Spotlight Adventures & Destinations for 2022 & Beyond: after unprecedented lockdowns and at-home pastiming, open-air adventures have never looked so good! This pick is less the destination and more the adventure, though both considerations are travel-bucket worthy.
Why trekking in Europe should be on your bucket-list!
By Deborah Sanborn | Outpost Travel Media
(feature photo: Janoka82/iStock)
If there’s one theme we’re highlighting for travel this year—and it’s not so clear we are, because circumstances can flip on a whim and adaptability is key—it’s the outdoor gloriousness of our stunning little planet. Pick any country—indeed, any spot—and, if you’re really looking, you’re bound to see a corner of the natural world that just astounds.
Comparatively, continental-wise, Europe is petite—but its puzzle-like, geo-cultural mosaic has always made it a popular destination. Great cities with rich histories, diverse topography, mountains, and spectacular coastlines (along the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, the North, Irish and Baltic sea — well, let’s just say lots!) There’s all that and more to experience. But after months (and months and months!) of in-dooring, it may be the perfect time to explore its outdoorsy opportunities—which is why we think trekking options on the Continent are worth considering not just for next year but frankly, for any in your lifetime.
You can start with the famed GR Routes of Europe—a network of approximately 100 hiking routes (both long and short; both one-day and multi-day) in Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and which are also part of the famed, more extensive network of long-distance, multi-country walking routes across Europe known as the E-paths.
There are too many tributaries of the E-path network to list here, but for more information, you can check out the European Ramblers Association (ERA), which sort of oversees the E-path system, with membership from 35 European countries. “E-paths are the backbone of Europe’s walking trails,” the ERA states on its site. “They are long-distance trails that connect national and regional walking trails and provide intercultural experiences across the borders.”
Yet perhaps one of the best reasons a trekking trip in Europe is such a great option is that if visiting one of the continent’s urban gems is on your bucket-list (Paris, Lisbon, London, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Madrid, Dublin or Edinburgh, to name but a few), tagging a few extra days at either end of an active-adventures trip is a great way to do it—indeed, many trip companies offer these kinds of tag-on options when booking.
Next year, Intrepid Travel is highlighting its Great Walks of Europe trip collection that includes at least six of Europe’s most iconic treks—but, organized with sustainability and responsible travel in mind, which the company is famed for long-championing.
“These trips will offer travellers a sustainable, active and safe option for exploring Europe—as all travellers and tour leaders with Intrepid must be vaccinated,” Nicole Powell, a spokesperson for Intrepid, told Outpost, adding that all trips include stays at family-run accommodations and will have “minimal transport.”
Here are a few of the treks in the Intrepid collection:
- Walk the Camino de Santiago (Spain): This pilgrimage trek is, of course, legendary—and on this version, you hike the final 100 kilometres over seven days through northern Spain’s stunning countryside.
- Hike the Rota Vicentina (Portugal). This long-distance footpath, known as the Fisherman’s Trial, follows along Portugal’s stunning southwestern coast. This version by Intrepid will see you trek for eight days along a portion of the trail that includes Alentejo and Portugal’s famed Algarve region. Lots of fresh seafood to be sampled, and maybe even a chance to surf or paddleboard.
- Hiking in the Dolomites (Italy). The Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy offer fantastic trekking and mountaineering opportunities—on this trip, based in the town of Dobbiaco, you will spend eight days exploring these environs in the Dolomites, which include the Three Peaks of Lavaredo and the Earth Pyramids of Platten.
- Hike the Lycian Way (Turkey): A spectacular trek which we’ve written about before, it follows the Turquoise Coast of Turkey along track that offers stunning views, will see you meet friendly locals in quaint villages (and sample great local cuisine!), and maybe even learn some fascinating history—after all, it’s a trail that dates to ancient Greek and Roman eras. You trek for about eight days, with stops to dip in the Aegean Sea.
- Mont Blanc Highlights (France): What’s to say about trekking in the European Alps?! This classic sees you based in the famed stunning little mountain town of Chamonix, France, with eight days of trekking and exploring.
And here are just a few of the other many treks in Europe worth considering overall: the GR20 route on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica; the Dingle Way of Ireland; the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in Wales; Spain’s Camino dos Faros (The Lighthouse Way) coastal trek; the Slovenian Mountain Trail; the National Blue Trail in Hungary; the Scenic Route Hardangervidda in Norway; and the multi-country 2,000-kilometre Via Francigena pilgrimage route that launches in England and ends in Rome. But again, in Europe, there are just too many to list here — so, here are a few places to start:
The European Ramblers Association, a consortium of national associations which together oversees the E-paths of Europe: www.era-ewv-ferp.org
The GR Routes of France: www.gr-infos.com
Scotland’s Great Trails: www.scotlandsgreattrails.com
England’s Great Walking Trails: www.nationaltrail.co.uk