What makes our Spotters especially proud? It’s finding and sharing these little places often even their fellow locals don’t know about. They’re more often than not a bit outside of the touristy city center and probably owned by local entrepreneurs – never part of a multi-national chain!
Let us give you a small taste with 13 of our Spotters’ favorites from across our 8o cities that exemplify the Spotted by Locals difference. Do you feel like writing about spots like these yourself on our website & app? Become a Spotter!
A Madrid museum even most locals don’t know
The delightful but little-known Museo Geominero museum in Madrid boasts a stunning collection of precious stones, minerals, fossils, dinosaur bones, human skulls and gems from around the world. It’s nearly always empty – few know about this place, and I have asked many people; blank faces every time.
Now while I can happily look at fragments of glyptodon all day long, if that’s not your cup of tea, there are plenty other reasons to pay this place a visit. The building itself is amazing, it’s usually an oasis of peace, and there are red velvet banquettes where you can lounge all day. — Andrea Roberts
A sauna made of driftwood by Oslo locals
How many cities have a floating sauna made out of driftwood moored across the stunning Opera House in the center of town? Oslo does! Sørengas Badstue is a labour of love for some locals who built it from various bits and pieces they found (including remains from a local music festival) so don’t expect anything very fancy but that just adds to the charm.
The sauna is wood-fired and your sauna-master makes sure it’s toasty before you arrive and that you have enough wood for your booking. All that’s left is to strip off and get your sweat on. A few refreshing dips in the icy water will help you stick the heat. It’s an amazing way to experience the water in the winter. —
The smallest cinema in the world – in Rome
Cinema dei Piccoli in Rome is the smallest cinema in the world to date. And it passes almost unnoticed by everyone, simply because you would never even think that there’s an actual cinema inside that small green lodge.
But there is… one movie projector, a screen and exactly 63 seats that offer some of the finest movies amongst the Roman cinemas. It shows mainly European, independent films in their original language — a rarity for Italy! — Matteo Mueller-Thies
Combine a local Hamburg boat tour and party!
The tiny Frau Hedi boat takes you around Hamburg’s harbor, but every hour there’s a different theme party, from “Le Superdisco Française” to “Scandinavian Pop Party” to “Australian Spring Celebration” to “Russian Datscha Party”.
It’s a fun way to meet locals as they usually have mostly German people aboard. Around 01:00 the party relocates from the barge to the “Frau Hedis Landgang”, a very local pub. Our Spotter Kyra says it’s one of her best insider tips as she has had many fun times on the boat herself.
A monastery on a “secret” island in Venice
Escaping the crowds is easy in Venice. Go to San Francesco Del Deserto – an island inhabited by Franciscan priests since 1230 and only accessible by private boat. Like in many monasteries, they live their life there between prayers and agricultural activities but they also represent a shelter for those people who need to disconnect from their life for a period of time.
The reason I liked it so much is that it is really another world in the same lagoon: far away from everything that is going on in vibrant Venice, and from the tourists in Burano. In the calm and peaceful atmosphere, you are able to close your mind to all the irrelevant concerns and enjoy the affinity with nature. —
An original Soviet Lenin statue – in Seattle!?
We don’t know why but one of the toppled giant Lenin statue from the ex-USSR’s has found its way to Fremont, Seattle!
Apart from it being remarkable to find a statue of the father of the old archenemy USSR in the capitalist United States, the statue itself is truly unique. It is believed to be the only representation portraying Lenin surrounded by guns and flames instead of holding a book or waving his hat, expressing the sculptor’s bold vision of Lenin as a violent revolutionary.
The Lenin statue is often decorated, appropriated, or vandalized with various intentions, both whimsical and serious. For example, Lenin’s left hand is covered in blood-red paint. Not everyone can see the joke, though, and numerous efforts continue to try to have the statue removed from its current location for being a symbol of violence and a defunct authoritarian regime. —
A garden for every occasion in Helsinki
Situated at the northern side of the Töölönlahti bay, Talvipuutarha is a garden in big, more than 120-year-old greenhouse with three different rooms. One of the rooms is filled with cacti and two other rooms are for palm trees, magnolias and all kinds of flowers, plants and trees.
The best thing: not only is the entrance free but there are also cute garden tables and benches all around the greenhouse and it is allowed to have a picnic there! So just pack your lunch and coffee and enjoy it among tropical flowers and trees, no matter what the weather outside is like… — Janiina Knuutinen
An Athens factory turned into a culture park
Drapetsona is the industrial area of Athens, located close to the port of Piraeus. It’s quite a distance from the center of Athens, and even many locals have never been here. In the last couple of years, an ex- factory – the famous factory of “Lipasmata Drapetsonas” – has been turned into a park.
This park overlooks the sea and the entrance of the port where you can watch the big ships entering the port. Especially at sunset, when the sun dives into the sea, it’s amazing! During summer, there’s a festival with free concerts mostly with Greek musicians. — Marilena Salamanou
A half-century-old beer advertisement in Cologne
If you visit one of the many bars at Aachener Straße (Café Schmitz or Herr Pimmock for example), coming from Rudolfplatz, make sure to raise your head right at the beginning of the street at house no. 1.
The Reissdorf-Männchen sign is an advertisement for one of the biggest Kölsch brands, Reissdorf, and has been there since 1968 – meanwhile it has gained official landmark status. — Rabea Ottenhues
A store where they sell everything in Chicago
Weird things really are fascinating to me. If you also like weird I’d totally encourage you to check out this weird shop Woolly Mammoth. They have a stuffed Giraffe head. I saw teeth and medical equipment. A friend of mine questioned whether half the stuff in there was legal to sell. I have no idea.
While you are up there, it’s totally worth walking around the less-visited area of Andersonville. It really is a beautiful area with some nice shops, bars, and restaurants. This place just so happens to be right in the middle of it all. — Chris Mckay
An umbrella repair shop in Ljubljana
On the crossing with Mala ulica, there is a little umbrella-making and repair shop even most of the locals don’t know about. Dežnik‘s owner, Ms. Marija, repairs broken umbrellas, makes new ones and sells old ones. She’s the last one in Ljubljana, even in Slovenia, that is experienced in this craft.
If you are emotionally attached to the umbrella or you don’t want to throw it away, you should bring it to her. Also if you want to buy yourself an umbrella similar to what our grandparents had in their times, Marija’s shop is the right place for that. — Miha Poredoš
Exchange any currency – right in central Sofia.
A currency exchange might not be on the top of your must-see places in Sofia but I highly recommend that you stop by Nikar first thing after coming to our capital. It’s a tourist attraction on its own because the owner prides in trying to keep almost all the world currencies you can think of.
I got as a birthday present bills from 10+ countries on my list of future travel destinations. It was not enough to get me there but I can buy me a nice cup of coffee when I get there. Such a thoughtful and sweet gift for someone infected with wanderlust. — Boyko Blagoev
The weirdest statue ever, found in Yerevan
If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll be ready to agree that there might be an esoteric link between this “bloody” hidden Madonna statue and the fact that the building hosting her, built in the 1930s, was initially meant to “shelter” the Armenian Soviet government for a while…
Most Soviet-born locals reading this article were born here, in Margaryan Hospital. At the time when this statue was still fine, it just looked like Madonna, simply representing a mother with a child. It’s completely unclear to me why this statue is locked inside with that red stuff on. — Vahagn Vardumyan
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