Travelling by an unusual mode of transport in a country can give you a whole new perspective on the place you’re visiting. On my adventures around the world I’ve managed to combine my love of transport with sightseeing. From a myriad of local forms of transportation including the usual planes, trains and automobiles to the downright peculiar.
Most of all I love how different modes of transport can connect you to a destination, creating some real magic moments and treasured experiences. Here’s a compilation of travel destinations I’ve fallen in love with simply by stepping on to an interesting mode of local transport.
1. Trabi, Berlin
A love for cars led me to tour Berlin in a vintage Trabant, colloquially known as a Trabi. The iconic mass produced car, which came with a 13 year waiting list was East Germany’s answer to the VW Beetle.
It became world famous when thousands of East Germans freely drove over the border when the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. Making the Trabi one of the most recognizable symbols of the failed former East Germany and the fall of communism.
Tourists can now enjoy a 75 minute self drive in the slow and noisy car around Berlin’s most historic sites, whilst following a guide. Giving you a unique perspective and fun ride.
Read more: 8 Ways Berlin Will Take Your Breath Away
2. Helicopter, Grand Canyon
If you’re going to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world, may as well do it in style, right? One of the most exciting ways to see the magnificent Grand Canyon is by air.
Located 275 miles west of Las Vegas in the state of Arizona the epic Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and a mile deep. The helicopter ride provides stunning aerial views of Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and Grand Canyon West. There are an array of different rides to choose from but we opted for The Grand Celebration. This also included an exhilarating landing 4,000 feet below the rim and enough time to enjoy a champagne picnic.
Surrounded by walls representing two billion years of the earth’s history, I was humbled and speechless. It’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences you’ll never forget.
Read more: Las Vegas: Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour
Disclosure: I received a press rate for the helicopter ride.
3. Horse-drawn sleigh, Dolomites
A spectacular way to explore a winter wonderland is by a horse-drawn sleigh.
With the snowy backdrop of the spectacular jagged limestone peaks of the Dolomites. The beautiful horses pull the sleigh through the woodlands deep with glistening snow to the sound of their hooves and the tinkering sleigh bells.
Wrapped in a warm blanket and enjoying the sunny winter rays, it’s definitely the most cosiest and fun family ride we’ve experienced.
Disclosure: The horse-drawn sleigh ride was part of a press trip.
4. Houseboat, Kerala
The emerald backwaters of Kerala is the reason why the state is named God’s Own Country. Board a kettuvallam, or houseboat as they are known are crafted from age old cargo vessels of the State. They once were poled along by one or two men, transporting rice, coconut and other commodities. Today they are used exclusively for tourism.
It’s an incredible way to explore the land of canals, lagoons, lakes and rivers whilst you drink in beautiful views of coconut grooves, paddy fields and village life. There are many options to indulge in the beauty of famous backwaters, whether it’s a day cruise, overnight or a lengthier stay. It’s a wonderful experience and a charming insight into life on the water.
Read more: Postcards from the Keralan Backwaters
5. Vespa, Rome
Hopping on a Vespa is the quintessential way to explore Rome. Adventurous and efficient, zipping in and out through the traffic you can cover a lot of ground on the nifty two wheeler. There are plenty of tours to choose from: the classic, foodie, street art or cinema.
If you’re qualified you can drive your own wheels or if not like me leave the driving to the guide and jump on the back, hold tight and enjoy.
The street art tour uncovers parts of the city outside of the major tourist attractions with a glimpse of how Romans live on a daily basis. It’s authentic, exciting and exhilarating. Who wouldn’t want to experience their own slice of an Audrey Hepburn Roman Holiday?!
Read more: Vespa Street Art Tour
Disclosure: I received a press rate for the street art tour.
6. Safari Jeep, South Africa
Open-sided safari Jeeps put you right in the heart of the action. No windows, often no real roof it’s the ultimate sensory experience. Surround vision for the majestically glorious beasts you will encounter.
In Africa you have the chance to spot the ‘big five’. A term coined by the big-game hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. This includes the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, rhino and leopard.
South Africa is the perfect choice for a first family safari holiday for a number of reasons. Firstly, it offers malaria free game reserves, a huge plus not to have to take the tablets. Secondly, travelling with children minimal time difference and no jet lag if you’re coming from European climes – always a winning combination.
7. Horse-riding, Iceland
The land of ice and fire as it’s sometimes known is an area of almost 40,000 square miles. Like no place on earth, it lies midway between North America and Europe and borders the Arctic Circle in the North.
Home to the the most incredible, breathtaking and diverse landscapes. Unspoilt and natural it’s dominated by volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, lava deserts, mountains and glaciers.
Summer is the usual riding season when you can experience a ride on an Icelandic horse. A unique bread small and hardy they’ve evolved through the centuries. Almost pony-sized even for a beginner the rides are very comfortable. Horseback is definitely a captivating way to experience the otherwise inaccessible areas of Iceland.
8. Auto Rickshaw, India
These motorised three-wheelers are used all over Asia. Similar to the tuk tuk, which immediately makes you think of Thailand. The Indian auto rickshaw is even smaller. Although the drivers do manage to fit in the same number of people – This is India after all.
Darting through traffic with incessant horn beeping, swerving pedestrians, colourful trucks and cows on chaotic road conditions. This will be the most exhilarating and thrilling ride. Hop on board!
Read more: Kerala with Kids: Beaches and Backwaters
9. Gondola, Venice
Have you even visited Venice if you haven’t experienced the iconic gondola ride?
The fact that cars are banned in the city of Venice meant the gondola was the only means of transportation for locals for centuries. Today they are mostly used for transporting tourists with ‘‘just one cornetto…‘ through the narrow, intricate Venetian canal system past famous landmarks. It’s definitely a moment you’ll recall for a lifetime. Nearly twelve years since our last visit. I think a revisit is definitely in order.
10. Tube, London
This list wouldn’t be complete without a mode of transport I use virtually everyday and take for granted – The London Underground!
Yes, you can argue that there are many cities around the world with their own underground networks. The London Underground though was the first!
From the design classic tube map, which resembles a rainbow electrical circuit populated with London’s quirky places, like Swiss Cottage and Elephant & Castle. To the tiled tube walkways, advertising posters, the no eye contact Londoner and plethora of escalators which head to the real world above ground. I give you quintessential London!
Like most Londoners I’m the first to moan at the overcrowding and delays. Although we probably wouldn’t get to work at all without the Tube. And you can’t deny there is something special about riding in these carriages through the dark tunnels.
Read more: London for Free: 10 Money-Saving Experiences
Tell me about your best transport moments in the comments box below.
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