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Mount Titlis: Bollywood’s favourite Swiss mountain

The Alpine Pass Route’s Mount Titlis: Bollywood’s Favourite Mountain

 
You won’t see this mountain's name up in lights next to the likes of the Wetterhorn, Eiger, Jungfrau, Monch and the Blumisalphorn, but there is a good chance, thanks to Bollywood, more people have seen Mount Titlis than any of the other famous peaks that attract people to Switzerland’s Alpine Pass Route.
 
Scenes from many Bollywood films are shot at Engelberg, the starting point for the Alpine Pass Route walk, and the area is consequently very popular with Indian tourists. The 3238m Mount Titlis in the heart of Central Switzerland’s Uri Alps, may not have the historic significance of neighbouring peaks in the Bernese Oberland like Jungfrau (4166m), Schreckhorn (4080m) or the Eiger (3970m). It may not even have the postcard looks of the Matterhorn (4478m), but it makes up for that with its picturesque location above the pretty village of Engelberg.
 
Engelberg (1000 m) in Canton Obwalden in Central Switzerland. View onto the resort with the Benedictine Abbey founded in the 12th century. Image courtesy of Switzerland Tourism.
 
Located just under 3 hours by train from Zurich, this classic region is home to first class skiing and snowboarding in the winter, while in the summer the walking trails past high mountain lakes and over alpine passes are endless. Engelberg is home to a 12th century Abbey with the biggest church organ in Switzerland.  From the village you can access the Titlis and Rotair cableway right up to the glacier, and since 2012, the highest suspension bridge in Europe, built on the cliffs of the mountain at an altitude of 3000m and 98m in length, will offer commanding views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. If you’re considering the challenging graded Alpine Pass Route, be it guided or self guided, why not consider adding an extra day to your trip to enjoy the glorious surrounds of Engelberg.
 
If you like a bit of Bollywood song and dance, you may appreciate this highlight from the classic 1995 movie, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
 
The Alpine Pass Route is one of the most famous walks in the European Alps, and our head guide Jon Millen’s favourite walk in Europe. The Alpine Pass Route is a self guided trip with UTracks that follows the most spectacular central section between Engelberg above Lake Luzern and Lauenen above Gstaad.
 

 
Have you hiked the Via Alpina route? Share your experience in the comment section below.
 
 
10 of Europe's Grandest Designs

10 of Europe's Grandest Designs

Food, wine, landscapes – there are many reasons to travel to Europe and without doubt the varied architectural styles, both modern and historical, also help to provide a fascinating insight into the influences that have helped shape the various regions you may travel through. Experience some of Europe’s best buildings your own way on one of our self guided or small group active holidays.
 
Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum

1. Guggenheim Museum – Bilbao

For lovers of modern buildings go no further than Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Made of titanium, glass, and limestone, the unique structure was heralded as one of the most important of our time when it opened in 1997. It’s worth walking around the Guggenheim to make sure you appreciate its many different shapes, angles and featured artworks. 
 
 Bran Castle

2. Bran Castle – Romania

While Romania’s most famous landmark is also referred to as Count Dracula’s castle, the man who inspired Bram Stoker’s famous character, Vlad the Impaler, never actually lived here. It fits the description however of an imposing castle perched ‘on the very edge of a terrific precipice . . .’ and your time here is bound to get the imagination running wild!
 
 Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria

3. Neuschwanstein Castle - Germany

It’s pretty easy to see how this building inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Set in a spectacular location in Bavaria, the castle of the fairy-tale king is enjoyed by many thousands each year, but King Ludwig, the shy man who built the castle, never had the pleasure to withdraw to Neuschwanstein as was his plan. He died seven weeks before it was open to the public in 1886.
 
 The Alhambra, Granada, Spain 

4. Alhambra Palace – Spain

Granada’s Alhambra is perhaps the finest example of an architectural legacy that was left by a mixture of cultures. The famous Moorish citadel and palace complex contain buildings influenced by the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths and a visit here will transport you back to what life was like in the 14th century.
 
 Colmare, Alsace

5. Half timbered houses – Copenhagen and Alsace

Not a building, more a style of architecture, this medieval building technique of exposed timber structures have become an important part of the landscape in many parts of Europe, particularly the Alsace region in France and parts of Copenhagen. Their colourful exteriors help add to their fairy-tale look and a walk through the villages to observe the different styles is a day well spent.
 
> View trips to Alsace or Copenhagen
 Orvieto, Italy

6. Orvieto - Italy

Wow. That’s what you’ll keep repeating to yourself as you approach this Italian hill town perched high on a volcanic rock and surrounded by classic Umbrian landscape. Once inside the city walls you can easily lose track of time as you explore old Orvieto, made up of traffic free cobbled stone alleys, medieval piazzas and the intricate facade of the Gothic inspired Duomo. Do yourself a favour – go.
 
 Hungarian Parliament in Budapest

7. Hungarian Parliament Building – Budapest

A magnificent example of Neo-Gothic architecture (and some Renaissance and Baroque influences as well), this is the third largest Parliament building in the world. To help showcase their independence from Austria, the Hungarians held a competition for the building’s design which was won by Hungarian architect Imre Steindl, who was partly inspired by the Palace of Westminster.
 
 Castle in the Cathar region

8. Cathar Castles – France

History and geography go hand in hand on the secret trails that lead to the mysterious Cathar castles. The architectural remnants of Catharism, a sect that shunned conventional Christianity and was hence branded as heresy, will help you understand the story behind the short lived crusade a well as provide you with some of the most spectacular walking in France.
 
 Sphinx Observatory in Switzerland.

9. Sphinx Observatory – Switzerland

At 3571 metres above sea level, The Sphinx observatory at Jungfraujoch doesn’t just provide a unique place to research meteorology, astronomy, glaciology, physiology, radiation, and cosmic rays – it also provides an amazing 360 degree panorama of the Swiss Alps. You’ll travel to Europe's highest railway station, through a tunnel hewn in the rock of the Eiger and Mönch, just to get there.
 
 UTracks travellers at Kinderdijk windmills

10. Kinderdijk windmills – Holland

There are windmills, and then there’s Kinderdijk. These UNESCO listed Dutch icons are loved by the Dutch as they are a shining example of their innovation. They’re not just tourist attractions, at their zenith they drained the swampy lowlands via canals, ground grain into flour and helped raise the Netherlands from the sea to create its fertile fields and feed it growing population.
 
 

YOUR SAY

What did we miss? How many of Europe's grand designs have you been to? Let us know in the comment section below.
 
 
Active Holidays in Scotland by Boat

Active Holidays in Scotland by Boat

Celebrate the ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’

With a coastline that extends to well over 10,000 miles, nearly 800 islands and more than 30,000 lakes of all sizes, water is the life-blood of Scotland. What better way to experience the majestic mountains and large expanses of open water than on an active holiday in Scotland by boat.

Whether you’re a walker or cyclist, discover the untouched natural beauty of the Inner Hebrides, visit fortresses & castles, and relax on board your floating hotel in the company of like-minded fellow travellers.

Extended into 2021, Scotland is celebrating the ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’ across the country. This makes this year the ideal time to explore the magnificent coastline, uncover the secrets of Scotland’s coastal fortresses and enjoy some delicious, freshly caught seafood.

 

For Walkers

Walkers on the towpath to Inverness with the comfortable barge Fingal

Walkers who are looking for an alternative way to experience Scotland's Great Glen Way walking trail look no further! Based on board a comfortable barge at night, this hike and barge cruise offers you the opportunity to walk from one coast of Scotland to the other.

During the weeklong, guided trip, the barge stops are planned to suit the walking stages, breaking them into manageable day walks of between 10 and 15 miles. There is no shortage of highlights on the Great Glen Way that stretches 75 miles from Fort William to the capital of the highlands, Inverness. Think the mystical Loch Ness and Scotland's highest peak: Ben Nevis.

:: Find all details about this Scotland Walk & Barge holiday

 

For Cyclists

Scotland |  <i>Scott Kirchner</i>

Marvel at the wild scenery of Scotland, its intense colours, and great biodiversity on this bike and boat holiday. We cover Scotland's Inner Hebrides, known for their spectacular landscapes still largely untouched by mass tourism. Highlights on this Scotland boat holiday are a visit to the island know for its rich stock of red deer, a world-famous whiskey distillery, looking out for dolphins and seal, and cycling around the island of Mull.

Spend the nights aboard your floating hotel, a two-masted sailing boat with a comfortable dining and lounge area and cabins with ensuite.

:: Find all details about this Scotland Bike & Boat holiday

 

Are you keen to visit Scotland? What would your ideal Scotland holiday look like? Answer in the comment section below!

England’s Most Beautiful Villages to Explore on a Walking Holiday
England is home to some of the most charming, picture postcard villages in the United Kingdom, and perhaps even in the world. Their well looked after streets are lined with quaint pubs, idyllic stone cottages and shops selling all kinds of local craft. On your walking holidays throughout England, you suddenly step into these beautiful places that will make for a perfect break in your day. 

To help you navigate your way to England’s most beautiful villages, we have collected eight of our favourites scattered around the country, from the Cotswolds to Cornwall and Dorset to Yorkshire and everything in between. 
 

Broadway – Cotswolds 

An early evening in the streets of Broadway, Cotswolds |  <i>John Millen</i>
Reach the beautiful and picturesque town of Broadway via traditional English places such as Chipping Campden, Fish Hill and the unique Broadway Tower. The latter, offering remarkable views of the Cotswolds and interesting exhibitions of its role as an observation tower used by the ROC, plus Cotswolds’ famous artist William Morris. Broadway’s main street is lined with magnificent stone-built houses as well as some great antique shops.
    > Walk in the Cotswolds

Muker – Swaledale, North Yorkshire 

Views towards the village of Muker
The very pretty little village of Muker lays on the low-level route to Reeth. This beautiful place in England is surrounded by beautiful pastures and in town itself find a welcoming traditional pub and a wool knitting centre.
    > Walk the James Herriot Way

Grasmere – Lake District, Cumbria 

Grasmere Bridge provides a picturesque rest stop on the Coast to Coast Trail |  <i>John Millen</i>
Grasmere is one of Lakeland’s most celebrated villages. To walkers of the UK’s Coast to Coast trail, the town is the first larger village since St.Bees and can feel like a bustling metropolis, despite being relatively small. Cafes, bars and hotels line the pretty streets which are often filled with fellow walkers ending their days in the fells. Grab a pasty or an ice cream, visit the poet Wordsworth's home at Dove Cottage, and drop into Grasmere’s famous Gingerbread Shop!
    > Walk the Coast to Coast trail
 

Osmotherley – North York Moors National Park

Sign for Osmotherley |  <i>John Millen</i>
On the third day of our Cleveland Way walking holiday, you’ll start off in Sutton Bank and then follow the ancient Hambleton Cattle Drovers Road to Osmotherley. It is a walk of about 11.5miles/18.5km. The old market and mining village of Osmotherley lies on the western edge of the North York Moors and is surrounded by the whaleback Cleveland Hills and softer Hamleton Hills. The English village houses a remodelled 15th century church with 12th century Scandinavian carvings.
    > Walk the Cleveland Way
 

Whitby – Yorkshire Coast

Whitby on the Esk |  <i>John Millen</i>
This red-roofed, beautiful place on the Yorkshire Coast was once one of the most important ports in England, involved with fishing, whaling, coal export, shipbuilding and the mining of gemstone jet. Shops in the colourful streets sell jewellery made from the famous Whitby Jet, the leaves of fossilized Monkey Puzzle Trees. Whitby is also famous for its Abbey ruins and for Count Dracula (there is a Dracula Trail in town). Stroll around the old streets and visit the Captain Cook and Whitby Jet Museums. You can, in reasonable weather, take a boat ride along the coast and finish your day with a Fish ‘n Chips, claimed by some to be the best in the country!
    > Walk the Cleveland Way or St Hilda’s Way to spend time in Whitby 

Mousehole – Cornwall 

Mousehole Front |  <i>John Millen</i>
A visit to the pretty English village of Mousehole is essential before entering Penzance to finish the walking bonanza that is the South West Coast Path. Mousehole (pronounced ’Mowzl’) is a picture postcard village by the sea, with a history of pilchard fishing and today has a small artists community.
    > Walk the South Downs Way in Cornwall
 

Burford – Cotswolds 

Sweet shop jars in the pretty Cotswolds village of Burford |  <i>Matt Seymour</i>
Burford is an attractive town which you call on during our Cotswolds by Bike trip. When cycling down the scenic Windrush Valley and past Windrush village’s Norman church you’ll find Burford. It is an elegant town with its steep main street leading down to the river and was once a wealthy wool trade centre. Find 15th Century alms-houses, anitique stores, traditional pubs and welcoming country inns and you’ve got your postcard picture Cotswolds town.  
Other beautiful villages in the Cotswolds well worth your time are: Snowshill, visit the Tudor Manor with its collection of art and artefacts from all over the world; Guiting Power, nestled in the hills above a small valley, is a typical upland Cotswold village; and Bibury, described by William Morris as the most beautiful village in England - and its famous row of weavers' cottages.
    > Cycle in the Cotswolds

Cerne Abbas – Dorset 

Cerne Abbas and its famous Giant, Dorset |  <i>Pete Harlow</i>
Cerne Abbas, in the Dorset Downs, is a beautiful village with a ruined abbey and the famous Cerne Abbas Giant carved in the chalk hillside. It is one of the largest hill figures in Britain and was first written about in 1751 in a letter by John Hutchins. In the beautiful village of Cerne Abbas itself you can visit the Abbey Tower ruins, St Augustine's Well and the Tithe Barn, reputedly the scene of Sergeant Troy's revels in 'Far From the Madding  Crowd'. You’ll also find a good place for afternoon tea in Long street, just before Duck Street. 
    > Walk the Dorset & Wessex Trails
 
 

What is your favourite village in England? Have you visited during a walking holiday in the UK? 
Which of England's most beautiful villages would you still like to visit? 

Let us know in the comments below! 

Watch: Champagne and Paris Bike and Barge Tour

Watch: Champagne and Paris Bike and Barge Tour

 
Let this absorbing video transport you to the canals and countryside of France, specifically the French regions of Champagne and Paris. This video showcases the highlights of our Champagne and Paris Bike and Barge tour, which is an 8 day guided tour. On this cycling trip you'll encounter the amazing sights of Epernay, Meaux and the Marne River Valley, as well as divine foods such as brie, pastries, and, of course, Champagne.
 

Champagne and Paris Bike and Barge tour video

Are you excited to cycle the charming paths of France? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
10 Best Walks in England for This Summer

Our favourite out-of-lockdown England walking holidays


The spring equinox is coming with its extra dose of sunlight, warmer temperatures, longer days and the vegetation starting to bloom. As nature imperturbably follows its regular cycle, we too are looking forward to gradually end the longest worldwide hibernation ever experienced in our lifetime. 
The current news on declining COVID-19 cases, the great progress in vaccinations, and roadmaps out of lockdown are a true forecast to brighter days and a very special summer in England.

In the UK we fully expect domestic travel to restart from 17 May and European destinations to reopen from June.  That’s why in this article we’re listing the 10 best walks in England for this summer. It’s promising to be a heaving one and we advise you to lock in your dates and beat the inevitable rush on outdoor holidays in England.
 

#1  James Herriot Way

Stepping stones across the Ure Looking down towards Keld, Yorkshire Dales Reaching the Great Shunner Summit, Yorkshire Dales

An ideal introduction to walking in the Yorkshire Dales where classic scenes of rolling hills and picturesque villages unfold each day. 
 

#2  Coast to Coast

Hiker with Coast to Coast guide John Millen |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i> The lovely village of Grasmere |  <i>John Millen</i> Walking up from Fleswick Bay on Wainright's Walk |  <i>John Millen</i>
 

Walk the famous Coast to Coast trail from St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay on which classic, English scenes of rolling hills and picturesque villages unfold each day. 

> view options

 

#3  Cleveland Way 

Cleveland Way Sign |  <i>John Millen</i> Quaint buildings in Helmsley |  <i>John Millen</i> Boats at sunset Robin Hood's Bay |  <i>John Millen</i>
 

If you’re after a mixture of coastal and moorland walking, then look no further than the Cleveland Way in northeast England.

> view options

 

#4  Hadrian’s Wall Trail 

View from Saughy Rigg Walking along the Hadrian's Wall trail nearby the wall itself |  <i>John Millen</i> Roman turret at Brunton
 

Experience Roman Emperor Hadrian's legacy on foot as you follow his famous wall (UNESCO-listed) in northern England from the aptly named Wallsend in Newcastle Upon Tyne to the quaint village of Bowness-on-Solway in the west.

> view options

 

#5  South West Coast Path

Cape Cornwall on the Cornish Coastal Path |  <i>John Millen</i> The pretty beach at St Ives in Cornwall Stunning views looking towards St Ives
 

Add up your miles on a stretch of some of England’s most superb coastline in Cornwall, enjoy the UK’s mildest & sunniest climate, and overnight in charming fishing towns. 

> view options

 

#6  The Dales Way

The Yorkshire estate of the Duke of Devonshire, Bolton Abbey, Dales way Walkers explore around Dent |  <i>Katia Vignes</i> Views to Lake Windermere |  <i>John Millen</i>
 

Walk through the Pennines and Lake District in the Yorkshire Dales and stay in inns and farmhouses dating from the 16th & 17th centuries.

> view options

 

#7  Isle of Wight

Edwardian village of Seaview Flying over Newtown Bay Walking above Colwell Bay
 

A beautiful walk circumnavigating the Isle of Wight.

> view options

 

#8  Pennine Way

Moorland reflections in a tarn |  <i>John Millen</i> On Byrness Hill |  <i>John Millen</i> The original Hebden Packhorse Bridge |  <i>John Millen</i>
 

Walk the full length of the Pennines from the Peak District to Scotland.

> view options

 

#9  Cotswolds

Waymarking on the Cotswold Way |  <i>Tom McShane</i> A group of walkers arrives in Broadway in the Cotswolds The charming village of Bilbury in the Cotswolds
 

This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers delightful walking through quintessential English landscapes and villages from the beautiful Cotswold town of Chipping Campden to the World Heritage City of Bath.

> view options

 

#10  St Cuthbert’s Way

River Tweed Melrose Abbey |  <i>Unknown</i> St Cuthberts Way
 

Follow St Cuthbert’s Way for a comprehensive walk through the border country of the Cheviot Hills from Scotland to England.

> view options

 

Have you thought of where to go this special summer? Are you contemplating seeing more of England on a walking holiday or will you go elsewhere in Europe? Share your ideas in the comment section below.

Europe Food: Dishes to Dine For

Europe Food: Dishes To Dine For

From humble home-made regional delights to sumptuous fine dining in Michelin star restaurants, the variety, choice of meals, and flavours available on a European jaunt is a major factor in travelling!

Below are some of our favourite flavours that we love to seek out, whether we're at home or abroad.

 

1. Cassoulet, France

The fortified town of Carcassone is a self-proclaimed capital of this popular slow-cooked dish, one of the oldest specialties in France. While it’s available in cans across France, there’s simply no comparison with the mixture of meats such as pork, goose or even duck, and white beans when prepared in a traditional earthenware pot by someone who knows what they’re doing. Visit on our Canal du Midi Cycle tour.

Cassoulet, the famous dish of the Cathar region |  <i>C.G. Deschamps</i>

 

2. Cherries, Slovenia

Centuries ago, Europe’s ruling elite as far away as Vienna, St Petersburg and Prague developed a taste for Slovenia’s famous little fruit. Today, the simple cherry still entices, with visitors across the continent converging on the countless Cherry Festivals held across the country throughout June. Try one for yourself whilst on one of our active Slovenian holidays.

Cherry pickers on Slovenia family holiday |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

3. Gozleme & Sage Tea, Turkey

Being greeted by gozleme, a type of pancake cross with flatbread filled with spinach and cheese, is an honour you’ll want to be bestowed on you. In the markets, gozleme varieties include a mixture of minced lamb, potato, white cheese, parsley, and chilli – or for the sweet tooths, try the honey or chocolate with nuts variety. To complete the experience, wash it down with sage tea. Taste it on one of our active tours in Turkey.

Try a traditional cheese Gozleme in Adrasan |  <i>Lilly Donkers</i> Making Gozleme for lunch |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Trying the famous gozleme of Adrasan |  <i>Lilly Donkers</i>
 

4. Meatballs and Lingon Berry Jam, Sweden

The Lingon Berry is a Scandinavian favourite. Its abundance in the local forests means it’s also plentiful in local restaurants. Splash it over herring, pancakes, mashed potatoes or try the countries favourite use for it, meatballs and Lingon Berry. If you’re an adventurous eater you may also want to try some of Sweden’s other favourites on their own, bleak roe (“löjrom”) or roast elk! Sample them during one of our tours in Sweden.

Traditional Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberries |  Visit Sweden

5. White truffles, Italy

If you’re a wannabe trifolau, join the likes of Sophia Lauren and Alfred Hitchcock and head to the Piedmont town of Alba to try Italy’s most famous – and pungent – fungi. The local truffles are legendary, as the International White Truffle Fair, which has existed since 1929, will lay testament to. Held in October to November, it’s a chance to try the local delicacy as well as watch the many medieval games held within the region. Try a truffle in Piedmont during one of our tours.

Truffles are a delicacy on the Via Francigena |  <i>Tim Charody</i>

6. French Cuisine, France

Yes, the entire country of France gets its own position in our top ten European food list! This is because we don't know where to start: croissants, duck l'orange, boeuf Bourguignon, crepes, mussels, etc. There's a reason French cuisine is world famous.

One of the best ways to eat your way around France is on the Food Lovers French Way of St James, which is a 12 days guided cycle accompanied by Australian author, Mary Moody. Explore historic towns, eat lunch at a 100-year-old family restaurant, go truffle hunting, visit the local markets, indulge in wine tasting and fine dining experiences. Food Lover's French Way of St. James

Traditional dish on the Le Puy Way |  <i>Mary Moody</i> Sampling the local French cuisine with Mary Moody |  <i>Mary Moody</i> Baked delights in Corsica |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>
 

7. Seafood, Greece.

After spending your days frolicking in the Aegean, Ionian, or Mediterranean seas around Greece, surely there's only one thing on your mind: tucking into a sumptuous meal of freshly caught seafood. Whether it's shrimp saganaki, Greek lobster pasta, pan-fried sardines or humungous seared octopus, the seafood in Greece is bound to hit the spot.
 
Dine on fresh local seafood by the sea in Crete |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i> Local Greek cuisine Great local food served on board the Panagiota |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

8. Burek, the Balkans (Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia).

There's an art to crafting burek, which is a flaky pastry filled with meat, spinach or cottage cheese. The countries that make up the Balkans will typically argue over who makes it the best (shh, but we think it's the Bosnians!). Whatever you do, just don't call it a sausage roll.
 
 
This bakery is a shrine to the joy of burek : SBS Food
 

9. Pretzels, Germany and Austria.

Although the humble pretzel comes in various forms around the world, you have to try it in its original incarnation in Germany or Austria. Crunchy yet soft, with chunks of salt, it's the perfect accompaniment to that other Germanic staple: drinking beer. Proust!
 
 
Austrian pretzels |  <i>Lilly Donkers</i>
 

10. Churros, Spain.

This is one of those delicious moments of culture shock: in Spain, it's perfectly fine to dip fried and sugared doughnut sticks into melted chocolate for breakfast. When in Rome...
 
Crisp, sweet and simple. Chocolate con churros is served just about everywhere in Spain |  <i>Angela Parajo</i>
 

 

What food in Europe have you indulged in that's worth travelling for? Let us know in the comment section below.

 

  

10 Extraordinary Destinations to Visit in Europe

10 Extraordinary Destinations to Visit in Europe

 
Europe can be an unbelievable place at times, and you have to pinch yourself to be reminded that some destinations are in fact real. In this article we present ten of the most unusual places to explore in Europe, all of which can be seen on our affordable walking and cycling holidays. So prepare to be gobsmacked with these amazing sights that you definitely need to add to your bucket list.
 

1. Sassi di Matera

Viewpoint of Matera and the Sassi cave dwellings |  <i>Ross Baker</i>
 
In Southern Italy, the Sassi di Matera are ancient cave dwellings that have been carved into a mountainside. Absolutely mesmerising!
 
 
 

2. Painted Monasteries of Romania

A visit to Voronet Monastery in southern Bukovina is a cultural highlight
 
In northeastern Romania, you'll find the splendid Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. These frescoes were painted in the 15th and 16th centuries and depict vibrant Biblical scenes.
 
 

3. The Volcanoes of Stromboli

Boat to the Sicilian Island of Stromboli |  <i>Mike Gebicki</i> Eruptions on Stromboli, Sicily |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Guide showing Aeolian Islands, Sicily
 
The island of Stromboli has an active volcanic cone that dominates the horizon. Dramatic cliffs and winding coastline, black beaches and thermal hot springs, a deep blue sea and charming port towns are all characteristic of the Aeolian Archipelago, an enchanting group of islands.
 
 

4. Meteora

The monastery of Varlaam, Meteora |  <i>Hetty Schuppert</i>
 
Viewing the spectacular monasteries of Meteora, perched high on precipitous rock formations in central Greece, has to be one of the great travel experiences in Europe. The monasteries appear to be suspended in the air due to hermit monks choosing to build on such a remote site atop of ancient rock pinnacles that have weathered away over time.
 
 

5. Iceland

Discover the truly unique landscapes of Iceland on a walking holiday Looking out over ice floes in Iceland Dramatic waterfalls are a feature of Iceland's Golden Circle
Truly one of the world's most enchanting destinations, Iceland has terrific natural landscapes that seem to be straight out of a fantasy novel. Join a hiking trip to this magical nation and behold waterfalls, hot springs, mountains of lava, and more.
 
 

6. Saint Basil's Cathedral

Visiting Moscow's iconic Saint Basil's Cathedral is a must |  <i>Phillip Williams</i>
 
The iconic emblem of Russia, Saint Basil's Cathedral is just one of the many curious sights you'll uncover on a trip to Russia. Our Moscow and Beyond cycling trip does just that.
 
 

7. Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lake National Park
 
The emerald terraced ponds within Plitvice National Park in Croatia truly needs to be seen to be believed. This natural wonder can be explored on a full day of enjoyable hiking on one of our many trips in Croatia.
 

8. French Way of St James

This is (arguably) one of the most beautiful Camino trails to walk. The French Way of St James traipses through pretty villages in the heart of France, including Conques, Le Puy, and Aumont. Watch our video - it's a feast for your eyes.
 
 

9. Cappadocia

A small town in the rocks of Cappadocia |  <i>Erin Williams</i>
 
Cappadocia, in Turkey, is an extraordinary place to visit. Whatever emotion you're trying to evoke: romance, adventure, discovery, wonder - you'll find it in Cappadocia. A balloon flight over the otherworldly landscape is a must for all travellers.
 
 

10. Northern Lights

Northern lights with Snowmobiles |  <i>Ross Baker</i>
Be mesmerised by the elusive Northern Lights in Sweden or Iceland. This is such a surreal sight and deservedly sits on many people's travel lists.
 
 

 
Do you have any extraordinary or unusual European sights to add to our list? Share your insights in the comment section below.
 
 
 
 
Spring Holidays in Europe & the UK

Navigate your way into spring 

With the days slowly becoming longer, it’s time to ponder your spring holiday. We can’t wait for you to head out and enjoy a spring holiday in Europe or the UK again. 

With the vaccine roll out going great guns, we hope the travel season will be back sooner rather than later. Whether you’ll travel in your own backyard or explore a little further away, with 400+ active UK & European breaks to choose from, we’re confident you’ll find something to your liking. To help you navigate your way into spring, find here 7 of the best places to go in spring. The list is a mix of destinations throughout the UK & Europe - for all of our active travellers right across the UK and Europe, wherever you may be.

Austrian Lakes

From 22 April, you can explore again the UNESCO World Heritage listed Salzkammergut alpine region of Austria. Encompassing 76 crystal clear lakes, the Dachstein Glacier, lush summer meadows, picturesque Hallstatt, and impressive rock faces up to 3000 vertical metres high, this is a magnificent region for hikers. Even though spring is a fantastic time to go, in alpine regions the weather can change severely and without warning, so it is always a good idea to be prepared with different layers and carry waterproof gear. 

Duisitzkar Lake in the Dachstein Alps

> Find a spring departure to the Austrian Lakes

Provence 

Postcard-perfect scenes abound in Provence: sloping vineyards and sunny olive groves, ruined Roman cities, medieval castles and busy market towns, the foothills of the Alpilles, hilltop villages of the Luberon, and glitzy beaches of the French Riviera. So, whether you’re a cyclist or walker, travel to Provence from 1 April for your active break away this spring. The region offers one of the best spring holiday opportunities in Europe as this is one of the most ideal times of the year to visit Provence. You’ll enjoy sunny days, cherry blossoms, deep red poppies and from June the purple lavender fields. Moreover, temperatures are between 20-30°C (68-86°F), so fantastic conditions for an active holiday.  

Descending  through blossom from Saignon

> Find a spring departure to Provence 

Amalfi Coast 

The spectacular Amalfi Coast in Italy brings you sheltered coves, glamorous resort towns and charming medieval villages, all hemmed by impossibly rugged cliffs and steep hills swathed in olives, citrus and grapevines. Narrow walking trails crisscross the hills above some of the world’s most romantic, postcard-perfect coastal scenery. With Pompeii, Rome and the forgotten Cilento Coast all nearby, you are spoilt with options for a truly Italian spring break away. March to June are some of the best months for a walking holiday along the Amalfi Coast. Plan your visit when flowers start to bloom and before the temperatures start to rise, and avoid the crowds that normally draw in during summer. 

Hiking along the Sentiero degli Dei |  <i>John Millen</i>

> Find a spring departure to Amalfi Coast

Transylvania 

Travel to the Transylvania region in Romania this spring, to find flower-filled meadows, the mating sounds of lynx and perhaps here and there a trace of snow. Temperatures from April are rising, making them excellent for activities such as walking & cycling. It is therefore that you can depart for a Transylvania spring break from 19 April onward. 

hiking group in the Bucegi Mountains foothills enroute to Bran |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

> Find a spring departure to Transylvania

Wainwright’s Coast to Coast 

Because of the popularity of this trail, people often fall into the trap of thinking that it is easy. However, our trips on the Coast to Coast trail are amongst our most challenging but rewarding tours in Europe. Travel in spring to kick off your year in active holidays and enjoy the wildlife coming back to life while feeling the first rays of sun on your skin. Experience the diversity of England by choosing a guided or self guided walking or cycling trip on the Coast to Coast trail this spring. Departures start from as early as mid-March each year.

Coast to Coast walkers in Swaledale near Muker

> Find a spring departure following the Coast to Coast 

Mont Blanc 

The first Mont Blanc trips depart early June and the fact that you may encounter snow on the passes brings a nice contrast to the spring flowers that can be seen popping up lower in the valleys. Whether you prefer a guided trip or travel in your own company on a self guided itinerary, with UTracks you have a wide choice of Mont Blanc departures in spring

Refuge on the Tour de Mont Blanc trail |  <i>Dana Garofani</i>

> Find a spring departure to Mont Blanc

Cumbria 

Cumbria combines some of England’s most scenic viewpoints, quintessential English villages, lakes, pastures and fells along moderate, low-level terrain. The shoulder months deliver pleasant conditions for walking in the Lake District with the added advantages of fewer crowds and an abundance of spring flowers. So, if you choose to trek among the stunning bluebell woods, a Cumbria hiking adventure does not come better than this! 

Bluebells and the pikes, Great Langdale |  <i>John Millen</i>

> Find a spring departure to Cumbria

Have you thought of where to go in spring? Will it be the UK or somewhere in Europe? Share your ideas in the comment section below.

Self Guided Camino Tours 2022

Self Guided Camino Tours 2022

Start planning your Camino de Santiago pilgrimage for 2022

 
We're looking ahead to 2022, which will be a great year to walk the Camino de Santiago. With the news that Pope Francis has extended the Jacobean Holy Year to 2022, there's now more opportunity to take part in a pilgrimage during the Holy Year and to celebrate the festivities on the way of St James. (Not sure what the Jacobean Holy Year is? Read our Definitive Guide to walking the Camino during the Jacobean Holy Year.)
 
We have also implemented stringent Covid-19 Health Guidelines on all our trips. Our style of travel already naturally adheres to social distancing guidelines, with most Camino trails in Europe's countryside and, being self guided, you have control over your social distancing. Plus, all our accommodation along the Camino is in comfortable private rooms of guesthouses, so you don't have to share bedroom facilities.
 
In anticipation of 2022, we've made our self guided Camino tours available to book so you can start planning your 2022 Camino de Santiago pilgrimage now.
 

Self Guided Camino Destinations for 2022

Autumn leaves along the Camino trail as we hike towards Roncesvalles |  <i>Scott Kirchner</i> Hiker relaxing before we get back on the Camino Trail |  <i>Scott Kirchner</i> Walking through Spain along the iconic Camino Trail |  <i>Scott Kirchner</i>

Camino de Santiago (Spain)

The classic pilgrimage trail, one of Europe's most famous walking paths. The Camino de Santiago includes various routes, such as the Camino Frances, Camino Primitivo, Camino Ingles (English Way) and the Camino del Norte.
 
 
Arriving in Santiago de Compostela on the final day |  <i>Sue Finn</i>
 

Camino Portuguese (Portugal)

This stunning Camino route takes you through Portugal before coming into Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Choose between the Portuguese Coastal Way or the in-land Portuguese Way.
 
 
Walking the vibrant Camino Trail |  <i>Rob Mills</i>
 

French Way of St James (France)

Arguably the most beautiful of all the Camino routes, the French Way of St James blends the superb cuisine and landscape of France with the joy of walking the Camino.
 
 
Exploring the streets of Conques |  <i>Rob Mills</i>
 

Cycling the Camino de Santiago

UTracks offers a multitude of cycling options along the Camino de Santiago, the French Way of St James as well as the Portuguese Road, or Camino Portuguese. 
 
 
Self guided cyclist making her way on the Portuguese Camino tour from Porto to Santiago de Compostela |  <i>Pat Rochon</i>
 

Via Francigena (Italy)

One of the world’s most rewarding walking trails, the historic Via Francigena is an ancient road and pilgrim’s route stretching more than a thousand kilometres through France, Switzerland and Italy, finishing up in the Eternal City of Rome.
 
 
Pilgrims making their way towards Rome on the Via Francigena
 

St Francis Way (Italy)

The St Francis Way is an Italian Camino route inspired by the life of St Francis of Assisi. It links Florence to Rome and is perfect for those looking to absorb Tuscany and Umbria, otherwise known as the Green Heart of Italy.
 
 
Pilgrim walking into St Peters in Rome at the end of the Via Francigena |  <i>Tim Charody</i>
 
 

 

More Camino Information

 
Which Camino trail is on the top of your must-do list for 2022? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
 
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