Love exploring cities on your own two feet? These mobile services—each vetted by T+L—put the guide right in your pocket, giving you local expertise wherever you go.
For Spontaneous Adventures: Field Trip
This Google-designed app uses your phone’s location services to pick up on what’s cool around you nearly anywhere in the world. (Use the app’s “Feeling Lucky” setting to minimize data-roaming charges.) Wander the streets of Bangkok, for example, and you’ll get notifications about great restaurants, shops, historic sites, and even special deals nearby—each tip pulls information from resources such as Zagat and the American Institute of Architects. Exploring by car? Set the app on “speaking” mode for a hands-free experience. Free; Android, iOS.
For History and Architecture Buffs: Historypin
Want to identify a local landmark and see what it looked like a hundred years ago? Try Historypin, which delivers nostalgic snapshots based on where you are. The images and accompanying text show up on an interactive map, and are entirely crowdsourced by a dedicated community of amateur and professional historians—meaning that you can upload your own finds along the way. For a more formal tour, turn to the app’s myriad preplanned excursions, which cover niche topics like Sydney’s Hyde Park or 19th-century Paris. Free; Android, iOS, Windows Phone.
For Families or Groups: Stray Boots
By combining the typical content of a city tour (historical information; themed itineraries) with the whimsy of a scavenger hunt (trivia; photo ops), Stray Boots creates a fun, gamelike approach to discovery. The downloadable, subject-specific quests, which run the gamut from a New York sweets tour to a spin around romantic San Francisco, typically take two to three hours to complete, but you can stop and go as you please, making it easy to accommodate curious (or hungry) team members along the way. From $2 per tour; Android, iOS.
For Europe: Cities Talking
Stealing a page from the ubiquitous museum audio tour, Cities Talking offers guides for 10 European hubs. Simply choose an itinerary (unexpected Florence or Prague’s castle district, for instance), press Play, and start walking. The material, which ranges from historical facts to period gossip, begins automatically as you approach each site; the app knows where you are, thanks to your phone’s GPS. A bonus: since the content is downloadable, it doesn’t require a Wi-Fi connection, so roaming is never an issue. $4.65 per tour; iOS.
Tom Samiljan is Travel + Leisure's Tech Correspondent.