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Saving money is a short walk/ride away from.......

.......the tourist zone.
We rarely dine or shop within a tourist zone. The price differences are substantial and the quality of food/products is often better. We take available public transport and travel a short distance outside a tourist zone to find local non tourist choices for restaurants/pubs. Language is rarely an issue and we have found the price differences to range from 30% or more. In addition to the savings we enjoy gaining an additional non-tourist perspective of the area.
This is not a gutsy risk taking type of ordeal and you need go only about ten minutes outside the tourist zone. Do we think we are missing some fabulous food experiences? No, in fact we think the food quality is consistently better.

Posted by
989 posts

George, you can consistently be counted upon for bringing the view of a malcontent. But for those seriously intent upon learning a tip on how to save money they may test their own tastebuds to determine the value of savings.

Posted by
7640 posts

I will reply to this as I have found this to be true in the city where I live, Frankfurt. The restaurants at the Römer are expensive, and the food quality leaves a lot to be desired. Only one of the 7 places around here would get a recommendation from me, and 2 others would be a maybe if I just wanted a pizza or a bratwurst. Just 2 blocks away, in any direction you choose to go, the food is great and it is cheaper.

Posted by
1135 posts

Great tip. Why I won't comment on the food aspect, I have found the lodging costs to be significantly less if you travel outside the tourist area. Our first trip in 2001, the dollar was strong and we stayed in mid range Pensions and hotels right int he heart of the tourist areas. As the dollar "weakened", and my budget stayed the same, I had to find less expensive places to stay. It is also true that some of my favorite lodgings have been outside the tourist area. We have enjoyed apartments a short bike ride or subway ride outside of Copenhagen, B&B's a short way outside of Salzburg, and a wonderful French farm 9km from Sarlat in the Dordogne (43Euros a night!), just to name a few. We will be in Paris this September with another couple. It is their first trip there (my second), so we rented a 2 bedroom apartment right in the heart of Paris. However, if I go a 3rd time, I will plan to stay outside of the heart of the city and use the excellent transportation system to get to what we want to see.

Posted by
1178 posts

Maebleskies....Agree with you 100% both as to places to eat and places to stay as well. Have had great experiences finding tasty, local food and places to sleep as well. The airb&b site, and other similar sites, lead to good accommodations, and recommendations from store keepers, hosts, and the like have caused me to have great eats as well. Intentionally stay away from the tourist path if at all possible.

Posted by
2353 posts

I've always said - restaurants in tourist areas do not rely on repeat business and therefore are not as concerned with the quality of food &/or service - the Champs Elysee & La Rambla come to mind. We were so impressed in Cabo earlier this year - every place we went had excellent food!

Posted by
507 posts

George,
I think the point here is when traveling one can get the same good food at a restaurant "off the beaten path" as one can in the tourist area, and at a lower cost.

Others before me have given excellent examples.

Posted by
17642 posts

Considering I rarely stay in a "tourist zone", it's not really a problem.

Posted by
4498 posts

I've had amazing food in touristy areas, and amazing food in local joints where they rarely see foreigners. One certainly cannot say the food is worse in the city centers, though on the whole the most touristy zones, like the main plazas or avenues, will often not be up to par. You tend to pay more for ambiance or history. But a side street off those main streets is still the tourist zone.

The problem with going out of the typical touristy areas to eat is that few places are in guidebooks or well reviewed on Tripadvisor (or in English). If you can get recommendations or a local guidebook, then I've found it works great. And I've had great simple meals in local joints that I've discovered on my own (good food but not very fancy). And it is a nice way to see a different part of a city.

I will say, to declare that tourist-oriented restaurants don't have as good a food or service just because they cater mostly to tourists is flat out wrong. There are plenty of amazing and even very good restaurants that mostly cater to tourists. Especially in the world of online reviews, it is not fair or accurate to say many or most of those restaurants don't worry about repeat customers. There are certainly mediocre ones, but I've been to plenty of mediocre local joints too.

Posted by
2353 posts

Here is another reason I love having data on my phone when traveling. Several times we were just out walking and decided to have dinner - we'd stop & read a menu and I would also look the place up on google to see what reviews were there. Saved us from a couple that had pretty badly reviews and led us to a few that were fantastic. Just wish I'd have used it before La Rivetta!

Posted by
10864 posts

Marbleskies, I will agree with you when you define the tourist zone as a place like Old Town Prague or Vaci utca Budapest. But you still have to do your homework on the other variables, but I don't think you implied to the contrary.

Posted by
989 posts

Hmmm........
I wonder if............
Will the following statement satisfy more people?
"Consider spending your money on accommodations, food and shopping outside of areas predominantly focused upon attracting tourist."
Probably not.
But I will continue to recommend a Money Saving Strategy is to spend money outside of tourist zones.
Smile folks!

Posted by
4498 posts

I should add that your overall suggestion that one can save some money by eating (and often staying) outside the main tourist zone is a good one and generally accurate. I personally think you went to far, and it was unnecessary, to add in that the quality is better. I just haven't found that to always be the case, especially if someone wants higher-end cuisine.

And I've found that there are some downsides to staying out of the main center or tourist zones. I've done this before and often because it was cheaper. But I usually find that it comes at a cost of being further away from the things I want to see and do, and sometimes in areas that lack the restaurants that I want to visit. For example, I stayed away from the city center in Copenhagen and really regretted it. There was little in the neighborhood and it was a long walk to get to places to see and eat. Consequently my opinion of the city was lessened. I've also stayed in an outlying neighborhood of Barcelona. It was beautiful and worth it for other reasons (and cheap), but there was nothing to eat or do without a 15 minute metro ride into town. Many people are willing to pay the premium to stay in the heart of things because everything is then at their doorstep.

Posted by
10864 posts

This is all nonsense but what the heck. The problem here may lay in the definition of “Tourist Zone”. There are those who think seeing the things that Europe is famous for is beneath them because they only travel through the casement window over the back door. To them, unless it’s an hour away from the principal and traditional sights then it is in the tourist zone. I don’t get along well with those people. To others, getting one block up a side street from Prague’s Old Town takes them out of the tourist zone. If I end up in a place where half the people on the sidewalk or in the restaurant are speaking the native language and the other half something else then I feel confident I am out of the tourist zone. And yes, on average the food quality can be better and on average you can get the same quality accommodations for a little less money. Still I know a town where their two Michelin Star restaurants are both in the Tourist Zone by anyone’s definition. To travel based on absolutes is nuts. To say, “hey, I wonder if I research a block down the street from the old clock tower, maybe things will be cheaper” is common sense.

Then you have to decide the value of the savings. “I saved $100 bucks but I missed the experience I wanted,” isn’t logical. There is nothing at all wrong with wanting to invest the sum of money it would take to experience a world class hotel. Isn’t that “tourism” too? I could get Opera tickets in my favorite town in Europe for literally $2.25 a seat …. And for a good opera. But I purchase the four seats in the box for the two of us at many, many, many times the $2.25; because that’s the experience we want. Still, that same day we may have eaten in a local dive in the worst district in town (because the food is amazing ……… and cheap). Again, there are no absolutes.

I don’t have any problem at all with Marbleskies post beyond the fact that it is sort of incredibly self-evident. Personal or unique discovery based tips would be more helpful. But still you gotta thank her for trying to help. Thank you Marbleskies.

Posted by
17642 posts

A couple of years ago, I was in Dresden on a busy holiday weekend. I had a Tageskarte (day pass) for the local transit district. I took a streetcar from the station to the old town, found the TI office, bought a map, then walked towards the river. I stopped near the Schloß, in a square with some outdoor restaurants. First thing I noted was that a beer was almost 5€. I jumped on a streetcar going out of the old town and rode until I passed an interesting looking cafe with outdoor seating. I got off at the next stop and walked back to the cafe. A Pilsner cost 1,90€, and I got a whole pizza for less than 5€. There can be advantages to avoiding the tourist zone; plus I got to see a little of what Dresden outside of the tourist zone is like.