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To really get to know and love a destination, you need to see it through a local’s eyes. Here are two-day itineraries in four destinations that will help you slip out of your world and into another’s.

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Los Angeles

Amex Travel Netherlands Los Angeles

The sprawling megalopolis that is Los Angeles is dizzying – focus on two neighbourhoods that best exemplify the old and new LA: Downtown and Santa Monica.

Day 1

Breakfast
Grab a BCycle, one of LA’s communal bike-sharing programmes, and cycle over to Boyle Heights for breakfast at La Mascota Bakery, a 65-year-old institution with Mexican breakfast favourites like tortas with eggs, specialty coffees and tamales. A little spice will help jump-start your day.

Culture
Crossing back into Downtown LA, make it a museum morning at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, one of the city’s most beloved and eclectic spots. Check out the ‘Becoming Los Angeles’ exhibit to learn a little about LA history. You can also hop on the light rail to the California Science Center to see the retired Space Shuttle Endeavour – plus photos of its out-of-this-world journey through the city to the museum.

Lunch
See the embodiment of the transformed Downtown LA area at the Grand Central Market, a food hall with vendors selling everything from prepared foods to craft beer to products in bulk. Fill your plate to fuel the rest of your day.

Entertainment
Take in the architectural marvel that is the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Designed by Frank Gehry, and home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, it is one of the most impressive structures in the world. If time permits, it is worth catching a performance here.

Shopping
Meander through the Fashion District Downtown to peruse the countless independent shops that serve as inspiration for international designers.

Relax
Indulge yourself with a pampering spa treatment at the J.W. Marriott Los Angeles LA Live. One of Downtown LA’s leading luxury hotels, the Spa Lounge is a peaceful respite from the bustling chaos of one of the trendiest parts of Los Angeles.

Dinner
For a meal that is truly over-the-top LA style, consider Wolfgang Puck’s WP24. The restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton hotel offers 24-storey views over the city, and a delicious Chinese fusion menu that’ll stir Insta-envy among your friends.

After Hours
End the evening with a nightcap and glittering views over Downtown at Perch, a French-inspired rooftop bistro and lounge where the glitterati convene on a nightly basis.

Day 2

Breakfast
On your second day in Los Angeles, you should aim to soak up the sunny side of the city in Santa Monica. Start the morning alfresco at Urth Caffe for organic, heirloom coffee, a known meeting point in this neighbourhood for celebrities.

Culture
Take time to explore a local market in Santa Monica. Weekly Farmers’ Markets are held on select days and offer a prime opportunity to enjoy local produce. Stop by the Main Street market on Sundays where vendors sell everything from fruit and breakfast burritos to pancakes.

Get Outside
The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most famous in the world, highlighted by its iconic Ferris wheel (pictured above). Stroll past Muscle Beach, have a go at stand-up paddle boarding or hire a bicycle to cruise the bike paths.

Lunch
Head into funky and bohemian Venice Beach for lunch beachside at Poke-Poke. Selling traditional Hawaiian sashimi-based food, their takeaway window is perfect for lunch on the go.

Culture
Roam through Bergamot Station, a former train station that has been morphed into an art complex.

Happy Hour
Grab a pint of craft beer at the Library Alehouse. Featuring 30 craft beers, this gastropub is a Santa Monica institution.

Dinner
If you still have room after happy hour, finish your evening at Bodega Wine Bar, known for its long list of wines, pizzas and laid-back atmosphere.

Barcelona

Amex Travel Netherlands Barcelona

Barcelona is utterly captivating with so many eye-catching buildings, vibrant markets, modern art and even a beach. Make like a local and discover the real Barça.

Day 1

Breakfast
Rise early and make your way to the Barceloneta neighbourhood for a vast selection of buttery pastries and breads at a favourite local bakery, Baluard Barceloneta.

Sightseeing
Take yourself on a walking tour through Passeig de Gracia, one of the main avenues in the city. Starting at the top of the hill and working your way down toward the Port of Barcelona, you will pass architectural visions such as Gaudí’s ‘La Pedrera’ and Casa Batlló, a colourful modernist building – arguably one of Gaudi’s absolute masterpieces. Extend your walk to the Gothic Quarter to Palau Güell, a mansion that reopened after years of renovation.

Culture
Stroll the Passeig Maritim, a pleasant seaside promenade that stretches from Barceloneta to Port Olimpic. Here you’ll find many of Barcelona’s beaches, as well as plenty of runners and cyclists.

Lunch
Port Olimpic is a prime place for a seafood lunch. La Fonda del Port Olimpic is one of the more renowned restaurants. Wide terraces and cosy seats are the ideal setting for a delicious meal of paellas, fresh fish and other local favourites.

Culture
Spend the afternoon getting acquainted with Barcelona’s deep art connection. Visit the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern, a veritable cornucopia spanning Catalan sculpture to contemporary paintings.

Shopping
From the museum, it’s just a quick metro ride to El Raval, a recently revamped neighbourhood. Wander the boutiques, markets, bookshops and small art galleries in this labyrinth of creativity.

Dinner
Those still mourning the closing of ‘the world’s best restaurant’ El Bulli can find solace at tapas restaurant Tickets, the brainchild of Albert Adrià. Dishes here are not just delicious, but genuine gastronomic artistry. Even the Spanish classic, churros with chocolate, has been dressed up to fit the scene.

Day 2

Breakfast
Begin day two with a classic Spanish breakfast at Auto Rosellon and a coffee freshly prepared by ‘the Ferrari of coffee machines’. Try the Bikini (Barcelona-speak for ‘sandwich’) with buffalo mozzarella cheese, Ibérico ham and truffle.

Culture
No trip to Barcelona is complete without swinging by La Sagrada Família for a selfie or two and to ogle the gothic building. It’s still under construction, which means no two visits are ever the same to this world-famous architectural wonder.

Design
Keep the artistic theme going and visit BD Barcelona Design, a showroom/gallery home to award winning art, furniture and more by Spanish and international artists. Head to the bargain section where pieces can be found for up to 80 per cent off.

Snack
Tide yourself over until dinner with a cheese tasting at Formatgeria La Seu, a small shop located in the Gothic Quarter known for its Spanish cheeses.

Dinner
Hop a taxi and head over to Dos Palillos for dinner. The eclectic menu fuses Asian and Spanish tapas in a style so appealing it earned the restaurant its first Michelin star.

Evening
Take a cab or public transport to Montjuic, a hill overlooking Barcelona for an epic sunset view to bring your day to a close.

Auckland

Amex Travel Netherlands Auckland

The City of Sails, set beautifully on Waitemata Harbour, offers the perfect combination of city and sea views. Explore the waterside in day one, then delve deeper into the centre on your second day.

Day 1

Morning Jolt
Auckland is one of the great coffee capitals of the world, so start your day with an outdoor stroll to the local market, Ponsonby Central, for a delicious cuppa from one of the local vendors.

Culture
New Zealand is a regular competitor in the America’s Cup, the international, sailing competition. Experience a little of the event yourself aboard the New Zealand racing boat for a private or group sail in the harbour.

Lunch
Continue your waterside exploration with a 45-minute ferry to Waiheke Island. Here you’ll find plenty of scenic vineyards to drink and dine alfresco. A few to consider are Mudbrick, Man o’ War, and Obsidian, all serving up classic New Zealand wines to write home about – or buy a few bottles to go!

Museum Break
Head back harbourside from Waiheke Island to the Maritime Museum, which takes you through New Zealand’s seafaring history. Exhibits range from the arrival of the country’s early immigrants, heritage vessels on display and even a demonstration of how the ocean influences modern day cultural identity.

Dinner
Nearby, the Parnell neighbourhood is an upscale section of Auckland known for its variety of restaurants. Make a reservation at either Cibo or TriBeCa for super fancy eats and an opulent atmosphere. If you’d prefer something more casual, the famous, local favourite BurgerFuel is the place to go.

Day 2

Breakfast
Begin the morning back at Viaduct Harbour for a quick coffee and breakfast at Salt Cafe. Their all-day breakfast menu is sure to offer a filling meal – opt for the French toast with grilled banana and bacon.

Shopping and Culture
Queen Street is the epicentre of Auckland shopping, dining and nightlife. Explore the shops, then take a trip up the Sky Tower to get a bird’s eye view of the city. Daredevils can also consider bungee jumping from the 192-metre perch.

Lunch
Near Queen Street you will find Elliott Stables, a gourmet food hall known for its wide selection of eateries, from French crêpes and German sausages to Spanish tapas, sushi and more. The trendy dining establishment sits in the original Archibald Clarke & Sons warehouse, which dates back to the 1800s.

Get Outside
If you need to work off those extra calories, hail a cab to Auckland Domain, a 75-hectare park developed around the cone of an extinct volcano. You’ll find calming paths, shadily wooded areas, duck ponds and the heritage site Wintergarden.

Dinner
Splash out on your last evening with dinner at The French Café in Eden Terrace, which regularly wins accolades as one of the best fine dining restaurants in both New Zealand and the world.

Mexico City

Amex Travel Netherlands Mexico City

Mexico’s capital city is where modern glamour meets ancient history. Pack in as much art, culture, food and people as possible with this 48-hour introduction.

Day 1

Breakfast
Begin your day in Polanco, one of Mexico City’s more affluent, fashionable and diverse neighbourhoods. Get breakfast at Eno, the brainchild of renowned Mexican chef Enrique Olvera.

History
Make your way to the Centro Histórico to explore Mexico City’s most impressive and historic architecture. Visit the Zócalo (main plaza), surrounded by impressive structures such as the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace.

Culture
Head to Chapultepec Park, one of the largest parks in the Western Hemisphere and a green oasis in the city. Inside the park you’ll find Chapultepec Castle, the zoo and the Museum of Anthropology. Stop off at the museum to see archaeological and anthropological artefacts from Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage.

Lunch
From the park, scoot over to Mercado Roma in the Roma neighbourhood, a top spot for foodies in Mexico City. Upstairs is a rooftop beer garden, which is a popular spot for happy hour.

Entertainment
If you’re feeling energised after lunch, consider purchasing tickets to a Lucha Libre match. Lucha Libre, or Mexican wrestling, is best known for its colourful masks, theatrical performances and high-flying stunts.

Dinner
Loop back to Polanco for dinner at Comedor Jacinta, a casual restaurant known for its traditional Mexican casserole dishes.

Day 2

Breakfast
Start your day like a local at Fonda Margarita. If you’re an early riser, service at Fonda Margarita starts at 5:30am. Fondas are small, casual restaurants known for their egg dishes and spiced coffees  – opt for the huevos con frijoles and you won’t regret it.

Art
Head south to the Coyoacán suburb to visit the Frida Kahlo museum, also known as the Blue House, the renowned Mexican artist’s former home now a museum dedicated to her life.

Lunch
Mexico’s street-food scene is legendary, and Coyoacán has some of the best stalls for local favourites. There are options aplenty down whichever street you choose, or stop by the Coyoacán market for a vibrant selection of unbelievably delicious bites.

Shopping
If you haven’t had your fill of markets, then the next on your list to see should be La Merced, a winding labyrinth of fruit, vegetables, meat, candy, toys and more, east of the Centro Histórico. There’s no shortage of souvenir options here, either.

Dinner
Return to the Roma neighbourhood to finish the day at La Docena for dinner, a surf-and-turf style restaurant with an appetising menu plus a raw-food bar.

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