If you’re interested in finding out what we rate and what we don’t as part of our walking travel guide then you’ll be pleased to know that you have no further to travel other than right here. Find out whether you should go on a walking vacation as well as what we love and what we consider overrated.
Walking combinations vacations
You were ready to dismiss the white flowers in-between the rocks as daisies, but your guide crouches down. “Manzanilla real,” she explains: royal camomile, one of the Sierra Nevada’s most famous flowers. She says the Spanish name, because not only are you here to walk, you’re also here to learn the language. “My guide, Teresa, knows the hills around Granada really well and it was a delight to talk with her,” said Finola McGrath, of her vacation to learn Spanish and walk Spain’s national parks. “We talked completely in Spanish.”
Walking combination vacations introduce you to a new place twice over – first through its terrain, and then again through its language, its food or its wine.
The plants you pass on the trail, the overheard snatches of conversations in the street, the sight of people bringing the harvest in – it’s tempting to join in at every turn when you’re walking, but we rarely do – call it shyness, politeness, or the hurry to get back to the hotel. That’s why we have walking combination vacations: they let you get to know even more about the destination.
Our Walking combinations Vacations
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What do walking combination vacations entail?
Finding the perfect combination
Occasionally, you’ll find a walking combination that just magically aligns with your two favourite things to do in the world. But then again, you might discover something new. “Attracted to the vacation for the walking, my husband and I weren’t quite sure what we would think of the Spanish lessons,” Michelle Harrison writes in her vacation review. At the end of her trip – a Spanish course and walking vacation in the Picos de Europa – she was pleasantly surprised: “There is so much more to this vacation than walking! ... We aim to continue learning Spanish and keep in touch with our new friends.”
Tack walking onto a trip and you’ll find it makes everything more fulfilling.
Small group or self guided?“I could hear voices and laughter coming through an open window, above the door,” says Cate Falconer, who travelled solo for her French Riviera walking culture and cooking option vacation. “It took a few knocks before someone answered. I was let in and directly led to a kitchen filled with people of all ages chopping vegetables and stirring steaming pots and sizzling pans.” Small group trips are very social. You might want to learn a language surrounded by classmates, or learn to paint surrounded by other aspiring artists. “I was given a task to do and immersed into the action as if I’d been expected all along and was meant to join the party,” says Cate. For more active combinations, like cycling, you might prefer a tailor made trip.
How much walking is there?
You’ll rarely do whole day walks. Some days, there might be none, because you’ve got an activity. Some days, it might be a morning walk, followed by a cookery class, or a sunrise yoga session, followed by a mountain hike. On a walking and sailing vacation you can island hop as well as hike, giving wannabe sailors a chance to learn the ropes. “Each hike on the six islands we visited was different from the one before,” says Jennifer Duschenes, of her Cyclades sailing and walking vacation in Greece. “Sotiris was an excellent skipper, making me (a reluctant sailor) feel totally safe and making my husband incredibly happy to be taught and trusted to help with lines and at the helm.”
Keeping it responsibleJanis Colville booked a walking and botanical vacation on Karpathos Island, Greece: “We were very happy that our money was spent locally, from eating locally grown and organic food in family-owned restaurants, staying in a locally owned apartment, and being with tour guides who were passionate about retaining the local way of life!”
Walking combinations tend to make the most of as many local connections as possible. If you’re on foot, it’s great to have good relationships with your closest neighbours – and what’s more, using the nearest farm or wine cellar keeps money in the local area, fosters community and keeps food miles low.
If you'd like to chat about Walking combinations or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Popular walking combinations
Walking & yoga
Walking and yoga are mutually beneficial. Both raise your general fitness, but the yoga can stretch your muscles out and improve your balance, whilst the walking can help your cardio. Most yoga and walking vacations practise yoga in the mornings and evenings, with a hike in the middle of the day: a wonderful balancing act.
Walking & languages
Talk whilst you walk. Falling in step with a fellow traveler as you hike often leads to the best conversations, especially if you’re learning Spanish at the same time. What’s more, when you stop for refreshments you can try out your newfound phrases on patient shop owners, who may at turns be bemused and delighted to assist you in correcting your inflections.
Walking & culinary tours
From wine tasting tours to cookery classes, there’s something satisfying about ‘earning’ your next gastronomic feat with a brisk walk, perhaps with some shopping, tasting or foraging thrown in. Like a food and wine pairing itself, these activities really bring out the best in each other. Try cookery in Spain or France, both famous for expressing their strong regional identities on a plate.
Walking combinations advice
Walking & cooking in Italy
Marla Gulley is a trained pastry chef and co-owner at cooking and walking in Italy specialists, Bella Baita: “It seemed only natural to put walking and cooking together in one vacation. Indulgent eating is often the reward for an active physical vacation and learning a new cooking technique or Italian speciality adds an element of challenge that many people are looking for in a vacation these days.”
Walking & cooking in Provence
Benoit Couvreur, co-founder of tailor made French Riviera specialists, The Frogs’ House, shares his top tips for walking and culture vacations in France: “Make sure you choose an appropriate area, according to your taste and what you are looking for: high mountains, gentle hills, coastline; strenuous and challenging or relaxing. France is so diverse and you need to ask yourself if you want a guide or would you prefer to be self guided. Choose the right moment of the year. If you are interested in flowers – better chose May or June, but if you really want to make sure you have great weather, choose July or August. You want to be alone in the nature with beautiful colours – go for October.”
Walking & donkey vacations
Caroline Peeters from our tailor made family vacation company, Safrantours, explains how this unusual combination gets kids walking in France: “The benefits of walking with a donkey are especially for the children. They love the contact with the donkey and it motivates them to do a walking tour. Kids from four years old, weighing a maximum of 35kg, can even ride on the donkey from time to time. Families walking in the Ardèche also love the forests and the fabulous views over the Rhône Valley and the distant Alps.”
More about Walking combinations
Just as you can walk all over the world, you can combine walking with adventure wherever you wander.
The Picos de Europa region in northern Spain is an area where walking and talking are part of the landscape, so imagine being able to walk with a native Spanish speaker after a morning of Spanish language lessons.
Not only will yoga and walking vacations in Spain and Austria invite you to stretch your legs in sublime scenery but you’ll also be reducing the risk of injury by unwinding tight muscles and increasing flexibility.
In the 1990s, a Bulgarian geologist established a network of ‘eco trails’ in Bulgaria to draw people away from the Black Sea Resorts and into the woods.
Vines do well on gentle slopes – and so do walkers. Have a stroll with a sommelier on a walking and wine tasting vacation.