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Top 5 cities to visit for a culturally immersive travel experience!

friends walking down a street in europe

While there are many cities across the world buzzing with tourists visiting the typical sites, there is something to be said for stepping off the beaten path and experiencing the local culture in a new place. Imagine hiking a trail to visit stunning waterfalls in Costa Rica without it being bombarded with signs, tourists, and sky-high entrance fees? Where you can see animals whose natural habitat is still in-tact and locals greet you with an ‘hola’ as you pass. How about finishing your hike at a local family restaurant with the freshest seafood you have ever had? It is a form of education that you won’t find in any classroom and can’t replicate at your local Mexican restaurant. Don’t speak the language? No problem. There are plenty of ways to learn from and connect with locals in unique ways. The biggest piece of advice – keep an open mind. Sounds like a great experience, doesn’t it?

We have compiled a list of 5 cities you should visit for a culturally immersive travel experience!

Quepos, Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts a slower pace of life, beaches, adventure, and warm weather! Quepos is situated just a few kilometers away from Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific Coast. Known for its magnificent waterfalls, fresh seafood, sport fishing, surfing, hiking trails, and incredibly warm hospitality, it is a vacation hot spot for Costa Ricans. Quepos is the type of place you may want to settle into for more than just a week. You’ll find peace in nature all around you – mountains to the east and ocean to the west. Quepos is great for families, too! Visit with the local school and find plenty of playmates, attend any number of churches in the area, take Spanish classes, you name it!

Merida, Mexico

Consistently known as the safest city in Mexico and the cultural heart of the Yucatan peninsula, Merida is a stunning, vibrant city. Known for their warm welcom, you are sure to make friends with the local Yucatecos, learning the best places to eat and hang out by word of mouth and not the internet. Just 30 minutes to the coast, you can relax in the city or by the water. Mérida has big taste in the kitchen touting world-renowned innovation with the already delicious Mexican flavors. The cobblestone streets, bright-colored, well-preserved buildings give Mérida a charming colonial look. You won’t regret adding this city to your list!

Madrid, Spain

When you think of immersive travel, you may not think Madrid would make the list. However, if you are situated in the right neighborhood, and intentional about your goals, Madrid has an abundance to offer for those seeking cultural and language immersion! Great weather year round allows you to cozy up in a local cafe with your work or a good book. The vast number of museums allows you to dive into Spanish history which is a pillar to the culture in any region. From there, seek out what interests you most and make connections. Is it the high-fashion, food, music, language, art, or architecture that you want to explore?

Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

When you think of the midwest USA, you make think of a small town, changing of seasons, warm and polite people, barbeque and burgers, family time, lake houses, beer, and I am sure I am missing a few famous stereotypes! All of that and more can be found in Grand Rapids. Whether you are traveling to the USA from abroad, or are a tourist in your own country, we are confident Grand Rapids should be on your list. Known as Beer City USA, you will find many micro breweries with fantastic cuisine (voted top 20 Foodie Cities in the US in 2021), a walkable (or scooter-friendly) downtown, and darling suburbs with great shopping. You are just 30 minutes from the lakeshore where you are sure to fall in love with the cute ‘beach towns’ such as Holland or Grand Haven. Into art and history? Visit 6 museums located in the heart of downtown or one of the 20 others in the surrounding area!

Medellin, Colombia

Literally known as the City of Eternal Spring, you won’t have a hard time finding a good time to visit Medellín. The people in this city are some of the most friendly you will encounter on an international adventure. Medellín is a very unique combination of a large modern city, with a small town feel. You’ll find rich history, alongside incredible innovation. Wherever you find yourself in the city, you are bound to have a view of the mountains. Medellín has become a great co-working hub, with several shared spaces where you can be productive during the day and build connections and explore in the evening with new friends. Whether you are the adventurous type that loves to hike, a nightlife seeker, a foodie, or a history buff, you will love Medellín!

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