Top self guided walking activities

what COMPLEMENTS a walking vacation

Cultural engagement

Most walkers don't just want to just ‘bag’ a mountain, or race from one valley to the next. Unless they are in search of complete solitude, most walkers enjoy getting off the beaten track on vacation to help them get in touch with the real country and its culture. Not the one laid on for tourists. A lot of walking vacations cater for this craving for cultural exchange, staying in traditional rural accommodation such as a mountain auberge in the French Alps, or a village cottage on the Turkish Lycian Way. In France's Mercantour National Park, you sample food that is heavily influenced by its proximity to Italy, And in Catalonia, you score major brownie points by giving a greeting in Catalan as you cross paths with a local walker. That is one of the most wonderful things about walking vacations in remote spots. Hosts rarely feel threatened or ‘invaded’ by walkers. Turn up with a coachload of camera slinging tourists, however, and it’s a different story.

Local food

Hikers like to pack their bags full of energy bars and drinks, but it is worth remembering that buying local food is sometimes the only way that a destination can make money from tourists coming to hike their natural wonders. So you need to shake off that Tupperware full of homemade sandwiches and flask of tea frame of mind, eat local and gorge yourself on the cultural goodies on offer whenever you can.

Wildlife watching

If you want to include wildlife watching as part of your walking vacation, tell your tour operator that this is one of your interests, as they might be able to include extra details in your information pack before you go. That way you won't miss the likes of the wild goats in Spain's Sierra de Gredos, griffon vultures in the Picos de Europa and dolphins along Ireland's Dingle Way. The secret is to read up on the country's wildlife before you go, bring binoculars, keep your voice down and your eyes peeled. And don't forget to just stop and listen.

Wild swimming

For hikers who don't like to wander too far from water, self guided walking vacations are great, as there are so many options. Plus you don't have to worry about slowing down a group of walkers with your urge to submerge. On the Amalfi Coast, for example, you need a very fashionable swimsuit at all times, in Croatia you will fall in love with the empty island beaches, and in Wales you need a sense of adventure, and humour for total Celtic immersion.
Photo credits: [Cultural engagement - auberge: eGuide Travel] [Local food: James Theophane] [Wild swimming: nijaba]
Written by Catherine Mack
French Alps self guided walking holiday

French Alps self guided walking vacation

Chalet based, self guided walking vacation in the French Alps

From 525 8 Days ex flights
Bergamo circular walking tour in Italy

Bergamo circular walking tour in Italy

Begamo; start hiking at about 5 km distance from the airport

From 658 8 Days ex flights
Catalonia self guided walking vacations, Spain

Catalonia self guided walking vacations, Spain

Self-guided walking vacations in Catalonia

From 715 8 Days ex flights
Self guided walking vacation in France

Self guided walking vacation in France

Idyllic walking in France with great food, wine and ambience

From 1000 6 Days ex flights
Picos inn to inn walking vacation in Spain

Picos inn to inn walking vacation in Spain

Hike through beautiful mountains staying in rural inns

From 1185 8 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: Thomas Schweighofer]
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