There’s a GPS chip inside your smartphone, which means it knows where you are at all times. It’s a little intimidating from a privacy standpoint, but it’s very helpful if you need to find the best places to get pizza within a one-mile radius.
When you find yourself in an unfamiliar place, you can load up an app like Google Maps or Apple Maps to see what’s around—but those aren’t your only options.
You can tap on social media platforms to see what users near you are posting, as well as what locals have said about your location. All you need is the right app and know what to search for.
If you’re a seasoned Twitter user, you’ll know that the platform covers everything from breaking news to whimsical ideas to photos of local landmarks. You can tap into all this and more, using the app (available for Android and iOS) to filter Tweets and see only what people have posted close to your location. You’ll count on users geotagging your Tweets, which not everyone does, but you should still find plenty of content to help you find your next stop, especially in busy places.
[Related: Transform your Twitter timeline with these 11 features and add-ons]
From the app, tap the magnifying glass icon at the bottom, then enter your query in the box at the top of the screen. For example, you can type “burger” if you’re looking for somewhere to eat, or “view” if you want to find a local beauty spot.
On the results page, tap the Filter button in the upper right corner (it looks like two sliders), and then select with you Under the Location heading. tap on apply And your results will only show where you are from Tweets sent to you.
The thought of scrolling through Wikipedia on your vacation might not excite you, but the people-driven encyclopedia is great for looking up areas of interest in the part of the world you find yourself in.
Wikipedia has a special page dedicated to articles written about places near you—just load the URL in your mobile browser to see the result.
When we tried it we got results for local museums, sculptures, specific areas of the city, places and historical events, so there’s a lot to explore. This can take you to nearby areas of interest you were looking for, and maybe even some that weren’t even on your radar.
Snapchat is responsible for the Stories format you’ll now find everywhere from Instagram to LinkedIn. When people make these stories public and tag them with a location, you can view them all in the Snapchat app for Android or iOS.
The app opens in Camera view by default, but you can go to the map by tapping the location pin icon in the lower-left corner. Take a look around the area you’re currently in and see if there are any public stories: you’ll see them by colored hotspots, with red and dark red indicating the busiest places in terms of snaps.
Tap any hotspot to see what people are posting from there. When you see a Snap of interest to you, you can swipe up to see more details, including the users who uploaded it, the Snapchat lenses they used (if any), as well as the posts. Includes anyone tagged in. It’s a great way to see what’s happening around you at all times, whether you’re close to a popular landmark or in the middle of a public event.
Like Snapchat, you can use Instagram (available for Android and iOS) to view public posts close to where you are. Tap the magnifying glass on the bottom navigation bar, then type your current location in the search bar at the top.
You will see a selection of results on the screen, but if you tap on place Filter, Instagram will show you the places that match your search instead of anything in captions or comments. You can search for specific places as well as towns and cities, and once you find what you’re looking for, you can choose the right place from the list and start searching.
Tap Above View popular posts and Recent Check out the new ones, and you’ll soon know which are the closest Instagram-worthy places to you.
seen by locals
We’ve tried to avoid the traditional mapping and travel apps on this list, but Viewed by Locals (available for Android and iOS) is certainly worth mentioning. As you might guess from the name, it taps into local knowledge to reveal places of interest that tourists might not otherwise find.
[Related: Smart tips for travelers looking for a sustainable getaway]
You won’t really find much here if you’re traveling somewhere in between, but the app works great in major cities, with the busiest spots being the most frequented by locals.
Open the app and you’ll see a choice of destinations: tap a location or use the search box at the top to find your current location. Each guide will set you back $4, but you can preview everything you get—including guides to restaurants, shops, and special views—before you shop.