8 Leisurely Walking Holidays in Europe

One of the positives to emerge from our lockdowns was that many of us fell in love with walking. Now, with travel firmly back on the cards, a holiday on foot is a wonderful way to see some of our favourite places in Europe. Covering wine tasting and gourmet food in Tuscany to epic views in Arctic Norway, we’ve rounded up some easy to moderate routes that won’t leave you with aching knees and limbs at the end of the day…
The Dordogne Valley

Classic France In The Dordogne Valley

The Dordogne courses its way from the Massif Central to the Atlantic at Bordeaux, through some of France’s most beautiful countryside. On this week-long itinerary, you’ll get a taste of the Middle Dordogne, starting at Beaulieu and ending in the historic pilgrimage centre of Rocamadour. En route, you’ll pass via the pretty towns and villages of Port de Gargnac, Loubressac, Autoire, Carennac and Meyronne, to name a few, taking in dramatic waterfalls, vineyards, woods and wide-open countryside. On the final day, you have the option to walk along the steep-sided valley of the river Ouysse, a tributary of the Dordogne, to Belcastel and a late lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

How long: 7 nights (options of 4, 5 or 6 nights).

How hard: Easy to moderate, 12-22.5km (or shorter option of 8-14km) per day.

Accommodation: Traditional inns and small hotels, including a former château, many of them riverside.

Luggage transfer: Yes.

For details and to book: Visit OnFootHolidays.co.uk

Lakes, Mountains & A Swiss Pearl

Known as the pearl of Switzerland, Lucerne sits on the lake of the same name at the foot of the Swiss-German part of the Alps, where the jagged mountain peaks of Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus dominate the skyline. You’ll experience the best of the area on this five-day inn-to-inn walking holiday around the picturesque Lake Lucerne Riviera, staying in comfortable lakeside hotels as well as a spectacular mountain hotel. You’ll travel by cable cars and cog railways to dizzying heights where you’ll enjoy sweeping views, away from the tourist hotspots with only a few alpine cows for company. One night is spent at the summit of Pilatus – an unforgettable experience. The trip finishes in Lucerne, where you’ll have time to discover this pretty town and its famous monuments and bridges.

How long: 4 nights.

How hard: Easy to moderate, 5-11km per day (cable cars and cog railways are used for tough ascents and descents).

Accommodation: Comfortable hand-picked spa hotels with fabulous lakeside locations, plus one night at the Pilatus Kulm Hotel on Mount Pilatus.

Luggage transfer: Yes.

For details and to book: Visit MacsAdventure.com

Lake Garda

An Italian Lake Paradise

Discover the quiet side of Lake Garda, staying in Gargnano, a small waterfront town much-loved by D.H. Lawrence.  Today, it remains one of the lake’s most authentic destinations – it’s home to hundreds of ancient ‘lemon houses’ which once sheltered Garda’s precious citrus fruit. It’s an ideal base for exploring the area, with a good choice of leisurely walking trails nearby through atmospheric valleys, unspoiled villages and to the elegant town of Gardone Riviera. You can also harbour-hop and criss-cross the lake by ferry. Each shoreline offers something different: to the north, you’ll find the sophisticated fjord-like Riva del Garda; to the south, the more Mediterranean and mellow side, home to the island of Isola del Garda. You’ll stay in the family-run Hotel Gardenia al Lago right on the shoreline with views over to majestic Monte Baldo. The hotel has been owned and run by the Arosio family for three generations and oozes old-world charm. 

How long: 7 nights.

How hard: Easy.

Accommodation: Family-run Hotel Gardenia al Lago.

Luggage transfer: n/a

For details and to book: Visit InnTravel.co.uk

Mallorca’s Wonderful Paths 

Walk some of Mallorca’s most beautiful paths through a variety of landscapes, from rocky coastlines to alpine grasslands and exposed ridgelines to shady olive groves. Starting in Pollença, you’ll loop around the La Victoria peninsula between cliffs and quiet coves before moving into the heart of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. Hike up to the castle ruins at Castell d’Alaro and wander through the forests in the Orient valley, sampling the hearty local cuisine in sleepy villages. On the way to Bunyola you’ll have fantastic views from Penyal d’Honor and a swim in the clear waters of Deia bay, the perfect way to round off the tour. En route, you’ll stay in lovely finca hotels (traditional historic buildings), all of which have gardens and swimming pools, allowing for some real relaxation between your walks. 

How long: 6 nights.

How hard: Easy to moderate, 10-15km per day.

Accommodation: Finca Son Sant Jordi in Pollença; Finca Son Palou in Orient; Finca Can Quatre in Soller.

Luggage transfer: Yes.

For details and to book: Visit FreedomTreks.co.uk


Timeless Brač 

Brač is the third largest island in the Croatian archipelago and a short ferry ride from Split. You’ll be based for the week in the fishing village of Postira on the northern shore of the island, staying in the four-star Hotel Lipa. From here, enjoy dramatic views of the coastal mountains and outlying islands as you walk the maze of old goat trails and farm roads that cover the island. You’ll discover isolated villages where they still produce wine and olive oil,  and visit 16th-century Blaca Monastery. On day five, you’ll take the ferry to Split for a guided tour of the city. At the end of each day, you can relax in your hotel’s pool, take a dip in the Adriatic or enjoy a spa treatment before watching the sun go down with a drink in Postira harbour.

How long: 7 nights.

How hard: Moderate, 7-11km per day.

Accommodation: Hotel Lipa.

Luggage transfer: n/a

For details and to book: Visit RamblersWalkingHolidays.co.uk

Catch The Midnight Sun In Norway

Enjoy the wild and dramatic scenery of the Lofoten Islands in Norway’s far Arctic north. You’ll discover expanses of open moorland, hidden mountain lakes and a picturesque coastline bathed for much of the summer in the light of the ‘midnight sun’. Starting in Svolvær, the small capital of the islands, you work your way south-westwards, staying on two of the archipelago’s main groups of islands. A car is included for you to drive between bases and make the most of the walking. The simple, traditional accommodation – much of it in converted fisherman’s cottages – gives you a glimpse of everyday life in typical Lofoten fishing villages.

How long: 7 nights.

How hard: Moderate, 5.5-13.5km per day, but you can take your pick of the suggested routes, depending on how energetic you’re feeling.

Accommodation: Svinøya Rorbuer in Svolvær; Statles Rorbusenter in Mortsund; Reine Rorbuer in Reine.

Luggage transfer: n/a – hire car included.

For details and to book: Visit Inntravel.co.uk


Walk With Mules in Andalusia

Husband and wife team, Hughie and Clare Arbuthnott, will welcome you into their luxe Andalusian home – Almuña – for four nights as your base for the start of a week’s holiday. From here, you’ll set off on local day trips to various places like Gaucín. You’ll then set off for Benaoján and then Ronda on your final day. Throughout the week, you’ll enjoy the ever-changing Mediterranean scenery and walk via narrow paths through cork forests, olive groves, green pastures and rugged limestone mountains – every day is a completely different walking experience, most accompanied by mules. The final walk into Ronda will leave an indelible memory of the great gorge straddled by a mighty bridge, which can only be seen when approaching on foot.

How long: 7 nights.

How hard: Easy to moderate, 8-16km per day (with non-walking options available).

Accommodation: In addition to Almuña, you’ll stay in a restored olive mill and a luxe parador.

Luggage transfer: Yes.

For details and to book: Visit ArbuthnottHolidays.com

A Tuscan Harvest

Starting and ending in Pisa, this classic Tuscan trip celebrates the region's unmistakable landscape, abundant vineyards and strong culinary heritage.  You’ll walk off the beaten track to remote castles, formal gardens and the vineyards of Chianti where you’ll meet local winemakers and taste their wines and olive oils. Along the way, you’ll eat in a variety of fabulous restaurants, including – on your final evening – in the two Michelin-starred Arnolfo Ristorante. There’s also  a fun pasta-making session with a local chef in the 16th-century kitchen of a private country villa, and a free day in Siena to explore this medieval jewel and see the Piazza del Campo where the legendary Palio horserace takes place. 

How long: 7 nights.

How hard: Easy to moderate, 7.5-16km per day.

Accommodation: Historic family-owned Villa Le Barone in the heart of Chianti and Palazzo San Lorenzo in the medieval town of Colle Val d’Elsa.

Luggage transfer: Yes.

For details and to book: Visit Hedonistic Hiking

… And Some Useful Information For First-Timers

Inntravel has launched an online guide for new walkers which is packed with top tips to help you navigate your way around choosing your first walking holiday, whether at home or abroad.

Piazza Del Campo In Siena

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