Lonely Planet Writer

Try a freestyle rap workshop or bike tour with Harlem’s local experts

You can now explore the food, fashion, art, and music of New York City’s Harlem like a true insider. Airbnb just launched Experiences in the neighbourhood, allowing travelers to connect with in-the-know locals to dive deeper into the area’s vibrant culture and history.

One of the new Harlem experiences is a unique bike tour.
One of the new Harlem experiences is a unique bike tour. Image by Airbnb

The international marketplace has been giving travelers an alternative to traditional hotel or hostel stays since 2008, from standard to utterly offbeat dwellings, but the company expanded its services with the launch of Trips last November. In addition to homes, in some cities users can now also list their expertise, offering visitors a unique, locally-led experience.

“We want to make travel magical again by putting people back at the heart of every trip,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said of the company’s newest services.  Since launching, Experiences have been available in 12 cities worldwide — including Havana, Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo — with adventures that range from a Samurai sword workshop in Tokyo to perfume-making in Paris.

Harlem Experiences have just been launched as part of the Trips program.
Visitors can be taken to experience some of the neighbourhood’s best soul food. Image by Airbnb

This week, Airbnb added New York City to the list, with a focus on the northern Manhattan neighbourhood. “Harlem Experiences offer locals and visitors a unique opportunity to meet the people and see the places driving the neighborhood’s vibrant culture,” an Airbnb spokesperson told Lonely Planet. “While New York City is home to a variety of dynamic communities, by launching Trips on a neighbourhood level we are able to guarantee hyperlocal and authentic experiences.”

Learn about the history of street fashion with “Hip Hop’s fashion godfather” Dapper Dan, pedal past jazz clubs, see some of the area’s most significant architecture, and get a taste of soul food on a bikes and bites tour, or try a freestyle rap workshop with Harlem-born hip hop artist Bodega Bamz. For now there are five different Harlem Experiences available, starting at $45/£36, with more to come.

Harlem is the latest neighbourhood to get the Experiences treatment.
Harlem is the latest neighbourhood to get the Experiences treatment. Image by Airbnb

Airbnb also plans to launch Experiences in more neighbourhoods and cities around the world.

Get the top travel news stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday by signing up to our newsletter.