Where to go walking

The great thing about walking vacations is that there is nearly always a place in the world that suits your walking ambitions and your abilities. Most walkers don’t just want to put one foot in front of the other, however. They want to immerse themselves in a culture they might only discover on foot, such as in the mountain villages of Nepal, or walking with Nomads in Morocco. Others want to walk and then wallow in local gastronomic delights, such as along the Amalfi Coast, Catalonia or Portugal. And then there are the peak seekers, who are aiming high up the likes of Kilimanjaro, the Himalayas, Toubkal or Mont Blanc. Or families, who want to shed all their daily pressures by just walking and talking and seeking adventures that will be in the memory banks forever, such as walking across the Alps with a donkey, or walking your way across the Croatian coast and islands.
The Alps

1. The Alps

Alpine walking vacations vary greatly, from ‘the hills being alive with the sound of music’ type to the more full on conquering Mont Blanc type. You can go winter walking or summer meadow walking. You can take a guide or a donkey. You can touch toes with the Alps in France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria , Italy or Slovenia. Take your pick. Which you will need, when the snow hits.
Amalfi Coast, Italy

2. Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi coast is candy for hikers. Mountains rise up from the Mediterranean, picture perfect towns nestle neatly into isolated coves and fine food and drink tumbles out of every trattoria. Follow ancient mule paths up from affluent villa clad beaches, and bash your boots through the likes of Naples, the Valle delle Ferriere national park, Pompeii, Ravello, Capri and Positano.

3. Andalucia

Welcome to the Moorish heartland of Spain with walking vacations revolving around the famous Arab-infuenced towns of Seville, Cordoba, Cadiz and Huelva. Hike your way through Arab, Jewish and Christian history, or enjoy the timeless beauty of the Sierra Nevada, the highest mountain range in Europe after the Alps with sheer gorges, glacial lakes and powder dusted peaks. All very moor-ish.
Atlas Mountains, Morocco

4. Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Hardcore hikers head for Mount Toubkal, which overlooks the High Atlas Mountains and Marrakech like a giant genie watching over his magical landscape. Walking vacations in Morocco bring you through the remotest of villages, where you meet more than welcoming Berber people and enjoy superb Moroccan food. In May, you can even walk with Ait Atta nomads as they migrate from the hot lowlands to the cooler mountain pastures.

5. Canada

It’s big, it’s beautiful and it rocks, with the Rocky Mountain range the big mama here. From Vancouver hike the national parks of Jasper, Banff, Glacier and Yoho all within a ten day Canada walking vacation. Or head with a packhorse and guide into the even more remote Tweedsmuir Park of British Columbia, following ancient Indian trading routes.

6. Catalonia

The famous regional pride is hardly surprising when you take in the wealth of natural Catalan beauty on offer to walkers. From the snowy Pyrenean peaks to sun-soaked Mediterranean coves, there is also a volcanic park and plethora of hiking trails. These traverse wild deserted coasts and dainty turquoise coves, or the inland Aiguamolls Nature Reserve. Polish up your boots for the magnificent cities of Barcelona, Tarragona and Girona.

7. Croatia

Although the coast is what most of us know about, there are extraordinary walking vacations to be had in Croatia even just an hour inland, with five national parks to explore. Such as the sixteen emerald green lakes of Plitvice, the canyons of Paklenica or the waterfalls and karst formations of Krka. You can just walk the coast too, of course, hopping the islands and hiking around them.
Inca Trail

8. Inca Trail

The Andean scenery – from high, windswept tundra to humid cloud forest – is one well-earned prize for those who follow these ancient paths along the Inca Trail. Another is the hidden ruins, inaccessible by other means, which build up to the final destination of Machu Picchu. For others, the reward is the chance to spend days immersed in this lost world, exploring traditional Quechua villages.

9. Japan

Step foot into the sandals of Samurai on the ancient Nakasendo Trail from Tokyo to Kyoto or pay your respects with pilgrims at the shrines dotted along the Kumano Kodo Trail; whatever you do, don't turn down a hot thermal spring bath at a traditional ryokan or minshuku inn after a day spent walking in Japan - it's just what you do to rest, revive and reveal the swirling ghosts of the past.


10. Kilimanjaro

In Tanzania, she is the highest free standing mountain in the world and yet, unlike some, can be climbed without technical skills if you are fit and game. And have excellent guides of course. There are different routes, such as the Lemosho route up through jungle to the Shira Plateau or the quieter Rongai route approaching from the north. Whichever way you go, Kili will challenge and delight.

11. Madagascar

A walking vacation in Madagascar offers world-class scenery: towering limestone pinnacles, waterfalls and natural pools, rainforest, highlands and semi-desert. Leaving your vehicle behind allows you to really experience these otherworldly scenes, and multi-day treks will really take you off the tourist track, into true, deserted wildernesses.

12. Nepal

Walking is part of Nepal’s tourism raison d’être, although the cultural highs will uplift you as much as the landscapes. As well as Everest Basecamp and the Annapurna Circuit, check out other trekking routes that will immerse you in the joys of Nepal, such as the Langtang Valley, Chitwan National Park, the Gokyo Lakes or the little known Sailung Valley, north east of Kathmandu.

13. Patagonia

The best way to appreciate Patagonia’s size and breathtaking beauty is on foot. The region is well set up for hikers, with trailheads near all the towns, well-marked paths and plenty of local guides. Treks can last a couple of hours or a couple of weeks – no matter how long you go for, you’ll always feel as if you are walking at the end of the world.

14. Portugal

The 350km Rota Vicentina, along the southwest coast, gets douze points from the European hiking jury. Our Portugal walking vacations shows you how to hike through coastal wildflower valleys, cork forests and up into the Alentejo uplands. Inland, the Serra de Monchique's ancient paths through orange and almond groves, or if you want to aim high, head for the Serra de Estrela mountains.

15. Turkey

Far from the madding coastal crowds lie almost deserted hiking routes, such as the Lycian Way from Fethiye to Antalya, which take Turkey walking vacations into the limestone peaks of Mt Olympos. Alternatively, opt for St Paul’s Trail into the hiking heartlands of Central Anatolia, following ancient Roman paths through the Taurus Mountains, with plenty of cool down options in river canyons and mountain lakes.

Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Walking or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Where to go on a walking vacation

Andrew Appleyard, walking specialist at our leading supplier, Exodus:
“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.”
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.”
Melanie McAnaw, walking vacation expert from our supplier, Headwater:
“Don’t overlook the Canary Islands for walking vacations. They are much more unspoilt that you would think.”
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Tdway] [The Alps: icenando] [Amalfi Coast, Italy: ronnybas] [Andalucia: OlafSpeier] [Atlas Mountains, Morocco: Ivoha] [Canada: Matt Thomason] [Catalonia: estivillml] [Croatia: ronnybas frimages] [Inca Trail: Giacomo Buzzao] [Japan: SElefant] [Kilimanjaro: oversnap] [Madagascar: TiggyMorse] [Nepal: Yongyut Kumsri] [Patagonia: Arto Marttinen] [Portugal: Justraveling.com] [Turkey: Warren Talbot] [Andrew Appleyard quote: missglock]