Venturing far beyond the beaten path and immersing more deeply in local culture, experiential travel connects you with the soul of a place and its people. Whether constructing traditional crafts with native artisans or browsing markets for ingredients to prepare a regional dish with local chefs, this form of travel opens doors previously not on typical tourist itineraries, providing meaningful interactions with the people who make a destination so vibrant
No matter your travel mode of choice, you’re sure to connect with the soul of these destinations during some of our favorite experiential journeys around the globe.
Prepare familial cuisine in Southern Italy
In an idyllic region where fresh burrata and mozzarella are as plentiful as picturesque cottages and stunning Baroque palaces, it’s easy to see why the heel of Italy’s boot is experiencing an uptick in tourism. Bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the south, the region extends from the verdant Umbra Forest to the southern Salento Peninsula, forming one of Europe’s most ethereal coastal landscapes. Whether strolling ancient whitewashed towns like Lecce or staying in a conical stone trulli hut in the heart of Alberobello, immerse yourself in the cultural traditions of Southern Italy during a cooking experience at DireFareGustare, where chefs Mara Battista and Marina Saponari unveil the area’s culinary customs in a sun-soaked farmhouse engulfed by olive groves.
Housed in Masseria San Pietro, near the cliffside town of Polignano a Mare, the classes impart generations of recipes passed down from the two chefs’ families, and during an afternoon cooking demonstration, you can learn the intricacies of the region’s plant-centric dishes like how to bake fresh focaccia or prepare light-and-airy ricotta mousse with decadent cotto di fichi (fig syrup). Perhaps the most experiential portion of the class is when students learn the art of hand-rolling orecchiette, one of the region’s most famous pastas. This dish, named for its resemblance to a little ear, is made with a labor of love, as generations often join to hand-roll the pasta, sharing stories and recipes to safeguard the family’s ancestral practice for generations to come.
Kayak in East Greenland
Where mirrored mountain views engulf the horizon and humpback whales skim the surface of the vast Arctic Ocean, East Greenland awes as one of the world’s most isolated wildernesses. Swallowed by prominent peaks, an experiential journey here begins in summer, when kayaking adventures offer access to glassy waters set below unspoiled snowcapped mountains. Beginning in Tasiilaq—a town of only 3,000 residents that is cut off from the rest of the world from November to February—venture to surrounding villages like Tiniteqilaaq, a diminutive hamlet dotted with red, yellow, and white wooden cabins. A gateway to remote areas like the Johan Petersen Fjord, kayaking trips near the village offer views of the Hahn glacier and glimmering Greenland ice sheet, where outcrops near the Helheim glacier harbor tucked-away sod houses. Akin to a modern-day winter cabin, the region’s Inuit communities once used these refuges during winter.
Meet with locals like Paulus Larsen, the mayor of Tiniteqilaaq who was born in a traditional sod house, to discover how the region is adjusting to the mounting pressures of climate change. Recalling a colder time when long-tusked narwhals were abundant in the region, the Sermilik Fjord hasn’t frozen in the last decade, though Larsen and his neighbors still subsist on a hunting lifestyle: seal, narwhal, and polar bear.
Trace a cultural route in Jordan
Tracing the ancient King’s Highway on the eastern rim of Jordan’s Great Rift Valley, the Jordan Trail runs for 400 miles from the Fertile Crescent in the north to the Arabian Desert and the Red Sea in the south. Taking over 40 days to complete—the route touches four biospheres and 52 villages and is split into eight sections—the Jordan Trail weaves through a land both the Romans and Nabatean architects of Petra once used for trade. When you hike the Dana-to-Petra portion of the trail, immerse yourself in ancient Berber culture on a six-day journey crossing the region’s most impressive scenery, from undulating valleys and sandstone mountains to oases where funnel-shaped oleanders bloom. In an area spanning the rise and fall of some of the world’s most prolific empires, discover how Jordan’s cultural traditions are as vibrant today as they were centuries ago.
Taking you to rural villages where Bedouin camps are the only refuge near old shepherd trails and over spectacular canyons, the Jordan Trail is a chance to explore the country’s diverse landscapes and discover its reverential history. The route encompasses Byzantine ruins, the vast canyon of Wadi Mujib, the Crusader castle Kerak, Dana Biosphere Reserve, biblical sites like the purported birthplace of the prophet Elijah, and the striking rock formations and remote sandy plains of Wadi Rum. The journey culminates in a backdoor entrance to the Rose City, where hikers are rewarded for their efforts with the first glimpse of the spires of Petra’s famed monastery, one of the many temples and tombs the ancient Nabateans carved into stone over 2,000 years ago.