Things to do on a walking vacation in Europe



Just as the only options in a coffee shop used to be, well, coffee, the hiking vacation menu is starting to explode with flavours and fun. Because Generation X loves choice. They like to multitask, even on a walking vacation. Which isnít always a bad thing, of course. With variety comes adventure, and with adventure comes a more responsible form of tourism, ideally. We arenít talking the type of multitasking on offer at sterile sports resorts however, with robotically timetabled activities pretty much cleansed of local culture. We are talking about combination walking vacations that are led by and support a diverse range of local people. So, for example, you can combine sailing and hiking around the Greek Islands, swapping sea legs for land ones, captains for climbers. Or combine Spanish classes with spiritual strolls along the Camino de Santiago. For all those dog lovers out there, go hiking with huskies in Finland, learning all about husky handling and farming before they hit the trails for winter. And, in France, combining yoga and hiking on vacation is many peopleís idea of Nirvana. Salute the sun, walk under its rays, and then meditate as it bids farewell for the day

Wildlife watching

Europe has a wide array of fauna to accompany your forays into wilderness. If you already love walking in Scotland, go with a wildlife expert next time because, like all wildlife and wilderness walking vacations, the secret to seeing gems such as red deer or golden eagles is to get a top guide. In Finland, Romania and Spainís Picos de Europa mountains you can walk in the footsteps of bears and wolves, and in the Alps you will be overtaken on the slopes as chamois and ibex leap up ahead of you at speed. You can either go on a wildlife watching vacation, with naturalist guides, that will take you trekking and tracking, such as a bird watching vacation in Hungaryís Bukk National Park. Birders love to walk too after all. Or simply seek out a walking vacation, but talk with your operator about how much expertise your walking guide has in wildlife. Or buy a book, swot up in advance, and donít forget your binoculars.

Eat, drink & keep locals merry

Ramblers have a bit of a reputation for worshipping the god of Tupperware full of homemade sandwiches and flask of tea frame of mind.

However, in very rural areas, small shops and cafes depend on hikersí income for several months of the year, so please donít pass them by and just ask them to fill your bottle with water. But fill their coffers instead.

Wine trails

It is not a total coincidence that many of Europeís most exquisite walking trails are linked to wineries and vineyards. The walking trails may have originally been trading routes for wine to be transported from one country to another. Combine wine tasting and walking vacations in the likes of Catalonia and Croatia, La Rioja in Spain or Chianti in Tuscany. Gives a whole new meaning to Ďtreading grapesí.
Photo credits: [Multitask: Tyler Karaszewski] [Eat, drink and keep locals merry: Jupacri] [helpdesk: Fresco Tours] [Wine trails: Francesco Sgroi]
Written by Catherine Mack
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