From tracking down local hotspots, to transport and translations these seven apps will help you unlock any city.
The city break is a marvellous thing. Leaving the office on a Friday afternoon you can escape for an urban adventure of cocktails, cappuccinos and oodles of culture.
However, mastering your chosen hotspot in a couple of days can at times be challenging. From fine-tuning your list of sightseeing stop-offs, to cherry picking the best restaurants and bars, the sheer options can be overwhelming and sometimes leave you mulling over your next move in a Starbucks. Not ideal.
Cue your smartphone. The most lightweight and up-to-date city guide you’ll ever own. Travel guide apps are a great way to get the scoop on hidden cultural treasures, read local tip-offs and steer you with ease through your new metropolis. Whether your interest is history or food, museums or bars, there are hundreds of apps out there to help you make the most of your weekend getaway.
So here are the seven apps that will cater for your every need when it comes to conquering a new city.
Foursquare is undeniably your ultimate city guide and is a download must. It’s a social media platform that allows you to access over 60 million short reviews from people who know the city best – the locals. Fire up the app and based on your location it will give you the best restaurants, coffee, nightlife and shops near you. Unlike TripAdvisor, FourSquare is predominately written by people who live in the city, so you hear less about the buffet options and more about the pop-up craft beer bar that is trending that month. It’s also pretty smart, tailoring search options to your tastes and previous ratings.
Citymapper makes navigating even the most complicated cities plain sailing. With easy-to-follow directions, this transport app tells you how to get from A to B in over 15 cities, including London, New York, Paris and Berlin. Whether you are travelling by underground, subway, metro, hire bikes, buses, taxis, or even a jetpack (they have a sense of humour), Citymapper calculates the easiest and quickest route for you. It also uses realtime data to give accurate travel times – so you’ll know if your bus is two or twenty minutes away – and will inform you of costs and delays. Suddenly going from the museum to cocktail bar, via that monument, doesn’t seem such a challenge.
One of the best ways to explore a new city is to simply wander. But when you do eventually stumble across that important looking building/church/statue you’re often non the wiser about what you’ve seen. Not anymore. Hold up your phone’s camera lens to the source of your confusion, load up Google Goggles and the app will shoot over the Wikipedia pages of the landmark your looking at. And if it turns out to be the Notre Dame you can just pretend you were taking a photo.
Asking for directions to the Rive Gauche, ordering bacalhauin in Lisbon, or chatting Spanish at La Boqueria Market in Barcelona just got a whole lot easier. This app breaks down all language barriers as it allows you to translate anything via voice, camera, keyboard or handwriting. Its most impressive feature is that it can interpret cross-language conversations on the fly, so you conduct an entire conversation in two different languages and have it translated instantly.
A place can be made by the people you meet, so Tripr connects you to fellow travellers, locals and friends before you arrive at your destination. It looks quite like Tinder, allowing you to swipe anonymously through potential travel buddies. Once connected Tripr also offers some great travel activities you could do with your new companion. A must for the solo city traveller.
Time Out Walks
Time Out Walks allows you to do away with expensive and often boring tourist tours. Instead this audio driven app guides you around set walks imparting interesting facts and little known tales of the city that surrounds you. The GPS triggered guide means that the audio stops and starts in time with your movements. A word of warning, though, the tours are around three hours long – so make sure you have your walking shoes on!
With data roaming charges still eye-wateringly expensive, knowing where to find a decent wi-fi hotspot is essential when it comes to updating social media about your latest sojourn. This app simply gives you directions to your nearest source of wireless internet and cleverly allows you to download the maps before you go.
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