You have so many options to immerse yourself in a city when travelling, but the best way get a sense of a city's unique vibe - not to mention see its layout and boost your sense of direction - is to find a high viewing spot that overlooks most of the city.
Image from bpprice.
Best of all, doing this is usually a free activity perfect for any time of day, whether it's first thing in the morning, or mid-afternoon. What you want is a spot where you can sit back and see a city's natural hustle and bustle. From watching locals go about their day to seeing famous architecture from a different angle, you can really get a sense of that particular city. Public parks on a hill are often the best places for this, but anything on top of a hill or a tall building works. You'd be surprised how much you can learn about a city, and how you can refine your own sense of direction for when you're down in the crowds, by making time for this.
I did this at Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence and it had wonderful views of the whole city and was great for people watching. If you're not sure where to visit, browse or post on forums like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet, or check out city or country-specific Facebook groups for recommended spots.
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