Driving through cities taking in the sights is a great way to explore new places, but walking vacations offer an entirely unique experience. How else can you talk with locals, take in the aromas of freshly baked pastries, stroll along historic streets or become entwined with nature? Trust us, the next time you take off for a new destination, try setting off on foot for a truly immersive adventure. If you need some inspiration, start with one of these five popular walking tours.
Cinque Terre Italy
The picturesque splendor of “five earths,” as the region is adequately named, lines the rugged cliffs along the Mediterranean. For centuries walking trails, boat and rail were the only way to travel between the villages, so it seems only appropriate that Cinque Terre makes our list of top walking vacations. Five villages bursting with colorful homes jetting from the landscape, offer inviting paths winding through trattoria filled streets and scented by lemon trees. Talk with locals, eager to share stories, at the seaside fishing villages even sample their catches at one of many quant bistros. Pair the savory dishes with the delicate flavors of the region’s white wine. Pass through vineyards and churches, sensing the romance lingering in the air and the warmth of the Italian Rivera’s people. Cinque Terre beckons to be explored slowly, easily by foot. Allow at least four days to truly savor all the culture has to offer.
Set out on a walk sprinkled with sugar white beaches, secret swimming spots and delightful lunch spots along the breathtaking landscape of Crete. Many of the popular walking and hiking trails are available just by downloading an app. Soak in the dramatic views of the Samaria Gorge, ascend to the heights of Ida Range and the challenge yourself along the demanding Sfakia coastline, where the geography changes before your eyes. Since it is one of Europe’s oldest civilizations, historians flock to the area in search of unearthing new finds. Plan close to seven days to explore charming villages, taste epicurean adventures and bask in the turquoise blue waters of the Mediterranean in Crete.
Big Island Hawaii, USA
Cascading waterfalls, glowing lava, and tropical rainforest summon those looking to integrate both a cultural trip with a tropical paradise. The youngest of the Hawaiian Islands gives adventurers a taste of all but four of the world’s different climate zones: from wet tropical to polar tundra. Ascend to the snowcapped Maunakea, down to the moss green valleys of Hilo, swim on a black sand beach and revel in the awe- inspiring 442-foot-high Akaka Falls, one of the islands most famous waterfalls. Along the way, savor the taste of the islands from local food trucks, taste Kona coffee and visit the historic sites along the quaint village of Ali’I’ Drive. Beyond walking, the Big Island offers a plethora of outdoor activities from kayaking, snorkeling
Follow the footsteps of the ancient pilgrimage trails leading to the sacred site Kumano Sanzan, as you trek across the Kii Hanto. Plan to start in Osaka and spend nine days on routes registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Remote areas offer the land’s natural beauty and Zenlike energy. Stay at postcard-worthy inns along the way as you discover why these routes, sometimes serene and sometimes difficult, have been around for over 1000 years. Discover why so many before you also seek the ultimate destination: the Kumano Sanzan Shrine.
Travel to the end of the earth and explore the beauty of Argentina and Chile’s southernmost region, Patagonia. Get an up-close look at the glasslike shapes of the Perito Moreno Glacier, capture the pristine blue waters of the many lakes, and discover incredible wildlife. The vast landscapes offer an array of eye candy, from Chile’s Torres del Paine in Chile to Los Glaciares in Argentina, the third largest ice cap in the world. Stay in a cozy lodge tucked within the mountains, immerse yourself in the local culture of the Mapuche and taste the rich flavors of local cuisine. Most tours will begin in Punta Areas and plan for about five days.