Whether it’s 1860 steps up the Empire State Building or 600 to climb the Eiffel Tower, there’s a tonne of holiday hotspots that provide a challenge to your cardio fitness. Emma Reynolds has found them – so you can have that extra croissant/Guinness [insert local indulgence here]
This past week I took Paris by storm and went on a sightseeing adventure throughout the city crunched in less than two days. The result? Aching feet and throbbing calves. I soon realized that sightseeing is just as much of a workout as it is a cultural experience. Whether you are walking up flights of stairs on the Arc du Triomphe or strolling next to the Seine River in Paris at night, you won’t even realize how much great exercise you are getting in. It got me thinking that maybe we just think we’re being indulgent on holidays because of an extra croissant or two, but really – all those steps and stairs could mean we can indulge and not worry!
1) Arc du Triomphe, Paris, France:
Located on the Champs-Elysees, the Arc du Triomphe is a must-see destination in Paris. I had no idea until my recent trip that you could go to the top of the Arc and get a breathtaking view of the entire city of Paris. I also didn’t realize that you basically had to run a marathon to get to the top. Although there is an elevator to mid-level, tourists can choose to walk the 284 stairs to the tip-top of the Arc via a windy, spiral staircase that makes you feel like you’re in Alice in Wonderland. (By five minutes in, I was sweating through my coat and slightly out of breath). Yet, the view was completely worth every step… and luckily I got to burn off the pain au chocolat I had for breakfast that morning.
2) Eiffel Tower, Paris, France:
Want to beat the line for the Eiffel Tower next time you’re in Paris? Take the stairs! Although I’m afraid of heights, I braved the stairs to the second story of the Eiffel Tower, but not without nervous sweats and shaky hands. I was so taken aback by the view that I didn’t even realize I walked over 600 stairs. There are 1,665 steps total, but the second floor to the tip top of the tower are usually closed to the public. Even so, this walk to the top was quite the workout.
3) Cliffs of Moher, Ireland:
One of the most gorgeous views in Europe (or the world) the Cliffs of Moher are a staple if you’re visiting Ireland. Even better? What an awesome workout. Hike up to the cliffs and walk around them to get a workout in while taking in all of its natural beauty. If you really are up for a challenge, do a coastal walk along the Irish coast which covers the Cliffs of Moher all the way up to Doolin throughout the county of Clare. This is a remote and challenging trail, but totally worth the view.
4) Gaudi’s Parc Guell, Barcelona, Spain:
Some of Barcelona’s most sought after tourist attractions are Gaudi’s architecture, including Parc Guell. Not only does Parc Guell have arguably the greatest view of this historical city, but it also requires quite the workout to get there. If coming from the Vallorca metro station, the walk to Parc Guell consists of numerous stairs lined with cafes and shops, as well as an uphill dirt path to reach the cross on the very top of the hill. Tip: Don’t wear sandals (like me)… your feet will thank you!
5) The Duomo in Florence, Italy:
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (nicknamed the Duomo) is the cathedral of Florence, Italy and is the largest masonry dome ever built. Fortunately for some, unfortunately for others, it’s one of the most physically challenging activities in all of Florence. The Duomo provides a fantastic view of all of Florence, and if you’re wanting to complete the experience, climb to the top of the cupola. There are well over 500 stairs to climb up!
6) Hike from capital city Fira to village Oia, Santorini, Greece:
This 11km hike follows the country along a cliff-top trail that takes more than a few hours to complete. You’ll get to see the deep blue caldera and the pumice islets Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni. Begin the walk at around noon and you’ll get to the end by sunset. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and plenty of water for the journey!
6) Walking to the Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic:
For a sightseeing workout, ditch the tram and walk the hill up to the Prague castle. The medieval castle, Prague’s number one tourist destination, is also the home and office of the President of the Czech Republic. Walk up to the Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge for about a 30-minute hike. On the walk, you’ll be surrounded by courtyards of the castle.
8) St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England:
Whether you live in London or not, St. Paul’s Cathedral is a place that everyone who visits London should come. Walk 528 steps to the very top of St. Paul’s Cathedral for a panoramic view of London overlooking the Thames. The trek up to the top is more than worth the view, especially on a sunny day.
9) The Shard, London, England:
Europe’s tallest building, standing at 310m high and complete with almost 3,000 stairs is sure to give you the most spectacular view of London… and boost your bum along the way. Visitors can visit the 69th floor for a 360 degree view, or an open-air view on the 72nd floor, for £24.95. Although the public won’t have access to every single set of stairs, but it’s no doubt that anyone who climbs even halfway to the top of the building has their workout in for the entire week.
10) Empire State Building, New York City:
If you ever have an empire state of mind, make your way to the Big Apple. There are 102 floors and 1,860 steps that make up the entire building. The building hosts an annual competition to see who can make it to the 86th floor observatory the quickest (1,576 steps). If you ever feel a desire to beat the current record of nine minutes and 33 seconds, visit New York this time of year and get rewarded with breathtaking views of the city – day or night!
11) Inca Trail at Machu Picchu, Peru:
This activity is not for the weary traveler! Although not everyone climbs all 2,430m to the top of Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail is the most authentic way to hike Machu Picchu. There are two ways to hike Machu Picchu, both under guided supervision: one requires an intense 4-day/3-night hike with a few serious mountain passes, or a 2-day/1-night trail (or even a 1-day trek if you aren’t feeling the overnight thing). Independent trail hiking has been banned since 2001, but small, private groups can go separately by paying a higher price. Be prepared to eat and drink more than normal because spending even a day hiking in the mountains is extremely rigorous.
12) Edinburgh Volcano Hike, Edinburgh, Scotland:
At 251m high sits a dormant volcano in Holyrood Park that overlooks all of the beautiful Edinburgh. At the top of this two to three hour climb you can see views of the city, the ocean, and get a chance to see the rocky, Arthur’s Seat, the highest peak of the Arthur’s Seat Volcano. Begin at the Dunsapie Loch and make your way to the summit, but remember to bring hiking boots, as the climb is often rocky and muddy. Hint: This hike may be only for the adventurous, especially in smoggy weather!
13) Smuggler’s Trail, Spain:
Ride horses and camp along trails in the Catalonia region in Spain? Sign us up! This week-long adventure is like none other, as you ride horses through old smugglers paths, see the Pyrenean Mountains, see the wooded hills of Garrotxa, as well as old castles, churches and villages. The smugglers path runs between France and Spain
14) Harbour Bridge Climb, Sydney, Australia:
The Bridge Climb takes 3.5 hours and participants get the chance to climb 1,332 steps at 134m above the water on the Harbour Bridge. At the top of the summit, you’ll get spectacular views of Port Jackson, the Opera house and the rest of Sydney for a unique way to view Australia’s most iconic city. The climb is available at dawn, during the day and at twilight and there is truly no bad time of day to join in this adventurous activity.
15) Grand Canyon, Arizona:
The Grand Canyon is 446km long and 29km wide. Needless to say, if you visit the Grand Canyon it is probably best to join a tour group, or do some serious research. This destination in the dry, hot desert of Arizona is a must-see for visitors who want to see the utmost beauty of the US. The South Rim is ideal for family hikes, while the North Rim is ideal for couples and those seeking a quieter place to enjoy a nice hike and beautiful sunset. There are options for camping, seeing Native American reservations and also scaling the canyon walls. How intense you want your adventure to be is entirely up to you!
16) Yosemite’s Grand Traverse Trail, California:
Ranked as one of the World’s Top 15 Trails by National Geographic, this 60-mile route travels through some of Yosemite’s most iconic regions. Highlights include seeing the Half Dome, Isberg Pass, the John Muir Trail and Cathedral Peak. Some of the country’s most remote and untouched natural land are located in the heart of Yosemite’s Grand Traverse Trail.
17) Ancient City Walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia:
The Ancient City Walls, or the Walls of Dubrovnik in Croatia provide views of the city and sea from a different perspective. The walls were used in ancient times as protection during times of war. The walls are also located along the gorgeous coast of the Adriatic Sea. Bring comfy walking shoes and expect to be walking around the castle for a few hours to get the complete experience.
18) Monuments and memorials in Washington D.C:
As the center of American history is located in the heart of Washington D.C., there are almost too many memorials to name. Spend a weekend touring the Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the White House or stroll along the tidal basin to burn a ton of calories. Just walking around and touring the museum you won’t even realize how great of a workout you’re getting in. Spending a weekend in America’s iconic capital is a sure way to stay on the move.
19) Interlaken, Switzerland:
Easily one of the most gorgeous views in all of Europe, you’ll never want to stop walking around Interlaken. It is a small city in the Bernese Highland Region in central Switzerland. As a popular place for outdoor sports and travel, many also come here for a quiet weekend to relax. For an awesome view, hike Harder Mountain and Schynige Platte. You can also go paragliding, bungee jumping, skydiving, rafting and rock climbing. There are also boat trips traveling the Thunersee and Lake Brienz, the famous turquoise-colored lake.
20) Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany:
Located in Bavaria, this romantic-styled castle is located atop a hill overlooking the entire city of Fussen. The castle sits at 1,008m and is known as Germany’s ‘fairytale’ castle, built by King Ludwig II. This castle actually inspired Walt Disney’s ‘Magic Kingdom.’ Tour the castle and see how Germany’s 19th-century royals lived, as well as climb uphill to the castle and up the steps to the very top for a panoramic view of Fussen.
21) Lagos, Portugal:
Am I looking at photos of Cabo San Lucas or Lagos Portugal? This beach side town has what any vacation spot would: the option to relax with drinks on the beach, or see more of the coastline via boating cruises, surfing, windsurfing or kayaking. There are plenty of day trips traveling on top of the clear, turquoise water. If you are heading to Lagos and want to burn off a few fruity margaritas, spend a day doing water sports like kayaking with a friend, or for an intense full-body workout, learn how to surf. There’s even mountain biking, sea fishing and wake boarding.
Or if you want something a little more local, head over to the Healthista towers where it takes about a 75 stairs to get to our office space (and we do that multiple times a day!)
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