Although Britain is full of amazing places to walk, there are also fantastic walking regions across Europe. If you want to explore any of these regions, then it is possible to visit most of them independently. On the other hand, there are a number of large walking tour operators who run regular trips to these regions including guided walks around the best areas.
The Alps are a bastion of all outdoors activities. During the winter months, the Alps are well-known as a top skiing destination, but when the snow melts, the steep slopes and rugged mountains become gorgeous places to go hiking.
The low lying alpine regions can easily be visited without a guide, but inexperienced walkers are advised to consider guided walks if they wish to venture higher. The highest peaks should not be attempted without considerable walking experience and outdoors skills. There is also the opportunity to “walk” using Via Ferrata routes, such as that in the Italian mountain region. Walkers on these routes are forced to clip themselves onto thick metal cables to enable them to traverse more difficult sections of the path.
The Alps region is very well-equipped for walkers and there are hundreds of huts, cabins and chalets which are specifically designed for walkers to stop at for a night’s basic accommodation. There are also a wide range of different campsites, from totally basic pitches through to luxury camping resorts.
Iceland – The Hot Springs Route
The landscape of Iceland cannot be compared to any other landscape in Europe. It is so varied that it is regularly chosen by filmmakers as a stand-in for other worlds. Once you start to explore the Icelandic wilderness, you will quickly come to realise why the country is known as the Land of Fire and Ice. The whole country has been shaped by the ice that regularly covers the land and by the geothermal activities that occur below the surface.
During the summer months, most areas of Iceland are accessible by solo walkers; however some areas do require an additional fee or a guide due to the geothermal activities in the vicinity. A guide will help to ensure that you see the best sites whilst ensuring that you stay safe. They will also be able to speak to you about the fascinating mythology of the area, ranging from trolls to the queen of the elves.
Path of Peace in the Balkans
The Peaks of the Balkans trail is a wonderful example of a path of peace in the Balkans region. The area was torn apart by war in the 1990’s, and this trail has since come to represent the peaceful relationships that the countries are now beginning to foster. The trail winds through high crags and low foothills, and enters Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. It offers a far more raw experience than that which is offered by alternative long distance trails in Western Europe.
Individual walkers are advised to break down the walk into individual sections and tackle stages separately, because the border crossing procedure can be overly bureaucratic for those who want to cross in the mountains. Some sections of the trail are graded as high level of difficulty and should only be attempted with a guide unless you have considerable outdoor experience.
GR20 – Corsica
The GR20 is one of the toughest long distance routes is France, but it is ideal for those who are looking for a challenge. The trail covers the whole length of the island and takes around 2 weeks to complete. Although it is only 105 miles long, there are a number of steep inclines and sections that require some scrambling. The higher altitude sections of the walk are not for the faint-hearted.
Accommodation along the route is a mixture of camping and guest houses, although you may have to go off route slightly to find the latter. The trail can get to over 40 degrees during the summer months, so take plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Alsace Wine Trail
The Alsace wine region in France is known for its wonderful mix of fine wines and good food. Combine your love of walking with the opportunity to visit some of the best producers in the country.
Most of the walking in this area is easy and traverses through pleasant vineyard areas and beautiful rolling countryside. Individuals are able to choose their own routes around the region, but the local tourist information bureau should be able to provide you with information about the most popular vineyards and accommodation options in the area. Take care if you decide to head back out into the countryside after you have consumed wine and avoid walking straight after eating a heavy meal. Take plenty of water with you so that you can avoid the dehydrating effects of alcohol.