European Walking Holidays

Beautiful Europe Holidays

european walking holidays

Many ski resorts open year-round – these make superb bases for walks, as you’re already in the mountains. Longer routes through remote areas sometimes have mountain huts, bothies or chalets at strategic points, particularly in Western Europe. These can get busy during peak times. Some countries and routes have package schemes that book your accommodation for you, and arrange to transport your luggage between overnight stops.

European Walking Holidays

The Alps are incredibly popular for walking holidays, although yodelling is optional. Mont Blanc is a spectacular trail, while other treks are available in Italy, Germany and Switzerland – in some cases, your path will take you through all three countries. Guided and self-guided walks and packages are available. Accommodation can be very well appointed indeed, and is certainly easy to organise – the downside is that the Alps are busy.

The Scandinavian Mountains are the biggest mountain range in Europe. The King’s Trail in Sweden is a very popular walking route, which takes around five days to complete; you’ll cross mountains, lakes and suspension bridges. Norway has the highest mountains in the region, but few long-distance hiking routes. Finland is flatter and has several lengthy trails.

The Pyrenees are also extremely popular. The Way of St James is an ancient medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago. Although the route technically starts where you begin, most paths converge by Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, and continue across the Pyrenees to Spain. You can do this is part of an organised package holiday, staying at small inns – many are either very old inns, or on the same site as those occupied by early pilgrims.

Great Walks in Europe

Scotland is a favourite country for walkers, as it’s relatively compact. The West Highland Way is the most famous lengthy trail; it runs from near Glasgow along the shores of Loch Lomond, up through some spectacular glens, and finishes at Fort William. For a one off, try climbing a Munroe. The truly committed can try the Southern Upland Way, which takes around a fortnight.

The Carpathians are the second-biggest mountain range in Europe, and run through Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, Poland. This range is relatively quiet compared to the Alps; Slovakia probably has the most developed part of the range for walking holidays. Guided walks are available in Slovakia and Romania.

If you fancy a day walk, then there are numerous routes throughout Europe. You can also, in many places, get a ski lift or funicular up the mountain and then walk back down, which is certainly the easiest way to get around!

Much of the countryside in Europe is accessible to all. However, check what is and isn’t allowed before you go heading away from any widely used paths, or lighting fires. It’s also worth noting that you might not need your passport to cross legal boundaries – Scotland and England have wildly different countryside access laws and traditions.

It’s sometimes feasible to camp over in national parks -countries like Sweden have fairly liberal wild camping laws, and in some cases this is the only way to complete longer walks. However, you’re unlikely to want to do this for more than one or two nights, and the cost of lightweight tents and other kit can be prohibitive.

Travel Info
Wherever you decide to go, wear stout footwear, take adequate water, sun block and emergency kit, have a good map and compass, pick a route appropriate to your fitness level, and tell someone – like a hotel receptionist – where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Check the weather, but be aware that it can change quickly. Even on busy and relatively easy and safe routes in Scotland, people frequently run into problems through ignorance and downright stupidity. Have fun, but respect the mountains.