If you’re like me, you’re a little bit broke after the holidays. January and February are the best months to boost your savings and start planning (and booking!) your travel plans for the year! I’ve rounded up a few outdoorsy destinations for all you casual hikers out there.
You might be a Casual Hiker if….
… you don’t want a hike to take up your whole day … you have new restaurants to try!
… you want to see sights that don’t involve man-made things … as much as you love history and museums, some of the best things were made by nature!
… you like getting off the beaten path off and into nature … those adventurous instagram shots aren’t going to post themselves!
… you love watching the wildlife and seeing new kinds of plants … as long as the wildlife isn’t dangerous…right?…RIGHT?!
The joys of casual hiking
Incorporating some physical activity into your traveling, especially hiking, is a great way to keep in shape while on the road. It’s also a perfect excuse to get out of the main city-hubs and explore the country a little deeper, and experience the nature and wildlife of a new place.
While you might not want to go all-in for an all-day hiking expedition, it’s always exciting to stumble upon short casual hikes while out in the country side, or knowing about hikes that are close to city, so you don’t need to rent a car to get to the trailhead.
Hiking is also a free activity for us frugal folks. 😉
With these criteria in mind, I’ve rounded up 5 Outdoorsy Destinations for Casual Hikers for you to explore this year.
1. Western Canada
This country is known for its stunning natural beauty, and there is a good reason for this. The second largest country by total area (the first place is taken by Russia), Canada is a destination where you can find untouched landscapes and dream-like scenery in the pristine national parks. Due to its vastness, it would be impossible to explore all of it in one go, so if you’re looking for the ultimate outdoorsy experience, head to western Canada. The largest city in Alberta is Calgary and can be a great home-based for your explorations to Jasper and Banff National Parks. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, Calgary is, for the most part, dry and sunny. Summers tend to be hot, and winters, of course, can be extremely cold … with temperatures having reached -30 degrees Celsius on some occasions. Don’t let this put you off this beautiful city, however, as this destination offers a unique visitor experience, with the region boasting one of the most vibrant theatre scenes in the country. A stay at the Residence Inn Calgary South will help you enjoy the city in style.
2. Spain / Catalonia
Spain is known for its beautiful sunny weather and colorful culture. Its relaxed lifestyle and the unique spirit of the people who live in Spain will make you fall in love with the country as soon as you set foot in it. The country with the third-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and its buildings and architecture will also blow you away. A visit to Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia is a must before you head out on the world famous Camino de Santiago – there is a trailhead in Barcelona so you can explore the city and begin your backwoods adventure! It’s a circular trail so you can also head to the rest of the city afterward for more surprises.
Iceland’s unique and remote landscapes are unmatched. This mountainous island in the North Atlantic is full of deserted, majestic places that are simply awe-inspiring. In the summer, the sun never entirely sets, and in the winter, days are short but the season offers the opportunity to see the Northern Lights if you travel far away enough from the brightness of cities.
While the capital city, Reykjavik offers culture, food and all the bustle of a modern city, the real treasures of Iceland are off the beaten path. If you take the Ring Road, you’ll find adventures around every turn. Even in the winter, the outdoors is the best place to truly experience all that Iceland has to offer. You can also take an Aurora tour and see the northern lights: this guide will give you an idea of what to expect.
4. The Azores
The Azores are a beautiful archipelago of 9 tiny Portuguese Islands in the middle of the Atlantic. With direct flights from New England beginning in 2016, it’s an easy sub-tropical destination. Hiking and beautiful views are EVERYWHERE in the Azores. Just get into your tiny car and drive around, you’ll stumble upon dozens of well marked trails and miraduoros that lead to beautiful vistas.
5. American Southwest
The Southwestern United States has a landscape all its own. With many national parks all within a days’ drive, you can see them all within a short period of time. The hiking in the southwest area is world-class and the unique terrain offers hikers a variety of experiences. From Bryce Canyon and Antelope Canyon, to Moab, Sedona and the Grand Canyon, there is no shortage of incredible things to see and do outdoors. Just remember to bring a camelback for extra hydration as the hot arid climate can easy overtake you when you’re outside for a long time.
Where is your favorite outdoorsy destination for casual hiking? Let us know in the comments below!
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