Does that make sense to describe how our travel was rushed therefore couldn't fully enjoy what the cities have to offer?

  • 1
    Not really. We merely got a glimpse of all the cities had to offer.
    – Jim
    Nov 13, 2020 at 5:28
  • Right. Instead of "sightsee", we now have "sight glimpse"... Nov 13, 2020 at 16:42
  • Not as idiomatic as it would be standalone: 'We spent a couple of days in each of Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Budapest, which was nowhere near enough to do these wonderful cities justice – we merely skimmed the surface.' This is probably because 'skimmed the surface of Paris' doesn't distance the metaphor's vehicle from the tenor sufficiently to avoid the temptation to envisage ludicrous incongruities. Dec 13, 2020 at 17:23
  • "We barely/merely skimmed the cities."?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 12, 2021 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


It is an idiomatic use that is reliably understood in the manner you suggest: that you only had time to see or feel a few aspects of the cities.

Skim = to read or look at something quickly to understand the main points, without studying it in detail:

Several dictionaries of idiom show “skim the surface” as something like:

skim the surface (of something)

To do, engage with, or understand something to only a minimal or superficial degree.

Free dictionary

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