Horse riding in Ramon Crater, Mitzpeh Ramon, Negev Horse riding in Ramon Crater, Mitzpeh Ramon, Negev Horse riding in Ramon Crater, Mitzpeh Ramon, Negev (Photo: Dafna Tal for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism /Flickr)

5 gorgeous horseback riding trips around the world

Giddyup out of the city and into the great wide open to enjoy a new travel perspective.

Too often when we think of traveling to a new destination, we think of urban spaces first: Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Paris, Tel Aviv or Sydney. While cities are certainly exciting destinations, they are only one stitch in a country's tapestry. Think about it.  Does the nearest city represent all the people and lifestyles of where you live?

Add exploring the countryside to your next itinerary. Leaving the city allows you to experience a different environment and offers a more complete perspective on what the destination is like. You could try hiking or mountain-biking excursions, but horseback riding is one of the easiest (and most low-impact) ways to explore. It's faster paced than hiking, so you can see more than if you travel on foot, plus you can access more places on horseback than you can on the toughest mountain bike trail.

Rural riding offers a mellower vibe than city tourism. Instead of architecture, social history and trendy restaurants, you'll learn about natural history, geology, geography, animals, unique rural customs and local foods. 

"I really enjoy sharing my passion of the history of the land and wildlife with riders from other countries," said Yair Sharat, owner of Sirin Riders in Israel. "There are so many different landscapes – and you always see interesting people."

The destinations below prove that riding may expose you to places you might never think of going to, plus you'll meet some interesting people, too.


Banff National Park, Canada

Riders heading down a trail with a horse-drawn carriage behind them.Experience the (Canadian) Old West in Banff National Park. (Photo: Banff Trail Riders)

Canada's first national park, located in the Canadian Rockies, offers riders dramatic views of snow-capped mountains, sun-dappled meadows, as well as elk, deer and moose. In fact, there's so much to do that Banff Trail Riders offers 17 different trips – from two-hour loop rides to multi-day adventures that include photography, cozy lodge stays or camping.


Israel

Riders enjoying the Israel landscape.Riders enjoying the Israel landscape. (Photo: Sirin Riders)

Israel has an incredibly diverse landscape. Sharat runs trips that explore many of them, from the Negev desert, to the Carmel Seaside (which includes a mountain climb and beach riding), to the mountainous north. When should you go? "The weather in most of the seasons is great for riding," Sharat said.


Loire Valley, France

Riding through the Loire Valley, France, includes plenty of castles. Riding through the Loire Valley, France, includes plenty of castles. (Photo: Cheval & Chateaux)

This region in central France, known for ancient towns, castles and vineyards is so remarkable that it's considered a World Heritage Site. Quiet roads, well-worn paths, and agricultural areas make it ideal for riding and enjoying the local scenery of rolling hills dotted with chateaux, castles, and other architectural wonders. Small towns dot the route – convenient for a lunch stop and wine tasting.  Cheval & Chateaux is one of the outfitters that offers 7 different rides (including a special honeymoon ride, as well as private tours).


Big Island, Hawaii

People on horseback round up cattle. If you've always wanted a chance to round up cattle on horseback, this is your shot. (Photo: Dahana Ranch )

The northern part of the Big Island, so-named because its Hawaii's largest, is home to the paniolos – Native Hawaiian cowboys. Cattle is still raised on the grasses and you can help round up the herd at the family-owned Dahana Ranch. If riding herd isn't your thing, take a quiet ride with current owner Harry Nakoa and enjoy the incredible views of Mauna Kea on one side and the ocean on the other.


Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Riding on an ancient bridge along the Santiago de Compestela. Riding on an ancient bridge along the Santiago de Compestela. (Photo: O Castelo Equestrian Center)

This famous pilgrimage route from southern France across the northern edge of Spain to the western town of Santiago has been walked for hundreds of years – and more recently tourists have begun cycling it. But you can also ride parts of it on horseback with O Castelo Equestrian Center. The route takes you through mountainous countryside and tiny Spanish towns, past medieval structures and lakes, and depending on how long your choose your ride to be, the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the route. 

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