My grandmother (who I believe is responsible for giving me the travel bug) once told me that flying is convenient and taking a train is wonderful for seeing the real countryside but if you want to experience a city, you have to take the bus. She felt that because a bus goes right through the heart of the city, you got to actually see where people lived, and what their life was really like, not just what the tourist spots would have you think. While there is certainly some wisdom to that, I'm going to say that my favorite way to a city is by boat.
Now this is certainly not going to be true of everywhere you will travel, but most major cities are established on water. In some cases this is an ocean, in others a lake, in most some kind of river. Settling near water allowed people access to trade routes while also providing a source for drinking, washing and food. Therefore a lot of a cities prominent buildings and skyline can be viewed from the water.
Each time I visit a new city I try to see if they have some kind of river cruise or boat cruise available. While these can sometimes get a bad "rep" as tourist traps if you do your research you can find yourself spending a lovely afternoon on the water. Not only does the narration usually provide a nice overview of local history, but you can get a lay of the land. Usually after existing the boat I have a sense of which tourist attractions I want to see and what is located where. You can also get some beautiful skyline shots.
Finally, traveling can be tiring. Generally there's a lot of walking involved. If your feet need a respite but you don't want to waste time resting in the hotel, a boat cruise can be a great way to take in some sights while also taking a load off. I have also found that as long as the weather isn't too bad, a boat cruise can be a nice drizzly day activity. Usually there is some kind of indoor area with windows, and often times you can get a small lunch and beverage of choice.
If relaxing a bit and taking in the sights via a waterway sounds like something you'd enjoy I recommend the following:
Traveling offers so many unique ways to take in the views, boat cruises are just one of them. What are your favorite ways to see a city?
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