“We have been providing vacations from the same premises for more than 25 years,” says Peter Roche, who co-runs the property and their self guided walking vacation
. “Our walkers are seen by members of the community as a part of the culture… The fact that we favour local products helps local producers to survive.”
You might stay in a yoga retreat in the Alps, where you can limber up for a day on the hills with a sunrise practise, or a converted 17th-century farmhouse in a six-house hamlet in the Spanish Pyrenees. When you stay in one place, all meals – including picnics of farm cheese and freshly made bread – are usually included.
Other vacations lead you from inn to inn along the peaceful forested pathways and gorges of the Picos de Europa or between family-friendly mountain refugi
around the Italian Lakes. This is when your tour provider’s contacts become invaluable, setting you up in the most welcoming and characterful B&Bs they know.
You’ll travel down working mule tracks and pass through villages that live to the rhythm of the church bells. In Croatia, you’ll stay overnight in islands that usually only host day-trippers from Dubrovnik or Split, so you’ll have dinner on the waterfront with islanders relaxing with a glass of Plavac and lobster after a day’s work.
“When we design our trips,” says Tomi Coric, who founded our walking and cycling specialists Epic Croatia, “we take them to Dubrovnik for day two and then elsewhere to limit the crowding in town. We send them to some other places that they can enjoy and feel good: the islands, countryside and so on.”
Most trips are tailor made, with an itinerary designed for you, so you can include free days, when your tour operator will arrange a tour of a vineyard or set up a cooking class.