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Explore Hungary: 5 Reasons Why You Need To Ride Hungry's Cycle Path

Explore Hungary: 5 Reasons Why You Need To Ride Hungry's Cycle Path

 
Hungary is well known for its architecture, grand Budapest, and spicy paprika.  But for those who want to get out and explore her natural beauty, my hot tip is to hop on a bike and just ride, like my mother and I just did. 
 
We’ve returned to Vienna after a fabulous 8 days cycling along sections of the Danube Cycle Path between Vienna and Budapest. This was my mum’s first time on a self guided cycling holiday. I doubt that it will be her last. If you are planning a trip to Hungary make sure you consider a self guided cycling trip like the Hungarian Rhapsody - here are 5 reasons why: 

1. The Danube Bend 

Incredible views of the Danube river bends

Ah yes, the magnificent Danube. It’s not the only reason to visit Hungary but it certainly plays a central theme in everything you see and do. The Danube Bend, where Europe’s second longest river takes a sharp right turn and begins its journey south, this iconic river is at its most beautiful. 

Magnificent Hungarian cities, such as Esztergom, Gyor and Vac, sit right on the banks and this section of the river is extremely wide and clean. The Danube Bike Path runs right along the shore. We thoroughly enjoyed cycling here and the views of the Danube, more than anywhere else along our 8 day route. We stopped frequently to take photos, have a swim, and just admire the river (again something impossible if we were on public transport!). 

2. Self Guided Freedom

Cycling past sunflowers on the Danube Cycle Path, Hungary

 

Cycling give you a freedom and feel for a place that no other form of transport can. A self guided bike trip unshackles you completely. Our well maintained 21 speed bikes took us down back country roads of small villages, through fields of sunflowers, past vineyards, by the locals fishing in the river... by places my mother and I would have missed if we took the bus. 

We came across wild goji berries, plums, apples, and pears. The freedom to ride at our own pace and choose our own directions meant we could stop to say hello to farm animals or buy fruit at small stalls (perfect mid-bike snack). Taking it slow meant we didn’t miss the deer feeding in a cornfield and that we could stop to meet local farmers tending to their gardens. 

These are all Hungarian experiences we wouldn’t have known existed if we were on the main road in a bus or on a train… and they showed us a beautiful side of Hungary that we’ll never forget. 

3. It’s flat as a millpond!

It's flat we tells ya! Cycling the Danube in Hungary

 

We didn’t know this – but happily found out soon after arriving – that Hungary is fabulously flat… perfect for a relaxed cycling pace! Hungary has no point over 1000m; riding along the northern section of the Danube our greatest incline was only about 20m. This sure made mum happy! 

We could pedal along enjoying the river-views instead of panting, sweating and staring down at the front tyre. It also meant we had plenty of leg-energy left at the end of the days… necessary for side trips like the walk up Castle Hill in Eszergom to see the Basilica – Hungary’s largest church (a definite must do!). 

4. Bike friendly barges Cyclists taking the ferry to Szob

 

To see as much of the Danube as possible we caught the barges that cross from town to town on either side of the river. It’s inexpensive to catch the barge. There are plenty of them and the barge drivers happily welcome cyclists aboard. 

Catching a barge is a fun way to see the Danube from a different angle! This barge is taking us to Szob. We highly recommend the barge-trip to Szob, on the northern side of the river, as it takes you away from the highway and onto a beautiful track heading through a beautiful forest right on the riverbank! 

5. Cyclists are welcomed with open arms Cycling through a Hungarian village

 

The Hungarian people we encountered were extremely welcoming of us and our bikes. Drivers would slow down to a crawl and gave us tonnes of space if we came to a road. All pathways had a designated cyclist section; hotels have bike storage areas; the town centres were full of cyclists riding or pushing their bikes down the cobbles streets… But, most importantly, every cafe had a long line of bike racks out the front! 

This photo is our first stop in Hungary after crossing over from Slovenia; many other cyclists had the same idea! If you ever want to experience the true magnificence of the Danube your way, then Hungary is the place, bikes are the way and UTracks are the people who can make it happen for you. 

> Lilly and her mum travelled with us on our 8 day Hungarian Rhapsody.  

 


Have you been to Hungary? What did you think of this great nation?

  

Alpine Hiking & Mont Blanc Tours in Europe 2022

Alpine Hiking & Mont Blanc Tours in Europe 2022

 
Discover Europe's magnificent mountain range, the Alps, on an extraordinary hiking tour in 2022. Whether standing on a valley floor, or crossing a panoramic pass, the magnitude and beauty of this unspoilt region will definitely leave an impression on you.

There is a pent up demand for alpine hiking tours in 2022 and this means that if you would like to reserve private accommodation we need to hear from you as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. We have released our 2022 trip dates for guided and self-guided alpine hiking holidays in Europe. Find the right walking tour for you below or browse our full range.
 

Tour du Mont Blanc hiking tours 2022

2022 is all about the classic trips that have been lingering on our travel bucket lists. And you can't get more iconic than the Tour du Mont Blanc. There are two obvious trips to accomplish this hike: the Mont Blanc Guided Walk and the self guided Mont Blanc Classic. However, because our ideology at UTracks is all about exploring Europe your way, we also have a comprehensive range of Mont Blanc trips that vary on length, grade, and itinerary, so click here to browse all eleven of our Mont Blanc hikes. 
 
 
 

Alpine hiking tours in Italy 2022

Admire the dramatic spires of the Dolomites in northern Italy on our guided Dolomites Walk, or enjoy the independence of a self-guided Dolomites Walk. For something different, experience the guided Gran Paradiso Adventure Walk, with views to Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn ranges from the high passes and lookouts encountered. Rugged valleys carpeted in wildflowers, rocky snow covered passes and glacial lakes are typical of these alpine paradises.
 
Besides these tours, there are trips that explore the Apuane Alps, Monte Rosa, the Via Ferrata, and more. Take a look at all alpine hiking tours in Italy here
 
 
Trekking in the Dolomites |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i>
 

Alpine hiking tours in Switzerland 2022

Switzerland is a fantastic place to experience fresh mountain air. The Swiss have a fascinating alpine culture to discover. One highly rated tour is the Panorama of the Swiss Alps, a centre-based trip in Meiringen. Meiringen is the perfect centre for walking holidays for all grades (plus you only have to unpack your bag once!). There are over 300km of well-marked footpaths, which range from gentle strolls to high ridges and even glacier exploring. In spring you can follow the melting snows into meadows of glorious Alpine flowers. In summer the high ridges and rugged glacial scenery become accessible. In autumn the landscape is painted with a riot of colour as the first frosts come. The potential for walking is limitless.
 
 
Walking back down to Meiringen
 

Alpine hiking tours in Austria 2022

The Dachstein massif, southeast of Salzburg, is a small mountain range with dozens of peaks of 2500m or more, typified by its series of glaciers and sharp descents to the valley floor, the limestone mountain contains some of the largest caves in Austria. Take in the awesome views of ice fields and alpine meadows, limestone peaks and dramatic lakes as you trek this exhilarating circuit.
 
 
Taking a break from the trail in the Dachstein Alps
 
Want more? See all 40+ of our alpine hiking tours below, including destinations such as France and Germany.
 
 

 
Will you be embarking on a hiking tour in Europe's Alps during 2022? Let us know where you plan on exploring in the comment section below.
  
Watch the inspiring 'Biking Borders' cycling documentary

Biking Borders: Cycling Documentary

Enjoy some cycling escapism with this great documentary on Netflix. Released in 2019, Biking Borders follows the journey of Max and Nono as they pedal from Europe to Asia while raising money to build a school in Guatemala. On their travels, they pass through European nations including Greece, Macedonia and Turkey.
 
They were inspired to take this epic journey (over 15,000 km!) after learning that Guatemala has the highest illiteracy rates in Latin America. Prior to this, they had barely ridden at all. It just goes to show that anyone can be a cycling traveller!
 
Watching Biking Borders has inspired me to embark on my own self-guided cycling trip in Europe; although I'm thinking more along the lines of the Danube Cycle Path rather than their epic ride! William from UTracks.
 

Watch the Biking Borders trailer

 
 
This is what Netflix says:
Best friends Max and Nono bike from Berlin to Beijing, collecting donations to build a school for a unique fundraising adventure in this documentary.
 
>> Watch Biking Borders for free with a Netflix account
 
While we at UTracks admire their dedication to bikepacking, we do like our creature comforts, such as having welcoming accommodation, a support hotline, and a daily shuttle service to transfer our bags (all benefits of travelling on a UTracks trip!).
 

 
Share your review of the Biking Borders documentary in the comment section below.
 
 
11 Benefits of an Organised Camino Tour

11 Benefits of an Organised Camino Tour

Should your Camino de Santiago tour be organised or independent?

You’ve been wanting to walk the Camino de Santiago for ages and are finally getting around to start planning your Camino pilgrimage. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you choose to travel the Camino independently or to use a Camino tour company like UTracks. 

As the world’s leading Camino travel company, we have been honing our services for over a decade now and know how to enhance your Camino experience. You can be assured to have a life changing and meaningful journey with UTracks.

See below for 11 top benefits of walking or cycling the Camino de Santiago on an organised tour. Whether you choose a small group guided tour, or a self guided trip, you’ll undoubtedly have a great time on the Camino with UTracks.

Hiker on Compostela Trail in Cantabria region, Spain Portuguese Camino sign showing the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i> Jorge regularly leads our 'Best of the Camino' tours

1. Comfortable Accommodation

Don’t want your Camino experience ruined by sleepless nights in dormitories as your bunkmates snore and leave their smelly socks out to dry? All of our Camino tours stay in private hotel accommodation where you can expect hot showers, comfortable beds and an undisturbed rest to re-energise you for the next days walk. 

Plus, as it’s all booked in advance there’s no concern about failing to find a bed in your destination, saving you from having unexpected extra distances to walk!

Read more about UTracks’ excellent Camino Accommodation here

Parador Santiago de Compostela

2. Daily Departures

On UTracks’ self guided Camino tours we offer daily departures to best fit into your travel schedule. Start your Camino holiday whenever you want, all year round. For firsthand advice about when is the best time to walk the Camino, speak to our friendly staff. They’ll be able to give you tips regarding weather, crowds, and more.

Pilgrims making their way to Roncesvalles |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>

3. Delicious Regional Food

Start each day right with a breakfast at your accommodation, included in all self guided and guided Camino tours. As is typical in Europe, breakfasts are usually continental and have bread, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, meats, fruit as well as coffee and tea.

When there are included dinners, these generally consist of a few courses to appease any pilgrim’s hunger. Dinner may start with a soup, rice or pasta; mains could be a chicken, fish or red meat dish; and you’ll finish with a dessert such as crème caramel or fruit. Naturally, a hearty amount of wine is on offer as well.

For a Camino experience with an even greater focus on cuisine, be sure to view our Food Lover’s walking tours. These special trips combine gastronomic delights with the Camino highlights of France, Italy and Spain.

Indulge in the local flavours of Galicia when walking along the Camino |  <i>@timcharody</i>

4. Flexible Itineraries

The beauty of a self guided Camino tour is that you can tailor it to your own trip desires. If you want to spend an extra night somewhere (to explore, to rest, whatever!) our staff can create a personalised itinerary. Best of all, because our staff have great experience walking the Camino themselves, they can provide personal advice on which towns are worth adding another night in (editors note: after reaching Santiago de Compostela, add on the Finisterre section. Basically you continue walking until you reach the edge of Spain against the Atlantic Ocean – feels like a remarkable accomplishment!).

Cape Finisterre, Galicia Spain |  <i>Marissa Ward</i>

5. Local Support

While UTracks has international offices to help you plan your Camino trip, once you’re in Europe you can rely on our local team to give you support and back up.

On our guided tours, of course you’ll have your local guide to provide information and help with any issues that arise. There’s also the convenience of having a support vehicle should you need to hitch a ride to your destination.

On our self guided Camino tours, all travellers have a contact phone number to our local team. There’s great peace of mind knowing that an English-speaking local is only a phone call away, and that they can offer advice or organise a taxi for you if the need arises. 

Exploring Alto Del Perdón while walking the Camino Trail |  <i>Scott Kirchner</i>

6. Luggage Transfers

All of our Camino experiences include a daily luggage transfer service. Only carry what you need for the day’s walk and leave the bulk of your bags at your hotel in the morning. Our luggage transfer service will then collect your belongings and drive them to your next destination. Your bags will be waiting for you in your hotel room.

On a self guided trip, your luggage is transferred for you, leaving you to explore with just a daypack |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

7. Plan your Camino with Experts

 UTracks has offices around the globe in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane), Canada (Ottawa), New Zealand (Auckland) and the United Kingdom (London). Click here to contact your nearest office. We’re an active tour company comprised of passionate travellers who have most likely completed the trip you have your heart set on. Our team can offer firsthand advice, from the Camino route that suits your needs best to what shoes to wear to avoid blisters.

Walkers taking pleasure in the Piazza del Campo in Siena |  <i>Allie Peden</i>


8. Genuine Experiences

Having all the logistics of your Camino tour taken care of allows you to have more time to focus on your journey. Take the time to explore the fresh farmer’s markets, admire the stained glass of the churches you pass, and to sit and enjoy a café con leche (coffee with milk) on a street side bar.

Arriving in the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela after completing the Camino Trail |  <i>Edwina Parsons</i>


9. Camino Experts Since 2006

UTracks have been operating Camino tours since 2006 and are continually refining our services to ensure our travellers have the most enriching experiences possible. We’ve helped many, many pilgrims reach Santiago and earn their Compostela certificate so you can complete your Camino with assurance.

Arriving in Santiago de Compostela on the final day |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

10. Comprehensive Range of Camino Tours

Every year UTracks adds to the repertoire of Camino offerings to satiate the demand for more Camino trips. For a first time Camino pilgrim still in the planning stages you may not yet understand, but once you’ve walked one the Camino travel bug bites well and truly hard. 

There are obscure Camino trails in Sicily (the Magna Via Francigena), the Kerry Camino in Ireland, the Camino Sanabres (Ourense to Santiago in Spain), the Via Degli Dei (Bologna to Florence in Italy), and many more. Plus specialty Camino holidays like our beloved Food Lover’s Camino tours, the Pilgrims and Paradors tour (featuring luxurious historic accommodation) and Rambler tours that provide additional days to complete Camino stages so you can walk at a gentler pace.


Idyllic walking along the Camino Sanabres in Spain

11. Peace of Mind & Convenience

With all the logistics of walking the Camino de Santiago taken care of, all you need to focus on is to do the walking! Walk soundly with the knowledge that your bags are being safely looked after, you have a reserved comfortable bed to rest your weary head in, and have the peace of mind knowing that if you need a helping hand it’s just a phone call away.

Very happy Camino walkers in France |  <i>Allie Peden</i>
 
 

Is walking the Camino on your travel to-do list? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
Camino de Santiago Accommodation

Camino de Santiago Accommodation

What is the accommodation like on the Camino de Santiago?

Don’t want your Camino experience ruined by sleepless nights in albergue dormitories as your bunkmates snore and leave their smelly socks out to dry? All of our Camino de Santiago tours stay in private hotel accommodation where you can expect hot showers, comfortable beds and an undisturbed rest to re-energise you for the next days walk.

We handpick the accommodation to totally immerse you in your surroundings. They tend to be family-run hotels and bed and breakfasts that add to the local charm. Sometimes you’ll wake up with views of neighbouring abbeys and village squares.

Hotel near San Gimignano on the Via Francigena |  <i>Tim Charody</i>

Camino Accommodation Glossary

Albergues / Hostels

Albergues are basic public accommodation run by volunteers along Camino routes. The word basic is key: guests are given a mattress, typically on a bunk bed, in a dormitory with a few dozen other pilgrims. It's bring your own sleeping bag and towel, and there are shared facilities. The bare essentials are provided and likewise, the cost of albergues is quite low. Note that UTracks does not offer albergue accommodation.

Dorm Guissani |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i>

Hotels

The hotels we stay in on UTracks a are handpicked to enrich your trip. These charming hotels are often family run. These charming hotels provide access to local living thanks to your hosts. The hospitality is generous and their local knowledge is invaluable. Where possible, we choose hotel locations that add to your experience.

Enjoy the hospitality of family run hotels on your Camino walk |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Typical Rioja hotel room on Food Lovers tour |  <i>Andreas Holland</i> Enjoy the hospitality of family run hotels on your Camino walk |  <i>Sue Finn</i>
 

Bed and Breakfasts

Simple yet rich in local character, the B&B’s chosen are clean, comfortable and run by hosts that help add to your experience.

Guesthouses

Similar to Bed & Breakfasts, these family-owned accommodations are clean and comfortable. Rooms with en-suites generally have a shower but no bath due to space. There may be a separate room with a bathtub.

Enjoy the hospitality of family run hotels on your Camino walk |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Enjoy the hospitality of family run hotels on your Camino walk |  <i>Sue Finn</i> Hotel Bonaval, Santiago de Compostela
 

Camino Accommodation Upgrades

There are also accommodation upgrade options if you prefer. Speak to our staff for more information.

habitacion-detalles-de-piedra-001-r3mhotel rice palacio de los blasones

Included Meals

Start each day right with a breakfast at your accommodation, included in all self guided and guided Camino de Santiago tours. As is typical in Europe, breakfasts are usually continental and have bread, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, meats, fruit as well as coffee and tea.

Breakfast awaits on your self guided Camino walk |  <i>Sue Finn</i> sample sitting area in hotel on camino gourmet trip Typical breakfast buffet on the Camino walk |  <i>Sue Finn</i>
 

When there are included dinners, these generally consist of a few courses to appease any pilgrim’s hunger. Dinner may start with a soup, rice or pasta; mains could be a chicken, fish or red meat dish; and you’ll finish with a dessert such as crème caramel or fruit. Naturally, a hearty amount of wine is on offer as well.

For a Camino experience with an even greater focus on cuisine, be sure to view our Food Lover’s walking tours. These special trips combine gastronomic delights with the Camino highlights of France, Italy and Spain.

A tasty meal is part of the experience on the Via Francigena |  <i>Tim Charody</i>

Reserved Accommodation for your Peace of Mind

Another advantage of having your accommodation sorted before setting out to walk the Camino is that you don’t have to worry about finding a bed along the way. There are plenty of horror stories of pilgrims arriving to a town and failing to get a room, so they have no choice but to keep walking to the next village (editors note: this happened to me on my independent Camino several times. Not fun having an unexpected 10km to walk at the end of a day!). 

Accommodation on the Porto to Santiago cycle |  <i>Pat Rochon</i>

Camino: Pilgrims and Paradors Walking Tour

The most special accommodation we offer is on our Camino: Pilgrims and Paradors self guided walking tour, where you sleep in monumental hotels called Paradors. These luxurious buildings are steeped in Spanish history and culture and were previously used as medieval castles, monasteries or convents. Truly a Spanish experience like no other!

Parador Santiago de Compostela Pazo Marinao cafe in the Parador de san Bernardo de Fresneda, Rioja, Spain
  
  
Top Tips for Walking the Camino like a Pilgrim

Top Tips for Walking the Camino like a Pilgrim

Sue from our Sydney office walked the final 115km into Santiago de Compostela from Sarria. She wrote this blog post about her experience, including her top 5 tips for walking the Camino like a pilgrim and getting the most out of the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Ever since I sobbed my way through the opening scenes of Martin Sheen’s powerful and rather haunting movie, The Way, I have aspired to walk at least part of the Camino de Santiago. Like many others, the 2011 movie opened my eyes to the possibility of embarking on a walk along this ancient pilgrim route. However, despite my enthusiasm for experiencing the Way, I never aspired to be a true pilgrim carrying all my gear on my back, staying in the classic Camino hostels or albergues, with their dormitory-style accommodation (and snoring occupants). 
 
Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago trail
 
Rather, I was drawn to the simplistic idea of embarking on a walking holiday through Spain, against a backdrop of ancient villages, rolling hills and farmland, fuelled by Galician food, the occasional wine and with the comfort of luggage transfers, pre-booked accommodation and meals in family-run hotels. While I may not have met the criteria of a true pilgrim on a journey to a holy place, I was surprised by how quickly I embraced the pilgrim experience. Here are my suggestions on how to have a “Buen Camino”.
 

1. The Pilgrim Passport

The Pilgrim Passport is your official proof that you have walked the required 100 kilometres into Santiago to obtain your Camino certificate of completion. Issued by Santiago Cathedral, it contains blank pages to collect stamps at various institutions you pass along the way. 
 
For the first two days, we stamped our passport at our hotel accommodation, but we quickly realized it was much more fun to collect our stamps at the churches, cafes, town halls and even roadside stalls along the way. Now each stamp on my passport serves as a wonderfully personal reminder of the places we visited, the fellow travellers we met and the conversations we enjoyed along the way. 
 
Tip: While the stamps are provided for free, some of the volunteers at the churches and roadside stalls do appreciate a small donation for their service. In some places, you can even choose a cross or charm which is affixed to your passport with a wax seal.  
 
Pilgrim passport getting stamped on the Camino
 

2. Camino Shell

The scallop shell is the most iconic symbol of the Camino and, along with the yellow arrow, is used to point pilgrims in the right direction to Santiago de Compostela. It’s a Camino tradition to attach a scallop shell to your backpack; in ancient times, the shell served as a useful scoop for food or water, while in modern times, they are a great way to identify your fellow pilgrims. 
 
The iconic Camino scallop shell
 
  1. Eat and drink like a local

Our breakfast and dinner were included with our pre-booked accommodation, taking the guesswork out of where to eat. Our hosts were welcoming, the food was outstanding and the portions generous. It was a great way to enjoy the local produce, regional dishes and wine for which Galicia is famous. At the end of each day’s walk, we also made a point of finding a cafe in the main town square for a cold beer and snack so we could celebrate our day’s walk and enjoy the company of other pilgrims and locals. 
 
Tip: Look out for the crazy little pilgrim’s beer garden near A Calle on the final day’s walk into Santiago. Even if it’s not beer o’clock, make sure you stop here for a specially brewed Peregrino beer. Then, when you are finished, write your name on the empty bottle (permanent makers are provided), make a wish and hang your bottle on one of the trees in the garden. It’s quite an experience! 
 
Beer garden on the Camino
 

4. Do obtain your Compostela certificate 

After arriving at Santiago Cathedral on our final day of walking, headed directly to the Pilgrim’s Office to apply for our certificate. When they finally handed us our certificate, it wasn’t the proof of our achievement that mattered most, but rather the acknowledgment that we had now become ‘Camino alumni’, joining the ranks of millions before us who had embarked on a journey to the tomb of the Apostle St. James. 
 
Tip: When filling out your form for the Compostela, you will be asked to state your reasons for walking the Camino. If you nominate “religious or spiritual”, your name will be written in Latin on your certificate. If you state “cultural or historical”, it will be written in Spanish. 
 
Arriving in the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela after completing the Camino Trail |  <i>Edwina Parsons</i>
 

5. The Pilgrim’s Mass

Attending a Pilgrim’s mass in the Santiago Cathedral is the traditional way to complete your Camino experience. However, you need to set out very early on your final day if you want to arrive in Santiago in time for the midday service. Rather than rush our final day, we decided to book two nights in Santiago so we could attend the midday mass the day after we finished our walk. 
 
The undisputed highlight of the mass is the swinging of the Botafumeiro, a giant 1.5 metre incense burner. Weighing 53 kilograms, it takes eight men to swing the burner on a rope and pulley system. Sitting underneath the Botafumeiro as it swung 21 metres above us, at speeds of up to 80km/hour, was an awesome way to complete a life-changing journey. 
 
Botafumeiro in Santiago Cathedral
 
 
>> Find out more about our self guided Sarria to Santiago trip or the guided Sarria to Santiago walk. 
>>Browse all of our Camino walks and cycling itineraries here.
 
Do you have any pilgrim tips you'd like to share? Let us know in the comment section below.
 
  
Is this real life? Stunning photos and videos of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Is this real life? Stunning photos and videos of the Tour du Mont Blanc

WOW! Take a look at these unbelievable photos from Amanda's recent hike along the Tour du Mont Blanc. Scroll through our Instagram post to see her amazing photos and gorgeous videos, then read about her journey in the caption below.
 
 
This is what Amanda had to say about her unreal alpine experience.
 
"Tour Du Mont Blanc was a once in a lifetime experience! A 7 day hike through France, Switzerland, and Italy with ~42 hours of hiking, ~20k ft elevation gained (and lost!) and ~50 lbs of local cheese consumed 😉

About 9 months ago, I injured my feet so badly, I could barely walk one block. It was a really hard time and a long road to recovery but with lots of yoga, miracle massage therapy sessions, and many missteps hurting myself again, I got to a place where I could (barely) do this hike. Given I’ve been focused on healing vs training, I really struggled and almost quit the first day - but am super thankful I kept going and am still a little shocked I finished. 💪

This experience is a great reminder that age is just a number — Most people doing this incredibly difficult hike looked to be in their 50s/60s and one guy in our group is 75. It’s never too late to accomplish what you want! 🥳

All that said, my next big hike will be FLAT — Camino De Santiago in Spain anyone? 🤪”
 
Fortunately, the team at UTracks can help out with both of these iconic active travel destinations!
 
 
For more of Amanda's wonderful travel photos, follow her Instagram page here. And be sure to follow UTracks on Instagram - find us @UTracksTravel or click here.
 

 
Do you have great active travel photos? Be sure to share them on Instagram using #UTracksTravel 
 
  
Watch: Travel Inspiration for Portugal's Alentejo & Algarve Regions

Watch: travel inspiration for Portugal's sunny Alentejo & Algarve regions

The south of Portugal is extremely picturesque. There are two regions here: at the far south is the Algarve, you're probably familiar with its famous sandy coves and rugged beachside cliffs; and above it is the Alentejo region, which is teeming with sparse, open countryside, interesting historical monuments, and home to some of Portugal's finest beaches.
 
You can cycle from the Alentejo to the Algarve on our self guided bike tour, or walk between them on the Rota Vicentina trail. For inspiration, we recommend watching the below videos which highlight the glorious scenery, sunny beaches, ancient sites, and charming alleys that are waiting to be discovered by you.
 

Alentejo travel inspiration

 

Algarve travel inspiration

 
 
 

 
Have you explored the Alentejo or Algarve region? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
 
Bike and Barge Tours in Europe 2022

Bike and Barge Tours in Europe 2022

 
Exploring Europe on a bike and barge tour is one of the best ways to have a holiday in 2022. There are many things to love about a bike and boat trip: unpack just once aboard your floating hotel, socialise with other like-minded travellers, and enjoy the ever-changing landscapes of Europe from your cabin window. Plus, each day you can hit the bike trails and cycle from village to village, allowing you to become immersed in the local lifestyles and cultures of the people of Europe.
 
We have released our trip dates for guided and self-guided bike and barge holidays in Europe. Find the right bike and boat tour for you below, or simply take a look at our Top 10 Bike & Barge lists.
 

Bike and barge tours in France 2022

Our pick for 2022 is the popular Provence by Bike and Barge tour, a perennial favourite for our travellers. On this trip, you will cycle through a revolving landscape from the wilderness of the Camargue where wild horses roam, to scenes of picturesque Provençal villages and vineyards that inspired Van Gogh and the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean. 
 
 
 

Bike and barge tours in Germany 2022

The Danube by Bike & Barge is ideal for travellers who are curious to explore a classic route in Europe. It starts in Passau, Germany, then slowly cuises the Danube through Upper Austria and Slovakia to reach the romantic Austrian capital of Vienna, one of the most magical cities in Europe. Heading west, the pace slows down, with a memorable cycle across the Wachau Valley past rolling vineyards, hill top castles, meadows and forests to encounter atmospheric landscapes and sites of arresting history.
 
Besides this tour, there are self guided trips that explore Berlin, Mainz, Cologne, Moselle and the Rhine Valley. It's a great way to experience Germany!
 
 
MS Arlene II Premium Category A boat on Moselle and Rhine Rivers
 

Bike and barge tours in the Netherlands 2022

The Netherlands, or Holland, is an exceptional place for a bike and barge journey. The Dutch are blessed with many canals and waterways, as well as a flat terrain, so it is equally suitable for a boat ride and highly achievable cycling. With UTracks, you can enjoy a variety of tours in Holland: the iconic Tulip Tour, a family-friendly itinerary, or the popular Amsterdam to Bruges trip. Most trips also have the option of upgrading to a deluxe boat for a more luxurious experience.
 
 
Travel the Dutch countryside the way the locals do |  <i>NBTC</i>
 

Bike and barge tours in Belgium 2022

Chocolate, beer, waffles - what more reason do you need to take cycling and barge tour in Belgium? There are trips that connect Bruges to Paris and Bruges to Amsterdam.
 
 
Cycle to Ghent on a bike and barge trip
 
Want more? See all of our bike and barge tours below, including destinations such as Hungary, Czech Republic and Scotland.
 
Or take a look at our bike and sail trips in Greece, Croatia and Turkey.
 
 

 
Will you be taking a bike and barge tour in Europe during 2022? Let us know where you plan on exploring in the comment section below.
  
Off Season Holidays in Europe

10 Best: Spring & Autumn Getaways 

Travel outside the peak season and enjoy quieter trails and excellent temperatures to get active in the European outdoors. Here are our 10 best off season holidays in Europe.

To help you find the best destinations, we've selected 10 of our favourite locations in Europe to make the most of spring or autumn days. From Croatia's Dubrovnik to Spain's Alhambra and the Canary Islands to a chain of stunning Greek islands, where will you extend your summer of travel or where will your first trip of the year take you?
  

Croatia Bike & Sail

Southern Dalmatia encompasses a stunning chain of islands stretching from Solta to Mljet, and this unique cycling and sailing trip captures the highlights with an ideal balance of activity, culture and relaxation. Discover the stunning Dalmatian Coast in Croatia by bike and sailing boat. The island of Hvar is a highlight on our Croatia trips and one of the charming port towns we visit is on Brac Island. Charter a boat with your own party or join one of weekly guided departures throughout April until October.
 
One of the charming port towns we visit on Brac Island, on our Croatian boat based trips
 

Bavaria Beer Trail Cycle

Beer brewing traditions are an art form in Bavaria and the Franconia region is home to a third of the country’s breweries. Following the Beer Cycle Route, averaging a brewery every kilometre, travellers can experience the laid-back atmosphere of the lively beer gardens, as well as plenty of sausage-tasting opportunities, and both medieval and wartime history in the exciting cities of Bamberg, Rothenburg, and Nuremberg.
 
The beautiful medieval city of Bamberg |  <i>Holger Leue</i>
 

Granada and the Alpujarras

From the intriguing city of Granada to the lofty heights of the Alpujarras, this is an excellent way to immerse yourself in northern Spanish culture and mountain landscapes. Small and surprisingly cosmopolitan, Granada offers a bizarre mixture of ancient history and modern living. There will be time to visit the Alhambra before heading into the mountains. This is an ideal off season holiday destination in Spain packing in both culture and nature.
 
Walk through whitewashed villages in the Alpujarras |  <i>Erin Williams</i>
 

Transylvania Castles & Mountains

Explore some of Romania’s most stunning mountain landscapes and soak up the unique culture of Transylvania on this inspiring self guided walk. Home to a diverse range of landscapes, the Bucegi mountains offer limestone cliffs with exceptional views, pine and beech forests, and flower-laden meadows. Also, the site of Dracula’s castle, the folklore and the atmosphere make this a unique and diverse adventure in Romania.
 
Ascending through forest to the Bucegi Mountains in Transylvania |  <i>Kate Baker</i>
 

Loire Valley Cycle

Explore the vineyards & chateaux of the Loire Valley at your own pace on an 8-day self guided cycling tour in the French region. It was once known as the 'playground of kings' and today is a famous valley of impressive chateaux and vast fortune. Take time to soak up the medieval charm of Blois and discover picturesque Amboise overlooked by its impressive fortified chateau. Cycle through countryside crisscrossed with vineyards, duck farms and orchards and the remnants of feudal hunting forests.
The cycle distances and many dedicated bike paths make this ideal for anyone of reasonable fitness to complete on a regular hybrid bike or an e-bike. As you cycle, discover the best this region has to offer.
 
Hybrid bike - Loire cycling |  <i>P-Forget_054</i>
 

Interested in planning a last-minute off-season holiday? Our team of travel experts is available to support you with your trip planning. Contact us today.

 

Exploring La Gomera

La Gomera is a relaxed, unsophisticated island with a population of around 20,000 people living mostly in the capital, San Sebastian or the villages of the north. Discover its volcanic origins and dramatic mountain scenery unlike anywhere in Europe on a walking holiday with year-round departures. 
Choose from two self guided circular tour options, an 8 day and an 11 day walk. Both of these start and finish in the island capital of San Sebastian, with the 11 day tour allowing for some more exploration around Hermigua. There's also the Southern Trails of La Gomera hike that leads you around the beaches of Santiago and la Guancha.
 
Descending to Imada
 

Greek Islands Bike & Boat

On this island hopping adventure on board a comfortable boat, visit the Greek island that is known for its pistachio nuts. Explore the magical Ionian and Aegean Islands by bike and boat. Cycle to ancient ruins and quiet beaches and be spoiled by the delicious Greek cuisine.
 
Cycling in the south Aegean
 

Cycle Normandy

Think lush orchards and rolling pastures dotted with medieval villages and chateaux if you are considering the best way to explore beautiful Normandy in the off season. The Pays d'Auge of Lower Normandy is literally blanketed in apple orchards, where numerous cider and calvados (apple brandy) producers reside in their half-timbered houses.  Cycle along backroads and canal paths, past historic locations, such as WWII sites,  and impressive coastline with options daily to choose a shorter or longer route (perhaps an e-bike will allow you to explore more?). 
 
Beuvron en auge 4 |  <i>Kate Baker</i>
 

Madeira Island Walking  

Start and end in the exciting town of Funchal! With this self guided walking tour on Madeira Island, you will in eight days discover places like Funchal, Pico Ruivo (the island’s highest peak), Santo da Serra, a network of levadas and many more stunning destinations on the Portuguese island. Visit in the off season, in spring or autumn, and admire a myriad of flowers in bloom. 
 
Walking trail on the Portugueseisland of Madeira
 

Villages of Istria Walk

The Villages of Istria Walk is a self guided tour on this Croatian peninsula where you can visit Groznjan with its artistic vibes, Hum which is officially the smallest town in the world, Buzet which is the truffle capital of Croatia, and the charming cobblestone town of Motovun. Trips depart as early as March and all the way into November for maximum opportunities to take in the beautiful hilltop towns, green landscapes awash with vineyards and olive groves, truffles, wine and fascinating culture.
 
Small village on Croatia's Istrian peninsula
 
 
Contact our team today to plan your off season holiday in Europe for late summer, autumn or spring and early summer.


 
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