We're all about embracing a slower pace of life here at Original Travel, and what better way to do that than on a walking holiday. Venture into the great outdoors and spend your days ambling (or marching, depending on your chosen walking pace) through some of Europe's most beautiful scenery from wild national parks to craggy mountains and sparkling lakes. Then, come evening, put your feet up and enjoy a well-deserved dinner and glass (or more) of delicious local wine. Sound appealing? Then read on for our five best European walking holidays
Picos de Europa, Spain
The Picos de Europa National Park in northern Spain is home to some of Europe's best walking trails. One of our favourites is the Cares Route. Also known as the Divine Gorge, the Cares Route consists of a seven-and-a-half-mile-long path cut into the limestone rock of the mountains. The first part of the walk involves a fairly steep uphill climb, but it's well worth it, as after that it levels off and the views throughout are spectacular. Another of our top picks is the lakes of Covadonga where you can enjoy the beautiful lakeside scenery on a circular walking route around Lake Enol and Lake Ercina, stopping off along the way for a rest and a bite to eat at traditional stone huts dotted throughout the mountains.
The Dolomites, Italy
Contrary to popular belief, the mountains offer much more than just great skiing, and the Dolomites in particular really come into their own in the summer, when options for scenic walks through the lush mountain valleys are almost endless. Either head out with an expert local guide or go solo, armed with plenty of route suggestions, and explore the mountains at your own pace. Stay in lovely hotels or hidden mountain inns and enjoy fantastic Italian cuisine to make your Dolomites walking holiday even more memorable. If you fancy injecting some adrenaline into your walking holiday, have a go at the Dolomites' Via Ferrata, or 'iron ways', and make your way across the iron wrung ladders, footpaths and rope bridges that run across the mountains to take in the dramatic scenery from a totally different perspective.
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Last year, a new long-distance hiking trail (we're talking 180-odd miles) opened in Slovenia. The Juliana Trail, which runs through Triglav National Park and the Julian Alps, takes you through stunning Sound of Music scenery, and will have you singing The Hills are Alive before you know it. The trail is divided into 16 sections, and is fairly flat throughout, so doesn't have to be as demanding as it might sound. There are plenty of other hiking options throughout the country including one with a cultural twist - the Walk of Peace - which takes you through some of the battlefields of World War I and gives you the chance to learn more about the history of the war. For a real hiking challenge, climb Slovenia's highest summit - Mount Triglav - which stands at a whopping 9,400ft-tall in the heart of Triglav National Park.
For a slightly more extreme walking holiday, trek the length of the island of Corsica along the GR20 trail, thought to be one of the most challenging long-distance walking trails in Europe. This route usually takes about two weeks and involves almost as much rock climbing as it does walking, but takes in some seriously spectacular scenery along the way including glimpses of the dramatic coastline on the horizon at times. Alternatively, for some slightly more leisurely walks, head to the beautiful hilltop town of Corte, where there are numerous trail options. One of our favourites, is the route up to Lake Melo and
Piatra Craiului National Park, Romania
Head to Romania's Piatra Craiului National Park to experience some of the most dramatic scenery the Carpathian Mountains have to offer. Walk past gorges and caves, stop for lunch in a mountain lodge and even visit a natural bear hide. Next, head to the Bucegi Mountains in south eastern Transylvania, where there are plenty of options for day-hikes. Meander through meadows filled with wildflowers and keep your eyes peeled for golden eagles, Carpathian red deer, wild boar and plenty more. The mountains are also home to some impressive caves and rock formations - such as Bears' Cave, Ialomita Cave and the Sphinx and Babele - formed out of the Buecgi Plateau over thousands of years of erosion.
If you want more information about our best European walking holidays, get in touch and one of our Europe specialists will be happy to help.