Europe is a great place to go on a walking holiday with so many wonderful – and relatively compact – countries and sites to discover. Whatever your interests are, be they historical, natural, gastronomic or cultural, there is sure to be an amazing European walking holiday that will allow you to combine magnificent hiking – or gentle meandering, if you prefer – and glorious scenery with any number of your other passions.
A walking holiday is a great way to get closer to the people and culture of a country. They are marvellously relaxing and, of course, there are the many well documented and proven health benefits of walking. The hardest part may be deciding where to go… and that’s where we can help.
Spain is synonymous with many things, be it football, food or the slow-paced siesta lifestyle that is the envy of those who have to spend their afternoons working. It is also home to some of Europe’s most magnificent walks, perhaps the most famous being the Camino de Santiago or Way of St James, which stretches some 800km from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. The magnificent cathedral at Santiago is supposedly the resting place of the Apostle St James and, true or not, this is an awe-inspiring walk. You will take in quaint Galician villages, sun-dappled pine forests, countless cathedrals, churches and chapels and enjoy energy-boosting camaraderie with your many fellow “pilgrims”, not to mention the energy-boosting rustic fare you will dine on during your journey (washed down with some fine Rioja wine).
Catalonia is another magnificent region of Spain in which to take a walking holiday and you will find details of guide-led and self-guided walks there, as well as enchanting trails in the unspoiled areas of Tenerife, Menorca, Gran Canaria, Cordoba, Ronda, Andalucía and Valencia at www.headwater.com.
Spain’s Iberian cousin is, likewise, a stupendous place to go on a walking holiday. As with some of the destinations mentioned above, such as Tenerife, it is often associated with sun, sea and sand package holidays but it is so easy to escape that and discover the real country. Portugal is geographically small and so adding a few nights on at the start or end of the break in the bewitching – not to mention affordable – cities of Lisbon or Porto is very easily done.
If you really want to escape from the crowds then Portugal’s Atlantic Coast is a fabulous option. It is easy to reach from many European airports but offers a marvellous array of flora and fauna as well as breathtakingly rugged scenery and near-deserted coastal trails and expansive beaches. As much of the walking is along the coast it is largely flat and so is suitable to all fitness levels, whilst the rich birdlife of the area will be a real treat to fans of the natural world.
Croatia offers so much and the undoubted jewel in the crown has to be Dubrovnik. The Dalmatian Coast as a whole is stunningly beautiful but Dubrovnik, the so-called Pearl of the Adriatic, is hard to beat. Croatia has a rich and diverse cultural heritage and all that can be seen in the varied architecture of this beguiling city. Elsewhere in the region you will find deserted, sandy and pebble-strewn beaches, countless unspoiled islands and clear blue lakes and waterfalls, all of which can be easily accessed in a week or two of walking paradise.
Of course, there are many, many other brilliant options for a European walking holiday. Whether you are inspired by the food and culture of Italy, the clean air and soaring peaks of the Swiss Alps or Austria’s pristine Lake District – not to mention Turkey’s ancient history or France’s unique je ne sais quoi – why not get planning your walking trip today?