Put your map away and spin round three times – it is time to get lost. Going off the radar in a strange city can be the perfect way to uncover its secrets, get a feel for the layout and meet the locals.
Of course, there is good
lost and bad lost. It is best done on purpose, with plenty of time to spare and
a sound way to get found again. Some cities lend themselves to this kind of
off-the-chart adventure; here are six of our favourites – and six ways to make
it home again.
This northern Italian city
is the ultimate head-spinner. First it comes at you with an endless recession
of identical canals and bridges, then it veers off at odd angles and into blind
corners, and all the time boggles your senses with its impossible film-set
beauty. No fair, Venice! Getting lost here pays – the tramp of a thousand
tourists yields to tranquil sunlit courtyards and the sound of pigeons’ wings.
found: Look for signs and arrows
scrawled on the walls. You can follow them to hubs like the Rialto and L’Accademia.
You could throw
yourself into Varanasi’s dark maze of streets a hundred times over and still
come out at a different point. Discover temples, sweet shops and silk bargains
in the back alleys of this Indian city.
Get found: Countless bicycle rickshaw drivers will be only too happy to
take you home – for a price that is in range of just about every budget.
Most visitors to
London have a fractured, point-to-point experience of the city, popping up from
tube stations to visit the sights then diving underground again. It is
efficient, but where is the romance? Try to wander and you will be rewarded by
grand squares, secluded churchyards and one-off boutiques.
Get found: Just look for the distinctive London Underground sign. Bingo,
you are back on the map!
pace and flickering neon of this go-go city guarantee a bit of giddiness.
Abandon yourself to the disorientation and you might just get off-road enough
to find the wabi-sabi side of Tokyo.
Get found: Like London, Tokyo has an excellent public transport system.
If it all gets too much, jump a train back to home base.
There are (at
least) two great things about getting out of the tourist centre in Istanbul.
One – the hotels and hard-sell rug merchants fall away, replaced by local tea
shops, parks and houses. Two – the city’s rollercoaster hills reward you with
Bosphorus views and toned-up legs. Get lost every day and see your fitness
Get found: If you want to get back to the tourist area, stop for a glass
of tea and ask the way to Sultanahmet. Soothe your tired muscles in one of the
city’s spectacular bath houses.
With its systems of
circular roads, Australia’s capital city regularly traps its visitors in a
hamster-wheel spiral of confusion. But there are better ways to get lost here.
Head out of the city centre – yes, into the bush. Keep going. There! See those
suburbs? That is where the life of the city is going on – including some of its
Get found: Hooray for GPS! Or go with the traditional Aussie method and
ask for directions at a servo (service station).
how you lost your way and why it was worth it using the hashtag #gettinglost on
Twitter, or tell us your tale by
commenting on Facebook. We’ll
publish the best responses in an upcoming Travelwise column.
The article 'The six best cities to get lost in' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.