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Visiting a City for the Second Time

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Reading time: 4 minutes
You have already been in that city and you have seen the main tourist attractions, you had the chance to know the city and its main streets and squares. Now, you are somewhere in between being a tourist and being a local. Same city. A second attempt.
picture of ancient amphitheatre with ancient amphi in background
credit: Justine Camacho

Travelling is exciting. The feeling of visiting a new city, walking on the streets for the first time, chasing the most visited places, even standing in a queue to get into that famous museum before it closes. You know you have just a few days to see “the top 10 things to see in …” and you want to see them all because you might not have a second chance. 

The first time I visited Rome was six years ago. Although this might sound like a long time ago, I don’t feel it that way. With the first steps in the city centre, my memories are coming back to life and I realise the city hasn’t changed at all. Although I don’t remember every street and square by heart, it needs only one look at the map and it all comes back. I catch myself a few times to be familiar with places that I do not remember the names of, but I connect with the picture. Hello again, Rome, we might not know everything about each other, but we are not strangers either.

Many people would never go on a holiday to a place they have already been to, they would prefer to scratch off a new country on the map or to mark a new city. Many stories are told about visiting a city for the first time, but here is why you should visit a city for a second time.

Adjust your route

Before I visit a city for the first time, I search on the internet and make a list of places to visit. Then, I pin them on the map and decide the best route to visit as many as possible without going back and forth. Although I put that much effort into planning, I often end up in a hurry to visit everything. But that is not the case when you visit a city for a second time. Then you can make the perfect route. You can revisit only the places you liked the first time and that are worth visiting again. In addition, you can visit the attractions that for any reason you couldn’t visit the previous time. I can’t believe I was about to miss seeing Fontana di Trevi at least once in my life just because it was under construction six years ago. 

Last but not least, every city is changing - there might be sights that have been discovered recently or new museums that have been opened. Now that you are here again, you can visit these new places. 

drawings in album
credit: Federico Scarionati on Unsplash

Enjoy the best local cafés and restaurants

When visiting a city for a second time, you have the opportunity to enjoy the local places. And I don’t mean to eat at the restaurant that is on your way or close to your accommodation (something you would do during your first visit to the city), but really to go further to another neighbourhood, just to try the highest-rated gelato on Tripadvisor. Let that be your priority. Reserve a table for dinner to try the best pizza in town (in the case of Italy), take your time to eat with a glass of wine and enjoy the whole experience like a local would do, no rush, no need to wake up super early next morning to be the first one on the queue. Explore the hidden gems.

credit: Katie Smetherman on Unsplash

Invest in experience 

Instead of “what to see” the second time, you can search for “what to do in…”. For sure, you have already visited the top sights, so now you can spend your time for a local experience instead. Check what events are happening on the dates you are in the city. Go see a play in the theatre, a movie or a live concert, go to a football game of the local team, go for a hike in the nearest mountain or for a boat trip, visit the Christmas market, enjoy a street food tour or wine tasting, whatever you personally prefer and matches your interest, but also matches the vibe of the city you are visiting. This moves you one step closer to the local culture.

posters on street wall next to road sign
credit: Mick Haupt on Unsplash

There is satisfaction in every traveller while ticking the box in front of a city on your bucket list. And that happens only once. But after all, what makes you enjoy a trip are the memories you create and keep with yourself afterwards. And memories can be created multiple times.

Each journey is unique - it depends on the people you are with, it depends on where you are in your life and what are your current interests, depends on the changing dynamic of the place and many other things. F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.” It is also valid to put it that way: “There are all kinds of trips in this world, but never the same trip twice.” 

Written by Yoanna Bogdanova