4 walking tours worth planning a trip around

If you’ve ever been unsure of where to book your next vacation, maybe you scrolled Instagram for the brightest-hued beaches or asked your friends about their experience at a cool new hotel. But it might be time to look toward the good old-fashioned walking tour, which, according to the Trekk Soft 2018 Travel Trends Report, continues to be the leading method travelers use to get acquainted with their destination. The best part? Money shouldn’t be an issue. A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism even found that walking tours are more frequently moving toward a tip-based or sliding scale payment system to target young budget-conscious travelers.

Sure, walking tours might evoke elementary school field trips, but you’re an adult now, so you might as well take advantage of that attention span that lasts more than three minutes. And plus, walking tours will allow you to meet like-minded travelers, stretch your legs and get your blood flowing after that long flight.

Here, four unique tour ideas around the world to inform your next trip.

1. Cemetery tour, New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is famed for its raucous nightlife and general joie de vivre. But venture past Bourbon Street, and you’ll uncover New Orleans’ darker past. Thanks to the swamp on which the city is built, elaborate tombs and mausoleums sit above ground surrounding the city. Your best bet is to sign up for a walking tour of the St. Louis Cemetery #1, the most famous of the cemeteries, from a variety of providers including Free Tours by Foot or Nola Tour Guy. There, you can snap a photo of the massive triangular tomb Nicolas Cage purchased, and present Marie Laveau, known as the Voodoo queen of New Orleans, with offerings at her tomb.

For a deeper glimpse into New Orleans’ death-positive culture, a visit to the Museum of Death is an incredible peek into the minds and lives of serial killers, mass murderers, dictators and more. You’ll see clothing items left behind by infamous murderers as well as artifacts from their victims. While graphic in nature, the self-guided walking tour focuses largely on highlighting cultural customs surrounding death and decay, proving there’s beauty in everything. Fear not, however: you will leave the tour feeling more empowered, informed and appreciative of the life you have.

2. Phillip Island Tour, Australia

It can be tough to find an animal tour that adheres to ethical standards. That’s why the Phillip Island Tour, which showcases the best of Australian wildlife in a respectful setting, is a bucket list must. The trip, which leaves from Melbourne, begins at Maru Park, where kangaroos roam free in large, open spaces (you can hand-feed them if they approach you). Next, walk the San Remo Bridge across the picturesque Woolamai Beach. Along the railings, you’ll see mini openings in the grass where little penguins, the smallest species of the animal on Earth, nest during the day. At sundown, you’ll have a chance to watch the Penguin Parade, which attracts thousands of international visitors every day. While seated in complete silence on stadium-like benches along the shore so as not to startle them, the little penguins will emerge from their nesting spots in droves, often scurrying about in pairs. It is a sight to behold.

Book through a provider like Sightseeing Tours Australia, and make sure to carve out at least 12 hours for the entire tour, including transportation.

Natalia Pushchina/Shutterstock

3. Fairy Stream and Sand Dunes tour, Mui Né, Vietnam

For this two-part walking tour, you’re going to want to ditch your new sneakers and carry them in your hand. You start off by walking through the Fairy Stream in the rural fishing village of Mui Né, alongside cattle, horses and other vibrant wildlife. Surrounded by waterfalls and stunning red rock formations, you’ll see why it’s dubbed the “miniature Grand Canyon.” The stream is no more than three inches deep, and it’s incredibly refreshing to feel that close to nature. The sand beneath your toes will feel like velvet.

Then, your guide will bring you via Jeep to the sand dunes. You can choose to hang out and enjoy the perfect sunset at their peak, drive an ATV through the sand, or rent a surfboard and glide down the hills. To sign up for the tour, you can book through Day Trip Vietnam or directly through your hotel concierge.

4. Chinchorros in San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you’re looking for a tour where there are virtually no rules, chinchorros might be your dream. Greg Buzulencia, CEO of ViaHero, which plans personalized trips by a local, said chinchorros are mix of food trucks, bodegas and bars all rolled into one. For your tour, they’re best enjoyed in pub-crawl form, in that you’ll walk to each stop on your itinerary (or with a designated driver, if you prefer to ride between stops). “It’s a trendy and fun day activity that locals love to do on the weekends and holidays. Usually, it’s a gathering with a group of friends to go on a walking or road trip around a certain route, making multiple stops in chinchorros for drinks, food, play pool, dance to a jukebox or live music,” he said.

For non-drinkers, chinchorros are still a great way to see the city on foot, meet fellow travelers, eat delicious local food and listen to traditional music.

To whet your appetite, a sample route, according to La Conchas Resort, includes stops at El Rincón Criollo for pure coconut water and alcapurria banana fritters, Kiosko del Sabor for ground beef relleno de apio, and Colmado La Peña for homemade hot sauce and traditional Puerto Rican El Cañonazo cocktails.