If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, but lives for it, this list is for you. We asked some locals and travel connoisseurs where their favorite urban escapes took them, and here are the top takeaways:
Image via Jean-Francois Gornet for Lonely Planet
1. Chefchaouen, Morocco
Marrakech is the best-known tourist city in Morocco, but if you’re looking for a less hectic trip, you’ll want to head to Chefchaouen. Also known as the “Blue City,” you can find everything from cool-colored architecture to spiced bites served on traditionally painted dishes. Knowing some Arabic before you go will make sure you’re ready to barter at the local medina—a market full of weaved rugs and beautiful jewels.
Image via @framptonsuzuki on Instagram
2. Mexico City, Mexico
You may have been hearing about Mexico City a lot lately, and there is good reason why: This colorful place features bustling streets, bright museums, and mouthwatering street markets. Make sure to put the Museo Frida Kahlo on your to-do list, as this museum doesn’t just show you the art, but takes you inside Kahlo’s life, as the Casa Azul is where she was born and passed away. If you want to navigate the Mexico-City markets with the skill of a local, we suggest learning some Spanish first.
Image via @the_blondepanda on Instagram
3. Padua, Italy
Lesser known, but just as culture-rich, Padova is said to be a favorite spot for young locals. Il Prato Della Valle, pictured above, is the largest square in Italy. We recommend grabbing your lunch to-go and eating it here so you can take in all the sights and sounds as you munch. If you’d like to order that focaccia in Italian, leave some time to learn before you plan your trip.
Image via @instachengdu on Instagram
4. Chengdu, China
According to locals, this is the food capital of China. In this city, everything—even the fast-food chains—are marked by beautifully traditional architecture. Street markets, which you can find just about everywhere, feature delicious treats from barbecue pork skewers, to seasoned stuffed pineapple. Picking up some Chinese before you go will help you show respect to the locals, something we can’t stress the importance of enough!
Image via @mariapurrtas on Instagram
5. Bern, Switzerland
Located about halfway between Geneva and Zurich, both German and French are spoken in Bern, leaving it up to you to decide what accent you’d like to take up! This city is marked by long cobblestone streets, small parks, and lots of shops. Head towards the Aare river to enjoy the sounds of crashing waves—and a quick break from the city—as you sip on some European coffee.