Are you looking to do something different this summer? Are you tired of the same old sun-sea routine, or touring European cities on a bus? Do you want more time to spend at a certain place, want to immerse yourself in a new country and discover as much about it as you can? Do you want to assign yourself a challenge, and test your limits? Are you looking to become a fitter and more relaxed version of yourself?
If you can say yes to some of the above mentioned, then you might want to book yourself a walking tour this season. Walking tours are neither as demanding nor as scary as you may think – you can explore at your own pace, take a break where fancy takes you, spend as much time at any given spot as you’d like, and truly get to know a certain area.
To help you get some inspiration, here are five walking tours in Europe you can choose to take:
The West Highland Way
Scotland’s oldest footpath is to this day a very popular walking holiday. The route itself is 154 kilometers long, starting at Milngavie at Glasgow, and ending at Ben Nevis, at Fort William. When you head out, you will first dive into lush pastures and have a magnificent view of Campsie Fells, but the road will soon turn into hills and farmland. Don’t be surprised if you run into a wide variety of animals as you walk, as Rannoch Moor, which you will be passing, is one of the only remaining wilderness areas in Europe.
There are 8 stages to the trail, and a variety of accommodation is available along the way. You can take your pick of hotel or even campsite.
If you are fascinated by the Scottish Highlands, this is the perfect way to get to know them properly. There are a few steep bits that are more challenging, but the majority of the route is quite easily tackled by most tourists. The average time it take walkers to complete the route is about a week, but you can naturally take your time and adjust your pace.
The French Way to Santiago de Compostela
The French way is one of the many routes pilgrims from Europe take on their way to Santiago de Compostela. You don’t need to be religious to take this holiday, as all walkers have their own reasons for embarking on the Camino.
You will start out at a charming place called St. Jean Pied du Port, and walk the 780 kilometers to Compostela through some challenging bits of road. Don’t worry, the accommodation along the way is excellent, and if you go during the height of the season, you will meet many an experienced traveler who has already taken the Camino, and can help you with valuable advice.
The part of the road through France is more challenging than the one in Spain, where it turns to lush forests and mountains. It can get quite hot as well, so be sure to plan your trip well ahead.
The Tour the Mont Blanc
The Tour takes you through France, Italy and Switzerland, circling Mont Blanc. You may know it as a cycling route, but many walkers descend upon it as well.
Compared to the French way, it is rather short – 170 kilometers in total, and can be tackled within 10 days. However, it is quite challenging, and you should not attempt it if you are not in shape, as the journey can get quite steep at times. The view will make it worth your while though, as it is breathtaking every step of the way.
The accommodation is also diverse, ranging from hotels found in the villages, to refuges which are a bit less comfortable, but which offer quite a unique chance to socialize and share you experiences.
Wicklow Way is a great chance to experience the Wicklow Mountains up close. It was first established during the 1980s, and has become quite a popular choice among those looking for a walking holiday.
You will begin your 131-kilometer long journey at Rathfarnham, and end in Clonegal, County Carlow. You will be tackling forests and country roads, as well as some rural areas with unpaved roads. While in the north, your view will include the mountains themselves, while in the south, you will be greeted by hills and a gentler climb. In fact, most people walk from north to south, as it is easier, but not as rewarding at the same time.
Depending on your level of fitness, you can choose your starting point, but do bear in mind that you do need to pack some stamina to climb uphill.
Pennine Way is one of the oldest and most popular walking holidays in Europe, first opened in 1965. It is today recognized as a national trail, but has still retained most of its rustic charm.
The 429-kilometer adventure sets out from Derbyshire, and ends near the Scottish border, at Kirk Yetholm. It leads through the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland, including three national parks. Most tourists will only walk a few days, which is admittedly not nearly enough to satisfy the tastes of an experienced walker. If you want to explore England more thoroughly, you should definitely spend a week or two in the area – and get to know it and its history properly. Admittedly, the route can be challenging at times, but you can always find a more easygoing one, if you are not quite ready for the challenge.
Why not spend a holiday out in the open, putting your legs to good use, instead of driving around in a stifling bus all day. Any of these walking holidays can prove to be the adventure of a lifetime, and you will certainly return from it refreshed and re-energized, ready to tackle the world.