Even though I love unique and sometimes unusual ways to experience new travel destinations, one of the best ways to learn about a new place is through a classic walking tour. Organized tours can highlight a neighborhood or entire city, while self-guided walks offer precious moments of solitude and introspection. Here are a few of my favorite unusual walks from around the world to add to your travel wish list.
1. Melbourne – Recently named the World’s Most Livable City, Melbourne is host to a wide range of walking tours. Most of them though are pretty generic, your normal tour bus, everyone hurry and let’s see the city kind of experience. One walking tour that breaks this travel mold is the Lanes and Arcades Tour by of Melbourne.
Tailored to the participants’ interests as much as possible, these tours highlight the unique history, art and architecture of the city while also introducing the visitor to the heart of the downtown core, including its lanes and arcades. More than just a stroll through these sometimes narrow walkways, the tours also seek to recognize and highlight the various small businesses found throughout the hidden walkways. I can’t think of many places I’ve visited where I’ve seen more unique small business than in Melbourne. True to the tour’s promise, we learned a lot about the city, had a terrific time in the process and even found some cool stores to patronize.
Without question, this is a must-do experience for any visitor to Melbourne.
2. Tel Aviv – Residents of this Middle Eastern metropolis usually describe Tel Aviv as The Bubble. While very much Israeli, it also has a certain modern aesthetic creating a somewhat removed feeling. Unlike many other cities in the region, Tel Aviv is only a century old and revels in its modern appearance. Tel Aviv also enjoys a prized position on the Mediterranean and the perfect finish to a long day of sightseeing is the ocean walk to nearby Jaffa.
Tel Aviv takes advantage of its seaside location through a comprehensive beach walk, extending for miles along the Mediterranean. I stood on the walkway for a few minutes, soaking in the smell of the sea and the sounds of families playing on the beach as the sun slowly set. To my left in the distance I could see a citadel perched high on the cliffs capped off by an imposing clock tower; Jaffa.
Jaffa is one of the oldest ports in the world, if not the oldest. Perhaps most notable to Jewish history, this is not only where Jonah left to find his whale but was also the port of entry for the famous cedars of Lebanon, used in the construction of both the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem.
After a leisurely walk, the cool ocean breezes taking the edge off of an otherwise warm evening, I found a cliff-side restaurant with full views of the Tel Aviv skyline. I sat back with a beverage and just admired the remarkable city. The beauty and serenity of the beach walk makes it a fun experience for anyone.
3. Marrakech – Triping through Marrakech’s medina is a journey back through time as it somehow finds a way to mesh modernity with the eloquence of ‘1,001 Nights’. While the city can be confusing at times, a walk through the medina is a classic travel experience.
If Marrakech has a soul, it is the gigantic square, the Djemaa el Fna. The largest open air square in North Africa, you can find everything here from cafes and shops to fortune tellers and snake charmers. At night the square transforms into a huge night market featuring some of the best food found anywhere in Morocco.
An important part of the Marrakech walking experience is a stroll through the labyrinthine souks and markets behind the old walls of the city. Loosely organized by trade or item sold, the narrow and windy lanes leading through the souks are a once in a lifetime experience. Once you have found something you like, haggle with the merchant until you reach a fair price for both parties.
Visiting Marrakech is an adventure, centered much more on experiences than touring museums or monuments. Spend a few days living as the Moroccans and you won’t ever want to leave.
There are many great walks around the world, these are just a few of my favorites. What are some of yours?