6 adventurous ways to see a city from a unique angle
Forget a ride on a double-decker bus – these unique tours will satisfy even the most seasoned travelers.
Getting an authentic experience in a new city is on every traveler’s to-do list, but a little dose of adventure never hurts, either. Sure, you could explore the city on your own, venturing down unmarked alleys in the hope of finding something unique. But there are a few enterprising tour operators in some of the world’s most beautiful cities who understand what modern travelers want.
These six tours guarantee an experience like no other.
Tour Amsterdam in a vintage sidecar
After traveling the world for more than five years, Douwe D. returned home to Amsterdam where he launched Amsterdam Sidecar Tours. Taking up to two guests at a time (one rides in the sidecar and one on the back of his motorcycle) he’ll whisk you through Amsterdam by day or night, or take you on a tour of the countryside, to regale the famous tulips (seasonally) or to see some of Holland’s most outstanding ancient castles. Douwe is also a full-time student majoring in theoretical physics with a minor in Amsterdam history. “Besides the local history, I am always very happy to talk about quantum physics or the general theory of relativity,” he says.
Fly over Israel in a powered parachute
Extreme Israel, based at a small public airstrip just 30 minutes from the city of Tel Aviv, offers open-air flights all over the country in a powered parachute. A powered parachute is a type of ultralight aircraft that consists of a parachute attached to a motor, wheels and seats for a pilot and passenger. Owner and pilot Sharon Baram says he caters the flights to the passenger, and can be as mild or as extreme as the guest wants. On the basic 20-minute flight you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the coastal city of Tel Aviv, the Mediterranean Sea and a number of other nearby towns. Custom tours are also available.
Take a nighttime cruise of Japan’s factories
There’s nothing like an evening cruise down the Seine River to really take in the romance of Paris, but how about a late night cruise across Tokyo Bay to see the lights of the Kawasaki factories? Well that’s the latest craze to hit the tour-loving country. The Japanese even have a word for it: Kojo moe. It means “factory infatuation” and refers to the increasing popularity of touring the country’s industrial zones that by night take on a science-fiction aura.
See Austin’s famous bats – by kayak
Before the South by Southwest music festival, Austin, Texas, was famous for having the world’s largest urban bat colony. The Congress Street Bridge is home to some 2 million Mexican free-tailed bats. Live Love Paddle offers the city’s original bat tour – by kayak. The guided tour is suitable for all skill levels and includes great views of downtown, a ton of information about the bats and city history.
Go on a scavenger hunt in Jerusalem
Scavenger hunts have become a near-ubiquitous sight in many cities around the world. They’re fun, appropriate for families, company outings and even bachelor or bachelorette parties. And, most important, they get you down and dirty in a new city really quickly. Gil Travel is a Philadelphia, Pa.-based travel agency that offers several scavenger hunts in different Israeli cities. One popular hunt takes participants through one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in Jerusalem, where they make their way through hidden alleyways, peek inside the market and interact with locals and shopkeepers.
Have drinks in a private home in Berlin
Guests visit with a local resident in Berlin. (Photo: Berlinagenten)
Berlinagenten is an award-winning tour agency in Berlin, Germany, that claims to be like having a best friend with the hottest address book in town. It offers a number of culinary, lifestyle and cultural tours. But one of its most different, the Urban Living Tour, takes guests into three private homes whose owners reflect the spirit of the neighborhood they live in. “We introduce you to fun locals, Berliner personalities, artists and cool expats who have settled down in Berlin,” says owner Henrik Tidefjärd. At each stop, guests are served alcoholic drinks (or soft drinks if you prefer) and sweets while they are regaled with personal stories and tips about the area.
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