Hidden Gems or Iconic Travel Spots?
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Hidden Gems or Iconic Travel Spots?

When traveling, we may ask ourselves if it's worth it to do the typical touristy things in a new destination, or if we should go off the beaten path and find some hidden treasures. Which one is better? Here's some insight from my most recent travels.

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Hidden Gems or Iconic Travel Spots?

This is a response to7 Tips For Traveling.

Sometimes They're Iconic For A Reason

As we can all assume, sometimes certain spots or things to do are iconic because so many people have enjoyed them, time after time, and it meets their expectations. In Ireland, for example, the iconic Cliffs of Moher are known as being one of the highest, if not the highest, ranked thing to see in all of Ireland. When I went this past month, it was mesmerizing and beautiful in all the ways I thought it would be. The weather was rainy and windy, but I felt that it was the perfect weather for the Cliffs. Rugged and powerful, it felt only fitting that the wind was whipping us in every direction. To me, this spot is iconic for a reason. Every person that I have talked to who has been to the Cliffs is extremely happy that they've seen them. Talking to people is a good place to gain an understanding of whether an iconic spot is worth the visit. Sometimes, things are too iconic that you might regret not having seen or done them.

If a Local Recommends It, Do It

Going to spots that a local recommends almost always ends in a fantastic experience. Locals know the area best, so it makes sense that something they recommend would also be something that a stranger to the area might like. I visited a friend in Edinburgh during my most recent travels, and we went on a couple hikes, as well as a little trip to the nearby beach called Portobello. The typical touristy things to do in Edinburgh involve castles and lots of history. While these experiences might appeal to some, I wanted to do what my friend thought would be the most fun for us. We had so much fun and I was so happy we spent the couple days there the way we did. We both love nature, so seeing the nature of Edinburgh really appealed to me. Also, there weren't a ton of people at Portobello Beach, so it was a good change of pace from the busy city. We got a nice dinner and gelato, and it was a calmer and more peaceful side of Edinburgh. I've had similar experiences when seeing cities that my friends live in, or taking the advice of a waiter at a local restaurant in an area. They seem to know the good spots that won't be crammed with other tourists that still offer an enjoyable and unique experience.

Know What Kind of Experience You're Looking For

Each person likes different things. So if you're a city person who is looking to do the city stuff, do the city stuff. Conversely, if you're not a city person, and prefer more natural landscapes, find the things to do in an area that involve nature and greenery. I ended my travels in Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden and found plenty of natural landscapes in these cities. Both of them are becoming known for their green efforts, including being very bike-able cities, and have plenty of parks within their city borders. My favorite parts of these spots were exploring an amusement and garden park in Copenhagen, hiking to a nearby beach in Malmo, and going in the sea in Malmo. Not to say that I didn't enjoy the cities themselves, but I found that seeing the parts of them that were a bit more stripped to the bare landscape was much more enjoyable to me. (It checks out.) So just know yourself and what types of experiences you enjoy!

Always Try the Food

Iconic or not, food is good. My favorite thing to remember whenever I'm traveling in a new place is that I won't be able to try real Irish fish and chips back home in Ohio, or tea like they have in the UK, or Swedish meatballs like they have in Sweden. So just try it! Some of the food I tried was 'iconic,' and other times, it was simply what I wanted for dinner. And it was usually really good. Even when the iconic food isn't good, it just seems right that you at least try it. Kind of as a nod of respect to the culture, the people there, and yourself, for pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and exploring a new place. So, eat the food. And don't worry too much about if the cost was worth it, because food is love and you should treat yourself right with a good meal when traveling.

No matter what you decide when traveling, you can't really go wrong with too many decisions. You're still exploring a new place and learning new things along the way. I would recommend doing the iconic spots if they feel right to you and the type of experience you typically enjoy. Always eat a good meal, iconic or not (but especially if it's iconic), and don't be afraid to try the more hidden parts of a place that your friend or a friendly (local) stranger mentions. Memories and growth await in each person's unique, individual travel experience!

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