One Traveler’s Favorite Walks Around the World

Dec 26, 2016    /    get off the beaten track, wild adventures

I love walking.

If you have been reading around here for awhile, that’ll come as no surprise. Especially since 90% of my photo essays these days are of long walks.

And so it’ll also come as no surprise that I spend a good deal of time figuring out where to go walking. I research hikes and walks before I arrive in a new place. I ask locals where I can go for a beautiful walk. And I go. And go. And go.

And since I research those things, I’m guessing some of you do, too. So, in case you’re looking for somewhere beautiful to walk on your next trip, here are some of my favorite walks around the world, organized by country, alphabetically.

Belgium

Bourgoyen, Ghent, Belgium

This hidden gem of a park is swampy and mystical and completely unexpected. You literally walk down a busy city street, step behind some buildings, and enter this wild, spider-webby labyrinth.


Canada

The Canadian Shield (Ottawa)

The inviting woodland paths just outside Ottawa charmed me completely. We were here in springtime and the leaves were bright green, the temperature was moderate, and the forest felt like the sort of place where Bambi might peep around the corner any moment.

Lynn Canyon

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver

My other favorite Canadian hikes were in Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon area. I’ve never seen such an extensive network of wooden walkways winding through the forest. There was something magical and endearing to be hiking, but also have this simple, beautiful man-made pathway stretching out so visibly ahead.


Croatia

Solta

Solta’s coastal path

Take the ferry from Split to the tiny, unassuming, un-touristed island of Solta and walk either direction along the coast for something really unusual and beautiful. I loved the rocky little inlets with their beached boats, the unexpected cliffs that loomed around one turn, the lights of the mainland in the distance, and the quiet all around.

Brela

Brela’s beach promenade

In the summer, Brela is shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists, but head to the little beach resort town in winter and you’ll find an empty, walkable promenade with spectacular views of the mountains as they reach down toward the sea.


France

Eurovelo 6

Pretty much anywhere along the Eurovelo 6

I didn’t walk these paths, but I did cycle the entire distance from Basel, Switzerland, to the Atlantic Coast along the Eurovelo 6. The landscapes are varied, but all of them are worthwhile, and the path is mostly walker-friendly as well as cyclist-friendly. A walking trip along this same route would be a stunning one.


Germany

Black Forest

The Black Forest

Ominous and mystical and eerie and wonderful, the Black Forest paths I walked as they branched out from Freiburg were some of my all-time favorites. It’s the type of place you’d expect a fairy or a troll to come lumbering around a corner and catch you by surprise. More than once, I felt a ghostly chill as I walked through the dim pathways.


Italy

Cinque Terre

The Coastal Walk at Cinque Terre

It’s wildly popular and often crowded, yes, but Cinque Terre is still one of the most beautiful walks I’ve ever taken. Imagine cacti clinging to cliffs alongside flowers, ridges silhouetted against the sunset, and tiny pastel-colored towns cascading down the cliffs around the corners.

Assisi

Down the hill from Assisi

Down the hill from the majestic cathedral, a path leads through the forest, the olive groves, the old metal doorways…past waterfalls and old villas in the distance…and to a former nunnery that now sells local products. Turn to look over your shoulder for a view of Assisi rising in the distance, often draped in fog in the winter.

Via Appia

Photo credit.

Rome’s Via Appia

I’ve only walked a short way on this ancient rode, but I haven’t forgotten those footsteps–over wagon-wheel-ruts from centuries past and past enormous villas. Chad and I are planning a return to the path as we speak.


Malta

Malta

The Gozo Coastal Walk

A series of pathways wind around the entire island of Gozo, weaving you past goatherd shelters, towering cliffs, small seaside towns, bright yellow stone, and vast salt flats. If I ever make it back to Malta, completing the circuit will be my first order of business.


Scotland

Water of Leith

Water of Leith Walkway, Edinburgh

The walkway feels like it’s part of the wilderness, when it’s actually right in the middle of Edinburgh. Climb staircases overtaken by bright-green weeds. Wander past statues that seem to be in the middle of the forest (but are really only a few blocks from the city world). And wind along the river, through the forest, and occasionally across a neighborhood street.


Slovenia

Slovenia Soca Valley

The back roads between Tolmin and Kobarid

This is another place that I cycled instead of walked, but would be a lovely place to walk if you were so inclined. The roads curve through misty forest landscapes and farmer’s fields, past solitary rural churches and half-broken gateways and run-down sheds. The whole thing has a surreal, quiet magnificence.

Dreznica

The trail between Kobarid and Drežnica

It’s not the walk itself that I loved here, but the destination. When you emerge from the forest (watch out for nasty stinging plants, by the way, and wear long pants) and turn the corner on the road into town, the view of the bright-white church on the bright-green hill surrounded by towering peaks is one of the best and most unexpected I came across in Slovenia.

The trail from Kobarid to Bovec

I only made it about halfway before a snake (not poisonous) made me chicken out and turn back, but this walk is stunning. Picture turquoise river views, old wooden stair steps built into mountains, moss-covered boulders, and utter quiet. I didn’t see another soul until the very end of my multi-hour jaunt through the wild.

The walk around Lake Bled

If it’s summer, there will be plenty of other tourists around, but don’t let that stop you. The views are different and beautiful from every angle and the whole walk only takes about an hour or an hour and a half if I’m recalling correctly. And do make sure to walk up to the castle as well, for views of the lake from above.


Spain

Toledo

The Don Quijote trail as it winds up above Toledo, Spain

Follow the Don Quijote trail just 45 minutes above Toledo and you’ll find sweeping views of the city. The walk is short, but steep, so bring good shoes and a little willpower. And go at sunset if you can.


Switzerland

The walk from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg along the valley floor

Those 72 waterfalls the valley is famous for? You’ll see them all on this easy valley-floor hike, which takes about 1.5 hours one way. In the springtime, keep your eyes to the cliffs and you might see an avalanche in the distance. In the summer, look to the sky for BASE jumpers. And in the winter, revel in the snow dusted landscape. This is a good year-round hike for any fitness level.

The easy walk from Winteregg to Murren

Exit the train in Winteregg and follow the well-marked path toward Murren for some of the best views in the entire Bernese Oberland. Expect panoramas of the region’s highest peaks to your left, but also expect plenty of other hikers, as this is one of the few easy trails around.

The tough hike from Murren to the top of Schilthorne

This is my all-time favorite hike. Expect sweeping vistas of snow-capped peaks (pretty much year-round), cool dark forests, sunny mountaintops, perilous ridges, and seemingly abandoned, moon-like above-the-treeline landscapes culminating in 360-degree views.

The tough hike from Lauterbrunnen to Mannlichen

Straight up for hours, this one of those hikes that leaves you breathless and weeping at its conclusion. You’ll pass through mossy forest and perilous-feeling thin mountain paths, through rockslide catchers and rocky fields, and into the high alpine landscape featuring the region’s tallest peaks seemingly close enough to touch.

The tough hike from Trummelbach Falls up to Kleine Scheidegg

Wind your way through watery gorges, up steep mountain trails, and past views like the one above until you reach a fabulous restaurant with a view of the region’s three most famous peaks.


USA

Watering Holes Canyon

We chose this slot canyon because it was one of the few we were allowed to hike without a guide (though we did need a permit…an adventure in and of itself). It’s also far less crowded than its more famous counterparts, while still offering those slot canyon landscapes we’ve all drooled over photos of.

Maroon Bells

Photo credit.

The Maroon Bells

I love this hike for its evergreen forest, wide forest paths, and clearings that open into sweeping views.

Photo credit.

The Appalachian Trail

While the hikes of the west are dry, vast, and imposing, the hikes of the east feel more lush, green, wet, and enveloping. I loved the stretches of Appalachian Trail I used to hike in college, often loping along a stream or river, passing cute little cabin shelters with guestbooks full of other adventurers.


If you’ve gotten this far, I’m guessing you love to walk to. What are your favorite walks around the world? Would love to add them to my to-do list.

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2 Comments
  • Penny
    December 26, 2016

    Hi, Gigi–Ditto for walks in the Black Forest! We stayed in the little town of Staufen on a farm and were absolutely surrounded by trails leading who knows where? We even took one of them to a pint-sized Oktoberfest! In fact, we probably walked there more than anything else. Did a lot of exploring on foot near Amboise, too, to discover Chanteloup; and had the whole tower to ourselves. Last night here at home in NE Ohio, we took a Christmas night walk at our local metropark, and were twice serenaded by the yips and howls of numerous coyotes singing their carols to the night. Thanks for all the great photos and suggestions, and have a wonderful winter in Italy!

    Penny and Mark

    • gigigriffis
      December 27, 2016

      Oh, that sounds lovely! I didn’t stumble upon any mini Oktoberfest celebrations on my own Black Forest walks, but I did find a restaurant randomly in the middle of the forest once – that was pretty magical.

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