Time Out editors from around the world offer their recommendations on what not to miss when visiting their city
When in Amsterdam… Waterway to go
The best way to get a real feel for Amsterdam is to get yourself into a canal. But be careful how you do it. Try not to do it in a drunken stupor – you won’t like the taste or feel of Amsterdam canal water. Tourists riding in those big boats all look a little bit depressed, too. We’ve got a few funky suggestions on how to float through this watery city: for one, you can hire a tall, glamorous Dutch gondolier to row you and up to fi ve champagne-sipping friends Venetianstyle in a black gondola (www.gondel.nl); you might also get a VIP package for a small group on an electric skiff – silent and free of exhaust fumes – from such rental services as Boaty (www.boaty.nl) behind the Hotel Okura, by the Amstel River; or, if you’re feeling really wacky, charter a Sing-Along boat and enjoy the waterway while attempting Dutch karaoke (www.singalongboat.nl).
When in Barcelona… Find the last few bargains in town
Prices may be rising in the city, but head to the Raval neighbourhood and walk along streets like Riera Baixa, Valldonzella or Banys Nous and you will find lots of second-hand and vintage bargains. Still too pricey? Then off to Encants market you go. At Plaça de les Glòries, this flea market has everything from nuts to nightgowns, furniture, antiques or second-hand books.
Open Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat 7am-6pm.
When in Belgrade… Sail to another ecosystem
Ada Ciganlija is definitely one of the things that makes Belgrade different from other cities. An island in the River Sava, located right in the centre of the city, the area has a microclimate of its own. It has a dense centenary forest as well as spacious parkland. The island is populated with animals such as foxes, rabbits, deer and wild boar, and many different kinds of insects, amphibians and birds. There are parts that are entirely wild, making it unique in urban Europe. Besides the beautiful river scenery, boat rides, long hiking and bicycle paths, Ada Ciganlija offers all kinds of sports and recreation facilities, and there’s a host of bars and restaurants dotting the riverbank.
When in Bucharest... See what became of Communism
Casa Poporului (Palace of Parliament, House of the People) is about all that’s left of the Communist experience in modern-day Bucharest. But what a reminder. Built in 1983 by 20,000 people and 700 architects on the orders of Nicolae Ceauşescu, the mega-structure has 1,100 rooms and 12 storeys, and is the second-largest government building in the world after the Pentagon in the US. To take the tour you must have €3.5 (S$7, or 20 Romanian lei) and at least two free hours. And when we say two, we really mean it because the tour guide will not let you leave before the tour is over. Bring a bottle of water and embark on a journey through this impossibly lavish monolith. No 1, 13 Septembrie St
When in Cyprus… Get a bird’s eye view of Cypriot nature
A safari through the Akamas nature reserve, on the west side of the island, is an impressive way to eyeball nature. Stroll through the impressive Avakas canyon, visit the baths of Aphrodite – goddess of love – and glimpse respectfully at the protected sea turtles that come to lay their eggs on the beach at Lara. George Jeep Safari, 56 Tomb of the Kings Rd, Royal Complex, Paphos (+357 9942 4818). From €60 (S$121) per person.
When in Dubai… Check out some speed humps
There can be few experiences as demented as watching a grunting dromedary haul its hump around a racetrack at 40kph, followed by equally demented trainers hanging out of 4x4s to holler encouragement. After the (somewhat late) realisation that strapping young Pakistani boys to these goofy racers is a tad 17thcentury, the camels are now ridden by robo-jockeys, whose whipping and rein-tugging is done by remote control. Camel track, Nad Al Sheba, late October-early April. Free.
When in Hong Kong… Walk along the Dragon’s Back Probably the world’s most spectacular urban hike, this walk is worlds away from the Blade Runner-esque Hong Kong cityscape of popular myth. Starting off high above the green waters of the Tai Tam reservoir, the trail winds through lush forest before emerging onto the ‘Dragon’s Back’ ridge. With the South China Sea before you and steep slopes on both sides, the village of Shek O lies far below. Once you reach it, reward your endeavours with dinner and drinks by the beach.
When in Lisbon… Do Sintra on a Segway
The forested retreat of Sintra, just northwest of Lisbon, has long been a popular tourist spot. But given the steep climbs, it isn’t one for the unfi t. Now the hills are alive for the world’s gym dodgers. They may not be the coolest forms of transport, but the twowheeled Segways are allowing people to cruise along the lunar landscapes, which are still favoured by local witches. From here you can see as far as Lisbon in one direction and the Atlantic in the other. Silence Tour (+351 912 942942, www.silencetour.pt). Tours daily. €50 (S$102) per person.
When in St Petersburg… Enjoy the never-ending day
‘Don’t let the sun go down on me,’ wailed wig-sporting rocker Elton John, and in summertime in St Petersburg, he gets his wish. Although the natural phenomenon – whereby the sun never dips below the horizon – affects other cities, nowhere is it more celebrated than here. This eternal daylight begins in mid-June, lasts until 2 July and sees the city come alive with festivals, fêtes and celebrations. Don’t forget your sunglasses.
When in Tel Aviv… See the City of God
Within the ancient walls of the Old City in Jerusalem stand the monuments of the three great monotheistic religions – the Western Wall (Judaism), Dome of the Rock (Islam) and Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Christianity). Crusaders and warriors have conquered and lost the city countless times. We don’t suggest you try anything that radical, just a simple moment of silent spirituality at any one of these awe-inspiring spots.