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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
With so many micro-breweries popping up these days, drinking a pint has been taken to the next level and many flavours and brews are available. From vanilla bourbon and cherries to citrus and chestnut beers, it seems there’s a beer to any taste.
The people around the Mediterranean were far ahead of their time and beer, known as the ‘liquid bread’, was an important part of people’s daily staple back in the day. It took however until 1996 for the island of Corsica to produce their own beer when Armelle & Dominique successfully opened their brewery. This year, at 21 years young, their first brew Pietra has come of age and is now typically found all over the Mediterranean island.
The chestnut beer came about after several years of studying, testing and tasting, which taught the brewers that chestnut has good brewing qualities. Today, the nuts give the beer its beautiful golden colour and distinct taste. Some of the supply must definitely come from around the charming old chestnut town of Evisa on the westside of Corsica.
Besides the offering of beer brewed with chestnuts, Corsica has always been a fascinating land with its 1,000km long coastline and more than 200 beaches that surround a mountainous (86 percent) interior. The Corsican mountains feature 21 summits of over 2,000m, as well as the GR20 (Grande Randonnée 20), the toughest long-distance trail in Europe and part of the European network of long distance trails. Another famous trail on the island is the Mare a Mare, or "Sea to Sea", which crosses the mountains from east to west. The island hosts lots of small festivals throughout the year and with its rich cultural heritage and dense forests is a fantastic walking destination.
Whether you are in search of a personal challenge or looking for an excuse to have an ice-cold ‘Pietra’ (the local beer made of chestnuts), finding a good reason to visit the third biggest island in the Mediterranean shouldn’t be difficult. The 8-day Corsica: Mountains & Sea walking holiday departs until October this year and then again in May.
For more information or booking inquiries, please contact our team of travel experts in London.
There is an elaborate network of grande randonnées in France (literally "big hikes") that form part of the European long-distance footpaths. In the country alone, there is already a network of 60,000km of GR trail to discover. If that’s not enough, France has many other interesting long-distance footpaths that offer fabulous walking conditions.
Below, we selected five French long distance footpaths for you. No matter if you like to complete them in one go, like to break them up in separate sections, or just cover the best parts, as usual, our team in London can assist with your wishes.
Way of St James
Full Length: 1500km / 935 miles
Rustic and charming, this is one of our most popular trips, ideal for anyone who wishes to explore some of the more unusual, less visited landscapes of rural France, coupled with a flavour of the past and a dose of religious history. It covers a large swathe of the uplands of the Massif Central, taking a path that the early pilgrims walked to reach Santiago de Compostela about 1500 kilometres later.
>> See More & Walk this Long-Distance Footpath
Full Length: 180km / 112 miles
Dense maquis, mountain ridges and granite peaks that soar to 2,700m create a rugged terrain that is tempered by deeply wooded valleys, pine forest and cascading streams. This toughest of all grande randonnées in France starts in Corte’s old town, which clings to the steep slope below its majestic citadel. It then leads from the heart of the mountains across the north-south watershed to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Along the way you will pass ancient villages that preserve century-old traditions and visit iconic rock formations such as Les Calanches.
>> See More & Walk this Grande Randonnée
Tour de Mont Blanc
Full Length: 170km / 106 miles
This self-guided, extended itinerary circumnavigates Mont Blanc via a network of footpaths to explore the surrounding alpine region. Faced with picture postcard vistas from every vantage point, on a two week trek you can enjoy unsurpassed views of the different faces of the Mont Blanc massif. The trails also lead you to the highest point on the Tour of Mont Blanc, the Grand Col Ferret at 2,537m.
>> See More & Walk this Long-Distance Footpath
GR70 | Stevenson’s Trail
Full Length: 274km / 170 miles
In the autumn of 1878 Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the book Treasure Island, set out to walk across the Cevennes region of France accompanied by “a small grey donkey called Modestine”. His journey inspired Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, which has since become a classic travel book. Starting in the Auvergne, this French long distance footpath follows a winding route across a region that boasts great natural beauty, sad romantic ruins and is almost totally unspoilt. Today it is known as the Stevenson’s Trail or Chemin Stevenson.
>> See More & Walk this Grande Randonnée
GR10 | The Meridian Way
Full Length: 866km / 538 miles
When the Greenwich Meridian was agreed upon as the international standard in 1884, the fact that it was passing through some of the most spectacular corners of the High Pyrenees was probably not a major consideration. Today, the line forms part of the grande randonnée GR10 that goes through the Haute Pyrenees. Highlights of the route include: the dramatic Cirque de Gavarnie, a natural amphitheatre 1,400m high; the spectacular Grande Cascade, whose 423m drop makes it the longest in Europe; and the famous Brêche de Roland, a natural rock ‘doorway’ into Spain.
>> See More & Walk this Grande Randonnée
You can find more information in the trip notes, which you can download via the blue button on each trip’s page. Or for other details and booking information, please do contact our team of travel experts by phone or email.
If you're looking to settle yourself down for a few days to get that true experience of a small place that seems to have stood still in time, there's no need to look any further. Here are 10 charming coastal villages that offer exactly that.
Often a small market square where the local delicatessen shop is your go-to point for the best cheeses, the olives served are as fresh as you've ever had and shaded terraces serve wines directly from the vineyard… all this in close proximity to our friendly guest houses and family-run hotels. These types of villages along the coastlines of Europe form a great base for a few days of exploring on foot or by bike as they are a pleasant distance to rugged cliffs, quiet beaches, inland woods and pastures, groves, and mountain foothills.
Breathe in Europe through 10 of its most charming coastal villages.
Agios Georgios tis Pegeias – Cyprus
Agios Georgios tis Pegeias is situated about 400m from the coast and has a small fishing harbour and beach area. The surrounding area is mainly agricultural with bananas and citrus fruit, a few tavernas, two churches and the ruins of an early Christian basilica.
It is locally claimed that the sunset from Agios Georgios tis Pegeias is the most beautiful on the island of Cyprus. Perhaps the best place to be to view this spectacle is above the cliff next to the St. Georges Restaurant, above the fishing harbour or on the coast itself.
Flam – Norway
When you walk down to Flam, you’ll experience a beautiful trail that follows the lush valley route through woods and pastures in Norway. There’s always the sounds of rushing waters and when you eventually drop down to the Aurlandsfjord, a branch off Sognefjord, you’ll enter Flam.
The small coastal village of Flam has several restaurants serving local & traditional Norwegian meals (think of berries and salmon) and one of Norway’s most popular craft beer breweries can be found here. Out of town, enjoy a panoramic view of the Aurlandsfjord, take one of the most scenic bicycle rides in Norway, and hop on the famous Flam Railway.
Collioure – Vermillion Coast, France
Flower-decked Collioure is a very pretty little town set against the foothills of the Alberes Range near France’s Vermillion Coast. It has an idyllic setting with sun, sea and sky attracting lots of travellers each year. The seaside town consists of two little fishing ports separated by the mediaeval castle on a spur.
Did you know? This former fishing port was the birthplace of the Fauve movement of painters in the early 20th century, led by Matisse, and today still is a colourful place attracting painters and photographers alike.
St Peter Port – Guernsey
St. Peter Port, Guernsey Island’s capital, is a bustling, friendly place with a row of attractive harbours and marinas set under a steeply terraced townscape, with some remarkably well-preserved buildings from the 1700s and 1800s. Visit Castle Cornet, the 800-year old fortress, the restored Victorian Gardens, the house where Victor Hugo stayed, or just relax along the promenade with its array of pubs and restaurants.
At certain high points in the coastal town you can see the other Channel Islands of Herm, Sark and Alderney - and the coast of Normandy in France.
Riomaggiore – Cinque Terre, Italy
Riomaggiore, perhaps the most interesting town of the five Cinque Terre villages, is occupied by little fishing and day trip boats. The Italian seaside town has mediaeval tower blocks that are crammed together overlooking an inlet of intense aquamarine colour. The buildings are all painted in bright pastel shades, complementing the natural Mediterranean light.
Bowness-on-Solway – Scotland
The views from Bowness-on-Solway on the border between Scotland and England are special for several reasons. This is the western end of the Hadrian’s Wall tour - behind are rolling hills and country lanes while in front is the beautiful expanse of the Solway Firth.
The coastal village of Bowness-on-Solway has less than 100 houses and is the site of the Roman fort of Maia.
Ajaccio – Corsica, France
Ajaccio, the capital town of Corsica, lies on the island’s rugged west coast. Although a busy cosmopolitan Mediterranean coastal town, it is a pleasant place to spend a few days. Enjoy the impressive harbour and old winding streets where you’ll have plenty of choice of little restaurants and boutique shops.
Did you know that it was on this seaside town that Napoleon Bonaparte was born? You can visit his home, which is now a museum.
St Ives – Cornwall, England
In England, magical St Ives is a town of art, ice creams and fish ‘n’ chips. Protected from Atlantic storms, St Ives was once the most important fishing port in Cornwall, but like elsewhere on the surrounding coast, by the beginning of the 20th century, the fish stocks became depleted and the fishing fleet largely disappeared.
However as early as 1811 Turner visited to paint the seascapes and by the late 1880s there were several artists installed, and the town became famous for its vibrant artists’ colony. This perhaps reached its peak during the late 1940s and the 1950s. Today their work can be seen in the St Ives Tate Gallery, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and the Bernard Leach Gallery. We offer several holidays that include a stay in St Ives.
Porto – Portugal
In Porto, famous for its port and wine, there are lots of traditional tascas (taverns) that serve marine cuisine. Explore for example vibrant Ribeira district down by the quays. The city is located right between the Green (Costa Verde) and Silver (Costa de Prata) coasts of Portugal and forms part of the Douro Valley.
To get the best idea of this Portuguese coastal city with a small-town feel, we suggest a walking itinerary taking in the famous sites such as the Cathedral and churches of 'Igreja de sto Ildefonso' and the 'Igreja Clerigos' with its monumental tower. Maybe walk along the upper and lower spans of the famous Luis I Road Bridge and admire the riverside districts of the old towns on both river banks. For those with extra time in Porto, why not take a trip across the river to the other town, 'Vila Nova de Gaia'.
Santa Caterina – Sardinia, Italy
When you descend from the Montiferru Mountains on a walking holiday in Sardinia, you’ll walk into Santa Caterina di Pittinuri, located on the coast. Santa Caterina is a quiet bay surrounded by oak forests, olive groves and quiet pastures. This is a small coastal village, with just one small shop and a couple of bars. There’s also a nice 4-star hotel located right on the coast on a cliff at the edge of the beach with an excellent restaurant overlooking the sea. What more do you need besides a good glass of local wine, fresh produce from the island and the charming village life passing by?
We’ve probably all had those conversations where you’ve been advised to visit Y after mentioning that you liked walking in destination X. Perhaps because it offers the same kind of weather, walking conditions, historical sites or because it is a remoter place with a similar feel.
For this latter reason, we sat down and came up with these four alternative travel destinations in Europe that are less visited, but offer a similar walking experience to places better known like the Alpine Pass Route, Majorca, the French Pyrenees, and Burgundy.
If You Liked the Alpine Pass Route >> Try the Wildstrubel Circuit
WHY? The Wildstrubel Circuit uses trails that have served since Roman times to link the German-speaking Bernese Oberland and the partly French-speaking Valais. At the time, the mountains of the Bernese Oberland and Valais formed a natural barrier and Kandersteg was a hamlet literally at the end of the road. When you follow the ancient trails, cross the Gemmi, Rawyl, Lotschen, Bundeschrinde and Hahnenmoos passes linking attractive Swiss villages that are still hidden places. Throughout the tour, the scenery is expansive, with views extending across the Oberland, to the 4000m peaks of the Valais, and down the Rhone valley. Tell me more about the ‘quieter’ Alpine classic, the Wildstrubel Circuit >>
If You Liked the French Pyrenees >> Try the Spanish Pyrenees
WHY? The Spanish side of the Pyrenees has a drier climate than the French side and is less visited, the Spanish Pyrenees are therefore a great alternative travel destination. It offers a magnificent array of rugged mountains, deep gorges, beech and pine forests, cultivated terraces, ancient stone bridges, unspoilt towns and villages with many historic buildings. All of this is linked through a network of waymarked trails and paths. Tell me more about the less-visited Spanish Pyrenees in Alto Aragon >>
If You Liked Burgundy >> Try the Douro Valley
WHY? Calling all wine lovers! The surprisingly unspoilt Douro Valley is home to the first demarcated wine region in the world and a great alternative travel destination to Burgundy. Established in 1756 when the Port industry developed, Douro Valley has Portugal's highest wine classification as a ‘denominação de origem controlada’ and, although associated primarily with Port, these days it produces just as much high-quality table wine. Tell me more about the unspoilt Douro Valley >>
If You Liked Majorca >> Try Corsica
Do you love the classic Mediterranean travel destinations like Majorca in Spain but are you running out of ideas of what else to try? Only two hours by plane from the United Kingdom, the Corsican landscape boasts granite peaks, deeply wooded valleys, pine forest and cascading streams before leading to the clear blue waters of the sea – and all this with a French twist! Corsica is an alterative travel desitnation that is especially attractive for walking holidays. Tell me more about French-influenced Corsica >>
For more information on these alternative places for walking in Europe, please download the trip notes on the trip page or get in touch with our team of travel experts
The appeal of a Mediterranean holiday is timeless. The three islands off the western coast of Italy – Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica – offer a diversity of iconic landscapes and memorable festivals.
Either with your family, your partner or a group of friends, the gastronomy and landscapes of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica will almost certainly appeal to your fellow travellers. Whether you want to get up close to Europe’s tallest active volcano in Sicily, swim in Sardinia’s emerald waters or explore Corsica, the most mountainous Mediterranean island, there are several trips to the islands departing in August, September and October. And to help you make a choice, below we’ve listed some of the best events and festivals to the islands for you!
Right in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia is famous for its natural beauty. The island is a cyclist’s paradise with a network of quiet roads hugging a rugged coastline. People visit Sardinia for its hospitable people, exceptional cuisine and a unique culture that includes its own dialect.
Why go to Sardinia in August?
1st Sunday in August: Vermentino Wine Festival | In the centuries old wine village of Monti.
7 August: The Archers Tournament | 24 archers dressed in medieval outfits join the tournament in Iglesias.
8-16 August: Time In Jazz | The island’s annual international jazz festival takes place in Berchidda.
14 August: Fireworks and Fried Fish | A firework display in Alghero that is followed by eating fried fish.
August: XXVI Summer Music | Daily live music concerts in the Chiostro di San Francesco that celebrate Sardinia’s classical music in Alghero.
Why go to Sardinia in September?
6-7 September: Corsa degli Scalzi | A commemoration of the 16th century rescue of a holy statue in the lagoon town of Cabras, it’s an 8km run with the statue from the beach back into town.
17-25 September: Round Sardinia Race | A sailing race that starts and finishes in the port of Cagliari and makes a circle around the island.
29 September: Festa Sant Miquel | The villagers of Alghero celebrate their patron saint with fireworks and parades.
September until early December: Autunno in Barbagia | A celebration of local food, handicraft and cultural traditions of the towns and villages in the mountainous Barbagia region.
Why visit Sardinia in October?
30 October: Sagra della Castagne | Head to Aritzo to join the village’s annual chestnut fair.
In Sardinia, enjoy gentle walks and explore secluded bays by bicycle. Discover lighthouses and ancient watchtowers on long sandy beaches, taste the clear spring water of the Montiferru Mountains, swim through rock arches and watch the sunset turn the limestone cliffs yellow and pink…
Go walking in Sardinia with Sherpa Expeditions or find out about our cycling in Sardinia holiday.
Sicily has two impressive volcanoes: Stromboli and Etna. Their presence has shaped island life and travellers can bathe in therapeutic hot mud, relax on the black beaches and take in panoramic views across the Mediterranean Sea.
Why visit Sicily in August?
1 July – 4 September: Calatafimi Segesta Festival | Lots of theatre performances, and concerts of jazz and classical music in and around the Greek theatre of Segesta.
12-14 August: Norman Palio | A festival held on Palermo’s Piazza Armerina to commemorate the moment Sicily was liberated from the Sarecens by Roger de Hauteville in 1071.
13-15 August: Renaissance Music Festival | A music festival in the village of Erice set on the top of a mountain when top renaissance and medieval music is performed.
17 August: Festival of Saint Agatha | Catania city’s most important religious festival related to the city’s patron saint Agatha of Sicily.
24 August: Festa di St Bartolomeo | Lipari, one of the Aeolian islands just off the shore of Sicily, celebrates their patron saint Bartolomeo with stunning fireworks.
Why go to Sicily in September?
13-27 September: Festa della Vendemmia | A festival in Piedimonte Etneo that is devoted to the grape harvest. There are wine tastings, wine-making demonstrations, and of course lots of food.
16-25 September: CousCous Fest | This festival in San Vito Lo Capo attracts international chefs who join a competition in preparing couscous, of course accompanied by live music, dancing, and a very positive vibe.
29 September – 2 October: Sherbet Festival | Held in Palermo, this is a festival that dedicates four days to sorbets and ice creams.
Why go to Sicily in October?
1-10 October: Sagra del Miele | The famous ‘honey of Hyblea’ was much loved by the Romans and Greeks in their days. The locals of Sortino (next to Pantalica National Park) honour the miele (honey) in October each year.
Take your chance to get close to the island’s impressive volcanoes on a walking holiday to Sicily.
Dense maquis mountain ridges and granite peaks soar to 2,700m to create a rugged terrain. This is Corsica.
Why visit Corsica in August?
2-5 August: Porto Latino | In St Florent, join this Latin-American music festival in the village’s citadel.
5-7 August: Foire de l’Amandier | This annual festival marks the almond harvest with cooking demonstrations of Corsican dishes, tastings and painting exhibitions – it takes place in Aregno.
5-7 August: Musica Classica | A classical music festival in Santa Reparata di Balagna in an open-air setting.
15 August: Assumption de Marie | This is an important festival that is celebrated all over Corsica to mark the passage of Virgin Mary into heaven.
16-17 August: Fiera di U Nuciola | If the almond has its own festival, the hazelnut should have too! The festival takes place in the square of Cervione.
Why travel to Corsica in September?
3-11 September: Festival du Tango | Add some days to join the tango festival in Bonifacio’s old Citadel with guitarists, dancers, street performers and lots of food.
9-13 September: U Mele in Festa | If you like to take part in one of Corsica’s oldest celebrations, join this festival of honey in Murzu to honour Virgin Mary.
13-17 September: Rencontres de Chants Polyphoniques de Calvi | International polyphonic singers take to the stage in Calvi’s citadel.
14 September: Festa di u Ficu | In the village of Peri, join this festival celebrating the harvest of figs. It’s in the north east of Ajaccio.
Why visit Corsica in October?
29 September – 2 October: Tour de Corse | A FIA world rally that starts in Bastia this year and finishes in Porto-Vecchio. There are many laps that go through the island’s narrow villages so you’re sure to enjoy superb views.
On Sherpa’s Corsica walking holiday, start in Corte’s old town in the heart of the mountains and cross the north-south watershed onwards to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the iconic rock formations of Les Calanches.
For more information on these festivals or our cycling and walking holidays in Corsica, Sicily and Sardinia, have a look at the specific trip notes or contact our team of travel experts in London.