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Cities We Love

Great cities can be like quaint villages one moment, sprawling chaos the next. The trip from the airport to your hotel can take nearly as long as your flight. And anyone can get lost in the warren of cobblestone streets that radiate in every direction at the historic center of Europe’s great cities. Here are some timely tips for getting the most out of your next visit.

City Passes

To get the most out of your urban travel dollars, purchase a city pass. Custom built for travelers, these passes offer free entry, discounts and special offers for a whole list of attractions. Check city websites for what’s available.

Made for Walking

A good pair of walking shoes is essential when navigating great cities, ruins, pebbled pathways and cobblestone streets. Besides making sure shoes fit properly, it’s a good idea to:

  • Choose shoes with flexible soles and low, supportive heels
  • Look for lightweight, breathable materials
  • Shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet are slightly swollen
  • Pick a neutral color to match most of the clothes you pack
  • Wear new shoes indoors for a few days to make sure they’re OK
  • Pack bandages in case of blisters

Getting Around

Most of the world’s great cities have wonderful transportation systems, starting at the airport. Instead of paying multiple single-route fares and searching for loose change each time you board a train or tram, look for multi-trip, daily, weekly or monthly passes. They’re usually available on subway, rail and bus websites, as well as at ticket booths and newspaper kiosks. You can study the system online before you go, and grab a route map on arrival.

Cultural Reminders

Each culture has its own etiquette. Sharing tables is common practice in many restaurants and cafés in Europe when it’s crowded. Table manners and tipping practices are different throughout the world. To avoid offending anyone, observe the locals and follow suit. You should also respect signage and protocol (e.g., behavior and attire in churches and religious sites), and ask before acting if you’re unsure about what’s acceptable.

English... Maybe

Although English is widely understood in cosmopolitan cities, not everyone speaks it or is comfortable using it. It’s polite to ask before presuming. Try to learn the phrase “Do you speak English?” in the local language. Most residents are happy to practice, converse or help you. Remember to drop the slang and speak slowly and clearly (not more loudly) if someone isn’t fluent.

Quick, Inexpensive Bites

The food tab can quickly add up in big cities if you eat every meal at a restaurant. To cut down on costs, book a hotel or apartment with a kitchenette to make simple breakfasts. In town, look for cafeterias in large department stores, which are usually centrally located. Local pubs also offer cheaper fare, while grocery stores can satisfy you with quick snacks. You can also save by eating at fast-food restaurants—try a local one to really get a feel for a place.

Carry Change

On almost every trip, there comes a time when you want to sample local flavors or you spot a must-have souvenir—perhaps a bocadillo (sandwich) in Barcelona or a leather purse at an outdoor market in Florence. Make sure you have some local currency on hand for such occasions. Small market vendors don’t usually accept credit cards and prefer small denominations since they might not have change for larger bills. Check out our selection of travel wallets at

ATM Alert

ATMs in other countries may have minimum withdrawal amounts (e.g., 20 euros) that don’t fit your needs. In addition, they may also tack on service fees and currency conversion charges. Always check with your bank about fees before departure. By withdrawing larger amounts, you can keep charges to a minimum and avoid searching for ATMs. However, carrying more cash may not be ideal if pickpockets are a problem. Try a money belt for extra security—see our wide selection at

Card Capers

Credit and debit card security monitors can quickly shut your card down if they notice abnormal activity. Reinstating a card can take up to 24 hours and waste valuable travel time. This can be very inconvenient when you’re checking out of a hotel or trying to pay a bill overseas. Let your credit and debit card companies know your travel dates in advance. Carry the international contact number for your cards and always have an alternative payment form ready, just in case.

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