Get-fit getaways are super popular these days and can really help kickstart living healthfully. We found great locations to see while you’re walking and hiking for fitness.
Of course there are plenty of reasons to take a vacation—relaxation and sightseeing top the list for most of us, but there’s something else that’s driving Canadians to take off. A study commissioned by travel site Booking.com found that 56 percent of us have taken, or are planning to take, walking and hiking trips this year. What’s more, nearly everyone surveyed said they were interested in going on a health and well-being getaway.
With summer right around the corner, now’s as good a time as any to pick a spot, put on your running shoes and get hiking. We rounded up 10 great locations—rated by Canadians and other world travellers—perfect for getting your walk on.
(Note: Be sure to check the Travel Advice and Advisories on the Government of Canada's website before booking your trip. The site provides up-to-the-minute advisories due to weather-related catastrophes and other world events.)
Where to walk: Lake Louise and Lake Minnewanka are must-visits. Experiencing Lake Louise’s turquoise water is a good enough reason to visit this stunning spot, but there are plenty of trails nearby through the area’s lush forests, as well as guided tours throughout Banff National Park. Minnewanka offers trails—with picturesque mountains—and lots of quiet places to stop for a picnic and take in the sights. Johnston Canyon has two routes you can hike—one is the easier (and more popular) path, and there’s a steeper trail that has unreal views.
Ucluelet, British Columbia
Where to walk: On the edge of the Pacific Ocean on Vancouver Island, Ucluelet is home to the Wild Pacific Trail. This nine-kilometre trek is a family-friendly route where bird watchers, photographers and hikers (of all abilities) come together. When you need to rest, park on a bench and watch for glorious whale spouts.
Deer Lake, Newfoundland
Where to walk: The Long Range Traverse is the perfect way to see the coastal fjords and 1,000-foot granite cliffs. While this trip is best for more seasoned hikers (most of the route is rugged and unmarked), you can get an expert guide to take you through the backcountry, where you’ll find arctic plants and plenty of wildlife.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Where to walk: Near the Atlantic, this pretty coastal city has lots of history, family-friendly attractions, a cool culinary scene and, oh, did we mention the incredible beach? Walk the five-kilometre-long boardwalk—it’s a total hotspot for tourists and has lots of shops and restaurants, plus nightly entertainment in the summer. There’s also a bike path in case you’re interested in adding some cycling into the mix. If you want to keep exploring, head to First Landing State Park—the state’s most visited state park—and check out more than 30 kilometres of trails.
Where to walk: With more than 800 square miles of trails, you can get a ton of walking and hiking in when visiting the Smoky Mountains. The good news? Not all of the routes are for experienced backpackers. The Gatlinburg Trail is pet-friendly and it’s a pretty walk through the woods. The Kephart Prong Trail is a good one for kids—there’s lots of wildflowers and fun wildlife (salamanders!) to see.
Los Angeles, California
Where to walk: So we’re not just talking about walking Rodeo Drive (hello, window shopping) and Sunset Boulevard. Head to the Hollywood hills and try and tell us you don’t feel like you’ve gotten in some serious exercise. Try Runyon Canyon (a three-mile roundtrip)—it’s great if you want to spot a celeb, then walk Griffith Park (FYI, it’s mostly uphill) and take in the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory. Get in the car and head to Malibu for the Malibu Wine Hike (take the safari trail and meet Stanley, the Winery’s resident giraffe).
Ambleside, United Kingdom
Where to walk: In an hour walking the Post Knott Trail, you’ll pass through Bowness village and Lake Windermere. There are lots of rest stops so you can pause and take in the scenery, and the viewing points are accessible for most walkers. Nature enthusiasts should check out Skelghyll Woods, home to England’s tallest trees. The Gallery of Giants has an incredible Grand Fir and you’ll walk through Victorian-era conifers. Finish your stroll with some ale in one of the local pubs.
Where to walk: Of course you should experience Venice by gondola, but this beautiful place truly is a walking city. It’s also a city where you’ll get lost (often and repeatedly—don’t worry, it’s a Venetian tradition), so you might consider signing up for a walking tour. These run the gamut from short tours that end with a gondola ride to pricey private tours of some of the city’s incredible architecture and art. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have comfy walking shoes.
Where to walk: Go in the summer and stroll along the Seaside Promenade, where locals and tourists take in the views of this charming port city in northwest Poland. History buffs, take note: Head to Gerhard’s Fort from the 1800s and march as part of a military drill exercise. You’ll march the drill yard, where a guide who’s dressed as a Prussian commandment will make sure you have quite an experience.
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Where to walk: Calle de los Suspiros is a charming must-see town where time has stood still. Walk the cobbled street and check out old buildings, crumbled masonry and amazing (but faded) art. Find the old car that has plants growing out of it—a clear sign this place has an old spirit. The Lighthouse of Colonia has been part of the city since 1857. The view of Rio de la Plata is glorious. (Tip: Go early to avoid the lineups.)