A few years ago, a vacation might have been synonymous with sitting by the beach and sipping a refreshing cocktail. And while that’s always a welcomed break, these days more people are gearing up for getaways filled with equally epic and active adventures. So to inspire a little wanderlust and a lot more movement for your next trip, we rounded up the top countries perfect for fit travel. Learn about the workout culture of these amazing places, then start packing. You won’t want to miss these sporty, bucket list-worthy spots.
10 Countries Fit Travel Fans Will Love
What to do: Hike
History speaks for Greece’s athletic-inspiring atmosphere: The Olympics started here, plus it’s the birthplace of the marathon. It’s easy to stick to the tourist-heavy islands of Santorini and Mykonos — both of which have great fit offerings, like hiking along amazing coastlines or doing water sports such as sea kayaking, windsurfing or straight up swimming. But you also don’t want to ignore the smaller Greek islands. Tinos and Naxos, for example, offer unique hiking trails with super scenic views. The trail to Xombourgo in Tinos offers granite mountaintop overlooks. And Summitting Mount Zas (aka Mount Zeus) in Naxos is a must-do thanks to its high peaks that let you see the Greek seas for miles and miles.
Where to stay: Sign up for REI Adventures Greek Island Hopper package and your guide will handle travel from city to city, hotel stays in each town, and meals while you explore Athens, Santorini, Tinos and Naxos by land and sea.
What to do: Scuba dive
Water and wine lovers, Croatia is the country for you. A winery in Drače, a town nestled about an hour north of Dubrovnik, has become the world’s first underwater winery. Edivo Vina stores their vino in the Adriatic Sea, and visitors can to dive with staffers to grab a bottle to then down with dinner. Bonus: On your venture to the depths of the sea, you’ll swim by an old sunken boat at the bottom of the Mali Ston Bay. Cool deep-sea dives, breathing-taking underwater sights and some seriously delicious sips? Sounds like the perfect way to de-stress.
What to do: Walk everywhere
Everyone wonders how the French stay so fit, given the abundance of bread, cheese and wine. The answer: They walk more than the average American does. U.S. folk tend to average about 5,815 daily steps, whereas the French walk an average of 6,330. So if you’re visiting the City of Light, make like a Parisian and walk your way to the must-see attractions. (An alternative mode of transport: Rent bikes and ride from point to point, around the Palace of Versailles, including Marie Antoinette’s Estate.) When you’re craving a heavier dose of sweat, sign up for an hour-long Urban Bootcamp at Midtown Studio. Coaches lead the class in both English and French, so NBD if the only French you speak is ‘bonjour.’
Where to stay: Hôtel Plaza Athénée, which offers a pillow and mattress menu meant to help you relax more, courtesy of the soothing materials in the fabrics. No plans for New Years yet? Book a stay here until January 9 and you also get access to a private ice rink.
What to do: All the water sports
The Land Down Under offers so many fit activities, it’s nearly impossible to highlight them all (not to mention fit them all in your itinerary). But if we had to choose the can’t-miss adventures, we’d suggest signing up for snorkeling in Lord Howe Island (a World Heritage site that’s insanely gorgeous) and kiteboarding in Noosa, one of the top spots to catch wind-lead waves. And the biggest bucket-list item: Swimming with humpback whales on the Queensland Coast. It doesn’t get more memorable than that.
Where to stay: Kewarra Beach Resort & Spa, which offers sand-side accommodations situated between the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest of North Queensland.
5. New Zealand
What to do: Surf and bungee
New Zealand practically begs for fitness addicts to visit, with their more than 9,000 miles of coastline ready for exploration. It’s a world-class surfing destination, so your top priority should be riding waves. Raglan is great for both pro and newbie surfers, thanks to its consistent conditions and multiple surf spots to choose from, based on your experience level. More of an adrenaline junkie? You can always bungee jump off Kawaru Bridge, the birthplace of commercial bungee jumping and the only place in Queenstown where you can bungee in tandem. (Just be sure to dip your toes into the jaw-droppingly beautiful turquoise waters at the bottom when you’re done.)
Where to stay: This Rustic Treehouse Overlooking the Ocean, which will make you feel like you have the whole coastline to yourself.
What to do: Dance
While Brazil has a strong sports tradition (hello, futbol!), it’s also known for dance. The most well-known options: Samba and capoeira. The latter is a martial arts practice infused with elements of dance and acrobatics. Many times, you can find street performers demonstrating how it’s done in Salvador, the cultural epicenter for capoeira. Take a class from Mestre Curio’s Escola de Capoeira Angola, then catch a performance from the Balé Folclórico da Bahia pros.
If you’re looking to try a newer dance form, look for a Zouk class in São Paulo. Full warning: It’s a sensual partner dance that requires almost full-body contact, so make sure you bring someone you’re comfortable moving with. The dance style has a very improvisational feel, and by the end you’ll have engaged every muscle for a full-body workout.
Where to stay: La Villa Bahia in Salvador, complete with a roof-top terrace, pool and delicious cuisine (and coffee!). Stay at Pullman Sao Paulo Ibirapuera Hotel in São Paulo for access to the main urban park next door, a full fitness facility and in-room workout programs, designed by ambassador and instructor Sarah Hoey.
What to do: Hike and ski
Mountains, mountains, mountains — that’s what you’ll find no matter where you look, and it’s the main reason the Swiss are in such good shape. No matter when you visit, take advantage of the majestic peaks that provide more than 40,000 miles of marked hiking trails. (The Aletsch Arena comes highly recommended thanks to the views of the Great Aletsch Glacier.) And the skiing — well, everyone knows how baller that is. One of the most iconic spots is St. Moritz, often called the ski resort “on top of the world.” It’s been open since 1864, has hosted the Winter Olympics twice (1928 and 1948), and was featured in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. With 56 lifts, 88 runs (more than 200 miles) and day passes for about $80, you’ll have plenty of entertainment.
Where to stay: Stay connected with nature (and even wifi) at the Eggishorn Campsite, located right below the Aletsch area.
What to do: Hike
Of course, backpacking Machu Picchu is a no-brainer for adventure enthusiasts. But rather than rough it in tents while hiking along the Inca Trail, consider a lodge-to-lodge adventure. The Mountain Lodges of Peru offers the Salkantay stay, a seven-day journey across 15 different eco-systems on the trail. Along the way you’ll explore villages and mingle with the locals, and traverse mountain passes (some over 15,000 feet). At the end of each day, a cozy lodge, gourmet meal and soothing outdoor jacuzzi makes you way more comfortable — and helps you recover before the next day’s adventures.
Where to stay: Mountain Lodges of Peru Salkantay Trek, where you’ll be thankful for a comfy setting after long hikes.
What to do: Horseback ride
Ireland has strong ties to the equestrian world, so why not ride horseback for a workout? (If you think it’s not a workout, hop on a horse and see how sore your legs are the next day.) It’s also one of the best ways to explore the countryside. You can gallop along beaches, trot through trails, and maybe even try your hand at obstacles while you ride cross-country. Sign up for a day of lessons at the Birr Equestrian Centre — about a two-hour drive from Dublin — complete with clinics and cross-country treks for newbies and advanced riders.
Where to stay: Barberstown Castle, because when in Ireland, castles are the only way to go.
What to do: Water sports and ATVs
With a rugged mountain landscape on one side of the island, white sand beaches on the other, and constant trade winds throughout, Aruba — dubbed One Happy Island — is the perfect fit travel Caribbean destination. If life on the water is more your speed, those reliable winds make windsurfing and kitesurfing easy to pick up (you can take a lesson at Vela Aruba). More of a land adventurer? Rent an ATV through De Palm Tours and catch a thrill riding through Arikok National Park. A must-see spot: the Natural Pool, a shell-shaped basin surrounded by jagged lava rocks and the Caribbean sea. It’s the ideal place to hop off your joy ride and plunge into the turquoise water for a refreshing dip.
Where to stay: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, which offers daily workout classes — from tennis clinics and salsa classes to aqua Zumba and glow-in-the-dark basketball. Or sign up for the Wellness Retreat Package and score a healthy cooking class, private beach yoga session and credit to the Balinese-inspired spa.