Lisbon-based Secret City Trails gets €200,000 to turn tourism into self-guided playtime

Secret City Trails

Secret City Trails, a Portuguese startup turning tourism into playtime, has raised 200,000 from Transavia Ventures, the fund of Transavia Airlines.

“Imagine, as a traveller, instead of following a tour guide that takes you past busy and crowded sights, at fixed starting times and most likely with a large group — play a city discovery game, at your own pace, on your own time, off the beaten path and notice details you’d otherwise miss,” said Kristina Palovicova, CEO of Secret City Trails.

Such an experience is what the startup offers through its “discovery games,” gamified tours that guide travelers to a city’s local and hidden spots. Players choose the city and game of their choice, then receive the start location and link to the web app via email. During the games, players follow mysterious directions and solve location-based riddles via the app.

Founded in Amsterdam and currently based in Lisbon, the startup now offers more than 120 games for 50 European cities, plus Singapore. All trails are created by locals; the platform offers a no-code framework for creating a discovery game. The local creators receive compensation for creating a trail and each time their game is sold.

“Sustainability is part of our business. We want to support creative locals and help them benefit from tourism in their cities. We’re also passionate about ensuring our trails go off the beaten path — helping to spread tourism — and that we give back to local businesses along our trails,” explained Palovicova.

As part of the investment, Transavia will help market the startup by suggesting it to its airline passengers via the Transavia Tips app, a travel inspiration platform, and via other commercial channels. 

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