When planning a trip -- domestic or abroad -- your itinerary is bound to include a variety of "can’t-miss" attractions and activities. And while a visit to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the Louvre or ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower, it is the everyday happenings that often offer the best glimpse into what life in any given place is truly like. From an afternoon at the laundromat in Iceland to seeing life in motion at the local marketplace in Vietnam, read on for the nine daily spots you should always check out while traveling.
British author Neil Gaiman once wrote that "a town isn't a town without a bookstore" and we couldn't agree with that sentiment more. Much like a masterpiece at a museum or a cooked-to-perfection dish at an acclaimed restaurant, the tomes lining the shelves at a book shop offer a peek into the city's history and culture. Many are even historic buildings, which once welcomed famed authors and now serve as a gathering place for locals. Some of our favorites include Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, The Strand in New York City, and City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.
Cafes offer much more than a place to rest, fuel up, and people-watch. Cafe culture is so ingrained in city life around the world that simply sitting down for a cup of espresso allows visitors to feel immersed in the local culture. Cafe du Monde in New Orleans and Cafe Central in Vienna are popular choices, but don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path and explore new neighborhoods where the locals post up with a good book or laptop.
From El Escorial in Madrid to Trinity College Library in Dublin, libraries are often some of the most magnificent examples of architecture in a city. Gorgeous on the inside and out, some are cultural treasures and house artwork and host contemporary events.
This might seem like an unusual one, but pharmacies vary from country to country and you never know what kinds of treasures and trinkets you’ll discover on the shelves. When visiting Tokyo or Korea, a visit to the local pharmacy for unusual skincare products and face creams along with other knick-knacks like collagen face masks, themed bath salts, and FairyDrops mascara are a treat.
5. Market or Grocery Store
Beyond saving some serious cash and eating healthier, a trip to the corner market or grocery store is one of the best ways to get a taste of the local culture and cuisine. The aisles serve as a window to regional specialties that are packaged with unique logos and names. Try Bamba, a peanut-flavored puffed corn snack, in Israel, pick up Pocky, chocolate-covered biscuit sticks, in Japan, and munch on fruit chips in Vietnam.
Doing your laundry on vacation may not sound like the most exotic of activities, but some places like Wash & Coffee in Munich and The Laundromat Café in Copenhagen are built for more than just cleaning your duds. Part-laundromat, part-socializing spot, these locations even serve up homemade cake, juice, milkshakes, coffee, tea, wine and beer, and more.
While some travel for the food, others hit the road for the architecture, which comes in all shapes, sizes, and styles. And much like a modern museum or historical religious site, banks often make for eye-catching structures, too. From the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong to the Macquarie Bank Centre in Sydney to the National Bank in Dubai, design aficionados will surely appreciate visiting these local financial institutions.
8. Public Transportation
There are plenty of reasons you should choose public transportation while traveling -- it's environment-friendly, it's cheaper, and it often allows you to see the sights along the journey. But above all, it offers a glimpse into daily life in a city. From tuk-tuks in Thailand to the Tube in London, life moves fast when you’re traveling like a local, so just make sure to go with the flow.
9. Local Pub
From a stiff bourbon to a sweet Bellini to a freshly-brewed craft beer, posting up at the local pub is a great way to simultaneously interact with locals and get hydrated. Tip: Locals know the best bars in town, so don’t be afraid to set the guidebook aside and ask one for advice of where to go.