you want to explore? Why not experiment a little and be a tourist in your hometown?
It’s a budget-friendly way to be a tourist and discover new places. You’ll also support local businesses, boost your mental health, and get some all-important fresh air and exercise.
Exploring close to home is also a non-threatening stepping stone to solo travel, easing you in gently into the world of exploring on your own.
Being a tourist in your own city might work well if you have accessibility needs that make a trip further afield challenging.
Last but not least, when you check out everything to do in your hometown, you can be the best guide for loved ones when they visit!
I’m here to show you how rewarding it can be to be a tourist in your hometown.
You may also enjoy 67 Best Hometown Quotes and Quotes About Your Own City for Instagram
Preparing to Be a Tourist at Home
Make a Local Bucket List
Even if you ALWAYS dive into guidebooks when planning big trips, do you do the same for your town or city? Make yourself a local bucket list and a plan to help you live like a tourist and check each item off the list!
Check out blog posts and news articles for all of the “10 Things to do in your hometown” posts you can find, plus more in-depth articles about hidden gems you may have missed. Don’t forget to leave a thoughtful comment to tell the blogger what you thought.
Pay It Forward: Spotted something inaccurate about the descriptions for the tourist attractions in your hometown? Do send a quick email so the blogger can update their post. Bloggers always love to connect with their readers!
23 Ways to be a Tourist in Your Hometown
1. Join a Walking Tour
A walking tour with a local guide is the best way to get a tourist’s view of your town/city. Guides often provide their services free of charge and are excellent at sharing fascinating local tips and history. If there’s no guided tour, try a self-guided walking tour instead.
2. Capture New Moments and Places
One of the things I’d tell my younger self is ALWAYS to carry a camera – whether you’re exploring like a tourist in your home town or travelling internationally.
You may have more time to experiment with your photography at home. You could focus on architecture one day, or black & white shots, or perhaps night-time scenes.
Photography tours are a fun and social way to develop your photography skills while snagging some great shots.
Alternatively, hire a local photographer (or a photography student) for a few hours. It’s fabulous for getting new photos in your favourite locations while giving back to your local community.
3. Capture Each End of the Day
Does your town have a famous sunrise or sunset spot? Somewhere you’ve never visited? Checking it out will give you a different perspective, and you may have the place to yourself if sunrise is very early!
Even the most mundane or ugly landscapes can look beautiful when bathed in the rising sun’s light or silhouetted against the sky as the sun sets.
Tip: Sometimes, the sun doesn’t play ball, and it hides behind clouds, but that might give you atmospheric shots of moody skies instead!
4. Museums and Galleries
Large, famous museums and galleries are incredible, but they can be busy and expensive to visit.
Local museums and galleries often have fewer visitors than the more famous places, making them a pleasure to explore at your own pace.
You’ll also need to spend less time exploring these tourist attractions in your hometown, which means more time for coffee stops along the way. Bonus!
5. Ask About Behind-the-Scenes Tours
Some places offer tours that are not usually available to the general public. It never hurts to ask a local business if they run any “Behind-the-Scenes” tours. Local markets and theatres are a good place to ask, as they are full of history.
6. Hire a Bike
Cycling around a city is a great way to get to know it better. You can zip through places where cars can’t go, don’t need to worry about parking, and can stop to investigate all of the tourist attractions in your hometown at your own pace.
7. Visit a Viewpoint
Is there a rooftop bar, a steep hill, or a lookout point in your hometown where you can get a good feel for the city’s scale and layout?
Maybe there’s something quirky like an old water tower or a multi-storey car park?
If you don’t already know where the best viewpoints are, have a browse through Instagram for inspiration, and then go and check out those superb viewpoints for yourself.
8. Walk a Route You Usually Drive.
Hopefully, when you drive, you focus on the road ahead! Even if you do manage to look at the passing scenery, there will be things that you will miss.
Why not walk those familiar routes rather than driving and see what grabs your attention from street level?
It’s a sustainable way to stumble upon quirky shops, independent cafes and new views. You’ll also get to admire any lovely houses in a non-stalker-ish way!
9. Poke Around Old Churches and Cemeteries
I LOVE to visit ancient churches as the architecture is often stunning and very individual. There are many stories to unpick, stained glass windows to admire, choir stalls to try out for size, and soaring ceilings to admire.
Wandering through old cemeteries is also tranquil and relaxing. It can be fun to hunt for the final resting places of famous names.
I loved visiting the church in Howarth, West Yorkshire, where four of the five Bronte sisters were laid to rest.
10. Get Out Into the Natural World
Take advantage of the natural sights in or near your hometown.
Is there a great park you can explore or a stately home with a beautiful garden?
Perhaps there’s a forest, a waterfall, or mountains that never made your bucket list before? Add them now, then find out what types of wildlife and plants to look out for when you visit.
11. Explore Waterways
Is there a river or canal near you to explore, or a lake or beach? You may be able to take a boat ride, hire a rowing boat or go kayaking.
Alternatively, is there a lovely footpath to follow, or could you spend a day at the seaside having a picnic or hunting for sea glass?
12. Take a Hike
Take advantage of your time and enjoy seeing your town/city from a different angle.
13. Pen a city guide.
If you love to write, you could write a city guide with your local knowledge! What are the must-sees? What should people avoid?
From your experience of being a tourist in your hometown, where would you point a visitor if they asked you for recommendations?
If you love writing, you could start a niche travel blog for your city, packed with tips, itineraries, photos or video guides.
14. Trace the Footsteps of a Literary Legend
Have any novels been set in your city, or was it the hometown of any famous writers? Why not visit some of the locations connected with those novels?
15. Visit a Movie Location.
Harry Potter movie locations litter the UK. I’m slowly ticking beautiful places like Durham Cathedral off my bucket list to spot them!
Find movies made in your hometown quickly and easily by searching “movies made in” in Google.
16. Track Down a Historical Figure
Did someone famous (or infamous) come from your hometown or city? Is there a tour or trail related to them that you can follow? In London, Jack the Ripper tours are always popular.
Top Tip: Type [your town/city name famous historical residents] into Google to discover a fascinating figure from your hometown’s past.
Your local library (or your sofa) is a great place to research those local connections and then build a tour of locations to visit and photograph.
17. Climb a Bell Tower
Most bell towers are ancient structures, and they are fascinating to visit to discover how the bells work! In the UK and countries worldwide with an Anglican or Catholic tradition, bells are usually rung by bell-ringers. In contrast, other countries have an ancient tradition of chiming or striking bells.
Check to see whether your local church or cathedral offers public or private bell tower tours, but don’t forget to ask how many steps you’ll need to climb to get up there!
18. Go on an Instagram Treasure Hunt
Type your hometown into an Instagram search to see which attractions have the most posts. Make a selfie treasure hunt to see how many places you can capture – in a day or longer. Time is on your side in your home town.
Is there a location you love? Experiment with visiting at different times of the day or in different seasons to build up a photo montage of the same spot.
19. Delve Into the Local Art Scene
I’m no artist, but I love seeing (and buying) the work of talented local artists. Let’s face it, I’m never going to be able to buy original art from the Louvre or the Prado. Still, I can purchase work that I enjoy locally.
Search for local art galleries, exhibitions and craft centres where you can browse through the work of local artists. Bonus points if they have a tearoom!
How to Eat like a Tourist in Your Hometown
20. Drop into Independent Coffee Shops and Tea Rooms
One of the best ways to be a responsible traveller is to seek out and support local, independent businesses. Is there a great little coffee shop, tea room or deli near you? Treat yourself to a visit – and maybe buy a cheeky little treat for later too!
21. Take a Brewery/Winery/Distillery Tour
Many towns and cities have vineyards, wineries, breweries or distilleries you could visit. For a fantastic day out as a tourist in your own town, look for tours, tastings, or cocktail-making classes and learn all about the booze business while sampling the products!
22. Be a Tourist With Your Palate
There may be places in your town or city that locals tend to avoid but tourists seem to love. Live like a tourist and use TripAdvisor to find which restaurants visitors recommend the most.
Book a table to see what the buzz is all about. It’s a thoughtful way to support independent local businesses and a great way to try a new cuisine or restaurant.
Alternatively, check out the street food scene in your town. Is there a world cuisine you’ve never tried or a street vendor selling a local speciality you’ve never bought from? Give it a try!
23. Book a Staycation
“Staycationing” close to home is another way to support your local economy while being a tourist in your own town. Is there a highly-rated local hotel or guesthouse? What about a quirky AirBNB or a fabulous campsite? Now is the best time to try them out for a great experience as a tourist in your own city!
Hosts can be an invaluable source of recommendations and tips for things to do too.
There could be lots that you’ve either not seen or done yet in your hometown/city. So, even if international travel is off the cards, you can still live like a tourist and fuel your passion for travel.
If you’re ready to be a tourist in your hometown, grab your favourite holiday clothes, leave your day-to-day cares behind and have fun!
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