Your first day in a new city is going to set the tone for your whole trip. We don’t care if you’re visiting your grandma in Florida or Backpacking in Croatia (which you should do…) you gotta start it off right.
Something we know as well as anyone is how to maximize your time in a city. Sleep? In a new city? Is this a sick joke? We want to catch the stunning sunrise with a cold brew and PACK the day with activities right up until we stumble home from the bar to our hotel.
Now, let’s outline how YOU should be spending your first day in a new city. For the purpose of this post, let’s assume you just got in late the night before.
12:00am – 6:00am
Sleep, you psycho. You’re probably jet lagged and need to bring that energy bar up above 100 for everything we have planned!
6:00am – 7:00am
Wake up and get dressed, do not (DO NOT!) get ready for the day. Walk around the block to a bakery for coffee and a pastry. We go with an espresso for a quick jolt and something light. Get it to-go (takeaway for you Brits) because we are heading to catch the sunrise!
Sunrise in a new city is a beautiful start to your trip. How do we know? Because every time we do it we end up having the best day of our entire life. Literally. Every day we do this tops the one before it. Like Office Space reversed:
Take your coffee and delicacy to a park, the coast, really anywhere with a view East. Take a seat and just sit and watch for 20 minutes. Snap a photo if you must, but just reflect on the unbelievable adventure you’re about to embark on.
7:00am – 9:00am
Remember when we told you not to get ready for the day? Now we are going to do some exercise. My personal favorite is hiking, you’ll have to do what suits you. A run through the city? Walk by the shore? Push-ups in the park? Fine with me! You do you, always.
Finish at the hotel for a quick shower, and NOW you get ready for the day. Think about this. It’s still pre-9:00am and you’ve already seen the city in a way that few people who live there do, AND you got your workout in. Time to have some fun.
9:00am – 12:00pm
Let’s explore, baby. Do you have someone you’re staying with? Hotel clerk? Any local off the street? Ask for recommendations! Always ask! Locals have the BEST ideas on where to go and when.
Get a quick bite of second breakfast if you’re hungry. We grab another coffee, but we’re fiends. At second breakfast, familiarize yourself with the city transit system. Trains, cabs, Ubers, boats, bikes, tuk-tuks, walking, swimming, flying, teleporting. So many options!
I’m sure you have a few touristy sites you want to see (Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, etc). Get these out of the way before noon. You’ll be before the rush, so you’ll get the best access and minimize time waiting in line.
“Dang this is just about the best day I’ve ever had, and it’s not even noon!” -You
After you’re all toured out, take one minute and sit on a bench with your travel crew and throw on a banger. Your travel crew needs time with their feet off the ground, and you all need to make an extremely important decision: what’s for lunch.
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Is there anything that makes a vacation like some amazing grub? Nope, there isn’t. What’s the best way to find the best place? Ask of course!
If you’re ever having a good conversation with a local, ask their favorite lunch places. People love to share their secret spots! And you’ll be the one that benefits, eating at the best places in literally every city you travel to.
If you’re feeling frisky, maybe have a cocktail at lunch. You’re on vacation, pal! Act like it! Kick those feet up and slip into a margarita or a locally brewed ale!
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Now we have a potentially unpopular opinion: time to jump on a bike! Literally our favorite thing to do in a new city is to jump on two wheels and get moving.
Many cities have bikes you can rent for the full day, others have bikes you can rent by the hour! Either works, and if you can find a tandem bike then hot damn you better get that bad boy.
Where are we stopping? A few places. Starting with one or two touristy sites best accessed via bike. Things you don’t need to see up close and personal but would love to bike by and check out. Example: Big Ben in London. Awesome to see! Can’t really do much once you get there.
Next, head to an outdoor patio or pub for another beer or mixed drink. Lean back in your chair and watch the bustle of the city in front of your eyes. Sip your toddy knowing that you are having a better day than literally everyone you see pass by!
What time is it? Do you still have an hour or two? Hop around on your bike to a few more places the locals have recommended! Grab a bite if you’re hungry. Have another drink or three.
5:00pm – 6:00pm
Ride your bike back towards the hotel, parking as close as you can. Head up and rest for a beat. We’re not saying take a full blown nap, just take your time getting ready for dinner. Put some music on and chill out.
To get ready for the evening, put on long pants or a dress. Throw on a shirt that is both comfortable and nice enough that you won’t get stopped by a bouncer.
Zach has on multiple occasions been denied entry at a local club due to the quality of his outfit 🙁 Don’t be like Zach!
If you’re like us you’ll want to feed your coffee addiction about now. Grab an espresso on your way out or have a coffee to sip on your way to…
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Dinner! More food! Dinner time is the best time of the day.
Where are you going? Ask the locals where to go! Are you getting the theme, yet? The best way to find the best places is to ask the people that know. Seems simple, but everyone forgets this.
We know you’re going to want to gorge yourself on everything in site, but don’t go crazy on the bread. Have a slice or two, order a drink, grab an appetizer, and take your time.
By this point we’re too full to have a whole entree, so we will split one or divide amongst the group. That way you get to taste more of the local fare, and you don’t have to be rolled out of the place. Plus, dessert and another espresso is still on the agenda if you’re up for it.
8:00pm – 12:00am
This part of the night you’re going to have to make your own. We LOVE to head out to a bar that has live music. Local bands are a real treat after dinner, and even if they’re bad they’re good. Kinda like pizza.
We’ll also want to find somewhere with an awesome patio. Life’s best conversations are had on patios, that’s where the true heart-to-hearts are born.
Finally, to cap the night off, somewhere with a DJ and dancing. One of the amazing parts about being in a new city is that you can dance like an absolute fool and it doesn’t matter! No one will care because no one will remember you! Unless you go viral…
12:00am – Bedtime
Time for one last midnight snack on your way home. Pizza, burgers, fish sandwiches (seriously, this is a hangover stopper), eat to your heart’s content!
As you’re brushing the garlic out of your teeth from those fully loaded fries, take a moment to reflect on the truly epic day you just had. From sunrise to drunk food it felt like a complete whirlwind, and it was the most full day of your life! Way to set the tone for your entire trip.
Every day from here on out will be better because you had such an unreal day one. Keep up this tradition with every trip you do and your day-ones will only get better! Do you have your own suggestions for day one? Share them in the comments!
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