Five urban experiences every traveller should try

Time-pressed travellers, take heart.  When we polled our Traveller team on their most memorable travel experiences, we discovered  there is a wealth of one-day wonders out there; activities that may be over in just a few hours, but that linger much longer in the memory.

TOUR UNDERGROUND ROME

HOW LONG Three to five hours.

THE EXPERIENCE Some of Rome's most fascinating attractions are literally buried treasures. This walking tour takes you beyond the usual sights to discover what lies beneath. The 12th century church of San Clemente, for instance, was literally built atop an earlier 4th century church which, in turn, was built above an old apartment block. Other treasures unearthed on this tour include ancient temples and an ancient Roman home. 

MAKE IT HAPPEN The tour runs regularly and costs 59 euros a person. Maximum 13 participants. See througheternity.com

VISIT A TRADITIONAL BATHHOUSE IN ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

HOW LONG Four hours.

THE EXPERIENCE At once both relaxing and highly confusing, there's no more authentic Russian experience than a visit to a traditional banya, or bathhouse. This is a full-afternoon activity, involving sweating in a steam room while whacking yourself with a birch branch, before having a bath, or maybe a massage, and then sitting around with your closest Russian buddies drinking kvass – a drink made from fermented bread – and eating dried fish.

MAKE IT HAPPEN One of St Petersburg's oldest bathhouses is Yamskie, a  favourite of Dostoyevsky and as traditional as they come. See yamskie.ru

See also: Why I love getting naked overseas

TAKE AN EARLY MORNING TOUR OF MUMBAI, INDIA

Mumbai, India - January 17, 2015: Street scene with men in front of small shop in town. SUNFEB26COVER Credit: iStock

Photo: iStock

HOW LONG Three hours.

THE EXPERIENCE India's City of Dreams, crammed with 20 million people, is arguably at its best before the crowds and traffic have stirred. Abode Tours, run through Mumbai's first boutique hotel, Abode Bombay, will see you visiting the city's newspaper vendors, the kaleidoscopic flower market where baskets overflow with lotus flowers, marigolds and roses, and enormous open-air laundries. Stop for fragrant chai at a street stall, and feed a holy cow en route.

MAKE IT HAPPEN Cost $US46 a person; 5.30am start. See abodeboutiquehotels.com

SEE PARIS BY CITROEN 2CV

HOW LONG Tours range from 30 minutes to three hours.

THE EXPERIENCE  Explore the city with your very own beret-wearing driver in a convertible 2CV. Tour company "4 roues sous 1 parapluie" (4 wheels under 1 umbrella) has a range of tours including Paris by Night, Secret Paris and Romantic Paris. 

MAKE IT HAPPEN Tours start from 30 euros a person. See 4roues-sous-1parapluie.com

SEE A WHOLE DIFFERENT SIDE OF VENICE

SUNFEB26COVER A different side of Venice to the one we?re all used to ? on a Fat Bike tour ? pic ? Vivo Venetia

A different side of Venice.

HOW LONG Four to five hours.

THE EXPERIENCE Take a fat bike (an off-road bicycle with oversized tyres) to another side of Venice, far away from the crowds. Venice is built on a 12 kilometre-long island which separates the lagoon of Venice from the Adriatic Sea. On a fat bike tour you can get to corners other tourists rarely see, including secret Venetian beaches. 

MAKE IT HAPPEN Sunset tours cost 75 euros. See vivovenetia.com/en

CONTRIBUTORS: Elspeth Callender, Caroline Gladstone, Ben Groundwater, Ute Junker, Nina Karnikowski, Katrina Lobley, Catherine Marshall, Rob McFarland, Steve McKenna, Julie Miller, Craig Tansley 

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