From Nazareth to Hadrian’s Wall: 9 historical walking tours

May 25, 2020

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Editor’s note: At TPG, we paused travelling to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Local and national governments around the globe are now debating the appropriate levels of isolation and distancing. Before booking that next trip, we recommend you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions. TPG is continuing to publish deals, reviews and general travel news to inform and prepare you for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.

With lockdown limitations and travel restrictions extending throughout the summer and it being unclear when long-haul international travel will return, bucket list trips are on hold. However, it’s looking as though staycations and holidays to Europe may be on the cards. But if you fancy something more than just eating your way around a city or laying on a beach, we have you covered.

One idea is to take a trip back in time and surround yourself with historic venues, icons and walks. Stuck for inspiration other than the typical London landmarks? Below are our top places to walk into the past.

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1. Neuschwanstein Castle — Schwangau, Germany

Photo courtesy of Massimiliano Morosinotto on Unsplash
(Photo by Massimiliano Morosinotto/Unsplash)

In 1886 this was built for King Ludwig, known as the “Fairytale King”, as this style of Brothers Grimm-style architecture was a popular theme for castles in the 19th century. It even served as inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland and is now the most photographed building in Germany.

There’s the option of a guided tour around Neuschwanstein Castle where there are 14 rooms on view for visitors. A highlight is the throne room, which features a 13-foot tall chandelier. After the tour, spend time exploring the wooded trails around the castle.

Price: Entry is approximately 13 euros (£11.50).

How to get there? You will need to travel to the village of Hohenschwangau. The nearest airport is Innsbruck (INN) in Austria, which is one hour away by car.

2. The Old City Walls — Dubrovnik, Croatia

Photo courtesy of Cat Bassano on Unsplash
(Photo by Cat Bassano/Unsplash)

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will recognise Dubrovnik’s city walls easily, as it was the main filming location of King’s Landing, the fictional city in the series. It’s 1,940 metres long and has six fortresses. Walking down is a must and takes about two hours in total.

Construction began at the end of the 8th century and the walls were further strengthened in the 15th century due to threats from the Turks. There are entrances to the walls from near the Pile Gate, the Pločce Gate and the Maritime Museum. Enter the gate on the Pločce side so the steepest part of the wall is completed first.

Price: Entrance is approximately 29 euros (£25).

How to get there: The nearest airport is Dubrovnik Airport (DBV).

3. The Acropolis — Athens, Greece

Photo courtesy of Francesca Noemi Marconi on Unsplash
(Photo by Francesca Noemi Marconi/Unsplash)

Above the city of Athens, the Athenian Acropolis is the most famous Greek monumental complex that exists. It is home to the Parthenon, one of the most famous buildings in the world, which was built as a temple for the goddess Athena, the mythological patron of the city. Athens has many sites to see, so make this part of your walking tour and include a visit to the Acropolis museum. Make sure you read up on your Greek history to make the trip worth it.

Price: 20 euros (£18) which also includes entry for other sites.

How to get there: The nearest airport is Athens (ATH).

4. Plague Burial Sites — London, U.K.

Aerial photo of the City of London. Photo by Andrew Holt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew Holt/Getty Images)

If you remember your history lessons in school then you will remember the phrase “bring out your dead”. More than 100,000 people died from the Great Plague between 1665 and 1666 — which was 15% of the population at the time. That meant there had to be mass burials in dedicated plots around London. New sites are being discovered all the time, but some include St Paul’s Church, Stepney Mount, Vincent Square, Pesthouse Close (now Marshall Street Leisure Centre), Aldgate Underground station, Charterhouse Square and more.

There are many walking routes online with some locations included like the actual bakery location where the Great Fire of London started. There is even a tour called “Tales of the Plague and Pestilence” if you need help with some of the highlights.

Price: Free for a self-guided tour. Tales of the Plague and Pestilence costs £10.

How to get there: Fly to any of London’s airports.

5. Lübeck Trade Route — Lübeck, Germany

Photo courtesy of Moritz Kindler on Unsplash
(Photo courtesy of Moritz Kindler/Unsplash)

Known as the Old Salt Route, Lübeck was the hub for the transport of salt, which was very valuable in ancient times — the Romans were even paid in salt instead of money. Now you can enjoy a trip along the Old Salt Route, which include the historic towns of Lüneburg, Mölln and Lübeck. The 95-kilometre route is popular with keen cyclists and also goes through various small towns on the way. Make sure you check out the world-famous marzipan, too.

Price: Free

How to get there: A one-hour drive from Hamburg Airport (HAM).

6. Jesus Trail — Nazareth, Israel

Image courtesy of Dave Herring on Unsplash
(Photo by Dave Herring/Unsplash)

Want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus? The 65-kilometre Jesus trail starts in Nazareth and ends in Capernaum. You don’t need to be on a pilgrimage to do this hike — it’s for anyone who is interested in archaeology, history or nature. Hikers tend to split this walk over four days with about 15 kilometres hiking per day.

Although there is no archaeological evidence of where Jesus walked, there are places mentioned in biblical texts. If anything, the outstanding views do not disappoint on this trip.

Prices: Free to walk the park but self-guided tours with accommodation are approximately $1,000 (£822) per person.

How to get there: The nearest airport is Tel Aviv (TLV).

7. Mont Saint-Michel — Normandy, France

Photo courtesy of Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash
(Photo by of Alexandre Debiève/Unsplash)

Le Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most visited places in France and one of the most important pilgrimage destinations. Often it can look like it’s hovering above water, but in low tide, it’s surrounded with sand and allows visitors to walk around the perimeter. It’s also a small village, home to 44 inhabitants. And if you’re lucky, you will get a chance to sample an omelette from La Mère Poulard, which has been in operation since 1879.

It’s best to book a tour with a guide who has knowledge of the tides to keep you safe on your trip.

Price: Admission to the Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel is €10 (£9).

How to get there: Paris (CDG) then take a direct train to Rennes.

8. Giant’s Causeway — County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Giants Causeway in County Antrim, Ireland.
(Photo by Peter Unger/Getty Images)

The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s most famous landmark and a World Heritage Site. It’s famous from the mythical story that an Irish giant called Finn MacCool built the causeway to get to Scotland to battle with a rival giant called Benandonner. In fact, it was created six million years ago from a flow of basaltic lava, which cooled and formed distinct hexagonal shapes. Now visitors can enjoy a cliff walk, which takes about two hours in total.

Price: £12 for adults or £6 for children.

How to get there: It’s located 50 miles from Belfast International Airport (BFS).

9. Hadrian’s Wall Path — Tyne and Wear, Northumberland, Cumbria, U.K.

Milecastle 39 part of Hadrians Wall in Northumberland on the Scottish Border
(Photo by StockSolutions/Getty Images)

Hadrian’s Wall was created in 122 AD by Emperor Hadrian who wanted to consolidate the Roman Empire borders. It was an attempt to divide southern Britain and the unconquered north. It took around 15,000 men and six years to build the 73-mile stone wall. Today, you can walk the wall in the recommended seven days either by yourself or as a tour.

Price: A seven-day walking tour is approximately £650 per person including accommodation.

How to get there: Located roughly 23 miles from Newcastle Airport (NCL) or accessible by train from the U.K. The nearest local train stations are Hexham, Brampton and Haltwhistle.

Bottom line

Be sensible when planning walking tours. They can be intense, especially if they are in the height of summer and in hot climates. Be prepared with walking boots, sun cream, a hat and also plenty of water. Whilst these routes are popular, they may not have many vendors selling necessities en route. If you’re a novice then join a tour, as you will get the full walking experience and the history to go with it.

Featured photo by Michael_Conrad/Getty Images

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