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The small things we’re dreaming of doing in 2021

Can’t wait to get back to exploring your city? Us neither. Here are the pleasures we’ll never take for granted ever again

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

It’s been a strange old year for most of us, with much of the world’s population in lockdown, our cities turned into ghost towns and bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and non-essential shops closed. But, with a vaccine starting to be rolled out globally and restrictions already eased in some countries, things are starting to look up for 2021.

It’s got our editors around the world thinking about the little things we’ll do – and really, really appreciate – in our cities next year. And spoiler: it involves a whole lot of dining out in tiny, cramped restaurants with shared tables and steamed-up windows. 

RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do while you’re at home

The small things we’ll appreciate more than ever in 2021

1. I’m going to go wild swimming

‘I'm going to go to Hampstead Heath, jump in the ponds and then drink tins in the sun and get a really big Mr Whippy and the combination will make me feel sick and I'll have to go home.’
Kate Lloyd, Time Out London 

2. I want to ride the tram in rush hour

‘I cannot wait to hop on one of the old school route 48 trams at peak hour after work. That feeling of being so packed that you have to hold on with one pinky finger and a lot of determination? Yeah, I miss that. I’m also frothing to get to a gig at The Forum – Angel Olsen was due to play there in June 2020, and I would love to be squished in under that blue ceiling with the twinkling fake stars and her warbling tunes.’ Nicola Dowse, Time Out Melbourne 



3. An epic drinking session is on the cards

‘This makes me sound like a barfly—I’m not, I swear —but I’ve been really craving a drinking session with my friends at Thirsty Crow in Silverlake. The spot tends to play really good music, the old-timey-yet-refined-yet-cool decor is right up my alley, it draws a sweet crowd, and its signature cocktail (the Thirsty Crow, naturally) always makes for a great night.’ Tim Lowery, Time Out Los Angeles 


4. I’ll eat my way around Chinatown

‘I’m going to Chinatown with my son. We'll get dumplings, Hong Kong Cakes, shop for produce and fish and the condiments I'm working through right now, and enjoy the pulsing street life that I’ve missed so much this year.’ Oliver Strand, Time Out New York



5. I’ll do a big coastal walk

‘I’ll do the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. By the time I finish those six blissful kilometres, I will have earned a proper long lunch, and since I wasn’t able to make it Merivale’s hotly anticipated new opening, Mimi’s, before the distancing regulations came into effect in 2020, that’s where you’ll find me – Martini in hand, watching the tides roll away.’ Matty Hirsch, Time Out Sydney 


6. I’ll drink in the view (and a caipirinha)

‘You’ll find me at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the city, with a caipirinha in my hand and many friends sitting around me.’ Vera Moura, Time Out Lisbon 


7. I’ll drink until the bar closes

‘I keep having this vision of all my friends and I piling into Sweet Liberty to dance and drink until the bar closes or we're no longer standing – whichever comes first. It's not a bar I go to often but it's always a good time when I do venture out. I'm sure I'll run into people I know but wasn't expecting to see and the night will unfold into something totally memorable.’ Virginia Gil, Time Out Miami 

8. I’ll devour a plate of carbonara

I'll go to Nina, the Italian spot between La Latina and the streets around El Rastro, where I'll devour a dish of carbonara. I'll book in before I go because, though it's a lovely and cosy space, it's also small, and I reckon I'm not the only one who thinks Nina has one of the best carbonaras in the city. And when my belly's full, I'll go shopping in the little design shops in the Barrio de Las Letras.’ Noelia Santos, Time Out Madrid 


9. I’ll spend the afternoon on a roof terrace

‘I’ll spend a sunny afternoon in a Lisbon terrace or rooftop – I particulary like Ferroviário, Topo Martim Moniz and Crack Kids. Then, I will enjoy the amazing and cheap ramen at Panda Cantina, a burger at Ground Burger or a pizza at Valdo Gatti. Afterwards, I’ll take a walk in Príncipe Real and Chiado. I will never complain about there being too many people in the street again!’ Francisca Dias Real, Time Out Lisbon

10. I’ll order my usual dish at my local

‘There aren’t many restaurants where I will order the exact same thing every time – but Xi’an Impression is one of them. The cosy, no-frills restaurant opposite Emirates Stadium serves up incredible Chinese food, inspired by the street food of Xi’an. I’ll order a big old plate of their Biang Biang noodles – massive, wide noodles served in a fiery chilli sauce with slow-cooked beef. It’s not exactly a small portion but I might have to order two just to make up for lost time in 2020.’ Isabelle Aron, Time Out London 


11. I’m going dancing

‘I’m going to go out dancing at Elsewhere or Good Room, so I can finally show off the moves I’ve been diligently perfecting in my apartment. I’m just looking forward to going anywhere that has a better sound system than my iPhone in a glass.’ Will Gleason, Time Out New York


12. I’ll go for a dip at the beach

‘I'm going to take a dip at Barceloneta Beach. After that, I'll have a paella at Can Ros, one of my favourite restaurants there. I've been working on my own rice dishes, and they've improved so much I could win a Michelin star, but nothing compares to sharing a delicious paella with friends by the sea.’ María José Gómez, Time Out Barcelona 



13. I’ll cash in all the restaurant gift cards I’ve bought

I purchased so many gift cards from my favorite restaurants like Hunky Dory in 2020. I can't wait to have an excuse to use them. Just thinking about all the weekend mornings eating Hunky Dory's egg sandwiches makes me start to tear up.’ Emma Orlow, Time Out New York


14. I’ll have my regular Zoom dinner parties but IRL

‘I have a weekly dinner party with friends, which this year turned into a slightly awkward shouting-at-the-laptop Zoom dinner. In 2021, I’ll meet up with them in person at a cheap and cheerful BYO joint in the ‘burbs and eat lots of spicy food with even spicier gossip.’ Cass Knowlton, Time Out Melbourne


15. I’ll have a boozy pasta feast

‘I can’t wait to gather the troops and have a loud, wine glass-clinking pasta feast at Il Baretto, a neighbourhood Italian joint in Surry Hills. A cozy, low-lit restaurant squeezed in with bodies and filled with overlapping chatter. Maybe we’ll stroll around Crown Street after, dipping into another bar or two – I don’t think we’ll be ready to go home just yet.’ Divya Venkataraman, Time Out Sydney

16. I’ll dance the night away with my friends

‘I'll go to The Station, a former coal station that’s become a musical hotspot and events space reminiscent of underground Berlin. I’ll explore its three rooms, outdoor stage and two indoor stages, playing everything from hardcore punk to pure techno. I’ve spent 2020 dreaming of dancing with my friends in a huge open-air space, listening to music with a beer in my hand.’ Houssine Bouchama, Time Out Paris


17. I’ll eat at a really, really busy restaurant

‘Mornings will be spent fuelling up with freshly-baked croissants and coffee, followed by a hike up Mont-Royal to watch the city begin to wake up. Afternoons will be spent walking my most favourite neighbourhoods to shop at local businesses out of diehard support and eat every iconic Montreal food I can get my hands on. Come evenings, I'll visit one of the best wine bars in the city, and share snacks while enjoying the loud laughter of surrounding tables and deciding on which busy restaurant—a really, really busy restaurant—would work for a late dinner. Follow that up with a few cocktails in a cramped speakeasy until tipsy enough to snack at the crowded counter of a Montreal diner.’ Jean-Pierre Karwacki, Time Out Montreal 


19. I’ll restaurant-hop around the city

‘We'll sit on the terrace at Arzábal, where I'll gobble up some of their incredible croquettes with a glass of vermouth, and afterwards we'll head to La Castela, to taste their delicious tapas surrounded by the din of other diners. And for the final flourish to this wonderful day, an artisanal strawberry ice cream at The Pâtissier.’ Marta Bac, Time Out Madrid 

20. I’m here for an epic impromptu sesh

‘While virtual dinner parties and Zoom drinks have helped me remain connected to my nearest and dearest, it’s organised fun. I’m here for those quick catch-ups that turn into an epic impromptu sesh. Perhaps a light lunch at The Winery in Surry Hills, that slinks into the early evening courtesy of several bottles you never intended to buy, before piling into an Uber to Newtown to crack open some Mar-tinnies at the Continental. Or Sunday brunch at Bloody Mary’s in Darlo that winds-up at the Green Park for a few G&Ts and then inevitably onwards to the Berro.’ Maxim Boon, Time Out Sydney 


21. I’ll have a rum punch at my local bar

‘I'm going to go to Buster Mantis in Deptford and order a rum punch. Then I'm going to go to the loo and marvel at the fact that – even after almost a year of lockdown – the urinals are still full of chewing gum.’ Chris Waywell, Time Out London

22. I’ll feast at my favourite restaurant

‘It'll be a feast for me! First, I'll head to my favorite Astoria restaurant, Vesta, for their incredible meat and cheese board and wild boar lasagna (which is enough to share), and then finish it off with a scoop of chocolate milk and cookies from Ample Hills.’ Shaye Weaver, Time Out New York 



23. I’ll watch the sun set over my city

‘I’ll go up Montjuïc at sunset and admire the views of Barcelona from the stairs of the MNAC, the National Art Museum of Catalonia.’ Borja Duñó, Time Out Barcelona 

24. I can’t wait to waltz into work late

‘After giving every single one of the Time Out Melbourne team an eye-poppingly big cuddle when we get back to the office, I’m just looking forward to returning to my regular train-work-fun schedule. Breezily walking to the train station in the morning, waltzing into work late because of said train, working, then going and having a drink with a friend or seeing a movie at my local theatre. Might sound boring but I miss boring.’ Rebecca Russo, Time Out Melbourne



25. I’m going to eat ramen

‘I’m going to eat ramen. Probably at Tonkotsu or Bone Daddies in Soho, but if I meet a man on the street with a tureen of the stuff, that will be fine too. I think about it regularly – partly because we’re watching a lot of Studio Ghibli movies and they eat a lot of ramen in those. Or maybe it’s because a spicy, steaming bowl of Japanese noodles seems somehow totemic of everything I miss about being out and about in London. What I once took for granted seems crazily exotic now.’ Phil de Semlyen, Time Out London

26. I’m having a long lunch with friends

‘I’ll grab my dear friends and stroll over to Bushwick’s La Cantine, one of my favorite luncheonettes in town. We’ll all order their hearty chicken cutlet on baguettes and slices of dark chocolate brioche bread pudding, before heading further east to Ridgewood for an afternoon dance at Nowadays.’ Collier Sutter, Time Out New York 



27. I’ll walk along the waterfront

‘I’ll go for a walk along the Belém waterfront. Then, maybe I'll head down to Cais do Sodré to see the sunset over the river at Crack Kids, and chug some slushies while I'm at it.’ Tiago Neto, Time Out Lisbon 

28. I’ll appreciate the city skyline

‘I’ll take in the city skyline from upclose (well, closer than my current vantage point in north London) by walking over Hungerford Footbridge and following the Thames along the South Bank – the busier the better! Afterwards I’ll go for an enormous dinner somewhere small and packed where you have to share tables and shout over your fellow diners. Maybe Lina Stores or Kricket or one of my local faves Westerns Laundry.’ Ellie Walker-Arnott, Time Out London 


29. A hot dog at a ball game for me

‘A hot dog at a ball game. Doesn't need to be a Yankee game or the Fuku sandwich at Citifield, could be at the Brooklyn Cyclones in Coney Island or the Staten Island Yankees. I've had more than my fair share of stove-top-boiled hot dogs at home recently, but they aren't the same without the smell of freshly cut grass, the crack of the bat and a bland American beer.’ Rocky Rakovic, Time Out New York 


30. I’ll drink all the craft beers

‘I’m going to head to Musa da Bica, a craft beer bar, after work and then have dinner at Lupita, one of the best pizzerias in town. I’ll also go to Café do Paço, a traditional steakhouse in Lisbon, and order the bife à Café do Paço, a beef steak served with a special sauce and with chips.’ Sebastião Almeida, Time Out Lisbon 


31. I’ll buy myself a present to remind me of 2020

‘I'm already thinking of what to do when life returns to “normal” (and also what normal means to me from now on), besides getting together with family and friends and having a drink in a bar with a terrace. I might buy myself a symbolic present from one of our local jewellery designers to remind me of this tumultuous time.’ Eugènia Sendra, Time Out Barcelona 

32. I’ll eat some really good sushi

‘There are so many things I want to do, like go to the beach or the Sunday market in Premià de Mar, but I'm really looking forward to eating some good sushi and the mortadella and pistachio pizza at Garden Pizza.’ Erica Aspas, Time Out Barcelona 


33. I want the boisterous ritual of yum cha

‘One thing that can’t be replicated at home is the boisterous ritual of yum cha. I miss having the trolley-pushers shout at me in Cantonese with dishes I don’t want to order, having to translate specials to the table and making requests for chilli oil so many times that the restaurant manager gives me four serves at once. In 2021, you’ll probably find me in a cloud of steam, chopsticks in hand, on a table with nine of my closest friends shaming them for soy-ing everything.’ Jess Ho, Time Out Melbourne 

34. I’ll set off on a culinary tour of my city

I’m going to set off on a nostalgic culinary tour that takes me through various neighbourhoods around the city. I'll start near where I live, with a natural wine and a cheese board at La Caníbal, then grab a vermouth and some grilled prawns at El Boquerón, a Galician red wine and a 'tortilla de patata' omelette at La Lorenza, and then finally I'll put myself in the capable hands of Gintas at Savas bar. Three cocktails later, it's either head home or carry on.’ Gorka Elorrieta, Time Out Madrid 


35. I’ll head to one of the busiest bars in the city

‘I’ll go to the Monkey Mash bar, an easy-going place by the team at Red Frog, and usually one of the busiest bars in the city. I’ll drink any cocktails with a good dose of rum!’ Renata Lima Lobo, Time Out Lisbon 

36. I’ll go to a big gig

‘Hilariously, one of my few New Year’s resolutions for 2020 was: go to more concerts. I had tickets to see some of the greats: Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Bauhaus, Kraftwerk… Then, one by one, those concerts – and all the rest – were cancelled. The sweaty, communal, occasionally frustrating but endlessly cathartic experience of a massive live show is something that I’ve always depended on, and now it’s gone. But the ever-resourceful music world is working hard on bringing back concerts safely, so I’m going to make that same resolution again for 2021. This time I hope I can stick to it.’ James Manning, Time Out International


37. I’ll take my parents out to lunch

‘Before the world went mad, a Persian restaurant opened close to where my parents live in London. Time Out gave it a good review and I thought to myself 'I should take mum and dad there, that would be a nice thing to do'. I never quite got round to suggesting it. I now wish I'd made the effort. So, to the staff of Kateh, please excuse my late arrival. My parents and I will be with you shortly.’ Joseph Mackertich, Time Out London 

Daydreaming about future trips?

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