Travel Advisor Corner: Active Sightseeing

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“For every day of cultural visits, we want a day of doing something active outdoors,” said one of my clients as we were planning her family’s three-week trip around Europe. Our response? Why not do both at the same time? Today, there are countless ways to tour destinations actively. Very often, our clients come back saying these experiences were the highlight of their trips. 

Here’s just a sampling of what you can find.
• Urban bike tours: Whether it’s Santiago, Chile or Tel Aviv, Israel, you can find bike tours in many cities around the world today. Not only are they wonderful ways for your clients to get some exercise and fresh air, but they are fun ways to learn about destinations and opportunities to meet other travelers as well.

E-bike Tours: Pedaling through the Swiss Alps might sound like too much work. But add the letter “E,” and we’re talking all-out perfection. While they look and feel like regular bikes, these marvels—with their electronically powered boosters—give you a little edge when it comes to ascending the country’s mountain slopes. It’s a great way for your clients to experience the pleasures of the Swiss countryside, stopping for cheese and local product tasting. Another hilly place to explore by e-bikes is Slovenia’s wine region—Goriska Brda (Slovenia’s “Tuscany”). Nothing quite matches the feeling of whizzing up hills with the terraced vineyards all around, stopping at historic villages along the way. 

•Hiking: One does not need to be a serious hiker to get out and explore some of the world’s most scenic landscapes and learn more about the local culture in the process. Wherever your clients are heading, look into the possibilities. In Sapa in northwestern Vietnam, they can trek through beautiful green valleys and mountainsides, passing through villages which are home to the Hmong, Red Dzao and other ethnic communities of Vietnam. In Costa Rica, they can hike through a rainforest and visit a settlement of indigenous people living in thatched bungalows surrounded by fruit trees and tropical gardens. 

•Kayaking and other small boat tours: Many destinations have small boat tours offering your clients an entirely different view of the place they are visiting. For example, in Dubrovnik, Croatia, you can join a kayaking group out to Lokrum Island. Seeing the medieval city walls from sea level, as they calmly paddle along, is something they’ll be talking about for years to come. And don’t forget the other benefit of active travel: being able to enjoy all the chocolates, cheeses, croissants and other local treats, without putting on the pounds.

Susan Farewell is the owner of Farewell Travels LLC (, a travel design firm based in Westport, CT. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @FarewellTravels.