Six of the Best European Walking Holidays
By: Tony Maniscalco
Europe is blessed with some of the finest walking country in the world, and millions of people travel to the great valleys and mountain ranges on the continent every year. Of course, great trekking isn’t confined to the continent – there’s plenty of outstanding walking to be done in the UK, with the Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia, the Lake District and the Peak District offering spectacular peaks to climb and routes to traverse. But if you are itching to leave the familiar behind and experience some of Europe’s finest scenery, here are six of the best routes and destinations for walking holidays in Continental Europe…
Le Tour Du Mont Blanc
Le Tour Du Mont Blanc is a truly stunning walking holiday, an epic 100 mile circumnavigation of the Mont Blanc Massif. It is one of the most famous and popular walks in Europe, taking in high mountain passes, dramatic valley walking and some truly stunning vistas of the major peaks whilst enjoying the hospitality of the Alpine huts along the way. It typically takes two weeks to walk, and while not technically challenging it does demand a good level of fitness and mountain walking experience.
The Haute Route
The other classic route through the Alps, The Haute Route (or "High Route"), stretches from Chamonix to Zermatt, beginning in the shadow on Mont Blanc and ending at the foot of the Matterhorn. With many climbs to high passes it isn’t for the fainthearted or inexperienced, but it is one of the most challenging and exciting European trekking holidays. Alternate routes that avoid the glacier crossings are also available.
The Lycian Way
For those who prefer coasts and culture to high mountain adventure, the Lycian Way in Turkey is the perfect walking holiday. This coastal route runs from Fethiye to Antalya, and offers a splendid mixture of beautiful landscapes (cedar forests, pasturelands, and rocky mountain routes) and ancient archaeological sites, including the sunken city at Kekova.
The Dordogne Valley
Located in the South West of France, the Dordogne valley is one of France’s national treasures, and is home to one of the country’s great walking holidays. The valley is rich in natural splendour, with forests, limestone cliffs and the great river of the Dordogne itself, and the region is peppered with charming traditional towns and medieval castles. There are also many old cave paintings and prehistoric sites in the Dordogne, along with an excellent museum in Les Eyzies.
While the Alps may be the most famous mountain range for walking holidays, the Dolomites offer a completely different experience – dramatic limestone pillars, glaciers and lunar plateaux stand above rolling meadows filled with wild flowers, and the many routes in and around the Dolomites provide some of the best unspoilt walking to be had in Europe.
The Mountains of Sardinia
Known as "the land of silence", the Italian island of Sardinia offers some of the most remote and peaceful routes for a European walking holiday. The ancient mountain ranges in the north of the island offer visitors stunning walking through the gorges and ridges, as well as the chance to see prehistoric monuments of the Nuraghi people. The perfect weather, friendly island culture, and stunning scenery make Sardinia an ideal destination for a relaxing walking holiday.