Or finding the local hang-outs.
Sources of information
There are many good sources for getting information on places to stay, eat and drink in a city. The people at the tourist board can usually give a few good ideas, while a guide book will often give a decent selection.
Off the tourist track
Unfortunately, however, these sources rarely veer off the usual tourist track. They’ll give plenty of suggestions for places that many visitors like going to, but not necessarily the places that give a real feel for the town or are local favourites.
And it’s these little secrets that editors want to know about. They make for an interesting story, and there’s a certain cachet to being able to discover a place that most visitors won’t know about.
Needle in a haystack
But how to find them? Well my preferred way is always to stumble across them randomly. I love going into somewhere on a whim. Unfortunately, this is often something of a needle in a haystack approach.
In Your Pocket
One tool that I’ve found really useful when I’ve seen it is the local In Your Pocket guide. These guides have quietly begun springing up all over Europe, and they’re generally written by locals. They give a view of the place from the standpoint of someone that lives there, and the listings are generally both comprehensive and honestly-written.
Amongst those listings, there are usually a few really interesting places that are not covered in the Lonely Planet or tourist board literature. They’re worth investigating.
Free online guides
Best of all, the In Your Pocket Guides are now available for free online (www.inyourpocket.com), so it’s possible to get a list of a few good ideas before you arrive.