glyfalda beach

Dip your toes in the water in the Athenian Riviera. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

How to Take a Staycation: 5 Unexpected Ways to Rediscover Your Home City

More than a mere vacation, a staycation is a way to rediscover the place that you call home while taking a much-needed break. It’s also the perfect opportunity to escape the routine without needing to travel.

So if you think that your home destination is “same old, same old,” it’s time to become a tourist in your own neighborhood and discover another aspect of the city that you think you know inside-out. Discover ways to make what seems familiar new again.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Seek Out Hidden Gems

It’s easy to stick to a few well-oiled tracks when exploring your home city, but if you stray from those arrow-straight rails and take time to explore, you’ll find plenty of hidden gems .

Iceland’s edgy capital, Reykjavik, might be best known for its sparkling nightlife scene and steamy thermal pools. Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Sundahöfn harbor, however, the emerald island of Videy — home of Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower and a labyrinth of scenic hiking paths — is a totally different world.

Abu Dhabi is another metropolis with a hidden side; discover it on a trip to Liwa, an oasis city famed for its date palms and gateway to the dramatic dune-filled landscapes of the world’s largest desert.

Greek capital Athens’ best-kept secret is the Athenian Riviera, an extensive stretch of coastline fringed with silk sand beaches and feet-in-the-water fish tavernas, which is just a half-hour tram ride from the Parthenon.

Stay with a View

jw marquis dubai
Enjoy drinks with a view at the JW Marquis Dubai. (Photo: Marriott International)

From legendary skylines to luscious landscapes, a spectacular view is guaranteed to refresh even the most jaded gaze.

Staycationers in Cape Town should make a beeline for The Westin Cape Town, where vistas of the V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain are served up with signature burgers and premium wines. Those in Dubai can soak up stunning vistas along with succulent cocktails from the lofty JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, one of the City of Gold’s tallest hotels.

For superb skyline views in Venice, choose JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, a private-island resort in the middle of the Serenissima’s storied laguna, but if you’d prefer to soak up Acropolis views as you sip your sundowner, hightail it to the GB Roof Garden Restaurant in Athens. This stylish rooftop restaurant on the eighth floor of chic Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens promises an unforgettable view of the fabled landmark.

Head Off the Beaten Track

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Bask on the beach in Muizenberg. (Photo: Getty Images)

Even if you think you know you’re hometown inside and out, venture further afield and chances are, you’ll still find some surprises.

Cape Town’s trendy Victoria & Albert Waterfront might be world-renowned, but if you want to break away from the ‘burbs you know best and discover another side to the Mother City, take the train to Muizenberg, a boho seaside neighborhood known for its surf breaks and vividly colored beach huts. Alternatively, head on over to Woodstock, a little-known suburb with quirky shops and cool street art where the city’s hipsters love to hang out.

In Dubai, you can get under the skin of the UAE’s most dazzling conurbation while discovering the city’s burgeoning art scene on a private street life tour with Project Expedition.

Home of the Fab Four, Liverpool also has legendary attractions, but if you want to see another side to the Beatles’ U.K. hometown, hop on a leisurely six-hour Manchester Ship Canal Cruise along the mighty Mersey estuary.

Follow the Food

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Tempt your taste buds with truffles. (Photo: Getty Images)

Food tours are a perfect way to get under the skin of any city — even your own. In the U.K., you should seek out the sweetest haunts of London’s hip Chelsea district with Chocolate Ecstasy Tours.

If meat is more your thing, head for Reykjavik, where you can take your taste buds back in time as you sip mead from a carved drinking horn and dine on smoked meat during a Viking dinner experience.

Alternatively, swap biltong and bunny chow for Kalahari truffles and grilled warthog as you head out on a safari of flavors in Cape Town with chef Jamala Madikwe of African Food Journey.

Bike Out to See the Sights

Kind to the environment and capable of navigating the narrowest streets, two wheels are often better than four if you want to view the world from a different angle.

Germany’s capital is famed for cool culture and buzzing nightlife, but you can get away from those well-trodden delights and dive deep into the city’s hidden history on a Berlin Wall trip with Fat Tire Tours.

History is also on the menu on a Wild Swim’s tour, which pedals you out to discover the swan-dotted Kennet and Avon Canal towpath, the 19th-century Dundas aqueduct, Britain’s longest Victorian cycling tunnel, and other lesser-known sights in and around the UNESCO World Heritage spa town of Bath.

Back in Germany, jaded Frankfurt dwellers can get a fresh take on their city — dubbed “Mainhattan” because of its lofty skyscrapers — from the back of a waterbike, a bicycle on floats that offers a seagull’s-eye view of Frankfurt’s spectacular skyline glittering above the mighty Main River.