It might take some people by surprise, but self-guided walking holidays are very popular! You walk a lot on any vacation that you take, but this is different. It can be a walk that you take alone, or with a group of friends, either way, you won’t be interrupted by the constant chatter of a guide and you’ll be left to spot all the natural beauty these walks have to offer. Add to it some soul searching and you have on your hands a winner; a trip that completely rejuvenates you and lets you shed a few extra pounds on the go. Europe is a holiday destination which is perfect in all regards, be it the landscape or weather. We have hand-picked the top ten walking holiday spots for you in Europe where you can spend some time talking to no one and listening only to your soul.
Arran Coastal Way, Scotland
The isle of Arran in Scotland beckons walkers from across the globe for a walk that is challenging yet leaves you feeling completely relaxed. It is your reward for completing the 65 miles circular walk around the isle which is as picture-perfect as you would expect a walking destination to be. Complete with beautiful landscapes and wildlife that add to its beauty, it is ideal for a week-long vacation. You can complete walking the isle in sections and smaller trips to spend more time here.
The eastern side of Iceland is where you must head for a calm walking holiday. Start your adventure with a walk to Strutsfoss and witness the 100 m waterfall cascade down with utmost grace. Traverse the snow-capped peaks and enjoy walking on the largest glacier of Europe – Vatnajokull – where you will be awe-struck by stunning crystal ice-caves. The reverie of your walk will be broken only by the faint grumbling erupting from the dormant volcano Snaefellsjokull. Alfaborg, popularly known as City of the elves, must be on your list too.
Hadrian’s Wall, UK
It was opened only in 2002 but since then has become immensely popular among walking holidayers. The walking trail takes you along Hadrian’s wall which was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrianus between 120AD and 128AD. This wall was built to protect the northern end of his empire and now serves as a tranquil walking trail. Most people start the walk from the eastern side of the wall with Newcastle, crossing Northumberland and Carlisle, ending it on the Solway Coast plains. You would get to see a milecastle after every mile and watch-towers in between.
The Pirin and Rila Mountains, Bulgaria
These mountains in Bulgaria are one of the lesser-known destinations in Europe but are one of the most beautiful ones for sure, if you are interested in walking along picturesque hilltops. Walking apart, the mountain ranges of Pirin and Rila are a treat to the eyes with their rare wildlife (you may spot a stray wolf or a bear if you are lucky), glacial lakes, waterfalls and Musala and Vihren which are among the highest peaks of the Balkans. If you fancy some introspection time indoors while you are here, you can visit the 10th-century monasteries of Balkans. The walk is quite challenging so ensure you have good walking shoes on your feet.
Cotswold Way, UK
Don’t just count sheep while you are trying to sleep at night, tired after your long walks, but count them while you are walking too. The sheep-grazing pastures you encounter on your walking route in Cotswold Way will make sure you do that. Starting from the old market town on Chipping Campden in the North, this 102 miles walk takes you further to the famous town called Bath. Villages with honey-colored houses and mansions built from the Cotswold stone are soothing to the eyes. Take a walk towards River Severn to enjoy breathtaking scenery on the way and when you reach Malvern Hills.
Crossing Catalonia, Spain
A walk that doesn’t tire you out but gives you an amazingly varied terrain, dotted with a lake, beaches, and coves: now that is what we call a perfect walking locale! Start your walk from the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone which has forty extinct volcano cones and head towards Banyoles where you can take a pit stop at the lake. Further ahead you would reach the town Girona from where you can go to Coast Brava to relax a while at the beach and visit the fishing villages.
Lake District, Windermere, UK
Walking is soul-soothing but we never said it was easy and a tour of the Lake District is all about a challenging walk, complete with you being able to read maps and compasses like a pro. The walk will take you to the well-known town of Windermere but the trail till there will take you along lakes and through mountains, as you retrace the steps of shepherds of the region. Two things that you must not miss amidst the pleasant valleys are Dove Cottage in Grasmere which used to be home to William Wordsworth, the poet, and Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England.
Herriot way, Yorkshire Dales, UK
With a short, circular walk of only 52 miles but replete with a fascinating landscape that is zen inducing, Herriot Way in Yorkshire Dales was made popular by writer James Herriot through his books that talk about this place. Soak in the beauty of the wildflowers and end your day relishing some good cheese at Wensleydale.
This location will give you an enriching experience while you walk in the lap of the majestic Scandinavian mountains. Geilo will let you warm-up while you move onto Finse and Flam, enjoying spectacular beauty on your way. You can take a ferry to Aurland for some more walking trails. A self- guided walk at your own pace is the best way to enjoy the landscape here, away from the cacophony of the world. Make your way through forests in Sognefjord, which are known as the king of fjords, considering they are the largest fjords in Norway. And you definitely would not want to miss out on Hardanjerfjord near Bremen.
Sibillini Mountains, Italy
Lush green surroundings, horses grazing leisurely, sighting wildlife like Grey Wolf or the Marsican Brown Bear and picking wild mushrooms while you take your walk: that’s what makes these mountains worth a visit. These mountains are right on the border between Umbria and Marche, offering you a six-day circular walk dotted with hill villages reflecting old world charm.
A walking holiday lets you take in the sights at ease without feeling the urgency to get on with the itinerary of the day. Remember to plan your holiday well and make it a walk to remember.