San Francisco has its fair share of wonder. A jaunt down to Fisherman’s Wharf promises views of Alcatraz and docks overrun with glistening sea lions, while Prohibition-era saloons and bright murals are a frequent sight along the rest of the city’s sloping streets. But sometimes you may need to balance out the pulsing vibrancy of the city with a therapeutic change of scenery. Escape to nature for the day to bask in the magic of vast oceans, dense forests and romantic wine country.
Monterey and Carmel
Linked by the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway – a 17-mile (27km) road that weaves past rugged wilderness and grandiose mansions – the ocean-hugging cities of Monterey and Carmel exude coastal charm, and have been home to their fair share of celebrities. The former’s aquarium brims with a menagerie of psychedelic sea creatures, while Carmel’s storybook cottages are a particular highlight, and almost as wanderlust-inducing as the white sands of its dog-friendly beach.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Berkeley’s laid-back energy seeps out of its ’80s-style record stores, grassy parks and curious bookstores. The city’s most famous feature is the prestigious university, known as the birthplace of the 1960s free-speech movement and listed among the top in the world. It has also carved out a culturally diverse reputation with sites such as the Chilean-American La Peña Cultural Center and plays host to a variety of annual arts festivals.
North of Downtown, Berkeley has its own slice of foodie paradise that has been nicknamed the “Gourmet Ghetto”. This food walking tour will see you tucking into a cornucopia of handmade cupcakes, gourmet cheeses and well-stuffed sandwiches. Led by an in-the-know guide, you will stop at a collection of sustainable and organic eateries, meeting the local chefs and owners. As they paint a picture of the city’s culinary culture, you’ll also be treated to signature Berkeley brews – there is even a stop at a wine cellar for a tasting.
The sleepy stretch of Bodega Bay has served as the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s flocks of frenzied birds, the witchy terrors of cult film The Puppet Master and even the vampirish prelude to Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers. Despite its Hollywood-horror popularity, the fishing village is a picturesque combination of crescent-shaped beaches, fresh seafood and secret coves. Day-trippers are often found hiking its shores or renting a kayak to paddle round the secluded lagoon.
Find your sea legs as you explore the enchanting coast of Bodega Bay. Setting sail from the harbor, your captain will show you the ropes as you expertly cut your way through the sapphire water. On this three-hour tour, you’ll learn about the ancient art of sailing and get hands-on as much or as little as you like. Completely customized to your preference, you can split your time between searching for playful sea life or helping your guide navigate the 33-foot boat.
Set in the heart of the famous wine region, the town of Napa aims to replicate the glamorous airs that its beloved libation is often associated with. Years ago, the sleepy county capital was hardly a tourist hotspot, but with the increasing popularity of wine and a foodie focus, it’s now firmly on the map. Look out for fine-dining restaurants, bustling farmers markets and artisanal chocolatiers – and relish their culinary delights with a glass of wine. Napa’s buzzing downtown is also known for its 19th-century architecture and romantic riverfront promenade.
Kayaking may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Napa Valley, but you’ll be surprised to find that it’s a perfect way to discover what lies behind its wine-soaked facade. This tour will take you down the serpentine waters of Napa River while a guide fills you in on the storied past of the area, telling tales of the first settlers, the ever-changing landscape and even the time when the slick coif of Elvis Presley himself rolled into town. As you paddle, you will spot native birds skimming the waters and pass the muddy banks where scenes from Apocalypse Now were filmed.
Napa Valley’s wine-growing reputation has put it firmly on the map. Hundreds of wineries have cut the undulating hillside with strips of twisting vines, giving the countryside a natural emerald glow. Excess is the region’s forte – whether it’s feeling the buzz from sipping a spectrum of wines, dining out at one of the gourmet restaurants or sinking into the pillowy bed of a luxury lodge, you will be quite at your leisure to enjoy its delights.
Napa Valley is criss-crossed with winding roads and dirt tracks that are perfect for cycling, and this tour takes full advantage. Follow your guide as you pedal past vineyards braided with grape vines, hopping off to explore the cool cellars of the adjoining wineries. Along the way, you’ll learn about the distinctive wine-making styles and farming practices of the valley, and if you’re looking to let loose your inner connoisseur, a wine tasting at each venue is also in the cards. Be sure to bring some extra cash, as tastings are not included in the tour.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.