The best travel apps: Professional City Guides

Updated over 1 year ago

The other side of the city guide coin is written by professionals. People who are well traveled, good storytellers, and refined in their taste... so basically Anthony Bourdain. Only good grammar and professional photos found here. It's a different approach that can be a lot less work than sifting through dozens of TripAdvisor reviews saying "1 star for being closed" and wildly out of focus pictures. Thanks! You're sooooo helpful.

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Lonely Planet Guidesworks offline

Beautifully designed app with Lonely Planet's signature quality

Lonely Planet, historically known for their dead tree books, has quietly reimagined itself for the mobile age with their new Guides app. It's a joy to use: a clean and straightforward interface, powerful filtering, offline ability, convenient bookmarking, and beautiful pictures. Oh, the content is also to the point and well vetted with all the detailed information you'd need like the typical cost for lunch or dinner. Although it started off sparse they now offer over 100+ cities. We're big fans.

The New York Times: 36 Hours

Succinct and practical guides with balanced recommendations

The basis of this series by The New York Times is what to do if you only have 36 hours to get to know a city. They're stylishly written and very practical. The best part is they don't just recommend the tourist traps but also places that are more local or off the beaten path so you get a better idea of what the city is actually like. The more recent ones also come with helpful annotated maps to get your bearings. These should be your go-to if you're pressed for time.

Prefer books? They sell region specific compilations like this one for Europe


The Wikipedia of travel city guides

Although not technically "professional" by strict standards, Wikivoyage is high quality enough to be considered so. Wikivoyage is modeled after Wikipedia in that information is added and edited in a crowdsourced manner but publicly checked and held to higher standards than what you'd find on something like TripAdvisor. Each city is well researched making it similarly fun to fall down the "oh this looks interesting" kind of link clicking rabbit hole we all do on Wikipedia.

Anyone can use Wikivoyage's data since it's publicly licensed, so for iOS we recommend Modern Atlas. It presents Wikivoyage's data much more eloquently.

Atlas Obscura

For finding cool and off the beaten path gems

Atlas Obscura specializes in places you don't often find in typical guides, like an abandoned subway station or an island full of cats, making it great if you've already hit all the tourist must sees or you fancy yourself a weirdo (raises hand). The writing, visuals, and design are all well done and even integrate cool community features like saving places to a "want to visit" list.

Prefer books? See their best seller An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders

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