YouTube Tour Guide

YouTube, the dominant video-sharing website, has become a surprisingly effective tool for pumping energy into my sightseeing. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video clip must be worth far more. And if you’re visiting the Swiss Alps, Pamplona, Lisbon, or the Cinque Terre, seeing a clip of the breathtakingly vertical hiking path called via ferrata, the famous running of the bulls, mountain bikers racing downhill through the Alfama, or the terrifying 2011 flash flooding in Vernazza can give a new dimension to your travel planning.

I’m considering adding a new section to my guidebooks listing YouTube clips that illustrate experiences like these. These clips can help travelers enjoy a sneak preview of their destination in action — or, if for some reason they can’t see it live, the clips can help them visualize what they’re missing. For example, you can sample Il Palio, Siena’s famous horse race, even if you’re standing on the quiet and desolate main square on an off day. And those visiting Croatia’s Istria peninsula can enjoy a little klapa music, even if there’s no live concert that day. Using YouTube clips smartly, trip planners can survey what there is to see…and make even better plans.

I’ve love to get your collective favorites and assemble them here, in the comments thread. I’ll start things off with descriptions of some of my favorite European experiences, and the words you’d search for on YouTube to locate good clips. (In each case, you may have to sort through the results to pinpoint the best option.)

Clipping in for a cliffhanging hike along the via ferrata below Mürren — and high above Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen Valley: “via ferrata murren ”

Racing through Lisbon’s ancient Alfama quarter on a mountain bike: “lisbon downtown bike”

Catching the world’s biggest wave at Nazaré in Portugal: “biggest wave nazare”

Traditional a cappella folk singing in Croatia: “klapa motovun”

The crazy horse race in Siena: “siena palio”

The most beautiful city of Italy’s Cinque Terre during 2011’s flash flood: “vernazza flood”

A world-class organist playing for visitors in the loft of Paris’ St. Sulpice Church: “daniel roth st. sulpice”

To make this easier for everyone, please follow the model above: Describe the clip, then give a 2- to 4-word phrase to search for that will help you zoom in on the best clips.

Thanks! I’ll enjoy your suggestions.