Travel Beyond the European Highlights

European highlights and their backyard.
European highlights and their backyard.

The best of Europe done differently

Seeking a new twist on a destination or a highlight that you think you've 'done'? Yearning for new, uncrowded, green spaces or simply aspiring to be more active this year? For over a decade we've been exploring the tracks and trails of Europe - and that's exactly where we'll take you.

This list of unique, active holidays takes in some of the continent’s classic highlights, but now brings you an in-depth and hardly ever seen insight into those European highlights and their backyard. So, hop on your bike or lace up your boots and get ready to explore. 

Get even more opportunities to experience the best of Europe, in a very different way.

Paris Eiffel Tower

Paris and the eiffel tower by bike, France |  <i>Rochelle Costello</i>

What more rewarding way than to arrive at France’s most iconic building, the Eiffel Tower, by bike? 
Pedal on a combination of dedicated cycle ways along canals and rivers, sleepy country lanes and urban cycle friendly roads on a relaxed bicycle ride where you can focus entirely on the changing scenery & flavours as you make your way from Holland, through Belgium and finally to Paris in France. 
The cycling route is ideal for those who revel in city experiences. Combine time at the museums and world famous buildings of Amsterdam and Paris with visits to Gouda, famous for its cheese, Antwerp, and the medieval architecture of Ghent.

Avoid flights, take the ferry or train to Amsterdam and return by train from Paris. 
> Cycle Amsterdam to Paris, or vice versa

Santorini & the Greek waters

Hiking the trails on Santorini in the Greek Islands |  <i>Hetty Schuppert</i>
Santorini, celebrated for its whitewashed villages, distinctive blue domes, narrow streets, and incredible viewpoints is world famous. Few travellers however make it beyond the highlights of Oia and Fira. 
Opting for a walking holiday on the Greek island, either combined with the island of Crete or Naxos, will take you beyond those places. Allow yourself extra time to absorb the stunning ocean vistas and soak in the legends and many stories of the places you visit. Walk via Ancient Thira, where you'll encounter ruins of temples, houses and other community buildings from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine period, and make your way to the highest point on the island at Pyrgos. 
The walking opportunities on Santorini are numerous, through volcanic landscapes and along spectacular cliffs along a series of mule tracks.
> Discover beyond the European Highlight of Santorini on foot

Chamonix: adventure capital of Europe

Vibrant colours as we explore the European Alps |  <i>Erin Williams</i>
With incredible mountain scenery as a backdrop, it’s no wonder that Chamonix in the French Alps has grown to become adventure capital of Europe. Mountain lovers of all trades come to appreciate this European highlight their way, whether it’s skiing, trail running, paragliding, canyoning, mountain biking or even more extreme, Chamonix has it. 
Using all the facilities of Chamonix as a starting point, head away from it all on a hiking holiday to Zermatt, around Mont Blanc or to the summit of Mont Blanc. Brimming with incredible vistas from high mountain passes, lush valleys and highway sized glaciers, alpine scenery does not get much better than this. Stay in a mixture of comfortable alpine huts, gîtes and hotels, so that you can experience traditional European mountain culture and the camaraderie of fellow hikers.
> Choose Chamonix as your starting point to explore the European Alps

Seashore of the Canary Islands

A hiker walking through Benchijigua in Gomera
It is with a reason that the seashore of the Canary Islands is so popular with British and European holidaymakers. But take a moment to cast aside your associations with overcrowded beaches and night time disturbances, there’s a whole other side (quite literally) of the Canary Islands waiting to be discovered. 
On a walking holiday of La Gomera or La Palma you’ll enjoy an ever-changing landscape of sandy beaches and jagged sea cliffs, towering rock pinnacles and vertical lava pipes, steep forested gorges and serpentine ridgelines.
Hike through cactus-strewn valleys, banana plantations, stands of majestic Canarian pine and dripping cloud forests of ancient laurel; see rock towers, lava caves and surreal volcanic moonscapes and witness the snow-capped peak of Spain’s highest point, Mount Teide from La Gomera’s peak of Roque de los Muchachos (2462m).
> Take a walking holiday on La Gomera or La Palma

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Cyclists taking in the Tuscan view
The magnificent Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa with its immensely popular leaning tower and Cathedral normally attract over a million visitors each season. After having tested your creativity in taking a picture with the tower, grab your bicycle and discover the backroads of Tuscany as you cycle from Pisa to Florence.
Whether you’re a solo traveller, couple, group of friends or a family, the area’s tree-lined avenues, charming agriturismos, and quiet cycling paths along the Arno River will surely offer you a surprising insight of Italian country life. Add to that the delicious Tuscan culinary specialties, Leonardo Da Vinci’s birthplace & the narrow streets of Lucca and you’ve got yourself a holiday of some of the best of Europe done differently. 
> Discover the backroads of Tuscany and cycle from Pisa to Florence

Berlin Wall

Cycle past old East German watchtowers on the Berlin Wall Trail |  <i>Brad Atwal</i>
The Berlin Wall, a onetime symbol of division, has been attracting millions of visitors to the city each year. Looking to go beyond the East Side Gallery and explore one of Germany's most dynamic cities in an entirely different way? The Wall now provides a peaceful path for cyclists. 
On our urban cycle adventure you will uncover the diversity of Berlin and gain a unique insight into the numerous faces of the city. The 160km loop structure of the Wall that was brought down in 1989 has now given rise to the Wall Trail (Mauerweg) and cycling along the former border line between East and West Germany is the ideal way to stop and soak in the history of the many check points, take in forests & grand parks, and the palaces of for example Potsdam. 
> Cycle the Berlin Wall Trail


Cyclists entering a village on the Portuguese Camino
Famous for its port wine, vibrant atmosphere and scenic riverside, Porto (or Oporto) definitely deserves some time set apart to explore. 
After, or before, a ramble around one of the best preserved cities in Western Europe, head out into the countryside and soak up all the beauty that surrounds charming Porto. Set on the banks of the Douro River and famous for its port wine production, walk or cycle through small hamlets, past eucalyptus and pine woods, over ancient bridges and through larger market towns dating back to Roman times. This part of Portugal brings ample reminders of past pilgrims and the Caminho Portugués route offers many insights into the religious significance of the Camino. Visually stunning in parts, there are many advantages in walking the Portuguese Way with the ascent up to the highest point on the trail at Alto da Portela Grande (405m) rewarded with sweeping views of the Lima Valley below. 
> Follow the Portuguese Way (Caminho Portugués) on foot or by bicycle

For other active holidays including the highlights of the UK or Europe, please contact our friendly team of travel experts with your queries and they'll be pleased to assist you in your trip planning.

Europe, Alternatives, Highlights

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