Being on holiday: tourist attractions

Whenever we are on holiday we like to relax, have fun, enjoy our time with our loved ones or simply devote our time into our hobbies or all those activities we normally don’t have the time for like reading, watching films or series, listening to music and the sort. If we spend our holidays abroad, we can also have the chance to explore the country’s cultural heritage by visiting historical sites and monuments, museums or art galleries. On the other hand, we may prefer to enjoy the country’s landscapes and biodiversity in its national parks or nature reserves. Or we may simply want to have an adrenaline rush in a theme park or engaging in outdoor recreation. Whatever our preferences are, today we are going to revise the basic vocabulary we will need if we decide to enjoy the numerous tourist attractions we can find in English-speaking countries.

Whatever our preferences, a visit to the local tourist information office is mandatory if we want to make the

most of our stay. These are the usual questions we may have to ask in this respect:

Looking for accommodation:

  • Hello, we are looking for a place to stay…
  • Do you have a list of the local hotels?
  • What sort of accommodation is offered?
  • Is it possible for you to book accommodation for us?

Getting around:

  • Do you have a map of the city/town/village?
  • Can you tell me where the most interesting places are?
  • Where is the town centre/museum/railway station/town hall/shopping area/etc?
  • What is the best way of getting around this place? (public transport/car rental/walking)


  • I’m interested in cultural activities/art exhibitions/history/outdoor activities/etc
  • Are there any exhibitions/festivals/cultural events at the moment?
  • Are there any organized excursions/tour guides/day trips?
  • Is there a city/town tour?
  • Do you have any leaflets on tours/cultural activities/museums/local attractions?
  • What restaurants would you recommend?

Now let’s see some useful vocabulary:

Historical sites, museums, art galleries

  • Tour guide:  someone employed by the museum or gallery to show visitors around places of interest.  (He has been working as a tour guide at the British Museum for three years)
  • Audio tour: a handheld device with recorded spoken commentary  provided to visitors (I prefer to wander around art galleries with an audio tour: you get a lot of information from it)
  • Artifact: an object made by human beings of cultural or historical relevance (Artifacts on display include axes, swords, shields and other weapons)
  • Exhibition: a display of works of art, artifacts or other objects organized by the museum or gallery for people to see (The National Gallery is holding now an exhibition on impressionist painting and sculpture)
  • Collection: a group of works of art, artifacts or other objects classified by a particular theme (The National Library’s collection of medieval coins is really impressive)
  • Curator: the person in charge of the museum, responsible for managing and overseeing it (As a curator, she is responsible for the preservation of all the objects on display at the museum, among other things)
  • Admission fee/donation: the amount of money to be paid by visitors. Sometimes museums or galleries do not charge admission fees but ask for voluntary donations instead (You do not have to pay an admission fee to visit the Natural History Museum. However, they ask for small voluntary donations to keep it free).

Outdoor recreation

Here you can find a few of the most popular activities concerning outdoor recreation, i.e.  leisure activities carried out outdoors, normally in natural settings. Many of these pursuits can be done in national parks or protected areas such as natural reserves

  • Cycling: the use of bicycles for exercise or recreation (Shall we go cycling tomorrow?)
  • Camping: overnight stays in shelters or tents in the countryside (Last summer we went camping in the Highlands and it was amazing)
  • Hiking/backpacking: long walks usually on trails in the countryside (The Road to Santiago is one of the most challenging hiking activities in the world)
  • Horseback riding: use of horses for recreational activities or competitive sport. (Before engaging in horse riding, you need to have some serious training)
  • Adventure recreation: certain outdoor activities that involve physical challenge or risk such as rafting, climbing or caving.

Whatever you do this summer, do not forget to enjoy yourselves and use your English as much as you can!


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