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A City in a Day: The Traveler’s Guide to Efficient Sightseeing

Credit: Shutterstock/William Barton

Crunched for time with an insatiable desire to explore it all? Fear not! Here I will describe the best ways to visit an entire city in just one day for all the wanderers out there.

Imagine you’re interrailing across Europe for the summer. It’s a warm August day, and you just missed your connecting train to Vienna, and you’ve suddenly found yourself stuck in Salzburg for eight hours. The energy has not dwindled, though! The sun shining down on you, you shoulder your massive backpack and start walking to the city center. Unexpected adventures are always the best ones.

Did you know the fortress at the top of the hill offers live Mozart concerts? Find it on the Get Your Guide App.
Did you know the fortress at the top of the hill offers live Mozart concerts? Find it on the Get Your Guide App. Credit: Shutterstock/ecstk22

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when exploring a new city. There’s so much to see and do, and the worry of missing something important is very daunting. Luckily, I have a few helpful tips to ensure ways to experience as much as you can. Make those eight hours in Salzburg count!

Free walking tours

A free walking tour is hands down the best way to explore a new city. Not only is it affordable, but you’re able to see the entire city close up and learn so much of its history. It’s best to book a walking tour for the morning so you can return to some of the best spots on your own afterward. A few of the best tours I did were in Venice, Lisbon, Salzburg, and Prague.

Also, when traveling alone, a walking tour is the best way to meet other people who speak your language. It’s very easy to find a tour in many different languages so there is an experience waiting for everyone. As a young female solo traveler, some of the coolest friendships formed on my trips arose from walking tours. Even with the tour guides themselves! For more tips on solo travel, check out this article.

54% of solo travelers are alone because they want to leave their comfort zone.
54% of solo travelers are alone because they want to leave their comfort zone. Credit: Shutterstock/mcroff88

The tour guide Insight

Let’s hear from my favorite walking tour guide. Johannes Hofmann from Salzburg gave me an incredible Salzburg tour, and now he can provide some insider knowledge about the free walking tour experience.

Hofmann explained that a tour guide’s passion makes it much easier to convey information about the city. As a Salzburg local, he can share personal stories that are much more memorable than a wall of facts.

When asked his favorite part of the job, Hofmann said, “Sharing the love that I have for Salzburg with other people.”

I like to see the same sparks in their eyes seeing Salzburg for the first time that I had when I first got out of the car.

Johannes Hofmann


Hofmann went on to say that another perk of the job is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. He told of a time that a couple booked him for a private tour, and the man was from Australia but had fled Hungary years ago. The man had memories from his childhood in Salzburg, and Hofmann had previously had to learn the history of Hungary for his guide licensee.

In the end, I learned more from him than he learned from me.

Johannes Hofmann

Hofmann admits to having done over 100 walking tours in his life. He explains that although a walking tour might not be the fastest option, especially in bigger cities where a bus would be more practical, it is the most immersive and informative option, with real spirit.

“There’s a depth that comes with a walking tour that you can’t really get anywhere else,” he says. A free walking tour provides the base of the cultural and historical parts of the city that you can use to later explore on your own.

And remember! I know the word “free” can be misleading, but don’t forget to tip your tour guides! You can check out more of Hofmann’s life on his Instagram page, @bavaricano. Also, for more information on Salzburg walking tours (in case you’re feeling the draw to book with Johannes), here’s the official Instagram account: @freewalkingtoursalzburg

Did you know it’s 1,700 steps to walk from the beach to the top of Positano? No tour buses to save you there, put your walking shoes on!
Did you know it’s 1,700 steps to walk from the beach to the top of Positano? No tour buses to save you there, so put your walking shoes on! Credit: Shutterstock/Yasonya

Hop-on, Hop-off bus

There are many different variations of these buses around most cities, European and American. They are a very effective way to get around while learning at the same time efficiently. And as Hofmann explained above, a bus is a faster way to navigate a larger city.

Most of the buses look just like this one. You can see them driving about pretty much any city. Credit: Shutterstock/Tanya Keisha

Typically, these buses are best in cities such as London, where there is a significant amount of history and surface area. Although the tour part is in less depth than it would be in a walking tour, it’s a nice break to get off your feet and have a look around.

I often would take a bus tour in lieu of public transport when hopping about a new city. Especially if the goal is to maximize the number of sites seen, it’s a good way to help decide where you want to spend your time while actively on your way to another destination.

Just a note! It will probably be cheaper to buy your bus pass online rather than from a worker standing beside the bus. If you search Hop on Hop Off Bus and the name of the city you’re in, you will definitely be able to find one and a meeting spot. Also, if you dig for it, there are many deals online with these buses. Traveling can be inexpensive when you research!

Get your guide app

The Get Your Guide mobile phone app is a life changer when traveling! It’s the best way to search for credible experiences online when you’re trying to make the most of your time in a new city.

Credit: Shutterstock/monticello

All you have to do is download this app and enter the city you’ve just arrived in. It will spit out a never-ending list of the best events to buy tickets for nearby you. It’s perfect if you’re not much of a planner because the options update based on the time you search for them. Suddenly find yourself with nothing to do after your lovely vacation dinner? Not a problem! Get Your Guide will figure it out for you.

The app also provides directions for the meeting spot of your event, as well as a proper ticket in the app and emailed to you. Again, many tourist events are cheaper if you find them online first, and Get Your Guide makes that much easier.

Through this app, I’ve booked events such as a kayak tour in Cinque Terre, a classical music concert in Salzburg, and a sunset boat ride in Positano. The options are endless!

Credit: Shutterstock/Blue Orange Studio

Adventure awaits

Now that you’re properly informed, go out and see every square inch of every city! Get booking on those walking tours, bus rides, and special events—Vienna’s waiting, London’s calling, and so on. The world awaits you, wanderer!

Written By

Hello! My name is Katie and I'm a travel writer for Trill Mag. I'm from Chicago, but currently living in Dublin, Ireland for college at TCD. I'm OBSESSED with traveling and experiencing all the world has to offer, and writing is a wonderful outlet for all that life on the road has taught me. It's beautiful to be alive!

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