The tourism bureau gets this one right. Maine – rocky shores, splendid isolation and enough hiking and biking to keep the family busy – has it all, whether you want water (ocean or lake) or mountain. Visitors will appreciate the state the most, by doing as Mainers do: packing a picnic and immersing in the landscape, or packing a week’s worth of supplies and heading out on treks into the wilderness that’ll be remembered for a lifetime. Here are our top ways why you should make the trek north.
Everything To Do With Acadia National Park
If you could cram the highlights of Maine – hiking through a bucolic landscape, rural retreats, stunning stoic coastline, small fishing villages and great food – all onto a island, wrap it in the protective bosom of a national park, and permit the wealthy to erect secret “cottages” along the rocks, well, you’d have Acadia National Park. It’s still possible to feel wild here, amid the ice cream shops and slow-moving minivans, to experience a kind of raw thrill of adventure, whether you’re biking, climbing cliffs, summiting lonely peaks, or taking a lobster boat to the small islands offshore.
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.
Acadia should top your list of places to go and see, whether you’re daring the Precipice Trail or watching the sun rise over Cadillac Mountain, or simply enjoying the villages of Bar Harbor and Somes Sound.
Cuisine: More Than Just lobster (but also lobster)
… Or Blueberries, for that matter. Eating is a hallowed, sometimes rushed, often savored team sport here. Maine is full of talented chefs and seemingly more restaurants than a state of this size needs. That’s in part due to Mainer’s love of food, whether they’re drawing from ocean, harvesting from field, or hunting from forest.
The state boasts James Beard winners like Eventide Oyster Co., Duckfat and 555, as well as more farm-to-table restaurants than it knows what to do with (Primo and Fore Street). Accolades aside, its lobster shacks, diners and everything in between will keep you full, or more likely needing to hike, bike and swim.
Forest, Mountain or Sea: Pick Your Retreat
Maine has been an outdoor mecca for 200 years and has more forests now than in the 1800s: roughly 90% of the state is covered in trees. Where the forests end, lakes, mountains and the ocean begins. Whatever your motivation, unplug, get away, go off-grid, Maine has an option. There are unspoiled lakes to which no road leads, some 4,600 islands offshore, and the northern end of the Appalachian Trail.
You can stay in a tiny house on a deserted bend of a forested river, or stay in the trees themselves, or find peace in a mountain yurt.
Snowboarding and Skiing
Winter covers Maine in cold and snow from November seemingly through May (okay, not really), and the slopes are making snow for almost as long, meaning the state’s western mountains are playgrounds for skiers and snowboards on the east coast. Famed trails at Sugarloaf (2,820 vertical feet) and Sunday River are premier destinations for winter recreationists, while Shawnee Peak, Black Mountain and Mt. Abram draw a loyal contingent keen to avoid the lines.
Summer Island Hopping
Islands are some of the most beautiful and serene getaways Maine has to offer. The landscape’s beauty, the logistical hardships and the close ties the two forge, encourages a slower pace of life you’ll quickly slip into.
But island living is about culture and the personalities met along the way. The industrious romance of living on a Maine island can make the journey intimate if you’re less of a tourist and more of a guest. While islands in Casco Bay (reachable by ferry) will appeal to day-trippers from Portland, the further north you venture (to the likes of Deer Isle, Stonington, Beals) the more the surrounding community – think fishers, farmers and lobstermen – is entwined in the daily ebb and flow of life, and the more you will be too.
Maine’s largest gorge, Gulf Hagas, is known as the Grand Canyon of the East. One of the most unique and spectacular sights in the state, Gulf Hagas’ charm lays in the fact it’s not easily accessible: after fording a small river you have to hike in for several hours along the gorge’s rim trail – a narrow path hugging the lip of the cliffs constraining the Pleasant River as it falls several hundred feet. Highlights include the geologically unique screw auger falls, where rushing water plunges attractively into trout-laden bowls. You’ll find few other hikers on the trail, making it one of the few truly stunning, empty hikes in Maine.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway
People discuss the Allagash as though making a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual journey, and it’s easy to understand why. Maine has more forest than any other state and the Allagash Wilderness Water is its longest stretch. The waterway refers to a chain of lakes and river running unspoiled by house, road or people and protected from development, preserving it as a time capsule unlike any other in the Northeast.
The best way to see the Allagash is by boat: outfitters will drive you to the embarking point and meet you later: one day or 10, the choice is yours. There’s camping along the shores, and the fishing is as spectacular as you’d expect.
Maine’s largest mountain rises seemingly out of nowhere, in a vast track of land known as Baxter State Park that’s surrounded by forests and not much else. Which is perfect as hiking Katahdin is a journey. Its distance from anywhere makes it a trek, but the difficulty of summiting the mountain (it’s a full days hike) heightens the experience. At the top, the Knife’s Edge will test your resolve, but the rewards are 360-degree views of what feels like the entire state.
Maine’s biggest city is a misnomer. Spend any amount of time in Portland, and you’ll realize this is a series of small villages united by brick, cobblestone and sea. Portland is a can’t miss location: sights, shopping, with fine food and friendly people. It is Maine’s interpretation of what a city should be, an urban landscape infused with the small-town appreciation for a slower pace of life.
Small Towns, Big Hearts
Come to Maine for Mainers. While the state’s official slogan is “Dirigo” (Latin for “I lead”) ask anyone from here and you’re likely to hear something different: “Welcome to Maine, now go away.”
It’s meant in jest, partly. Maine’s best feature is its people, who have a complicated relationship with the state’s biggest industry: tourism. People here don’t dislike vacationers, but come August when the weather is hot and muggy and the coast has been overrun with people “from away” for three months, patience can run thin.
The antidote to this of course is to head away from the sights and meet “real” Mainers – or at least Mainers who aren’t employed in a customer service job. Farmers’ markets are a good place to start. Mainers are few and those who haven’t left are characters. Most people here have a second job and certainly a second life, whether they’re professional sled dog racers or retired explorers. The state’s small towns are beautiful and can smell of provincialism, but beneath it are retired experts and experts on retiring.
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.