We’ve all heard the old adage that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t got to know yet. But for many of us, making genuine connections on our travels doesn’t always come as easily as we’d like. If that’s you, help is at hand – booking a homestay, guided tour, class or group experience can work wonders for your confidence and get you right under the city’s skin.
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It’s easy to fall in love with Central Park when you’re exploring on two wheels. With 47 miles of bike-friendly paths and a delightful assortment of fountains and follies, it’s an attractive and sociable place to ride. Bike hire is available nearby and groups hold regular park get-togethers, open to all. The Weekday Cyclists
, for example, ride around the 6.1-mile central loop every Tuesday morning and have a healthy mix of locals, expats and visitors in their ranks.
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For an insider’s perspective on Mexico City’s culinary, cultural and architectural heritage, treat yourself to a guided walking tour of Polanco’s coolest cantinas. This cosmopolitan neighbourhood is paradise for foodies. Join the locals over a plate of traditional specialities such as tacos, mole sauce and Oaxacan tlayuda (a toasted tortilla with beans, meat and avocado), then indulge in dessert made by one of the city’s famous chocolatiers.
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Remember the hygge craze? This is where it started. The Danes, a famously contented and eco-friendly lot, love to socialise at home – see Meet The Danes, below – but they’re big on homely cafés and restaurants, too. You’ll find some heartwarmingly friendly and atmospheric hangouts in Copenhagen’s Nyhavn and Nansensgade districts. Tour guides specialising in eateries and nightlife are on hand to reveal the best spots.
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The locals call this narrow, supremely colourful market the Kitchen of Kyoto. For over 400 years, chefs and foodies have shopped at its family-run stalls and shops, and anyone is welcome to join them, sampling delicacies such as tsukemono (pickled vegetables from the surrounding mountains), yuuba (the world’s smoothest sashimi tofu, made with Kyoto’s famous mountain water) tako (octopus with quail’s egg) and sparkling sake straight from the tap.
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If you want to understand and impress the Porteños and Porteñas – the natives of the port city of Buenos Aires – learn to dance. Passionate and nostalgic, Argentine tango is a stylised, rhythmic walk to music, typically paired in a close embrace, chest to chest. Once a local tutor has helped you crack the paso básico (basic step) and you’ve mastered a little improvisation, you’re ready to hit a milonga, or tango night. Roll up a little before midnight, and prepare to strut and arch till dawn.
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Aussie surfers can be an intimidating bunch. If you break a point of etiquette by mistake – by not looking properly before taking off, for example, and (perish the thought) dropping in on someone else’s wave, they’ll let you know you’ve messed up. Stay on their good side, though, and you’ll find them supremely matey. Roll up to the Surf Life Saving Club for an all-you-can-eat breakfast or a post-surf beer, and you’ll see what we mean.
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We all know about networking via Facebook
and finding a homestay through Airbnb
, but there are many other networking apps and websites that could help you meet people on holiday. While Tours By Locals
can hook you up with local guides all over the world, it’s also looking out for destination-specific services. Try Meet The Danes
, for example, if you’d like to enjoy an evening of home-cooked food and friendly conversation in Copenhagen, or Tabl
for something similar in selected British cities.