4 ways to make the most from your business trip (and avoid tourist traps)

Picture of Ollie Acton
Ollie Acton
Last Updated: 21 April 2021

When you travel for work sometimes you can find yourself with time on your hands, whether by accident or design. You might need to fly in on a Sunday morning to be ready for an early start Monday, have a long stopover in the middle east or if you finish late on a Friday, you might stay for the weekend and make the most of being in an incredible destination. Either way, when you are short on time and want to make the most of it, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to start to other than the obvious tourist destinations.

We have 4 ways which are quick, easy and will give you a memorable experience. We’ve found the best out there, and compared what they have to offer for 3 different trips:

  1. Hong Kong for a 12 hour stop over
  2. Barcelona for a weekend
  3. Washington for a Sunday afternoon

Urban Adventures  – Short Organised Group Tours

Urban Adventures has over 1,000 unique tours and range from 1 hour to a whole day. They are all led by local tour guides who know the area and can help you avoid the tourist traps, save you the time and effort of researching the best places to eat and drink whilst also really allowing you to connect with a city – all in just a few hours! Their tagline is Best. Day. Ever. and they really focus on making sure you get the best experience in a short space of time.

Wherever you are, they are likely to have something for you to do. Source: Urban Adventures website

So what can they offer for our 3 trips:

Hong Kong 12 hour stop over: Kawloon Food Safari ‘Don’t know your dim sum from your wonton? Become an expert in Cantonese cuisine with this Hong Kong food tour that explores Kowloon’s most authentic restaurants, markets, and food stalls. Be warned: this safari takes you far off the tourist trail, to locals’ favourite haunts in Hong Kong’s working class community. Sit elbow-to-elbow with locals, learn about the history and traditions of Chinese food, and put your chopsticks to work.’ 3 hours, $57

Barcelona for a weekend: Snapshots of Barcelona ‘Whether you get your kicks from iPhoneography or regular ol’ photography, it’s time to get snap-happy in the rather photogenic city of Barcelona. While it’s true that BCN looks good from any angle, we’re going to show you the best spots to capture its true gorgeousness. Gothic masterpieces, local life, and secret street art top the list of what’s sure to impress on Instagram (and beyond!).’ 3.5 hours, $55.95

Barcelona Tapas Tour “en el barrio” ‘Join this food envy-inducing Barcelona tour for three hours of power eating – Spanish-style. Join locals as they indulge in the fine art of eating and drinking, something Spaniards are champions at. By the end of the tour, you’ll know your banderillasfrom your pintxo, even if you can’t pronounce them.’ 3 hours, $81.59

Washington on a Sunday afternoon: ‘Discover the history behind Washington DC’s National Mall on board our all-electric Red Roadster before enjoying a quirky tour of one of the most historic buildings and museums in the city: the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery.’ 5 hours, $86


Get your Guide – Local attractions, including tours

If you’re looking for somewhere that brings together guided tours, sightseeing and day trips – Get Your Guide is the website for you. Their aim is to make travel as simple as possible with everything you need in one place. You can pick and choose from activities to do on your own or in a group and if your plans change, there is free cancellation within 24 hours. The app is pretty intuitive and a great one to download and have ready wherever you are.

Another benefit? If you travel with Norweigan and are part of their loyalty scheme Cashpoints, you can accrue 5% Cashpoints on all tours and activities.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong 12 hour stop over – You can buy your Airport Express Ticket on the website to get you into the city centre in just 24 minutes (£7.04). You could then book the ‘Hong Kong Morning Tour: Peak Fast Track, Aberdeen, Stanley (5 hours $42.55)’. You’ll save time with skip-the-line access to the Peak Tram, be amazed by the city’s iconic skyline and Victoria Harbor view and be charmed by a little seaside town in Stanley and enjoy a local shopping experience – all in plenty of time to get back to the airport and relax before your flight.

Barcelona for a weekend – There are 32 different 1+ day passes to different attractions. Things like a day at Ferrari World or a Hop on Hop off bus tours are available so you can pick and mix to make your perfect weekend. If you fancy something more organised, the Tot Montserrat ticket includes transport, museum tickets, and lunch. It’s not a guided tour so you can take your time and do things as and when you want. It includes explore Montserrat with this all-inclusive ticket, visit the location where the Virgin of Montserrat is said to have appeared, relax with all travel included, see works by Dali, Miro, and El Greco in the Museo de Montserrat and dine on a delicious Catalan lunch at the restaurant in Montserrat. 1 day, £48.72

Washington on a Sunday afternoon – Take a walking tour around the Capitol Building and along Capitol Hill Walk. What does it include? A neighborhood tour of Capitol Hill, look inside the Library of Congress at the Jefferson Building, benefit from reserved access into the US Capitol Building and take a docent-led tour inside the US Capitol Building. 3.5 hours, 27.08

Private Guides – Tours By Locals 

Founded by two Canadians in 2008 Tours by Locals connects you with local guides so you can have a private tour or a small group tour.  The website is intuitive and easy to use, there are criteria the guides have to meet and the guide profiles include reviews. When searching for tours, instead of just categorising them by the activity, they also split them out into things like ‘First time visitors tour’ , ‘Tours for families’ and ‘Adventrue seekers’ tours. Also, this company specifically offers cruise tours as well so if you go on a cruise and want an excursion while you are on shore, this is a great company to keep in mind.


Hong Kong 12 hour stop over – ‘Airport / Cruise Layover Tour in Private Car with a Local’ is the perfect tour for when you want to make the most of your stopover. The tour guide will meet you at the airport in a private car and the length of the tour and what you see if dependant on how long you have. Options include major attractions such as the Peak, Stanley and/or Star Ferry, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, Nan Lian Garden and a great local Dimsum lunch. 6 hours, $890 (price is adjusted with length)

Barcelona for a weekend – The combination of short and longer tours, as well as private tours which can work to your timescales, make this a great option for a weekend .If you want a full days activity. a tour to whimsical and magnificent MONTSERRAT Holy Mountain and Sanctuary is a must. Some tours will also take you through the wine country to visit cava and wine cellars as well as lunch. Length and prices vary depending on tour and guide.
Pair this with a short food orientated or historical tour on the second day to make the most of being in central Barcelona.

Washington on a Sunday afternoon – The Washington Momuments tour has 25 5* reviews (as of Aug 2018)  and Tom the guide comes highly recommended which is exactly what you want when you only have a few hours ot make the most of a city. The tour includes getting up close to all of Washington’s monuments while minimizing your walking. Discover the Lincoln, Vietnam War, Korean War, FDR, WWII, MLK, Washington, and Jefferson Memorials in an SUV. 4 hours, $299 for up to 4 people.

Guide Advisor – Private Guides

Guide Advisor connects you with a guide before you travel so you have the choice of exactly who you want to show you around the city you are in. You have the option to choose by guide or by tour depending on what you’re more interested in what you do or who you are with. Each guide has a profile with their photo, a bio, the types of trips they offer and their favourite tour. The cost often varies depending on what you do and this option is great if you want the flexibility around the length of trip, what you see and avoiding scheduled group tours.


Hong Kong 12 hour stop over – There are only 2 choices for Hong Kong which is limited compared to the other sites. But both would fit in a 12 hour stop over and give you the option of seeing the markets or going kayaking (you’d need to pack cleverly to have your wet weather clothing to hand!). Price and length of trip varies.

Barcelona for a weekend – There are 85 different guides based in Barcelona which means you can really choose someone who is right for what you want. Creating a bespoke trip for a weekend could give you an incredible experience so it’s worth taking the time to choose someone before you leave and working out an itinerary. Guides offer anything from walking tours to climbing, sailing to hot air ballooning and heritage to architecture. Price and length of trip varies.

Washington on a Sunday afternoon – Love planes? You could take a trip to the National Air and Space Museum with a local guide. 2 hours, $100.



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