Thought LeadershipSponsored by Rhineland-Palatinate Tourist Board

The Modern Trailblazer: Discover Destinations Off the Beaten Path

Hundreds of castles dot the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany, providing exciting opportunities for heritage tourists.
Hundreds of castles dot the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany, providing exciting opportunities for heritage tourists.

Travelers seeking to go beyond “been there, done that” are looking for locales that are unlike what they’ve experienced before on their trips. Cultural and natural treasures found within UNESCO World Heritage Sites, immersive opportunities, and even some romantic ambiance of wineries and castles can all be a part of off-the-beaten-path destinations travel advisors can offer their trailblazing clients. 

“Travelers want different, they don’t want crowds,” says Leah Winck, a travel advisor with First in Service Travel, a Virtuoso Agency in Beverly Hills, Calif. “They want to experience more space and the freedom to explore different areas.”

Susan Boehnstedt (ACC), a travel advisor with Critics Choice Vacations, an independent affiliate of Montecito Village Travel, a Virtuoso Agency in Queen Creek, Ariz., agrees that “people want space and something out of the ordinary.” She adds: “People have not traveled for two-plus years. They want their vacation experiences to be memorable.”

Outdoor locations less well-known in Europe are among the destinations Boehnstedt is seeing attracting the off the beaten path traveler. Rhineland-Palatinate region in Germany is one she is currently sending this type of client to and one she knows well. She lived along the Rhine in 1992 to 1993. “There are loads of vineyards and castles in this area, tucked away gems for exploration and not the standard castles and winemakers most think of when considering Germany,” says Boehnstedt. “There are quaint towns in this area which are small, have a local feel/flavor and offer something unique that bigger cities [in Germany] cannot compete with.”

Sebastian Risch, project manager, incoming, for the Rhineland-Palatinate Tourism Board, adds that “many [travelers] want a vacation experience that touches all the senses at all levels and leaves a lasting impression.” He continues: “To touch and feel a 2,000-year-old building and to enjoy a glass of excellent wine in a modern vinotheque virtually next door and to bathe in an extinct volcanic crater a few kilometers away, that sets new milestones for oneself and is unique. Such unique and non-interchangeable experiences is what more and more people are looking for. In Rhineland-Palatinate this is possible.”

Rhineland-Palatinate offers travelers seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among these treasures is the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, where nature and culture combine offering the “Romantic Rhine” region with vineyards, castles, historic towns and villages, and the River Rhine. The area also boasts the Vulkaneifel Nature Park and Geopark, a UNESCO Global Geopark. Clients can take a guided tour or explore the volcano park that has five museums and 350 known eruption centers, of which the first dates back millions of years.

Cultural Immersion

Closer to home, Chaco Culture National Historic Park in Nageezi, New Mexico, is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List. “This year, we have received a lot of interest in New Mexico’s indigenous heritage and also lesser discovered experiences,” says Nicole Barker, a representative for the New Mexico Tourism Department. “Chaco offers intriguing historical and cultural immersion and awe-inspiring natural beauty.” 

Visitors can choose their own adventure with options ranging from self-guided strolls and backcountry treks to guide-led experiences, according to Barker. “They can learn about the Chacoan people and their civilization (850 to 1250 AD), including how they tracked constellations and lunar/solar cycles using archeoastronomy techniques,” she says. Chaco is a certified International Dark Sky Park. Petroglyphs, stairways, and ancient roads are along the four main trails, says Barker. 

If clients are seeking a culture that is at least 13,000 years old and has ancient rainforests and untouched wilderness, then send them to Haida Gwaii, off the northwest coast of British Columbia, according to Kath James, manager of the Haida House on Haida Gwaii. “It’s one of the most remote places in Canada,” she says. “It’s as far west as you can go, off the border of British Columbia and Alaska, floating out in the Pacific Ocean.” 
There’s only two ways to get to Haida Gwaii, by ferry or by air from Vancouver, three if you count boating in, says James. One of the highlights is Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. A high point of the experience is the site interpretation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “SGang Gwaay “with a Haida Watchman, she says. 

More Natural Beauty

“Experiencing nature has increased the most” in terms of travel reasons for a trip to Sweden, according to Melinda Martino, a representative for Visit Sweden. “Nature, the countryside, road trips, and close-to-nature experiences, e.g. hiking and cycling, are increasingly in demand,” she says. 

West Sweden and the Gothenburg area is popular for those seeking this type of experience. Not far from Gothenburg’s city center is Änggårdsbergen Nature Reserve, which offers both walking and cycling paths and is connected to Gothenburg Botanical Garden. The area features valleys, ridges, lakes, flora and fauna. The archipelago of Gothenburg is home to more than 20 islands for those seeking seaside strolls. 

Immersive Experiences

Clients requesting immersive experiences will find them among these destinations, including Rhineland-Palatinate. “We often create special wine tours, cooking classes, local artisan demos or hands-on art-making tours,” says Boehnstedt. Risch adds that many things in Rhineland-Palatinate can be experienced hiking and cycling the region. “Here you can follow the loops of the rivers on Roman tracks, past half-timbered houses and castles and from vintner to vintner,” he says. 

In Chaco, immersive guided experiences with Chaco park rangers include trail tours, evening campfire talks, and night sky programs. A stay at the 10-room,12 cabin, Haida House at Tllaal located in Tlell on Haida Gwaii, includes all-inclusive packages that feature intimate conversations with elders and artists, hands-on weaving master classes, traditional Haida dining experience, guided visits to Haida villages, hiking with a naturalist, and backroad forest expeditions - all with a Cultural Interpreter. 

In the archipelago of Gothenburg, the southernmost island of Vrångö is car-free with north and south walking paths. It has only 380 inhabitants living there year-round. Other popular immersive nature experiences include kayaking or paddle-boarding on the river Säveån, which runs from the small town of Partille, east of the city center, to Gothenburg.
Clients can forge their own trails integrating their personal interests among any of these destinations and others. They’ll return with an experience not to be forgotten and a thank you for their advisor. 


Sponsored Content

Four reasons why Rhineland-Palatinate should be on your bucket list

It's easy to get close to nature in off-the-beaten-path destinations; Rhineland-Palatinate's extensive trails are the perfect routes for exploration.
It's easy to get close to nature in off-the-beaten-path destinations; Rhineland-Palatinate's extensive trails are the perfect routes for exploration.

The romantic region to the very west of Germany around the Rhine and the Moselle rivers is the perfect destination for unique experiences. It’s famous for charming villages and towns, excellent wine regions and offers endless opportunities for unforgettable holidays. Here are four reasons why Rhineland-Palatinate should be on your bucket list:

1. Culture and History

Rhineland-Palatinate is a real treasure trove of culture, stories and history. Majestic castles, important churches and atmospheric abbeys reflect the rich history of this romantic region. Follow in the footsteps of the Romans through Trier, Germany's oldest town. Rhineland-Palatinate is the home of hundreds of castles that let you experience their authentic and lively history — perhaps even your own family’s ancestry and heritage?  

2. World-famous Wines and Culinary Highlights 

Rhineland-Palatinate is Germany's No. 1 wine producing region. Around 70 percent of all German wine is produced in this region. The six wine regions encompass the full range of German wines. Accompanied by local culinary specialities, the pleasure will be all yours! 

3. Unforgettable Festivals

Wine festivals are a hallmark of the region. The Christmas markets are world famous and are among the most authentic ones in Germany. Visit during the ‘Rhine in Flames’ event where you can experience the beautiful middle Rhine valley lit up by dozens of fireworks. Or maybe you would like to dive into ancient times at one of our many historical festivals? 

4. Nature Experiences

The region’s nature is characterized by gorgeous stream landscapes, mysterious volcanoes and endless vineyards. Almost half of Rhineland-Palatinate is covered by forest. On 12 outstanding long-distance trails and numerous short tours you can see hundreds of castles, sample famous wines and enjoy mouth-watering cuisine. Long-distance bike tours lead along the rivers such as Rhine and Moselle, through stunning landscapes and pretty wine villages.

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