Even though getting to your travel destination may be half the fun, the real trip doesn’t begin until you’ve checked into your hotel and are ready to explore. Many of us are urban travelers, and there are thousands of iPhone apps designed to help us make the most out of our travel experience. Not all are made the same, but these are five of my favorite City Guide Travel Apps.
Apps are listed in no particular order and any associated fees were current at time of publication.
1. Philadelphia Essential Guide
While I grew up in Pennsylvania and currently live in DC, I’ve never really spent that much time in nearby Philadelphia. That’s why I love this travel app which is the perfect travel guide to the City of Brotherly Love. The app does what you would expect, it highlights the top travel destinations from Independence Hall to the Liberty Bell. But it goes beyond the expected, and takes the traveler on a virtual tour of the entire region with spectacular day trips and culinary offerings found around Philadelphia. While the cheese steaks are good, there are a lot of other exciting food options, which this app points out. For my money, this is one of the best, if not the very best, travel app for visiting Philadelphia.
Cost – $2.99
2. Beijing on a Budget
I’ve never been to China, but that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about traveling there. One of my concerns has always been cost, which is why I’m glad I found this new budget app by Lonely Planet travel writer and China expert, Daniel McCrohan. Daniel goes beyond the normal tourist activities, which he includes, by including not just food options, but snack options. I love this feature. It sounds so simple, but finding good, authentic local snacks is one of the true great joys of travel, especially in a food-rich city like Beijing. Keeping true to his budget roots, Daniel also steers the potential tourist towards affordable lodgings and even free wifi. More than just a standard city app, this is a great travel planning app in the finest tradition of budget travel.
Cost – $2.99
3. London Envi
I’ve only been to London twice, and those visits were more than a decade apart. So when we were there for a quick, three-day visit, I knew I needed an easy to use guide to remind me how to navigate the sprawling metropolis. I downloaded the London Envi Guide and really enjoyed it. It has the standard city guide travel app features, but what I really liked about it was the level of detail provided when you’re actually trying to get around town. For example, we went to the Imperial War Museum. When you select the Museum on the app you are given a short description, followed by a small, local map and then directions from the nearest Tube station. If you’re more visual, it also includes a photo of the building. All together, these features make it nearly impossible to get lost, even for someone navigationally challenged like myself. There are so many London apps available, but I can only say that I really enjoyed using this one.
Cost – $1.99
4. AIA DC Guide to the Architecture of Washington, DC
I love unusual or quirky city tours, and this architectural guide to Washington, DC is a personal favorite. Although small in comparison to other American cities, DC’s rich history has given it a wide variety of unique architectural elements, all of which this guide details for the traveler. I love this guide because it’s not just appropriate for tourists, it’s also great for those of us who call Washington home and who sometimes take the great city for granted. So if you want to learn more about Washington’s history through its art and architecture, this is the perfect app for you.
Cost – $2.99
5. Paris Food Markets
Food is arguably one of the most important aspects of any trip. More than anything else, food teaches us about the people and the culture instantly and is usually the most enjoyable and memorable part of the trip. That’s why when I discovered a food app for my favorite city, Paris, I couldn’t wait to try it out. This app allows to user to “live as a Parisian” navigating the various arrondissements and finding the freshest food available for a quick snack or to make your own French meal. Even if you aren’t interested in using this to do your grocery shopping, exploring Paris through food stalls is an experience everyone should try at least once.
Cost – $2.99