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The Americans call it leaf peeping, the Japanese call it momiji gari. But if you're looking to be inspired by the shades of autumn foliage, you don't need to travel all the way to New England or the Far East – Sherpa Expeditions have a number of trips where you can experience the splendour of the changing leaves in Europe.
PORTUGAL | Douro RAMBLER
Surround yourself with colour as autumn transforms the photogenic Douro River Valley, which slices across northern Portugal. As the terraced vineyards that slope along the riverbanks prepare for winter, they turn into an endless sea of red, orange and yellow. From visiting small working wine estates to taking scenic boat trips, there will be plenty of opportunities for wine tasting tours, where you can fortify yourself against the autumn chill with a glass of the region’s famed local port.
Departure dates until 15 October - click here for details and booking.
SPAIN | hiking in hidden Andalucía
The weather in Andalucía’s mountains can be harsh in the summer and winter months – but visit in autumn for beautiful gold and yellow colours of chestnuts and poplars lighting up the valleys, while the hedgerows and paths are lined with figs, mulberries, walnuts and pomegranates. With the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop, this is an exhilarating walk among terraced fields and through white-washed villages and along irrigation channels that date back to the Moorish era.
Departure dates until 20 November - click here for details and booking.
GERMANY | Bavaria - King Ludwig's Way
Saturated with alpine flowers in spring and crowded with tourists in summer, southern Germany offers more relaxed tempos for leaf-peeping during the autumn months. Home to the idyllic Romantic Road, this is fairy-tale country, with geranium-bedecked chalets, onion-shaped church spires and copper-turreted castles rising out of red and green forests – including the enchanting Neuschwanstein Castle, the eccentric King Ludwig’s most famous architectural masterpiece.
Departure dates until 22 October - click here for details and booking.
AUSTRIA | The Lake District and Dachstein Alps
Towering peaks, high mountain passes, alpine meadows and lakeside walks are all combined in this surprisingly compact area – there is nowhere better to experience autumn unfold in Austria than the heart of the Lake District, which encompasses 76 crystal clear lakes, the impressive Dachstein Glacier and breathtaking rock faces up to 3,000 vertical metres high. Wander through ochre mountain forests, explore glimmering lakeland shores and visit alpine villages of wooden chalets.
Departure dates until 20 October - click here for details and booking.
UK | Exploring the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds are a range of gentle hills extending northeast of the city of Bath, through Cheltenham to Stratford-upon-Avon - the ‘Heart of England’. The Cotswold landscape is an entrancing mixture of parkland, cultivated fields with dry-stone walls and patches of unspoilt woodland. In autumn the trees turn into a beautiful myriad of colours - there is nowhere better to experience the splendour of the English countryside as summer slowly fades away. Our walking tours of the Cotswolds are available as 5-day
There’s something very calming about walking beside a lake. The stillness of the water, and the views to the hills or mountains rising up from the far side of the lake can give a wonderful sense of space. And whether in the UK or Europe, lakeside towns and villages are often some of the most picturesque you’ll come across.
We offer a number of walks that include significant stretches of beautiful lakeside walking – here are a few of our favourites.
The Italian lakes are stunning – beautiful blue ribbons of water carving their way through majestic mountains, with classic coastal towns and villas dotted along the shores. Lake Como is one of the most famous, and has been a popular destination since the days of the Romans. As well as ancient Roman villas, the lake boasts grand hotels built for wealthy European and American tourists during the Victorian era.
Our trip starts in Como, and includes several walks that take you to some of the most attractive towns and villages on the lake’s shores, offering plenty of opportunities to drink in the magnificent views and sample the delicious food and wine.
Find out more about Lake Como Rambling here.
Undoubtedly the best way to enjoy Cumbria’s breath-taking natural beauty and refreshingly clear air is at a leisurely pace walking the Cumbria Way.
This tour provides an excellent introduction to the charms of English Lakeland, England’s most mountainous area, and one if its most beautiful regions. Walking is unquestionably the best way to see this celebrated landscape, hailed over the years by the likes of poets, authors and painters. Wordsworth, Tennyson, Arthur Ramson, Beatrix Potter and Wainwright have all left their mark.
Starting in Ulverston and finishing in Keswick, the walk takes in views of Lakes Coniston and Derwentwater, as well as Langdale and Borrowdale, two of the area’s prettiest valleys.
Find out more about walking the Cumbria Way here.
Welcome to beautiful Upper Austria in the hinterland of Mozart’s city of Salzburg. The beauty of the area embraced by the Dachstein Mountains and the Hallstattersee is truly inspirational. There are people who claim that once you have walked here you will have experienced the best ‘typical’ alpine hiking in Europe.
After a few days in the mountains you’ll descend to the waters of Lake Hallstattersee, and the ancient, picture-perfect lakeside town of Hallstatt. From here you’ll be able to explore the fascinating local area, and swim in the lake if the weather is warm enough.
Find out more about the trip here.
The Wicklow Way is Ireland's oldest waymarked trail, pioneered by a famous hill walker, J.B Malone over 40 years ago and reveals some of Irelands finest views - Powerscourt Waterfall, Luggala, Loch Dan, Glenmalure and historical Glendalough.
The Wicklow Way explores unspoilt trails, remote scenery, lakes, glacial valleys, forests and gentle farmland – before finishing in the famous city of Dublin. Along the way, you’ll pass through the spectacular Glendalough valley, with views of the two lakes that sit at the bottom of the valley.
Photo: Magdalena Smolnicka
We offer 7-day and 9-day versions of the Wicklow Way.
Loch Ness hardly needs an introduction – Scotland’s second largest loch stretches for 23 miles along the Great Glen, which links Fort William in the south to Inverness in the north, and contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined.
Whilst walking the great Glen Way, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of Loch Ness, as well the other lochs, and the majestic surrounding mountains, including, of course, Ben Nevis itself, the UK’s highest peak. Along the way, you’ll be treated by famous Scottish hospitality, and traditional food.
Read more about walking the Great Glen Way here.
Not technically lakes, the Fjords are great coastal grooves, gouged out by retreating glaciers from the last ice-age. What they definitely are though, is spectacular – providing a breath-taking walking experience that will live with you forever. There are a wide range of walks to take in the highlands, which lead you right up onto the glaciers edge; it is even possible to go out onto the ice to take an excursion. There are also the lusher walks down into the pastoral settings of the Flam and Aurland Valleys. These are furnished with forests, farmsteads, cascades and churches.
You’ll also visit Sognefjord, the longest fjord in the world.
Find out more about walking in the Fjordland here.
One of our self-guided cycling holidays, this trip takes you through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, which have long been a favoured destination for cyclists and walkers keen to experience the mountain peaks, shimmering lochs and pretty glens. Along the way, you’ll visit beautiful lochs Tay and Earn, as well as the River Tay and the peaceful lochside towns of Kenmore, Lochearnhead and Killin.
En route there are opportunities to take a forest walk or visit one of the many castles and ancient monuments to be found along the way.
Find out more about cycling the Lochs and Bens.
There’s nothing quite like walking in the mountains to reconnect yourself with nature. The majesty and vastness of a mountain landscape helps to remind us of our place in the world, and many people who spend a holiday amongst the magnificent peaks often describe it as a life-changing experience.
Although some mountain walking routes sit towards the challenging end of the spectrum, you certainly don’t need to be a mountaineer to take them on.
Here are a few of our favourite mountain walks for 2019.
The region around Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe (4,810m/15,780ft), is home to some of the best alpine walking and trekking in Europe, providing walkers with an opportunity to sample the culture and flavour of the three different countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. Our trekking holidays around Mont Blanc are dominated throughout by views of the highest peaks in the Alps. The traverse of the high passes takes you beneath spectacular glaciers and at other times you pass through picture-perfect Alpine villages and summer meadows.
Read more about the Tour du Mont Blanc.
You may also like: The Alpine Pass Route, The Wildstrubel Circuit, The Bernese Oberland & Reichenbach Falls, The Haute Route.
The Dolomites are like no other mountains in Europe. The Dolomite peaks are gigantic, chiselled monuments to the powerful forces of glacial erosion. Continuous sheer cliffs flank most of the peaks. Although not exceptionally high (the highest peak is Marmolada at 3,342m), they are amongst the most striking of all European mountains, coloured in weathered hues of rose, yellow, white and grey and rising in steep spires of fantastic form. Below lie bright green meadows alive with wild flowers all summer.
Read more about Walking in the Dolomites.
You may also like: Dolomites Guided Walk
The mountains form the backbone of this rugged island. Interesting and varied long distance footpaths cross the mountains from east to west. Based on old mule tracks and ancient routes of transhumance, these routes traditionally connected mountain villages with each other and with high level pastures. Crossing intermediate ridges and following forested valleys, they take the walker into the heart of the mountains, past tumbling rivers, mixed woodland and through attractive villages.
Read more about Corsica: Mountains & Sea
You may also like: A Saunter in Sardinia
This tour is a good choice for a summer hike, in a fascinating and generally quiet mountain region that is well off the beaten tracks of the higher Pyrenees. The route is truly spectacular in places, taking in some of the finest landscapes in Spain on the fringes of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park. You cross two passes of over 2,000m, which are normally free of snow by mid-June. On the way are forests, plateaus, terraced hillsides, charming villages, deep canyons and broad valleys.
Read more about Alto Aragon: The Spanish Pyrenees
You may also like: Mountains to the Mediterranean
Cyprus is an island of natural beauty in a region with an abundance of ancient and modern civilisations and cultures. Away from the cosmopolitan towns and beach resorts you will find large areas of natural, unspoilt countryside. Rugged, conifer-clad mountains, woodland, orchards and vineyards are interspersed with tranquil, timeless villages. The Troodos Mountains cover much of the southern and western part of the country and this walk takes you from walking in the high mountains down to the coast, starting from an altitude of about 1,100m.
Read more about The Troodos Mountains and Akamas – available as an 8-day or 11-day trip
You may also like: Zagoria – The Secret Villages
Claimed by some to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles, The West Highland Way follows a national trail through some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes. Starting at the village of Drymen just outside Glasgow, it includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland across the Rannoch Moor wilderness area. It passes close to somber Glencoe, and finishes at Fort William near the foot of Ben Nevis (Britain's highest peak, which can be readily ascended by experienced clients if they choose to spend an extra day).
Read more about The West Highland Way – available as an 8-day or 10-day trip
You may also like: The Great Glen Way, The Pennine Way
The beauty of the area embraced by the Dachstein Mountains and the Hallstattersee is truly inspirational - especially in the crisp, stable weather that this region often acquires during the period of this tour. There are people who claim that once you have walked here you will have experienced the best alpine hiking in Europe. The lower slopes of alpine pasture are dotted with picturesque lakes and villages including gorgeous Halstatt, whilst the high triangular mountaintops are smothered with glacial ice.
Read more about The Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps
You may also like: The Fjordland
The Austrian Alps are one of the great mountain playgrounds of Europe and the Dachstein is the most dramatic and arguably most interesting of these mountain areas in Austria. Huge pyramids of limestone pierce through the great icy expanses of the Hallstätter and Gosau Gletschers (glaciers).
Yet these peaks are often hidden by steep valley sides and flanking peaks. The glaciers of this area have been, of course, in full retreat after the last Ice Age ended some 12,000 years ago and, in their wake, they have carved out some impressive 'U' shaped glacial valleys. These valleys have been scoured deeply and over the millennia have filled with melt and rain water to create the classic and popular Austrian Lakes District.
It is in this setting that you will find yourself when travelling on the Austrian Lakes and Dachstein Alps walking holiday with Sherpa Expeditions.
To introduce you to the mountainous region, read on for 6 unique aspects of what an Austrian Alps hiking holiday is all about.
#1 Viewpoint over Hallstätter See
Hike to a great viewpoint over the Hallstätter See and the mountains of Hoher Dachstein. Actually, the way to this climax could be considered a highlight in itself as it follows Austrian Emperors’ hunting grounds and passes the old salt working village of Salzberg. When you’ve made it to the summit of Predigstuhl (1214m), the views will be rewarding.
#2 Austrian Flag Waymarkers
The trails on Sherpa Expeditions’ Austrian Alps hiking trip are generally well waymarked. Most of the routes that we take are numbered and waymarked by the Austrian Alpine Club and we love the symbols they use. These are either classic red & white waymarks, and regularly red-white-red – like the Austrian flag!
The old town of Hallstatt is clustered on a very steep site along the lake, while the newer parts of this stunning town are located a little further south. With an attractive market place, nice town houses, two ancient churches and a lot of traditional Austrian charm, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely beautiful!
The town of Gosau lies at 780 metres and is actually a sprawling collection of original farmsteads from the 15th century onward that have coalesced in the Gosau Valley to now form the villages of Vordertal, Mitteltal and Hintertal. Gosau is the actual centre with couple of attractive churches and good views of the Gosaukamm Mountains, which offer amazing Austrian Alps hiking opportunities. Take a few of the many ski lifts that you find in the valley for excellent views and walks – we especially like those going up the Zwieselarm.
#5 Hiking around Hallstätter See
Whether you choose to follow the eastern or western shore of this stunning Austrian Lake, you will hopefully get some beautiful reflections of the town in the waters of the lake. On you walk, and on a good summer day, take the opportunity to go for a swim. Or take the boat over to the other side of the lake to start your walk and to add some extra romance to your day.
#6 The Glacial Lakes of Vorderer Gosausee & Hinterer Gosausee
On a walk around Gosausee you will pass the glacial lakes of Vorderer Gosausee and Hinterer Gosausee. From both, the views of the Gosaukamm Mountains are just stunning. It is quite a popular route as the mountains are magical. With good weather you can hopefully get some good reflections of the peak in the lake and go for a swim in the clean waters.
For more information and booking requests, please download the trip notes of the Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps walking holiday or contact our knowledgeable team in London.
More About Austrian Alps Hiking
With the six-week long Salzburg Festival taking place in Salzburg from the end of July until the end of August, these months are a great time to plan for an Austria summer holiday.
If you are planning a trip this summer to take in Austria’s spectacular scenery, we offer a number of trips that are great for cyclists and hikers alike. From June until mid-October, regions like the Dachstein Alps, Austria’s Lake District or the shore of the Danube River are fantastic to experience summer in Austria. Below, we choose three of the most exciting options.
Grab your hiking boots
Austrian Lake District and Dachstein Alps
Towering peaks, high mountain passes, alpine meadows and lakeside walks are all combined in this surprisingly compact area. The heart of Austria’s Lake District encompasses 76 crystal clear lakes, the impressive Dachstein Glacier and breath-taking rock faces up to 3,000 vertical metres high. Wander through mountain forests and alongside glimmering lakeland shores as you explore alpine villages of wooden chalets decorated with colourful window boxes.
Includes historic Hallstatt
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Best of both worlds
Innsbruck to Salzburg Hike & Bike
High above the ski resorts of Innsbruck, the Austrian Alps lend themselves to mountain hiking whilst the valleys connecting alpine towns en route to the ‘Sound of Music’ town of Salzburg are ideal for cycling. This itinerary combines both activities to ensure you get the most out of this scenic region, from hiking to one of the highest waterfalls in Europe and passing tiny ski villages to taking a guided tour of the Moserboden dam or visiting an old salt mines and beer breweries.
Includes famous ski resort Zell am See - Kaprun
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At handlebar level
Follow the winding route of the Danube and discover the lively history of one of Europe’s most important rivers. Cycle from the elegant city of Vienna and cross northern Austria before heading into Slovakia. Here, vineyards climb the slopes of the Little Carpathian Mountains and baroque architecture is ever present. Wind past the unusual artist village of Szentendre and numerous delightful towns before reaching the capital of Hungary, where you should definitely check out Sissi’s favourite palace, which towers high above the Danube.
Includes border crossings between Slovakia and Hungary
More about this
The Salzburg Festival takes place from 21 July – 30 August 2017 and if you cannot wait until next summer, there also is a spring edition, which in 2018 is from 18-21 May. The Austrian festival is celebrated since 1920, or even earlier since Mozart times. The festival showcases opera, drama and concerts and has established itself as the most important in its field.
For more information and for possibilities to add extra nights in Salzburg, please contact our team of travel experts.
Besides linear or circular walking holidays, you also have a choice to opt for a (semi) centre-based walking holiday in Europe with Sherpa Expeditions.
Perhaps you are interested in exploring a certain region more in depth or you like to reduce the number of times to unpack and prefer sleeping in the same bed every night. The European Alps are an excellent destination to enjoy this style of travel. From the Austrian Lake District and the Dachstein Alps via Meiringen and on to the Bernese Oberland, below you can find ideas for centre based walking holidays.
Austrian Lake District & Dachstein Alps
This semi-centre based walking holiday evolves around:
- Bad Goisern
Towering peaks, high mountain passes, alpine meadows and lakeside walks are all combined in this surprisingly compact area. The heart of Austria’s Lake District encompasses 76 crystal clear lakes, the impressive Dachstein Glacier, and breath-taking rock faces up to 3,000 vertical metres high. Wander through mountain forests and alongside glimmering lakeland shores as you explore alpine villages of wooden chalets decorated with colourful window boxes.
We grade this tour as moderate-challenging and although most days are easier, you will find some steep stony trails and perhaps an element of exposure on certain occasions. For those that like to avoid the challenging parts, there is public transport available between centres.
Go there on the 8 day semi centre based walking holiday Austrian Lake District and Dachstein Alps.
This centre based walking holiday evolves around:
Situated at the convergence of three of Switzerland’s major passes, Meiringen is famous for the Reichenbach Falls, a spectacular cataract that was the setting for the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. A place for anyone who wants to see the real Switzerland, in autumn the landscape is painted with a riot of colour and in spring and summer you can find lush alpine valleys and flowers bloom. Walks here encompass all grades from gentle strolls to high ridges, while a superb integrated network of cablecars, postbuses and trams takes you in all directions quickly and easily.
The high places can be reached quickly without long uphill climbs out of the valley and, at any time of the year, you can fill a week with excellent day walks, from gentle strolls to high ridges. Choose yourself how easy or hard you care to make it.
Go there on the Meiringen: Panoramas of the Swiss Alps 5 day or 8 day self guided walking holidays.
Bernese Oberland & Reichenbach Falls
This semi-centre based walking holiday evolves around:
A stunning region of rock and ice, Bernese Oberland is the perfect introduction to walking in the Swiss Alps. The route follows classic mountain trails to charming mountain refuges. Along the way you’ll be able to enjoy views from a variety of vantage points of vast glaciers that tumble from some of the highest peaks in the country, many over 4,000m!
Each day you can choose between a range of walks, often with differing grades and distances; you can also utilise the extensive mountain transport system to shorten the walks further. You also have the option to take the mountain railway to the Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station.
Go there on the Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls 8-day self guided walking holiday or join a small group of like-minded travellers on the Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls Guided Walk.
Interested in more choice of centre based walking holidays in Europe? Find out about the advantages and extra suggestions for this type of travel in the article ‘In the Centre of the Action: 4 Trips’.
For more information or booking requests, please contact our team of travel experts in our London office.
Sunny Summer Strolls in the Alps
The Alps of Austria and Switzerland often see crisp and attractive walking weather in the summer months with daylight until 9pm.
This year the Austrian Lake District is a region that appeals and on one of our trips you can easily combine a visit with hiking the peaks of the Dachstein Alps.
Even though the Haute Route is a classic walking region, compared to most other areas in Switzerland the majority of the paths is little trodden.
If you like to see the flower-strewn alpine meadows of the Bernese Oberland and Rachstein Falls at their best, the coming months are your best option.
Head to the Alps of Switzerland and Austria this July to September to enjoy an excellent variety of alpine flowers, animals, bountiful picnic lunches, and incomparable mountain panoramas.
Take me there >> Walking holidays in Switzerland >>
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The majority of our active European holidays can be booked from a week in advance. So if you like to escape to better weather, just use the booking form linked to the trip you like, or contact our team of travel experts in our London offices. We look forward to help get you on your way!