15 tips from ambassadors for traveling around their country like a local

Voyager comme un local avec les ambassadeurs

Travel like a local: ambassadors from all over the world give us their tips on what to see and do in their country in less than 48 hours.

Feel like traveling to a new destination and doing unusual things? This time, you’ll get off the beaten track and travel like a local! Here are fifteen recommendations for countries to visit, as seen through the eyes of ambassadors!

Italy

Voyager comme un local en Italie

Photo credit: Flickr – barnyz

What’s on offer?

To travel like the Italians, cruise 70 km of waterways on the Brenta in the Venetian region, stop off in Padua, then live like a local around flamboyant Lake Garda in Trentino. Don’t forget to stop off at Castagneto Carducci (Tuscany), where Giosuè Carducci lived. To the south, Rome and Naples.

What to see?

If you’re arriving in Rome, the village of Tolfa, the ancient remains and the Norwegian-Italian Cultural Institute are the perfect place to travel like a local. In Naples, the ruins of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius are a must. To the north, Mount Baldo at Lake Garda offers beautiful walks, ending on the Euganean Hills.

A cliché?

Italians are often stigmatized as talkative, flirtatious or macho, and fans of pizza and pasta.

Croatia

Loger dans la vieille ville, Dubrovnik

Photo credit: Flickr – Michael Caven

What’s on offer?

To discover Croatia like a local, try Malvasija wine, eat grilled fish with silver beet and potatoes, and don’t miss the « rožata ». For dessert, order a lička pita. To digest, « šljivovica », a plum liqueur, is a Balkan emblem.

What’s there to see?

If you manage to see Dubrovnik, Zadar, Zagreb and Plitvice, you’ll truly be traveling Croatia like a local. A little extra: stop off at the village of Karlobag: small, but with a popular atmosphere that makes you feel like a Croatian.

A cliché?

The Croatian is wrongly stereotyped as distant, cold and reserved.

The Netherlands

Keukenhof, Amsterdam

Photo credit: Flickr – dvidal.lorente

What to do?

Have a drink in a bar on Dam Square (Amsterdam) and visit Keukenhof to travel like a local, as if you lived there. Sample Dutch cuisine (poffertjes, krokets, frikandels, rijsttafel and stroopwafels).

What’s there to see?

First, visit Amsterdam: the canals, bike rides, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Ann Frank Museum. Then The Hague and Rotterdam (Europe’s largest port).

A cliché?

Not all Dutch people are cannabis smokers or regulars in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

Mexico

Voyager comme un local au Mexique

Photo credit: Flickr – Stefano Ravalli

What’s on offer?

To travel like a local, take advantage of the terraces and restaurants of Mexico: tacos de pastor, suadero, campechanos, the popular markets of San Juan and Medellín, and enjoy a bottle of mezcal.

What’s there to see?

Mexico City comes to mind, with its breathtaking historical and cultural heritage: the Zócalo, the National Palace, the Alameda, Chapultepec Castle, the Museum of Anthropology and History, Frida Khalo’s house and Diego Rivera’s Anahuacalli Museum in Coyoacá, Teotihuacán, the Oaxa region and Tulum in the Yucatan.

A cliché?

The Mexican, straw in mouth, sleeping under a cactus with a tequila in hand.

Hungary

Photo credit: Flickr – brent flanders

What to do in Budapest

Budapest is a great place to party: the locals are very welcoming. Try Hungarian goulash, Wiener Schnitzel, Hungarian ratatouille, stuffed cabbage, Dobos and Somlói galuska.

What’s there to see?

To explore Hungary like a local, you can take a stroll through central Budapest along the banks of the Danube, visit the Parliament, the Castle and sit on one of the many terraces in the Jewish Quarter. Elsewhere, visit Szentendre, Visegrád and Tihany on Lake Balaton.

A cliché?

Hungarians are xenophobic, anti-Semitic and aloof. This is obviously untrue.

Costa Rica

Voyager comme un local au Costa Rica

Photo credit: Flickr – davidd

What’s on offer?

Costa Rican landscapes are extremely varied: lush forests, nature reserves, tropical beaches (Guanacaste and Nicoya), Puerto Viejo, Montverde and the cloud forest, the Caribbean coast, the Arenal volcano. Don’t miss the capital, San José, and its culinary treasures: rice, beans, chicken, meat and fruit all year round.

What’s there to see?

In San José, live like a local: go out at peak times, enjoy the terraces, go to the popular bars. Visit the national theater, the cathedral, the Amón district, the national park, the jade and gold museums and the national zoo.

A cliché?

The Costa Rican is not necessarily a farmer looking after his bananas. The Costa Rican economy is also industrial, particularly in medical services.

Austria

Château de Schonbrunn Vienne

Photo credit: Flickr – -Reji

What’s on offer?

In Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace is a must. Taste Sachertorte, Linzer Torte, Kaiserschmarrn and Wiener Schnitzel in the city’s many small cafés. To the west, there’s plenty of hiking to be done in the Alps.

What’s there to see?

In Austria, we like to stroll along the southeastern shores of Lake Constance in Bregenz. From Innsbruck to Salzburg, the scenery is magnificent and well worth the detour. The small town of Oberndorf is also well worth a visit.

A cliché?

Not all Austrians are passionate about skiing or Mozart’s classical music. This country has much more to offer.

Dominican Republic

Voyager comme un local en République Dominicaine

Photo credit: Flickr – Ben Kucinski

What to do?

To live like a local, we recommend catamaran sailing on the island of Saona and swimming in the crystal-clear waters. Go to the bay of Palmar de Ocoa to taste the local wines. Cycle through the streets of the capital, stopping off at the many small cafés. After dark, dance the night away to traditional music on the beaches.

What to see?

From Punta Cana in Santo Domingo to the tropical beaches of the north, this country has a wide variety of things to see. To travel like a local in the Dominican Republic, visit Ocoa Bay, and browse the cultural sites and local stores.

A cliché?

The hospitality and apparent relaxation of the locals doesn’t mean they don’t work: they work hard all day long!

Norway

Voyager comme un local en Norvège

Photo credit: Flickr – Giuseppe Milo

What to do in Oslo

If you want to make like a local, don’t miss a drink by the fjord at the Oslo Opera House. Go for a swim at Sørenga, then take the train to Bergen. Take a stroll to the historic district for a splendid view of Bergen, the fjord and the mountains. Mouth-watering seafood (salmon or shrimp), « geitost » used to make the Norwegian sandwich « matpakke », a local favorite.

What’s there to see?

In Norway, it’s all about the great outdoors, living like a local. A visit to Oslo includes the Opera House, the Munch Museum, Vigeland Park, the Fram Museum and the Astrup Fearnley Museum.

A cliché?

Norwegians are said to be cold and aloof. You just have to take the time to get to know them.

Ecuador

Casa del Arbol, balançoire en Equateur

Photo credit: Flickr – Rinaldo Wurglitsch

What’s on offer?

To enjoy the delights of Ecuador like a local, go for a coffee with « bolones verdes », try shrimp ceviche, « locro », « seco de gallina », fruit and cocoa ice creams.

What is there to see?

In Quito, the old town is the place to be, as well as the « Mitad del Mundo ». Head for the subtropical forest of Mindo Valley and Guayaquil.

A cliché?

The Ecuadorian is not a man dressed in colorful ponchos, playing his flute all day…

Finland

Voyager comme un local en Finlande

Photo credit: Flickr – Giuseppe Milo

What to do in Finland

In Finland, taste the intense flavor of local, wild foods if you want to travel like a local: fish, reindeer, berries and mushrooms. Try out the best restaurants in the Helsinki region, visit the islands surrounding the capital, admire the old town of Porvoo and the Nuuksio National Park in Espoo.

What’s there to see?

First of all, visit the capital in an unusual way, like a local: look up at the architecture of Jugend, the style of the buildings in Jätkäsaari and Kalasatama. The Suimenlinna fortress is also worth a visit. In Helsinki, don’t miss the old Helsinki market hall, Tori Korttelit and its design district.

A cliché?

Finns are said to be introverts. It’s a cultural thing. Otherwise, they’re friendly and welcoming.

Canada

Voyager comme un local au Canada

Photo credit: Flickr – Lilly Bzh

What to do?

Go shopping on Sainte-Catherine Street, party on Saint-Denis Street, have a drink in a bar on the night of an ice hockey game. Taste Quebec’s must-try poutine!

What to see?

For two days in Canada, Montreal is a city of choice: cosmopolitan, welcoming, bilingual, a mosaic of cultures. See the cobblestone streets of the historic downtown core, Notre-Dame Basilica, Mount Royal Park and photograph the skyscrapers: real urban strolls like a local.

A cliché?

The Canadian, axe in hand, lumberjack shirt on his back, boots in the snow, chopping wood to face the winter.

Philippines

Voyager comme un local aux Philippines

Photo credit: Flickr – Chelo Diaries

Where to go?

If you want to travel like a local in this magnificent archipelago of 7,000 islands, you have to get away from Manila: go to the Visayas, Cebu, Negros Island, Malapascua and Siquijor with its heavenly beaches. Don’t miss the « lechon » (grilled pork) and the « sutokil ».

What to see?

Travelling like a local means coming into contact with the locals: go to Luzon to see the rice fields, visit the Twin Lakes (Negros) and party in Dumaguete. In Manila, go to the bars where Filipinos go to discover the city like a local (while remaining vigilant).

A cliché?

The kindness and good humor of Filipinos. We underestimate their seriousness and commitment to social relations.

New Zealand

Voyager comme un local en Nouvelle-Zélande

Photo credit: Flickr – russellstreet

What’s on offer?

In this small country, travel like a local, admiring the diversity of breathtaking natural landscapes, enjoying the arts and cultural infrastructure, and sampling New Zealand meats, seafood and wines.

What to see

Between the country’s two islands, the cities are modern: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Milford Sound on the South Island, Kahurangi National Park and Lake Taupo on the North Island.

A cliché?

In the collective imagination, it’s the country in the bottom right-hand corner of the planisphere: the end of the world!

Guatemala

Voyager comme un local au Guatemala

Photo credit: Flickr – Ralf Steinberger

What to eat

In Guatemala, the best restaurants are in Antigua Guatemala: try the « Parrillada Chapina », black beans, rice, guacamole and « Ka’ik ».

What to see

Old Guatemala » is a must. Alongside Antigua, visit Lake Atitlán, discover the remains of Mayan culture, survey the active Pacaya volcanoes and Volcan de Fuego.

A cliché?

Guatemala is said to be a tropical country. However, on the high plateaus inland, frosts are recurrent between December and February.

Main photo credit: Flickr – Simon Matzinger