Where The Road Forks

44 Different Types of Tourism That You Need to Try

By: Author Zachary Friedman

Posted on Last updated: March 14, 2024

Categories Travel , Travel Destinations

Home » Travel » 44 Different Types of Tourism That You Need to Try

There are a million different ways to travel. Some people prefer to be pampered in a luxury resort while others don’t even care if they have running water. Some people enjoy exploring crowded cities while others would rather venture as far from civilization as possible. To help you plan your next trip, this list outlines 44 different types of tourism. Hopefully, it inspires you to tour the world a bit differently. 

One thing to keep in mind is that not all types of tourism will appeal to every traveler. Some are a bit controversial. Some are dangerous. This article is designed to inform you of your options and give you some ideas for future trips. 

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia

1. Adventure Tourism

The goal of adventure tourism is to explore remote destinations, participate in adventure activities, and maybe even take a bit of risk.

Many adventure tourists participate in physically challenging outdoor activities during their trips such as mountaineering, rafting, rock climbing, kayaking, or hiking. The United States, New Zealand, and Canada are popular destinations for this type of trip.

Some adventure tourists visit remote, hard-to-reach, or off-the-beaten-path destinations. West and Central Africa, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and New Guinea come to mind.

Adventure tourism can also mean traveling to regions where there is some risk. This could mean a risk of injury, disease, or encountering unfriendly locals. This is a very niche form of Adventure tourism.

2. Dark Tourism

Skulls at the Killing Fields in Cambodia

Dark Tourism, a relatively new term, is defined as travel to an area where death, disaster, or tragedy occurred in the past. People visit these sites mostly for historical reasons or simply out of morbid curiosity. Humans seem to have a natural interest in death and disaster. Dark tourist sites are some of the most visited places in the world.

Dark Tourism Destinations include:

  • Museums- The September 11 museum in New York City or the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for example.
  • Monuments- The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington D.C. or the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, for example.
  • Memorials- The Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali or the 911 Memorial in New York City, For example.
  • Battlefields- Taking a tour of World War I, World War II, or the United States Civil War battlegrounds is a popular tourist dark tourism activity.
  • Natural Disaster Sites- Visiting Pompeii in Italy or Mount St. Helens in Washington State, for example.
  • Concentration Camps – Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland receives over 2 million visitors per year, making it one of the most visited dark tourism sites.
  • Human-Caused Disaster Sites- Touring the Exxon-Valdez oil spill zone, for example.
  • Sites Where Murders Took Place – For example, the Jack the Ripper tour in London or Lizzie Borden’s house in Fall River Ma.
  • Graveyards- Visiting a celebrity’s gravesite for example.
  • Catacombs- The catacombs in Paris is popular among dark tourists.
  • Nuclear Disaster Sites- Chernobyl in Ukraine is one of the world’s most popular dark tourist sites.
  • Shipwrecks- Wealthy tourists have visited the Titanic. There are plenty of fascinating shipwrecks anyone can dive.
  • War Zones- People travel to active war zones. A good example would be taking a trip to Syria today.
  • Slums- Dharavi in Mumbai or Kibera in Nairobi are some of the largest and most well known.

Some dark tourism sites are pretty controversial. Visiting war zones and slums cause ethical concerns among some groups of people. This is something to take into consideration before you go.

For more info, check out my complete dark tourism guide.

3. Ecotourism

travel and tourism activities

Ecotourists visit exotic destinations to view pristine, fragile, and undisturbed natural environments. Visiting places that have not been affected by human interference. The goal is to experience these places while leaving as little impact on the environment as possible. Ecotourism is sometimes referred to as sustainable tourism.

Ecotourists aim to leave the environment as it was or better than when they arrived. The focus is on conservation. Ecotourists try to improve the well being of the environment and local people in the region. Ecotourism is quickly gaining in popularity as more and more people become interested in conservation and environmentalism.

One major benefit to ecotourism is that some of the money that tourists bring into the country is put into preserving the environment that they are visiting. This makes for a very sustainable form of tourism.

Popular Ecotourism Destinations

  • Costa Rica- This is one of the most environmentally friendly countries on earth. The main draws of Costa Rica are rainforests, volcanoes, and both Pacific and Caribbean beaches. The country also has incredible biodiversity. The Costa Rican government works very hard to preserve nature and the environment through legislation and sustainable development.
  • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador- Made famous by Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands are famous for their unique wildlife. Ecuador enforces strict guidelines for visitors in order to maintain the natural environment of the islands.
  • Antarctica- The least-visited continent and one of the most untouched places on earth. Antarctica is an expensive but rewarding destination for ecotourists. The best way to get there is by cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina.
  • Alaska- Also called The Last Frontier, Alaska is known for its vast stretches of tundra and wildlife. Visit national parks, glaciers, fjords, and mountains in this beautiful state. Ecotourism here is becoming increasingly popular.
  • The Amazon Rainforest- This rainforest has the highest biodiversity of any place on the planet. Unfortunately, it is being destroyed at an unbelievable rate. Ecotourism practiced properly can help to save this special environment, even if only in a small way. You can visit the Amazon in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, or Bolivia.

4. Voluntourism

Voluntourism is a combination of tourism and volunteering. A voluntourist travels to a destination to do volunteer work. Usually for a charity organization. In their off time, voluntourists usually explore their travel destination like a normal tourist. This is becoming a major part of the tourism industry.

The volunteer work could be building homes, working in agriculture, teaching, etc. Anyone can take a volunteer vacation but you really need to have an in-demand skill for the work to be worthwhile.

This is one of the more controversial types of tourism. Before taking a volunteer vacation, you have to do your homework to make sure that your work will be worthwhile. Sometimes volunteer work can do more harm than good.

Popular Voluntourism Destinations

Volunteering opportunities can be found all over the world. Generally, you’ll find more openings in developing countries than in developed countries. A few of the most popular voluntourism destinations include:

  • East and Southern Africa- You will find plenty of voluntourism opportunities in Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya in schools and small farming operations. 
  • South and Southeast Asia- Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand are popular destinations for voluntourists. 
  • Central and South America- Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, and Ecuador offer plenty of volunteer opportunities.

There are a few arguments against voluntourism. It takes jobs from locals. If the work is unskilled, it is easy to find local labor. It is also inefficient. Flying across the world to do a job that someone who lives there could do doesn’t make any sense. Many charity organizations are corrupt or scams. Some actually charge people to volunteer. In this case, the volunteer is the customer. Sometimes nothing of value is created and the donations get pocketed by corrupt officials.

If you do choose to do volunteer work abroad while traveling, make sure that you understand and trust the organization that you are volunteering for.

5. Domestic Tourism

Domestic tourism is travel within the country in which you reside. This is sometimes referred to as a staycation. Domestic tourism offers an exciting and unique way to experience the beauty of your own country. You can enjoy domestic tourism wherever you live. Even if you don’t leave your city.

The classic road trip is probably the most popular form of domestic tourism. No matter where in the world you live, you can load up your car, motorcycle, or bicycle and set out on an adventure. Every country has camping and hiking opportunities. Domestic tourism is a fun and inexpensive way to explore your home country.

Domestic tourism is more common in some countries than in others. Generally, domestic tourism is more popular in larger countries. For example, domestic tourism is extremely popular in the United States, Japan, Germany, China, and India.

Domestic tourism is particularly popular in my home country, the United States. Because the country is so large and diverse, you could spend a lifetime traveling here and still not see it all. There are bustling cities, theme parks, sandy beaches, and spectacular national parks to visit. Millions of Americans exclusively travel domestically.

In smaller countries, d omestic tourism options are more limited. Having said that, regardless of where you live, there are dozens of interesting sites to visit within a couple of hours of your home. You could even simply tour your home town. Even if you’ve lived there your whole life, there are sure to be some new places you’ve never been.

Zac in Hawaii

Benefits of Domestic Tourism include:

  • Domestic tourism is cheaper- Many domestic tourists choose to drive to their destination. This way, the only transportation expense is gas. If you choose to fly, domestic tickets are generally cheaper than international tickets. It’s also affordable to travel by bus or train. This makes domestic tourism far cheaper than international tourism.
  • You get to see another side of your country- Domestic tourism allows you to experience your home country as a tourist and meet your fellow countrymen.
  • Domestic tourism is easier and more convenient- There is no language barrier or culture shock to deal with. You don’t need any travel documents for domestic tourism. You don’t need to exchange money. Much less planning is required to travel domestically.

Domestic tourism may not be as exciting as international tourism. Staying in your home country isn’t s exotic as visiting a foreign country.

6. Medical Tourism

Medical tourism is travel for the purpose of receiving healthcare. This type of tourism is also called health tourism. A few of the most common procedures people travel for include cosmetic surgery, dental care, and cancer treatment. It is becoming increasingly common for people to travel abroad to buy prescription medications as well.

An entire industry is set up around medical tourism. For example, some doctors and dentists cater to foreigners traveling to their countries for treatment. They often hire English-speaking staff and may even offer hotel and food packages to make the process as easy as possible. The medical tourism industry is booming. This is quickly becoming a major part of the tourism industry in some countries.

There are a number of reasons people participate in medical tourism. Treatment may be cheaper in another country. Treatment options may be better. Sometimes a specific treatment is only available in another country.

Popular Medical Tourism Destinations

  • The United States

7. Bicycle Tourism

Zac on a bicycle tour

Bicycle tourism is travel by bicycle. The average bicycle tourist covers about 50 miles per day, camps at night, and cooks many of their own meals. All gear is carried in panniers or bikepacking bags on the bike.

The main benefit of this type of tourism is that you get to see parts of the world between cities. Most travelers just take a bus, train, or plane from town to town and miss out on the rural areas in between. When bicycle touring, you get to see every inch of the country that you’re touring. You can smell flowers and feel the topography of the land as you cycle up and down hills.

Bicycle touring is one of the cheapest ways to travel. Accommodation and transportation costs are cut to almost nothing because you camp every night and have your own transport with your bike. You end up saving a lot of money this way. Some frugal bicycle tourists can travel on less than $500 per month.

There are several different styles of bicycle touring. Some bicycle tourists prefer off-road riding while others prefer to stay on paved paths or roads. Off-road bicycle touring is often called bikepacking. Credit card touring is bicycle touring in comfort. Most credit card tourists pack light, stay in hotels every night, and eat most meals in restaurants. Expedition bicycle tourists travel long distances through exotic countries. Some bicycle tourists spend years crossing continents and cycling around the world.

Top Bicycle Tourism Destinations

  • Pamir Highway- This is probably the top bicycle touring destination. Here, you can experience the beautiful mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
  • Patagonia- Travel through the rugged south of Argentina and Chile and explore Torres del Paine, Tierra del Fuego, and many other spectacular destinations in the region. The most famous roads include Ruta 40 and Carretera Austral.
  • Trans America- Travel across the United States. Most cyclists ride west to east starting in Oregon.
  • US Pacific Coast- Travel from Canada to Mexico through the beautiful coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California.
  • Nordkapp, Norway (North Cape)- This is the northernmost point in Europe that can be accessed by road.
  • Alaska to Argentina- This long-distance rouge takes you across North and South America. Most cyclists take 18-24 months to complete the route. 
  • Europe to Asia- This popular route takes you across Eurasia. Many cyclists start their tour in their homes in Europe and end in China or Singapore.
  • Cairo to Cape Town- This hardcore trip takes you across the entire continent of Africa. Check out my guide How to Plan a Cairo to Cape Town Trip for more info.
  • Round the World- A great bucket list trip for bicycle tourists. Check out my guide: How to Plan a Round The World Trip for more info.

8. Sex Tourism and Romance Tourism

Sex tourism is a controversial type of tourism that involves traveling for the purpose of having sex in different countries around the world. People may choose to do this because prostitution isn’t legal in their home country. Some people wish to fulfill a fantasy that they can’t achieve in real life. Others travel abroad for sex because it is cheaper than in their home country. This type of tourism is much more popular among men but women participate as well.

Popular Sex Tourism Destinations

  • The Netherlands
  • The Philippines
  • Dominican Republic

Romance tourism is travel for the purpose of finding a husband or wife. Someone may participate in this type of tourism if they are unable to find the right person in their home country. Sometimes people who have immigrated abroad return to their home country to find a partner.

9. Motorcycle Tourism

travel and tourism activities

Motorcycle tourism is travel by motorcycle. This is a great way to see the world because you always have your own transportation. This means you don’t have to rely on buses or trains. You can stop wherever you want. The absolute freedom is hard to beat. Maybe the biggest benefit of motorcycle tourism is simply the fact that motorcycles are cool. You will make friends everywhere you go.

Adventure touring bikes are probably the most popular these days due to their comfort and off-road capabilities. You can explore places that the average cruiser or touring bike can’t reach. My last bike was a Suzuki DR 650. I regret selling it.

There are drawbacks to motorcycle tourism. Getting started traveling by motorcycle is pretty expensive. You have to buy a bike, protective riding gear, and learn to ride. This sets you back a minimum of a few thousand dollars before you even hit the road.

Some countries also require that you have a carnet du passage to enter with a vehicle. This is a bureaucratic process and also costs money. Shipping the bike between countries is a hassle and expensive as well. Motorcycle tourism is generally not for budget travelers.

Traveling between continents on a motorcycle is also a hassle. It usually involves putting the bike in a crate and shipping it. You can’t just hop on a plane to your next destination.

If you are on a tight budget, there is one way that you can experience motorcycle tourism on the cheap. Starting at about $150, you can buy your own motorcycle in Vietnam and ride it around much of Southeast Asia. For a step-by-step guide to doing this, check out my Guide to buying a motorcycle and riding through Vietnam. 

10. Cultural Tourism

Cultural tourism is a form of tourism where the goal is to seek out cultural experiences. On a cultural tour, you might attend festivals and events, visit historical sites and monuments, explore museums, and galleries, take language classes or cooking classes, and participate in traditional activities.

Cultural tourism is an increasingly popular form of travel as it allows people to immerse themselves in new cultures and gain a more global perspective. Cultural tourism also provides economic development opportunities for locals.

A few different examples of culture include:

  • Holidays and festivals
  • Food and drinks
  • Architecture

Culture is interesting because it varies so widely. In some parts of the world, you can travel just a few miles down the road and people completely change. They may speak a different language, eat different food, and pray to different gods. Human culture is diverse. Sometimes even shocking. This is a big part of the appeal of cultural tourism.

Cultural Tourism Activities

  • Visit museums- This is one of the most popular cultural tourism activities. You can learn about the history and view the art of the local people.
  • Try local restaurants- Sample the local food.
  • Visit churches and other religious centers- Learn about the religious beliefs of the locals-
  • Meet people inside their homes- See how people live day-to-day.
  • Read books about the region- Learn about the origin of the local people and how their society has changed over time.
  • Visit during a local holiday, festival, or celebration- Experience how the locals party and celebrate.
  • Study the local language- Learning a few words can help you get to know the local people and understand the culture. Language greatly enhances cultural tourism.

Cultural Tourism Destinations

Every country has a different culture to learn about. Depending on where you come from, you may find some more interesting. A few of the most popular countries for cultural tourism include:

11. Rural Tourism

travel and tourism activities

These days, most of the world’s population lives in cities. Some travelers like to take a break from the fast-paced and stressful urban lifestyle and travel to slower-moving rural areas. This is rural tourism. Rural tourism usually involves living a rural lifestyle, experiencing local culture, and learning local history.

Rural tourism has a lot of overlap with cultural tourism and ecotourism. Because rural areas don’t offer many major tourist attractions, you’ll mostly spend your time learning about and experiencing the rural lifestyle. You’ll also spend much of your time enjoying the outdoors.

One major benefit of rural tourism is that it provides economic opportunities for locals by allowing them to offer services such as farm stays, guided tours, homestays, and meals. This is important because rural areas tend to be poorer than cities.

Rural Tourism Activities

  • Learning about agriculture- Wine tours or working with animals are common forms of rural tourism.
  • Outdoor activities- Hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, etc. are considered rural tourism
  • Relaxing- Read a book, take a walk, or enjoy the sun.
  • Getting to know the local people- See culture tourism.

Best Destinations for Rural Tourism

  • Much of Africa

12. Tribal Tourism

Zac in front of a tribal hut in the Omo Valley

Tribal tourism involves travel to visit tribes or indigenous people that have had little contact with the outside world. The goal is to experience the culture and lifestyle of the locals. These areas are becoming rarer and rarer as the world becomes more developed and connected. There are only a few regions left on the planet where you can take an authentic tribal tour.

Many of the world’s tribes are no longer authentic. The people wear traditional clothing and basically put on a show for tourists. They may dance and perform ceremonies that their ancestors did. While it is interesting to see, it isn’t really authentic. There are a handful of places left where you can experience a real and thriving tribal culture.

This is another controversial kind of tourism. Many people argue that tourism to these regions is voyeuristic. Like looking at animals in a zoo. Some complain that visiting these tribes degrades their culture. After all, local community will be introduced to modern ways of living and thinking. These are valid points that should be considered before visiting. Is it ethical to visit tribal regions? I’ll let you decide.

Tribal Tourism Destinations

  • The Omo Valley of Ethiopia- This incredibly diverse region in Southwestern Ethiopia is home to dozens of unique tribes. For a step-by-step guide to visiting, check out my guide: How to Visit the Omo Valley Independently and on a Budget. It includes everything you need to know about getting there from Addis Ababa, costs, etiquette, hotel recommendations, guides, and more.
  • Papua New Guinea- The tribes of New Guinea are some of the most unique culturally. To visit, you’ll most likely have to hire a guide or join a tour group.
  • The Amazon- To visit the tribes of the Amazon, you have several options. The best places to start are can Brazil, Peru, or Venezuela. Tours can also be organized from Colombia or Ecuador.
  • India- Hundreds of fascinating tribes inhabit the country. 

13. Business Tourism

Business tourism is travel for a professional purpose rather than leisure. Some companies send employees abroad for business meetings, conferences, trade fairs, consulting, negotiation, or various corporate events. While participating in business tourism, an employee is still doing work, just away from the office or home. During time off, a business tourist may have time to visit the tourist sites of the region that they are visiting. Various types of tourism can be combined with business tourism.

Business tourism is different from being an expat, digital nomad, or living abroad because it is only temporary. Generally, a business tourist is someone who is working abroad for one year or less. Most business trips last less than a week. Business tourists generally stay in hotels or accommodation provided by the company that they work for.

Business is conducted all over the world. This type of travel is slightly less common than it used to be because of the internet. Many meetings can be conducted online over video. Business tourism is still common.

Some of the most common business tourism destinations include Berlin, Dubai, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo, and London.

14. Birth Tourism

Birth Tourism is a controversial form of tourism where a pregnant woman travels to a foreign country to give birth to her child. The main reason for this practice is so the child obtains citizenship in the country where it was born. Once the child has citizenship, the parents will generally use it as a means of obtaining citizenship for themselves. The baby is often referred to as an anchor baby.

Laws vary from country to country. In the past, birth tourism was much more common. Laws were much less strict and allowed pretty much anyone born within the country’s borders to become citizens from birth.

These days, most countries either don’t allow birth tourism or don’t grant citizenship to children born there unless they meet specific requirements. Usually, one of the parents also has to hold citizenship in order for the child to be eligible for citizenship. Birth tourism is still common in North and South America but has been abolished in most of the rest of the world.

15. Sports Tourism

Sports tourism is defined as travel for the purpose of watching or participating in a sporting event. This type of tourism could involve professional sports, armature sports, team sports, or individual sports. This type of tourism is one of the fastest-growing in the tourism sector. Some of the world’s biggest events cater to sports fans. These include:

  • Olympics Games
  • Tour de France
  • World Series
  • and many more

Anyone who travels to watch a football game, basketball game, tennis match, auto race, etc. is also considered a sports tourist.

Those who travel to participate in sports are considered active sports tourists. The players and coaches and support all fall into this category of tourist. Some tourists travel to participate in extreme sports like skydiving, mountain climbing, mountain biking, surfing, skateboarding. These are also sports tourists.

16. Slum Tourism

travel and tourism activities

Slum tourism, also called ghetto tourism, involves travel to some of the poorest neighborhoods around the world. Tourists come to see what life is like for the poorest people on earth. Mostly out of curiosity.

This type of tourism is not new. It originated in the 19th century in the slums of New York and London where wealthy tourists would travel to see how the impoverished lived in the two cities. These days, slum tourism almost exclusively occurs in the developing world.

Slum tourism is another controversial type of tourism. Many people claim that it is unethical to tour slums because it basically treats people like zoo animals. You are essentially entertaining yourself by touring areas where people are living in extreme poverty. Traveling to people watch just doesn’t sit well with some.

While I understand this argument, these neighborhoods are public places where anyone is free to wander. For this reason, it’s an acceptable activity in my mind. You are simply visiting a neighborhood within a city.

Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya

Slum Tourism Destinations

  • Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya- This neighborhood claims to be the biggest slum in Africa. For info on visiting, check out my guide: How to Visit Kibera Without a Tour.
  • Dharavi in Mumbai, India- Maybe the world’s most famous slums and also one of the biggest. This is where the 2008 movie Slumdog Millionaire takes place.
  • Favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- For safety reasons, visiting the favelas is best done on an organized tour.
  • Townships in South Africa- These are segregated communities outside of South African cities that were created during apartheid times.
  • Skid Row, Los Angeles, California- This area contains possibly the largest homeless populations in the United States. Around 8000 people live in tents and in the street in this little square of downtown Los Angeles. This is one of the only slum tourism destinations in the developed world.

17. Genealogy Tourism

Genealogy tourism is a type of tourism where travelers visit the places their ancestors came from. This could be recent ancestry or distant ancestry. This type of tourism is much more common in countries with a high level of emigration.

Genealogy tourism is quickly growing in popularity because of the rise in interest in DNA testing from companies like Ancestry.com and 23andme.com. For less than $100 people can find out exactly where in the world their ancestors originated. As the technology develops, these services get more and more accurate. In some cases, they can pinpoint exact villages where your ancestors lived hundreds of years ago.

Some genealogy tourists visit places where they have much more recent roots. For example, if a couple immigrated to another country before having children, their child may wish to visit their parent’s homeland later in life. This is also considered genealogy tourism. In this case, the person may have living relatives in the place that they are visiting.

18. Package Tourism (Group Tourism)

Package tourism is a type of travel where accommodation, transportation, and excursions are combined and sold in a single package. Sometimes meals, drinks, and guides are also included. This can be a private tour or a group tour. A package tour is also called a package vacation or package holiday.

The main draw of this type of tourism is the simplicity. You pay once and the tour operators take care of everything for you. It’s easy and stress-free. You don’t have to worry about finding a hotel, choosing a restaurant, or struggling to figure out public transportation systems. This is a style of tourism many beginner travelers choose to participate in because it requires basically zero planning. This is one of the most popular types of tourism.

There are packaged tours available to pretty much every region. Many travelers choose to take packaged tours to Africa. Check out my guide to overland tours vs independent travel for more info. 

Drawbacks to Package Tourism

  • It takes away your freedom- With package tours, you’re pretty much stuck on a schedule. You can’t choose your own hotel, restaurant, or activity. Everything is pre-planned.
  • Annoying people in your group- If you are traveling in a group, you may end up traveling with people that you just don’t like. Some people are entitled, some are picky, and some are just plain annoying. If you are on a private tour, however, this isn’t a problem.
  • Bad guides- I have had some bad experiences with guides in my travels. Many give inaccurate facts, don’t know what they are talking about, or just don’t care about their jobs. Getting stuck with a bad guide on your packaged tour could ruin the whole trip.
  • Expensive- Package tours almost always cost more than traveling independently.

19. Culinary Tourism (Food Tourism)

 A plate of sushi in Japan

Culinary tourism, also called food tourism, is travel for the purpose of exploring different types of food and drinks around the world. Many travelers consider a destination’s cuisine to be as important as the climate, scenery, or accommodation. The popularity of culinary tourism has exploded over the past decade.

Culinary Tourism Activities

  • Trying different restaurants- Some travelers plan their trips by eating at one specific restaurant. For example, Michelin star restaurants are popular tourist destinations.
  • Taking cooking classes- Learning how to cook a new cuisine or dish at home is a popular form of food tourism. For example, Thai cooking classes are incredibly popular.
  • Food festivals- Around the world, festivals are held to celebrate specific foods. Most large cities hold some type of annual food and drink festival. You’ll also find festivals that celebrate specific foods.
  • Trying new foods- Sampling foods that you haven’t tried before is a major part of culinary tourism. This is one of my favorite things to do while traveling.
  • Alcohol tasting- Including wine tasting, beer tasting, whiskey tasting, etc. Tasting different recipes of the same foods- Some dishes have many variations around a country. Try them all to find your favorite.

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Culinary Tourism Destinations

Pretty much every country has at least one decent dish to try. Having said that, some countries just have better food than others. This could be for a number of reasons. Some parts of the world have benefited from trade and migration. New people come and bring their favorite foods along with them. Over the years, fusions develop and a new cuisine is born. Some parts of the world are just lucky and have unique flavors available in their region. Some of the top countries for food tourism include:

  • France- Probably the top culinary tourism destination in the world. France has some of the best restaurants in the world. The quality level of the food here is top notch. Also known for the selection of cheeses and some of the best wines in the world.
  • Italy- Everyone loves Italian food. 
  • China- The country offers an incredibly varied and delicious cuisine. Because the country is so large, Chinese food comes in a staggering number of varieties. Dishes vary greatly from region to region.
  • Thailand- Some of the best curries and excellent street food. This is a great tourist destination for culinary tourists on a budget.
  • India- This is the top destination for vegetarians. Options are endless. India has some of the best curries and spices. Street food here is also incredible. The food is also very affordable. For meat-eaters, options are a bit limited.
  • Mexico- A very complex cuisine. Specialties vary by region. Try Oaxaca for the best Mexican food. For tacos, head to Tijuana. This is probably my favorite cuisine.
  • Ethiopia- In general, East African food isn’t too interesting, in my opinion. Ethiopia is different. The country has a very unique and tasty cuisine. 
  • The United States- Due to a large amount of immigration, you can find restaurants serving pretty much any cuisine you can think of in the US. Portion sizes are also generous. San Francisco and New York are the top food tourism destinations in the country.
  • Japan- Another favorite. Some of the finest seafood in the world is found in Japan.

20. Wellness Tourism

Wellness tourism is travel for the purpose of increasing your health. This could be physical health or mental health. Wellness tourism often involves some sort of spiritual activity like yoga, meditation, or prayer for example. This is quickly becoming a major part of the tourism industry.

Wellness tourism is similar to medical tourism with one major difference. G enerally, w ellness tourists don’t have anything in particular wrong with their health. They travel to maintain or improve their quality of life in general. The goal is often to prevent future health problems. This style of tourism focuses on low stress and relaxation. This is the main distinction between wellness tourism and medical tourism.

Wellness Tourism Activities 

  • Spa treatments- Great for relieving stress and relaxation.
  • Cruises- A stress-free way to see the world.
  • Resort stays- As the wellness tourism industry grows, many resorts are offering wellness-related activities.
  • Medical treatments- Some clinics offer alternative medical treatment to improve health and well-being.
  • Meditation- A popular stress-relieving activity that promotes mental health. Yoga- Promotes physical and mental health.
  • Exercise- Many people don’t get enough exercise during their normal life. Vacations are a great time to develop new healthy habits. Nature hiking is a popular form of wellness exercise.
  • Prayer- Wellness tourism can integrate some religious activities.

While it is generally agreed upon that vacationing is good for health and well-being, it has not yet been established whether wellness-related activities offer any benefit over normal vacation activities. Many of these activities can be fun and relaxing, but offer no benefits after the vacation is over.

travel and tourism activities

Top Destinations for Wellness Tourism

Wellness tourism is currently a very niche market. North America currently has the largest wellness tourism infrastructure followed by Europe. A few top destinations include:

  • British Colombia, Canada

21. Recreational Drug Tourism

Recreational drug tourism is travel for the reason of purchasing or using drugs. People travel to use drugs because they are illegal, difficult to obtain, or more expensive in their own country. This is different from medical tourism where people may travel to purchase prescription drugs. In the case of recreational drug tourism, the drugs are not for health purposes, rather just for fun.

Recreational Drug Tourism Destinations

  • Peru- Ayahuasca tours in the Amazon rainforest are popular.

This is a very controversial type of tourism because many people around the world are against the use of drugs for moral, religious, or economic reasons.

22. Nautical Tourism

Nautical tourism as a type of travel involving boating. This includes both motor boating and sailing. A few popular nautical tourism activities include:

  • Cruising- Travel from port to port by boat. A vacation on a cruise ship can also be considered nautical tourism. 
  • Sailing- If you know how to sail, you can rent a sailboat at yacht clubs around the world. Sailing lessons are also popular in warm weather destinations.
  • Regattas- Travel for boat racing.
  • Attending boat shows- Some tourists travel to view classic wooden boats.

Top Nautical Tourism Destinations

Nautical tourism is most popular during the summer and in warm weather tourist destinations. You can go on a nautical tour anywhere where there is a body of water. This includes oceans, lakes, or rivers. The Caribbean and Mediterranean are probably the most popular regions for nautical tourism.

23. Agritourism (Agrotourism)

Agritourism is travel which involves agriculture. Generally, this means visiting a farm or ranch. This style of tourism is quickly growing as people become more and more interested in the foods they eat and where they come from. Sustainability is a big part of agritourism. Agritourism is quickly becoming a major part of the tourism industry. This is similar to rural tourism.

Agritourism Activities

  • Farm stays- This generally means staying on a farm and working. Farm work is a good way to clear the mind and learn new skills. It is also a method backpackers and budget travelers use to expand the length of their trip. Websites such as WWOOF International and Workaway allow travelers to work in exchange for room and board. Farm work is a popular option because everyone can contribute in some way.
  • Buying meat, eggs, or produce directly from a farm or ranch – Some people like to know exactly where their food comes from. Traveling to purchase fresh or organic food can be made into a vacation.
  • Picking fruits and veggies- Visiting a farm and harvesting your own food can be a fun way to spend an afternoon. As a bonus, you know that the food is fresh. Strawberries, pumpkins, and cherries are popular crops you can harvest.
  • Working with animals- Collecting chicken eggs, milking cows, feeding pigs, etc.
  • Learning new skills- Agritourism can be an educational activity. For example, you could learn about planting seeds, raising animals, harvesting produce, etc. Learning how food is made and where it comes from can be fascinating.
  • Wine tasting- Visiting vineyards and learning about wines and how they are made is a popular activity in many regions throughout the world.
  • Staying at a bed and breakfast- Vacationing in rural areas offers a different experience from the city. See rural tourism above for more info.
  • Beekeeping- Visit an apiary and learn about how honey is made.

Popular Agritourism Destinations

Pretty much every country has agricultural regions that you can visit. A few of the best agritourism destinations include:

  • The United States- Farming and ranching is a big part of American culture. The US is the top tourist destination for agritourism.
  • Canada- A large country with plenty of rural areas to explore.
  • Australia- Many backpackers visit Australia on working holiday visas. They spend part of their time working on farms and ranches. This is a style of agritourism.
  • France- The top wine destination in the world.

24. Religious Tourism

travel and tourism activities

Religious tourism is one of the oldest forms of tourism. Religious tourism, also known as faith tourism, is a growing trend, where travelers visit places that are either the birthplace of a major figure in their religious faith, memorialize important events in their religion, or simply experience the culture and spiritual practices of another faith. Pilgrimages can also be considered religious tourism. Non-religious people can also participate in religious tourism by visiting religious sites and learning about the history of various religions.

Religious Tourism Activities

  • Pilgrimages- This is a journey that is usually made for religious purposes. This is the most common type of religious tourism. It is estimated that around 300 million people participate in pilgrimages each year.
  • Missionary work- Many religions require that their members take time to travel to spread the ideas of their religion.
  • Faith-based vacations- This includes cruises, resorts, camps, etc which cater to people belonging to a certain religion.
  • Religious ceremonies- Some religions hold meetings , conventions, or ceremonies where members from around the world can get together.
  • Visits to holy cities- Vatican City, Jerusalem, and Varanasi are examples of holy cities which are popular with religious tourists.
  • Visits to shrines, churches, monasteries, temples, or any religious site- This is a religious tourism activity that non-religious people participate in. Everyone can appreciate the architecture of a beautiful cathedral or ancient religious structure. If you travel to Europe and visit a cathedral, you’re participating in religious tourism.

Popular Religious Tourism Destinations

  • Vatican City- St. Peter’s Basilica sees about 7 million visitors per year.
  • Jerusalem, Israel- The Western Wall is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism.
  • Mecca, Saudi Arabia- Muslims from around the world make the pilgrimage to the Great Mosque of Mecca each year for Hajj. Up to 5 million Muslims make this pilgrimage each year.
  • Varanasi, India- Over 21 million religious tourists travel to Varanasi to visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple each year.
  • Mexico City, Mexico- Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe receives around 20 million visitors per year. 
  • Paris, France- Notre Dame Cathedral receives almost 14 million visitors per year.

25. Solo Tourism (Solo Travel)

Zac at the Great Sphinx

Solo Tourism is any kind of travel that is done alone. This means without a guide and without any friends or family. You organize everything by yourself including transportation, accommodation, and activities. You choose what you eat and how you organize your days. A solo tour can be a simple weekend getaway or a multi-year sabbatical.

Reasons to Travel Alone

  • Getting out of your comfort zone- When you’re traveling alone, nothing is familiar. This is a great experience if you’ve fallen into a routine that you don’t enjoy.
  • The feeling of independence- When traveling alone, you rely on yourself for everything. If you get into a situation, you have to find a way to get yourself out of it. This leads to a feeling of accomplishment.
  • The absolute freedom- There is no one there to tell you what to do. If you feel like going out for pizza, no one can stop you. If you feel like catching a bus and heading east, that is your decision to make.
  • No one else to travel with- Sometimes it’s difficult to find a travel buddy for certain trips. Rather than not going at all, you may prefer to travel alone. For example, when I went to Africa, I knew that none of my friends would have any interest in tagging along so I happily went solo.

Drawbacks of Solo Tourism

  • Doing things alone- After years of solo travel, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable spending time with myself. With that being said, I still have trouble going to bars alone. I just don’t find it very fun.
  • You have to be more careful- If you get sick or injured while traveling alone, it’s up to you to make sure you make it to a hospital or clinic for treatment. No one else is going to help you. For more info, check out my guide: Is Solo Travel Safe? Avoiding Crime and Scams.
  • Some people think it’s strange- There is a bit of a negative stigma to solo travel. For whatever reason, some people just don’t get it.

For help deciding whether or not this type of tourism is for you, check out my guide: Solo Travel Vs. Groups Travel: My Pros and Cons List

Top Solo Tourism Destinations

  • Southeast Asia- From my experience, this region contains the greatest concentration of solo travelers. Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia are all popular tourist destinations in the region. Southeast Asia is also affordable and easy to get around. One thing I love about this destination is the street food. It allows me to enjoy the cuisine without having to eat in restaurants alone.
  • Western Europe- This is another region that sees a large number of solo travelers. It’s also incredibly easy to get around with the extensive train and bus network. Hostels are available in almost every decent-sized city.
  • Central and South America- These regions see a lot of tourists. They are also affordable and easy to get around.
  • India- An affordable country to travel with great transportation infrastructure, world-class food, and a fascinating culture.

For more solo travel ideas, check out my guide: The Best Solo Travel Destinations. Also, check out my first solo trip review.

26. Extreme Tourism

This is a type of tourism which involves travel to dangerous areas or participating in dangerous sports or events. In most cases the danger is not real, rather perceived. The goal is an adrenaline rush. Extreme tourism is very similar to adventure tourism.

Extreme Tourism Activities

  • Bungee jumping
  • White water rafting
  • Mountain climbing
  • SCUBA diving
  • Shark cage diving

Top Extreme Tourism Destinations

Generally, extreme tourism activities take place in the mountains or the ocean. A few popular destinations include:

  • New Zealand

27. LGBT Tourism

Also called Gay tourism, LGBT tourism is a type of travel designed for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Unfortunately, many countries around the world are dangerous or unwelcoming to LGBT people so they must put extra care when traveling or planning a vacation for the following reasons:

  • Some countries criminalize homosexuality- This is particularly common in African and middle eastern countries. For example, in Uganda, homosexuality is punishable with life in prison. When I was traveling in Ethiopia, I asked a guy how gay people are treated in the country. He explained to me that the punishment is 18 years in prison. 
  • Some businesses do not serve gay people- Even in my home country, the United States, there are stories of bakeries refusing to make wedding cakes for gay couples. Around the world, many hotels and restaurants refuse service to gay people.
  • In some regions, local people are violent against gays- This happens in many regions across the world.

Popular LGBT Tourism Destinations

  • Pride parades
  • LGBT friendly cities and neighborhoods

28. Experimental Tourism

In an experimental tour, destinations and itineraries are chosen based on a game, idea, or experiment. This often involves some kind of humor or chance. Examples of experimental tourism include:

  • Throwing a dart at a map and going wherever it lands- This is probably the most classic example of experimental tourism.
  • Walking down a street and turn in alternate directions at each corner- For example, turn left on the first corner, turn right at the next, etc.
  • Going to the airport and buying the next available ticket- Another classic example.
  • Going to a popular tourist site and taking a photo in the opposite direction- This gives you a different perspective of your destination. 
  • Traveling separately to the same city with a friend and finding each other once you arrive- This turns travel into a game of hide and seek.
  • Taking a map of the region you are visiting and randomly selecting a location on the map grid then going there- Similar to throwing a dart. 
  • Visiting multiple locations of a particular business- For example, this experimental tourist has traveled to over 14,000 Starbucks locations around the world.

29. Danger Tourism

Similar to extreme tourism, danger tourism involves travel to dangerous places or participating in dangerous events or activities. In this type of tourism, there is a real risk of injury or death involved.

Examples of Danger Tourism

  • Travel to regions that are at war or in states of unrest- Visiting Syria during the civil war or visiting Somalia, for example. 
  • Travel to regions where terrorists are known to operate- Traveling to Northern Nigeria, for example.
  • Participating in extreme sports- Diving with sharks without a cage or wingsuit diving, for example.
  • Travel to high crime cities or regions- Visiting Caracas, Venezuela or Tijuana, Mexico for example.
  • Traveling through inhospitable regions- Antarctica or the Sahara, for example.

There is a certain level of risk in all travel. Some trips are just on another level. In a danger tour, there is some chance that you are injured or killed.

30. Suicide Tourism

This isn’t a type of tour you want to go on, but I’ll describe it anyway because it is a type of tourism that, sadly, seems to be growing. Also known as euthanasia tourism, suicide tourism is traveling with the intent of committing suicide.

The main reason people choose to travel to commit suicide is because in some countries physician-assisted suicide is legal. Some countries sell drugs over the counter that can be used to commit suicide.

Suicide Tourism Destinations

  • Switzerland- The law allows the right to assisted suicide to foreigners.
  • The Netherlands- Dutch law permits physician-assisted suicide in some cases.
  • Mexico- A particular drug, which is manufactured to euthanize pets, is sometimes purchased by humans trying to commit suicide.
  • The United States- Currently Oregon and Washington have laws that allow residents the right to euthanasia under a strict set of circumstances.

31. Disaster Tourism

Disaster tourism is travel to a location where an environmental disaster is currently occurring or has occurred in recent years. This disaster could be man-made or natural. Most tourists choose to visit these destinations out of curiosity. Viewing an area that has been destroyed is interesting in a morbid kind of way. Looting could also be a motivation for criminals.

Examples of Disasters

  • Terrorist attack
  • Nuclear accident
  • Accidental explosion

This is a controversial type of tourism. There are two schools of thought when it comes to the ethics of disaster tourism. Some people believe that it is immoral for tour companies to profit off of the bad fortune of others. Also that it is voyeuristic to essentially people watch during a low point in someone’s life.

Others say that disaster is good because it allows people to see first hand what exactly is happening. This raises awareness and allows people to be empathetic to fellow human beings going through a rough time. Disaster tourism may also stimulate the local economy during a time where money is needed.

Both sides have a point. In my opinion, disaster tourism is fine as long as you aren’t adding to the suffering by making the life of the victims harder. For example, looting during a disaster situation is unacceptable.

Disaster Tourism Destinations

  • The site of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster- This is probably the most famous disaster tourism destination. Even though it’s been over 30 years since the meltdown, the region is still suffering from the effects of radiation. Most tourists visit the site on organized tours from Kyiv.
  • New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina- Even after almost 15 years, effects from the hurricane can still be seen in the city. Organized tours take visitors to different neighborhoods to teach about the events and history of the city.
  • Pompeii- The city was destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Today, over 2.5 million tourists visit each year.
  • The site of the Hindenburg incident- On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg airship blew up near Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. Today, a plaque marks the site of the accident.

32. War Tourism

War tourism is defined as recreational travel to a former or active war zone. The purpose is usually to better understand the history of a particular war or battle.

The most common form of war tourism is travel to battlegrounds from famous wars. At these sites, you’ll find plaques, museums, artifacts, and tours of the actual battle sites.

Some hardcore travelers choose to visit active war zones for the thrill and unique experience. Of course, this practice is incredibly dangerous and controversial.

War Tourism Destinations

  • WWI Battlegrounds- Including Verdun, Somme, Ypres, and more.
  • WWII Sites- Including the site of the D day landing in Normandy, Oradour-Sur-Glane in France, Warsaw Ghetto, Concentration camps, Anne Frank’s House, Oscar Schindler’s factory in Krakow, and many more.
  • US Civil War Battlegrounds- Including Fort Sumter, Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, and more.
  • Active war zones- A few possible destinations include Ukraine, Yemen, and Syria. Some sources also consider parts of Mexico to be active war zones in the war on drugs.

33. Urban Exploration Tourism

Urban exploration is a type of tourism that involves exploring man-made structures. Usually, these are places that have been abandoned and left to sit for long periods without any upkeep. These sites are in a state of ruin and decay. Urban exploration can also involve visiting sites that are just hidden or difficult to access.

This type of tourism usually involves trespassing and can result in fines or punishment. There can be some danger involved as well. Dilapidated buildings may not be structurally sound. It would be easy to fall and injure yourself. You could inadvertently expose yourself to asbestos as well as toxic chemicals and gasses. There is a high level of risk involved.

Urban Exploration Tourism Destinations

  • Abandonments- Visiting abandoned places of any kind including houses, factories, asylums, amusement parks, schools, etc. are all forms of urban exploration tourism. For example, some tourists visit Detroit to view the large number of homes and factories that were abandoned during the population decline of the city. Japan also has a large amount of abandoned infrastructure due to its rapid industrialization and economic decline of the late 80s and early 90s. The Salton Sea in California is another popular destination to view abandoned homes, roads, and other infrastructure.
  • Rooftops- Some urban explorers climb to the top of buildings and structures to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the area. These structures could be in use or vacant.
  • Catacombs- A number of cities have underground catacombs including Paris, Odessa, Rome, and Naples. Explorers usually find an entrance and visit parts of the tunnels that are not open to tourists.
  • Tunnels- Utility and transit tunnels are popular areas for urban explorers to visit. They seek out an access location, enter the tunnel, and begin exploration. Many large institutions like hospitals and universities have utility tunnels. Large cities have transit tunnels where underground trains run. These tunnels could be in use or abandoned.
  • Sewers and storm drains- This type of urban exploration involves finding an entrance to a city’s underground water and waste management system.

34. Budget Tourism (Budget Travel)

Budget tourism involves travel on with a small amount of money. Limiting your budget can be done for the purpose of adventure or simply due to a lack of funds. Budget tourism proves that you don’t have to be wealthy to travel. 

Backpackers are the most common type of budget tourist. This style of travel involves traveling by public transportation and staying in hostel dorms most nights. Bicycle tourists, hitchhikers, vagabonds, campers, and hikers can also be considered budget tourists.

The budget depends on where you’re traveling and how many comforts you’re willing to give up. Some travelers can get by on $5-$10 per day. This is what I would consider budget travel. Other travelers consider $100 per day to be a low budget. The average budget tourist probably spends somewhere around $1000 per month on average.

A few ways to cut your travel budget include: 

  • Hitchhiking- This is a great way to cut your transportation budget. In much of the world, it’s easy to get a free ride between cities. In some places, you’re expected to help with gas money. 
  • Wild camping- If you travel with a shelter and sleeping bag, you can sleep for free in many places around the world. Sometimes this is legal and sometimes it’s not. 
  • Foraging- If you’re familiar with the local flora, you can harvest many types of berries, mushrooms, nuts, etc. This can help you cut your food budget. 
  • Couchsurfing- Another great way to cut your accommodation budget. Several websites exist which can help you find a host including Couchurfing.com and Warmshowers.org. 
  • Walking and Cycling- Cut your transportation budget by traveling under your own power.
  • Cooking your own food- It’s much cheaper to buy groceries and cook for yourself than to eat in restaurants. Even if you don’t have a kitchen, you can cook up some basic meals in your hotel room.

Budget Tourism Destinations

  • India- This is the ultimate budget tourism destination. Shoestring travelers can get by on as little as $15 per day while maintaining a comfortable diet and lifestyle. 
  • Southeast Asia- This is the top destination for budget tourists. It’s fairly easy to get by on $20 per day and live in relative comfort. The cheapest countries in the region include Cambodia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Malaysia are also very affordable to travel.
  • Central America- This is another incredibly affordable region. It’s possible to get by on around $20 per day in most of the region. Some of the cheaper countries include Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Costa Rica and Panama are not budget tourist destinations.
  • Eastern Europe- This region isn’t the cheapest but it offers excellent value. Some of the cheaper countries include Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, and Macedonia.  

35. Space Tourism

This type of tourism involves travel to space for recreational purposes. This could mean orbital, suborbital, or lunar space. 

So far, only a handful of people have traveled to space recreationally. Between 2001 and 2009, the Russian Space Agency allowed civilians to travel to the International Space Station in a Soyuz spacecraft. This is no longer an option.

At this time, there are no available space tourism options but there are a few companies working on it. Within the next few years, aerospace companies like Boeing, Space X, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic plan to begin offering recreational trips into space. 

36. Wildlife Tourism

Elephants on an African safari

Wildlife tourism is travel for the purpose of viewing and interacting with animals and plants in their native habitat. Most wildlife tourism takes place in protected areas such as national parks and game reserves.

The best example of wildlife tourism is a safari. Millions of people travel to Africa every year to view elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, leopards, and lions in their natural habitat. A few top destinations include Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. Some popular safari parks include Serengeti National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, Ngorongoro Crater, Kruger National Park, Ambroseli National Park, and Chobe National Park. Another example of wildlife tourism is whale watching.

A few more popular wildlife tourism destination is the Galapagos Islands, Borneo, Madagascar, and Costa Rica.

37. Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable Tourism is an approach to travel that focuses on environmental, social, and cultural conservation. It involves minimizing the negative impacts of tourism while maximizing its potential for benefiting local communities and providing an enjoyable experience for tourists.

Sustainable tourism emphasizes awareness of environmental challenges, caring for both people and the planet by reducing the consumption of natural resources, supporting local economies, and preserving local culture. The goal is to create a better environment for future generations.

38. Educational Tourism

Educational tourism is a type of tourism where the goal is to learn something new and broaden your horizons. This could be formal education through a university or school. For example, study abroad is a form of educational tourism.

Traveling to learn another language could also be a form of educational tourism. Many people travel to Latin America to take Spanish language courses.

Traveling to learn a new skill could also be a form of educational tourism. For example, maybe you’re traveling to take surf lessons, ski lessons, or SCUBA diving lessons.

Traveling to learn about history or culture could also be a form of educational tourism. Maybe you’re visiting museums, battlegrounds, or attending a cultural event with the goal of learning.

39. Mass Tourism

Mass tourism involves thousands or even tens of thousands of people traveling to the same destination for the purpose of tourism. They could be traveling to a resort, city, or a particular event. Mass tourism is one of the most common types of tourism.

For example, a good example of mass tourism is Disney theme parks. Around 161,000 people visit a Disney park per day. Cruises are another good example of mass tourism. The largest cruise ship can hold almost 10,000 passengers.

Some cities also attract massive amounts of foreign tourists. For example, Venice is probably the best example. Bali, Barcelona, and Amsterdam also experience mass tourism.

Events such as Carnival, Oktoberfest, and Mardi Gras also attract mass tourism. Religious events such as Hajj can also be considered mass tourism.

40. Music Tourism

Music tourism is travel for the purpose of attending music festivals or watching a musical performance. If you travel to see your favorite artist perform, you’re a music tourist. A few of the most popular music tourism destinations include Memphis, Berlin, Havana, London, Vienna, and Tokyo.

41. Wine Tourism

Wine tourism involves travel for the purpose of tasting, drinking, and buying wine. During a wine tour, you could visit different wineries, sample different wines, walk around the vineyard, or even learn about wine making. It is a type of food tourism. Wine tourism is also known as Enotourism, oenotourism, or vinitourism.

A few of the most popular destinations for wine tourism include France, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Greece, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, Georgia, South Africa, and the United States.

42. Beach Tourism

The beach in El Nido, Philippines

Beach tourism involves visiting beaches, coastal cities, and beach resorts with the intention of enjoying the beach, sun, sand, and water sports. This is one of the most common types of tourism. Millions of people travel to the beach every year.

A few of the top beach tourism destinations include Spain, Thailand, Australia, the United States, Brazil, Mauritius, the Bahamas, the Philippines, and more. There are thousands of spectacular beaches around the world.

43. International Tourism

International tourism is travel to another country. It is an important aspect of the global economy, as tourists contribute by spending money on hotels, restaurants, transportation, and entertainment. International tourism is a major part of the tourism industry. In addition to money, international tourism also brings culture, knowledge, and understanding. This can help to bridge divides between nations and cultures.

Whenever you travel to another country, you are participating in international tourism. Even if you just cross over the border for a day. International tourism is generally more expensive than domestic tourism.

International tourism is also known as outbound tourism when leaving your home country. It is considered inbound tourism for the country you’re visiting. Many travel agencies specialize in international tourism.

The top 10 most popular international tourism destinations include:

  • The United Kingdom

44. Atomic Tourism

This unique type of tourism involves traveling to learn about the atomic age to learn about history. For example, you could visit an atomic test site, museum, missile silo, delivery vehicle, nuclear disaster site, nuclear power plant, or a memorial.

A few of the most well-known atomic tourism sites include the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Bikini Atoll, The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, the Nevada Test Site, the Trinity Site, Hanford, and more.

Final Thoughts

According to the World Tourism Organization, “Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes.”

As we have seen, there are many different types of tourism. The tourism industry is a major part of the global economy. Traditional vacations to a resort or the beach are great but sometimes it’s nice to try something a bit different. Hopefully, this list of 44 types of tourism helps you expand your horizons while planning your next big trip.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to plan your whole trip around one type of tourism. For example, maybe you’re a foodie but you also want to give surfing a try. You can be a food tourist and extreme tourist in the same trip. Simply choose a destination that allows you to do both. Mexico would work great for this example. 

I’m pretty open-minded. Personally, I always like to try something different when I travel. I believe that tourists should be able to go anywhere they want, see anything they want, and do anything they want as long as they don’t harm anyone or cause any damage to the natural areas. I always try to choose a destination that allows me to experience something that I’ve never experienced before. 

What are your favorite types of tourism? Share your experience in the comments below!

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Zachary Friedman

Zachary Friedman is an accomplished travel writer and professional blogger. Since 2011, he has traveled to 66 countries and 6 continents. He founded ‘Where The Road Forks’ in 2017 to provide readers with information and insights based on his travel and outdoor recreation experience and expertise. Zachary is also an avid cyclist and hiker. Living as a digital nomad, Zachary balances his professional life with his passions for hiking, camping, cycling, and worldwide exploration. For a deeper dive into his journey and background, visit the About page. For inquiries and collaborations, please reach out through the Contact page. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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Sunday 7th of January 2024

What an interesting read! I’d never thought about some of these. Sober travel is also very popular these days and has some popular destinations.

Zachary Friedman

Friday 12th of January 2024

Thanks for reading. Sober travel is a great idea! I'll add that one to the list

Wander-Lush

World’s Best Cultural Tourism Destinations: 30 Cultural Trips to Take This Year

Discover the best cultural trips and immersive travel experiences our world has to offer. From Southern India to the High Arctic, here are the top 30 countries and regions for cultural tourism this year .

With many of us now on the lookout for deeper and more meaningful travel experiences , cultural tourism – travel that prioritises learning about and appreciating different ways of life – has never been more appealing.

Immersive cultural experiences give travellers an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective, form meaningful relationships, and develop new skills. They can also open the door to a slower, more sustainable type of travel that has benefits for local communities and a lighter impact on the planet.

Whether you’re a seasoned cultural traveller researching for your next trip or you’re interested in getting off-the-beaten-track but aren’t sure where to start, I hope this guide to culture and travel offers you some food for thought!

I also suggest reading these tips for socially responsible travel for advice about engaging with different cultures in a sensitive and mindful way.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

This post may contain sponsored links for which I received compensation.

What is cultural tourism?

Cultural travel is as broad and multifaceted as culture itself – it’s difficult to pin down, and highly subjective. For me, cultural tourism is a kind of travel that prioritises activities and experiences designed to immerse you in a way of life that differs from your own.

It might involve consuming tangible cultural products (museums, archaeological sites, food , tea ) or encountering intangible cultural elements (rituals, performances, processes). As well as art, literature, religious monuments and the like, it also encompasses ways of living, values and beliefs – both historical and contemporary.

It’s almost impossible to avoid local culture when you travel. No matter your motivation, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up experiencing some aspect of local culture, even if it’s something as simple as eating local cuisine or learning a few words of the language.

Apart from these incidental encounters, cultural tourism represents a more concerted effort to engage with local culture through specialised activities. In the same way an adventure traveller might seek out a particular hiking route, for example, a cultural traveller might plan their trip around a festival.

Cultural vacations might involve:

  • Learning a new skill, for example through a cooking class or craft workshop
  • Attending a local festival or event
  • Participating in a ritual or ceremony
  • Eating local food
  • Staying with a family at a homestay
  • Immersing yourself in the local community by teaching English as a foreign language
  • Visiting a community-based tourism project
  • Visiting World Heritage Sites and immersive museums
  • Taking a locally guided tour

There’s lots more to cultural trips (as you’ll soon see), but these are some of the common elements we tend to associate with this genre of travel.

Practicing Hmong embroidery at a homestay in Sapa, Vietnam.

Pros and cons of cultural travel

Cultural travel is almost a guaranteed way to enrich your experience as a tourist. But it’s worth noting that this type of travel has both benefits and downsides for host communities.

Cultural tourism helps to encourage the preservation of culture and heritage by keeping endangered traditions alive. There might be little demand for heritage handicraft skills, for example, but outside interest (and an opportunity to earn an income) could be enough to safeguard a tradition that might otherwise have been lost.

By the same token, cultural tourism can incentivise better protections for physical heritage sites, ensuring that monuments and the like remain accessible for future generations. Cultural tourism can have far-reaching social impacts and environmental benefits when it gives rise to new social enterprises, local businesses and women-led ventures geared towards giving tourists an immersive experience.

On the other hand, there’s always a question mark around authenticity when it comes to cultural travel. If a ritual is performed for the benefit of outsiders, does it lose its meaning? Commodification of culture for tourism is a serious issue that impacts many communities and can be damaging to social and economic development more broadly.

Cultural tourism often involves travelling to more remote areas, which introduces a whole host of other pros and cons. A road constructed for the benefit of tourists is also new infrastructure for the community – but it might speed up globalisation and cultural erosion, while the very presence of tourists can worsen environmental pollution or cause rifts between different social groups.

These are complicated issues. Personally, I think cultural exchange is one of the most important aspects of travel and when managed properly and in a way that actively involves communities, the benefits can outweigh the drawbacks.

Top 30 countries & regions for cultural trips

There’s not a town, city, county or region in the world that doesn’t have something amazing to offer in terms of local culture. This makes it very hard to pick the ‘best’ places for cultural tourism.

However, each of these 30 hand-picked destinations stands out for its extravagant festivals and celebrations, rich cuisine and heritage handicrafts that give travellers a window on culture, heritage and the local way of life.

At the end of the list, you’ll find my top tips for having a more culturally immersive travel experience no matter where in the world you go.

Cultural destinations in the Americas

Antioquia Department, Colombia • Cuba • Ecuador • Big Island of Hawaii, USA • Orleans Parish, USA • Oaxaca, Mexico

Colombia’s Antioquia Department – for pueblos, bandeja paisa & Botero

A woman looks out the window of her colourful house in Jerico, Colombia.

A melange of Indigenous traditions and colonial influences, there are few destinations in the world more culturally vibrant or intriguing than Colombia.

Antioquia Department in the north-west – with the city of Medellin as its capital – has become one of the most popular destinations in the country for tourists, beloved for its exquisite landscapes, colourful small towns and coffee farming heritage.

Along with several other departments, this part of Colombia is home to the Paisas , a self-defined cultural group whose name is derived from a Spanish word meaning ‘countryman’. They speak their own dialect, eat their own cuisine, and pass down their culture through a rich tradition of music and folklore.

Modern-day Antioquian culture is defined by the region’s artists, writers and poets. And then there’s the city of Medellin itself, which has undergone a huge transformation in recent years and is now considered one of the country’s main cultural hubs.

Top cultural experiences in Antioquia

Eat Paisa cuisine: One of the biggest joys of visiting Antioquia is experiencing the food scene. Paisa cuisine is heavily influenced by the topography and way of life in the Colombian Andes – carb-heavy dishes that feature beans, rice and maize are designed to fuel bodies for back-breaking work on the land. Bandeja Paisa is by far the most popular traditional dish and a must-eat in Medellin. The Antioquian version of a ploughman’s lunch, it consists of carne asada (grilled steak), chicharrón (crispy pork rind), rice and red beans served with a slice of avocado, fried plantains, a fried egg and a corn arepa on the side. It’s not for the faint hearted!

Visit a pueblo : Colombia is renowned for its small towns with colourful painted facades and pretty flower boxes. Antioquia is home to some of the loveliest pueblos in the country, including  Jardin , Jericó and Santa fe de Antioquia, to name but a few. Developed during Spanish times, most follow the same basic town plan: A public square, a market, a church, and rows and rows of houses built in the region’s vernacular style. If you’re short on time, Pueblo Paisa in Medellin is a model village in the heart of the capital.

Shop at the San Alejo Handicraft Market: If you happen to be visiting Medellin on the first Saturday of the month, don’t miss this unique opportunity to see Colombia’s handicraft traditions on display. Vendors from across the region descend on the city to sell traditional products, including woven Wayuu bags, and artisanal foods. You can chat to the vendors and watch live demonstrations to see how these Indigenous handicrafts are produced.

Visit Comuna 13: A locally guided tour of Medellin’s Comuna 13 will allow you to delve into the city’s tumultuous recent past in a respectful and mindful way. This collection of once-notorious city neighbourhoods has become a symbol for the nation’s transformation and cultural revitalisation. Street art, music and other expressions of local creativity are all on display for visitors to enjoy.

Cuba – for Mambo, classic cars & casas particulares

A colourful car parked in front of brightly painted houses in Cuba.

The native Taino Indians called their beautiful island Cubanacán. When the Spaniards arrived in 1511, they shortened it to ‘Cuba’ and claimed it for Spain, labelling it “the most beautiful land human eyes have ever beheld.”

Ethnically, the country is a vibrant mix of Europeans, Africans brought over as enslaved workers throughout the 1700s, and a large group of Chinese imported as indentured servants. Sadly, the original inhabitants have largely disappeared.

On December 31, 1959 the Cuban Revolution succeeded in converting the country into a communist nation. Since then – and due to the mutually adversarial relationship with the United States – the island nation has existed in semi-isolation, frozen in time.

The cars that roam the streets are the same classic American models from the 1950s, and the frequently crumbling buildings have enjoyed little renovation.    

Despite Cuba’s trying history, the spirit of the people lives on and in its rich and celebrated culture. Before you go, learn the dos and don’t of visiting Cuba . 

Top cultural experiences in Cuba

Dance the night away at a musical venue: Cuba is the birthplace of dozens of musical genres including Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha and Afro-Cuban Jazz. These Afro-European genres have contributed and enriched music categories around the world. Be sure to experience one of Cuba’s world-famous carnivals and Jazz Festivals.

Overdose on art and architecture: With nine UNESCO World Heritage sites and an amazing collection of museums, Cuba is a culture vulture’s paradise. Most are found in the capital city of Havana, but you also find little gems in the second city, Santiago de Cuba, and the perfectly preserved colonial city of Trinidad. Cuba’s architecture ranges from Spanish colonial and French Baroque to 1920s Art Deco. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana and the Bacardi Museum in Santiago to start; but don’t miss the quirky Rum Museum or the delectable Museum of Chocolate either.

Stay at a Cuban homestay: These Airbnb-type experiences are called ‘ casas particulares ‘. This is your opportunity to live with a Cuban family and delve into the culture.

Go hiking: Cuba’s national parks, biosphere reserves and 1,500 miles (2,400km) of coastline provide an opportunity to experience the outdoor culture.

By Talek from Travels With Talek

Ecuador – for jungle homestays, festivals & colada morada

The streets of Quito, Ecuador.

A country with just over 17 million people, Ecuador is an extremely culturally diverse nation and a cultural tourism destination that should not to be overlooked.

Retaining a strong influence from Spanish colonisation, with widely-celebrated Catholic festivals and traditions, there is also a diverse mix of Andean Indigenous groups and traditions that dominate the mountainous centre of the country. In the east, the influence of various Amazonian Indigenous groups and their traditions is strong.

The coast of Ecuador, meanwhile, is marked by African influence from the cultures of enslaved peoples brought during colonisation.

With such a diversity of cultures – each with their own festivals, traditional foods and more – there are plenty of immersive experiences to partake in across the country that make a trip to Ecuador a must for any cultural traveller.

Top cultural experiences in Ecuador

Visit a remote community in the Amazon rainforest: One of the most popular and fascinating cultural experiences for travellers to Ecuador is to visit an Indigenous community to learn about and experience the rich traditions. Even a jungle tour of the Amazon on a budget can be tailored to include a visit to an Indigenous community, where you’ll learn to make traditional dishes and beverages such as chicha . Tribes deeper in the Amazon that welcome visitors often offer more in-depth cultural experiences including homestays, ritual cleansings, or even ayahuasa retreats.

Celebrate Easter in Ecuador: In addition to the Indigenous traditions in Ecuador, there are many popular celebrations from the Catholic tradition that travellers can partake in. Easter celebrations during Holy Week include Quito’s parade, known as the Procesión Jesús del Gran Poder, which features thousands of purple-hooded devotes carrying crosses and statues. Make sure you enjoy a bowl of traditional Fanesca , a rich and creamy soup made with 12 grains representing the 12 Disciples.

Dress up for Día de los Difuntos : Another cultural celebration with Indigenous roots is the Día de los Difuntos or ‘Day of the Deceased’, marked on November 2nd. Ecuador celebrates by honouring the dead and visiting cemeteries. Celebrations also include preparing and eating guaguas de pan , bread in the shape of a baby filled with fruit jam, and drinking colada morada , a thick, sweet drink made with berries and fruit and thickened with blue corn flour before being served warm. These delicious treats are sold in bakeries across the country for at least a month prior to the festivities. The largest celebrations are held in Indigenous communities such as Otavalo in Northern Ecuador.

By Carley from Home to Havana

The Big Island of Hawaii – for palm weaving, stargazing & petroglyphs

Traditional Hawaiian totems on the beach.

The natural abundance of the Big Island of Hawaii, the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, is nothing short of spectacular. With eight different climate zones, three active volcanoes, and the most mesmerising waterfalls and beaches in different shades, there’s a wealth of diversity to explore on the Big Island .

This unique natural setting is also home to several important cultural sites. After all, this is the Hawaiian island where the first Polynesian settlers arrived, where the first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii, King Kamehameha the Great, was born, and where the European explorers first arrived.

With such a rich heritage, it comes as no surprise that Hawaiian culture is still very much alive on the Big Island. Here are some experiences that allow you to explore the island’s heritage.

Top cultural experiences on the Big Island of Hawaii

Take a self-guided tour of the Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park: Just south of Kailua-Kona, there’s a site where the royal family and their warriors once lived. It’s very well preserved and you can still see the thatched huts, an ancient temple, wooden carvings and fishponds. But this site was more than just a royal retreat: When Hawaiians broke the law or kapu , they were condemned to death. The only option to escape their fate was reaching this sanctuary, known as the Place of Refuge. You can visit this intriguing site on a self-guided tour.

Learn the traditional Hawaiian art of weaving palm fronds: In the Hawaiian craft known as lau niu , the leaves of the coconut palm were used to thatch roofs, create baskets and even hats. There’s a handful of workshops where you can learn this traditional craft from a professional weaver. Not only does it make for a unique experience, it also allows you to craft your own handmade Hawaiian souvenir.

Go stargazing at Maunakea: In Hawaiian culture, the dormant Maunakea volcano, with its unique alpine Lake Waiau, is considered sacred. They believed the summit to be the realm of the gods and the meeting place of earth and sky. To this day, cultural rituals are performed on the slopes of Maunakea. This intriguing volcano is home to the world’s largest astronomical observatory, the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, which hosts a regular stargazing program.

Check out the Hawaiian petroglyphs: Hawaiian petroglyphs tell the stories of ancient times and give a unique inside into the different cultural beliefs on the islands. You can find carvings of canoes, turtles, babies and more at one of the petroglyph sites that dot the Big Island, such as the Puuloa Petroglyph site in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or the Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve near the Mauna Lani Resort.

Conquer the ocean in an outrigger canoe: Step aboard a double-hull outrigger canoe and explore the shore in the same way the Polynesian settlers did centuries ago. This type of canoe features lateral support floats or outriggers fastened to one or to both sides of the hull. Learn how to paddle and work as a team as you glide along the Kona reefs teeming with fish. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a pod of dolphins.

By Sarah from CosmopoliClan

Orleans Parish – for jazz, Madi Gras & creole cooking

New Orleans city.

When it comes to cultural destinations, few cities have as much to offer as New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. Located in Southeastern USA, New Orleans is all about tradition and culture. The city’s unique heritage comes from a blend of French, Spanish, Cajun, and Creole cultures.

Combined, these groups have given birth to something truly iconic. The beautiful Mardi Gras celebrations are a remnant of the French colonial era, while the beautiful Spanish colonial architecture in Jackson Square is worthy of a walking tour .

You will also find unique Cajun cuisine served in the city’s most popular restaurants. Add in the many historical museums, southern plantation homes, and distinct architectural styles and Orleans Parish makes for the ultimate cultural destination in the US.

Top cultural experiences in New Orleans

Join a Mardi Gras parade: New Orleans is well-known for its lavish and grand Mardi Gras parades and balls. Visitors can enjoy the festivities for an entire month in the lead up to the big day. Outside of Mardi Gras, there are plenty of other festivals in New Orleans to check out as well. 

Listen to jazz: New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz. The city’s Creole population gathered and celebrated in the city’s Congo Square on Sundays and thus jazz was born!

Tour a plantation home: Many southern plantation homes are located along the banks of the Mississippi. These can be seen on a road trip along the Great River Road. On a tour, you will learn about pre-Civil war life in the South and the history of slavery. Learn more about the ethics of visiting plantation homes here .

By Ketki from Dotted Globe

Oaxaca – for Indigenous cuisine, Zapotec rugs & mezcal

A church in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The state of Oaxaca is a cultural hub in Mexico. Void of resorts or even big-name hotel chains, Oaxaca is rich in flavourful cuisine, celebrations, and Indigenous revitalisation.

Located in southern Mexico, Oaxaca features a variety of different landscapes, from lush hills and forests, to dry arid deserts and blissful beaches. However, the community atmosphere of Oaxaca is what keeps people coming back, both international visitors and Mexican residents alike.

Oaxaca is known as the food capital of Mexico, with dozens of celebrity chefs. Notably, Indigenous culture is very visible in Oaxaca, with 16 recognised Indigenous groups in the state. Zapotec weaving is one of the most sought-after souvenirs in the area – and Mexico in general – and it comes from Oaxaca.

Top cultural experiences in Oaxaca

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos : Oaxaca City is a top destination for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), with its dazzling parades, intricate family altars and abundant festivities. Dia de los Muertos is a pre-Columbian tradition that honours deceased loved ones with food, drink, and merriment. So, if you happen to visit Oaxaca during a festival like Dia de los Muertos, bring comfortable shoes for fun activities throughout the day. Oaxaca City is an extremely walkable city, and you will want to explore every inch of its mural lined walls.

Eat Oaxacan cuisine: Since Oaxacan cuisine is also central to the region’s identity, sign up for a food tour with a local to learn the origins of some of the most popular dishes and what makes Oaxacan food and flavour so unique and different from other states in Mexico. Or, if you want to take a more hands-on approach, take a cooking class with a world-class chef at Casa de los Sabores and learn how to make mole and other Oaxacan staples.

Visit a Zapotec village: If you’d prefer to focus on Indigenous cuisine, take a day trip out to the Zapotec village of Teotitlán del Valle for a cooking class at El Sabor Zapoteco . After you finish, there are many things to do in Teotitlán del Valle , but you will probably want to get your fill of shopping at the many boutique shops for best quality Zapotec rugs.

Drink mezcal: If you’re a fan of hard drinks, Oaxaca is a great destination for mezcal tasting! Hop on any tour and view the vast agave fields as you taste mezcal throughout the day. Depending on the season, you may even get to try your hand at using the harvesting machete!

By Kay from The Awkward Traveller

Learn more: A local’s guide to the best of Mexican culture and an in-depth guide to Mayan culture in the Yucatan .

Cultural travel destinations in Europe

French Basque Country • Armenia • Sicily • Greece • Bosnia & Herzegovina • Russia • Northern Europe’s Arctic Regions • The Greater Caucasus • Andalusia, Spain

French Basque Country – for frontons , fêtes & espadrilles

Architecture in Basque Country, France.

The Basque country at the southwestern-most tip of France is one of those regions you might not guess is French – at least not at first.

The half-timbered houses are painted oxblood or green, and the Euskara (Basque) language, Europe’s oldest, is related to no other tongue. The Basques are also among the oldest ethnic groups of Europe.

Basque culture is unique and is spread among seven provinces, of which three are in France (the other four are in Spain). The Basques have their own festivals, music and dances, their own foods, games and folklore, as well as an acute sense of history and heritage.

Top cultural experiences in French Basque Country

Here are just a few cultural experiences to whet your appetite for all things Basque!

Gastronomy: The food is different from your regular French fare. For example, the Espelette pimento is spicier than seasonings you’ll find elsewhere in France, and food itself is taken to new heights here – the region has the highest number of Michelin stars per capita in the world. And let’s not forget the pintxo , the Basque equivalent of the Spanish tapas.

Fronton s: You’ll find one of these walls in every Basque village – it’s what Basques use to play their national sport, Basque pelota (known in some countries as jai alai). It’s played with a racquet-like bat which scoops up the ball. Then, a bit like squash, the players fling it back and forth against the wall, or fronton.

Family-owned businesses: Basque artisanal traditions run deep, whether it’s leatherwork, espadrilles, Basque linen or beret making. This is a region in which hand-made goods thrive and where mass-production takes a back seat. The local government makes sure family businesses are promoted and Basque know-how exported, however stiff the competition – there are special labels for family businesses, and even labels for those businesses that have been around for more than a century (and there are plenty). As a result, hand-made goods from this small region find their way around the world, symbolising not only Basque savvy but Basque determination to hang on to its heritage.

Bayonne Festival: With its one million annual participants, the Fêtes de Bayonne is France’s largest festival. It was ‘borrowed’ in 1932 from not-too-distant Pamplona in Spain, but has grown immeasurably since. Each July, visitors dress up in white clothes and red scarves (and a red beret, of course) and spend five days eating, drinking, singing Basque songs and watching Basque sports. The Festival includes bullfighting, which has a long tradition in the region, although this particular sport might be short-lived given the growing opposition to it.

By Leyla from Offbeat France

Bosnia & Herzegovina – for old bazaars, woodcarving & kahva

Bosnian coffee.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse countries in the Balkans . If you have your sights set on this lesser-visited part of Europe for your next cultural trip, it’s the perfect setting to learn about the region’s different – often competing – influences and how they’ve shaped modern life.

Bosnia is the original cultural melting pot, and Sarajevo is where it all comes to a head. The city is divided into two parts – Ottoman and European – with the sprawling Old Bazaar on one side, and the Austro-Hungarian planned portion of the capital on the other. A plaque on the pavement marks the spot where East Meets West.

But the boundaries aren’t always that clear. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s character is a combination of Bosnian, Serb and Croat, layered with Jewish, Romanian, Albanian and Turkish traditions. The vignette of a mosque’s minaret and a church bell tower rising up side by side is a perfect motif for the country’s diversity.

Top cultural experiences in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Explore Sarajevo’s Old Bazaar: One of the most beautiful Ottoman bazaars in the region (and there are a lot), just wandering the rows of picturesque wooden shops connected by cobbled streets – the sound of coppersmiths beating intricate designs onto plates ringing in your ears – is a completely immersive experience. At the kafane coffeehouses, where kahva and rakia are served with much pageantry, you get a feel for famous Bosnian hospitality.

Take a food tour of Sarajevo: Bosnians are fiercely proud of their national cuisine. Dishes such as burek (filled savoury pastry) and cevapi are a common ground and bring the country together. A food tour of Sarajevo takes you behind the scenes on some of the city’s liveliest markets and busiest restaurants while giving you an insight into the history behind some of the country’s most iconic dishes.

Visit a woodcarving master in Konjic: Sarajevo in particular has an incredibly rich art and literature scene, as evidenced in the many festivals that take place in the city throughout the year. Bosnia’s heritage handicrafts shine a light on the culture of craftsmanship that has bestowed the country with so many beautiful landmarks over the years. Woodcarving has been practiced for generations in the city of Konjic and today, visitors can tour the masters’ workshops for an up-close encounter.

See the Stećci Medieval Tombstone Graveyards: Stećci medieval tombstones were laid during the time of the Bosnian Kingdom. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they’re found throughout the territory including in forests close to the border with Serbia . Carved from limestone, the Stećci contain motifs and inscriptions and provide a rare window onto this epoch of the country’s history that’s still shrouded in much mystery.

Greece – for markets, mythology & Orthodox Easter

Ancient Athens.

Greece is a country rich in culture, from the legacy of ancient history and mythology to traditional cuisine and celebratory festivals that still bring people together to this day. Greek nationals tend to be very proud of their history and culture , which can be seen in the well-executed museums, galleries and archaeological sites throughout the country.

Believed to be the ‘birthplace of Western civilisation’, Greece is known for its scholars, medics, architects, philosophers and politicians that shaped the way the world works today. This makes the country an excellent choice for cultural tourism as there are simply so many things to see and do that will both satiate your wanderlust while also teaching you new things.

Whether you’re interested in archaeological excavations, gastronomic tours, local festivals or ancient architecture, Greece certainly has you covered.

Top cultural experiences in Greece

Take a Mythology Tour of Ancient Athens: Athens has a whole host of archaeological sites to explore , from the Ancient Agora and Hadrian’s Library to the world-famous Acropolis and Parthenon perched on a hillside overlooking the city. One of the best ways to discover these sites is via a Mythology Tour that takes you around the best historic monuments and ruins while also giving you interesting information about the city and country’s history and mythology. This tour , suitable for all ages, gives you skip-the-line access to some of Athens’ most important landmarks along with an experienced guide to give you detailed history about how Greece became the centre of the world.

Visit the Athens Central Market: If your idea of cultural tourism involves food, you might be interested in a trip to the Athens Central Market and a local cookery class. A gastronomic experience allows you to soak up the sights and smells of the city’s biggest market, picking up local produce and souvenirs while also trying some tasty titbits along the way . You’ll then take your purchases back to the kitchen where you’ll cook up a storm using local recipes and techniques. Try classics like Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), Tzatziki and Spanakopita (spinach and feta pies) to give you a real taste of traditional Greek cuisine.

Attend the Epidaurus Festival: The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, a grand amphitheatre located on the bank of the Acropolis Complex, runs an annual summer festival of art. The festival combines modern and traditional music, theatre and dance with the picturesque Ancient Greek setting, making it a real highlight for any traveller. Over the years, the Epidaurus festival has played host to names like Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas and Luciano Pavarotti.

Celebrate Orthodox Easter in Greece: Easter is one of the biggest traditional festivals on the Orthodox calendar, so no matter where you are in Greece during this time, you’re sure to come across some pretty exciting celebrations! One destination that always enjoys epic Easter festivities is the island of Corfu. Local Easter traditions begin on Palm Sunday (a week before Easter) and there are different festivities each day leading up to the main event.

Palm Sunday sees a large procession of the Holy Shrine; Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday see locals preparing their Easter meals and sweet specialities, going to evening ceremonies and lighting up the town with lanterns; Maundy Thursday is egg-painting day; Good Friday features the mournful marches of the philharmonic orchestra and the procession of epitaphs; Good Saturday features an artificial earthquake(!), bell ringing, the throwing of clay pots and tossing coins into a barrel; and the whole week culminates on Easter Sunday with a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ – fireworks, marches, music and traditional family meals galore!

By Chrysoula from Athens and Beyond

Learn more: 7 awesome cultural activities in Athens .

Russia – for ballet, banyas & borscht

A gold-domed building surrounded by snowy trees in Russia.

While many may think of Russia as cold and grey, this could not be further from the truth. From the famous colourful onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral to the gilded fountains of the Peterhof Palace, Russia’s beauty is undeniable.

Russia is also a country rich in culture and filled with literature, ballet, painting and classical music.

Top cultural experiences in Russia

To really delve into Russian culture, there are a few experiences you should have whilst here.

Experience a Russian banya : One of the best cultural experiences you can have in Russia is to visit a banya . A banya is similar to a sauna. The biggest difference, though, is that a banya has high levels of humidity, while a sauna usually has dry air. They’ve been a part of Russian life for over a thousand years! You wear funny felt hats to protect your hair and ears from the heat. This also helps to regulate your body temperature, so you are able to sit in the banya for a longer period of time.

Another interesting aspect of the Russian banya is ‘flogging’ using birch twigs ( venik ). This is supposed to benefit your health and improve your immune system, and honestly, if you have someone who knows what they are doing, it does feel really good!

After you’ve gone in and out of the banya a couple times, you then cool yourself off by taking a quick, cold shower, jumping into a cold pool or tub (banyas do have these), jumping into a snowbank (seriously). Or… You can just jump in a frozen lake!

See a ballet at the Bolshoi: Seeing a ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre is one of the best things to do in Moscow and all of Russia in general. Even though ballet did not originate in Russia, Russian ballet is world-renowned, and the locals are incredibly proud of the tradition. If you can, try to see a performance of The Nutcracker or Swan Lake on the historic stage. Tickets sell out very quickly, so don’t delay in purchasing them once they go on sale!

Experience NYE: New Year’s Eve is the biggest holiday in Russia. This is because Christmas was forbidden during the Soviet years. Many traditions were moved from Christmas to the New Year, including keeping presents under the Christmas tree and visits from the Russian equivalent of Santa. Celebrations and fireworks take place across the country on December 31 – the biggest and most famous displays are in Moscow’s Red Square and Gorky Park.

Sample Russian cuisine: No trip to Russia would be complete without experiencing the local cuisine. The best Russian food and drinks to sample on your visit are: Pelmeni (a Russian dumpling filled with meat and usually topped with sour cream); borscht (a traditional Russian soup whose main ingredient is beetroot); beef stroganoff (a Russian dish made with sautéed beef in a sauce with smetana ); syrniki (essentially a cottage cheese pancake topped with jam or sour cream – SO good!); kvass (a fermented beverage made from rye bread); and caviar and vodka (alas, you can’t come to Russia and not try caviar and vodka!)

By Lindsey from Have Clothes, Will Travel

Northern Europe’s Arctic Regions – for reindeer & Sami traditions

Reindeer in the Northern Arctic.

In Europe’s high northern reaches, you will find one of the continent’s oldest and most distinct cultures, the Sami. Spread across the Arctic regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, the Sami are Indigenous people who have traditionally led a nomadic lifestyle, known for herding their reindeer between their summer and winter feeding grounds.

The origins of the Sami are largely unknown, and it is believed that they once inhabited grounds much further south. But years of persecution drove them north and forced them to decrease livestock numbers in order to maintain their way of life. 

Against all odds, they have managed to hold onto large parts of their culture, including languages, traditions and ceremonies. As the modern world has encroached further north, there have been clashes over natural resources and land, which has put the plight of the Sami at the forefront of people’s minds in recent years and led to movements to protect the people and the culture. 

Top cultural experiences in the Arctic regions

Head to Tromso for an immersive Sami experience: Today, there are plenty of ways you can learn about and experience Sami culture. During the winter months, there are many Sami experiences in Tromsø, Norway and beyond where you can educate yourself about the Sami way of life, hear stories that have been passed down through the generations, and eat traditional foods.

Shop at a Sami market: Keep an eye out for Sami markets where you can purchase handmade traditional items.

Participate in a Sami festival: Norway is known to have the largest festivals and in various Arctic cities, you will find Sami festivals on National Sami Day (February 6th). In the summer, there are also Sami music festivals, such as the one found near Murmansk in Russia.

A visit to Northern Europe’s Arctic region is one of the most meaningful cultural trips in Europe as it helps bring attention to a group of people who have spent many years marginalised in their respective modern-day societies.

By Megan from Megan Starr

Andalusia – for Moorish architecture, tapas & Flamenco

Architecture in Andalusia, Spain.

Andalusia is an autonomous region in Southern Spain, geographically bounded by Spain’s southern coast. It’s culturally vibrant and very distinctive when compared to other parts of Spain such as Catalunya.

This part of the country was ruled by the Moors for centuries, and Moorish influence is evident in the cuisine, architecture and culture. Seville, Cordoba and Granada are all among the best Spain city breaks and each serve as a good base for exploring more of the region.

Top cultural experiences in Andalusia

Marvel at the Moorish architecture: The Andalusian architecture will capture your attention as soon as you land there, and this is probably the easiest way to start digging into the region’s past and cultural evolution. Cities like Seville and Granada have major UNESCO sites that will blow your mind – the style is in no way similar to buildings in France or even northern Spain for that matter. Islamic calligraphy and intricate details are most evident at the Real Alcazar Palace in Seville, the Alhambra in Granada , and the Mezquita in Cordoba.

Go tapas hopping: People in Andalusia are known for being a more little laid back, and generally enjoy food, family and companionship. Popular ‘tapas hopping’ is best experienced in Andalusia. Tapas bars in the south cultivate a cosy atmosphere with rounds of $1 dollar beers, spinach and chickpeas, cheese, and churros. Moorish/Muslim influence can be seen in the preparation of some foods, especially marzipan, and in the use of herbs and spices such as cumin and cilantro.  

Watch a Flamenco performance: After food, flamenco is what defines Andalusia. Flamenco is a dance that is synonymous with Southern Spain and is one of the most energetic and passionate forms of dance/storytelling. Flamenco shows in Seville and other cities in Andalusia are a great way to understand and enjoy this side of Southern Spanish culture.

By Mayuri from To Some Place New

Cultural tourism destinations in the Asia Pacific

Central Australia • Timor-Leste • Sarawak, Malaysia • Cambodia • Japan • Bhutan • Kerala, India • Rajasthan, India • Uzbekistan • The Tibetan Plateau • Taiwan

Central Australia – for ancient landscapes, ochre & bush tucker

Uluru viewed from above.

The Arrernte and Anangu people have lived in Central Australia for over 20,000 years. From Uluru and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) to the MacDonnell Ranges and Alice Springs, they have made their home in one of Australia’s driest and hottest regions.

The landscape, its plants and animals permeate every aspect of their culture. The natural environment is the basis for the Creation (or Dreamtime) stories at the core of their beliefs, ceremonies and traditions.

Their relationship with the land also has a practical aspect as a source of food, shelter and medicine. The Arrernte and Anangu’s land management techniques, native foods and art have all found their ways into broader Australian life.

Today, members of the communities have roles as guides, ranges and managers of major tourism businesses. For travellers, there are many opportunities to appreciate the on-going connection the Arrernte and Anangu people have with the Central Australian landscape.

Top cultural experiences in Central Australia

Visit Uluru (Ayres Rock): You can’t go to Central Australia and not visit Uluru. It is an iconic Australian landmark and when you visit this enormous rock, you’ll find many ways to immerse yourself in Indigenous culture. At Yulara Resort you can join a free session to learn about Indigenous food, crafts and didgeridoo playing.

On your way to Uluru, stop at the Cultural Centre. There are ranger talks about the area’s wildlife, how the Anagu have lived in the area for thousands of years, and how that knowledge is used to manage the park today. There are also galleries featuring local art and craft. For something a bit different, try a Segway tour of the rock . As you cruise around the 10 km base, you get a wonderful explanation of the Creation Stories tied to many of the rock’s features, caves and waterholes.

Ochre Pits: Ochre is a natural clay that comes in a range of colours and has been used for ceremonial and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. The Ochre Pits are at a site in the West MacDonnell Ranges where ochre has been collected by Arrernte men for generations. The Ochre Pits are an easy and accessible stop as you tour the gorges of the West MacDonnell Ranges. The colourful ochre cliff face is spectacular and it is quite an experience to be in the presence of a site that has been used for so long and continues to play a role in Arrernte life.

Alice Springs Desert Park: With the lives and lore of the Arrernte tied so closely to the environment, this combination of a wildlife park and botanic garden gives you a great insight into their relationship with the land. Besides the fantastic desert animal exhibits, there is a full program of keeper and cultural talks over the day. Learn about surviving in the desert, bush food and the meaning many of the animals have in the daily life of the Arrernte. The park is in Alice Springs with the West MacDonnell Ranges providing a spectacular backdrop.

By Natalie & Steve from Curious Campers

Timor-Leste – for sacred houses, tais weaving & Cristo Rei

A woman weaves a brightly coloured textile in her home in Timor-Leste.

Asia’s youngest nation, tiny Timor-Leste fought hard for its independence, first from Portugal and later from Indonesia. Holding strong to customs and beliefs is part of the resistance and against all odds, the Timorese have managed to pass down many traditions through music, dance and storytelling.

Fiestas held year-round throughout the country showcases these oral traditions, while in recent years, contemporary collectives have began building on the nation’s heritage of performance arts to process the events of the past and express their visions for the future.

There aren’t many physical reminders of Timor’s time as a Portuguese colony left – most architecture was subsequently destroyed – but the invisible influence is still there, along with the influence of the Catholic Church.

In the more remote regions, ethnic groups such as the Fataluku speak their own language and observe a fascinating array of cultural practices you won’t find anywhere else on Earth.

Top cultural experiences in Timor-Leste

Tais weaving: Timor’s ornate national textiles are storytelling objects, filled with symbols inspired by folktales and animist traditions. At the Tais market in Dili you can shop for handwoven tais scarves and tablecloths, while visiting a weaving centre such as Koperativa Lo’ud gives you a chance to see the natural dyeing and weaving process in person.

See the uma lulik in Lospalos: Part of the Fataluku tradition, these sacred houses perched high on stilts symbolise the link between the dead and the living. They are sacred objects that cut an impressive profile as you pass them on the coast around far-eastern Timor.

Make the pilgrimage to Cristo Rei: Standing 27 metres tall on a hill overlooking the capital, Dili, Cristo Rei is the ultimate symbol of Timor-Leste’s piety. More than 99% of Timorese are Christian, and the church has played a huge role in shaping the island’s character post-independence. Walking the 590-step path lined with Stations of the Cross is a right of passage. At the top, views of Dili, Atauro Island and the sparkling coastline.

Sarawak, Malaysia – for ikat textiles, longhouses & forest trekking

A mosque on the water in Kuching, Malaysia.

The largest of Malaysia’s 13 states , Sarawak envelops much of Borneo. Local culture and way of life is intimately intertwined with the island’s flora and fauna and offers visitors experiences quite distinct from anything you find in Peninsular Malaysia.

Life, history, culture and spirituality is all heavily influenced by the area’s Indigenous peoples, most notably the Iban. Malaysia’s mix of Malay, Indian, Muslim, Chinese and British culture can also be felt in Kuching , the autonomous state’s biggest city and a hub for culture and the arts.

Top cultural experiences in Sarawak

Visit a museum in Kuching: The Tun Jugah Textile Museum, the Sarawak Cultural Village and the Sarawak State Museum – all in or near Kuching – offer immersive exhibits that explore Iban culture. The former is dedicated almost completely to the art of ikat weaving, a time-honoured craft tradition that’s kept alive by artisans and students who learn to dye and weave at the museum workshop.

Stay in an Iban longhouse: Travelling up river into the forest to spend the night at an Iban longhouse is an unforgettable experience. As well as sleeping in traditional quarters, you’ll get to taste home-cooked food and experience various oral traditions, including Renong singing and Ensera storytelling.

Eat Sarawak cuisine: Malaysia is a foodie’s paradise and Sarawak is no exception. In addition to the usual mix of cuisines served up at hawker markets, the state boasts many regional breakfast specialties including Sarawak laksa, kolo mee (Sarawakian noodles) and ayam pansuh (chicken cooked in bamboo).

Cambodia – for Theravada Buddhism, apsara & golden silk

A temple in Cambodia.

It’s easy to think of Cambodian culture as a relic of the past – a crumbling stupa or a cobwebbed museum display. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Khmer culture is a living, breathing thing, and it permeates everything – from underrated Cambodian cuisine to the country’s handicraft industry and the young collectives in Battambang and Kampot who are reviving the arts scene.

Many traditions and art forms almost lost during the 1970s have been brought back from the brink by artists and entrepreneurs determined to keep Cambodian culture alive.

Whether you’re interested in the legacy of the most powerful Golden Age state, the Khmer Empire, or discovering reminders of the Kingdom’s time as part of French Indochina in the beautiful colonial architecture and peppercorn plantations, it’s never been easier for visitors to get a feel for Cambodian culture.

Top cultural experiences in Cambodia

Take a Buddhism tour of Siem Reap: Spirituality plays a huge role in contemporary Cambodian life and there’s no better lens for exploring the country through. After you’ve taken in the Temples of Angkor that blend Hinduism and Buddhism, learn the ins and outs of Theravada Buddhism with an immersive Buddhism tour of Siem Reap . It’s a life-changing experience that teaches you how ancient beliefs coexist with modern society.

Watch an Apsara performance: It wasn’t so long ago that Cambodia’s national dance, Apsara, was considered an endangered art form. Artist and genocide surviver Arn Chorn-Pond has almost single-handedly revived Apsara traditions through his organisation Cambodian Living Arts. Nothing captures the Cambodian spirit like the understated but immensely beautiful performance. Nightly shows are held in Phnom Penh along with hands-on Apsara workshops that teach visitors the basic moves.

Go forest trekking in Mondulkiri: Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri in Cambodia’s far north-east are two of the country’s most remote provinces , known for their thick forests and biodiversity, including wild elephants. Ethnic minority groups including the Tampuan and the Bunong have developed sustainable tourism offerings, hosting guests at homestays and organising guided forest treks. During the tours, you get a glimpse of how people have coexisted with the forest for generations, and learn about the struggles they face today.

Seek out Khmer handicrafts: From Siem Reap’s Golden silk to Takeo cotton and clay pottery in Kampong Chhnang, every Cambodian province has its specialty crafts, many of which are still made by hand according to traditional techniques. In addition to making the perfect Cambodia souvenir , many co-ops offer tours and workshops so you can see the processes up close.

Japan – for ryokans , geisha culture & tea ceremonies

A traditional Japanese meal served at a ryokan.

For those seeking an immersive cultural travel experience, Japan offers visitors a unique look at some of the oldest and most beautiful traditions in the world.

From the historic temples and shrines found throughout the country to the many spiritual and cultural celebrations, there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to Japan to learn about the various philosophies and spiritual traditions that underpin Japanese culture. 

Top cultural experiences in Japan

Observe a temple ritual: Consider participating in some of the various rituals at Japan’s temples and shrines. This is especially beneficial if you’re visiting Japan with kids , as it helps to gain a better understanding and appreciation for Japanese customs. Many people in Japan have deep-seated beliefs in symbolism. At the temples and shrines, you can observe and participate in practices that will bring you good fortune, luck, prosperity or health.

Spend the night in a ryokan : To truly embrace Japanese culture, book a stay at a ryokan rather than a hotel. These traditional Japanese inns typically feature rooms with tatami-matted floors and communal onsens or bathhouses. Guests tend to walk around the ryokan in a yukata or lounging kimono and slippers. It is also common for guests to walk around barefoot, as it is considered unclean to wear shoes inside.

Drink matcha : A tea ceremony is another immersive experience that is unique to Japan. Although popular throughout Japan, tea ceremonies are especially prominent in Kyoto, the home of geisha culture. Geishas are treated somewhat like celebrities in Japan, and booking a geisha performance and tea ceremony can be expensive and fairly difficult to arrange. However, you can book a tea ceremony with a maiko , or geisha apprentice, for a more modest price. This one-of-a-kind ritual ceremony is sure to be one of the most memorable travel experiences you’ll have in Japan!

By Melissa from Parenthood and Passports

Bhutan – for handicrafts, thangka & fertility symbols

A Bhutanese ritual.

Most people think of the Tiger’s Nest when they think of Bhutan. But this small, mountainous nation has a wealth of cultural history to offer in addition to its ornate monasteries.

Bhutan is a nation of crafters. In every town and city you will find streetwise vendors selling all manner of clothing, kitchenware, homeware and decorations that have been made using techniques that have been taught and passed down for hundreds of years.

Likewise, if you turn your attention to the buildings, you’ll see that many of them are adorned with colourful decals and patterns, especially designs that depict the eight auspicious signs which, among other things, represent wealth, good fortune, purity and harmony.

Bhutan is the only country in the world to measure their country’s wellbeing based on Gross National Happiness as opposed to Gross Domestic Production, which makes it (un)officially the happiest country on Earth.

Best cultural experiences in Bhutan

Attend a Tshechu ceremony: The annual Tshechu ceremonies show off Bhutan’s handicraft history perfectly. Throughout the year, locals gather across the country in regional Tshechus to celebrate Bhutan’s culture by singing traditional songs and performing dances in elaborate, brightly coloured costumes. At the Tsechu celebrations, an enormous religious banner or thangka depicting the country’s founder, Guru Rinpoche, is unveiled. The thangka is the size of a three storey building, hundreds of years old, and has not faded through the centuries due to the tradition of making sure that the light of the sun never touches it, so it’s still incredibly colourful and detailed.

Visit the Choki Traditional Art School: In order to see the historical handicrafts of Bhutan in production for yourself, make sure to visit the Choki Traditional Art School. Located just to the north of the capital city of Thimpu, here you can witness the students being taught how to weave, paint and sculpt masks, clothes, models, tapestries and dioramas from Bhutan’s history. Students’ ages range from elementary through to late teens, with all levels of skill on display. The students’ creations can then be bought from the school craft shop, with the proceeds helping fund the continuation of the institute’s classes.

Spot the phallus in Punakham: Punakham is the former capital of Bhutan, and was the seat of government until 1955. Located in the north of the country, the town is notable to western tourists for one particular reason. In the 15th century, a controversial master named Lama Drukpa Kunley (also known as the ‘Divine Madman’) popularised the phallus as a means to ward off slander and provide protection for those who lived in houses that displayed it prominently. Yes, it may be taboo for most of the world, but not here – these graphic symbols of fertility and good luck are artistically painted on walls everywhere!

By Jeremy from Cultura Obscura

Kerala, India – for houseboats, tea estates & contemporary art

A houseboat in Kerala.

Dubbed ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala is a noodle-shaped state in the Southwest of India on the Malabar Coast. It’s known for its beautiful nature – especially a series of canals known as the backwaters and the hilly terrain of the Western Ghats Mountains.

Kerala people are officially the most literate in India and have the longest life expectancy. It is often said the Keralites have the best quality of life in this part of India, and that things are a lot more advanced. This is conveyed in the increasingly popular field of ecotourism and other initiatives.

The region is a beautiful mix of influences and religions. The spice trade has flourished in the area, which brought about European colonisation. You can feel Portuguese influence to this day, especially in the town of Kochi.

Top cultural experiences in Kerala

Cruise Kerala’s backwaters on a houseboat: With the decline of goods being transported on water, Kerala’s trade boats were repurposed into houseboats, and now provide a unique immersive experience on the famous backwaters. The most popular route is between Alleppey and Kumarakom or Kolam. Spending at least one night on the backwaters is necessary for the ultimate houseboat experience.

Soak up the tea heritage in Munnar: Munnar in the Western Ghats is famous for its tea production. You can visit several tea estates in the area and enjoy a tasting. In the village of Munnar, you can also experience the peaceful coexistence of three religions. There’s a Hindu temple, a Catholic church and a mosque all within a few meters from each other. 

Attend the Muziris Biennale in Kochi: A bi-annual international exhibition of contemporary art takes place in Kochi. This is the largest festival of its kind in Asia. When the biennale is on, the whole city lives it. The main space for the festival is a large complex of empty buildings near the port. Here, art installations covering all possible mediums bring the space to life. It’s a wonderful sight and quite a modern undertaking in Kerala.

Watch the artists at work at Kerala Kalamandalam: This is one of India’s most traditional universities of art and culture. Students learn Indian performing arts, especially those typical for Kerala. When visiting, you can observe students practicing unique dances with distinct facial expressions such as the Kathakali or Ottan Thullal, learning martial arts, and playing on unique musical instruments. The school is located in Cheruthuruthy.

By Veronika from Travel Geekery

Learn more: 9 amazing cultural encounters in Kerala .

Rajasthan, India – for folk dance, thaali & camel fairs

Architecture in Rajasthan, India.

Rajasthan, the ‘Land of Kings’, is one of the most historically and culturally significant states of India. Over the centuries, Rajasthan has witnessed many rulers and many epic battles. Each built their own magnanimous fort and helped develop the region’s rich culture of art, dance and literature.

Over the past few decades, the Ghoomar dance from Jodhpur region and Kalbeliya dance of the deserts of Jaisalmer and Bikaner have become famous all over the world. Along with dance, folk music and songs relating the heroic tales of epic battles, these form an essential part of Rajasthan culture.

Against a backdrop of the vast Thar Desert, this has all shaped the culture of Rajasthan as we see it today.

Top cultural experiences in Rajasthan

Rajasthan offers travellers a plethora of unique cultural experiences .

Be a bystander at the Pushkar Camel Fair: The Pushkar Camel Fair, held every year in November, is one of the largest animal trading fairs in the world. This colourful carnival is a great opportunity for travellers to experience the charm-in-chaos of traditional melas (Indian fairs) along with a huge tribal gathering. In 2018, nearly half-a-million people visited this multi-day festival. Pushkar is only 150km from Rajasthan’s capital, Jaipur, and is easily accessible by road. 

Visit Choki Dhani: A resort village merely 20km from Jaipur, Choki Dhani is the go-to place to experience a collection of Rajasthan cultural experiences. Spread across 10 acres, this uniquely designed resort-village reflects the grandeur of the Rajasthani tradition. Visitors can experience Rajasthani traditional folk dance, watch a puppet show, see skits and sketches depicting important battles, and relish a traditional Rajasthani thaali (set meal), eaten while seated on the floor.

Watch a Dharohar dance performance: The Dharohar dance show at Bagore Ki Haveli in Udaipur is a mesmerising experience in itself. This hour-long show is a combination of many traditional, tribal and folk dances local to the region along with a puppet show. One of the highlights of the show is when an 80-year-old folk dancer performs with more than 10 earthen pots stacked on her head.

By Mainak from Places in Pixel

Uzbekistan – for ceramics, Silk Road heritage & plov

Architecture in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is an upcoming cultural destinations in Central Asia. With a new visa policy, it is now easier than ever to visit the country – and there are many good reasons to do so.

Uzbekistan was once an important part of the famous Silk Road and has a rich cultural heritage that is still visible in the beautiful Islamic architecture and historic sites throughout the country. 

Uzbekistan’s major cities including Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara were multicultural melting pots where people from all over the world exchanged goods, ideas and philosophies. The Turks, Greeks, Persians, Russians and Mongols all ruled parts of what is now Uzbekistan. Each of them left behind their own influence.

With so much history around, it’s sometimes easy to forget modern Uzbek culture, but this is just as interesting. The Uzbek people are very friendly and will give you a warm welcome to their world of delicious Uzbek food, traditional dance and music, and beautiful handicrafts.

Top cultural experiences in Uzbekistan

Taste Uzbek cuisine: One of the highlights of Uzbek culture is without doubt its food. The best way to learn more about Uzbek food is by taking an Uzbek cooking class. Tashkent is a great place to do so and also has some great restaurants where you can try the country’s national dishes. The Plov Center serves plates of the national dish to thousands of people every day – the huge steaming pots and pans outside are impressive enough to warrant a visit. 

Explore ikat and ceramic traditions: Another great cultural experience in Uzbekistan is to explore the country’s beautiful handicrafts. The Fergana valley is home to several centres of handicraft production where they still use traditional techniques. Margilon is famous for its ikat silk textiles and there are several silk factories that offer free tours to see how it’s done. The Usmanov Ceramic Workshop in Rishton also welcomes visitors for a short visit to see its pottery production and design process. 

Watch a dance performance: Traditional dance and music is an important part of Uzbek culture. Uzbek dance is an ancient art that has been perfected over hundreds of years. In Bukhara, there are almost daily performances in the Nadir Divan Begi madrasah showing the traditional dances from the different regions in the country.

By Ellis from Backpack Adventures

Learn more: Things to do in Uzbekistan for cultural travellers .

The Tibetan Plateau – for horse trekking & nomadic culture

A monastery in Tibet.

Sprawled across the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, in the remote northern tip of China’s Sichuan province, Ruoergai town and county do not appear on Google maps. To Google, this locality is known by its Tibetan name, Zoige.

After 12 hours of following your car GPS from Chengdu to Zoige, climbing onto the Tibetan Plateau , Chinese road signs welcome you to Ruoergai, 3,500 meters above sea level.

Top cultural experiences on the Tibetan Plateau

Witness nomadic culture: Remote and isolated, Zoige/Ruoergai is the best place in the world to witness the disappearing Tibetan nomadic culture. All you have to do is drive around this vast, open grassland to catch a glimpse. You’ll see white nomads’ tents with smoky chimneys scattered on the sides of the road, surrounded by herds of domestic yak and protected by the menacing Tibetan mastiffs. The nomads are mistrustful of outsiders, which is not surprising given political tensions in the region.

Go horse trekking: Yet there is a way to experience the nomadic culture first-hand here – by taking a horse-trekking adventure with the local Tibetan Horse Trekking Agency in the nearby town of Langmusi. Tours range from a day hike to the hills – the domain of the nomads – to a multi-day horseback adventure with overnight stays in nomad tents. Guides are local Tibetans, so while you may not be having extensive discussions in English, you’ll be welcome in nomadic households.

Visit the monasteries and mosques in Langmusi: Encircled by forest-covered mountains, the small sleepy town of Langmusi is inhabited by three ethnic groups: Amdo Tibetans, Han Chinese and Hui Muslims. So, even just a visit to the town is a unique cultural experience. There are two large Tibetan monasteries on the hills above the town and a Hui mosque at its centre.

The nearest airport to Langmusi is Gannan Xiahe Airport, 130 km away. From Xiahe, you can take a bus to Langmusi, or arrange a car with a driver via Tibetan Horse Trekking.

By Margarita from The Wildlife Diaries

Taiwan – for night markets, Confucianism & forbidden relics

A temple gate in Taipei, Taiwan.

An island nestled off the coast of Mainland China, Taiwan is fast becoming one of the best cultural tourism destinations in Asia.

Its long history and combination of cultural influences – including Indigenous culture, Mainland China, Korea and even Japan – make Taiwan as intriguing as it is complex. Bustling with life, amazing food and beautiful scenery, this island has it all.

Top cultural experiences in Taipei

Eat your way through the Night Markets in Taipei: The capital city of Taiwan, Taipei, offers a world of things for people to see and do . One of the most popular culturally immersive activities for visitors is to head down to the local night market, the biggest one being the Shiling Night Market. Along with delicious local foods, you can also find clothes, accessories, games, cosmetics and more. Night Markets are significant because they play a huge role in Taiwanese culture . Locals and tourists alike flock to these areas each and every day to shop and socialise.

Observe the rituals at a Taiwanese temple: Taiwan is a very religious country with most people following either Buddhism or Confucianism. Many temples are built around these religions in a very extravagant manner. Visitors can take part in the prayer ceremony, burn some incense, or just sit back and observe. If you’re interested in visiting these temples, one of the best places to start is the Songshan Ciyou Temple, which is conveniently located right next to the Raohe Night Market. 

Visit the National Palace Museum: This museum houses thousands of cultural relics, art and artefacts, including many items that were carried out of the Forbidden City in China and moved to Taiwan to protect them from destruction during the Chinese Civil War. It’s one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. Here, you can learn how the Chinese language was formed, see what kinds of ancient tools and weapons were used throughout history, and witness what life was like many hundreds of years ago.

By Wayne from Daily Tourist

Learn more: The best cultural experiences in Taiwan .

Cultural trips in Africa & the Middle East

Ethiopia • Oman • Mauritius • Morocco

Ethiopia – for coal-fired coffee, churches & injera

A man in traditional dress presents artefacts at a church in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is a country like no other. Here in North East Africa, the steaming tribal lowlands of the Rift Valley collide with the cool thin air of the Northern highlands. The fertile lands towards the West produces some of the world’s best coffee, while the wind from the East carries whispers from Arabia. It’s truly a spectacular place to visit.

Ethiopia is even more unique in terms of its cultural treasures. As the only country in Africa never to be colonised, Ethiopia is a truly African country with African culture. If you want to see lions chase and eat zebras, go somewhere else. If you want to see and experience African culture at its purest, then book your ticket to Ethiopia already!

Top cultural experiences in Ethiopia

Visit the city of Lalibela: Situated in the northern highlands, Lalibela is the most important pilgrimage site in the country for the predominantly Orthodox Christian population of Ethiopia. It is here that you’ll find eleven incredible churches completely hewn from the rock. If you see only one place in Ethiopia, make it Lalibela.

Attend Sunday Mass: The UNESCO recognised Lalibela churches still function as churches, and attending a Sunday morning service before sunrise with hundreds of pilgrims is an experience that you won’t forget. Afterwards you can join the crowds eating injera while basking in the morning sun. Be prepared for the fact that everyone will want to come and talk to you.

Hike to a remote mountain community: Hiking into the mountains surrounding Lalibela will take you to small farming communities where time has seemingly stood still. It’s also possible to visit one of these communities for a day and learn how to cook traditional Ethiopian dishes such as injera , tibs or shiro . You’ll also find a few cave churches and monasteries in these mountains. The priests will be eager to show off their ancient treasures for a small tip.

Participate in a traditional coffee ceremony: Ethiopia is considered the birthplace of coffee, and man are you in for treat! The best way to drink a cup of buna (Ethiopian coffee) is to attend a coffee ceremony. It starts off with the hostess washing green coffee beans and then roasting them in a pan over an open fire. The coals are infused with natural incense made from tree resin. You’ll see bags of these tree resin for sale in markets all over Ethiopia. Finally the coffee beans are ground and brewed in a special coffee pot called a jebena . It’s expected that guests will have at least three cups of buna, but why stop there?

By De Wet & Jin from Museum of Wander

Oman – for dhow boats, frankincense & Bedouin culture

A fortress in Oman.

Unlike some of its more glitzy neighbours who’ve traded their souqs for skyscrapers, Oman has approached cultural preservation from a different angle. It’s often called out as the most culturally ‘authentic’ country in the region .

This part of the Middle East has long been a melting pot of Arabian and East African cultures, with a strong South Asian influence. Semi-nomadic Bedouin tribes that paint the desert with their costumes and brightly coloured carpets are less accessible, but a range of tourist-friendly desert experiences allow you to brush with this part of Omani culture.

Contemporary Omani traditions are deeply tied to Ibadism and revolve around an annual calendar of Islamic festivities.

Top cultural experiences in Oman

Get lost in a souq: Perfumed by rose petals and frankincense, Oman’s souqs are a treat for the senses. Roam displays of henna and spices while getting a feel for commerce and culture. Muttrah Souq in the capital, Muscat, and the delightful Nizwa Souq are both must-visits.

Visit a dhow workshop in Sur: Not only are Oman’s wooden boats an impressive feat of engineering, they’re steeped in legend and tradition. In Sur, the home of Sinbad the Sailor, you can watch expert craftsmen fitting the vessels together without glue or nails.

Spend the night at a desert camp. The Sharqiya Sands, Oman’s slice of The Empty Quarter, is the territory of nomads. Bedouin-inspired desert camps recreate the experience of staying with a Bedouin tribe – albeit with a luxury edge! Spending the night in a desert camp involves listening to folk music, eating Omani food, while the very lodgings – the tent lined with carpets you’re sleeping in – is part of the Bedouin tradition.

Mauritius – for street food, Sega & sugarcane

A Hindu temple in Mauritius.

The island nation of Mauritius is normally associated with splendid white-sand beaches and luxury resorts – thus its inclusion on this list of cultural trips might come as a bit of a surprise.

Yes, this is an island paradise incarnate, but it also happens to be one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse countries in the region, with African, Indian, Chinese and South Asian cultures – along with layers of Dutch, French and British influence – all accounted for.

Many elements of Mauritian culture can be traced back to the island’s plantation roots and the legacy of slavery. Mauritians honour this period of history while proudly showing off their culture in everything from the cuisine to the music.

Top cultural experiences in Mauritius

Take a street food tour of Port Louis: Mauritian food, much like Mauritian society itself, combines Chinese, Indian, Creole, East African and European flavours. Must-try dishes include vindaye , an adaptation of West Indian vindaloo, Chatini (chutney) is a popular condiment and traces its roots back to British-Indian origins, briani (biryani) and creations gifted from the island’s Chinese community, such as bol renversé (a layered dish of rice, chicken, shrimp and vegetables). The best way to get a grasp of these edible delights is by joining a guided street food tour of the capital, Port Louis .

Watch a Sega performance: Recognised by UNESCO for its value to Intangible Cultural Heritage, Mauritian Sega is a performance art characterised by music, song, dance and costume. It started out as an expression of pain and loss practiced by slave communities but has morphed over time into a colourful, optimistic expression of local culture. Elaborate Sega costumes moving to the tune of Creole lyrics is a . Many hotels offer Sega performances.

Visit an old sugarcane farm: Mauritius’ history of slavery and plantation farming has left an indelible mark on the island. Visiting preserved plantation homes and crumbling sugar mills is a step back in time to the colonial period, while regenerated cane fields such as those on Frederica Reserve now serve as a sanctuary for the island’s wildlife.

Learn more: 8 ways to experience Mauritian culture .

Morocco – for riads , tajines & mint tea

Moroccan handicrafts.

By all accounts, Morocco is a beguiling destination . The most popular country to visit in North Africa, it stands out for its diversity of landscapes and cultural experiences.

Morocco is an important gateway to the rest of Africa, and has been since Roman times. Its position at the northernmost tip of the continent – with a coast shared between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean – means it’s been at the centre of conquests and various cultural overlap throughout the ages.

Today, Morocco lives with the legacies of various civilisations, including Roman, Phoenician, Jewish, Berber, Arabic, Spanish and French. Morocco has a very hospitable culture, steeped in a refined art of living. When you visit the imperial cities of Marrakech and Fes, or the coastal towns of Essaouira and El Jadida, you will notice a multitude of little details typical of Moroccan life.

This art of living and careful hospitality is very important in Morocco and, as a visitor, you can experience it in many different ways.

Top cultural experiences in Morocco

Try your hand at Moroccan cuisine: Moroccan cuisine is world-famous for its use of spices and mix of sweet and savoury flavours. Every restaurant offers a selection of delicious tajines , a stew of meat and vegetables. Couscous is on the menu every Friday and if you like sweets, you will be in heaven. Sweet biscuits mixing flower, almond and spice flavours make a delicious afternoon treat. If you’re interested in learning new skills, cooking classes are often available in traditional riads in Marrakech. Moroccan cuisine takes time and care, but the results are delicious and quite easy to recreate at home.

Shop for authentic handicrafts at a souq : Another great way to experience the heart of Morocco is to spend time in the souks. Shopping in Morocco is a fun experience and haggling for a good price is the norm. You have to engage with merchants, ask questions, make small talk and, most importantly, have fun with it! Never lose your smile and sense of humour, and it will great fun! The most spectacular shopping experience is in Marrakech due to the volume and intensity of the medina. It’s easy to get lost but that’s part of the experience too!

Sip mint tea, a Moroccan tradition: When you travel throughout Morocco, you will notice that mint tea is served everywhere. This is a pivotal element of Moroccan hospitality. Green tea is mixed with fresh mint leaves and served in little decorated glasses. There is a little bit of theatre in serving mint tea, with the brass or silver teapot held high above the glass… Traditionally, mint tea is served with a lot of sugar, but these days it is common for sugar to be served on the side, so you can dose it yourself. And you can even buy a set of decorated tea glasses in the souk as a souvenir!

By Delphine from Lester Lost

How to have a more culturally immersive travel experience anywhere in the world

It doesn’t matter if it’s a remote community or a popular city – there are things you can do to have a more enriching cultural travel experience no matter where you’re going.

Here are 10 practical tips to help you on your way.

1. Do your research before you go: Familiarise yourself with local customs and learn a bit of the history so you know what types of experiences to look out for. This guide is a great start!

2. Seek out festivals and special events: Many tourism boards feature a calendar on their website, or you can try using Facebook to find local events. Check out my four-part series about the world’s best festivals, starting here .

3. Eat local. Food is one of the easiest routes to culture. Here are my tips for eating local when you travel.

4. Stay at a homestay. Spending time with a local family will give you an invaluable insight into daily life. Here are my tips for using homestays in Vietnam.

5. Participate in a class or workshop . Trying a cooking class, handicraft workshop or any other hands-on experience is one of the easiest ways to immerse yourself in local culture. I recommend using Get Your Guide , Airbnb Experiences, Cookly or Backstreet Academy to find opportunities.

6. Learn a bit of the language. Even knowing a few basic words will show you’re interested and can go a long way to forming relationships.

7. Shop local. Support artisans and heritage skills. Here are my tips for finding authentic and meaningful souvenirs .

8. Slow down. The best cultural experiences are often spare-of-the-moment and can’t be planned in advance. Keep some flexibility in your travel itinerary for spontaneous detours.

9. Go your own way. You don’t always have to follow the pack. Venturing away from the crowds will often give you access to unique and meaningful experiences.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If in doubt, ask a local. Remember that cultural tourism is all about exchange – don’t just take, make sure you give something back in return.

Are you a cultural tourist? Which of these destinations is your favourite? What other places would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!

Discover the best cultural trips our world has to offer. From India to the Arctic, here are the 25 best countries and regions for cultural tourism. #Travel #Culture | Cultural travel destinations | Cultural travel photography | Cultural traveller | Slow travel destinations

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This is a very wonderful article about cultural destinations! Thank you so much for sharing!

One can easily visit India and experience the different kinds of cultures in a particular place. Tourism in India has been much more managed and safe with passage of time. Rajasthan tourism has been the most reliable and safe in India. One can enjoy all the traditional dishes and enjoy living in the palaces as a hotel room in different cities. But, whenever you are visiting to Rajasthan, India travel guide is a must because one can easily lose track of pathways in the puzzle like roads of the cities in Rajasthan. One can easily plan for a Kerala tour packages because of the minimal expenses in the state.

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28 Adventures to Travel For, From Glacier Chasing in Greenland to Sand Surfing in the Sahara

Adventure travel Cappadocia

As much as we love lounging on a faraway beach or revisiting our favorite city for the tenth time, sometimes our passports need some adventure travel—we’re talking about those once-in-a-lifetime trips that push us way outside our comfort zones. Adventure travel is a great way to see more of the world, while also testing your physical limits, and coming home with a lifetime's worth of stories to tell at parties.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most incredible outdoor adventures for intrepid travelers, ranging from climbing Machu Picchu to skydiving in Dubai . Even if you don’t consider yourself a daredevil, you’ll still find activities that feel exciting (hello, camping under the northern lights) without too much physical—or emotional—exertion required. So fasten your seatbelts, grab your best pair of hiking boots , and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

Iguazu Falls Iguazu National Park

Boat under the Iguazú Falls

South America’s Iguazú Falls, located on the border of Brazil and Argentina, make all other waterfalls look like mere trickles in comparison. The system of more than 200 cascades (reaching heights of around 270 feet) can be viewed from surrounding walkways and catwalks, but we’re fans of the more adventurous vantage-point—hopping on an Iguazú Jungle inflatable raft and sailing directly under the exhilarating, high-pressure falls.

Machu Picchu

Climb to Machu Picchu

No adventurer’s must-visit list is complete without Machu Picchu , the famous Incan citadel located in the Andes. While the site can be accessed via train and bus, more active travelers can take the five-day trek along the entire 26-mile-long Inca Trail. Or, thanks to local tour operator Sam Travel Peru , you can get dropped at kilometer marker 104 and do the whole experience in 24 hours .

Sahara

Sand surf in the Sahara

The dunes of the Sahara are colossal, untouched, and tailor-made for extreme sports. The desert’s rows of barchans (meaning “crescent-shaped dunes” in Turkic) have ideal shapes for sand surfing (descending the slopes on a surfboard) and sandboarding (descending the slopes on a snowboard)—and those views don’t hurt, either. Stay at Erg Chigaga Luxury Camp in Morocco, which offers sandboarding in addition to other desert activities like camel rides and quad biking.

Landscape of Rocky Mountains

Heli-hike in British Columbia

With CMH Heli + Skiing , you can helicopter to the steepest and deepest powder in Canada for backcountry skiing. However, come summer , the company’s guides take guests on multi-day hiking trips to terrain otherwise inaccessible, along ridgelines, through alpine meadows, and to stunning viewpoints. While these high-altitude adventures are not for the faint at heart, the accommodations are quite comfortable, with log-hewn lodges complete with full-service restaurants, spa treatments, and a rooftop hot tub to relax in before another day on the trail.

Cappadocia

Hot air balloon over Cappadocia

A hot air balloon ride over central Turkey’s Cappadocia region provides 360-degree views of the famous limestone spires and “fairy chimneys”—something you can't get at the ground level. We recommend booking with Kapadokya Balloons , the first company that introduced hot air balloon tourism in Cappadocia. Services include transfers to and from your hotel, snacks, full insurance, and a champagne party after the flight.

Greenland

Hunt for glaciers in Greenland

Greenland is relatively expensive and tricky to get to, but well worth the effort—especially since it’s one of the most untouched landscapes on the planet. Exhibit A: the hundreds-year-old icebergs and glaciers floating off the mainland, which you can get up close and personal with during a cruise excursion. ( Hurtigruten and Cruise Norway offer these sailings.)

Okavango Delta Botswana

Hop across Botswana on a mobile safari

While most safari camps stay in one place like a traditional hotel, the private canvas safaris by  Barclay Stenner Safaris are totally mobile, meaning you can pick up and move locations based on weather conditions and wildlife movements. The outfitter’s Botswana itinerary moves across the country to fauna-rich areas like the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans—get ready to follow groups of lions, hippos, elephants, and more.

Oludeniz

Paraglide over Turkey’s Blue Lagoon

Oludeniz has one of the most beautiful beaches in Turkey, with pebble shores and a “blue lagoon” of aquamarine hues. The beach also happens to be one of the world's best places to paraglide, thanks to stable weather and gorgeous panoramic views. The launch site for most companies is from Babadağ mountain, with jumping-off points reaching 6,000 feet above sea level.

Great Barrier Reef

Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Divers and snorkelers everywhere need to experience the Great Barrier Reef at least once in their lifetime. Not only does the site have more than 400 different types of coral and 1,500 species of fish, but the natural wonder has been rapidly eroding due to coral bleaching and global warming . That means it’s more urgent than ever to see this sight in all its glory—and to understand what we are losing.

Mexico cenote

Swim through Mexico’s cenotes

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula features a wealth of unique natural beauty, particularly when it comes to its cavernous cenotes. Floating in one of these natural sinkholes is an incredible experience, as is diving through the underground cave systems . When in Tulum , visit Dos Ojos (“Two Eyes”) to view one of the planet’s most beautiful underwater sites or Gran Cenote for rock formations that resemble Gothic architecture.

Dubai skydiving

Free-fall over Dubai at 120 miles per hour

Dubai is one of the most over-the-top cities in the world, so are you really surprised that skydiving is one of its most popular activities?  Skydive Dubai is a company located near Jumeirah Beach, offering tandem skydiving for beginners and solo jumps for licensed divers. If you thought Dubai’s skyline was impressive already, just wait until you see it while falling from 13,000 feet in the air.

Yosemite Half Dome

Scale Half Dome at Yosemite National Park

The Half Dome trail through Yosemite may be one of the most intense hikes you’ll ever take, stretching for 16 miles and ascending more than 5,500 feet. The final 400 feet are the trickiest—hikers must climb up the steep slope with two steel cables as their only support—but the breathtaking views from the top make the effort (and terror) worth it. Afterwards, stay at The Ahwahnee, one of the most beautiful national park hotels in the country.

Great white shark cage diving

Swim with great white sharks in South Africa

The fishing town of Gansbaai is often considered to be the birthplace of great white shark cage diving, an activity that would make most adrenaline junkies drool. Cage diving is totally safe (despite what some low-budget shark movies might lead you to believe), but we dare you to keep your heart rate in check as you come face-to-face with an apex predator.  Marine Dynamics is one of the most popular cage diving operators in town, with a marine biologist and videographer joining every tour.

New Zealand practically invented adventure sports when the Kawarau Bridge Bungy opened in 1988. Here you join around...

Bungee jump in New Zealand

New Zealand practically invented adventure sports when the Kawarau Bridge Bungy opened in 1988. Here you join around 38,000 annual visitors to take the 140-foot jump from the South Island's historic, steel-framed Kawarau Bridge—an activity in which the views are almost as thrilling as the fall itself.

Mt Fuji

Climb Mount Fuji

Solitary Mount Fuji is probably Japan’s most iconic natural wonder , rising 12,388 feet above villages and reflecting on lakes’ surfaces. You can get views of the landmark from many places, like Lake Kawaguchi in Fujikawaguchiko and even the Park Hyatt Tokyo , but it’s the views from the mountain that will give you the most bragging rights. Visit from early July to mid-September to take advantage of the official climbing season, when the designated trails and paved roads are free of snow.

Volcano Boarding Cerro Negro

Go volcano boarding on Cerro Negro in Nicaragua

If you’re looking for action sports and adventure, we recommend booking a flight to Nicaragua right now. There you can kayak, surf, zipline through the jungle, and even sled down the side of an active volcano. Intrepid travelers love to climb up the 2,388-foot Cerro Negro and then “volcano board” back down (an activity where you sit or stand on a piece of plywood and slide your way down the slopes). You'll want to go with a guided group tour with this one. Bigfoot Hostels is one of many operators for excursions—for $25, you get transportation to the volcano, boards, safety equipment, snacks, and your speed clocked by a radar gun.

Trollstigen Norwau

Take a white-knuckle drive in Norway

Who says your adrenaline can’t pump from the comfort of your car? Trollstigen is one of the world’s most popular (and  terrifying ) highways, known for its steep gradient and hairpin turns. The one-lane road passes such impressive wonders as the 1,050-foot Stigfossen waterfall, but be sure to pull over before you gawk and snap photos. There are several viewing platforms along the road that will let you take in the sites without risking a crash.

Belize

Dive Belize’s Great Blue Hole

Known for its circular shape and strikingly deep blue color , the Great Blue Hole is a 1,000-foot-wide sinkhole in the middle of Belize’s Lighthouse Reef. While an aerial shot is enough to convince anyone of its beauty, scuba divers are the ones who get to experience the wonders that lie beneath: massive, 40-foot limestone stalactites and stalagmites that formed during the last glacial period.

The Azores Portugal

Go canyoning in the Azores

Portugal’s Azores Islands are equal parts adventurous and beautiful, inviting travelers to get up close and personal with nature while hiking, biking, and swimming. If you want to really push the envelope, try canyoning—an activity that has you rappel down a waterfall while navigating slippery rocks and fast-flowing water. Azores Getaways offers a comprehensive and easy-to-book experience. Training, equipment, on-site instructors, and snacks are all included in the excursion, which will no doubt become one of the most memorable of your life.

Patagonia kayaking

Kayak through Torres del Paine National Park

Chile’s Patagonia region is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, and there are plenty of ways to explore the area. But while most people experience the sights while hiking, you can get a slightly different view from the water via a kayaking trip.  Kayak en Patagonia offers several tour options ranging in duration and difficulty levels, but all let you paddle past towering mountains, rugged glaciers, and other incredible vistas.

Northern Lights

Sleep under the northern lights

Ah, the elusive northern lights . So many factors are at play when it comes to seeing the technicolor phenomenon—location, time of year, weather conditions—but it’s hard to lose with an excursion to Finnish Lapland. The Arctic area is one of the planet’s best for aurora viewing, especially if you get to sleep in an igloo hotel at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort or mobile Aurora Bubble Sled . Up your viewing chances by planning a trip between December and March.

Heliskiing

Go heli-skiing in Alaska

If you’re a seasoned traveler who’s conquered every black diamond slope in North America, there’s still one snowy adventure left to vanquish: heli-skiing. There’s nothing quite like hopping in a helicopter and being dropped onto untouched snow at the top of a mountain—especially in a setting as formidable as Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. The experienced guides at  Valdez Heli Ski Guides (VHSG) will help make this dream a reality, taking you to some of the best runs of your life and then letting you unwind (hot tub and massages included) at the cozy  Tsaina Lodge .

This image may contain Water Outdoors Nature Diving Sports Diver Sport Aqua Scuba and Scuba Diving

Snorkel between continents in Iceland

Iceland is one of the best countries in the world for adventure travel , with opportunities for everything from glacier hiking to snorkeling and diving. For the latter, head straight to Thingvellir National Park along the country’s Golden Circle route , where two tectonic plates slowly pull apart at the rate of about two centimeters (0.8 inches) per year. The phenomenon results in the Silfra fissure, a stunning rift valley where travelers can snorkel or dive in impossibly clear (and cold) waters. Tour company DIVE.IS offers tours for divers and every level of snorkeler—including those with no prior experience—and will snap an underwater photo of you touching two continents at the same time.

Some remote destinations are best seen from the deck of a boat and that includes the upper Amazon River. Aqua...

Float along the Amazon

Some remote destinations are best seen from the deck of a boat, and that includes the upper Amazon River. Aqua Expeditions ’ luxury cruises through the Peruvian stretch of the river tour the area’s wildlife and culture at a delightful, leisurely pace. You'll even have chef-prepared gourmet meals and five-star suites with floor-to-ceiling windows. Looking for something a little less luxe? Amazon Adventures offers kayaking trips along some Amazon tributaries, where you can fish for piranhas and camp out in the rainforest.

The Pipeline Oahu

Surf ‘The Pipeline’ in Oahu

Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline (commonly referred to as The Pipeline) is easily one of the most sought-after surfing spots in the world. Located off the coast of the island’s north shore in Ehukai Beach Park, the surf reef break averages waves measuring nine feet high. This activity is definitely not for beginners, but even non-surfers will get a thrill out of watching the many surf competitions that take place at The Pipeline—all from the safety of a sunny beach.

Great Bear Rainforest Canada

Spot elusive wildlife in the Great Bear Rainforest

Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world—and one of the most magical, with elusive species like sea wolves and Kermode bears roaming its 21 million acres. Outer Shores Expeditions will take you on a nine-day excursion aboard a schooner, departing from British Columbia’s First Nations community of Bella Bella and stopping for sea kayaking along the way.

Victoria Falls

Soak in the planet’s most extreme infinity pool

Located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls attracts thousands of tourists each year. One of the biggest draws here is the Devil’s Pool , a naturally formed eddy sitting at the very edge of the falls, where daring swimmers can splash around between August and January (depending on water levels, that is). Given that a slippery rock barrier is the only thing separating you from going over the edge, this site is easily the planet’s most extreme infinity pool .

Antarctica is truly the final frontier when it comes to adventure travel providing untouched landscapes unique wildlife...

Camp in Antarctica

Antarctica is truly the final frontier when it comes to adventure travel, providing untouched landscapes, unique wildlife, and more activities than you’ll know what to do with (like cruising, caving, and thermal spring soaking , to name a few). If you can get yourself to Punta Arenas, Chile, Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions will fly you to Antarctica for three days of skiing and hiking before setting you up for a South Pole sleepover.

travel and tourism activities

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travel and tourism activities

10 Rewarding Ecotourism Activities to Do Around the World

Posted by Francesca Brooking | Sustainable Travel , Travel | 6

10 Rewarding Ecotourism Activities to Do Around the World

From planting trees to ethical safaris check out this list of 10 ecotourism activities that protect the environment, provide economic benefits to local communities and guarantee an unforgettable trip.

As we become increasingly aware of our environmental footprint, more people are looking for ways to reduce their impact on the planet – including how they travel. 

With it, there’s a growing appreciation for the natural world and interest in authentic, meaningful, immersive experiences. As a result, ecotourism is on the rise and becoming one of the fastest-growing sectors in tourism. 

But what exactly IS ecotourism and how can it be put into practice? Ecotourism is defined as:

‘Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the wellbeing of local people and involves interpretation and education.’ International Ecotourism Society, 2015

Ecotourism is all about using tourism to protect the natural environment, empower local communities and educate travellers. It’s primarily a hands-on and nature-based form of travel. 

Ecotourism activities can look like cycling, hiking, small-group wildlife tours, kayaking and tree planting , alongside low-impact ways to get out in nature and give back to local communities.

The easiest way to build this responsible form of travel into your itinerary is to take part in ecotourism activities. Some are specific to a destination, and others you can do anywhere once you know what to look for!

If you’re looking for adventure and ways to minimise your carbon footprint, read on to discover 10 eco-friendly nature tourism activities.

Each one of these environmentally conscious trips gives back to the planet and guarantees a spectacular holiday. 

Editor’s tip: In my detailed guide , you can read more about the benefits of ecotourism, sustainable tourism, ecotourism examples, and how to be an eco-friendly traveller.

10 Amazing ecotourism activities to do around the world

Don’t have time to read the whole post? Check out the video below for a quick summary of the 10 types of ecotourism activities you can do.

Read on to discover 10 of the best nature-based things you can do that protect the environment and give back to the local community while you’re at. 

I’ve also included top ecotourism destinations around the world you can do these rewarding activities!

1. Do a small-group eco-tour 

A baby ountain gorilla in Uganda looking at the camera. This one of G Adventures' ecotourism activities with the Jane Goodall Collection.

Small-group tours are a fantastic way to see the world, particularly if you’re looking for nature, ecotourism and adventure. 

One such tour operator is G Adventures. They offer a range of wildlife experiences called The Jane Goodall Collection , and they’ve all been endorsed by the renowned ethologist herself. 

Each tour has been carefully designed to be ethical and immersive to help travellers see some of the world’s most incredible wildlife responsibly. 

Working in partnership with The Jane Goodall Institute, G Adventures ensures that all tours uphold their Animal Welfare Policy so that all wildlife is protected and respected.

Popular ecotourism holidays include a culture & wildlife experience in Uganda and Rwanda which features the famous mountain gorillas. 

Others include island-hopping in the Galápagos and polar bear spotting in Norway. 

Wildlife-focused travel is always exciting, but sadly not all experiences are ethical.

Going on a tour with a responsible travel company like G Adventures allows you to see some of the most incredible creatures in the natural world as ethically and safely as possible.

These ecotourism tours raise awareness of their subjects and the threats to their habitats. They also empower local communities through employment opportunities which is exactly what eco-friendly travel is about. 

2. Go hiking or trekking 

A girl in a red coat walking along a hiking path in Picos Ruivo in Madeira.

Some of the best ecotourism activities you can do are hiking and trekking. It’s just you and nature, passing by local communities along the way. 

Depending on your experience level, you can go as beginner-friendly or advanced as you like. Do local one-day hikes or go on multi-day excursions exploring deserts, jungles and mountains! 

The great thing about hiking holidays is that you can do them almost anywhere and get the same level of enjoyment. You don’t need to fly halfway around the world when there is nature to be explored close by.

United Kingdom

Since I’m based in the UK, I would be remiss not to mention some beautiful multi-day walking holidays I have at home. These include but are not limited to:

  • Cotswold Way, a 102-mile footpath from Chipping Campden to Bath
  • South West Coast Path, running 630 miles from Minehead to Poole Harbour
  • Pembrokeshire Coast Path, a 186-mile trail from Amroth to St Dogmael’s
  • The West Highland Way, a 96-mile trail from Milngavie to Fort William
  • Causeway Coast Way, a 33-mile route from Belfast to Derry Londonderry

For hiking in Europe, consider Los Picos de Europa, a biosphere reserve and mountain range in Northern Spain. One of Europe’s biggest national parks, it’s home to a stunning mountain range of the same name. 

You can take in the scenery on a series of short well-marked hiking circuits, two long-distance hiking trails and four high mountain hikes. 

One of the best places in the world for jungle trekking is the tropical rainforests of Borneo. From orangutans to elephants, this nature lover’s dream is teeming with wildlife. It’s also been around since the dinosaurs. 

I highly recommend you go with an ethical tour so you can safely trek in this unspoilt landscape. 

If you want to do some of the most beautiful hikes in the world with a guide, Much Better Adventures has an extensive collection of trips for every level.

Editor’s tip: Whether hiking, trekking or taking part in any outdoor activity, always stick to the principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ and leave nature exactly as you found it. 

Read Next: Incredible One-Day Walking Trails in the UK

3. Do a cycling holiday

A girl wearing a helmet while posing on a bike in a dress. The forests of Cypus behind in the Troodos Mountains. Cycling is one of the most popular ecotourism activities.

Cycling holidays are becoming an increasingly popular ecotourism activity, and it’s easy to see why. It’s exercise and a good dose of the great outdoors all in one. 

There’s also a certain level of freedom in strapping your bag to your bike and cycling off that you don’t get with driving. Perhaps because you can go places, cars can’t like mountain trails or off-road routes!

It’s more eco-friendly, too (my eco-packing list will make the trip even greener).

Portugal is growing in popularity with cyclists. Most roads are well-kept, and the sunny maritime climate all year round makes it perfect for cycling. 

There’s also a diverse range of landscapes to explore. One of them is the 200km long Ecovia do Litoral cycling trail which takes you all along the Algarve coast to the Spanish border. 

You have rugged, sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, with opportunities to go inland to visit communities typical tourists in the Algarve rarely see. 

Another excellent cycling destination is Wales. It offers an exciting terrain of challenging mountain peaks, cool countryside rides and stunning coastal trails. 

You also have a wealth of dramatic scenery, castles and villages to explore along the way. You can do a self-guided trip or build your route with companies like Wheely Wonderful Cycling. 

They do a range of self-guided eco tours to suit every level. They also transport your luggage for you, so you’re free to ride unencumbered. 

A growing sustainable travel destination, Slovenia has launched a brand new Green Gourmet Route which combines great food and cycling. Honestly, what could be better?

The itinerary is 11 days and takes cyclists through destinations bearing the Slovenia Green label. It runs mainly along paths and features culinary delights such as Michelin-starred restaurants, vineyards, farms and spas.

You can do this eco activity by yourself or with a local tour group.

4. Go kayaking 

Photo pf kayaking through mangroves on a sunny day in Costa Rica.

Kayaking is an eco-friendly way to enjoy waterways and coastlines because it’s all self-powered. No gas, oil or loud noises are involved, making it unobtrusive to the natural world around you.

You also have time to relax and take in your surroundings. It’s the perfect way to travel slowly.

Below are some amazing ecotourism places that are perfect for kayaking trips. 

During a trip to Costa Rica, I spent a morning exploring the mangroves near San Antonio National Park by kayak with an environmental scientist / tour guide.

I learned about the importance of mangroves as an ecosystem and the life it supports. My guide also highlighted the threats to mangroves and how small-group, low-impact tourism is helping to protect them.

Afterwards, we tucked into a delicious home-cooked lunch. It was one of my favourite ecotourism activities in Costa Rica!

The Norwegian Fjords are one of the most magnificent sites on Earth, and paddling through them allows you to experience every part of this dramatic landscape. 

Don’t miss the stunning Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s 17km long, and the narrowest point is only 250m wide. 

As you paddle through, you’ll be greeted with snow-capped mountains, pretty farms and cascading waterfalls along the way. 

Greece’s Peloponnese Peninsula is a fantastic spot for sea kayaking. The coast is rich with hidden coves, mysterious caves and plenty of ancient history. 

Begin your trip at Voidokilia, one of the best beaches on the peninsula, before paddling towards the beautiful seaside town of Pylos. 

You’ll also come across the formidable sight of Old Navarino Castle, a 13th Century Frankish castle with dramatic views out towards the bay below. 

Read Next: How to Visit Greece on a Budget

5. Go diving or snorkelling

An underwater photo of a coral reef in Fiji. Blue fish swim around coral.

Whether you’re diving or snorkelling, exploring the marine world can be an unforgettable experience. You just need to be aware of how to do it safely and ethically so as not to harm the fragile environment. 

Above all, make sure you’re wearing reef-safe sunscreen to prevent harmful chemicals like oxybenzone from entering the water and bleaching coral reefs. 

Always go with reputable guides that are respectful of marine life and work to protect it. 

Home to some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world, Fiji is popular with scuba divers and snorkellers alike.

For this reason, many local resorts have developed ecotourism activities to help protect the environment from the effects of mass tourism. 

One example is Mantaray Island. The waters in front of the resort are a marine reserve that has allowed life there to flourish. They also carry out yearly environmental surveys to monitor the impact of the resort on the reserve. 

No strangers to a busy tourism scene, Thailand is working hard to mitigate the damage to the marine environment caused by overtourism.

The Smiling Seahorse is a dive company specialising in Liveaboard holidays in the Similan Islands. They have a responsible tourism policy, only use eco-friendly products on the boat and are part of the Manta Trust Operator Wall of Fame.

6. Go dolphin or whale watching

Dolphin fin in the water. Dolphin watching is an incredible ecotourism activity.

Dolphin and whale watching is another fun water-based activity to do on your travels. It can give you an exhilarating experience and benefit the marine environment if done right.

When choosing to do this activity, look out for responsible travel companies that have a marine biologist onboard the boat or donate a portion of the profits to conservation efforts.

Make sure the dolphins or whales are wild and in their natural habitat. They must be allowed to behave naturally and come and go when they choose. This means no feeding or touching the animals.

The noise of the boat’s engines is also important – particularly for whale sonars!

As for swimming with dolphins , there’s some debate about whether or not it’s truly ethical. Again it’s worth checking how the tour interacts with them before making up your mind.

As a general rule, stick with watching them safely from the boat if you’re unsure!

Below are some incredible ethical places to go dolphin and whale watching.

If you like dolphins and feeding your adrenaline, Sea EO Tours offers speed boat tours in Lisbon.

The 3-hour tour takes up in a speed boat up the Tagus Estuary into the Atlantic Ocean, searching for resident common dolphins and other marine life.

It’s an exhilarating trip, and you can get pretty close to the dolphins. I did it, and although the dolphins were a little slow to appear, we were soon surrounded by a pod of 25 leaping and diving all around the boat.

Afterwards, we glided back down the river, stopping for a quick tipple of sweet wine in front of Belém Tower.

If you need any help booking this tour or any of your Portugal, I recommend Original Travel. They offer some fantastic sustainable self-guided travel itineraries.

You’ll also get access to a travel concierge who can help you every step of the way!

New Zealand

Another great to see dolphins and whales is New Zealand – specifically, Kaikoura on the South Island.

The area is a haven for marine life thanks to a deep water trench which offers a bounty of food for sperm whales, seals and dolphins.

I did a whale-watching boat tour with Whale Watch Kaikoura. During this catamaran ride, I saw sperm whales and, as a bonus, dolphins, seals, penguins and an albatross!

7. Set sail on an eco-friendly cruise 

Expedition cruise in Antarctica. Hurtigruten offer eco-friendly cruises and ecotourism activities.

For the most part, cruises are notoriously bad for the environment.

In 2017, one major cruise corporation was found to emit 10 times more sulphur oxide into the atmosphere around European coasts than more than 260 million cars in Europe! 

At high concentrations, sulphur emissions damage fragile ecosystems, increase human health risks and contribute to acid rain. Now imagine being on deck and breathing that in every day… 

Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten proves that cruising can become an ecotourism excursion. 

Hurtigruten has been a leader in sustainable exploration travel since 1893. They’ve avoided the use of heavy oils for over 10 years, and they’re building the first-ever hybrid electric-powered expedition cruise ships. 

These emissions-free ships are set to be the greenest cruises in history. 

Hurtigruten expeditions take you to some of the farthest corners of the world, including Antarctica, where you get to go whale watching, penguin spotting and explore the vast continent on foot. 

Each trip is designed to be an educational and meaningful experience. 

A dedicated Expedition Team hosts you throughout the journey and provides lectures on wildlife, geography, culture and more to help you understand the places you visit. 

8. Venture on a canopy walk 

The back of a girl looking up while on a canopy walkway in Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica.

Ziplining and canopy walks are thrilling ways to explore forest terrain. What’s more, you’re seeing it all from above – a view which is usually reserved for scientists and researchers. 

One of the best examples of ecotourism in the world is the canopy tour in Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. 

Climb high into and above the trees on secure walkways and harnesses. Here, low-hanging clouds kiss the treetops, and you can spot exotic birds and monkeys in the branches. 

To get the adrenaline pumping, swap walking for ziplining and zip past jaw-dropping vistas of ancient forests, waterfalls and valleys. This one is by far the most popular ziplining tour in Monteverde!

These tours are committed to providing incredible experiences whilst raising awareness of the delicate ecosystem of the cloud forest. 

They give you invaluable insight into the balance of nature and what’s being done to protect the inhabitants of this reserve for years to come. 

Costa Rica accounts for 6% of the world’s biodiversity , so it’s vital that we protect it.  

9. Experience tree planting holidays 

The Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. Young fir trees dot the brown heather-covered landscape with hills in the background. Helping to rewild is one of the most important ecotourism activities in Scotland.

Tree planting is an ecotourism holiday that offers a hands-on and rewarding way to give back. Plus, you can see first-hand the positive difference you’re making to the environment. 

Trees for Life is an organisation that’s working to rewild the Scottish Highlands by planting trees and recovering declining forests. 

To date, they’ve planted more than 2 million trees in and around Dundreggan near Loch Ness to restore the Caledonian Forest, which once covered most of Scotland. 

You can take part in voluntary Rewilding Weeks run by Trees for Life and spend a week in the Scottish Highlands planting trees and monitoring wildlife. 

All your food and accommodation are included in a set price, and you’ll get transfers to and from Inverness.

Trees for Life is also involved in other environmental projects, including research into the possibility of bringing the lynx back to Scotland and increasing the red squirrel population. 

Another way you can get involved in rewilding is through an eco-tour with SCOTLAND: The Big Picture.

This charity runs five-day immersive Rewilding Journeys where you’ll see first-hand the key projects involved in restoring the Scottish Highlands.

This ecotourism experience is one of my personal favourites as I was lucky enough to do it myself!

10. Book eco-friendly safaris 

Elephants on safari with people watching from a boat. Only go with ethical safari operators.

Safaris are understandably one of the biggest bucket list activities. Seeing the ‘Big Five’ (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo) in the wild is a truly unforgettable experience.

However, there’s some debate about whether or not they can be considered ethical. 

Safaris and the term ‘Big Five’ is rooted in trophy hunting and although it’s far better to shoot with a camera than a gun, there is still pressure to find and track animals for tourists to photograph. 

Animals are followed around by noisy jeeps and become accustomed to human interaction. Another problem is animals contracting human illnesses with fatal consequences. 

Luckily, some operators use safari tourism to empower local communities and protect and conserve wildlife. 

One example is Volcanoes Safaris in Uganda and Rwanda, which have restored local wetlands that were previously used as illegal brickworks and now attract 200 different animal species. 

The slightly more budget-friendly Botswana Lodge Safari in the Okavango Delta works with a wildlife rehabilitation centre and provides them with funding and vital equipment. 

Both operators employ trained staff from nearby communities. These ecotourism attractions only run small-group tours so as not to cause any anxiety to the animals. 

Editor’s tip: When choosing an ethical safari, research how they operate and what’s been said about them. Look at how they interact with the wildlife – there should be no opportunities for feeding, touching or getting up close. Observe how they give back to local communities through employment and funding. 

The world’s best ecotourism activities: Final thoughts

I hope these examples of ecotourism activities have inspired your next travel goals!

It’s getting increasingly easier to fill your travel itinerary with nature-friendly experiences that are gentle on the environment.

Ecotourism holiday destinations are also growing around the world as nations get more serious about their impact.

Whether you have a thirst for adventure or want to take things easy, there’s something for everyone.

What’s your favourite ecotourism activity on the list?

Looking for more sustainable travel tips?

  • How to Pick an Ethical Travel Activity
  • 10 of the Best Solid Toiletries for Sustainable Travel
  • Sustainable Travel Packing List 101: Your Complete List for an Eco-Friendly Trip
  • Sustainable Travel Tips That Will Help You Travel Greener

travel and tourism activities

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About The Author

Francesca brooking.

Francesca Brooking is the Founder of Little Lost Travel. A travel expert with a passion for the planet, Francesca is on a mission to help you travel well. From Costa Rica to Jordan, she's travelled all over the world. When she's not off on an adventure, she's reviewing sustainable travel products and writing travel guides.

Great ideas! Eco friendly is definitely the future of travel. I think the ‘big pause’ of the pandemic has led us all to reflect on this even more, as we see how various ecologically-fragile places in the world have significantly benefited from fewer visitors. It’s so important to consider how our future travels can be more responsible and mindful of our impact on the planet.

Thank you! Absolutely! Some places need tourism more than others for sure.

I’m forever grateful for your commitment to responsible travel. Thank you for the great ideas. I’ll take them all to heart.

Thank you! That’s so nice 🙂

Such a great list! I’d love to do an eco friendly cruise to Antarctica or a safari! I’m sure they would be such magical experiences!

Me too! Two for the bucket list haha.

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travel and tourism activities

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Last Updated on 06/01/2024

Protect Your Trip »

The world's 51 best tourist attractions.

Organize your travel calendar to include these must-see places around the world.

Top tourist attractions in the world

(Getty Images) |

Fully experience and appreciate the most memorable spots on your next adventure.

The Great Pyramids of Giza is a top tourist attraction in the world

Great Pyramid of Giza: Giza, Egypt

Eiffel Tower in Paris is a top tourist attraction in the world

Eiffel Tower: Paris, France

The Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles is a top tourist attraction in the world

Hollywood Sign: Los Angeles, California

Berlin Wall in Eastside Gallery, Berlin is a top tourist attraction in the world

Berlin Wall Memorial's East Side Gallery: Berlin, Germany

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is a top tourist attraction in the world

La Sagrada Familia: Barcelona, Spain

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a top tourist attraction in the world

Grand Palace: Bangkok, Thailand

Mount Fuji in Japan is a top tourist attraction in the world

Mount Fuji: Shizuoka, Japan

Tower of London is a top tourist attraction in the world

Tower of London: London, England

Las Vegas Strip is a top tourist attraction in the world

The Strip: Las Vegas, Nevada

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany is a top tourist attraction in the world

Neuschwanstein Castle: Bavaria, Germany

Ubud in Bali is a top tourist attraction in the world

Ubud: Bali, Indonesia

Most beautiful places in the world

Burj Khalifa: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Statue of Liberty in New York City is a top tourist attraction in the world

Statue of Liberty: New York, New York

The Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai is a top tourist attraction in the world

Oriental Pearl TV Tower: Shanghai, China

The Colosseum in Rome is a top tourist attraction in the world

Colosseum: Rome, Italy

The Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland is a top tourist attractions in the world

The Matterhorn: Zermatt, Switzerland

Blue Mosque in Istanbul is a top tourist attraction in the world

Blue Mosque: Istanbul, Turkey

Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong is a top tourist attraction in the world

Victoria Harbour: Hong Kong

Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Burkey is a top tourist attraction in the world

Library of Celsus: Ephesus, Turkey

Times Square in New York City is a top tourist attraction in the world

Times Square: New York, New York

The world's best tourist attractions

Buckingham Palace: London, England

The leaning tower of Pisa is a top tourist attraction in the world

Leaning Tower of Pisa: Pisa, Italy

The Forbidden City in Beijing is a top tourist attraction in the world

Forbidden City: Beijing, China

The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum in London is a top tourist attraction in the world

(Courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum) |

Rosetta Stone, British Museum: London, England

Disneyland in Anaheim, California is a top tourist attraction in the world

(Courtesy of Disneyland) |

Disneyland Resort: Anaheim, California

Tulum in Mexico is a top tourist attraction in the world

Tulum: Mexico

Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul is a top tourist attraction in the world

Gyeongbokgung Palace: Seoul, South Korea

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando is a top tourist attraction in the world

(Courtesy of Matt Stroshane & Disneyland) |

Walt Disney World Resort: Orlando, Florida

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina is a top tourist attraction in the world

Iguazu Falls: Brazil and Argentina

The Vatican in Italy is a top tourist attraction in the world

Vatican City

Top tourist attractions in the world

Sydney Opera House: Sydney, Australia

Mount Everest is a top tourist attraction in the world

Mount Everest: Nepal and Tibet

Petra in Jordan is a top tourist attraction in the world

Petra: Jordan

The Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris is a top tourist attraction in the world

Mona Lisa: Paris, France

The Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian, China is a top tourist attraction in the world

Terra Cotta Warriors: Xi'an, China

Borobudur Temple in Java, Indonesia is a top tourist attraction in the world

Borobudur Temple: Java, Indonesia

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a top tourist attraction in the world

Mount Kilimanjaro: Tanzania

Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakech, Morocco is a top tourist attraction in the world

Jemaa el-Fna: Marrakech, Morocco

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero in Brazil is a top tourist attraction in the world

Christ the Redeemer: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Great Wall of China is a top tourist attraction in the world

Great Wall of China: China

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India is a top tourist attraction in the world

Taj Mahal: Agra, India

The Meiji Shrine in Tokyo is a top tourist attraction in the world

Meiji Shrine: Tokyo, Japan

Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa is a top tourist attraction in the world

Table Mountain: Cape Town, South Africa

Niagara Falls is a top tourist attraction in the world

Niagara Falls: New York and Ontario, Canada

Zócalo in Mexico City is a top tourist attraction in the world

Zócalo: Mexico City, Mexico

Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia is a top tourist attraction in the world

Angkor Archaeological Park: Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Galapagos Islands are a top tourist attraction in the world

Galápagos Islands: Ecuador

Hong Kong, China - Oct 4, 2016: Unidentified Asian teenage girl with a ponytail hairstyle is taking photo of the Fairytales Sleeping Beauty Castle, at Disneyland Hong Kong. Editorial Used Only.

Tokyo Disney Resort: Urayasu, Japan

Acropolis in Athens, Greece is a top tourist attraction in the world

Acropolis: Athens, Greece

The world's best tourist attractions

Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco, California

The world's best tourist attractions

Navy Pier: Chicago, Illinois

The world's best tourist attractions

You might also be interested in:

  • The World's Best Places to Visit
  • The Most Beautiful Landscapes in the World
  • The Most Famous Landmarks in the World
  • The Best Tourist Attraction in Every U.S. State
  • Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

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Adventures & Sunsets

Adventure Destinations: 30 Best Places to Travel for Adventure

Posted on Last updated: November 17, 2023

If you are looking for some awesome adventure destinations to add to your bucket list, you’ve come to the right place! It’s pretty hard to narrow down the most adrenaline-inducing places to travel (and why!) but this article should be enough to add some new places to your bucket list.

As an avid adventure traveler myself, I had already compiled an excellent list of places to travel for adventure – many of which I have ticked off. But, naturally, there are always TONS more places on anyone’s bucket list.

So I asked some amazing travel bloggers in my community what their favorite adventure destinations were, where you can find the best adventurous activities for an adrenaline rush. So I compiled a comprehensive list of the most amazing adventure travel destinations in every continent on the planet. Enjoy!

These adventure destinations will inspire your next trip... or ten! Learn about both well-known and off-the-beaten-track adventure destinations and why you should explore them, with countries from every continent included.

Places to Travel for Adventure in SOUTH + CENTRAL AMERICA

patagonia adventures hiking mt fitz roy

One of the most amazing places to travel for adventure is PATAGONIA. Yes, I know, Patagonia is not a country in and of itself – it’s a REGION split between two other incredibly adventurous destinations – Argentina and Chile.

Patagonia surrounds the Andes mountain range from the bottom tip of South America (Ushuaia, Argentina) up until about halfway up both Argentina and Chile. This means – Patagonia is HUGE! It encompasses over 1 million km sq from the bottom to the top, and has DOZENS of amazing places to adventure and explore.

Patagonia is one of the best adventure destinations in the world, as it is completely centered around outdoor adventures. There are National Parks, glaciers, hikes, caves, volcanoes, and stunning views that would make anyone’s jaws drop. You can go trekking, kayaking, boating, caving, rappelling, four-wheel driving, and SO much more – there’s no limit to the adventures you can have.

I recommend spending at least two weeks in Patagonia , if not extending your trip to four weeks in Northern Patagonia too. You must not miss the W Trek in Torres del Paine or Climbing Volcan Villarrica in Pucon, Chile – among SO many other things! Be prepared to see some of the most dramatic mountain views of your life, as well as being wowed at the culture and scenery.

panama hiking volcan baru for sunrise

You didn’t expect to see Panama on a list of adventure destinations, did you?! Since I recently spent a month there, I have dubbed Panama as one of my favorite underrated travel destinations AND adventure destinations. This country completely blew my mind with the sheer amount of awesome things to do!

I’ll start with the obvious: Panama is MUCH more than Panama City. While it’s great to see the canal, the famous capital is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring Panama.

Bocas del Toro is one of the best adventure destinations in Panama. Located on the Caribbean coast not too far from Costa Rica, Bocas is comprised of dozens of islands ready for adventure. You can go sailing, fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, jungle hiking, and even take cooking classes around all the islands.

Playa Venao and Santa Catalina are great beaches on the Pacific coast for surfing – perfect if you are backpacking Panama . I highly recommend speedboating through the San Blas islands to encounter some of the most pristine islands you may see in your life.

If beaches and islands aren’t totally your thing – no worries! Panama also has a mountainous destination called Boquete . Boquete is home to a huge volcano which, when ascended, you can see BOTH the Pacific and Caribbean Seas on a clear day! Hiking Volcan Baru is a must for adventure travelers. Make sure to also stop at Lost and Found Hiking Hostel for some scavenger hunts and amazing views.

Hike to Laguna 69 in Huaraz Peru

Peru is an incredible country and one of the perfect places to travel for adventure. Cusco is a great base to start your Peruvian adventure, as the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the most famous hike in Peru. From Cusco you can arrange ATV tours to the Mayan ruins at Moray and to see the salt mines at Maras. In the Sacred Valley, you’ll also find zip-lining and the chance to sleep in a pod on the side of a cliff if you are brave enough!

Huaraz is the best place to go for trekking in Peru and is relatively off the beaten track compared to Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Here you can hike through the breath-taking Huascaran National Park with incredible mountain views and beautiful blue lakes in the Cordillera Blanca, although the altitude can be a challenge.

If you prefer less strenuous activities and warmer weather, head to the coast for surfing in Mancora or Huanchaco or try paragliding on the cliffs in Lima. Inland, go sandboarding and hop in a buggy to speed around the sand dunes at Peru’s desert oasis Huacachina. For a wetter adventure, Peru also has some fabulous rafting on the Río Urubamba in Cusco, Río Chili in Arequipa and Cotahuasi Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world.

Arguably, the most adventurous place in Peru is the Amazon, where you can take tours into the rainforest from Iquitos, trekking through the jungle to spot wildlife. As a fitting finale to your Peruvian adventure, take a slow boat along the Amazon River right to its delta in Brazil.

By Claire Sturzaker from This Travel Lover

adventuring in Colombia waterfalls

Are you an adrenaline junkie looking for your next heart-dropping adventure? Do you also prefer not breaking the bank when doing said activities? If your answer is yes, then you must visit Colombia. A country with a terrible past, Colombia has now become one of the top travel destinations in South America. With diverse landscapes ranging from the beautiful Caribbean waters of Capurgana to the mysterious Amazon rainforest, it is not difficult to see why it is so popular.

Many of the best things to do in Colombia are adventure-based. In the ancient city of Cartagena, visitors can participate in many adventurous water sports such as windsurfing, diving, and kitesurfing on the Caribbean Sea. Deeper towards the Amazon Rainforest, a famous 5-day trek called the Lost City trek takes you to a protected archaeological site.

Still not enough adventure? Then make sure you include the city of San Gil on your  Colombia itinerary . Known as the adventure capital of Colombia travelers can enjoy intense level 5 white-water rafting, canyoning, cave explorations, bungee jumping, and more!

By Sean Lau from Living Out Lau

places to travel in costa rica for adventure

Costa Rica is the ultimate adventure destination. From the laid-back surfer towns along the coast to amazing music festivals like Envision to the extreme wilderness of the jungles and volcanoes, you can find any adrenaline rush you’re looking for in this Central American country.

One adventure sport that you can’t miss while in Costa Rica is ziplining. Now, maybe you’ve ziplined a few times before. It’s all the same, right? Not in Costa Rica. CR is world-renowned for its ziplining industry. We experienced a zipline that was over 1km long, several hundred feet above the jungle, which flew past a raging waterfall. And that isn’t even considered one of the best in the country!

If ziplining isn’t your thing, you have plenty of other adventure options. In the short week we were there, we surfed, rappelled through canyons, hiked to hidden waterfalls, galloped horses through the jungle, and tried some high-intensity white-water rafting.

We also barely survived what was hands-down the biggest adrenaline rush of the trip: a water slide. More specifically, the Buena Vista del Rincon jungle water slide. No kidding, you suit up with a helmet and protective innertube, then scream along the 425m waterslide in the middle of the rainforest. This is undoubtedly dangerous, as we both almost flew out several times and could easily see how people have been injured here. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country that is perfectly suited for adventure travelers. You will absolutely not get bored with any amount of time you spend there!

By Dani Ward from Diapers in Paradise

Places to Travel for Adventure in NORTH AMERICA

best pacific coast highway road trip stops stops highway 1 california bixby bridge big sur

When it comes to adventures, California TRULY has it all. To be honest, there aren’t many adventure sports you CAN’T do in California! It’s one of the only places that you can go surfing and snowboarding on the same day, and there are dozens of National Parks, mountains, coastlines, and more.

California actually has more National Parks than any other state! Yosemite , Sequoia, Death Valley, Joshua Tree , Pinnacles, and Channel Islands National Parks are fantastic for hiking, camping, amazing views, rafting, kayaking, extreme climbing, and more. California is also home to the highest mountain peak in the lower 48, Mt Whitney, which many people like to ascend over a few days.

The amount of cliffy coastlines in CA is incredible, and you can find more ocean adventures than you could possibly complete in a lifetime! California is fantastic for surfers, and also has many places you can kayak/swim in caves, rock climb, snorkel, jet ski, go sailing/boating, or even scuba dive. Some of my favorite coastlines to adventure are Big Sur, San Diego/La Jolla, Laguna Beach , San Louis Obispo, Point Reyes, and some great beach hikes in Southern California.

I could tell you about places to travel for adventure in California for AGES – there’s truly no limit between the incredible mountainous landscapes, low deserts, and oceanic opportunities. You MUST take a California road trip at some point in your life, and most definitely a Pacific Coast Highway road trip as part of it too.

Canada/Rockies

travel and tourism activities

The Rocky Mountains run along the border of Alberta and British Columbia, two of Canada’s best adventure destinations. Most travelers heading to the Rocky Mountains fly into my hometown, Calgary, Alberta . I always recommend they begin their trip at Winsport, the sporting facility that hosted Calgary’s 1988 Winter Olympics. There, visitors can ease their way into adventure travel through activities like skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, downhill go-karting and even “summer luge” on the old Olympics tracks.

From Calgary, it’s only an hour’s drive west to Canmore, the gateway to the mountains. Canmore is ideal for river rafting in the summer (choose a sunset tour for the best wildlife spotting!) and cross-country skiing in the backcountry during the winter. From here, it’s only twenty minutes further to Banff National Park, one of Canada’s most famous, and spectacularly beautiful, parks.

Spend a summer day (or two, or three…) hiking the pristine forest trails that criss-cross the park, or take your adventure to the next level by spending a winter day heli-skiing high in the Rocky Mountains. And of course, when you’re all done, relax your exhausted muscles in Banff’s historic hot springs! 

By Carly from Absolutely Calgary

mountains adventures in colorado

As the adventure capital of the United States, Colorado is a must-see on any adventurer’s bucket list. You’ll find world-class hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, climbing, and more throughout the state. The best way to get all of the outdoor action in Colorado is to hit the road. Go on an epic Colorado road trip.

Must-see adventure destinations include taking a scenic mountain drive through the San Juans, alpine rock climbing in the iconic Rocky Mountain National Park or hiking to the top of one of Colorado’s most scenic 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet tall). After your big adventure, kick back at one of the many beautiful campsites in Colorado.

You can even explore the depths of space with a visit to the town of Westcliff and surrounding mountains. This area is a designated Dark Sky area, where you’ll get un-polluted views of the Milky Way. Other nearby attractions are the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, known for their backpacking and hiking routes. Also, check out Great Sand Dunes National Park, North America’s biggest sand dunes for even more spectacular adventures.

With so much to choose from, you could easily spend two weeks to a month exploring all that Colorado has to offer. So hit the road this season with an amazing outdoor adventure trip you’ll never forget.

By Meg Atteberry from Fox in the Forest

Smith Rock State Park outside of Bend, OR

There are far too many  adventurous things to do in Oregon  to choose favorites! It really is all dependant on what you’re after. Just choose your favorite activities and Oregon will take care of you. Here’s a quick rundown on some of my favorite spots and adventure destinations.

Rock Climbing   – Smith Rock is the mecca for hanging off rocks and getting up high!

Hiking  – There’s a hike around every corner in Oregon. A few of the best spots are Samuel H. Boardman and Ecola on the coast, around Mount Hood like the Tom, Dick and Harry Trail or Tamanawas Falls Trail. The Cascade region outside of Bend will keep you busy for weeks -the South Sister summit is a favorite, and the Wallowas and the Steens Mountain in the east won’t disappoint.

The Lakes  – The lakes are just too good! Crater Lake National Park is must-see, it’s the State’s only National Park and is gorgeous. There’s some good hiking around the rim and beyond. Beyond that, the Cascade Lakes in Central Oregon are magnificent. There are numerous lakes all surrounded by trails or that have water sports on offer. Grab a SUP, kayak, or boat and spend the day out on the lakes. Bring your own or head to Elk or Lava Lake to rent equipment.

Like most places in the USA, the best way to experience Oregon is on a road trip! You can bring a tent along and keep your trip super cheap or try some of the unique spots that are around the state like yurts or even teepees.

by Nina Ragusa from Oregon is for Adventure

Maui, Hawaii

best adventures in maui

If you’re looking for adventure in one of the most beautiful places in the world then Maui is the place for you . Get your heart pumping and fly high through the trees on one of Maui’s zipline tours; my favorite has always been Kapalua Adventures on the island’s west side.

If hiking is more your thing, head to the top of Haleakala and hike around the volcano crater at the Haleakala National Park before or after taking in the sunrise or sunset. Or cruise the Road to Hana for a day and go hiking through the bamboo forest on the other side of Haleakala National Park all the way up to Waimoku Falls. They also have some amazing saltwater fishing.

When in Maui you have to try surfing at least once! There are lots of local surf schools around the island that offer great lessons and board rentals. Once you’ve had enough of the waves, try a kayak and snorkel tour. Kelii’s Kayaks is a locally owned company and their guides are experienced and knowledgeable about the best snorkeling spots and the sea creatures you’ll find. Take the super early tour (around 7 am) when the water is smooth as glass and see the coast from a new perspective and explore the colorful reefs below the surface.

Maui doesn’t have extensive public transportation so to really explore the island, you’ll need to rent a car. If you want to get off the beaten path, consider staying at Travasaa Resort in Hana on the far east side of the island. Hana is much less crowded than other areas of Maui with easy access to beaches and Haleakala National Park.

If traveling around, make sure to visit Kauai and catch the sunset in Oahu .

By Emily Hines from Em’s on the Road

Places to Travel for Adventure in EUROPE

Switzerland.

places to visit for adventure in switzerland

Switzerland is a paradise for adventure seekers. The country is also known as one of the safest countries throughout Europe thanks to its low crime rate and strict police force. However, there are plenty of activities you can do, which are considered not so safe! Thanks to the country’s amazing public transport system, you can easily get around without driving. The beautiful Swiss Alps is a playground for thrill-seekers. It has many beautiful hiking trails and via ferratas, that are not for the faint-hearted.

The challenging  hardergrat trail  is on many hiking enthusiast’s bucket lists. Paragliding is a popular activity, especially in the scenic Lauterbrunnen Valley. Despite being a landlocked county, Switzerland is an amazing place for water sport activities as it has over 7000 lakes and many rivers. You can also pop over the border to Vorarlberg.

Sailing, water skiing and kayaking are all fantastic at these locations. In the winter the country gets plenty of snow and many people flock to the ski resorts. Luckily there are plenty of them in Switzerland, and off-piste skiing is also possible. So if you want one of the best places to travel for adventure in Europe, visit this country as it has so much to offer!

By Eniko Krix from Travel Hacker Girl

mountains biking in Wales

Wales, the country in the UK, is a great place to travel for adventure lovers and for people who enjoy outdoor activities. Three national parks cover one-fifth of the total Welsh land.

Snowdonia National Park, located in the north, is home to beautiful lakes, hills, moorlands, waterfalls, and the highest peak in England and Wales, Mount Snowdon . In this park, there are various hiking routes you can take. If you don’t fancy hiking you can also take a steam train to Snowdon’s peak at an altitude of 1,085 meters.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is the only coastal national park in the UK in the west. There are numerous coastal paths which take you to some breathtaking cliffs. If the weather is good you can cycle across sweeping hills, go for a swim or go scuba diving. There are different diving sites including wrecks and reefs. If you are lucky you can also swim with wild dolphins.

The Brecon Beacons, in the south of Wales , is famous for its magnificent upland formations. It is also home to some outstanding waterfalls, caves, and lakes. You can stay in Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer which offers different types of accommodations such as cottages, lodges, and chalets. This centre also offers different activities including caving, stand up paddleboarding, and canyoning. While in the Brecon Beacons, make sure to take the Four Falls Walk which takes you to four amazing waterfalls.

If you go to the south of the national park you will find Bike Park Wales which features various mountain biking trails for different experience levels from beginners to professionals.

By Mansoureh Farahani from Travel with Mansoureh

adventures in iceland

Iceland is a paradise for adventure seekers and one of the best adventure destinations in the world for outdoor activities. Every corner of the island offers amazing opportunities to explore the unique Icelandic landscape: from glaciers to waterfalls, geysers and volcanoes!

The best way to experience Iceland is to take a road trip along the Ring Road. You can rent a car and book tours and activities along the way. Aside from hiking, most adventure activities in Iceland require booking a tour. Check out more Iceland budget tips.

There are dozens of adventure activities you can experience in Iceland. Our favorite adventure tour in Iceland was hands down snorkeling/diving the Silfra fissure . Wearing a drysuit, you get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim between two continents!

Some of the best adventure tours in Iceland include glacier hiking and ice climbing, ice caving, horseback riding, and hiking inside a volcano. If you are looking for great activities to do with kids, you can take a boat ride on a glacier lagoon or go white water rafting! Iceland also has dozens of hiking trails you can explore without a guide. Just make sure to always check the weather forecast and listen to local warnings as conditions can be very unpredictable!

By Julie Laundis from Wandering Sunsets

greenland is a great adventure travel destination

Is Greenland the last frontier of world travel? This sparsely populated giant ice sheet between Europe and North America is often overlooked and usually seen by most at 30,000 feet on transatlantic flights. But if you are the sort that loves all sorts of winter-based activities and treks then I would highly advise you to stop over and spend some time in Greenland.

Taking a cruise through the Ilulissat ice fjord and encountering the iceberg formations up close and personal is undoubtedly one of the highlights, but there is also the opportunity to kayak along some of Greenland’s ice fields at your own pace too. A daring adventure, certainly, but best carried out in the Spring/Summer months where there is almost 24-hour daylight. You will need to rent a kayak from a company first.

The hiking opportunities throughout Greenland are limitless. One of the most enduring is the Arctic Circle Trail between Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut, a real adventure through ice-capped mountains where pitching your tent and camping for the night is essential. And of course, another of the highlights of any visit to Greenland is the opportunity to go dog sledding. Dog sledding is a fun expedition for all but in truth a way of life for the local population. What better way to be transported through the deep thick winter snow through ice mountains and with a view of the frozen sea from a distance, or even in full view of the Northern Lights in January?

When staying in Greenland, there is no place I recommend more than the Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat. Between May and September, their metal igloos overlooking Disko Bay are open for reservations. It may be one of the most unique accommodation experiences and views you will ever have.

By Jonathan Riddick from Journeymaxx.com

Dolomites, Italy

dolomites adventure destination in europe

The Dolomites are often overlooked when people think about visiting Italy, but they are some of the most beautiful and adventure packed mountains in the entire world, and the possibilities to explore them are endless. Whether you want to keep it simple with a nice relaxing hike around Lago Di Braies, or perhaps you just want to ride a cable car and take in all the majestic views around you, there is something for everyone. 

If you’re looking for adventure, you’ll absolutely love mountain and road biking in the Dolomites, as well as rock climbing. To truly experience the Dolomites, stay a night in a mountain top Refugio where you can enjoy sunset and sunrise from the perfect viewpoint, and really feel how wild these mountains are.

If you want something more adventurous, there are plenty of multi-day trekking routes where you hike from Refugio to Refugio, eating all their wonderfully cooked food along the way. Located just 2 hours from Venice, visiting the Dolomites is a must-do for adventure seekers.

By Jessica Averett from  Bring The Kids

Places to Travel for Adventure in ASIA/MIDDLE EAST

ADventure travel in Georgia

With sweeping valleys, white water rivers, towering waterfalls, and rugged mountains for days, the Republic of Georgia was made for adventure travel.

The Caucasus country has an extremely diverse landscape that ranges from semi-desert in the east to lush forest in the west. High mountains form natural land borders to the north and south, while a stretch of coastline along the Black Sea provides opportunities for sailing and water sports.

Georgia has 10 national parks, all with something different to offer. But the country is best known for its alpine trekking. Hikes range from easy trails such as Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church , to multi-day journeys – the most popular being the three-day trek from Mestia to Ushguli. Accommodation along the high-altitude route comes in the form of village homestays, which means experiencing legendary Georgian hospitality (read: lots of homemade wine and mountains of food to conquer every night) is part and parcel of the experience.

Other highlights include horseback riding in the remote Tusheti Protected Landscape and trekking to Black Rock Lake on the Russian border. Winter sports including snowboarding are on offer in Gudauri and Bakuriani as well as tandem paragliding. For rafting, head to Western Georgia’s Rioni river in the summer months.

Budget flights from Europe, flexible visas, cost-effective options for guided tours – plus a general feeling of still being ‘off the beaten track’ – are just some of the factors that make Georgia a top adventure destination.

By Emily Lush from Wander-Lush

Paragliding in Nepal

Nepal is one of the ultimate places to travel for adventure. The small landlocked country boasts some of the world’s greatest trekking trails, stunning mountain regions, and other adrenaline-rushing activities. In short, Nepal is the Holy Grail for adventure enthusiasts.

Trekking in Nepal is undoubtedly the most coveted adventure. Home to some of the highest peaks in the world, Nepal has varied trekking trails suited for beginners as well as hardcore mountaineers. The Everest and Annapurna region in Nepal offers the most popular treks, while the Mustang and Dolpo trails and the Manaslu Circuit Trek are somewhat offbeat.

If you think Nepal is only about trekking, then you are quite wrong. Pokhara in Nepal is heaven for adventure activities. You can go for paragliding, bungee jumping, zip-lining, and mountain biking near Pokhara. Finally, the Everest Mountain Flight is the ultimate adventure that you can have in Nepal. A helicopter ride will take you a few hundred feet higher over the highest peak of the world, and you can enjoy the summit view of the Everest ranges from the flight.

Finally, the fast-flowing mountain rivers of Nepal provides some of the best whitewater rafting in the world. Single-day trips are available from Pokhara.

For adventure activities, it is best to visit and stay in Pokhara. There are several travel shops from where you can book your adventure activity. These agents arrange for pick up from your hotel as well. You can also book these activities from Kathmandu, the capital city.

By Agni & Amrita from Tale of 2 Backpackers

Phillipines

adventurous phillipines places to visit siargao

The Philippines is generally known for its beautiful beaches and incredible blue water. But our two month trip exploring many of the different islands showed us how many awesome, adventurous things there are to do here. Whether it’s island hopping or scuba diving in Palawan, chasing waterfalls in Cebu or riding scooters around the island paradise of Siargao there is an endless amount of epic adventure destinations in the Philippines.

Our favourite island in the Philippines is Siargao and that’s because it is stunningly beautiful while also providing plenty of adventurous activities to do. You can cliff jump into natural rock pools, swim from palm tree rope swings, surf, swim through caves and explore multiple different islands and lagoons by boat. It really is the dream island for adventure lovers.

The easiest way to get around the Philippines is to rent a scooter and drive yourself. This allows you to discover more remote and untouched regions, beat the crowds and really helps to create a unique experience for you. It doesn’t really matter what activity you are into because the Philippines has it all.

By Luke Storey from The Coastal Campaign

 Kyrgyzstan adventure travel

If you’re looking for adventure destinations then Kyrgyzstan should definitely be on your radar. While some people have never heard of Kyrgyzstan, many off the beaten path travelers are discovering the new hotspot in hiking and adventure. There is lots to explore in Kyrgyzstan and most of it can be done on a budget and without crowds of other tourists.

Kyrgyzstan boasts incredible hiking trails spanning mountain ridges, grassy glades, and pristine lakes. One of the most popular is the 3-day trek to Ala Kul Lake which ends in a little village sitting on natural hot springs. There are also incredible options for horse trekking and skiing throughout the country which are really affordable.

But of course, a trip to Kyrgyzstan wouldn’t be complete without experiencing some of the local nomadic culture. You can stay in yurts, watch eagle hunting displays or if you’re lucky, catch a game of Kok Boru – the local sport played on horseback with a goat carcass! You can also visit Kyrgyzstan in winter, which is a huge adventure too.

By Rohan Cahill-Fleury from Travels of a Bookpacker

pakistan hikes and adventures

Considering it’s home to dozens of the world’s tallest mountains, including the second tallest K2, it’s no surprise that Pakistan is an adventure traveler’s paradise- especially if you’re into trekking! The beautiful South Asian country is filled with a seemingly endless amount of mountain opportunities. Everything from day-hikes to alpine lakes to multi-day expeditions to the base camp of K2 can be done in Pakistan.

For those looking for a moderate adventure, I highly recommend taking 1-2 days to venture up towards Rakaposhi Base Camp in the Gilgit-Baltistan province. The trek starts in Minapin Village and heads to a pretty epic viewpoint where you’ll be able to see the majestic Rakaposhi mountain up close!

Another popular and easier trek to embark on in Pakistan is Fairy Meadows (also in Gilgit-Baltistan), where you’ll be able to stay the night in a lush campsite that has an unparalleled view of Nanga Parbat, the world’s 9th highest mountain.

Hitchhiking through Pakistan’s mountainous villages will also bring you up close and personal with a ton of elevation and little known treks- don’t forget about them in favor of the popular guys!

Overall, backpacking Pakistan is one of the most incredible travel experiences you can have. Pakistanis are some of the friendliest people on the planet, which will undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip aside from the surreal landscapes.

Logistically speaking, Pakistan can be entered through any one of its international airports, or can be crossed overland. The Wagah Border with India is the easiest land border to cross over at, and would lead you right into one of Pakistan’s liveliest cities: Lahore. Even if you plan on spending all your time in the mountains (very understood!), I highly recommend spending some days in Lahore before heading north. The city is known as the cultural capital of the country, and boasts dozens of Mughal-era relics.

To reach the mountains, you’ll have to first make your way to Gilgit- the hub of Gilgit-Baltistan. Gilgit can either be reached by a flight (which is often canceled) or an overnight coach-bus ride from Pakistan’s capital city Islamabad. Islamabad is about 5 hours north of Lahore and Gilgit is some 17 hours north of Islamabad.

By Samantha Shea from Intentional Detours

Uttarakhand, India

Uttarakhand india

Uttarakhand, India may not be a place that jumps readily to mind when you think of adventure destinations to travel. But this mountainous region is home to adventure in India. Uttarakhand is in North India, about a five hour drive north-east of the capital city, Delhi. It’s one of several states in India dominated by the Himalayan mountain range. Most of the state is mountainous, from the rolling foothills of Rishikesh right up to the soaring peaks, like Nanda Devi, the tallest mountain in Uttarakhand at 7,816 metres.

Naturally, this kind of terrain makes for great adventure travel options. Trekking is very popular in Uttarakhand, and one trek in particular is legendary. The summertime trek to Valley of Flowers is on many bucket lists as it has all the hallmarks of a true adventure. The Valley of Flowers trek is in a very remote location that’s only accessible for a brief time each year, but it rewards those who make the effort with a glorious vision — a Himalayan valley carpeted with flowers in full bloom.

Another popular option in Uttarakhand is white water rafting. This state is the source of the Ganga (Ganges) River. The most sacred river in India, the Ganges tumbles from the Himalayas before making a 2,500 kilometre journey across the length of India. In Uttarakhand, the rushing river is ideal for white water rafting. Rishikesh is not only the Yoga capital of the world, it’s also the gateway to adventure. Many adventure outfitters offer white water rafting in and around Rishikesh.

Finally, I cannot end before mentioning Corbett Tiger Reserve, one of the top tiger reserves in all of India . In fact, the very concept of tiger reserves started in Corbett, which was originally established in 1936 and later named after legendary author and hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett. A jeep safari in Corbett is a wildlife adventure among thick forests and rolling meadows teeming with tigers, leopards, elephants, sloth bears, pangolins and many others.

By Mariellen Ward from BreatheDreamGo

ADventure destinations in the middle east israel negev desert

Israel is probably not the first country that comes to mind when thinking about adventure destinations, but it actually offers dozens of amazing adventure travel activities for anyone to enjoy.

Sitting on the Mediterranean, on Israel’s beaches, you can engage with all types of water sports like surfing, paddleboarding, and windsurfing.

If you’re more of a green landscape kind of traveler, head to northern Israel, where you’ll find scenic views of mountains, creeks, and waterfalls. This area is filled with hiking trails, but you can also try other activities like skydiving, kayaking or rafting on the Jordan river, and flying in a hot air balloon over the Galilee region .

As opposed to the green north, southern Israel offers unique desert views. The Negev and Judaean deserts are extremely popular for hiking, but they’re also perfect for outdoor adventures like canyoning, rappelling, and rock climbing. If you want to make your time in southern Israel extra special, choose to stay at a Bedouin tent or lodge to learn about Bedouin culture and enjoy traditional Bedouin hospitality.

By Or Amir from My Path in the World

Places to Travel for Adventure in OCEANIA

New zealand.

Queenstown view from Gondola _ Backyard Travel Family

New Zealand surely needs to be at the top of the list for adventure destinations around the world. The home of bungy jumping, and superhuman adventurers like Sir Edmund Hillary, you know you are going to have an action-packed holiday here.

While New Zealand can be a long way for some, there are direct flights from Australia, the USA, major Asian hubs and the Pacific Islands. Once you are here, the easiest way to get around is to grab a campervan or rental car and road trip your way around.

The South Island is the king of adventure, with Queenstown being its adventure capital. Bungy jumping originated here and now you can jump the highest bungy: the Ben Nevis , at 134m high, a 8.5-second freefall. It’s an absolute must-do in New Zealand. Queenstown has a raft of adventure activities including jet boating, heliskiing, rafting, skydiving, Skyline luge, and epic hiking.

While in the South Island, enjoy an overnight boat adventure in Milford Sound, swimming with dolphins in Akaroa, whale watching in Kaikoura or zipline at New Zealand’s longest zipline in Christchurch.

The North Island isn’t one to ignore for adventure either. Rotorua is home to the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, mountain biking in the Redwoods and kayaking with glowworms. Also try hiking the Tongariro Crossing in volcano country, diving in New Zealand’s best dive site, Poor Knights Marine Reserve, or a canoe adventure down the Whanganui River.

Whatever you choose, you will not run out of places to travel for adventure in New Zealand!

By Jennifer from Backyard Travel Family: Active Family Travel Specialists in New Zealand

Great Barrier  Reef adventures australia

Australia is a country packed full of adventurous things to do; whichever region you chose to visit you won’t be disappointed. Some of my best travel memories are from my numerous trips down under.

If I had to pick the best one, it would be the night I spent on a floating pontoon on my trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Spending a night in the middle of the ocean, seeing the magnificent reef on a scenic helicopter flight and then snorkeling in the beautiful underwater world was truly amazing.

Another adventure not to miss is sailing around the Whitsunday Islands. If you base yourself at Airlie Beach, you’ll be able to organise both of these experiences. Sleeping under the stars, and getting to dive at the best times was incredible.

If you enjoy hiking and trekking, then you’ll love the Blue Mountains near Sydney, or you could consider driving along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria or getting a delicious Aussie brunch in Melbourne . The stunning vistas along the way at both adventure destinations provide perfect photo opportunities, not to mention unforgettable memories.

Of course, Australia is famous for its surfing, and there’s no shortage of great beaches to ride the waves. Some of the best have to include Bells Beach in Torquay, Surfers Paradise or Noosa Heads in Queensland and Prevelly Bay in Western Australia.

If you’re staying in Sydney, climbing the famous harbour bridge is also not to miss or at least seeing the Pylon Lookout . There’s so much to do in Australia that one trip won’t be enough, so be prepared to plan a return adventure.

By Fiona Berry from Passport and Piano

Solomon Islands

adventures in the solomon islands

The South Pacific has PLENTY of incredible island adventure destinations dotted throughout the Pacific Ocean. I’m sure many if not all small island nations would be grand for a more off-the-beaten-track adventure, but I can personally attest to the adventurousness of the Solomon Islands.

I spent a week traveling the Solomon Islands (check out my Solomon Islands guide here) and can safely say I only scratched the surface when it comes to really cool and adrenaline-inducing things to do. There are over 1000 islands in ‘the Sollies,’ each with something unique to offer.

Naturally, most Solomon Islands adventures have a LOT to do with the ocean! As far as surfing goes, there are remote reef breaks here that have literally never even had a surfer before. Finding these depends on YOUR lever of adventure (and, well, if you have a boat you can live on too I suppose). There are some tiny and beautiful Solomon Islands hotels too.

The Solomon Islands are also known as one of the best places to scuba dive in the WORLD. They have some of the clearest water and most prolific dive sites (with the most sea life) on the planet. There’s a LOT of jungle to hike and explore, many successful fishing trips, and some different water sports around, too.

Places to Travel for Adventure in AFRICA

South africa.

places to visit for adventure in south africa - drakensburg mountains

South Africa is another one of those countries that really does have a little but of everything! Many people think of beaches when they think of South Africa, but in reality, there are deserts, mountains, beaches, and more.

Cape Town is actually one of the most adventurous cities I have been to. It has hiking, climbing, kitesurfing, paragliding, helicopter-ing, abseiling, surfing, diving, and more available within a few minutes of the city center! Check out Cape Town’s top 10 adventures and also 100 things to do in Cape Town if you need some inspo; I can’t wait to go back.

But, Cape Town is merely the beginning of places to travel for adventure in South Africa. There are some incredible road trips to check out, such as the Garden Route, which touches upon lots of amazing coastlines, national parks, hikes, waterfalls, and beaches. The middle of the country is home to beautiful expansive deserts, and of course, there are TONS of places to see wild animals and ‘the Big 5″ such as famous Kruger National Park.

Perhaps one of my favorite adventure destinations in South Africa is the Drakensburg Mountains- on the border of Lesotho . These are some of the most incredible mountains I have seen in my life, and are home to TONs of single-day treks and also treks as long as 300km (“The Grand Traverse”). The ‘Devil’s Tooth’ mountain is a famous view, as well as the second-highest waterfall in the whole world, Tugela Falls. If you do the hike to Tugela Falls you will be able to see both, as well as scaling metal ladders attaches to the cliff face. An adventure for sure!

Victoria Falls

angel's pool victoria falls livingstone zambia

Forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe one the famous Zambezi River, Victoria Falls is a true destination for adventure. There are lots of ways to experience one of the largest waterfalls in the world! To make the most of Victoria Falls, I recommend spending some time on the Zambian side (Livingstone) AND the Zimbabwe side (Victoria Falls), not only so you can form your own opinion on which side’s view is better (its an age-old debate) but to take part in more adventures as well.

Livingstone, Zambia is essentially built on adventure tourism. There are multiple ways to fly over the falls (prop plane, microlight, helicopter) and even more ways to experience them from the ground or the water. There are TONS of boat cruises and sunset trips on the Zambezi, as well as safaris around the area, quad biking, horseback riding, and even fishing. It’s a great place to see a lovely African Sunset .

Rafting is also famous on the Zambezi – but don’t worry, you raft on the part of the river AFTER the falls! There’s a huge bungee jump from a bridge that connects the Zambian side to the Zimbabwean side, and because of this, you will need your passport just to do the jump!

Perhaps the most adrenaline-inducing adventure at Victoria Falls is swimming in the Devil’s Pool (dry season) or the Angel’s Pool (wet season). These are famous pools RIGHT on the edge of the 300+ ft waterfall – so close you can nearly look off the edge! In wet season when you can’t safely make it to Devil’s Pool, you can book a tour to Angel’s Pool and hold onto a rope as waist-high water goes over the edge of the falls. Its an absolute thrill!

kenya adventure destinations

Kenya is located in East Africa and a popular destination for safaris and adventure holidays. With regular flights from many countries, it makes it an easy country to get to, and then moving about you have two main options of flying (which can be expensive) or driving. I have travelled around both ways and could recommend both. I would recommend you have a driver if you decide to drive. You can spend any length of time in this wonderful country and have the most amazing time.

Whilst Kenya is well known for its amazing safari adventure, people of all ages will make memories of a life time. We have just returned from 3 weeks with three small children (4, 4 & 1) proving safari really is possible with kids! Take a look at House in the Wild , it will blow your mind and offers far more than just a safari experience. We visited local schools, a Maasai Village, the rhino sanctuary just to name a few.

Pre children, I joined Angell Safaris and cycled 300km from Nairobi to Mombasa. The most incredible experience of my life. It was such an awesome way to see the country, go on safari, and really challenge your mind in one of the best adventure destinations!

By Anna Miller from Twins and Travels

antarctica adventure destinations

Adventurous travelers are drawn to Antarctica for its isolated location, wild scenery, and opportunities for spontaneous exploration.

Just getting there is a huge part of the adventure, as you have to sail across the Drake Passage and its famously rough seas.

Once you arrive in Antarctica, the seas calm but adventure kicks into high gear. Passengers hop into zodiacs and cruise through brash ice, passing larger-than-life icebergs and glacier-covered mountains. Wildlife sightings are common, yet unpredictable, with huge colonies of penguins, swimming seals, and maybe even breaching humpback whales.

Simply sitting and watching life unfold at the bottom of the world is an adventure in itself, but there are more active ways to experience Antarctica. Depending on the time of year, expedition cruise operators may offer sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, cross-country skiing, and mountaineering. Other popular optional adventure activities are winter camping and the Polar Plunge, where brave souls jump into the cold Antarctic waters.

No matter how you spend your time, a  trip to Antarctica  is guaranteed to be unforgettable!

by Rhonda Krause from travelyesplease.com

Well, that’s about it for some of the best adventure destinations in the world! You may also enjoy these:

  • The Best Adventure Captions
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What next for travel and tourism? Here's what the experts say

In many countries, more than 80% of travel and tourism spending actually comes from the domestic market.

In many countries, more than 80% of travel and tourism spending actually comes from the domestic market. Image:  Unsplash/Surface

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travel and tourism activities

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Stay up to date:.

  • In 2020 alone, the travel and tourism sector lost $4.5 trillion and 62 million jobs globally.
  • But as the world recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel and tourism can bounce back as an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient sector.
  • Two experts highlight some of the key transformations in the sector going forward during the World Economic Forum's Our World in Transformation series.

The Travel & Tourism sector was one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving not only companies but also tourism-driven economies severely affected by shutdowns, travel restrictions and the disappearance of international travel.

In 2020 alone, the sector lost $4.5 trillion and 62 million jobs, impacting the living standards and well-being of communities across the globe. Moreover, the halt in international travel gave both leisure and business travellers the chance to consider the impact of their choices on the climate and environment.

Amid shifting demand dynamics and future opportunities and risks, a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient travel and tourism sector can be - and needs to be - built.

The World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021 finds that embedding inclusivity, sustainability and resilience into the travel and tourism sector as it recovers, will ensure it can continue to be a driver of global connectivity, peace and economic and social progress.

We spoke to Sandra Carvao , Chief of Market Intelligence and Competitiveness at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and Liz Ortiguera , CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association in Thailand (PATA), and asked them to highlight some of the key areas of risk and opportunity in the sector during an episode of the World Economic Forum's Our World in Transformation series.

Have you read?

Travel & tourism development index 2021: rebuilding for a sustainable and resilient future, towards resilience and sustainability: travel and tourism development recovery, how can we really achieve sustainability in the travel sector, what are some of the top global trends you're witnessing currently in the travel and tourism sector.

Liz Ortiguera: Given the extended lockdown that we had on travel with the pandemic, vacation for friends and relatives (VFR) is now a high priority for people who haven’t been in touch for a long time thanks to the pandemic. So, people are reconnecting. And that kind of links to the second trend, which is multi-purpose or blended travel. Never before, particularly now that we can connect digitally through Zoom, has the ability to work from anywhere enabled travellers to cover multiple purposes, like visits with friends and multiple business trips. So, we'll find that the duration of travel and the length of stay is longer. And third is the continued high focus on safety and wellness which is top of mind for travellers due to the pandemic. All travel is wellness-related now.

Sandra Carvao: I think there is a bigger concern with sustainability, which is very welcome in our industry. Consumers, particularly the younger generation, are much more aware of the impact they have, not only on the environment but also socially and on the communities they live in. We've also seen an increase in expenditure per trip, so I think people are very eager to go outside, and they're staying longer. And on the other side, I think there are some challenges: we’re seeing a rise in late bookings because restrictions can change at short notice and that’s having an impact on the decisions of travellers. This is putting pressure on the industry in terms of planning and anticipating fluctuations in demand.

Social media surveys have shown that travellers who have immersive experiences are more likely to post about them, which is good for the industry.

What is community-based tourism and why is it important?

Sandra Carvao: One of the positive impacts of the pandemic is that people are looking for local experiences and are spending more time with communities. So, the concept of community-based tourism is obviously one that puts the community at the core of every development, ensuring that it's engaged and empowered and that it benefits. At the UNWTO, we worked with the G20 and the Saudi presidency back in 2020 and produced a framework for tourism development in communities, which states that communities need to be part of the planning and management of tourism activities. We need to go beyond traditional definitions of community to a point where the industry leans on partnerships between the public and private sectors and communities.

Liz Ortiguera: In July 2022, PATA is hosting a destination-marketing forum and one of the key themes is community-based tourism. The purpose is really to put the community and authenticity-in-culture activities at the heart of the travel experience. There are benefits for all stakeholders. One is that travellers can have an authentic experience. They're not in overcrowded, touristic locations and they experience something new and unique within the community. These experiences are designed in partnership with communities who get the benefit of financial inclusion, and if activities are designed properly, the reinforcement of their cultural heritage. Governments also engage in economic development more broadly across countries. Another interesting trend is creative tourism, which means you create an experience for tourists to participate in, like a dance lesson, or a cooking lesson. Social media surveys have shown that travellers who have these kinds of immersive experiences are more likely to post about them online and that's good for the industry.

It is important to emphasize that virtual experiences, while they are a fun tool, can never replace visiting a destination.

How is technology and innovation helping to leverage cultural resources?

Sandra Carvao: One interesting trend we’re seeing is that more and more people are booking trips directly, so communities need to be supported to digitize their systems. Education and upskilling of communities are important so that they can leverage digital platforms to market themselves. From the tourists’ perspective, it is important to emphasize that virtual experiences, while they are a fun tool, can never replace visiting a destination.

Liz Ortiguera: People have been living virtually for more than two years. Amazing innovations have emerged, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, and all kinds of applications and tools. But the important thing is the experience. The destination. Real-world experiences need to remain front and centre. Technology tools should be viewed as enablers and not the core experience. And when it comes to staff, technology can really democratize education. There’s an opportunity to mobilize a mobile-first approach for those who are on the frontlines, or out in the field, and can’t easily access computers, but need to get real-time information.

travel and tourism activities

How is the sector dealing with labour shortages and re-employment of the workforce?

Liz Ortiguera: Labour shortages are much more dynamic in North America and in Europe. But it’s having a knock-on effect on Asia. If, for example, their air carriers are limited by staff and they have to cancel flights, which we're very much seeing out of Europe, seating capacity then becomes a limiting factor in the recovery of Asia Pacific. That's the main constraint right now. And compounding that is the rising price of fuel. But people in the Asia Pacific are keen to get reemployed.

Sandra Carvao: Labour shortages are a priority for the sector in countries around the world. Many workers left the sector during the pandemic and the uncertainty that surrounded the measures taken to contain it left many people unsure of whether the sector would recover. It is time to address things like conditions, scheduling, and work/life balance, all things which have been top of mind for workers during the pandemic. As the sector recovers, we need time to bring new hires on board and to train them to take over where those who switched jobs left off.

Are we seeing a growing trend towards domestic tourism?

Sandra Carvao: We’re talking about 9 billion people travelling within their own countries. And in many countries, for example in Germany, more than 80% of the tourism spending actually comes from the domestic market, similarly in countries like Spain and even smaller economies. Whenever it's possible to travel again, domestic markets tend to be more resilient. They kick off first mostly due to perceptions of safety and security issues. As the world economy recovers from the pandemic, there is a good opportunity for nations to rethink their strategy, look at the domestic market in a different way, and leverage different products for domestic tourists.

travel and tourism activities

When it comes to sustainable tourism, how quickly could we mainstream eco-friendly modes of transportation?

Sandra Carvao: Transport is one of the key contributors to energy impacts and tourism. But it's also important that we look at the whole value chain. The UNWTO together with the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme just launched the Glasgow Declaration, which includes green commitments from destinations and companies. We’re seeing a strong movement in the airline industry to reduce emissions. But I think, obviously, technological developments will be very important. But it's also very important to look at market shifts. And we can't forget small islands and developing states that rely on long-haul air travel. It’s important to make sure that we invest in making the problem much less impactful.

Liz Ortiguera: 'Travel and tourism' is such a broad encompassing term that it’s not fair to call it an industry: it is actually a sector of many industries. The pandemic taught us how broad the impact of the sector is in terms of sustainability. There's a big movement in terms of destination resilience, which is the foundation for achieving sustainability in the journey to net-zero. We now have standards to mitigate that impact including meetings-and-events (MIE) standards and standards for tour operators. There are multiple areas within our industry where progress is being made. And I'm really encouraged by the fact that there is such a focus not just within the sector but also among consumers.

This interview was first done at the World Economic Forum's studios in Geneva as part of 'Our World in Transformation' - a live interactive event series for our digital members. To watch all the episodes and join future sessions, please subscribe here .

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Tourism Teacher

The 21 types of tourist attractions

The different types of tourist attractions make up an integral part of the structure of the tourism industry . People travel far and wide to visit a particular tourist attractions. Visiting said attractions could be the reason for their trip, or it could be a byproduct of their trip.

There are many different types of tourist attractions. Some are large, some are small. Some are busy, others are quiet. Some are privately owned travel and tourism businesses and others are public enterprises.

In this article I will tell you all about the different types of tourist attractions, and give you lots of examples to inspire your future travels too!

What is a tourist attraction?

Why are tourist attractions important, what is the role of tourist attractions, products and services offered by tourist attractions, national parks, entertainment parks, wildlife attractions, museums and art galleries, unique built attractions, historical or heritage attractions, spectating sport attractions, participating sport attractions, stadium tours, festivals and parades, exhibitions, entertainment venues, to conclude: types of tourist attractions, further reading.

Before we delve into the ins and outs of the different types of tourist attractions, we first need to understand what a tourist attraction is.

A tourist attraction, often also referred to as a visitor attraction, is a place of interest that is commonly visited by tourists.

A tourist attraction will usually have value to the tourist in one of the following areas-

  • Historial significance
  • Cultural value
  • Political significance
  • Natural or built beauty
  • Amusement and fun

Tourist attractions make up an important part of the visitor economy. The visitor economy comprises the activities and expenditure involved in supplying products and services for visitors by both the private and public sectors.

Tourist attractions contribute significantly to the tourism industry. They typically reap economic benefits of tourism and/or promote the local culture, heritage and environment. This can often result in increased environmental preservation- a positive environmental impact of tourism .

It is important, however, that tourist attractions are well-managed. If poor management occurs, tourist attractions can have adverse impacts on the local society, economy and (most commonly) the environment. It is imperative, therefore, that proper tourism planning is undertaken and that sustainable tourism measures are adopted when developing and managing the operations of a tourist attraction.

Tourist attractions are an important part of the tourism industry.

Some tourist attractions are there predominantly to provide entertainment, such as theme parks and zoos.

Other tourist attractions provide entertainment as well as other aspects, such as education . Examples of educational tourist attractions might include museums and exhibitions.

Other types of tourist attractions may facilitate recreation, hospitality and special events.

Types of tourist attractions

Different types of tourist attractions will offer different types of products and services.

Products and services are directed towards what the types of customer that is expected to visit will like.

Some tourist attractions offer rides or experiences. You can go snorkelling in the Atlantis aquarium in Dubai or ride Space Mountain at Disney Land, for example.

Some attractions offer information services, such as guidebooks, information boards, guided tours, interpretation and translation services and educational talks.

Some tourist attractions offer hospitality services, for example renting out areas for a wedding or a conference.

Many tourist attractions have gift shops and catering options for their customers.

Types of tourist attractions

There are many different types of tourist attractions that are found around the world.

Generally, tourist attractions can be separated into four main categories: natural, man-made, sport, events. I will discuss these four categories below.

Natural types of tourist attractions

Natural types of tourist attraction are attractions that are naturally occurring. In other words, they are not built by man.

There are many types of tourist attractions around the world that are natural. In many cases, areas surrounding natural attractions have been developed for tourism because of the natural attraction that is on offer.

Here are some of the different types of tourist attractions that are deemed natural attractions.

staycation

National park examples: Dartmoor, Brecon Beacons, Lake District, New Forest.

A national park is an area that is protected due to its cultural heritage, varied wildlife and/or beautiful countryside. National parks are popular types of tourist attractions.

There are clear boundaries showing where the park begins and ends. ,And laws exists to protect the nature and wildlife so that it can all be enjoyed by current and future generations. 

The overarching aim of a national park is for people to be able to continually benefit from everything nature has to offer, without destroying it.

There are 15 national parks in the UK.

UK national parks

Want to learn more? Take a look at my articles everything you need to know about UK national parks and the best national parks to visit in the UK .

UK national parks

My favourite national park : The Peak District

A friend of mine lives in and writes about the Peak District and I am always surprised at how many wonderful things there are to do here!

Goa beaches

Beach examples: Brighton Beach (Brighton, UK), Copacabana Beach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Bondi Beach (Sydney, Australia), Santa Monica Beach ( California , USA).

Many people choose to go on holiday in search of a beach – meaning that beaches are popular types of tourist attractions!

Beach tourism is particularly popular amongst populations who live in predominantly cooler climates, such as Brits and Russians. Many tourists seek warm weather and soft sand and head to exotic shores to satisfy their desires.

Beaches are one of the most popular types of tourist attractions around the world.

Beaches can be busy or they can be quiet and secluded. Many beaches in popular tourist areas suffer from overtourism . The typical package holiday and the mass tourism industry are generally associated with beach tourism.

Boulders Beach

My favourite beach: Boulders Beach, South Africa

Visiting Boulders Beach was SUCH a treat! It is famous for its resident penguins and getting to see them up close was a really special experience!

types of tourist attractions

Cave examples: Blue Grotto ( Italy ), Waitomo Glowworm caves (New Zealand), Reed Flute Cave (China), Cave of the Crystals (Mexico).

There are many spectacular caves around the world and are popular natural types of tourist attractions.

Caves are natural voids in the ground. Some caves are small and other caves are large. These voids are typically created through weathering and erosion . Many caves have water inside, some of which are known as cenotes .

Caves are often home to many different species of bats, mice, rats and various insects.

Many people choose to visit caves in order to take a look at the natural formations or to undertake active pursuits, such as caving, diving and canoeing.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite cave: Manjanggul Cave

Despite its name, Manjanggul Cave is actually a lava tube, and it’s the biggest one in Asia. Located in ‘South Korea’s Hawaii’- Jeju island , this is a remarkable natural attraction to visit. This was the first, and only, time I have ever needed to use an umbrella indoors!

types of tourist attractions

Cliff examples: White Cliffs of Dover (UK), Torres del Paine (Chile), Preikestolen (Norway), The Cliffs of Moher ( Ireland ).

Cliffs are another examples of one of the popular types of tourist attractions.

A cliff is essential a land edge, whereby the land juts out above the sea. A cliff usually encompasses a steep rock face.

People may choose to visit cliffs to enjoy the scenery. They may do this by having a picnic, taking a gentle stroll or committing to a multi-day hike.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite cliff: Cape Point

Cape Point is the southeast corner of the Cape Peninsula. It is a beautiful mountainous area at the extreme most southwestern tip of South Africa . The views are stunning and it is a great place to relax for an afternoon.

view of alps mountain

Mountain examples: Mountain ranges – the Himalayas (Nepal), the Drakensburg Mountains (South Africa), the Yellow Mountains ( China ), The Canadian Rockies (Canada). Singular mountains – Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Everest (Nepal), Aconcagua (Argentina).

Mountains are some of the most popular types of tourist attractions.

A mountain is a natural elevation of the earth’s surface. A mountain usually has a peak. Mountains are bigger than hills and the top of the mountain is usually 2000m or more above sea level.

Mountains usually come in ranges (multiple mountains), but sometimes are lonesome.

Tourists choose to visit mountains for a number of reason. They may simply want to enjoy the scenery or they may be in search of cool weather. Many tourists choose to visit mountains for hiking or skiing activities.

Mountains are natural attractions that must be looked after. There have been many negative stories of erosion due to skiing and litter left behind by hikers.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite mountain: Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was one of the biggest achievement of my life! The climb is physically and mentally challenging, but making it to the top was the best feeling ever!

green slope and mountains in clouds

Hills examples: Palatine Hill (Italy), Glastonbury Tor (UK), Chocolate Hills (Philipines), Anantagiri Hills ( India ).

Hills are popular areas for tourists to visit, and hills can make great types of tourist attractions.

Many people will choose to visit hills for the scenery or for active types of tourism , such as kite flying or hiking.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite hill: Glastonbury Tor

Did you know that a tor is a type of hill?

Glastonbury Tor is famous for the annual music festival and has become something of a landmark in the area. Whilst I haven’t ever attended Glastonbury festival, me and my girls did enjoy our blustering climb up to the top!

Hiking in Yunnan

Waterfalls examples: Niagara Falls (USA/Canada), Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil).

Visiting a waterfall is on many people’s travel to-do list! Many destinations have waterfalls that attract tourists.

Some waterfalls are big and others are small.

Some waterfalls are easily accessible and others are found in remote destinations.

The area around some waterfalls is very developed for tourism (such as Niagara Falls), and for others the area is not developed at all.

Goa waterfalls

My favourite waterfall: Dudhsagar Falls

Dudhsagar Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Goa , India. I loved this waterfall because it was surrounded by nature. The monkeys came to play on our walk to the falls and we could get in and swim with the huge fish that lived in the water beneath the waterfall. This was an amazing experience!

types of tourist attractions

Island examples: Malta, Bali (Indonesia), Jamaica (Caribbean), Isla of Wight (UK), Koh Samui (Thailand), Phd Quoc Island (Vietnam), Cape Verde.

Island tourism is a popular type of tourism and is an example of one of the most popular types of tourist attractions.

An island is a piece of land that is separated from the mainland by water.

Most islands have beach areas for tourists to enjoy.

Some islands are large, like Australia, and others are small, like the Gili Islands . Groups of islands are called an archipelago.

There are many islands that are popular for tourism, such as Bali, many of the islands in the south of Thailand and the Caribbean, amongst many others.

Visiting and staying on an island can often cost the tourist, and the local, more than if they were staying on the mainland. This is because of added transport costs for both people and goods. So, for example, the price of a loaf of bread is increased because the ingredients have to be put on a boat or place in order to reach the island, which costs money.

My favourite Island: Bali

Bali is the most populated tourist island in Indonesia . Popular with Australians and Chinese tourists, it also attracts visitors from around the world.

Bali is one of my happy places. I love the peaceful atmosphere- the yoga, the sound of the waves, the smell of incense. The beaches are great and the food is delicious.

I’ve been twice and I can’t wait to go back again!

old wooden barns on green hill

Example forests: Daintree Forest (Australia), Redwood National Park (USA), Sagano Bamboo Forest (Japan), Great Bear Rainforest (Canada).

A forest is one of the popular types of tourist attractions.

There are Forrests all over the world, although the flora and fauna differs according to the geographical location, they are share one thing in common- trees!

Many tourists choose to travel to forest areas. Some travellers will visit for a short time and others may stay for days or weeks.

There are many tourist facilities and resorts that have been developed within forests . In the UK the Centre Parcs chain is probably the most well-known. These holiday parks feature chalets and villas in a forest area. There are many activities such as rock climbing and mountain biking. There are also many facilities provided such as swimming pools and restaurants.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite forest: Monteverde Cloud Forest

Visiting the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica was a once in a lifetime experience! We were literally living in the clouds! We spent our days amongst the nature, watching the humming birds, looking for sloths and talking gentle walks through the forest.

Purpose built or man-made types of tourist attractions

Many types of tourist attractions are purpose built. This means that the attractions are not natural, and were created by man.

Man-made tourist attractions can be separated into two groups: Attractions that were made for tourism purposes and attractions that were made for other purposes but has since been used for tourism.

Purpose built types of tourist attractions are attractions that have been purposely developed for tourism. This could include a wide range of types of tourist attractions, such as a theme park, a zoo or an art gallery.

Here are some examples of man-made tourist attractions.

types of tourist attractions

Entertainment park examples: Sea World, Florida (USA), Disney Land, Paris ( France ), Wet and Wild Gold Coast (Australia), Big Fun Play Centre, Calgary (Canada),

There are many different types of entertainment parks around the world that are common examples of types of tourist attractions.

Theme parks are very popular built tourist attractions. They are built with the sole purpose of providing entertainment for visitors.

Theme parks are usually quite large. Sometimes you will pay a one-time fee to enter with unlimited access to rides. Other times you may be required to pay for individual rides. Many of the large theme parks are renowned for being busy and having long queues for rides.

Another example of an entertainment park is a waterpark.

Waterparks can be both indoors and outdoors, although outdoor waterparks are usually larger, with more rides and facilities. Holiday parks like Centre Parks offer indoor waterparks as part of their offering to tourists.

In warmer climates, such as in Spain or Florida , there are many outdoor waterparks. Waterparks often feature wave pools, lazy rivers and a variety of slides and playgrounds.

Play parks are areas that have playing equipment for children.

The facilities offered at play parks can vary widely. Some play parks may have water areas, others are completely dry. Play parks may have small rides, such as train rides. They may also have horses or donkeys to ride. There will likely be playgrounds as well as other activities such as archery or canoeing.

Soft play areas are another example of play parks. Soft play areas consist of indoor playgrounds. They usually have ball pits, slides and sometime bouncy castles. Soft play areas are popular with young children. Many countries have impressive soft play attractions such as China and Canada .

types of tourist attractions

My favourite entertainment park: Peppa Pig World

My daughters love Peppa Pig, so when we heard that there was a Peppa Pig world we knew that we just HAD to go!

Peppa Pig World is a section within a larger theme park, called Paulton’s Park. Paulton’s Park is located in the New Forest in the south of England.

agriculture animals baby blur

Wildlife attraction examples: San Diego Zoo (USA), Monkey Island, Sanya (China), Atlantis Aquarium, Dubai (UAE), Tiger Temple, Chiang Mai ( Thailand ).

There are many types of tourist attractions that involve the use of wildlife .

Some of these are natural areas, such as grazing lands when you go on a safari. However, most of these are purpose built tourist attractions.

There are many types of wildlife attractions that make use of the concept of animal tourism. Some are better managed than others. When you are visiting an animal-focussed attraction it is important that you do your research and only visit if the animals are well treated and cared for.

Zoos are a popular type of wildlife attractions.

Zoos are areas whereby animals are kept. They usually have a wide range of animals, many of which are exotic, such as lions, elephants and monkeys. Tourists are allowed to enter the venue and look at and/or interact with the animals.

Some zoos have very small cages and the treatment of the animals is poor. This is unethical and I do not recommend visiting such zoos.

Farms are similar to zoos, but they generally have larger enclosures and keep only animals that naturally live in the country. In the UK, zoos generally feature animals such as cows, goats, sheep and chickens. Some farms that allow visitors are working farms.

Aquariums are also tourist attractions that enable tourists to see wildlife.

Aquariums feature marine life, such as sharks, sting rays, turtles and a wide range of fish. Some aquariums have large tanks and allow visitors to interact with the marine life by snorkelling or diving. Other aquariums may only have small tanks for their fish, which is unethical.

Lastly, there are a number of attractions around the world that use animals as their focus.

Some destinations will transport animals to the area to encourage tourists to visit. A common example of this is monkeys.

There are attractions that use tigers or lions, such as Tiger Temple in Thailand. Here you can get up close and personal and have photos taken with the tigers.

Thailand is also well-known for its elephants, with many tourist attractions featuring elephant rides or elephant conservation.

Some destinations, such as Mexico create tourist destinations which enable you to swim with dolphins and other marine life.

If you are considering visiting an attraction like this, do your research first and make sure that the organisation demonstrates ethical practices.

Animal tourism is a controversial issue and is one that is frequently debated. Whilst these attractions can be very profitable and have positive economic outcomes, they can, if not managed sustainably , have negative impacts on the animals.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite wildlife attraction: Krabi Elephant Sanctuary

The ethical elephant sanctuary in Krabi, Thailand rescues elephants who have been mistreated in the logging or tourism trades. The sanctuary provides elephants with a better quality of life than they have previously known and allows tourists to visit to help fund their operations.

The sanctuary offer tours and allow you to get up close and personal with the elephants. Elephant riding is cruel and this is not allowed.

Museum and art gallery examples: Egyption Museum, Cairo ( Egypt ), Louvre, Paris (France), Tate Modern, London (UK), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Netherlands).

Museums and art galleries are usually purpose-built for tourism and are also examples of types of tourist attractions.

Museums and art galleries are found all over the world. These fall into different categories of the types of travel and tourism organisations . Some museums and art galleries are publicly funded or subsidised and others are privately owned, and therefore incur a cost to the visitor.

Museums and art galleries vary considerably in size. They can also have different intentions, some are based on history, or science, or culture amongst a wide variety of other subject matter. Some museums offer niche or unusual products- I was shocked to find out on my trip to Jeju in South Korea that the island has more sex museums than any other place!

types of tourist attractions

My favourite museum: War Remnants Museum

My visit to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam is an eye-opening experience.

I didn’t know much about the Vietnam war, but what I did know had come from Western sources. This was my first exposure of informational bias. I heard about the war from the perspective of the Vietnam people, rather than the American’s. I learnt about the torture practices and the deformations caused to future children as a result of agent orange.

I will never forget the images from that day- where American tourists were walking through the museum is sheer horror, tears running down their faces as a result of what they were learning.

Now, it is important to state here that this museum has an inevitable bias too. And that the whole and true story is rarely presented by one side. What this experience taught me, was that there are two sides to every story, and our media outlets and school textbooks may not always present an objective and whole picture.

types of tourist attractions

Unique built attraction examples: The Grand Canyon glass bridge (USA), Nevis Bungy Jump (New Zealand), F1 car driving, Abu Dhabi race track (UAE).

There are many other purpose built types of tourist attractions around the world that do not neatly fit into any of the above categories.

As tourists, we desire things that are innovative, new and different. This is why many unique tourist attractions have been built around the world.

In Costa Rica they have taken advantage of the natural habitat and built extensive zip line networks through the forests.

In China they have built a large number of glass bridges. This makes for a unique and thrilling experience when visiting many of the beautiful natural areas that the country has to offer.

In Sydney they offer tourists with the opportunity to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge- now that is a cool experience!

There are also tourist attractions which facilitate a range of adrenaline-rising activities, such as sport car racing, deep sea diving, skydiving or wing walking .

types of tourist attractions

My favourite unique built attraction: Glass Bridge at Yanoda Rainforest

The glass bridge in the Yanoda rainforest, close to Sanya in China was a really cool tourist experience.

You get to walk out over the forest and admire the views from the glass bridge. This was great… but the best part was when we reached the end and the glass beneath us!! No, it didn’t actually crack, it was a simulation, my seeing the face on my husband when it happened was absolutely HILARIOUS! If only I caught it on camera…

types of tourist attractions

Heritage or historical attraction examples: Blue Mosque, Istanbul (Turkey), Buckingham Palace, London (UK), Macchu Picchu ( Peru ), Ankor Was (Cambodia).

Some man-made types of tourist attractions are not purpose built for tourism. Instead, they have been adapted for the purposes of tourism.

There are a wide range of buildings, areas and places that have historical or culturally significance. These places are often restored or protected and then displayed to tourists.

Historical or heritage-based tourist attractions include castles, famous walls, ruins, towers, monuments, religious buildings, houses and palaces.

These types of tourist attractions are often beneficial because they help to preserve cultural and heritage, which is a positive impact of cultural tourism .

types of tourist attractions

My favourite heritage and historical attraction: Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt are simply incredible. Nobody knows the exact history behind why and how they were built, and that’s part of the mystery!

We climbed down into the tombs and learnt all about the Egyptian pharaohs, which was super interesting!

Sport attractions

One of the most popular types of tourist attractions are sport events. Sports attractions make up an important part of the sports tourism industry.

Whilst a sporting attraction may not always comprise a permanent infrastructure, like many of the types of tourist attractions that we have discussed so far, sporting events are most certainly attractions in their own right!

There are three main types of sport-based attractions: spectating, participating and stadium tours.

people watching soccer game

Spectating attractions examples: Football World Cup, Wimbledon Championships, Six Nations Rugby, Olympics.

Many people choose to visit sport attractions because they wish to spectate at a sporting venue. They may not realise that these are types of tourist attractions, but in actual fact, they are!

There are many different sports around the world that welcome spectators. These range from large, international events (such as the Football World Cup or Wimbledon), to small localised events (think local cricket team or school swimming competition).

types of tourist attractions

My favourite spectating sport attraction: Wimbledon

I am not a huge tennis fan, but the atmosphere at the Wimbledon Championships was fantastic!

Quintessentially British, I enjoyed drinking Pimms and eating fresh strawberries whilst watching the game. The sun was shinning too. What more could you ask for?

backlit beach dawn dusk

Participating sport attraction examples: Yoga retreat, Bali (Indonesia), golfing holiday, (Spain), diving holiday ( Egypt ), London Marathon (UK).

Other people visit sports attractions in order to participate in sport.

People may choose to participate in sport by doing a sports camp, which is particular popular with children and young people in the USA.

Other people may opt to go on a yoga holiday or a golfing trip, for example.

Other people may travel to a destination for a specific sporting event that they hope to take part in, such as a swimming competition or a running race.

There are many different sports attractions that invite tourists from around the world to participate in sport.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite participating sport attraction: Tough Mudder

The Tough Mudder race that I competed in was a day to remember! Tough Mudder is not for the faint hearted- a half marathon in knee-high mud with extraordinarily challenging obstacles such as being squeezed through a ‘birth canal’, carrying heavy rocks and diving into ice water, this was a memorable endurance!

Nonetheless, it was such an achievement when I completed in and I look back on this day with fond memories. But, it is pretty safe to say that I will not be signing up for a Tough Mudder again any time soon…!

colosseum rome italy

Stadium tour examples: Barcelona Olympic Stadium (Spain), Manchester United Stadium (UK), Maracana Stadium (Brazil), Melbourne Cricket Ground ( Australia ).

The last example of sports attractions is stadium tours.

Stadium tours are popular around the world, particularly with people who are fans of teams who were/are based at these locations.

Stadium tours are also popular if there was a particularly famous event that occurred there.

Stadium tours occur in in both active and pre-used stadiums. Tours in disused stadiums tend to run more frequently and these stadiums are often transformed into museums, which exhibitions and information displays.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite stadium tour: Barcelona

Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium is the largest in Europe, with a capacity of over 99,000 people. Whilst I m not a big football fan, it was pretty impressive to see where the players change, marvel at the many trophies on display and see the sheer size of this stadium!

Special events

There are many special events that take place around the world that be be classed as types of tourist attractions.

Special events come in all shapes and sizes and there is no end to the different types of special events that can be organised. However, the most common types of special events are either markets, festivals and parades, exhibitions or entertainment venues.

woman holding tomatoes

Market examples: Grand Bazaar, Istanbul (Turkey), Camden Market, London (UK), Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok (Thailand), Marrakesh Souks (Morocco).

There are different types of markets, which are popular types of tourist attractions. Some markets are intended for local use (i.e. fruit and vegetable markets or fish markets) and others are intended for tourists (i.e. souvenir markets).

There are many places throughout the world that are famous for their markets. Some tourists may visit especially because they wish to visit the market. And for others, visiting a market may be a byproduct of their trip.

Markets come in different sizes. Some are large and others are small. Some markets operate everyday and others are only operational on particular days of the week or month.

Markets also look different in different places. In some areas there are indoor markets and in some places they are outdoors. Some take place in the street, others in an organised venue. Some take place in more unusual locations, such as on a river!

Markets are commonly associated with the concept of bargaining or haggling. They usually specialise in produce that is grown/made locally, i.e. leather in Morocco. Some are regulated more than others and you may find counterfeit or copied products here.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite market: AP Plaza (aka Shanghai fake market)

Visiting the Yatai Xinyang Fashion and Gift Market in Shanghai is an interesting experience, even if you don’t enjoy shopping!

This market is famous for its excellent copies and fake products. Whether you want a pair of Christian Louboutins, an England football shirt or some custom-made designer glasses, you can get it all at this market. It offers good quality and excellent value for money. And you get to practice your haggling skills too…

group of people having neon party

Festival and parade examples: Harbin Ice and Snow Festival (China), Glastonbury Festival (UK), Rio Carnival (Brazil), Holiday Festival (India), Songkran (Thailand).

Festivals and parades are important components of tourism .

There are many different festivals and parades that take places at different times of the year in different countries.

Many people will travel from around the world to either spectate or take part in such events.

San Fermin

My favourite festival: San Fermin

San Fermin , commonly referred to as the Running of the Bulls is a famous festival that takes place each summer in Pamplona, Spain. Famed for its bull running and fighting, the event also has a lot more to offer- jazz classes, karaoke, all-night parties, children’s games, meals, fireworks and lots more- this event is great fun to attend.

Whilst I didn’t feel all that comfortable about the way that the bulls were treated during this event, this festival is an important cultural tourism event in Spain, and it was great to learn a little bit more about Spanish heritage and to help keep the tradition alive!

red art relaxation girl

Exhibition examples: Tate Modern, London (UK), ITB Berlin, (Germany), Tutankhamun Exhibition, Cairo ( Egypt ), Ryoji Ikeda: continuum at Centre Pompidou (France).

Another one of the major types of tourist attractions is an exhibition. An exhibition is a display of art of interesting artefacts. Exhibitions usually take place in museums or large buildings. Most commonly, exhibitions consist predominantly of artwork.

Exhibitions can be permanent, they can travel from place to place or they can be temporary.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite exhibition: International Silk Art Exhibition

I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the silk museum in Hangzhou , China. It was fascinating to see all of the garments that were created over the years and I really enjoyed learning about the history of the Silk Road.

white sydney opera house

Entertainment venue examples: Sydney Opera House (Australia), Holywood Bowl, LA (USA), Paradiso, Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Harpa Concert Hall (Iceland.

The last of the types of tourist attractions that I will discuss in this article is entertainment venues.

Entertainment venues are popular tourist attractions. There are different types of entertainment venues. Venues can be large or small. They can be permanent or temporary. They can propose built or otherwise.

Some entertainment venues have duel purpose. Or they may have been built for a different purpose than what they are used for now.

For example, The O2 Stadium, which now holds concerts and other entertainment events, was originally built as the Millennium Dome. The Millennium Dome was an exhibition centre, housing artefacts to celebrate the turn of the new millennium. However, this attracts was not successful and the building was subsequently redesigned and used for alternative means.

Likewise, following the 2012 London Olympics, there was no longer a need to have so many stadiums for public use. So West Ham United Football Club purchased the stadium and transformed it for their personal use. This was an excellent example of sustainable practice and was one of the reasons that the London Olympic bid was successful!

types of tourist attractions

My favourite entertainment venue: Joya Resident Cirque Du Soleil

Cirque Du Soleil is an inc credible acrobatics show that traditionally travels around the world using temporary entertainment venues. However, one of the few resident shows, where they have a purpose-built permanent infrastructure in place, is near Cancun in Mexico.

I thought that the venue, and the show, was absolutely fantastic. We sipped cocktails before the show with live entertainment along the purpose-built river. We then sat in the venue, which had been designed with moving stages, props and acrobatic equipment installed in order to provide for an incredible experience.

As you can see, there are many different types of tourist attractions throughout the world. Whether they are natural or man-made, large or small, all types of tourist attractions make a valuable contribution and play an important role in the tourism industry. What’s your favourite type of tourist attraction?

If you enjoyed this article on the different types of tourist attractions I am sure that you will enjoy these too-

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Let's Roam Explorer

30 Awesome and Affordable Tourist Activities: See More for Less

At Let’s Roam, we know travel, and we know how to do it affordably! Check out these awesome tourist activities that can be done on a shoestring budget.

travel and tourism activities

The perfect vacation can put a strain on the wallet. The flight and accommodations alone can cost a fortune, and that’s before you even do anything! Popular tourist attractions usually have high price tags too. With inflation rising and prices on everything going up, it might take a bit of ingenuity to keep this year’s summer vacation within the budget. In some of our recent travel guides, we have given you tons of budget tips on inexpensive destinations and booking the cheapest vacation rental. In this guide, we have lined up all the best budget-friendly tourist attractions. We have focused on activities that you can book almost anywhere in the world, and usually at a reasonable price. Let’s Roam!

30 Budget-Friendly Tourist Activities

1. let’s roam scavenger hunts.

We might be a bit biased, but we know a thing or two about scavenger hunts ! We have developed interactive walking tours for almost every major city in the United States and several international ones too! Our hunts are expertly designed to be informative and exciting. The process is simple too. You download our adventure app or search our website for your city of choice. Pick your scavenger hunt. Buy a ticket for each member of your group, and set out on a friendly competition. Our hunts are filled with tough trivia and hilarious photo challenges that are sure to create a memorable experience for you and your crew.

Right now, single hunts start at just $12 per person, or, for a better deal, you can buy a monthly pass for up to five friends for $19.99. The great part about our hunts is that you can participate any time! Buy your tickets today. If it rains, no problem! Do the hunt tomorrow instead. Our hunts are super flexible, budget-friendly, and tons of fun! Whether you are taking an international trip or having a staycation in your own city this year, download our app today and see your favorite places in a whole new way.

Also, check out the new “Local Guide” portion of our app where we list and rate the best sights to see in each city! Find the best restaurants, tourist activities, and historic sights with explanations for why you should visit.

2. City Passes

All the great tourist cities of the world have a city pass of some sort, or maybe multiple ones. These combination passes include admission to all the major tourist sites. They also usually have a skip-the-line feature and may include coupons for restaurants or free public transit as well. For instance, if you are visiting a city like Rome, you are going to want to see all the historic sights. The Roma Pass will get you into everything, get you public transit, and allow you to skip the lines for one reasonable price. It not only will save you money, but these passes also save you time and stress. Paris has a pass. Turkey has a museum pass that covers the whole country. If you are planning to travel to a major tourist site this year, then do a quick Google search and compare the pass options.

Pro Tip: Make a list of the sights that are must-see for you. Then add a couple of “maybes.” Add up the price and compare it to the price of the pass. Generally, a pass is worth the cost if you plan to see more than 3 sights, but it depends on the city.

3. Free Museum Days

Most major museums have free days. Sometimes it is the last Thursday of the month. Sometimes it is every Tuesday. Every museum (and city) is different. Museums are a great item to add to your vacation itinerary. They are not only educational and interesting, but they also provide shelter from the rain or immense heat.

Even major sites like the Tower of London have cheats. You can book a free ticket for the nightly Ceremony of the Keys and see parts of the Tower complex for free while enjoying an ancient ceremony. Look on city forums and travel sights. Most of them have a list of free or cheap opportunities.

Pro Tip: Unless you are a major history buff, there are many sites that you just look at for free without entering, and you won’t miss anything! For instance, the Eiffel Tower is just as impressive from the free viewing area near the river as it is to pay to go inside. The same goes for the St. Louis Gateway Arch. If it is on your bucket list, then certainly do it, but some things are just as good from the free zone!

4. Scooter City Tours

The best way to explore a new city is on foot. If walking isn’t your thing, then a scooter is the next best bet! Most major cities in the world now have scooter and bicycle share programs. You download the app. You scan the code at pickup. Take your scooter or bike. Roam the city and see all the sights. Turn in your scooter at the closest parking spot when you are done. It’s basically a self-lead walking tour but with a bit of spunk!

5. Rent a Real Scooter

You likely have some sort of day trip on your itinerary. Rental cars can be expensive and pain in the butt though! A better budget-friendly option for exploring islands or beach towns is to rent an actual scooter. For just a few dollars a day, you can score an electric or gas scooter and explore the countryside around your holiday base camp. They are perfect for perusing the hill cities of Italy, the wine country of Napa Valley, or the quaint villages of Romania. You can get outside the city, feel the wind in your hair, and visit places that you wouldn’t be able to on foot. Plus, it will only cost you a few bucks!

6. Take a Hike

Hiking is one of our favorite travel pastimes. Not only do you get to explore a new place, but generally, hiking trails are free. Travel can also be pretty stressful, especially when everything doesn’t go as planned. Escaping to a quiet trail in the mountains is the perfect remedy!

7. Adventure Book

Take your family on unforgettable adventures whenever you want with Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition . Our adventure book is loaded with memorable activities that are not only entertaining but also focus on family bonding. There are over 50 scratch-off mystery challenges to attack together. Plus, we include journal spaces, tear-off challenges, and conversation starters. Our experts worked tirelessly to create adventures that are fun for the whole family and creative, yet easy to accomplish!

Our Adventure Books can be utilized in two ways. Use it at the base for your staycation. Simply scratch off one of the ”Explore” activities and go! Alternatively, pack it away in your luggage and pull it out during dull moments on your road trip. Either way, we know you are going to love it!

8. Free City Walking Tours

One of the best ways to see a city is with a local guide. Private guides can be cheap, or they can be really expensive. It depends on the location. However, many of the world’s best cities have free walking tours that are usually led by history students or docents from local museums. They are generally very knowledgeable and fun! You can take themed tours as well. Some focus on food, others on historic sites or a famous person from the city. They are easy to find with a quick Google search.

9. Small Wineries and Breweries Tours

Small winery tasting rooms and breweries all over the world offer free tastings and short tours of their facilities. For instance, Vincent Arroyo Winery in Napa Valley offers free tastings for groups of less than four. Naxos is famous for Kitron, made in one tiny brewery in the center of the island, and they will let you tour the facility and taste the brew for free. In Cozumel, there is a tequila brewery in the Punta Sur Eco Park that offers a wonderful overview of the tequila-making process and provides tons of free samples. Wahoo for free brew!

10. Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tours

These fun tours allow you to see the major sights of a city by hopping on and off of routinely running tour buses. The double-deckers usually feature a recorded audio guide or a live commentator. They are a great way to see the city, especially for those who cannot spend hours walking. They give great information on historic landmarks and pertinent history and hit all the major spots.

Pro Tip: To get really cheap, look at the local public bus maps. In many cities, you can buy a single bus ticket that lasts up to 90 mins, and you can hop off and on the bus as many times as you want in that time frame. Some city buses follow the same route as the more expensive tourist buses. For instance, you can see all the top attractions in Paris, France by hopping on and off the number 42 bus.

Extra Tip: This little public transit tip also works for the ferry in NYC. There‘s no need to book expensive tours to see Lady Liberty. Just hop on the Staten Island Ferry for free. The same goes in Venice. Don’t book an expensive gondola ride. Hop on the Vaporettos that zip all around the grand canal instead.

11. Operas or Symphonies

It is quite easy to score a same-day ticket to an opera or symphony anywhere in the world for a few dollars. Most of the old, grand theatres don’t really have a bad seat, so you can book the cheapest ticket, and see an incredible show, for next to nothing. Just make sure that your seat doesn’t say “obstructed view,” as this usually means there is a structural pole between you and the stage. It might sound boring, but doing something out of the norm can be really fun! Give it a shot.

12. Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens and flower fields are stunning and relaxing! They are the perfect place to stroll for an hour or two after a busy morning of sightseeing. Plus, they are usually a budget-friendly endeavor. You can visit dozens of lavender fields in Washington’s Sequim Valley for absolutely free.

13. City Parks

The outdoor gathering spaces of Europe and Central America are where you will find all the locals in the evening, and if it is good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. They often feature playgrounds for kids, fantastic flower gardens, gorgeous fountains, and pedestrian lanes. Some even have full-on sculpture parks. Grab a gelato, and join in the passeggiata in Italy, the paseo in Spain, or the dander in Great Britain. You will meet people, enjoy the outdoors, and maybe even join the old fellas for a game of backgammon in the park.

14. Art Walk

Modern Art museums should be on your vacation itinerary, but they aren’t always budget-friendly. Instead, line up a walking tour of the urban mural in the area. Many cities offer guided tours or check out our urban art walks. We have street art hunts in tons of cities all over the world!

15. Snorkeling

If your vacation includes a beach or large lake, then pack the snorkel gear. Organized snorkel tours are among the most budget-friendly travel activities. You can book a full day with lunch included, or just a few hours out on the water. They usually include all the gear and lifejackets. Plus, you get a nice boat ride along the way.

16. Visit the Great Cathedrals

Due to the nature of their existence and who they were built for, cathedrals of the world are not only some of the most gorgeous architecture on the planet, but they are also usually free to visit. Some cathedrals charge a nominal fee for upkeep, or you can donate at the door. These gorgeous buildings showcase art from the masters that you would spend $30-40 to see in a major art museum. It‘s an added benefit to the cathedral itself. Many also have a crypt or museum with incredible artifacts that are free or charge a small fee. If you are going to New York City, make sure to take the free tour of the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral!

17. Free Shows

When you exit the cathedrals, pay attention to sign boards. Many will have free choir or organ concerts during the week. Always check for free shows in the parks and public buildings. For instance, London has lunch concerts at Saint Martin in the Fields almost daily. Plus, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is free to watch. Even the great Westminster Abbey has free organ recitals most Sundays. Bars across NYC and Chicago have free shows ranging from broadway stars to comedy shows, and they are often included in the bar cover fee.

18. Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s markets have taken the travel world by storm. They are an excellent place to get fresh, local food and meet local people. However, they are so much more than that. Many now include orchards, fields of wildflowers, vintage games for kids and adults, and even amusement park-styled rides.

19. National Parks

National Parks in North America are some of our greatest tourist attractions. The Sequoias, the Redwoods, The Grand Canyon, Yosemite…our great nation is filled with epic landscapes. Snag the America the Beautiful Pass. It cost $80, but it covers all national parks and federal recreation areas. You only need one pass per vehicle, so most families can travel on one pass, and it lasts for a full year.

20. Cable Cars

Cable cars of funiculars are popular tourist attractions that usually have a small price tag. The famous San Francisco cable cars cost around $8 per ride. The gorgeous Anacapri chair lift on Capri Island, Italy cost around $12, and you can get a guided cable car tour in La Paz, Bolivia for $8.

21. Cafe Hopping

If you are a solo traveler or a couple, consider spending your afternoon at some of Europe’s romantic cafes. Cafe culture is huge, and they are the best place to sip a lovely espresso or Aperol Spritz and watch the world go by. People watching is an attraction all in itself!

22. Visit Your State Parks

State parks are almost always free to visit or have a very nominal fee. Depending on what state you live in, your state park may have fishing, hiking, Native American historical sites, Pacific Ocean beaches, planetariums, or waterfalls. Get out there and explore!

23. Hire a Local Guide

We have found that hiring a local guide can be a really economical way to tour a new place, especially in Central America. Local guides can be found easily by word of mouth or even by Facebook inquiries. Join a few groups for the destination you are traveling to and put out a message for the type of tour you are looking for. You will get great responses and options. Some will be professionals that charge too much, but others will suggest true local people who give tours in their free time. These can not only be a fantastic opportunity for you, but you’re helping a local financially too!

24. Waterfalls

There are incredible free waterfalls all over the world. You can see them from epic hikes or just by pulling over on the side of the road. While waterfall parks in Costa Rica and similar destinations can be outrageous, you can also head to the countryside in your rental car and hit up Los Churros Falls. It’s a set of giant twin waterfalls that only the locals frequent, where you can swim and play freely, and it won’t cost you a penny. You can even cliff jump from the pillar rocks into a deep refreshing pool! Arkansas’s Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls is free. Famous Multnomah Falls in Oregon costs just $2, and the stunning Akaka Falls in Hawaii is just $5 for two epic waterfalls.

25. Picnics

Stopping by the butcher, the baker, and the cheese maker fills your morning with culture and fine foods. Then, you scope out a park near the river and spend the afternoon playing chess, frisbee, or bocce ball with the locals. You get authentic food and experience for the lowest of low costs!

26. Sunset Vistas

Find a place high in the sky to watch the sunrise or sunset. This could be a hike, but it doesn’t have to be. In Athens, view from the top of Mars Hill or Philopappos, right in the middle of the city. Hop on the New York City Highline, or climb to the top of Galata Tower in Istanbul. Wherever you are on earth, ask around the best sunset spot, and make a point to be there!

27. Stargazing

Similar to sunsets, stargazing doesn’t cost a thing! Find an empty field away from city lights, and practice your night photography. Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine, and see how many constellations you can find! It’s relaxing, provides great conversation in a romantic environment, and it’s totally free.

28. Find a Festival

Towns, villages, and cities across the globe throw annual festivals for their citizens, and they are often free of charge. Plovdiv, Bulgaria throws a free music and food festival. All the food trucks come out. There are traditional dancers and rock musicians, and it is all free. The same city has free traditional dancing every Sunday in the city square. This is only one example. There are tons of them. The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in California is free. The French Quarter Festival in New Orleans- free, The Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.- free , and The Spirit of Kentucky Balloon Festival- free! You get the picture.

29. Catch a Local Sporting Event

Book the cheap seats at a local futbol match or rugby game. You will certainly meet the locals, learn a lot about a new game, and engage in some of the finest people-watching on the planet. There is nothing that entertaining than sports fans in their element. Depending on where you are, you might learn a few new chants or taunts, peppy theme songs, or innovative curse words. No matter where you are, you will have a blast. Grab a beer and enjoy the show!

30. Ziplines

If you are looking for an adventure activity, then ziplining is by far your cheapest option. Skydiving, bungee jumping, and paragliding can rack up big bills, but zip lines are generally more reasonable. Plus, they are more family-friendly with appropriate runs for even small children. Sometimes they are a single Superman run. Other destinations have an entire adventure park with multiple runs. You can zipline over the jungles of Belize or zoom through the cloud forests of Costa Rica. The world’s longest line, Jebel Jais Flight , takes you on a 1.76-mile journey over the desert of The United Arab Emirates. Ziplines and ropes courses and extremely popular all over the world, so find one in your vacation destination…if you dare!

Book your tickets!

Holidaymakers often feel they need a stacked itinerary, every slot filled with a life-changing activity, to get the most out of their vacation. That just isn‘t true. Vacation doesn’t have to cost you a fortune! With prior planning and thorough research, you can find good deals on those must-see adventures. There are things that you should see, even if they aren‘t cheap. Some things are famous for a reason! See those things, but then, fill in your itinerary with free or budget-friendly adventures. You may find that a free adventure is one of the most memorable of your trip. It wouldn’t surprise us at all.

What are your favorite budget-friendly vacation activities? Let us know your secrets in the comments!

Need a cheap vaca with your boo? Check out our guide to “The Best Vacation Destinations for Couples on a Budget.”

Let’s not leave out the families though, here are our suggestions for “The 25 Best Budget-Friendly Family Vacation Spots.”

Looking for local attractions? Boost the fun factor of your staycations or vacations with Let’s Roam Local ! Rely on our recommendations to find the top spots in any city!

Frequently Asked Questions

Adventures don’t have to be expensive! Some popular tourist activities are notoriously budget-friendly. Take a free walking tour of a historic city. Take a snorkeling or zip-lining trip, or visit free museums and cathedrals.

For a cheap way to explore your destination, consider a scavenger hunt tour . Download the Let’s Roam app and go looking for awesome street art, local haunts , or historic spots. If you’re into the nightlife scene, try a pub crawl !

Most popular destinations have free and low-cost activities for travelers. Try a free city walking tour, attend a museum on its free day, or catch a local festival!

Featured Products & Activities

Tourism – Definition, Types & Forms, History & Importance of Tourism

Tourism is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries and a major foreign exchange and employment generation for many countries. It is one of the most remarkable economic and social phenomena.

The word ‘tour’ is derived from the Latin word tornus, meaning ‘a tool for making a circle.’ Tourism may be defined as the movement of people from their usual place of residence to another place ( with the intention to return) for a minimum period of twenty-four hours to a maximum of six months for the sole purpose of leisure and pleasure.

According to WTO (1993), ” Tourism encompasses the activities of persons traveling and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business, and other purposes.”

The Rome conference on tourism in 1963 defined tourism as ‘ a visit to a country other than one’s own or where one usually resides and works. This definition, however, did not take into account domestic tourism, which has become a vital money-spinner and job generator for the hospitality industry.

The UNWTO defines tourists as ‘ people who travel to and stay in place outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.

According to the Tourism Society of Britain ,” tourism is the temporary short-period movement of people to destination outside the places where they usually live, work; and activities during their stay at these destinations.” This definition includes the movement of people for all purposes.

The development of technology and transportation infrastructure, such as jumbos jets, low-cost airlines, and more accessible airports, have made tourism affordable and convenient. There have been changes in lifestyle – for example, now retiree-age people sustain tourism around the year. The sale of tourism products on the internet, besides the aggressive marketing of the tour operators and travel agencies , has also contributed to the growth of tourism.

27 September is celebrated as world tourism every year. This date was chosen as on that day in 1970, the Statutes of UNWTO were adopted. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the role of tourism within the international community.

History of Travel and Tourism

Inbound tourism, outbound tourism, domestic tourism, forms of tourism, classification of tourism, nature of tourism, importance of tourism, economic impacts, social impacts, cultural impacts, environmental impact, industries related to tourism, tourism products.

Travel is as old as mankind on earth. At the beginning of his existence, man roamed about the planet’s surface in search of food, shelter, security, and better habitat. However, with time, such movements were transformed into wanderlust.

About five thousand years ago, climate changes, dwindling food and shelter conditions hostile invaders made the people leave their homes to seek refuge elsewhere like the Aryans left their homes in Central Asia due to climate changes. Perhaps, this leads to the development of commerce, trade, and industry.

Religion, education, and cultural movement began during the Hindu and Chinese civilizations. Christian missionaries, Buddhist monks, and others traveled far and wide carrying religious messages and returned with fantastic images and opinions about alien people.

For centuries movement of people continued to grow due to the efficiency of transport and the assistance and safety with which the people could travel. By the end of the 15th century, Italy had become Europe’s intellectual and cultural center. It represented the classical heritage both for the intelligentsia and the aristocracy.

During the 16th century, travel came to be considered an essential part of the education of every young Englishman. Travel thus became a means of self-development and education in its broadest sense. The educational travel was known as the ‘ Grand Tour .’

The industrial revolution brought about significant changes in the pattern and structure of British society. Thus, the economy of Britain was greatly responsible for the beginning of modern tourism. It also created a large and prosperous middle class. Because of remarkable improvement in transportation systems in the latter half of the 18th century and the first quarter of the 19th century, an increasing number of people began to travel for pleasure.

Travel was inspired initially by the need for survival (food, shelter, and security), the desire to expand trade, and the quest to conquer. As the transportation system improved, the curiosity for transforming the vast and virgin world into a close neighborhood created a new industry, i.e., Travel and Tourism .

However, the developments of rails, roads, steamships, automobiles, and airplanes helped to spread technology across the globe. Earlier travel was a privilege only for wealthy people, but with the industrial revolution, the scenario altogether changed. Transportation, as well as accommodation, became affordable to middle and working-class citizens.

Essentially, with the development of jet travel, communication, new technology, tourism, and travel became the world’s largest and fastest-growing industry.

Travel and tourism have recently emerged as a dominant economic force on the global scene, accounting for more than 12% of total world trade and growing at 8 percent annually.

Types of Tourism

Tourism has two types and many forms based on the purpose of visit and alternative forms of tourism. Tourism can be categorized as international and domestic tourism .

Tourism has two types and various forms. Based on the movement of people, tourism is categorized into two kinds. These are the following:

International Tourism

When people visit a foreign country, it is referred to as International Tourism . To travel to a foreign country, one needs a valid passport, visa, health documents, foreign exchange, etc.

International tourism is divided into two types; Inbound Tourism & Outbound Tourism.

This refers to tourists of outside origin entering a particular country. Traveling outside their host/native country to another country is called inbound tourism for the country where they are traveling. For example, when a tourist of Indian origin travels to Japan, it is  Inbound tourism for Japan because foreign tourists come to Japan.

This refers to tourists traveling from the country of their origin to another country. When tourists travel to a foreign region, it is outbound tourism for their own country because they are going outside their country. For example, when a tourist from India travels to Japan, it is outbound tourism for India and Inbound tourism for Japan.

The tourism activity of the people within their own country is known as domestic tourism . Traveling within the same country is easier because it does not require formal travel documents and tedious formalities like compulsory health checks and foreign exchange. A traveler generally does not face many language problems or currency exchange issues in domestic tourism.

Tourism has various forms based on the purpose of the visit and alternative forms. These are further divided into many types according to their nature. Forms of tourism are the following:

Some most basic forms of tourism are the following:

  • Adventure Tourism
  • Atomic Tourism
  • Bicycle Tours
  • Beach Tourism
  • Cultural Tourism
  • Industrial Tourism
  • Medical Tourism
  • Religious Tourism
  • Rural Tourism
  • Sex Tourism
  • Space Tourism
  • Sports Tourism
  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Virtual Tourism
  • War Tourism
  • Wildlife Tourism

Tourism can be classified into six distinct categories according to the purpose of travel. These are the following:

1) Recreational : Recreational or leisure tourism takes a person away from the humdrum of everyday life. In this case, people spend their leisure time in the hills, sea beaches, etc.

2) Cultural tourism satisfies cultural and intellectual curiosity and involves visits to ancient monuments, places of historical or religious importance, etc.

3) Sports/Adventure : Trips taken by people with a view to playing golf, skiing and hiking, fall within this category.

4) Health : Under this category, people travel for medical, treatment or visit places where there are curative possibilities, for example, hot springs, spa yoga, etc.

5) Convention Tourism : It is becoming an increasingly important component of travel. People travel within a country or overseas to attend conventions relating to their business, profession, or interest.

6) Incentive Tourism : Holiday trips are offered as incentives by major companies to dealers and salesmen who achieve high targets in sales. This is a new and expanding phenomenon in tourism, These are in lieu of cash incentives or gifts, Today incentive tourism is a 3 billion dollar business in the USA alone.

Tourism as a socio-economic phenomenon comprises the activities and experiences of tourists and visitors away from their home environment and are serviced by the travel and tourism industry and host destination. The sum total of this activity experience and services can be seen as a tourism product.

The tourism system can be described in terms of supply and demand. Tourism planning should strive for a balance between demands and supply. This requires an understanding not only of market characteristics and trends but also of the planning process to meet the market needs.

Often tourists from core generating markets are identified as the demand side; the supply side includes all facilities, programs, attractions, and land uses designed and managed for the visitors. These supply-side factors may be under the control of private enterprises, non-profit organizations, and the government. New and innovative forms of partnerships are also evolving to ensure the sustainable development and management of tourism-related resources.

The supply and demand side can be seen to be linked by flows of resources such as capital, labor, goods, and tourist expenditures into the destination, and flows of marketing, promotion, tourist artifacts, and experiences from the destination back into the tourist generating region.

In addition, some tourist expenditures may leak back into the visitors generating areas through repatriation of profits of foreign tourism investors and payment for improved goods and services provided to tourists at the destination. Transportation provides an important linkage both to and from the destination.

For planning purposes, the major components that comprise the supply side are:

  • Various modes of transportation and other tourism-related infrastructure.
  • Tourist information.
  • Marketing and promotion.
  • The community of communities within the visitor’s destination area.
  • The political and institutional frameworks for enabling tourism.

The tourism system is both dynamic and complex due to many factors linked to it and because of the existence of many sectors contributing to its success. These factors and sectors are linked to the provision of the tourist experience and the generation of tourism revenue and markets .

The dynamic nature of the tourism system makes it imperative to scan the external and internal environment of the destinations on a regular basis so as to make changes when necessary to ensure a healthy and viable tourism industry.

Thus, it is now an accepted fact that tourism development can no longer work in isolation of the environment and the local communities, nor can it ignore the social and cultural consequences of tourism.

Tourism and hospitality , which are inextricably linked to each other, are among the major revenue-earning enterprises in the world. They happen to be among the top employers too. There has been an upmarket trend in tourism over the last few decades as travel has become quite common. People travel for business, vacation, pleasure, adventure, or even medical treatments.

Tourism constitutes an important industry today. It has opened up new vistas for the play of economic emancipation. It provides a very potent contribution by strengthening and developing the financial resources of a country. Moreover, it is a process in which mutual material and mental benefits occur. Furthermore,

  • Tourism fetches foreign exchange in the form of invisible exports, which results in the manifold progress of the nation.
  • Tourism generates jobs. These employments are the main contribution of tourism to generating national income. But one should remember that employment in the tourism industry is often seasonal.
  • Tourism often leads to the commercialization of art forms and especially handicrafts. Art items with cultural or religious meaning are sought by tourists as souvenirs. As more and more tourists visit a destination, souvenir production has increased, often leading to mass production. This production also generates income.

Importance of Tourism

With several business-related activities associated with tourism, the industry has a tremendous potential to generate employment as well as earn foreign exchange. Many countries, such as Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, and the Caribbean, whose economies are primarily driven by tourism. Tourism can contribute to the economic growth of a country in the followings ways:

Employment Generation

It creates a large number of jobs among direct services providers (such as hotels , restaurants, travel agencies , tour operators , guide and tour escorts, etc.) and among indirect services providers (such as suppliers to the hotels and restaurants, supplementary accommodation, etc.)

Infrastructure Development

Tourism spurs infrastructure development. In order to become an important commercial or pleasure destination, any location would require all the necessary infrastructure, like good connectivity via rail, road, and air transport , adequate accommodation, restaurants, a well-developed telecommunication network, and, medical facilities, among others.

Foreign Exchange

The people who travel to other countries spend a large amount of money on accommodation, transportation, sightseeing, shopping, etc. Thus, an inbound tourist is an important source of foreign exchange for any country.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predict in 1997 that the twenty-first-century economy would be dominated by three industries: telecommunications, information technology, and tourism. The travel and tourism industry has grown by 500 percent in the last 25 years.

Now withstanding this bright outlook and prospects, the tourism and hospitality industries are very vulnerable to the fluctuations of national economies and happenings in the world, especially terrorist attacks that have at times dealt severe blows to business.

In recent years, there have been a few setbacks in tourism, such as the terrorist siege of the Taj and Oberoi in Mumbai, India (26 November 2008); the attack on the World Trade Centre in the United States of America (11 September 2001); bombing in a hotel on the Indonesian island of Bali (12 October 2002); tsunami in Southeast Asia and South Asia on 26 December 2004, in which thousands of the lives where lost and consequently tourism was hit. Nonetheless, the sector is now getting back to business.

Impacts of Tourism

Tourism is a multi-dimensional activity. The scope of tourism activities is so wide and varied that it cannot be restricted to any particular field of activity. Tourism has ramifications in almost all sectors and is influenced by the performance of each of these sectors directly or indirectly. Tourism in any country can be an apt reflection of the nation’s economic and social endowment apart from its natural wealth.

Tourism has vast potential to bring about changes in the country’s economic, environmental, societal, and cultural edifice. Tourism has two basics: the supply of facilities and the demand for participation. The twin market forces of supply and demand interact to produce tourism patterns. These patterns are associated with economic, social, cultural, environmental, and ecological impacts.

Impact of Tourism

Establishing or developing a tourism industry involves expenditure, gains, costs, and benefits. If these impacts are considered from the outset of planning, strengths and opportunities can be maximized while weaknesses and threats can be minimized.

Each destination will be different in terms of tourism characteristics . The cost and benefits of tourism will vary in each destination and can change over time, depending on tourism and other activities in a destination’s local and regional context.

Tourism activities impact the economy of the country as well as the local economy of the destination.

Economics Benefits

  • Tourism generates local employment, directly in the tourism sector and in the support and resource management sectors.
  • Tourism stimulates profitable domestic industries, hotels and other lodging facilities, restaurants and food services, transportation systems, handicrafts, and guide services.
  • Tourism generates foreign exchange for the country and injects capital and new money into the local economy.
  • Tourism helps to diversify the local economy.
  • Improved tourism infrastructure.
  • Increase tax revenues from tourism.

Economic Costs

  • Higher demand created by tourism activity may increase the price of land, housing, and a range of commodities necessary for daily life.
  • Demands for health services provision and police service increase during the tourist seasons at the expense of the local tax base.

Tourism also affects the society of the destination in good as well as bad ways. It benefits and costs the local communities.

Social Benefits

  • The quality of a community can be enhanced by economic diversification through tourism.
  • Recreational and cultural facilities created for tourism can be used by local communities as well as domestic/international visitors.
  • Public space may be developed and enhanced through tourism activity.
  • Tourism Enhances the local community’s esteem and provides an opportunity for greater understanding and communication among people of diverse backgrounds.

Social Costs

  • Rapid tourism growth can result in the inability of local amenities and institutions to meet service demands.
  • Without proper planning and management, litter, vandalism, and crime often accompany tourism development.
  • Tourism can bring overcrowding and traffic congestion.
  • Visitors bring with them material wealth and apparent freedom. The youths of the host community are particularly susceptible to the economic expectations these tourists bring which can result in complete disruption of traditional community ways of life.
  • The community structure may change, e.g. community bonds, demographics, and institutions.
  • The authenticity of the social and cultural environment can be changed to meet tourism demands.

Tourism activities also affect the culture of the host country. There are many positive and negative cultural impacts of tourism.

Cultural Benefits

  • Tourism can enhance local cultural awareness.
  • Tourism can generate revenue to help pay for the preservation of archaeological sites, historic buildings, and districts.
  • Despite criticism about the alteration of cultures to unacceptable levels, the sharing of cultural knowledge and experience can be beneficial for hosts and guests of tourism destinations and can result in the revival of local traditions and crafts.

Cultural Costs

  • Youth in the community begin to emulate the speech and attire of tourists.
  • Historic sites can be damaged through tourism development and pressures.
  • There can be long-term damage to cultural traditions and the erosion of cultural values, resulting in cultural change beyond a level acceptable to the host destination.

Tourism impacts the environment in positive as well as negative ways. These impacts are following below.

Environmental Benefits

  • Parks and nature preserves may be created and ecological preservation supported as a necessity for nature-based tourism.
  • Improved waste management can be achieved.
  • Increased awareness and concern for the environment can result from nature-based tourism activities and development.

Environmental Costs

  • A negative change in the physical integrity of the area.
  • Rapid development, over-development, and overcrowding can forever change the physical environment and ecosystems of an area.
  • Degradation of parks and preserves.

Over the years, tourism has become a popular global activity. Depending upon the nature and purpose of their travel, tourists, need and demand certain facilities and services. This has given rise to a wide range of commercial activities that have acquired industry proportions. Thus travel and tourism nowadays represent a broad range of related industries.

Hotels are a commercial establishment that provides accommodation, meals, and other guest services. In the travel and tourism industry, the hotel industry plays a very significant role, as all tourists need a place to stay at their destinations, and require many more services and facilities to suit their specific needs and tastes.

Restaurants

Restaurants are retail establishments that serve prepared food and beverages to customers. In the travel and tourism industry, restaurants and other food and beverage outlets are very important as tourists like to experiment with the local cuisines of the places they are visiting.

Retail and Shopping

The retail industry is very important as tourists shop for their day-to-day necessities as well as look for mementos and souvenirs. In recent years, some cities in the world have been promoted as shopping destinations to attract people with a penchant for shopping by offering various products, such as garments, electronic goods, jewelry, and antiques. New York, Paris, London, and Milan in Italy are famous as fashion havens of the world.

Transportation

It is the movement of people and goods from one place to another. A well-developed transport industry, as well as infrastructure, is integral to the success of any travel and tourism enterprise.

Travel Agencies

A travel agency is a retailing business that sells travel-related products and services, particularly package tours, to customers on the behalf of suppliers such as airlines, car rentals, cruise liners, hotels, railways, and sightseeing.

Travel agencies play a very important role as they plan out the itinerary of their clients and make the necessary arrangements for their travel, stay, and sightseeing, besides facilitating their passport, visa, etc.

Tour Operators

A tour operator assembles the various elements of a tour. It typically combines tour and travel components to create a holiday. Tour operators play an important role in the travel and tourism industry.

Tourist Destinations

A tourist attraction is a place of interest for tourists, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, nature or building beauty or amusement opportunities. These are the basic fundamentals of the tourism industry.

Cultural Industries

Cultural or creative industries are responsible for the creation, production, and distribution of goods and services that are cultural in nature and usually protected by intellectual property rights. As tourists like to visit places of cultural significance and soak in the culture of the area, the cultural industry is very important to travel and tourism.

Leisure, Recreation, and Sport

Leisure or free time is a period of time spent out of work and essential domestic activity. Recreation or fun is spending time in a manner designed for therapeutic refreshment of the body or mind. While leisure is more like a form of entertainment or rest, recreation requires active participation in a refreshing and diverting manner.

As people in the world’s wealthier regions lead an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, the need for recreation has increased. These play a significant role in the travel and tourism sector.

A tourism/tourist product can be defined as the sum of the physical and psychological satisfaction it provides to tourists, during their ‘traveling and sojourn’ en route at the destinations.

Since the travel and tourism industry is an agglomeration of too many sectors that promote travel-related services. These sectors are referred to as travel vendors and their services and goods are called ‘travel products’. A tourism product includes five main components such as physical plant, services, hospitality, freedom of choice, and a sense of involvement.

Thus, whatever the natural and man-made resources and services brought about the consumption of tourists are called tourism products .

Charecterstatics Of Tourism Products

By now, you must have understood what a tourism product is. Now let us look at some of its characteristics:-

1) Intangible : Tourism is an intangible product means tourism is such a kind of product that can not be touched or seen and there is no transfer of ownership, But the facilities are available for a specified time and for a specified use. For e.g. a room in the hotel is available for a specified time.

2) Psychological : The main motive to purchase a tourism products is to satisfy the psychological need after using the product, by getting an experience while interacting with a new environment. And experiences also motivate others to purchase that product.

3) Highly Perishable : Tourism product is highly perishable in nature means one can not store the product for a long time. Production and consumption take place while a tourist is available. If the product remains unused, the chances are lost i.e. if tourists do not purchase it.

A travel agent or tour operator who sells a tourism product cannot store it. Production can only take place if the customer is actually present. And once consumption begins, it cannot be stopped, interrupted, or modified. If the product remains unused, the chances are lost i.e. if tourists do not visit a particular place, the opportunity at that time is lost. It is due to tourism reason that heavy discount is offered by hotels and transport-generating organizations during the offseason.

4) Composite Product : Tourist product is a combination of different products. It has not a single entity in itself. In the experience of a visit to a particular place, various service providers contribute like transportation The tourist product cannot be provided by a single enterprise, unlike a manufactured product.

The tourist product covers the complete experience of a visit to a particular place. And many providers contribute to the tourism experience. For instance, the airline supplies seats, a hotel provides rooms and restaurants, travel agents make bookings for stay and sightseeing, etc.

5) Unstable Demand : Tourism demand is influenced by seasonal, economic political, and other factors. There are certain times of the year that see greater demand than others. At these times there is a greater strain on services like hotel bookings, employment, the transport system, etc.

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Travel and tourism activities for students

travel and tourism activities

Here are some travel and tourism activities you can pursue as a student.

With summer break coming up, many students are looking for ways to make the most of their time off. If you're one of them, you might be considering travel and tourism activities. There are many benefits to pursuing travel and tourism activities as a student. Not only can you explore new places and learn about different cultures, but you can also gain skills that will be valuable in your future career. Whether you're interested in working in the travel industry or want to see the world, here are some travel and tourism activities you can pursue as a student.

Travel activities for students: The history and benefits of tourism and travel The history of travel and tourism is full of fascinating stories and interesting facts. For example, did you know that the first recorded instance of travel for tourism was in 1420 when a group of wealthy Europeans traveled to Italy to see the sights?

Travel and tourism have come a long way since then, of course. Today, it is one of the world's largest industries, with trillions of dollars in revenue each year. And students are increasingly getting involved in this field through internships, part-time jobs, or even studying abroad.

There are many reasons why tourism is such a popular activity among students. For one, it can be very educational. Seeing new places and cultures can help young people learn about the world and better understand other people and cultures. Additionally, working in the travel and tourism industry can be exciting and fun. Many career paths are available in the hospitality industry, from working as a tour guide to being a hotel manager. And finally, travel and tourism provide an opportunity to make some great memories that will last a lifetime!  

There are many benefits to travel and tourism activities for students. By engaging in these activities, students can learn about new cultures and customs, develop their language skills, and better understand the world around them. In addition, tourism can be an excellent way for students to bond with their classmates and build lasting friendships.

Don’t let class assignments deny you the opportunity to travel and bond with classmates. CustomWritings is an online essay writing service dedicated to helping students like you. The company has a team of highly qualified writers who’re always available to complete custom essays, research papers, dissertations, book reviews, homework, and theses, among others. They produce original academic papers written from scratch. Visit their website for great discounts!    

Fifteen fun, educational, high-quality, and affordable tourism activities for students

There are a variety of travel activities for students. From educational opportunities to fun-filled excursions, there is something for everyone. Here are a few of the best travel and tourism activities for students:

  • Volunteer Vacations: Give back while seeing the world on a volunteer vacation. Volunteering can be a great way to learn about a place's culture and social issues. It can also be an excellent opportunity to make new friends. Many organizations offer short-term opportunities for students to get involved in different communities around the globe.
  • Study Abroad: Expand your horizons by studying abroad in another country. This is a great way to learn about new cultures and customs while earning college credit. Your education shouldn’t be limited by distance. But if you find traveling to a new country too expensive, you can try online courses.  
  • Adventure Tours: If you're looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure, check out some of the many tour companies that offer everything from white-water rafting to safaris. Safaris offer a unique opportunity to see animals in their natural habitats. They can be a great way to learn about different animals and their ecosystems.
  • Language Immersion Programs: Immerse yourself in a new language by signing up for a language immersion program. These programs offer the chance to live with a host family and experience daily life in another culture.
  • Internships: Gain valuable work experience by interning with a company in the travel and tourism industry. Many internships are available both domestically and internationally, so you can find one that's perfect for your interests and goals
  • Visit a local farm or winery. Learn about how the food or drink is produced, and sample some of the products. This is especially helpful for high school and elementary pupils.
  • Go camping in a nearby state or national park. Spend a few days hiking, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors. Several studies have shown that spending time outdoors has numerous health benefits, including improved mental health, relaxation, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved breathing.  
  • Go on a road trip to a nearby state or province. Visit different attractions and cities along the way, writing the exciting things and events you see.
  • Take a walking tour. Walking tours are a great way to see a city or town up close. They can range from historical tours to food tours to art walks.
  • Visit a temple or church. Churches and temples can offer a glimpse into the religious traditions of a place. They can also be beautiful architectural landmarks.
  • See a concert or play. Attending a show or play can be a great way to experience the local culture. Learning about the country's history and music can also be fun.
  • Take a cooking class. Cooking classes can teach you about local cuisine. They can also be a fun way to learn about the culinary traditions of a place.
  • Go hiking or camping. Hiking and camping can be great for exploring the natural beauty of a place. They can also be a fun way to learn about the local flora and fauna.
  • Visit a market. Markets are a great place to learn about the local culture and language & the best place to get authentic local products. They often sell a variety of traditional foods, crafts, and souvenirs. In many countries, markets are even better than shopping malls. Markets are also a great way to make friends with locals.
  • Take a bike tour. Bike tours offer a fun and eco-friendly way to see a city or town. They can be a great way to learn about the local architecture and history.

Conclusion We hope you enjoyed reading about the different travel and tourism activities available for students. If you're looking for an exciting way to spend your summer break, consider checking out one of these options. With so many different things to see and do, you're sure to find something that interests you. And who knows, you might even end up loving it so much that you decide to pursue a career in travel and tourism!

Stavros Andriopoulos

Stavros Andriopoulos

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ESL Activities

ESL Games, Activities, Lesson Plans, Jobs & More

in Icebreakers + Warm-Ups · Listening · Reading · Speaking · Writing

Travel & Holidays ESL Games, Worksheets | ESL Travel Activities

If you need some fresh, new ideas for the ESL travel and holiday unit that you can find in most textbooks, then you’re in the right place. We’ll share our top ideas for games and activities, along with travel vocabulary, worksheets and lesson plans. Let’s get to the best ESL holiday activities.

esl-holiday-travel

ESL holiday and travel-themed activities

Let’s get into everything you need to know for an ESL holiday lesson. Keep on reading!

ESL Travel and Holiday Activities

Here are the top ESL travel activities that you may want to try out with your students.

#1: Plan a Trip

Have your students plan a dream vacation in English! Instead of researching in their first language, use Google in English. In order to practice writing, keep notes only in English. Here’s an example of how you might plan your trip using English. You can have your students add as little, or as much detail as you’d like. However, the point of the activity is to practice writing in point form which is useful when writing outlines for tests or essays.

Day 1: Monday, January 1

Fly Seoul (3pm) —-> Vancouver (7am) Check in Hotel ABC, 123 Avenue Rest, relax

Day 2: Tuesday, January 2

Stay Hotel ABC Tour Stanley Park Eat Pub XYZ dinner

Day 3: Wednesday, January 3

Check out Hotel ABC Rent car Budget 123 Drive Whistler Rent skis shop ABC Go Skiing Lunch ski lodge Check in Hotel ABC Whistler Bed early

Procedure for one of my favourite ESL travel activities:

  • Give students time to do some Internet research about a place they want to go. It’s helpful to specify the number of days. I generally make a rule that they must do this research in English. Suggest some helpful websites where they might like to start (Trip Advisor, Air BnB, etc.).
  • Students can make a day-by-day itinerary of what they’re trip is going to look like.
  • They can share about their trip with the class or turn it in for a graded assignment.

63 ESL Holiday Games & Activities: Fun Ideas for Halloween, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's,...

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  • Bolen, Jackie (Author)
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  • 78 Pages - 03/22/2021 (Publication Date)

#2: A-Z Alphabet Game

If you know that your students already know a fair bit about holiday and travel, you may want to try this quick warm-up game. Or, you could consider using it as a review game at the end of a class.

The way it works is that students, in pairs or small groups write down the alphabet on a piece of paper. Then, they have to think of one travel related word for each letter. It doesn’t have to be done in order. For example:

P: Passport

The winner is the team with the most completed letters at the end of the allotted time. Do you want to find out more? Check this out: A-Z Alphabet Game ESL .

#3: Travel Word Association

This is nice ESL activity to do if you know that your students have studied about travel and holidays before. They can shout out vocabulary words related to this and you can make a mind map or sorts on the board. Group similar things together. For example, articles of clothing.

Find out more about this quick ESL warmer right here: ESL Vocabulary Word Association.

49 ESL Conversation Games & Activities: For Teachers of Teenagers and Adults Who Want to Have Better...

  • 146 Pages - 06/18/2020 (Publication Date)

#4: Postcards ESOL Travel Activity

If you can get your hands on some cheap postcards or have some laying around your house or teacher’s office, try out this fun writing activity. It may just be the novelty factor, but students seem to love it. This activity is ideal for working on common greetings, the past tense (more ideas here: ESL past tense games ), and using descriptive words, as well as using synonyms to avoid repetition.

Distribute the postcards to the students. You can do one per student, or put the students into pairs. They have to look at the picture on the front of the postcard and imagine that they went on this vacation. Then, they can write about their trip to a friend or family member.

Next, the students trade postcards with another student or group. After reading them, they can write a response back of at least a few sentences. Finally, you may want to display them around the class as they’re colourful and fun and other students may enjoy reading them! Have some fun with this ESOL travel activity.

  • Give each student or pair a postcard. They look at the picture and imagine what they did on that vacation, and then pretend that they’re writing to a friend or family member.
  •  Exchange postcards and another student or group have to write a response to what they read.
  • Display the postcards around your classroom (optional).

#5: Travel or Holiday Videos

I’m ALL about using videos with my ESL/EFL students. They’re fun, engaging and a nice way to grab student’s attention and introduce a topic. Of course, you can base an entire class around one too if you design the activities well.

If you want to find out more about using them in your classes and some activities and games to do with them, you’ll want to check this out: Using Videos for Teaching English .

#6: Dictogloss ESOL Travel Activity

This is a challenging activity that works on listening and writing skills. Find a short story related to holiday or travel. It could even be a description of your own vacation that you took recently.

Then, you read out the story to your students in a way that is a bit challenging for them to catch every word. Students have to take notes and then try to reconstruct what they heard based on their notes in small groups. You can read it again so that students have a chance to make some additions or corrections. Finally, students compare their version with the original.

Do you want to try it out with your students? You can learn more about one of the best ESL travel activities here: ESL Dictogloss Activity .

#7: Holidays ESL Lesson Plan

It’s easy to plan an ESL lesson about any topic, including holidays. Check out this video for the steps to follow:

#8: Yes/No Questions and Answers

If you think about it, holidays and travel lend themselves to a ton of yes/no questions. For example:

  • Did you fly or drive?
  • Did you eat some delicious things?
  • Was the food good?
  • Did you have nice weather?

If you want to see some activities or games to work on these kinds of questions, you’ll want to check this out: Yes/No Activities and Games.

67 ESL Conversation Topics with Questions, Vocabulary, Writing Prompts & More: For English Teachers...

  • 279 Pages - 07/12/2020 (Publication Date)

#9: ESL Food Activities and Games

I’m not sure if it’s the same for you, but when I travel, it’s ALL about the food. I want to try all the delicious things where I’m staying! The good news is that I have a ton of fun, interactive games and activities for food. You can easily adapt most of them to focus on holidays.

You can find out more details here: ESL Food Activities.

#10: ESL Surveys

I love to use surveys in my classes because they lend themselves to just about any topic. In the case of travel, they’re ideal for working on the present perfect and simple past together.

For example:

Have you ever travelled to another country?

Where did you go?

If you want to know more about how to design and use surveys in your classes for an ESL travel lesson, then you’ll want to check this out: Surveys for ESL Students.

esl-travel-activities

ESL Travel Games and Activities

I also love to use ESL surveys to get students to express an opinion in English.

#11: Present Perfect Activities Related to Travel

The present perfect is often used to talk about vacations, travel and holidays. For example:

  • Have you ever been to another country?
  • Have you travelled to ______ before?

In order to incorporate this grammatical construction into some of your lesson, you’ll want to check this out: Present Perfect ESL Activities.

#12: Brochure Scanning

This is an excellent travel activity! You’ll have to get your hands on some travel brochures first. The way it works is that students get tons of practice with a reading sub-skill (scanning) because they have to look quickly through the brochures to find specific bits of information. For example, cost or number or days.

Do you want to try out this reading activity? You can find out all the details here: Brochure Scanning Reading Activity for ESL .

#13: Odd One Out ESL Warmer

This is a quick English warm-up activity that you can try out with your students. The way it works is that you write words, in groups of 4 on the board. 3 are similar and 1 is the odd one out. Students have to choose this one and say why it doesn’t fit. For example:

Bathing suit, sunglasses, boots, flip-flops

Answers: Boots because it’s not for a beach vacation. I accept many different answers as long as students support it well.

You can learn more about this ESL warm-up here: Odd One Out for ESL .

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  • 87 Pages - 10/24/2019 (Publication Date)

#14: Would you Rather? 

I’m sure you’ve done this before with friends. You have to choose between two negative things, or two positive things. For example, how you want to die, or what you want to eat. In this case, students could choose between two types of vacation. For example:

Would you rather have a beach or forest vacation?

Would you rather stay in a big hotel, or an AirBNB?

Learn more about this nice activity for an ESL travel lesson here: ESL Would You Rather?

39 Task-Based Language Teaching and Learning Activities: A Very Practical Guide to Using TBL in the...

  • 110 Pages - 06/22/2021 (Publication Date)

#15: Task Based Activity: Dream Vacation

I love to incorporate this style of teaching into my holiday lessons. It allows students more freedom to choose what they want to learn about and also builds opportunities for some serious teamwork.

In this case, I’ll have students work in groups of 2-3 to plan a dream vacation. They can do some research to find out all the details including how to get there, food, budget, where to stay, etc. Then, they either have to write a report and hand it in to me and/or do a short presentation to the class.

Need some more ideas for this style of a lesson? Check this out: Task-Based Learning .

#16: Travel Themed Charades

I love to play charades with my students. The way it works is that you can think of some travel-related phrases. For example:

  • Flying on a plane
  • Sleeping on a bus
  • Eating noodles
  • Buying souvenirs

Then, students have to act this out and their teammates have to guess what the phrase is. More details here: ESL Charades.

#17: Travel Journal

Encourage students to keep a travel journal for a fictional trip. They can describe their experiences, sights, and sounds, using new vocabulary.

travel-holidays-esl

Travel and Holidays ESL

#18: Eliciting in an ESL Travel Lesson

Unless your students are absolute beginners, then it’s likely that they already know a good amount of travel and holiday vocabulary. That’s often why I like to start off my ESL traveling lesson by using some eliciting techniques. There are two main reasons for this.

The first reason is that it’s possible to find out what the students already know about this topic to avoid wasting class time covering these things. The second is that it helps students activate their prior knowledge about travel/holidays to make the new things they learn more memorable. Learn how to do this tactic for an ESL holiday lesson here:

ESL Eliciting Advice .

#19: Travel Listening Lesson

A nice way to talk about any topic is through a listening lesson. In this case, find a conversation between two people talking about an upcoming vacation plan. Or, someone talking about a favourite vacation from the past (it could even be you). Then, design an entire listening lesson around that. Find out how here:

#20: Idiom ESL Traveling Activity

There are lots of idioms related to holidays, travel and transportation. Here are just a few of them:

  • All hands on deck
  • To send flying
  • Bump in the road
  • Off the rails
  • Train wreck
  • Asleep at the wheel
  • Fall off the wagon
  • Hit the road

One of the best ways to make these idioms super memorable is to do this fun activity. Afterwards, your students will never forget! Learn more about this ESL activity:

Idiom Activity for Language Learners .

#21: Concentration ESL Traveling Vocabulary

One of the best ways to review new words during an ESL holiday or travel lesson is to play this memory game. Depending on the level of the students, make some matching pairs of cards with the following:

  • Word/picture
  • Word/definition
  • Word/clue about the word

Then in small groups, students play the game to find the matches. Find out all the details about how to set it up and play:

ESL Concentration Game .

#22: Speaking Fluency Activity

To use this activity with a unit on holidays or travel, have students talk about a past, or upcoming vacation.

#23: Me Too!

Students have to make a true statement about themselves related to holidays and travelling. For example:

  • I’ve been to Japan.
  • I hate the beach.
  • My family goes on a big vacation every summer.

If other students can agree, they stand up and say, “Me too!”

#24: Labour Day Guessing Game

#25: Holiday Interviews

Pair students and have them interview each other about their favorite holidays. They can then present their partner’s holiday to the class.

#26: Travel Bingo

Create bingo cards with images or words related to travel and holidays. Students mark off the squares as they learn new vocabulary.

#27: Travel-Themed Role-Plays

Set up role-plays where students act as travelers, airport staff, or hotel receptionists. This helps them practice common travel dialogues.

#28: Travel Vocabulary Pictionary

Play Pictionary using travel-related words. Students take turns drawing and guessing the vocabulary words.

#29: Travel Storytelling

Ask students to create and share short stories about a memorable travel experience they’ve had or wish to have in the future.

#30: Travel Debate

Have students debate the pros and cons of traveling. This encourages critical thinking and speaking skills.

Travel and Holiday Vocabulary

Here are some of the most common vocabulary words that you may want to teach your students related to traveling for an ESL holiday lesson.

  • bathing suit
  • boarding pass
  • vaccination
  • The months of the year in English

Do you have any ESL travelling vocabulary that you’d like us to add to the list? Leave a comment and let us know!

Travel Worksheets and Lesson Plans for ESL

If you’re looking for some worksheets or lesson plans related to holidays and travel, then you’ll want to check out some of our top resource recommendations:

ESOL Courses

ISL Collective

Lingua House

ESL Travel Vocabulary Worksheets

If you want students to get some practice with ESL travel vocab, here are a few recommendations:

English Club

Did you Like these Travel Games for ESL?

English Teaching Emergency: No Textbook, No-Prep, No Materials ESL/EFL Activities and Games for Busy...

  • 68 Pages - 11/12/2019 (Publication Date)

Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book: The Emergency English Teacher: No-Textbook, No-Prep, No-Materials ESL Activities.

If you’re always in need of last-minute activities and games for your classes, then this book is exactly what you might need. It’s English teaching made easy in a serious way.

You can get the book in digital or print formats. Take the e-version with you to your favourite coffee shop for lesson planning on the go. Or, keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. But the best idea is to have it with you at all times for those English teaching emergencies.

Do you want to find out more? Head on over to Amazon to pick up your copy today:

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FAQs about ESL Travel Lessons

There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching this unit. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.

What is the purpose of teaching the travel and holiday unit to English learners?

The purpose is to help English learners develop vocabulary, grammar, and conversational skills related to travel and holidays.

What topics can be covered within the travel and holiday unit?

Topics can include modes of transportation, booking accommodations, tourist attractions, holiday activities, travel phrases, and cultural aspects of different destinations.

How can I introduce vocabulary related to travel and holidays?

You can introduce vocabulary through visual aids, realia (actual objects), flashcards, and interactive activities such as matching games or vocabulary quizzes.

What grammar structures can be taught in the travel and holiday unit?

Grammar structures such as present simple for schedules and timetables, past simple for recounting travel experiences, future tenses for making travel plans, and modal verbs for expressing preferences or asking for permission can be taught.

What speaking activities can be used to practice travel and holiday-related topics?

Role-plays, group discussions about dream destinations, travel itineraries, or describing holiday experiences are effective speaking activities. Additionally, pair work activities like “Find Someone Who” or “Guess the Destination” can engage learners in conversation.

ESL Travel Activities and Games: Join the Conversation

What are your thoughts about these Holiday ESL activities? Do you have another one that you’d like to recommend to us? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy English teachers, like yourself find this useful resource for ESOL travel lessons.

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ESL Travel Lesson

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About Jackie

Jackie Bolen has been teaching English for more than 15 years to students in South Korea and Canada. She's taught all ages, levels and kinds of TEFL classes. She holds an MA degree, along with the Celta and Delta English teaching certifications.

Jackie is the author of more than 60 books for English teachers and English learners, including Business English Vocabulary Builder and 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities for Teenagers and Adults . She loves to share her ESL games, activities, teaching tips, and more with other teachers throughout the world.

You can find her on social media at: YouTube Facebook Pinterest TikTok LinkedIn Instagram

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35+ creative travels and tour ideas for your tourism business

35+ tours and travels business ideas

By Kevin Tjoe — 7 Feb 2022

business ideas   customer experience   marketing

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5 tourism business ideas to get started with

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  • Culturally and socially responsible tours , where guests look for a genuine experience connecting with local people and practices

2. Activities

Tourism activities can encompass a vast array of options from the relaxing to the extreme! These could involve physical activities, connection with natural environments, or even incorporate virtual reality. Unique experiences such as hot air balloon rides are also an option for relaxing activities that involve a thrilling side to them. You could also consider more recent technology that people might be itching to try out, such as jet boarding , flyboarding,  and indoor skydiving . There may also be an opportunity to offer intentionally tech-free experiences – such as a retreat with no mobile reception where people can unwind!

Here are some other popular tourist activity ideas:

  • Escape room experiences 
  • Glowing art rooms or VR rooms
  • Themed corporate retreats  or glamping
  • Modern summer camps or school camps
  • Survival or bushcraft trips
  • Fitness or wellbeing retreats

There are two big notable areas to consider for tour operator activities. Think about:

  • Activities that are family and group friendly , which are becoming popular within the travel industry as social restrictions ease.
  • Accessibility . Tourism business owners should be actively looking for ways to support equal access so everyone can enjoy their activities – as best as possible for the activity in question.

3. Attractions

As a travel software provider , we can say with certainty that experiential travel is huge right now. Considering that experiential tourist attractions have both local and long-distance appeal for travelers, they offer an impressive amount of opportunities for growing tourism businesses. These can range from heritage attractions and natural formations to cutting-edge art exhibitions.

tourism business ideas

Here are more relevant ideas for building an attraction that guests will be keen to visit:

  • Amusement parks 
  • Niche museums and art galleries
  • Festivals with amazing settings
  • Garden and maze experiences
  • Instagram-worthy photo rooms and experiences , such as Selfie Factory or Happy Place
  • Magic shows,  such as Gentleman Magician
  • Farms, petting zoos , and horse riding such as Sun Valley Mares and Swan Valley Wagon Tours

Nostalgia and retro appeal are also big right now in attractions, with everything from arcade games to Australia’s ‘ big things’ providing popular. Travelers are increasingly looking to explore the road less traveled and find novel experiences. So – even if you’re in a small regional area you could get in on the action by embracing the bizarre, weird, and wonderful!

4. Shuttles

As interstate and international travel resumes, there will be demand for airport transfers, shuttles , and unique transport options to and from accommodation. You might tap into the wedding transportation market, or offer fun journeys for birthdays, bachelor and bachelorette parties. Consider how you’ll separate your shuttle service from the rest with either a unique form of transport, added options like food and drink, or a distinctive driver who adds to the experience. You might consider offering:

  • An airport shuttle business
  • Traveler shuttles to accommodate tour and travel bookings
  • A party bus or ferry
  • Specialist pet or luggage delivery
  • Unique transport such as tuk-tuks, school buses, or a custom limo 
  • Premium shuttle services .

It’s also worth considering the notable events in your area and how people might want to travel to these. Guests may get excited about a festival bus that transports them from the city to the festival site complete with karaoke, as just one example!

5. Charters & equipment hire

Travelers love charter services because they can have a luxurious or far-flung experience without having to buy all the equipment or vehicles themselves! There are numerous forms of rental businesses you could run such as self-driven charters, car rentals, or equipment hire. You could even go a step further by providing an experienced skipper or pilot as part of the product package. Ideas for modern charter businesses include:

  • Party yachts for relaxed island days
  • Fishing charters 
  • Houseboat charters
  • Private river cruise charters
  • Hovercraft charters
  • Kayak,  rafting, small boat hire , or paddle board
  • Helicopter or small plane charters

tours and travel business ideas

For tour guides looking at how to run a charter boat business , it’s a great idea to promote the destination as well as the charter experience itself as the two go hand in hand.

A great charter experience is almost always about the escape from the everyday. It’s something guests are willing to splurge on, so be sure to consider ways you can elevate the experience. You can achieve this by offering optional extras and added services. If you are wondering how to sell tour packages with your charter service, extra bonuses like drink options, catering, entertainment, and DJs can help to boost your revenue.

6. Luxury vacation operators & Travel agency business

Guests love Luxury Vacations because they are money-rich but time-poor. They want to draw on the experience and expertise of their trusted travel agent or operator to discover the finest travel arrangements, boutique properties & off-the-beaten-track destinations. However, they may not have the time to research the thousands of options available to them. And because they may well only visit these destinations only once in their life and want to be sure they get the greatest possible experience. They’ll want the security of knowing they will be well looked after whilst visiting far-off countries with different languages and customs with which they are not familiar.

A great example of one such Luxury Vacation Operator is  The Luxury Peru Travel Company . Their services provide guests with a chance to discover one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Machu Picchu – in absolute luxury.

Building your tours and travels business ideas in the tour operator industry

If you have a brilliant business idea in mind, then you may be raring to put the wheels in motion. There will be a few things to think about as you build out your business idea, such as finding the best name for your business , developing your business plan , and deciding how you’ll take bookings securely online with real-time availability. One big advantage in the tourism industry is also the ability to partner with resellers , distributors, and other tourism and travel businesses to grow your bookings faster.

Rezdy supports you with both online bookings and a distribution platform  developed specifically for the experiences industry. We’re also here to support you as you start your business – simply register for your free 21-day trial or book a demo with the Rezdy team to see how we can help your business.

You can also explore our Resources section to find industry-specific guides across business operations, marketing, and more, with a range of free ebooks available to help you save time and increase your bookings. If you enjoyed this article – 35+ tours and travels business ideas – then make sure to follow the Rezdy blog . There are a lot of marketing tools and tour operator tips designed with businesses like yours in mind.

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TechBullion

TechBullion

Tech trends in eco-tourism: discover the top tools making travel more sustainable.

travel and tourism activities

As the world becomes more conscious of our impact on the environment, eco-tourism is quickly gaining popularity. With advancements in technology, travelers now have access to tools that not only make their journeys more convenient but also help them reduce their carbon footprint. In this blog post, we’ll explore the top tech trends revolutionizing eco-tourism and making sustainable travel more accessible than ever before. From apps that help you find green accommodations to gadgets that track your energy usage, get ready to discover a whole new way to explore the world while protecting its precious resources.

The growing trend of sustainable tourism

Welcome to the era where travel meets sustainability – a time when eco-tourism is not just a trend but a conscious choice. As travelers become more environmentally aware, technology plays a pivotal role in reshaping the way we explore the world. Join us on an exciting journey as we delve into the top tech trends revolutionizing sustainable tourism and discover how innovation is paving the way for greener adventures ahead.

Importance of technology in promoting eco-tourism

Eco-tourism is more than just a trend; it’s a mindset shift towards sustainable travel practices. Technology plays a crucial role in promoting this movement by offering innovative solutions to reduce the environmental impact of tourism.

From electric vehicles and biofuel-powered planes to bike-sharing programs, technology is revolutionizing transportation options for eco-conscious travelers. These advancements not only lower carbon emissions but also provide unique and eco-friendly ways to explore destinations.

In the realm of accommodation, smart technologies are being used to minimize energy consumption and water usage in hotels and lodges. Waste management systems powered by AI help businesses optimize recycling processes, reducing their ecological footprint significantly.

Apps and online platforms are now available to guide travelers towards sustainable attractions and experiences. Whether it’s choosing eco-friendly tours or supporting local conservation efforts, these tools empower tourists to make responsible choices during their adventures.

Innovations in eco-friendly transportation

As the world shifts towards more sustainable practices, eco-friendly transportation innovations are playing a crucial role in shaping the future of travel. Electric vehicles are gaining popularity for their low carbon emissions and energy efficiency. Companies like Tesla and Nissan have been leading the way in developing electric cars that make exploring new destinations cleaner and greener.

In addition to electric vehicles, advancements in public transportation systems are also contributing to reducing the environmental impact of travel. High-speed trains, buses powered by renewable energy sources, and bike-sharing programs are making it easier for travelers to move around while minimizing their carbon footprint.

Furthermore, initiatives such as carpooling apps and ridesharing services like UberPool enable travelers to share rides with others heading in the same direction. This not only reduces traffic congestion but also decreases emissions from multiple individual vehicles on the road.

Tools for responsible accommodation and waste management

Sustainable accommodation options are becoming increasingly popular among eco-conscious travelers. From eco-lodges to green hotels, there are various tools available to help travelers make responsible choices when it comes to where they stay during their trips.

Many accommodations now implement energy-efficient practices such as using solar panels or LED lighting to reduce their environmental impact. Some properties also utilize smart technology for monitoring and managing water consumption and waste production, ensuring a more sustainable operation.

In addition, waste management solutions like recycling programs and composting initiatives are being embraced by many eco-friendly accommodations. These tools not only help reduce the carbon footprint of travelers but also contribute to the preservation of natural resources in destinations around the world.

Apps for promoting sustainable attractions and experiences

In the era of eco-tourism, technology plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable attractions and experiences. Apps are emerging as powerful tools to connect travelers with environmentally conscious activities and destinations. These innovative applications provide valuable information about eco-friendly tours, wildlife sanctuaries, organic farms, and community-based projects.

By utilizing these apps, travelers can easily discover off-the-beaten-path gems that prioritize environmental conservation and cultural preservation. From guided nature walks to volunteering opportunities, these platforms enable users to engage in meaningful experiences that benefit local communities and ecosystems. Moreover, some apps offer interactive maps highlighting green hotels, eco-conscious restaurants, and renewable energy initiatives.

With just a few taps on their smartphones, adventurers can access a wealth of resources to make informed decisions that align with their values of sustainability. Whether seeking ethically responsible adventures or immersive cultural exchanges, these apps empower individuals to curate memorable trips while minimizing their environmental impact.

Future possibilities and developments in travel tech for eco-tourism

As the travel industry continues to embrace sustainability, the future looks promising with advancements in travel tech for eco-tourism. Imagine a world where electric autonomous vehicles shuttle tourists through national parks, minimizing carbon emissions and wildlife disturbance. Drones equipped with AI could monitor remote conservation areas, helping protect endangered species from poaching and habitat destruction.

Virtual reality experiences might allow travelers to explore fragile ecosystems without physically impacting them, promoting awareness and appreciation for nature from afar. Smart hotel rooms powered by renewable energy sources could automatically adjust temperature and lighting based on occupancy, reducing energy waste significantly. Blockchain technology may revolutionize transparent supply chains for sustainable souvenirs, ensuring ethical sourcing and fair trade practices.

The possibilities are endless as innovation paves the way for more responsible and immersive eco-travel experiences in the years to come.

As travelers become increasingly conscious of their carbon footprint and seek authentic eco-friendly experiences, the integration of tech solutions in the tourism industry will continue to drive positive change towards a more sustainable future. By leveraging these travel tech innovations in sustainable tourism, we can all contribute to preserving our planet’s natural beauty for generations to come. So, let’s embrace these tools and embark on journeys that not only enrich our lives but also protect the destinations we love to explore.

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The sea in the background and some collapsed buildings nearby with a huge ravine torn through the middle

Extreme weather in South Africa is disrupting tourism – research tracks the impact on coastal areas

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Faculty of Human Sciences Acting Research Professor, Vaal University of Technology

Disclosure statement

Kaitano Dube receives funding from National Research Foundation

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South Africa has experienced some extreme weather events in recent months. These have included floods and an uncommon tornado in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, floods in the Eastern Cape and mid-latitude cyclones in the Western Cape. Kaitano Dube, a human geographer who has researched tourism, extreme weather and resilience to climatic threats, says these severe storms are set to disrupt tourism.

Is climate change affecting tourism in South Africa?

The increase in carbon emissions has caused a rise in global temperature, a key driver of climate change. In the past two years, and 2024 in particular , temperatures have reached record highs . The number and severity of extreme weather events and associated damage and losses from these have increased worldwide.

Human-induced climate change and climate variability have played a part in the increase in these extreme weather events . In southern Africa and South Africa, the coastal areas have borne the brunt of extreme weather events.

Coastal tourism has been hard hit by sea storms, tropical cyclones, heatwaves, rising sea levels, rough seas, cut-off lows , wildfires, coastal and fluvial flooding (where rivers burst their banks). The increased intensity of tropical and mid-latitude cyclones (intense rainfall, wind and high tides) has caused severe damage to coastal tourism infrastructure in South Africa’s coastal provinces, which are a hub for tourism.

The KwaZulu-Natal floods in April 2022 , which were worsened by climate change , killed 435 people and were the most catastrophic ever in that province. Again in April 2024, floods in KwaZulu-Natal destroyed holiday homes, beaches and tourism infrastructure, turning holiday destinations into disaster areas.

What economic losses has extreme weather caused in the tourism sector?

The damage from extreme weather events has been costly to guest houses, tourists, hotels and businesses operating adventure activities. There have been losses in economic potential and revenue for small and big cities.

The 2022 floods in KwaZulu-Natal caused an estimated R7 billion worth of damage (US$387 million) to 826 companies, many of these tourism ventures. They also disrupted operations at King Shaka International Airport, which is a key tourism resource.

A destroyed house and car after being hit by a tornado

In June 2024, a tornado and cut-off lows (isolated wells of cold air in the upper atmosphere which tend to move slowly, often dropping large amounts of rainfall in one place) again destroyed holiday homes in KwaZulu-Natal. The weather also disrupted air traffic between Durban’s local and international airports, resulting in domestic and international flights being diverted . This is quite costly.

The port of Durban has experienced damage from floods, disrupting cruise ships and yachts. The port of Cape Town is equally vulnerable to extreme gusty winds , which play havoc with cruise ships, yachts and ferries, including those to Robben Island , a major tourism hub.

Extreme weather has also affected inland provinces such as Mpumalanga, affecting one of Africa’s largest game reserves, the nearly two million hectare Kruger National Park . Droughts are a cause for concern. Floods are increasing in these parks, devastating tourism infrastructure like camps, roads, bridges and picnic sites.

Read more: Climate change could leave South African tourism high and dry

My research has found that there are more than nine flood hotspots in Mapungubwe National Park . Almost all flooding events there are linked to extreme weather events. Mapungubwe is also a world heritage site of immense historical importance , as the site of the largest indigenous African kingdom in southern Africa between 1200 and 1290 AD.

Sea level rise and tides are another critical threat to coastal tourism. There is a strong relationship between what happens in the atmosphere and what happens in the ocean. Fronts, cyclones and storms that affect the west and eastern coastline of the country are a major trigger for high, damaging and disruptive tides.

Cut-off lows are equally notorious for triggering sea storm surges, which can trigger coastal flooding in low-lying areas. Spring tides combined with climate change have also been problematic recently: they’ve caused catastrophic damage to coastal facilities, and dangerous rogue waves (abnormally large waves).

My research on the effects of the rising sea levels on coastal national parks has found that the most vulnerable coastal park is the Garden Route National Park on the Indian Ocean side of South Africa. Properties in the Tsitsikamma National Park , part of the Garden Route National Park, are in perpetual danger from rising sea levels and surges. Parts of the park have been flooded by gushing water from the ocean during high spring tide episodes.

The Knysna area of the Garden Route, followed by the Cape Point section of Table Mountain in Cape Town, will experience a one metre rise in sea level around 2100. Sea level rise is a threat to infrastructure, heritage, beaches, tourism employees and tourist safety.

Fire and increased frequency of heat waves are also a risk to several tourism destinations along the coast. The national parks that are most vulnerable to increased incidences of fire include Table Mountain National Park and the Garden Route National Park.

What can be done to prevent this damage to tourism?

There is a need to revisit development plans for tourism infrastructure along the coastline. Infrastructure needs to be stronger and more adaptable . There may also need to be a retreat from high-risk areas to reduce damage and loss.

Infrastructure and buildings must be designed for climate resilience, especially in areas prone to flooding. Urban planners must take into account calculations of the maximum probable floods for specific areas. Building codes have to be adjusted to respond to new climate scenarios.

These adaptation measures must be supported by a robust early warning system to reduce losses. Appropriate disaster and business insurance must be set up to ensure that tourism businesses can recover from climate disasters. This has to be backed by progressive policies and technology that are aimed at building climate change resilience.

  • Climate change adaptation
  • Extreme weather
  • Sea level rise
  • Coastal erosion
  • Climate crisis
  • Climate resilience
  • Climate solutions

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Draft of Goa Tourism Bill now open for public vote

Times of India TIMESOFINDIA.COM / Created : Jul 9, 2024, 14:34 IST

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The Goa Tourism Promotion and Management Bill, 2024, available for public comments until mid-July, targets illegal activities, sustainability, and employment. Minister Rohan A. Khaunte highlights 27 committees, tourism clusters, a … Read more

The Goa Tourism Promotion and Management Bill, 2024, available for public comments until mid-July, targets illegal activities, sustainability, and employment. Minister Rohan A. Khaunte highlights 27 committees, tourism clusters, and stakeholder transparency via presentations. Developed over 18 months with TTAG, it seeks constructive collaboration to prevent revenue losses, ensuring inclusivity and enhancing Goa's tourism and economy. Read less

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Draft of Goa Tourism Bill now open for public vote

The Goa Tourism Promotion and Management Bill, 2024, available for public comments until mid-July, targets illegal activities, sustainability, and employment. Minister Rohan A. Khaunte highlights 27 c...

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  16. Tourism

    Tourism as a socio-economic phenomenon comprises the activities and experiences of tourists and visitors away from their home environment and are serviced by the travel and tourism industry and host destination.

  17. Travel and tourism activities for students

    There are many benefits to travel and tourism activities for students. By engaging in these activities, students can learn about new cultures and customs, develop their language skills, and better understand the world around them. In addition, tourism can be an excellent way for students to bond with their classmates and build lasting ...

  18. U.S. Travel Association

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  19. Travel Destinations A-Z: Find Destinations by Letter

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  20. Five most popular tourist activities in first half of 2021

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  21. ESL Holiday and Travel Lesson: Games, Activities, Lesson Plans

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  23. 35+ creative travels and tour ideas for your tourism business

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  24. Copenhagen to reward eco-friendly tourists with free food and tours

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  25. Tech Trends in Eco-Tourism: Discover the Top Tools Making Travel More

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  26. Extreme weather in South Africa is disrupting tourism

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