Seeing a City in 24 Hours

Sometimes when you’re traveling, you only have a limited amount of time in a city. If you just have just 24 hours to visit, what is the best way to see a city? Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your brief stay.

Free Walking Tour

The first thing I do when I get to a new city is take a free walking tour. They usually leave in the morning, although they often have afternoon tours as well. The guide will walk you around the city and explain the history and culture to you. If you have a short time, this is a great way to get a quick overview.

As they point out attractions, you can then decide to go see them after the tour is over. You can also ask the guide for recommendations of places to eat.

Google Maps Favorites

Before I get to a city I usually look up some of the top attractions (using methods below). I search for the places on Google Maps and then I click Add to Favorites. A star will appear on the map. Then I can look at the city and plan the most efficient route to see everything. With just 24 hours, efficiency is key!

You can do this during the walking tour when the guide points out attractions. Or places you want to come back to visit in more depth. After the tour, ask the guide’s recommendations and save them in Google Maps. I find this so much better than just writing them down because it gives you a spatial awareness of the place.

Google maps stars


How is taking photos going to help? It’s not. But here is a little trick I learned recently. You can search Instagram for the city you are visiting and browse through the photos. Click on photos that appear over and over, or just look interesting, and it will be geotagged with the exact location. Go visit the hot Instagram places!

Instagram city

The Highest Point

One thing I love to do in a new city is find the highest point with the best view. Sometimes this is a hill just outside the city. Sometimes this is the top of a hotel that has a bar. A great way to discover these places is to ask the walking tour guide. Or just look around and go on an adventure.



trip advisor top things to do

TripAdvisor is good for getting a general overview of a city before you go. It is the most basic way to get a general idea about the attractions of a city. I skim through “Top Things to do” first and then look at subcategories. For instance, they have a list of Restaurants if you’re into food. Or Museums. Or Parks. Then I favorite the places that I want to see on Google Maps.

trip advisor parks museums


Remember not everything about seeing a city is just about going to all the most popular places. If you hear about an interesting neighborhood, go wander around. Pop into a small café that isn’t listed on TripAdvisor. Chat up a local at pub.

All of the tactics listed above are great for getting a bird eye view of the city, but you shouldn’t be a slave to them. Don’t stress about seeing everything. I know some people who absolutely have to see every sight. And I hate traveling with them. The fun of traveling gets subverted in the quest for an Instagram scavenger hunt.

Don’t stress about seeing everything in 24 hours. By letting go of that feeling, you will learn to enjoy your trips a lot more. And you can always come back!

Leave a Reply