Just when we thought it was safe to travel again, Omicron arrived. I seem to have spent more time making and cancelling travel plans in the past few months than I’d care to admit. While the coast is far from clear, it seems like carpe diem should be the order of the day. Now is the time to book and take that bucket list trip you’ve been promising yourself. Looking for ideas for a classic trip? Here are five to get you started.
Cinque Terre & Tuscany
Both Cinque Terre and Tuscany have been among the most popular destinations in Italy for ages, and they still remain high on the wish list of many travelers. The Cinque Terre & Tuscany Walking & Hiking Tour trip from Backroads explores Cinque Terre’s majestic coastline, a World Heritage site, as well as Chianti’s quintessential Tuscan villages, vineyards and cypress-flanked lanes. There are the steep walks in the Cinque Terre villages to look forward to as well as hiking through the medieval Chianti villages of Greve in Chianti, Panzano and Montefioralle. If you’ve been pining for a glass of Chianti Classico and some time on the Italian coast, this one’s for you. This six-day trip has an activity level of 1-4 (on a scale of 1-5). From $3,999, per person, based on double occupancy (as are all trips mentioned here).
Anyone who has read Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia learns that this wild area at the tip of South America that straddles Argentina and Chile is one of the most remote and beautiful places on the face of the earth. Wilderness Travel is offering In Patagonia this year, a 16-day trip that includes day hikes in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, Chile’s Paine National Park, and Tierra del Fuego, which is literally at “the ends of the Earth.” It’s a trip that combines mountains, glaciers, and the southernmost penguin rookeries in the world, with stays at estancias and historic lodges. The difficulty level is 4 out of 6. From $9,595.
The Mont Blanc Circuit
Of all the hikes you could do in Europe, the one around the Mont Blanc Circuit is one of the most famous and arguably the most scenic. Country Walkers is one of a number of companies that makes a guided version possible. Their France, Italy & Switzerland: The Mont Blanc Circuit is a nine-day trip that’s considered “challenging,” with 7 to 11 miles of daily hiking. Starting in France, traveling into Italy and then Switzerland, before returning to France, the trip roughly encircles 15,781-foot Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak. Starting in Chamonix, the heart of Alpine culture, you continue to the Italian mountain resort of Courmayeur, dine on Savoyard cuisine, and enjoy scenery that ranges from glacier to thick forests, Swiss mountain lakes and the famous needles, or peaks that surround Mt. Blanc. From $4,998.
The legendary lost citadel of Machu Picchu is on many travel bucket lists and the Peru Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu Hiking from MT Sobek is an eight-day trip that allows you to see the best of Peru, with dramatic hikes through Andean valleys and plateaus and a chance to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cusco. There’s a classic train ride up the narrowing gorge of the Urubamba River and a half day spent hiking up the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, followed by a full day to explore the ruins of the lost city of the Incas. Accommodation includes a stay at the famed Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba-Sacred Valley. The trip is rate level 3 out of 5. From $3,995.
Camino de Santiago
You’ll need to be in good shape and devote more than a month to walk the 500 mile Camino de Santiago in Spain, Europe’s most famous pilgrimage path. Walkers typically spend the night at refugios or hostels along the way. Or you could do an abbreviated version of the walk with a company like Butterfield & Robinson. Their Camino de Santiago Walking trip is just six days, a truncated but luxury version of the route that focuses on highlights like Roman sites, mountain villages, and Galicia’s amazing coastline, with van transfers in between. Accommodations are in a former palace and in two paradors, like the five-star Parador de Santiago de Compostela. It’s an upscale version of the pilgrimage trail. Rated level 3 out of 5. From $4,495.