Europe is a wonderful and diverse continent with 50 countries, the majority of which, have had their walking trails for centuries. Taking a self-guided walking holiday in Europe is best between April and October when the weather is warmer, and you can make the most of the outdoors. The most popular walking holidays include those in the Alps, the Amalfi Coast or the Austrian Tyrol. If you’re really thinking outside the box then there is the Picos de Europa In Spain, Northern Norway, or Crete in Greece amongst many other incredible walking and hiking destinations.
Here is a selection of some of the best self-guided walking holidays in Europe so you can lace up your boots and get walking!
The Douro Valley, Portugal
The Douro Valley is without a doubt one of the most beautiful corners of charming Portugal. It is also the birthplace of the famous Port wine. Departing from Porto where the Douro wines are served in the buzzing bars and restaurants, a visit to this majestic cultural landscape which is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site will take your breath away. The Douro Valley is one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world, it has landscapes of green and golden slopes covered with vineyards and wine estates spreading along the riverbanks.
The region is a foodie’s paradise and it has a very varied landscape with a dramatic coastline. Take an off-the-beaten-path holiday in the Costa Brava; one of the most romantic stretches of coast in Europe with secluded coves. Alternatively, enjoy a walking holiday to the Spanish Pyrenees of Catalonia. Discover extinct volcanoes, medieval towns, rich cultural attractions and idyllic scenery.
Picos de Europa, Spain
The Picos de Europa is a National Park situated in the Cantabrian mountains. The highest peaks are to be found in the green and unspoiled region of Asturias in northern Spain. Different landscapes come together in The Picos de Europa, which is also home to some of the rarest birds and animals in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. They are also just a few miles inland from the Atlantic Coast, the best-preserved coastline in Spain, where you will find peaceful beaches left unscathed by property developments.
Crete is the largest island in Greece. Admire the remnants of past civilizations, relax in the beautiful beaches and explore the local countryside, where you will encounter secluded valleys, hill-top villages and waterfalls. Stop for a bite in one of the many tavernas where you can sample Cretan gastronomy. Spectacular views over the bay of Kolimbari, the Rodopos Peninsula and the surrounding countryside await.
The Amalfi Coast and Villages, Italy
The Amalfi coast sits in between Naples and Salerno and includes the arm of the Sorrento Peninsula. The coastline boasts beautiful scenery, beaches and picture-perfect towns full of multi-coloured houses such as Positano, Praiano and Amalfi itself. You walk surrounded by lemons, olives and vineyards.
The French Alps, France
The French Alps offer numerous opportunities for hiking through its natural parks. Just an hour and a half inland from the popular Cote d’Azur are the sunny Alpes Maritimes. The rural way of life here is a total contrast to the busy and chic coastal strip, and The Alpes Maritimes offer a wonderful network of paths for walking and exploring the region.
Into the Fjords, Norway
Start your journey at Bergen, Norway’s second largest city before heading out into the fjords on an express boat. Little can prepare you for the ‘the king of the fjords’, The Sognefjord. It is right in the middle of Fjord Norway, and it is the longest of the Norwegian fjords stretching more than 200 kilometres. Steep mountains that rise straight up from the sea are the perfect environment for a wonderful walking experience.
Along the Ligurian Coast, Italy
The Ligurian Riviera stretches from the border with France down to Tuscany and is one of the natural wonders of Italy. The region features impressive mountains and lovely rolling hills, overlooking the Ligurian Sea. Its most iconic highlight is the five fishing communities of the Cinque Terre (the ‘Five Lands’). There are superb routes both alongside and above the coast.
Bavaria’s soaring Peaks, Germany
Germany has many well-established walking trails and a strong hiking culture. Berchtesgadener Land, in Germany’s Alpine south-east corner and almost surrounded by Austria, is a hidden gem, amid Bavaria’s Soaring Peaks. It is situated above Königssee, a fjord-like lake beneath the mighty Watzmann Mountain. The luxurious Hotel Alpenhof makes for a perfect base during your stay.
High Passes of the Valais, Switzerland
Home to vineyards, snowy peaks and the Matterhorn, the Valais is one of Switzerland’s top walking destinations. Starting in the Bernese Oberland, you enter the Valais via an ancient trading route, then cross the Rhône Valley. In the Bernese Oberland, you’ll find a diverse landscape with snow-capped mountains, lakes, mountain villages, cogwheel trains, and much more.
Which would you prefer for your walking holiday in Europe? Any favourites stand out? I’d love to read your comments below.
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