Spotted by Locals: ‘Like You Live There’ Guides

A Spotted By Locals Spotter. Photo from Spotted By Locals.
A Spotted By Locals Spotter. Spotted By Locals photo.

By Taylor Owens

If you’ve gone on a trip and wanted to find some of the best places in that city, you would probably ask a local for a recommendation.

Spotted by Locals has become a well-known source of local tips and recommendations for travelers in various different cities.

Founders Sanne and Bart in Lisbon
Founders Sanne and Bart in Lisbon.

Spotted by Locals is a publisher of city guides for 71 cities. Each city blog and the 100% offline app is created by real locals.

“Spotters” live in the city they write about, speak the local language, write only about their favorite spots, and keep their tips and locations up-to-date.

Founders of Spotted by Locals, Sanne and Bart, meet all of their Spotters in person. Every Spotter is handpicked by Sanne and Bart.

Sanne and Bart lead a nomadic life to meet each of the 425 city-going locals at their favorite spots around the globe.

Spotters are a community of their own, and they meet each other regularly.

The Spotted by Locals Story

The origin story of Spotted by Locals began during a time where travel guidebooks were behind the times, and they began to drive the Spotted by Locals founders Sanne and Bart van Poll a little bit bonkers.

They found that when they would travel and use these guides, the outdated books would bring them to the exceedingly touristy highlights, last year’s nightlife venues, and spots that were no longer in existence.

During a trip, Sanne and Bart found themselves being disappointed by these out of date guides until they came across the personal blog of a local who wrote about their favorite spots in the city.

Replacing Traditional Travel Recommendations

After this encounter, the founders decided they wanted to replace the traditional mode of travel recommendations with insider tips by locals. They wanted to create guides for people who travel to different cities and want to experience those cities like a local.

After speaking with the owner, Bart van Poll, he stated that,”Spotted by Locals is definitely not for everybody. There are plenty of travelers who are perfectly happy just visiting the tourist highlights and use a typical travel guide. And we are happy they are! Spotted by Locals is for those who are really curious about other cultures and who want to experience it like a local.”

Founders Sanne and Bart in Amsterdam.
Founders Sanne and Bart in Amsterdam.

The Scope

Spotted by Locals began as an Amsterdam city blog written by locals, or “Spotters.” Since its inception in 2008, the company has expanded from Amsterdam to Zurich in Europe, and then from coast to coast in America.

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From Your Phone

As of 2011, Spotted by Locals has made their guides available through 100% offline mobile apps for iPhone and Android for travelers who are on-the-go.

Having 100% offline mobile apps is perfect for abroad travelers who may not have an international phone plan. The guides are available no matter the Wifi connection!

The City Guides

A Spotters meet up for Christmas dinner in Copenhagen.
A Spotters meet up for Christmas dinner in Copenhagen.

Each city guide shares the local culture and habits of each city. Spotted by Locals’ goals is to continue to “expand the worldview of travelers by allowing them to see from a local’s perspective so they can increase intercultural understanding, which helps make the world a better place.”

Spotted by Locals tries “to find a good mix of Spotters with different interests who live in different areas, so we can cover as much of the city as possible,” according to Bart.

Becoming a Spotter

Meeting Moscow Spotters in 2015.
Meeting Moscow Spotters in 2015.

Spotted by Locals is constantly looking for locals who would like to share their passion for the city they call home.

They are called to blog about their favorite spots and highlight their city.

“What I do is keep my eyes open for places like restaurants and bars that have heart and soul to it, and I write about it so others can get the same feeling,” according to Stefan, Copenhagen Spotter.

A Typical Guide By Spotted By Locals

From “12 Hidden Madrid Gems Spotted by Locals”

“What makes Madrid such an appealing city, and what makes it such a wonderful place to live in?

If you ask our team of Madrid Spotters it’s the amazing mix of old charm and metropolitan vibes the city has  that they love.

They will always find a way to surprise you; it’s the people that are pleasant and joyful; it’s that there is something to do for everyone, no matter your age or interests; it’s that getting lost here is not an issue, it only leads you to amazing new places and great conversations with locals!

Here are 12 of our picks for some of the most unique, local gems in Madrid, in the words of our very own team of Spotters.

Art and Food on a Rooftop:

La Azotea is an amazing building that you can find in Madrid. The place is very multifunctional and worth a visit for many different activities. Whatever vibe you’re feeling, this place has got something that will fit!

The best part about this building is the Círculo de Bellas Artes, the name already sounds pretty. Here you can find art, literature, film, exhibitions and even cultural workshops!

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On the rooftop you can find 3 different atmospheres that you can immerse yourself in. Firstly there is a nice chill area where you can sit comfortably on beds and cushions while enjoying a good cocktail.

If you’re feeling a bit more romantic (and hungry) you can go to the outside area of TarTan Roof, and sit in some lovely dim lighting outside. And lastly, the inside of TarTan Roof is also amazing and has a more restaurant type atmosphere than the outside.

Tables are arranged so that all visitors, seating and standing, can enjoy the beautiful rooftops in Madrid — Nadia Perez Rojas

An Undefeated View:

Visiting a city can be quite stressful and hectic, trying to get from one place to another and visiting as much as you can! Places like Teleferico Terrace are great to go to if you want to take a step back and just enjoy being present in an amazing city like Madrid.

The visit is very cheap and getting there from parque del oeste will only take you 15 minutes. The place has an incredible (we might even dare to say, the best) view over Madrid. The food isn’t extremely special, but the view is completely worth it.

So once you step off the teleferico don’t just go running into the green fields that are Casa de Campo, take your time to go onto the lookout deck of the cafeteria in the same building you arrive — Johan Nordin.”

Visiting the Site

Spotted by Locals’ website is set up in the format of a blog. You can easily navigate and find the guide to the city that you’re visiting so you can be prepared for your next trip and get yourself ready to live like a local does.

Taylor Owens

Taylor Owens is a Tennessee native who is currently calling the Massachusetts Berkshires home. She is passionate about the classics, folk music, and coffee. Taylor spends her days as a ski instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, paddling plenty of rivers, skiing the slopes, sipping coffee, or on the hunt for the best breakfast.