Although “walking” is not something we instantly connect with the word “holiday”, there is no better way to recuperate from an sedentary office lifestyle than to plan for a walking, hiking holiday.
Fortunately, Europe offers many great locations for a perfect walking holiday. Let’s explore some of them, and perhaps discover some hidden beauty at a few not-so-well-known commercial locations.
The High Tatras, Slovakia
If you love the pristine European nature and mountains, you might enjoy visiting the Slovakian High Tatra Mountains. Slovakia has really come a long way in preserving their protected areas and other natural treasures and it shows in the beauty of its wilderness. Besides the intrinsic value of healthy ecosystems, this is a great opportunity for hiking tourism. Many compare the Slovakian High Tatras with the Alps, but at a more reasonable price. That doesn’t diminish their beauty at all – the Tatra Mountains are a true example of the green European heartland (or highland, to be more precise).
The Tatras have a good system of cable car routes and overnight huts. This is especially true for the classic trek by Travel Slovakia, leading you through beautiful scenery, leading you to some great huts as well. The Tatras are a true hiking-mountaineering option, so make sure you have proper footwear, and perhaps some additional gear such as walking poles.
The small Adriatic country of Montenegro is usually advertised for its seaside tourism, but the Montenegro mountains, rising above the sea, are its hidden treasure. After all, Montenegro actually means “Black Mountain”. The most stunning of the mountains is probably Durmitor. What is fascinating about it is that it offers such varied landscape – many stony peaks, a rich forest, gorgeous glacial lakes with the Black Lake being most the famous and beautiful, a popular Ice Cave, hilly green pastures with the azure-blue Devil’s Lake in the middle of it. The amount of varied scenery you can experience is stunning.
While walking treks are generally well organized, note that Durmitor is not very developed when it comes to infrastructure and utilities when compared to some other European locations. It is a great destination for people that are already somewhat experienced in mountain holidays, and it has been especially popular with mountain-loving visitors from Central Europe, the Baltic countries and Germany.
The Camino de Santiago
Ancient pilgrim routes are ideal for walking holidays, since besides enjoying the walking and nature, religious or not – you get to be a part of something bigger, a collective walking effort for a higher purpose.
While its name suggests otherwise, the Camino de Santiago is not just one “way” – there are several trails that will lead you to Santiago de Compostela, the end point of this pilgrimage. You can choose which one you prefer based on length and the type of terrain it covers, as well as the starting points and “checkpoints” you find attractive. For example, the Camino Frances, a long and a really popular route, which will lead you through French pastures and hills over the Pyrenees and into Spain, differs significantly from the Camino Portuguese – which takes you from Lisbon or Porto through the Portuguese coast and countryside into Spain from another direction.
If you’re captivated by the idea of taking on the Camino, but don’t know what’s the best trail for you, an experienced and reliable operator, such as Follow The Camino might be of great assistance in helping you to pick the right Way for you.
While Malta is a really popular beach destination, especially among British tourists, the Maltese islands feature a surprising amount of countryside, some of it almost unchanged for centuries. Only about one-fifth of Malta is urbanized. This fact in combination with generally gentle, safe and beautiful Mediterranean terrain makes Malta ideal for a walking holiday, even if you’re not a hardcore hiker.
Malta is lush green from November to May, and temperatures are within a very pleasant range, so this might be an ideal time to do some Malta trekking. Some great areas for day hikes are Mellieħa, Dingli, Għar Lapsi, Fawwara, Wardija, almost all of the North and the southern coast with its fishing villages.