Want to be the next Anthony Bourdain, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet? You’ll need a good website.
According to the World Tourism Organization UNWTO, a specialized agency of the United Nations, international travel has continued to grow over the last seven years. Interest in travel and adventure tourism is at a high, and it’s obvious why; the world has never been more accessible, more technologically advanced, or more interesting.
The Best WordPress Themes for Travel & Adventure
There are almost 1,000 WordPress themes on Themeforest with the word ‘travel’. Here’s a selection of twenty WordPress themes that stand out for great design, ease of use, and other features:
For Bloggers, Writers, and Travel Journalists
Around the world in 80… articles about traveling? This theme is designed for travel bloggers and writers. It’s a modern design that’s familiar enough to be easy to navigate, but still fresh and customizable. The top header leads with your logo (or perhaps just your name), then a feed of featured and recent articles, a personal bio, email newsletter subscription, and more. With a featured spot for your Instagram in not one but two different spots on the homepage, you’ll be on your way to #travelblogger Insta-fame in no time.
If you’re a particularly prolific writer, or you have multiple writers on your team, check out this bestselling WordPress site. The demo website for the ‘Travel Pro’ version of MagPlus manages to feature over 38 articles on the homepage, without feeling cluttered or overcrowded.
I particularly like the black outline on the featured article slider, which is unique (but also totally customizable, just in case it’s not your thing). MagPlus is a massive WordPress theme with over 40 templates, so don’t feel restricted to the ‘travel’ demo; any of the other demos, like ‘Magazine’, ‘Lifestyle’, ‘Classic’, or ‘Architecture’ would suit a travel site. There are also 25 (!!) different article layouts, from quizzes to GIFs to full-width hero images–your readers definitely won’t be bored.
One of my favorite features of this WordPress theme is the full-width Google Maps option, which provides readers with an explorable map version of articles and content. There’s also an adventure-centric counter at the bottom–how many continents, countries, and kilometers have you traveled?
A simple, clean design with eight blog layouts, well-designed author pages, and unlimited color customization. You can even customize the background for posts and pages, and it has space for advertising and other feature spots (aka ‘widgets’). Even though sans-serif fonts are all the trend in web design right now, this site’s serif font choice gives the website more of a timeless feel that won’t need to be revisited or redesigned in a few months’ time.
The color accents on this blog-focused travel WordPress theme brighten up an otherwise simple layout. It’s a good one if you’re trying to build your ‘brand’ or tie everything in with a logo, or just if you have a favorite color in mind. The Coming Soon page is a fun layout. It’s also built on Bootstrap 3, works with Google fonts, and is optimized for high speed.
Also built on Bootstrap 3.0, this WordPress theme has multiple demos all available with a one-click install. The box-style post grid draws inspiration from Google’s material design. The right sidebar menu is a unique option for navigation.
For Tourism Companies and Launching Your Own Travel Business
Created by a Power Elite Author on Themeforest, this WordPress theme is the bestselling tour & travel agency theme. One of the biggest reasons it has such high ratings is for the customer support, so if you find the idea of setting up a WordPress site to be a little daunting, try out this one for their support system. It’s also really, really well-designed, but make sure you have some stunning photographs to fill the full-width image spots.
With a booking and reservation system built-in, this website template is great for hospitality and hotel websites. It’s responsive, which means it’ll work well on desktops and mobile phones. The four modules are Tour, Hotel, Car, and Cruise–covering (more or less) all modes of transportation and travel.
This theme has an easy-to-use page builder for drag-and-drop customization. There’s WooCommerce support, Buddypress, event calendars, Google webfonts, and a fancy slider plugin. The photo gallery options are ideal for showcasing travel photos or tour packages.
Many WordPress themes boast about WooCommerce integration, but what about specific payment methods? Travel Tour works with PayPal, bank transfers, and credit card systems like Stripe and Paymill. Billed as the ‘most complete tour management system’, this theme author has over 120,000 customers. Don’t worry, it’s so customizable you won’t risk looking like a copycat of another site. There are also fourteen blog layouts, nine portfolio layouts, and six gallery layouts.
This theme is designed to increase conversion rates, with smartly-placed buttons and call-to-action prompts. For example, it will show customers how many other travellers are considering tours right now, or show similar travel tours based on tags. The font choices and layout remind me of Airbnb, and particularly of their ‘Experiences’ feature. If you want a similar look to Airbnb’s web design, this is a good place to start.
For the Travel Photographer
What I like about this theme is that is lists real-life websites that are using that theme, such as (at time of writing) Here, There & Away, The Unreasonable Traveler, and Taking Flights. What these all have in common: bold, map-centric designs, responsive website layouts, and a sense of adventure.
Another one that lists real websites using their theme, this one has more white space and a grid-style design. It’s simple and familiar, leaving space for your photos and writing to be the focus.
This is possibly one of the coolest and most unique on the list. Gnar has a full-screen background photo, so it’s the first thing you see, and the box-y colors and dividers are an interesting layout. The font choice is unique and not as stock-standard (though, of course, it’s completely customizable). The designer of this WordPress theme has been working with Themeforest since 2009.
By now, you probably have at least ten tabs open, have scrolled through a handful of theme demos, and are feeling overwhelmed. If all the bells-and-whistles and fancy features seem like more than what you’re after, check out this one. It promises ‘honest, minimalist design’, and the storytelling-focused layout doesn’t distract. It’s still got all the essentials; a navigation menu, responsive design, social sharing, and it’s simple to set up.
Bright, Bold, and Multi-Functional
Back to bells-and-whistles: this theme has it all. Shopfront pages, WooCommerce, maps, booking systems, videos, tours, gallery pages, mega menus, and more. With nearly 5,000 sales and a 4.26/5 rating, it’s one that’s been tested out by businesses around the world.
This is a multi-purpose WordPress theme – designed for travel blogs and reviews, but also for guide books, travel agencies, and tours. I particularly like the ‘travel guide’ feature, which allows you to add sub-pages and create a detailed travel guide for each place, tour, or experience.
Splashy, bright, photo-focused. The WordPress theme is one of the more stylish on the list, with enough integrations and plugins to do everything you need.
I love the ‘destination lists’ on this WordPress theme, which creates a gallery of potential places to explore. Even the 404 page is stylish, and with background and hero images integrated into the various page layouts, it’s easy to create a cohesive look for your site with photos and accent colors.
That roundup should give you enough to explore! To finish up, if you’re launching a new website–for your personal travel blog, a tourism company, or a travel publication–here’s a quick checklist of things to consider for your site:
- Photos. Images and photographs are the best way to tell the story of a new place or culture. Whatever your website looks like, make sure there’s space to showcase your photos.
- Explore-worthy site structure. If you’re a travel blogger, perhaps you should organize your posts by country, then city; or by topic, like ‘food’ and ‘nature’? Bonus points if you include some sort of interactive map, which makes your adventures even more visual.
- SEO-friendly, useful content. As a former editor of an online publication, I can say with near certainty that most of your website traffic won’t be direct to your website. Unless they’re related to you, your readers probably aren’t typing in your website URL to their browser or bookmarking it. Instead, they’re Googling. For example, I’m planning a trip to Japan, and I certainly didn’t go to my favorite travel bloggers and check out what content they had in their ‘Japan’ category; I just Googled phrases like Japan 3-week itinerary and best food in Tokyo and best coffee in Kyoto. Write content that your readers will find useful (like an article about the best coffee in Kyoto), and then make sure they’ll be able to find it.
- Shares, likes, follows. When your readers aren’t Googling (or traveling), they’re probably Facebook-ing, Instagram-ing, and tweeting. Make sure your WordPress theme has built-in features like share buttons, Instagram photo feeds, and more social-friendly features.
- Booking and scheduling capabilities. This is more for businesses and travel companies. If you’re planning to create a site that takes payments, books tours, or has other scheduling features, make sure it works and it’s easy to use! Travel is a) expensive and b) precious– if someone is spending money and vacation time on your services, don’t waste their time with website glitches or UX confusion.