Ten best walking vacations in Europe

Ten best walking vacations in Europe


OUR EURO STARS

There are over 50 countries in Europe now, and each has its own walking routes, waymarked ways and hiking highlights. However, we have picked our ten best walking vacations in Europe for this travel guide just to get you thinking outside the box when it comes to Europe. Remembering that there are places such as Finland and Romania, the Picos de Europa in Spain and that Catalonia is not just limited to city breaks in Barcelona. Some of Gaudi’s greatest works were inspired by mountains after all. So, here are the results of the Responsible Travel jury, with hiking vacations that deserve douze points.
Croatia France – Alps France – Mont Blanc Greece Italy – Amalfi Coast Romania Spain – Andalucia Spain – Catalonia Spain – Picos de Europa Turkey

Croatia

Walk the glorious coast of Croatia, island hop its archipelagic highlights or head inland to its secret wonders. There are eight national parks here, protecting the 16 emerald green lakes of Plitvice, the canyons of Paklenica and the waterfalls and karst formations of Krka. You can just walk the coast too, of course, hopping the islands such as Mjet NP and hiking around them. And always pack your swimmers.

France – Alps

The Tour de Mont Blanc, which circumnavigates rather than conquers the massif magnifique, is a superb option for a walking vacation. For quieter Alpine paradise, the Ecrins NP is a French secret they like to keep to themselves, also fab for winter snowshoeing. For warmer climes, head south to the Alpes-Maritimes’ Mercantour NP, hike for days from inn to inn, with a donkey to carry your bags. Eeh-aw. Eeh-aw. Eeh-aw.

France – Mont Blanc

So beautiful it just had to be shared between France, Switzerland and Italy. Best way to take on this multinational massif, the highest peak in Western Europe at 4810m is to hike the Tour de Mont Blanc – a stunning 170km circuit through all three countries. Although the summit is achievable, you need more climbing experience than the circuit, but there are vacations to take you to the top.

Greece

For Hellenic hiking, discover deserted trails on secret islands like Syros, Sifnos, Tinos or Ulysses' rugged home Lefkada. Or Santorini’s volcanic virtuosity, as you hit the hills away from tourist crowds. Everywhere you walk in Greece, scented olive groves and sensational sandy coves cross your path. As does culture, such as on a trek to Mt Olympus, home of the ancient gods. It all still feels like you have died and gone to heaven.

Italy – Amalfi Coast

If jetset Amalfi isn’t your thing but you still crave its coastal candy, walking it is the way to go. Within 20 minutes of affluent Amalfi is a world of subsistence farmers, lemon groves, waterfalls and idyllic towns nestled neatly into isolated coves. Follow ancient mule paths and trails through Valle delle Ferriere NP, Naples, Pompeii, Ravello, Capri and Positano. Amalfi may be grand, but it has ancient culture and natural chic.

Romania

The Carpathians, Transylvania, wolves, folklore and exquisite, elevated rural idylls make for gorgeous hiking year round. Yes, you need snowshoes in winter but whatever the weather, the Apuseni Range, or ‘Mountains of the Sunset’ live up to their name. There is a wilderness feel in these limestone landscapes, with caves to explore and remote villages, where the Moti people live traditional, mountain lives.

Spain – Andalucía

Walk through Moorish history and culture in the Spanish heartland, where walking vacations take you to Arab-influenced cities of Seville, Cordoba, Cadiz and Huelva. The Sierra Nevada, Europe's highest mountain range after the Alps, makes for stunning summer hiking, but also perfect during the winter, when the foothills are still mild and where gorges, glacial lakes and green valleys are always moor-ish.

Spain – Catalonia

Catalans know all about pride of place, and when you hike its Pyrenean peaks, sun-soaked Mediterranean coves, Aiguamolls Nature Reserve , volcanic terrain and flower filled meadows, you imbibe this sense of independence. And you get to walk through magnificent cities like Barcelona, Tarragona and Girona too. When you walk it, you feel that this is not like Spain. It is simply, and beautifully, Catalunya.

Spain – Picos de Europa

This 2,650m high mountain range, with dramatic limestone formations that look almost Gaudi-esque in structure, is a whole new walking world for many. Just 20km inland from Asturias’ Costa Verde, hike through isolated villages that welcome hikers with gastronomic delights. Keep an eye out for the prolific wildlife along the way, as the Picos are habitat for chamois goats, bearded Iberian wolves and brown bears.

Turkey

Walk away from the madness. The madness of the all inclusive resort, the coastal mayhem that dominates Turkish touristy shores in summer that is. Hiking idylls such as the Lycian Way coastal trail from Fethiye to Antalya, take you to heavenly havens, or St Paul’s Trail which follows Roman paths through the Taurus Mountains. We’re talking canyons, rivers, lakes and blissfully tranquil Turkish delights.

Where to go walking in Europe


RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL’S SUPPLIERS RECOMMEND


Melanie McAnaw, walking vacation expert from our supplier, Headwater, shares her advice on where to go walking in Europe:

“Don’t overlook the Canary Islands for walking vacations. They are much more unspoiled than you would think.”
Andrew Bateman, from one of our suppliers, Scot Mountain Vacation on where to go on a walking vacation: “Outside the hotspots like Skye, the highlands and islands of Scotland are one of the least populated areas in Europe and if you do have an adventurous spirit and a little imagination it is very easy to escape the crowds. The landscape just absorbs people and if I come across more than twelve people on a mountain day it’s a busy one.”

Andrew Appleyard, walking specialist at our leading supplier, Exodus, shares his tips for walking in Europe:

“Walking in the footsteps of St Francis in Umbria is the most perfect alternative to vacationing in Tuscany. And much better food too. Walking in Albania really is a step back in time, but unlike Umbria, you really don't want to go for the food.”
Photo credits: [Map intro: Cinty lonescu] [Croatia: Mike Norton] [Turkey: Warren Talbot] [Andrew Bateman: john mcsporran] [helpdesk: Fresco Tours]
Written by Catherine Mack
Spanish course & hiking vacation, Picos de Europa, Spain

Spanish course & hiking vacation, Picos de Europa, Spain

Spanish classes + stunning hikes in Picos de Europa

From 400 7 Days ex flights
Self guided walking vacation in France

Self guided walking vacation in France

Idyllic walking in France with great food, wine and ambiance

From 897 6 Days ex flights
Amalfi coast easy walking holiday, Italy

Amalfi coast easy walking vacation, Italy

Easy walks from Amalfi: 4* sea-facing hotel; top restaurants

From £1280 8 Days ex flights
Naxos and the small Cyclades walking vacation, Greece

Naxos and the small Cyclades walking vacation, Greece

Walk and discover Naxos and the unspoilt Small Cyclades

From £685 10 Days ex flights
Amalfi Coast walking vacation, Italy

Amalfi Coast walking vacation, Italy

Walk in lemon groves and hillside villages

From US $1165 8 Days ex flights
Picos inn to inn walking vacation

Picos inn to inn walking vacation

Hike through beautiful mountains staying in rural inns

From £1050 8 Days ex flights
Cyclades walking holidays in Greece

Cyclades walking vacations in Greece

A gently active vacation in the Cyclades

From US $1335 8 Days ex flights
Finland hiking vacation

Finland hiking vacation

A hut-to-hut hiking journey along Finland's eastern border

From 920 8 Days ex flights
Mont Blanc vacation, Tour du Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc vacation, Tour du Mont Blanc

The best of the Tour du Mont Blanc

From US $1315 8 Days ex flights
Catalonia self guided walking vacations, Spain

Catalonia self guided walking vacations, Spain

Self-guided walking vacations in Catalonia

From 665 8 Days ex flights
Croatia national parks hiking vacation

Croatia national parks hiking vacation

Walking vacation in Croatia's beautiful national parks.

From 620 8 Days ex flights
Ibiza hiking vacation, point to point for groups

Ibiza hiking vacation, point to point for groups

Bespoke point to point walking tour of Ibiza

From 900 7 Days ex flights
French Alps self guided walking holiday

French Alps self guided walking vacation

Chalet based, self guided walking vacation in the French Alps

From £515 8 Days ex flights
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