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When you land in New York, Barcelona, London, Hong Kong or Sydney, you just know you’re going to get gouged on well… everything. You go anyway, because they’re iconic cities and life just wouldn’t be complete without seeing each one of them, at least once. But once you’ve done the bright lights and big cities, and are left craving a place that offers new horizons and exquisite tastes-  sans crowds, what do you do? The answer: take a flight to a place – then maybe a train, plane or automobile to another.

“I just can’t stand the crowds in Barcelona”…

Timing is everything in travel, and with more flights from more places at lower prices than ever, you’d need lucky timing to avoid the crowds in any major city. Sure, some major cities were built with mass tourism or transient lifestyles in mind, but others weren’t.

With more people taking trips than ever, some of the new darling cities are struggling to cope with the increased demand, and that can mean everything from inflated prices to longer queues to enjoy the main attractions you came all that way for. For those that have “seen it all”, or don’t care about the tick box style of tourism, it’s the secondary and tertiary cities which are in demand.

If you once flocked to Barcelona at the drop of the hat, Barcelona should still be on the itinerary, but it’s not the final destination for many keen travellers. After a flight into the Catalan capitol, it’s a train ride or car journey to nearby Girona for the idyllic views, outrageously good food, lower prices and a slightly more authentic glimpse into true Catalan life. The nearby beaches don’t hurt either…

But we’re talking about everywhere, not just Spain…

The rise of these second cities is nothing short of exhilarating. Immensely talented chefs, designers, artists and curators are returning to their regional roots as airlines open up more point to point direct flight routes to bring “in the know” tourists to these new hot spots. With more people fleeing the big cities, there’s more demand to create something special in a smaller environment.

It’s why we’ve said go here not there, or offered alternatives to major cities in Italy, within an easy ride to a city worth visiting, but without all the fuss of finding food coloured gelato and Caprese salad in the middle of winter.

Call it “big fish, little pond” or whatever you will, but it’s making for incredible tourism in a time where people crave new places to go. That includes cities like Bilbao, which has always played Spain’s third or fourth fiddle, just as much as Gothenburg, Brisbane, Taipei or Calgary. Yes, they’re big cities, but they’ve always been part of the orchestra. It’s why we recommend these budget friendly Southeast Asian gems over the ones you were probably thinking of.

Forget a New York foodie trip! Pittsburgh is winning all sorts of culinary awards.

Everyone goes to Tokyo! Osaka has better food and cheaper hotels.

Why Miami? Charleston is the place with better architecture and stunning beaches.

british airways 100 offerNo one is saying that you should skip major cities, but if you’ve done them, or are seeking a place you can sink your teeth into more, there’s genuinely never been a better time to spread your proverbial wings and fly somewhere new.

For every action there’s a reaction, and as locals lose their grip in major cities, they’re bringing all the good stuff back to local environments. The world is getting “small” again, and to grab the horns of the next travel trend, look at that big city you were considering and then find the closest nearby getaway.


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