Forget the tour bus. Exploring by foot is a hot travel trend for 2019 — and why not? You’ll not only top 10,000 steps on your fitness tracker, but you’ll see destinations up close, with time to linger, look and learn. Many cities offer free tours, from self-guided walks in Dublin to guided tours in Amsterdam. Texas-based Take Walks offers guided treks in 10 European cities plus New Orleans, New York and San Francisco. (A half-day tour of New Orleans’ Garden District, for example, costs $45.) Feeling more ambitious? A variety of tour companies offer increasingly popular multiday treks. Butterfield & Robinson reports a 153 percent increase in bookings for walking trips since 2010, and the Backroads company says its walking and hiking segment (which includes booking and new trip locations) tripled from 2013 to 2018. Walking trips aren’t always cheap, but the tour companies manage the planning, from hotels and transportation to walking routes.
Ready to take the next step? Here are eight great U.S. and European walking trips, both guided and self-guided (which can help reduce costs).
Provence and the Alpilles, France
Walking through Provence is a magnifique way to study the region’s famous lavender and sunflower fields and rustic farmhouses. You’ll start in the town of St. Rémy on this self-guided trip from Hooked on Walking and smell rosemary, thyme and wild cistus flowers on your first scenic trail. How lovely is St. Rémy? Van Gogh spent the last year of his life here, and you’ll follow his footsteps as you amble through forests to the Alpilles Mountains. Other highlights include strolls through Les Baux-de-Provence (famous for its stone homes and mountain perch), Maussane- les -Alpilles (try the local olive oil) and Arles (a Roman town with one of the empire’s largest coliseums).
Length of trip: 5 days
Cost: $617 per person
Fee includes: Four breakfasts; accommodations in small hotels or B&Bs; maps and walking instructions; luggage transfers from Days 2 to 4; taxi from Maussane to Arles; on-call team for advice or assistance.
Daily walking totals: 4 to 6 miles
There’s more to the New England countryside than autumn leaves. On this trip from nonprofit Road Scholar, you’ll embark on nature walks through the scenic Dover region, learn about bear habitats, check out beaver ponds and track moose activity near serene Grout Pond. You’ll also meet experts from local organizations such as the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum. The walking distances are short, but if you’re feeling pooped, you can choose on Day 3 between a challenging hike up Haystack Mountain or a leisurely walk through historic Wilmington.
Length of trip: 6 days
Cost: $829-$929 per person (the cost increases in September and October)
Fee includes: 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners; accommodations at the Gray Ghost Inn B&B; 2 lectures; guided walks.
Daily walking totals: 1.5 to 2 miles
This Road Scholar trip is a unique way to escape the crowds at America’s sixth most-visited national park. You’ll not only hike with a naturalist who’s knowledgeable about the park’s geology and wildlife, but you’ll explore backcountry areas that only 5 percent of Yellowstone’s visitors ever see. This trip is more about learning than luxury — you’ll enjoy a sack lunch for your mid-hike meal — but the guides provide expert insights on well-known sites such as the Mammoth Hot Springs and, of course, Old Faithful, based on their years of studying and exploring the park.
Length of trip: 6 days