10 ways to be a tourist in your own city

Posted on 20 February 2014

It’s easy to become lost in the mundane of everyday life and daily routine. Be a tourist in your own city and ignite a newfound appreciation for your hometown.

tourist, people, times square, new york

Being a tourist is all about those feelings of novelty and awe. If you’re not going away for the holidays, replicate those feelings by being a tourist in your own city. It’s fun and you’re likely to find out some things about your town you never knew. Who knows, you might even remember why you chose to live there in the first place. Here’s how to get started.

1. Brush up on some literature

Give yourself a quick history lesson and take to the streets with new eyes. When was the last time you visited your city’s website? Delve into some tourist books, like Lonely Planet, or try out a more philosophical look at your city like Ivan Vladislavic’s Portrait of Keys where he explores Johannesburg. Choose an interesting angle and look at your city with things like art, culture, points of interest, and walking routes in mind.

2. Show friends and family around

If you’re the type whose friends and family are always visiting, take them around your city and see it through their eyes. Go to places you have branded as ‘too touristy’ and actually enjoy experiencing things that you usually turn a blind eye to. If you live in Cape Town, head to the V&A Waterfront, go down to Ushaka Marine World in Durban or Gold Reef City in Johannesburg  There is always somewhere to visit again.

3. Take a different mode of transport

To be a tourist you need to become helpless and rely on any other transport other than your usual type. Cape Town has a great Metrorail and bus system, MyCiTi where Durban beachfront’s golden mile is a mecca for cycling. Hire bikes and cycle along the newly renovated green corridor. Talk to people you encounter, find out about the area and their life.

4. Go on a treasure hunt

Gather some friends and try geocaching, a worldwide treasure hunt where ‘treasure’ can literally be found in your back yard, or you choose to hide your own. Follow clues on the website and discover the hidden side of your city.

5. Take an inner-city tour

Most cities offer tours which show off the diversity of your city. In Durban take an open bus tour, or try Street Scene Tours and in Cape Town take a taxi tour in Khayelitsha. It will open up a new appreciation of your hometown.

6. Taste new things

Step outside your bubble of suburbia and go on a taste adventure. Create a list of coffee shops and restaurants that aren’t your usual hangouts and go exploring. Look for spots in different suburbs with varied cuisines. Ask around to find the best places.

7. Volunteer for a worthwhile cause

Organisations like Greenpop can help expose you to a different side of your hometown. Peruse Charity SA and find a charity in your area where you can help out at. You will get to meet new people and become more in-touch part of your community.

8. Be a hipster

Organise, or take part in, an Instawalk. It’s basically a walk where you take photos with your smartphone. It may sound very hipster and alternative, but at its core it takes the seemingly mundane and transforms it into something completely new and different. It can be done anywhere and is relatively easy to organise. Follow instagram on the various social networks to take part in their ‘hashtag’ competitions.

9. Attend a sports match

Take in the sights and sounds of a soccer match at Soccer City or a rugby match at Ellis Park or even just visit the local fun run. It will be a privilege to experience a new culture.

10. There’s always more …

There is probably something you are thinking about right now that you have always wanted to do in your hometown, but felt too skaam to actually do. So as they say – just do it!


Useful links

Durban City Website: www.durbanexperience.co.za

Cape Town City Website: www.capetown.travel

Johannesburg City Website: www.joburgtourism.com

Oriental and Historic Tours In Durban: www.durbanexperience.co.za

V&A Waterfront: www.waterfront.co.za (open 09h00 – 19h00 daily)

UShaka Marine World: www.ushakamarineworld.co.za (open Monday to Sunday, 09h00 – 17h00)

Gold Reef City: www.goldreefcity.co.za

Durban Street Tours: www.streetscenetours.co.za

Open bus tours Durban: www.durban-tourism.com

Khayelitsha Tours: www.openafrica.org/route/Khanyisa-Cape-Route


Guest blog post by Megan Pilditch

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