Looking to get away from the day-to-day grind of stationary traffic, delayed trains and saddle sore? Then why not take a walk – a really long one? Better yet, take a long weekend, head over to Europe, saunter through some of its most beautiful countryside and enjoy some time to yourself.
It’s easier than you think to get started. Simply choose your starting point, check out suggested routes and make sure you stock up on essential kit such as rucksacks and hard-wearing boots from a trusted high-street supplier or website. Then book your plane tickets and get ready for some serious food for the sole in these less-trodden locations.
Unfairly overlooked by many hikers, Durmitor national park near Zabljak is a hidden gem of interconnected walking routes. The trails will take you through some pleasingly rustic mountains and wildernesses, all relatively untouched by developers. You might want to pack a tent, since bed-and-breakfasts are few and far between.
Fly to Dubrovnik in Croatia, and from there it’s roughly a three-hour drive across the border.
We all know about Kerry’s pubs and rolling greenery, but MacGillycuddy’s Reeks are something unexpected: Irish mountains. Exploring these peaks takes a little more experience and ability, thanks to their occasionally demanding mountainside trails. Getting up and down is straightforward, luckily.
The Hiking Life website recommends refreshing at the Climbers’ Inn in Glencar. The pub also offers accommodation for weary walkers.
Some of Northern Europe’s most spectacular mountain scenery can be enjoyed at Jotunheimen national park, home of Galdhøpiggen, Norway’s highest mountain. You don’t need to be a mountain climber to enjoy the park’s walks, although being fit would help, as there are plenty of ridges and low-level trails for hikers of all abilities.
Hotels and hostels are commonplace while camping is allowed almost anywhere. You can fly to Bergen or Oslo and then get a train to the park (it’s about a five or six hour drive otherwise).
In his article for The Guardian, Trail magazine editor Simon Ingram calls Austria’s lake district “pleasant walking through Julie Andrews terrain”. It’s easy to see why. Surrounded by steep, lush green mountains, the region’s lakeside trails are tranquil and breathtakingly picturesque. What’s more, there’s nothing too taxing here so you can amble through Sound of Music-esque villages without fear of blisters from the countryside beyond.
Head to Salzburg, and if you can tear yourself away from the city’s fairy-tale castles, a bus will take you to Hallstatt.
The Prague-Vienna Greenways form a network of hiking trails some 250 miles long. Established for well over a century, its various routes will take you through landscapes dotted with ancient castles, historic towns and villages and idyllic valleys and rivers. Preserved by the Czech Republic’s Environmental Partnership for Sustainable Development, you’ll find numerous local traders, markets and festivals along the way.
You can get a flight to either Prague or Vienna to begin the walk, either as part of a group or by yourself.