Though we crave reliable and well-integrated transport systems or splurge on luxury private transfers, one of the best ways to explore whilst you’re on holiday is via your own two feet. Walking can either be just a small part of your trip – a way of getting from a to b – or it can be the reason for going on holiday in the first place but, either way, it opens up a world of discovery.
Whether you enjoy the breath-taking views, beautiful nature or just the fact that you are out in the fresh air, Europe has some fantastic walking and hiking routes to relish. Here are just a few of our favourites that never disappoint.
Path of the Gods, Amalfi Coast
We start with one of the most well-known treks the continent has to offer, the iconic Path of the Gods along the Amalfi Coast. This part of the world is jaw-dropping however you choose to enjoy it, but walking this route allows you to admire so much more of its charming scenery. The trail stretches for four miles between the towns of Nocelle and Bomerano (the main stretch), but it’s possible to extend this by starting in either Positano or Praiano. This option does involve a lot of steep steps at each end of the journey though, so be prepared.
Starting in Bomerano provides a slightly easier walk as you spend more time going downhill than up, but neither direction is particularly demanding. As you start inland, you will venture past rolling vineyards, stone houses and lush fields of herbs, before you turn the corner and catch a glimpse of Capri and the beautiful coastline. The second half of the walk takes you along limestone cliffs with the colourful houses of Positano slowly drawing nearer. When you reach either end, it’s time for some well-deserved pizza and gelato as you decide the best way back. If you’re still feeling energetic you could walk the trail in the opposite direction, but there are plenty of buses if your legs have had enough.
Heuberg, Kandersteg, Switzerland
As far as walking destinations go, Switzerland and its various different terrains trumps most other countries. The area around Kandersteg offers some particularly good alpine and mountain hiking, with a large number of trails to choose from depending on your fitness level and what you want to see. The Heuberg route is one of the most popular in the region; a circular path that takes you along the shores of Oeschinensee – regarded as one of the most picturesque lakes in the Alps.
The journey starts at the mountain station of the Oeschinen cable car, which can be reached by taking the gondola from Kandersteg. From the top, you stroll along a well-marked track through sparse Alpine meadows and in the shadow of the Doldenhorn Mountains until the lake comes into view. Initially, you will get to see Oeschinensee from above and then, once you loop around Oberbärgli, you will start to descend to its edge for a different perspective. When you reach the Panorama Restaurant Zur Sennhütte, stop to refuel before deciding whether to take the cable car or slightly steeper trail back down to Kandersteg.
If you are committed to more than a few hours of walking then Sweden is definitely one of the best European destinations to choose. There are various long-distance hikes around the capital of Stockholm, with the Roslagsleden trail being one of the most popular and interesting for history fans. The facilities along the way are great too, meaning you can easily piece together your own three or four-day itinerary, stopping in youth hostels, B&Bs or small public cabins along the way. There are also public swimming facilities in some of the lakes, as well as the chance to warm up with a customary sauna afterwards.
The Roslagsleden trail is easily reached via the metro from Stockholm – simply take the red T14 line all the way to Mörby Centrum and then walk the short distance to Danderyd where the beginning of the route is clearly marked. As well as walking through forests, over wooden plank bridges and through traditional villages, you will see a number of runestones along the way – especially on the southern sections. Erected during the Viking Age, these stones feature intricate runic (an old Germanic language) scriptures and are thought to be placed in memorial to friends and family who died.
The trail stretches almost 120 miles in total and there are 11 different sections. Should you follow the route all the way to the end, you will be greeted by the coastal wilds of Grisslehamn.
Wachau World Heritage Trail, Austria
The Wachau World Heritage Trail is another long-distance trek for avid hikers, but it is easily split into manageable sections that take just a few hours to complete. The trail that winds through the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley is 110 miles in total, but the two most popular paths take you between Dürnstein and Wiesskirchen or Krems and Dürnstein.
The area is a famous winemaking region and so your walk is sure to take you alongside picturesque vineyards and through charming villages where wine plays a key role. There are also a number of castles and palaces within the valley (including Dürnstein Castle which once held Richard the Lionheart), providing a historic backdrop to your hike. As you walk this high-altitude path, you will get the occasional glimpse of the Danube winding its way through the landscape. For the best views, though, head to the Ferdinand Watch Tower.
One of the best parts of this walk is the fact that there are so many restaurants and wine terraces in which you can stop and have a rest. As well as the local tipple, be sure to try a dish made from the sweet apricots for which the valley is known.
High Tatras National Park, Slovakia
Slovakia isn’t particularly known for its jaw-dropping nature but the area around the High Tatras Mountains is a well-known hikers’ paradise. These peaks have become a symbol of the country and the national park offers various different routes at different altitudes that are suited to walkers with varying levels of fitness.
The mountains themselves will, obviously, make up much of the scenery around you but you’ll also pass mountain lakes, lush forests and thundering waterfalls as the landscapes of Slovakia continue to surprise you. Between the hikers in the summer and the skiers in the winter, this part of the world is slowly garnering more attention for its natural beauty.
If you would like to plan a walking and hiking holiday in Europe, our team will tailor-make a trip to your requirements. Call us on 0800 988 3369 or submit an online enquiry here.