Obviously the major cities are on everyone’s list when deciding where to go when visiting a country that they haven’t visited before. Part of that is because they are often the main transportation hubs and they also usually have a large number of things to see such as churches, palaces, castles, and museums. However, if you really want to get a true sense of the culture of a country, get out of the large cities and go to some of the small towns. The people are authentic, the restaurants providing local favorites, and the sights, although sometimes simpler, are often truly unique. Don’t expect people in these smaller towns to speak anything other than their native tongue, though, hand gestures and translation apps are an absolute must.
Regardless of where we have traveled, we have found the smaller towns to be some of our favorite memories. Especially if you are fortunate to visit during a time when there are holidays or festivals. There is something truly special about enjoying events such as these where you are the only foreigner in the crowd and you know that what you are enjoying isn’t done for tourism, but simply for the enjoyment of the locals who live in the town and its surrounding farms. We also find these to be great places to look for local artists who might have something that can’t be found anyplace else.
Although it is often pleasant to stay in one of these smaller towns, they can also be visited as part of a day trip to get out of the city. Clearly, if you can spend at least a night in one of these towns, you will get an even better sense of the culture. If you spend a few days or even a week there, you might be treated like a local by the time that you leave. Always be sure to ask other locals where to get a good meal as they will be sure to point you in the proper direction. Be sure to slow down while you are visiting these smaller towns, they typically live life at a more leisurely pace, they work hard, but are not in a hurry to rush around and neither should you.
The same is true of your own country. We have enjoyed going to many small towns across the United States and it really is a different view of the area that you are visiting. The people are friendly and, in many ways, it is often like stepping back in time. If you have the opportunity to talk to a local, ask about the history of the area, you will often get a very unique view that you could never get from any sort of guide book. You will definitely be a better traveler if you are willing to get out and explore as many local towns as you possibly can.