Whether it is for half a day or for several, there is a wide range of fabulous walks from which to choose on a Europe trip. The best part… they don’t have to be strenuous.
My first introduction to hiking was when I was part of a school group in the UK in my early teens. We were taken on a trip to the Brecon Beacons in Wales and were told we would be walking anywhere between 16 kilometres/10 miles and 32 kilometres/20 miles each day. Any reluctance I had beforehand was quickly dispelled when I experienced the views and the amazing landscapes through which we travelled. Tired feet, yes, but it was well worth it. Ever since then, I have enjoyed the pastime of walking, especially in Europe. Here are some of the more interesting walks you can undertake on your next Europe trip.
The Comfortable Way to Walk On Multi-Day Walks
Walking doesn’t have to be about donning a backpack and sleeping in tents. There are many companies who will not only arrange accommodation en route in advance for you, but they will also transport your luggage from one point to the next so that it is available when you arrive at your next overnight stop. You will receive detailed maps and suggestions as to what to see and do during your walk. You can sleep in very comfortable hotels and relax in a bath after a day’s efforts. Routes can take you on minor roads, footpaths, through woods, and over hill and dale. Here are some walks for a Europe vacation which will give you an idea of what is available.
West Highland Way, Scotland
The West Highland Way starts from just outside Glasgow and finishes at Fort William. You can take anywhere from 4 to 10 days to cover a distance of 154 kilometres/96 miles. The scenery en route is some of the country’s best, on Scotland vacations. You will walk along the banks of Scotland’s most beautiful lake, Loch Lomond, across highland wilderness on Rannoch Moor, and experience the Devil’s Staircase through the rocky ridge known as Aonach Eagach, before arriving at the foot of United Kingdom’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. En route, you will pass charming rural villages and whisky distilleries, perhaps stopping at whisky distilleries for a wee dram.
The Cumbria Way, Lake District, England
This is one walk which my wife and I undertook a few years ago on a UK vacation. We have many happy memories and highly recommend this walk. The Lake District is a scenic national park made up of a series of serene lakes, rugged mountains rising up out of the sides of the lakes, and several attractive, very British market towns to stay in en route. With its green fields, stone cottages, dry stone walls, and rolling fells, the landscape of the Lake District will definitely charm you. This 122 kilometre/76 mile walk takes you by some of the best-known lakes such as Coniston, Ullswater and Derwentwater. You start at the market town of Ulverston and finish in Carlisle to the north. It is possible to just do the portion from Ulverston to Keswick (70 kilometres/48 miles in 4 days) or from Keswick to Carlisle (53 kilometres/33 miles in 2 days). A quick personal story – Coniston is famous for being the site of Donald Campbell‘s ill-fated world record water speed attempt when he drowned in the lake. The owner of our overnight hotel was the person who had the job of bringing up his body from the depths of the lake. You never know who or what you might meet on these walks.
The Camino de Santiago Walk, Spain
This walk is well-known but it is not for everyone on a Spain vacation. It started out as a walk for Christian pilgrims. However, today, hundreds of thousands set out each year from their front doorsteps or from popular starting points across Europe to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. In addition to those undertaking a religious pilgrimage, many are hikers who walk the route for other reasons, perhaps for the challenge of walking in a foreign land. There are several routes but I am zeroing in on the most popular which is called the Camino del Norte (Northern Way), which starts in San Sebastian and follows the route along the coast of the Bay of Biscay. This is the route believed to be the first to be used by pilgrims. The route passes through Guernica (known because of Picasso’s famous painting), Bilbao (a gastronomic city), and Oviedo (a historic centre). You stay in accommodation along the way, similar to youth hostels – nothing fancy. Hostels may be run by the local parish, the local council, private owners or pilgrims’ associations. Occasionally these are located in monasteries. The total distance of the route is 650 kilometres/400 miles.
The Laugavegur Trek, Iceland
Iceland is a nature wonderland, and so why not get right into it on a 55 kilometre/34 mile hike on an Iceland vacation. The reward is seeing volcanoes, spouting geysers, glaciers, magnificent waterfalls, and much more. The Laugavegur trekking route goes through south-west Iceland starting at the hot springs area of Landmannalaugar to the glacial valley of Thorsmork. This walk is noted for its wide variety of landscapes. The route is typically completed over 2 to 4 days, depending on your speed and desire to not rush through this amazing terrain, with overnight stops at mountain huts. By the way, you can start off with a swim in the hot spring.
Black Forest Walks, Germany
The Black Forest is a large forested mountain range in south-west Germany and known for its spa town, Baden Baden. As well as its beauty, which can be discovered on German vacations, it is also the perfect place for hikes. If you can believe it, the Black Forest offers an incredible 20,000 kilometres/12,430 miles of well-signposted trails allowing walkers some wonderful sights and viewpoints, on their Europe trip, that often cannot be accessed by car, including castle ruins and waterfalls. There is a large selection of multi-day walks ranging from 2 to 6 days duration. Normally, the daily distance is from 14 to 23 kilometres/8 to 14 miles. You can choose from a range of accommodation, such as mountain huts to upscale first-class hotels. The walks can be over low mountaintops, through lush verdant fields, and also into the wine regions.
Amazing Day Walks on Your Europe Trip
The Ring of Kerry, Ireland
The Ring of Kerry is a peninsula of exceptional beauty in south-west Ireland, easily accessible from Killarney and other major centres on Ireland tours. Walking will combine country lanes and coastal paths. You encounter Ireland’s highest mountain range to the spectacular coastline. You will come across ancient historical sites, stone forts, old monasteries, and castles. Above all are the views of the Atlantic Ocean. A range of wildlife enhances the experience. You can take a walk along the Kerry Way, Ireland’s premier marked trail. Day walks vary from 10 kilometres/6 miles to 16 kilometres/10 miles. The average length of the walks is around 6 hours.
Amalfi Coastal Walk, Italy
You have heard the expression, “See Naples and die.” Well, I have had to invent a new expression for this walk, “See the Amalfi Coast and believe you are in heaven.” If you are aware of the beauty and magnificence of this part of Italy, you will know how exceptional it is. By exploring on foot, you will appreciate the coastal scenery seen from tall cliffs while meandering through attractive sleepy small villages. There are many advertised walks on offer which range from easy to reasonably strenuous. Distances vary from 4 kilometres/2.5 miles to 16 kilometres/10 miles and length from 3 to 6 hours. An example is the one called “Path of the Gods,” which goes from Agerola to Positano and takes around four and a half hours. The views on this walk are unbelievable. If you are ever in this region on an Italy vacation, you will be able to obtain information on these walks, all of which are recommended on your Europe trip.
Pulpit Rock Walk, Norway
There is a slab of stone jutting out above the Norwegian fjord called Lysefjord. This hike is the most popular one in Norway and not too difficult. To get to Pulpit Rock, the six kilometer/3.5 mile hike starts at Preikestolen. Allow a total of four hours for this moderately demanding round trip. The climb is quite steep at first, but the view will more than compensate for this when you arrive. You will literally be on top of the world at Pulpit Rock on your Norway vacation.
Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland is so well located for many different walks and is an ideal centre for anyone interested in undertaking one on Switzerland vacations. This Swiss resort is sandwiched between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and is close to the peaks of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau Mountains. The local tourist board advertises that there are 27 available day walks. Some of them start at a point just outside Interlaken but are easily reached by local bus or train. For example, you can take the cable car from the village of Wengen to Mannlichen and then hike to the Kleine Scheideg, a mountain with excellent views of the surrounding countryside. You can take the Schynige Platte Bahn train from Grindelwald up to Schynige Platte, another amazing mountain viewpoint, and then take a panoramic trail to Faulhorn, a mountain peak, after which, head down to First to connect with a gondola to Grindelwald. Or you can take the cable car to Grutchalp from Lauterbrunnen and then walk the flat trail into Murren, a charming car-free, delightful village with great views.
For comfort’s sake, on any of these walks, do obtain a good pair of hiking shoes or boots. Then you can concentrate on the outstanding beauty while walking on a Europe vacation.