25 Tried-and-True Travelers Share Their Local Hidden Gems!
There’s truly nothing quite like home.
This is one of the big lessons I learned after returning from my first long-term trip. Being away for that long makes you appreciate the little things.
I recently wrote about how sweet it is coming home and the places in NYC that I missed the most while away. That got me thinking: what do other people who are constantly on the road miss when away from home? What is their local “hidden gem” that they visit whenever they’re back?
Here are the responses to those questions from some of my favorite travel writers and photographers. Enjoy!
Open Air Markets in Haarlem, the Netherlands
Alex from Lost with Purpose
An open air market sprouts in the central square of Haarlem, the Netherlands, every Saturday. Though it offers all kinds of edible and inedible treats, there’s only one I actively miss: fresh stroopwafels, hot from the iron. For those not in the know, stroopwafels are a quintessential Dutch treat. A thin, buttery waffle-cookie hybrid, after being cooked in an iron they’re sliced through the middle, slathered with a caramel-like syrup, pieced back together, then served hot and still oozing in a checkered red paper sleeve. Oh man—I’m drooling just thinking about them.
Check out Alex’s article on how to see tulips in the Netherlands without going to Keukenhof!
The Walk to Osmington Mill – England
Emily from Emily Luxton Travels
One of the things I miss most when I’m away is my favourite cliff walk in my home town of Weymouth, which is on the south coast of England. I love the walk to Osmington Mills, which starts on Weymouth Beach and takes you along the fossil-rich cliffs around Bowleaze Cove and Redcliff. The best part? Like all good British walks, it ends at a pub. One of my favourite pubs, to be exact, Smuggler’s Inn, which used to be an actual hideout for real-life smugglers with names like “French Peter”! It’s an easy, pretty cliff walk with some of the best views in Dorset (in my slightly biased opinion) and whenever I think of home that’s what I think of.
Milwaukee Ale House or Rock Bottom Brewery
Hannah from Getting Stamped
My husband and I quit our jobs to travel full time back in 2013, since then we have been to 66 countries. While on the road we miss family & friend but we really crave our deep fried Wisconsin cheese curds & tasty micro-brewed beers! Every time we go back to Milwaukee for a visit that is our first meal. Yes, we are true cheeseheads! No where else in the world has the right cheddar cheese that is deep fried and then dipped in ranch. We like to head to the Milwaukee Ale House or Rock Bottom Brewery both of which are located downtown and right on the riverfront. If you every visit plan on spending an afternoon on the Milwaukee riverfront hitting the breweries it’s one of the best things to do in Milwaukee and our personal favorite.
Birrificio Lambrate – Milan, Italy
Margherita from The Crowded Planet
Every time I return to Milan from my travels I head to my favourite brewery, Birrificio Lambrate, that in my opinion serves the best beer in the world!
Birrificio Lambrate is only about 10 minutes walk from my house, and it has been open for 20 years (I still remember when it opened…) but it’s become incredibly popular in recent years, and now they opened a second pub serving up their brews. I like it because it’s unpretentious and affordable – Milan has the reputation of being an expensive city, but in fact there are plenty of things to do in Milan on a budget, something I never tire of repeating! So, if you happen to be in Milan, make your way to Lambrate on the metro, and look for Birrificio Lambrate! My favourite beers are Gaina, an IPA, and Sant’Ambroeus, a lovely Belgian Ale.
Green Oasis of South Bank – Brisbane, Australia
Kerri from Beer and Croissants
Located in the centre of Brisbane, Australia, the green oasis of South Bank is one of the places I miss when I am away.
South Bank represents everything I love about our outdoor lifestyle. The main attraction is the man-made beach. At Streets Beach, you can sunbathe or swim in the enormous pools, all with a magnificent view of the Brisbane River and the city. There is nowhere else like it in the world. Along the river promenade, large shady trees and grassed areas provide the perfect environment for a quintessential Queensland picnic or bbq. The South Bank precinct is also well known for great cafes and restaurants.
The best part about South Bank is that it is completely free. Here you can walk, run, bike ride or hire a segway. You can roller blade, walk your dog, or sit on the seats that line the promenade and people watch.
NYC’s Biggest Hidden Chinatown
Allison from Eternal Arrival
New York City’s Manhattan Chinatown is one of the most common stops on any New York itinerary. But did you know that New York has at least six Chinatowns? There’s also Sheepshead Bay, Avenue U, and Sunset Park in Brooklyn; Elmhurst and Flushing and part of Corona in Queens. But the biggest and best is without a doubt the Chinatown in Flushing, Queens. It’s out of the way — you have to take the 7 train all the way to the end of the line. But amazingness awaits you!
Your first stop should be the Golden Shopping Mall, a basement mall just off Main Street. There, you should save room to eat at three places. #1 is Chengdu Tian Fu (aka Chengdu Heaven), a nondescript Sichuan restaurant serving peppercorn-laced favorites such as twice cooked pork, fish in spicy broth, and the best dan dan noodles in New York City. #2 is Tianjin Dumpling House, serving up New York City’s best dumplings – featuring cumin-spiced lamb with green squash – for the ridiculously low price of $6 for 12. Their vegetarian dumplings are also off the chain. #3 is the original Xi’an Famous Foods, which is now a mini-chain throughout NYC. Be sure to get their spicy lamb noodles, pictured below: they’re one of my favorite meals in New York! After you’ve eaten yourself into a coma, treat yourself to a $20/hour foot reflexology or $30/hour body work at nearby Coco Spa. Who said New York can’t be cheap?
Check out Eternal Arrival’s Glutton’s Guide to the World’s Best Cuisines!
Port o’ Leith – Edinburgh, Scotland
Gemma from Two Scots Abroad
Everyone comes to Edinburgh to see the Fringe, climb Calton Hill, and drink whisky but very few know about the hidden gem of Scotland’s capital, which is Leith. Leith is best described as a village within the city. There is lots of street art, cafes and nice walks but most importantly – pubs! Leith is a perfect spot to get slashed in. Some of my favourite Leith bars include the Roseleaf for cocktails in teapots, The Carriers Quarters for live music by the fire (it’s tiny, get cosy with the locals) and my ultimate favourite end to a Friday or Saturday night – dancing on the bar of the Port o’ Leith, terrifyingly good fun.
Quiet Backroads – Red Hook, NY
Luke from @LukeKellyTravels
When I’m out traveling, I miss the quiet back roads of my hometown of Red Hook, NY. Even though my trips tend to take me to even quieter, more remote places than the Hudson Valley (located two hours north of NYC), I catch myself missing the familiarity of the old roads, farm ponds, and corn fields in which I grew up playing. I still go out there to unwind after trips—whether it’s on my bike, paddleboard, or just for a walk in the woods where I know I won’t encounter another soul. Those parts of Red Hook haven’t changed much in my lifetime. The sameness of home is why I seek out the novelty of travel; but it’s also why I come back.
Egg Waffle from Hong Kong
Nam from Laugh Travel Eat
An Egg Waffle is my absolute favourite snacks in Hong Kong because of its unique blend of crispy and chewiness. A local snack created in the 50s, its name derived from the egg/bubble-like shape. You can buy it on virtually any snack store on the streets, with many flavours to choose from. I’d, however, recommend Modos or Mammy’s Pancake for the best Egg Waffles. Try the green tea flavour or chocolate chip, you won’t go wrong with them!
Guintarcan Island – Cebu, Philippines
Roneth from The Fickle Feet
The Philippines is composed of 7107 islands. Each island has a different kind of beauty but this secluded island called Guintarcan which is part of Bantayan group of islands, in the province of Cebu is one of a kind. It has a hidden Lagoon. The Laaw Lagoon is located inside the island. It is partially blocked by huge rocks. The water is greenish since there’s a lot of seaweed under the water. Aside from the lagoon it has a stunning cove where you can do cliff jumped and snorkeling. It is truly a beautiful paradise, and I love it because It is not touristy and I can have it all by myself.
Lucy’s Restaurant – Richmond, Virginia
Heather and Matt from Travelationship
If you are headed anywhere near Richmond, VA, USA you must stop into Lucy’s Restaurant located in the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood. It’s a smaller farm fresh type restaurant with a friendly local & inviting feel. They are especially known for their sandwiches and their meats.
We had the pleasure of discovering Lucy’s during one of our weekend road trips a few years ago. Since our visit we have not been able to stop thinking about how deelish the food was. It was one of our favorite meals during the 4+ years we lived on the East Coast. I highly recommend their Dip sandwich, which is their mouthwatering version of a French Dip including the pickles. Matt eagerly recommends their Two Street Club, which includes turkey, bacon, pork, cheese & the works all on one sandwich!
Lucy’s Restaurant will definitely be one of our first stops upon returning to the US.
Hiking the Costa Brava in Spain
Gábor from Surfing the Planet
Those who know me a little bit, they know that I love hiking in the mountains and I am also a big fan of secluded beaches. So what about a place that synthesizes the beauties of both worlds?
The Costa Brava in the Northeast of Spain is beautiful coastal area with hundreds of lovely beaches. Many of the secluded coves there never get crowded even in high season, since you have to hike in a rocky area to access them. This whole area is full of walking trails, and the best you can do on a summer day is to hike one of the trails, and stop in the small beaches on your way to take a dip. We usually spend several weekends there in summer, as the Costa Brava is easily accessible from Barcelona by car. You can understand why I miss the beautiful spots in the Costa Brava, when we are away.
Vegemite – Australia
Lauren from The Traveller’s Guide by #ljojlo
For me this is easy. Slightly weird but easy! As an Aussie, it is a right of passage to eat Vegemite on toast from a young age and eat Vegemite is what I do. I honestly don’t think there is anything better than Vegemite on toast and for this reason, I miss this black yeast spread the most.
I remember my mum asking me what I wanted for my first breakfast as I arrived back in Australia at 6 am after a seven-week trip, and I responded with VEGEMITE, surprise surprise. It also must be known that it is a currency for us Australian’s, and currently, we are travelling South America with one tube but have bartered our way into gaining what is left in another tube when a fellow Australian returns home, score! As you can see we love it that much, I had a photo with it while recently in the salt flats of Bolivia. If and when you visit Australia be sure to ask an Australian to make you a piece of Vegemite toast, you wouldn’t regret it (only if it made correctly ha ha).
Eilen Roc – Hidden Beach in Southern France
Alex from @Travel_of_Alex
When you spend as much time traveling as a travel photographer does, it’s hard because sometimes you feel like you have no home. And Eilen Roc, a beach in Southern France, reminds me of where my home is and why I love it so much there. It’s a really special place for me – a place where I go to escape the rush of life. It’s a little piece of paradise, especially in winter because there are no tourists there and it’s very peaceful. When I’m there it’s all about memories: thinking about the past and sometimes, when life get rough, thinking about a better future.
Coffee from Melbourne, Australia
Jeanette from Traveling Honeybird
The one thing I always miss when travelling is Melbourne coffee. It’s not just the great quality of the coffee that’s easily found in just about any cafe it’s the friendly banter from the barista, the uber cool corporate citizens hiding away behind their smart phones trying to look all important whilst on Tinder and the potential of getting a sneaky donut or cake before rushing off to the next meeting. It’s the ultimate cafe culture that has grown to be a wonder here in Melbourne Australia. I’ve travelled the world and found some great coffee but I’ve never found a place that can quite replicates that Melbourne coffee scene.
Francesinha – Portugal
Jorge from Couple Round the World
As expats and travel lovers we tend to be away from Porto for long periods. One of the things we mostly miss is eating a Francesinha. A Francesinha (which means frenchie) is a Portuguese sandwich originated in Porto made with toasted bread, ham, several types of sausages, steak or roasted beef, covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato, beer and peri-peri sauce.
As if that wasn’t enough, it’s usually served with french fries and a fried egg on top. The sauce has a strong flavor and brings everything together, the bread, the melted cheese and the meats. On top of it all you can dip the french fries in the sauce! It’s the perfect comfort food and also a reference of the city of Porto. The bad part? Well, it’s almost only available in Portugal and it’s one of those things that is so much better eaten in the right place… i.e., Porto, Portugal 🙂
The Green Waterfall – Bulgaria
Bilyana from Owl Over the World
There is no doubt that you must visit the Krushuna waterfalls. But in his shadow remains not less impressive Green waterfall. The waterfall is 20 meters high. It is located near the village of Krushuna, Lovech, Bulgaria. 100 meters away from the entrance for the Krushuna waterfall at the right side opens deviation leading to the Green waterfall. Not a lot of people know about the waterfall so it’s not crowded. It’s the one of my favorite places in Bulgaria. It’s calm, beautiful, and green . It is recommended going there with a friend and a beer in hand. Of course don’t miss the Krushuna waterfalls and the nearby cave The Eyes of God (Prohodna cave).
Dreaming of Michigan
Eemma from Always a Gringa
Surrounded by cactus and parched land here in Mexico I often catch myself dreaming of my home state of Michigan. The Mitten State boasts more than 11,000 inland lakes and more than 36,000 miles of streams. Anywhere you stand in the state you will be 6 miles or less from a fresh water source. The behemoth of them all are the beautiful and always fresh Great Lakes. Pick any from the 4 out of the 5 that surround Michigan; Huron, Michigan, Erie, or the always freezing Superior. Each lake harbors a unique spot in my heart and many Michiganders alike.
Beautiful in every season they provide a wide-range of recreational activities, from kite-surfing, to ice fishing. Check out the State Parks around the state that offer access to the Great Lakes for a one-time $10 fee.
Mayo from Ekaterinburg, Russia
Yulia from The Foodie Miles
As crazy as it may sound, the one thing I miss the most from my hometown of Ekaterinburg, Russia, is mayonnaise. Mayo produced at the local factory is famous all over the country. It’s packed in blue containers that pretty much became a symbol of the city. I’ve been traveling for 6 years now and haven’t tried mayo as good as back home. Look for blue containers with a label “Провансаль ЕЖК” in any supermarkets or grocery stores. It’s great for sandwiches, salads, soups and traditional Russian pelmeni!
Bogey Hole in Newcastle, Australia
LC from Birdgehls
I spent a chunk of time living in Newcastle, Australia and consider it home. The thing I miss the most are the beaches. Newy has eight beaches, two ocean baths and a swimming pool that was built into the cliffside by convicts, known as the Bogey Hole. I really do think the city’s coastline is one of the most beautiful in the world.
Whenever I’m away from Newcastle, I daydream about spending the day at the Merewether Ocean Baths, or Bogey Hole, followed by a cup of chai tea or a feed at my favourite restaurant Talulah.
Road Trips in Hawaii
Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
Hawaii is the perfect place to explore and do some road trips. I typically drive down the gorgeous coastal roads in East Hawaii along the famous Red Road of Opihikao/Kalapana road under tunnel trees, gorgeous coastal views and blue, blue ocean. It really harks back to old Hawaii and I love driving down this wonderful road that has stayed the same.
Part of the fun is hanging out in the hot ponds, surfing in the area or playing sand volleyball with friends that keep me energized and enjoy the outdoors in the area. To check out more of this wonderful part of the Big Island, check out my East Hawaii post here.
Kwangjang Market – Seoul, South Korea
Mike from Live Travel Teach
Kwangjang Market is a must visit for anyone in Seoul but unfortunately it’s not on most tourist radars. You can easily find it near Jongno-5 Subway station in central Seoul. Kwangjang market is one of Seoul’s oldest traditional markets and you can buy a wide range of foods, traditional Korean goods or even peruse the 2nd hand store upstairs! When you go be sure to try bindaeduk (traditional mung bean pancake) and yukhei (raw beef salad). Even if you aren’t an adventurous foodie you’ll enjoy the sights and smells of crazy Korean dishes available at Kwangjang Market.
Betws-y-Coed in Wales
Jay & Sally from Lady and the Tramper
Betws-y-Coed is a small welsh village nestled in Snowdonia National Park. It is our favourite spot back home to get away from the bustle of the city. The town is best enjoyed on a scorching hot day as you’ll be surrounded by people jumping in the local river trying to cool off, others having picnics in the park and a few people hiking the short, yet steep climb to Lynn Elsi. We recommend visiting the local chippy for a delicious lunch and enjoying you evening meal in the stables bar before heading to your campsite of choice. You can find more in depth information about Betws-y-Coed here
Autumn in Vermont
Tara from Backroad Ramblers
I have a really hard time traveling far from my home state of Vermont in October. This is when the landscape is the most beautiful, and visitors from all over the world come for the leaf-peeping season. I live in Southern Vermont, and my favorite place to take in the amazing colors and crisp fall air is Grout Pond in the Green Mountain National Forest. If you don’t mind the cold, you can camp right on the shore.
Schönbrunn Park – Vienna, Austria
Mike from Travel and Destinations
I’m currently living in Vienna and there’s a few spots here I like. Such as near where I live is the Schönbrunn Park which I’ve been to countless times and love going there, especially before anyone has arrived as it’s quiet, peaceful and you can just walk and get lost in your own thoughts. In the early morning the only other people you may see are probably joggers or some early risers. There’s also a few places to eat in Vienna for example this place down the road from me and my gf called Swing Kitchen which is the first thing I got when I recently returned from my last trip.
What do you miss the most from home when you’re on the road? Let me know in the comments!