Budget walking map & highlights

Europe has plenty of budget walking options because, from hiking huts to well-mapped, long-trod trails, there’s plenty of infrastructure. There are national parks, and there’s lots of competitively priced accommodation available. Alternatively, you could look to Morocco, where the Atlas Mountains combine all the drama of high peaks with sleeping sound in cosy gites. And looking further afield, perhaps peruse Peru, too – the Inca Trail can be less pricy than you think- even for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Keep costs down by eating and staying local, and swap car hire for the bus – these are places with good public transport links.
Lace up those hiking boots. You can walk across the Atlas Mountains on a shoestring.

1. Croatia

It’s possible to walk in multiple national parks and across several islands on one vacation in Croatia. Inexpensive ferries take walkers to clutches of Adriatic islands off the coast, and small group tours can take you between the parks via a van transfer. The country’s national parks comprise deep, dark woods and bright water; the Plitvice Lakes National Park is especially beautiful.

2. France

What’s cuddlier than a car, and cheaper to run? A mule, of course. Take the family walking in the Rhône Valley in France, tempting kids along with the prospect of walking with a luggage-lugging donkey. Obliging mules also feature on budget walks around Mont Blanc. Elsewhere in France, walk in Provence’s Mercantour National Park, or in the gorgeous French Riviera.

3. Greece

You could stick to one island for your Greek walking – like Kythnos, where hot springs can help soothe tired muscles after days clambering to clifftop ruins. Or you could hop around the Cyclades, skirting their busier shores in favour of the Lesser Cyclades. You might be surprised to find combining sailing and walking is relatively inexpensive – again, the Cyclades are a great place to cast off.

4. Italy

The culture might be rich, but you don’t have to be. Walk in unspoilt Umbria, where you can get your lunch straight from the producer at a famers’ market. Come to Lake Como with the family, staying in rifugi (small, local inns) and picnicking on ready-made packed lunches to fit your budget. Even the glitzy Amalfi Coast can be low cost when you’re on foot.

5. Morocco

Wake up in your gite in the High Atlas Mountains. In the distance, a sandy trail snakes down to the next village. Crumbling Kasbahs, Berber villages and high mountain passes all await on your walking trip. Once you’ve descended to the valley, riads with swimming pools and a trip to the local hammam will help clear away the very last of the dust.

6. Portugal

Stagger through the soft sand of long dunes, with some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches stretching at your feet. Lots of people have heard of the Algarve but what about the Alentejo? It’s just north, and its quiet hiking trails weave between cork oak forests and dunes. Seafood grills are inexpensive and bird-watching is free – remember to bring your binoculars.

7. Peru

It’s surprising to think Peru can be done on a budget – and on the Inca Trail, no less. Permits for Machu Picchu, the ruined Incan citadel at the end of the trail, aren’t expensive but they are sought-after, so you will need to book in advance. Camping cuts costs, as do locally owned and family-run hotels, and using public transport where possible.

8. Spain

Penniless pilgrims once spent months walking on the Camino de Santiago through Spain. The Camino can still be tackled with a light wallet, thanks to a range of accommodations for all budgets and Galicia’s inexpensive restaurants. Elsewhere, combine Spanish language courses with the Picos de Europa, or clamber around Catalonia in the precipitous Pyrenees.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Budget walking or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Advice from our travelers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful budget walking vacation tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your suitcase.
As a first visit to Croatia I can really recommend it, it’s a lovely green area, in autumn in Konavle there were cyclamen everywhere.
- Alison Farnill
“There was unbelievably gorgeous coastline, a profusion of spring wildflowers and excellent Alentejo-style cooking available in every village inexpensively. The Portuguese govt and E.U. have invested a great deal in protecting this coastline, opening low impact access to the public, and adding interpretive signs about the environmental dynamics of the region. It would be great to see more people taking the opportunity to hike at least a few days of this trail.” - Tara Fenwick, on an Alentejo and Algarve self guided walking vacation

“Moving on every two days had the effect of making the break feel longer than a week. As a first visit to Croatia I can really recommend it, it’s a lovely green area, in autumn in Konavle there were cyclamen everywhere, and a plentiful supply of walking snacks from orange and wild strawberry trees if you get hungry!” - Alison Farnill, on a self guided Croatian coast walking tour
Everything seemed to be locally caught, grown and cooked. Mio's one man restaurant being an example, he gets up at dawn to catch the carp... fries them up for you and serves them with a delicious home made soup and salad.
- Jon Aldous
“The vacation company we used in Greece had advocated for the mapping, clearing and conservation of old trails and paths that locals used to use to cross the island until they began driving. I think the people who saw us hiking on them got a real kick out of seeing these historic routes being used by visitors.” - Sandra Forrester, on a Greece walking vacation on Kythos

“Everything seemed to be locally caught, grown and cooked. Mio's one man restaurant being an example, he gets up at dawn to catch the carp, despite having badly sprained his ankle, fries them up for you and serves them with a delicious home made soup and salad and a large glass of his really excellent home produced wine. We indeed felt that we were welcome regular customers at one restaurant in Virpazar village, not least when the waiters offer to drive you home to the villa at the end of the evening!” - Jon Aldous, on a walking vacation in Montenegro
Written by Eloise Barker
Photo credits: [Page banner: Jerome Bon] [Croatia : Rinaldo Wurglitsch] [France: Jerome Bon] [Greece: David T] [Italy: Marco Montagna] [Morocco: Maureen] [Portugal: Taliscas1] [Peru: Gregory Laurent] [Spain: CC BY 3.0 ] [Review 1: Luka Krstulovic] [Review 2: julie corsi]