rss

More Inspiration

Europe 2025 Price Lock!

Europe 2025 Price Lock!

2025 active holidays in Italy, France, Portugal and Spain are now ready to book! We're celebrating by locking up self-guided tour prices. 

You can now book your 2025 walking or cycling tour at 2024 prices. There are 126 self-guided tours to choose from.

But you best be quick to save - this offer is available for a limited time only.
 
 
These self-guided tours all include:
 
✔️ Daily luggage transfers; so you can explore pack-free
✔️ Comfortable private accommodation; so you can reflect and recharge
✔️ 24/7 English-speaking ground support + expert local team; for peace of mind
✔️ Delicious breakfasts and select meals*; the best way to sample the local cuisine
✔️ Information pack; including route notes and professional advice
* see trip page for inclusions.
 
Below you'll find some of the fantastic 2025 active holidays  to inspire you. Don't forget: beat the price rise and book your 2025 tour in France, Italy, Spain or Portugal now. 
 

France

France is a country that needs no introduction—its fabulous cities, breathtaking countryside, rich history and world-class food and wine have cemented it as a European must-see. There’s so much to see and do that deciding on the best walking tour in France will be the hardest part of your trip!
 
 
Walking the Alsatian Wine Route in France
 

Italy

Ancient history and Roman ruins, romantic cities and rustic villages, world-famous cuisine, rich culture and mind-blowing natural beauty - it's easy to see how Italy has gained its reputation as one of Europe's premier holiday destinations.
 
 
 
 

Spain

It’s no secret that Spain is one of Europe’s biggest drawcards. From its medieval villages and stylish cities to its sunny coastline, sunbaked vineyards and rugged mountains, this is a country bursting with history, culture and beauty.

Walk or cycle Europe's most iconic pilgrimage trail, the Camino de Santiago; tour the country’s traditional villages, medieval castles and historic cities; or trek among the jagged peaks and magnificent alpine scenery of the Picos de Europa.
 
 

Portugal

Portugal is an incredible destination packed with treasures for the history buff, the culture junkie and the outdoor adventurer alike. From its perfect weather and spectacular coastline lined with golden beaches, dramatic cliffs and world-class surf breaks; to its lively cities and historic towns filled with cobblestoned streets and medieval architecture—it’s easy to see how Portugal lures travellers back again and again.
 
 

Camino Frances | Spain

The Camino Francés is the most popular route to Santiago, with over 60% of pilgrims walking a section of this trail. It offers a more complete Camino experience by passing a multitude of churches and famous towns, such as Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and Leon, as well as a variety of landscapes from the mountains of the Pyrenees to the Rioja wine fields, the vast meseta and the rolling green hills of Galicia. The last section of 115km, from Sarria to Santiago, is the most well known and travelled.
 
> Sarria to Santiago route (most popular!)
 
 
 
Walking the vibrant Camino Trail |  <i>Rob Mills</i> UTracks team member Sophie Shaw Pilgrims hiking through rural villages along the Camino Frances in Spain |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>
 

Camino Frances | Spain

The Camino Francés is the most popular route to Santiago, with over 60% of pilgrims walking a section of this trail. It offers a more complete Camino experience by passing a multitude of churches and famous towns, such as Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and Leon, as well as a variety of landscapes from the mountains of the Pyrenees to the Rioja wine fields, the vast meseta and the rolling green hills of Galicia. The last section of 115km, from Sarria to Santiago, is the most well known and travelled.
 
> Sarria to Santiago route (most popular!)
 
Pilgrims crossing the Pyrenees near Roncesvalles |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>
 

Camino del Norte / Northern Camino | Spain

The Northern Camino route starts in Irun near the French border and joins the French route at Arzua. Our walk begins in the chic, gastronomic San Sebastian (Donastia in Basque) and follows the Camino Norte through picturesque fishing villages and fertile valleys to the bustling city of Bilbao, home to the iconic Guggenheim Museum, before continuing along the dramatic coastline through the Asturias region and on to Santiago de Compostela.
 
 
Pilgrims on the Camino del Norte, Spain |  <i>Andreas Holland</i>
 

Camino Portuguese | Portugal

The Camino Portuguese provides walkers and cyclists with a quieter, and flatter, experience. However, do not mistake the absence of travellers for a lack of interesting sights! The traditional Camino Portuguese route, the Portuguese Way, is beautiful and packed with history, taking you through World Heritage-listed Coimbra, Portugal’s early medieval capital famous for its 13th century university, and rural regions that you may otherwise never experience on a tour of Portugal.
 
 
Pilgrims walking the coastal way of the Portuguese Camino |  <i>John Parker</i>
 

Cycle the Camino | Spain & Portugal

For more than a millennium, the Camino de Santiago has been well trodden by hiking boots, horse hoofs and more recently, bike tyres, by people travelling on one of the many routes in Spain, France and Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, home of the tomb of the apostle St James.
 
 
Exploring the colourful Spanish Camino by bike.
 

More Camino Trails | Spain

One of the best things about the Camino de Santiago is that there are a multitude of trails to explore! So if you loved your first experience, likely on one of the more popular sections, there are plenty of alternative routes to discover. Check out some of these Camino routes in Spain or get in touch with our team of experts to find the most suitable trip for you.
 
 
The iconic Santiago de Compostela as seen from the Camino de Invierno (Winter Way). |  <i>Adolfo Enríquez</i>
 
 

2025 Price Lock: Terms and Conditions

> The Italy, France, Spain & Portugal 2025 Price Lock offer is valid only on trips marked 'Special Offer' on utracks.com
> The offer is valid for new bookings with trip deposits paid between 26 June 2024 to 31 August 2024
> Offer expires on 31 August 2024
> The promotion is valid on most self-guided trips in Italy, France, Spain & Portugal departing between 01 January 2025 and 31 December 2025
> The offer is subject to your chosen trip being available
> The offer cannot be redeemed as cash
> All standard booking conditions apply
> Quote PRICELOCK2025 when booking
> UTracks reserves the right to extend or shorten the Italy, France, Spain & Portugal 2025 Price Lock
 
 

 
 
Where do you want to explore in 2025? Let us know in the comment section below.
 
  
 
 
The Way, My Way: Behind the Scenes

The Way, My Way: Behind the Scenes

If you've seen The Way, My Way, you're probably curious about the films back story and how Bill Bennett came to producing his memoir of the famous Camino de Santiago trail.
 
In this fascinating 13 minute film, Bill describes the journey of creating the The Way, My Way. From casting the real life pilgrims he originally met along the way, to creating a fictional version of himself, this documentary is a must-watch for anyone who has seen the film.
 

Watch the making of The Way, My Way

 
   

  
   

Watch UTracks' Camino Film




Find your own Camino journey

Keen to experience the Camino de Santiago yourself? Browse our top-rated self-guided small group tours or get in touch with one of our expert team members.

>> View self-guided Camino trips
>> View guided Camino tours
 

The Way, My Way: Watch the Trailer

 


Have you seen The Way, My Way? Or have you read the book? Even better - have you done the Camino? Let us know in the comment section below.
 
  
The 10 Most Popular Tours of 2024... So Far

The 10 Most Popular Tours of 2024... So Far

Halfway through 2024 already! 

Many travellers are still looking forward to their trips, some have already been and gone, and others are still seeking inspiration. Which category do you fit into?

Join us in counting down the 10 Most Popular Tours of 2024...so far.
 
 

10. Via Francigena: Best of Tuscany

 
"This is a beautiful, well-marked, varied route, and we were lucky to have near-perfect weather in early May. The trails were not challenging per se, but they were long--generally, we found our fitness watches clocked them in at somewhat more than the posted mileage--and often along high ridges with great views, but exposed to sun and wind. 
 
At the end of your long day, you typically find yourself climbing a steep slope to get to your Tuscan hill town destination. So be ready for a lot of walking if you do this trip, and bring plenty of sunblock and a hat! We were also glad to have brought our trekking poles. Hotels were clean and comfortable, our luggage moved smoothly, and there was good food and wine to be had at every destination." K. Maus.
 
 
 

9. Provence by Bike & Barge

Discover beautiful Avignon in Provence
 
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. The Camargue is rich in wildlife including flamingos and endemic plants, while its flat plains provide easy cycling, before giving way to the spectacular limestone foothills of the Alpilles. 
 
Explore the villages of Provence brimming with tasty treats, art studios and cultural relics. Enjoy the vineyard scenery and marvel at the well preserved Pont du Gard. Relax on board the barge after each day's cycle and enjoy the views on the bank of the Rhone as you soak up the hospitality of the crew.
 
>> View the Provence by Bike & Barge tour - 2025 tours now live and ready to book!
 
 

8. Blue Danube Cycle

Bike riding by the Danube river in the Wachau Valley, Austria |  <i>Martin Steinthaler</i>
 
Follow the winding route of the Danube and discover the lively history of one of Europe's most important rivers. Cycle past Austrian castles, Benedictine monasteries and ancestral vineyards en route to Vienna. 
 
From Germany, follow the Danube eastward into Austria, across the fertile plains of the Wachau Valley, where vineyards climb the slopes to imposing medieval monasteries perched atop hills between Melk and Krems. Wind past castle ruins and apricot orchards before reaching the capital of Austria, where you can take in a performance of the "Blue Danube" waltz, the melody that evokes Vienna the world over.
 
 

7. Switzerland's Bernese Oberland

Enjoying the stunning panorama in the Bernese Oberland
 
The Bernese Oberland is a region dominated by high peaks, many over 4000m. Discover some of the highest peaks in Switzerland, including the Eiger (3970m), Jungfrau (4158m) and Finsteraarhorn (4274m), while to the north, glimpse the vast lakes surrounding Interlaken (Thunersee and Brienzersee).

Plus be mesmerised by the emerald alpine lakes, soaring snow capped peaks, flower laden meadows and quaint wooden farm houses.
 
 

6. Puglia

Exploring the sunny coastline of Puglia
 
While it may lack the famous beach resorts and iconic landmarks of other Italian hotspots, Puglia is a surprising gem of southeastern Italy, often luring travellers back for repeat stays.

Idyllic coastal landscapes, rich history, archaeological treasures and medieval architecture await here in the whitewashed heel of Italy—and with its languid pace, sunny Mediterranean climate and lack of tourist hordes, this is one corner of Italy that should be on your radar.
 
 

5. England's Coast to Coast

 
At 315km or 195 miles, the Coast to Coast Walk uses a network of public footpaths tracks, permissive paths and access land to cross England’s huge variety of landscapes, terrain, villages and three unique national parks – the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. In 2025 it will be added to the prestigious National Trails list.
 
 

4. Tour du Mont Blanc

 
"Exceeded expectations! An experienced and skilled guide, Fred went above and beyond, not only sharing his vast knowledge and visible love for the geography, the flora and fauna, the food and the culture, he also taught and verified that everyone knew how not to slide off the mountain, giving us all some hilarious back-side sledding opportunities, and some even got to swim in the lake at Champex. 
 
Great weather topped it off. UTracks made planning a breeze: quickly responding to any questions with clear information and instructions. Bravo. Our 1st TMB experience could not have been better!" T. Frank.
 
 
 

3. The Dordogne

Cycling in the village of Domme |  <i>Rob Mills</i>
 
The region of Dordogne, with its ancient architecture, languid pace and lush river valley fringed with cliffs, caves and castles, is a fairytale slice of rural France.

Set around the sweeping curves of the Dordogne River, this spectacular region is home to dramatic limestone cliffs and prehistoric cave galleries, majestic hilltop castles and remarkably well-preserved medieval towns. Add in an abundance of southern sunshine, outstanding cuisine and a web of scenic trails and backroads, and it’s easy to see why the Dordogne is one of France’s favourite holiday spots.
 
 

2. Camino Portuguese: Coastal Way

Enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Sea on the Portuguese Way
 
The Portuguese Coastal Route is one of the quieter Camino paths and it offers a wealth of history. From the town of Viana do Castelo, not far from the city of Porto, the journey travels north through small hamlets, past eucalyptus and pine woods, over ancient bridges and along stunning coastal scenery. 
 
Throughout the journey there are ample reminders of past pilgrims and the route offers many insights into the religious significance of the Camino. Crossing the Spanish border and walking the last 100kms through Galicia to the holy city of Santiago ensures you qualify for the Compostela certificate upon your arrival at the cathedral.
 
 

1. Camino de Santiago: Sarria to Santiago

 
With over 130,000 pilgrims starting their Camino from Sarria in 2023, there is no doubt that this will continue to be a very popular launch point for the Camino de Santiago! 
 
This final stage of the famous Camino pilgrimage route offers the chance for time-starved travellers to walk the final 115kms into Santiago and gain a wonderful appreciation of the historic significance of the route. The gates of Galicia lead on to the fabled Santiago de Compostela with its famous cathedral, the site of the tomb of St James.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
How many of these destinations have you explored already, and where's next on your travel list? Let us know in the comment section below.
 
 
   
Katharine walks the St Francis Way as a solo traveller

Katharine Walks the St Francis Way as a Solo Traveller

In the lead up to a big European adventure can be slightly daunting - even more so if you're a solo female traveller.
 
In this fantastic review, Katharine shares why she chose UTracks for her self-guided walking tour through Italy. The route she chose was a stage of the St Francis Way, from Assisi to Spoleto
 
Read on for Katharine's great write-up of her experiences.
 
Sunset view over Assisi |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i>
 
"UTracks is awesome.  My Assisi trip was one of the most beautiful trips I have taken in my 56 years.

I wanted to walk by myself, and the UTacks teamed up with a local Italian travel company to do everything for me—book the hotels and move my bags from hotel to hotel as I walked the track.
 
Spectacular views on the St Francis Way |  <i>Katharine McLennan</i>

The app was AMAZING. It showed the daily itinerary, and the interactive map told me metre by metre where I needed to go and whether I was on track or not. 
 
Navigation app |  <i>Katharine McLennan</i>
 
It was far more accurate than Google Maps, and I loved all the commentary on what to look for and what not to.
 
Use our handy app to navigate trails

The places I stayed were known as "agriturismo places." They are hosted by families on working farms. Those gorgeous families had farms and accommodations that sometimes dated back to 800!!! But all of them had done a fantastic job updating them to be modern, beautiful rooms. 
 
I loved how warm the hosts were and how much they appreciated my stay. There were seldom more than 5 people staying each night.
 
A farmstay is part of the experience when walking the Via Francigena in Tuscany |  <i>Tim Charody</i> Canopy-covered bed in a charming handpicked agriturismo in Tuscany |  <i>Allie Peden</i> Enjoy your stay at this organic farmhouse south of Siena, Tuscany


The walk was fabulous -- and incredibly well-researched and noted.  I was often the only one on the trails, but I always felt safe and looked after by UTracks in their 24-hour cover.  I never had to use it - but as a single woman walking on her own through the Italian hills -- it is great to know that people know where I am.
 
Viewpoint on the St Francis Way path |  <i>Katharine McLennan</i>

The preparation pack sent to me was also incredibly organised with equipment lists, hotel directions-- with all the contacts, and the contacts of the lovely fellow who would be taking my bag from place to place.  He was fantastic -- and I also felt supported by him if things were to go wrong.
 
Walking into Assisi on the St Francis Way

I will definitely be working with UTracks again and can't wait to plan my next adventure."
 
 
> Thanks to Katharine McLennan for her lovely words.
 

About the St Francis Way

Follow in the footsteps of St Francis, who trod this path often, as you walk along the most picturesque section of St Francis Way through eastern Tuscany and northern Umbria, the ‘green heart’ of Italy. 
 
The St Francis Way trail in Italy |  <i>Katharine McLennan</i> St Francis of Assisi |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i> Local producer in Italy |  <i>Katharine McLennan</i>
 
The route follows an ancient Roman road linking Florence to Rome. The full path takes 32 days to complete, or you can opt for popular stages such as the Citta di Castello to Assisi section.
 
As you walk through dense ancient forests, orchards, olive groves and lush fields of produce, regularly passing hermitages, chapels and crosses dedicated to the saint, it’s not hard to imagine St Francis and the thousands of walkers and pilgrims after him wandering along this unique, spiritual and scenic Camino path.
 
Walking through the Umbrian landscape
 
 

 
 
 

 
Have you had a similar wonderful experience to Katharine? Share your travel stories with us in the comment section below.
 
  
 
Review: Scotland's Coast to Coast Walk & Barge

Review: Scotland's Coast to Coast Walk & Barge

UTracks Traveller Stephanie joined the guided Coast to Coast Walk and Barge holiday in Scotland. She wanted an unforgettable experience...safe to say she found it! Read on for her incredible 5-star review and to learn more about this great trip.
 
Sign for the Great Glen Way in Scotland
 
"In every way, this journey exceeded our expectations. 
 
Six travelers and five crew became a team of 11 friends, sharing a joyful experience, while creating lasting and lovely memories. It is difficult to identify all of the highlights, but I'll try! 
 
The food.....the BEST! It was delicious, hearty, healthy, creatively prepared, and always exceptional. The chef, Ben.... is kind, gracious, funny, and so very talented. He made it look easy! 
 
The comfortable floating hotel barge, Fingal, approaching Inverness Dining area on the Fingal of Caledonia boat Trying haggis while in Scotland is a must! |  <i>Benjaphon Khidhathong</i>
 
We often felt like we were the beneficiaries of the Great Scottish Baking Contest, but that might minimize how much we also enjoyed the delicious soups, the amazing stews, the phenomenal Sunday Roast, and the scrumptious breakfast platters (the pancakes were superb!) The fruit smoothies were the best I've ever had. And that's just the start of it all. 
 
The crew was expertly attentive and accommodating. Our walks were comfortably and professionally guided by Chris, while also leaving us ample time to explore on our own. 
 
Exploring Fort Augustus in Scotland |  <i>Kenny Lam</i>
 
Our evenings were relaxing, and filled with laughter, funny stories, and a few yummy glasses of wine. We had plenty of time to get to know one another, and ample time to just relax and read a good book (of which there were many on the barge). 
 
Our last evening was spectacular as Ru provided a bit of authentic Scottish musical entertainment, making his accordion sound like an orchestra, while also providing stories about the history of Scottish folk music. 
 
Musicians in traditional Kilts in Scotland
 
Rich, a new-ish member of the crew was extraordinarily attentive to all of us, and able to anticipate our every need - truly! While he did many things, Rich often delivered us to the shoreline by Zodiac, for the start of our hikes, and picked us up when the day was done. And he did much more than that. He was never too busy to be there for all of us, or any one of us. And he was kind, gentle, respectful, smart, and very very funny! 
 
High above Lochness
 
Such a wonderful vacation, with such amazing fellow travelers - forever friends, we hope! Clearly one of our very best vacations ever. It was perfectly orchestrated, and so much fun. 
 
It was truly a trip to be remembered."
 

About Scotland's Coast to Coast Walk & Barge tour

Scotland's Great Glen Way walking trail stretches 75 miles from Fort William to the capital of the highlands, Inverness. Based on board a comfortable barge at night, this hike and barge cruise offers the opportunity to walk from one coast of Scotland to the other. 
 
Magnificently situated Urquhart Castle, on the banks of the Loch Ness
 
During the weeklong trip, the barge stops are planned to suit the walking stages, breaking them into manageable day walks of between 10 and 15 miles. Guided along the route by an experienced escort, who will point out places of interest along the way, there is no shortage of highlights. 
 
From impressive views of the mystical Loch Ness to glimpses of Scotland's highest peak, Ben Nevis, this relaxed pace walk will immerse you in the Scottish Highlands. In the evening, share stories of your day with like minded travellers and relish in the accomplishment of walking the breadth of Scotland.
 
Stunning view of Ben Nevis from the sea basin of the Caledonian Canal
 

Explore Scotland your way:

 
 

 
Have you travelled to Scotland before? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
 
The Camino: Music and Lyrics

The Camino: Music & Lyrics

Two friends, Jane & Janet, went on UTracks' Best of the Camino guided tour and had a terrific time. They wanted to capture their journey through a poem dedicated to their Camino de Santiago experiences. 
 

For our last celebration dinner with the group, my friend and I were going to write a poem to celebrate how wonderful the whole trip was. When I told my son, Sam, he said he’d put our words to music. I thought I'd share it with other travellers as it really sums up how we felt about the Camino. There’s a special mention to Sergio, our guide, and Pepe, our coach driver, who were both fab. Hope you like it!

 
Sam, being a talented musician, was able to put their words into a fantastic song. He plays the guitar and sings, as well as crafting the final songwriting.
 
Listen to their poem, as sung by Jane's son, Sam, in the video. Be sure to turn the captions on so you can sing along too! Below you'll find the lyrics to this wonderful poem.
 
 

The Camino


Kept my head up to the brighter skies
When the heavens poured I kept my stride 
Cos I could lean on 
The beautiful scenes of
The Camino

Traveled past the simple kinda of life 
Strangers turned to friends along the hike 
All living peaceful 
Far from the people 
In the city life

And I gave a bit of my heart to the wind 
So I can keep on re-living hill tops 
And every step was worth the pain of it 
Cos just like a river, I’m going the distance 
Cos I am a seeker 
Left in the dream of 
The Camino

Saw the sights of ancient parts of time 
The wonders of a dreamer through my eyes 
All of the the people the cities cathedrals 
The beauty of life

The sunrise held me up and set my mind 
Had Sergio and Pepe on our side 
Keeping the peace when
All of our feet went 
On the Camino

And all the food and wine was fine and led us to the field of the stars 
Mountains white and flowers bright are pictures that have settled in my heart 
Cos I let the yellow arrows lead the way to Santiago

And I gave a bit of my heart to the wind 
So I can keep on re-living hill tops 
Every step was worth the pain of it 
Cos just like a river, 
I’m going the distance 
Cos I am a seeker 
Left in the dream of 
The Camino 

🎵 Words and initial inspiration by Jane Parmiter & Janet Norris, who travelled on the Best of the Camino guided tour.
🎤 Final version, including songwriting and music, by Jane's son, Sam Parmiter.
🎥 Video by Tim Charody.
 
Celebrate finishing the Camino in Santiago de Compostela
 

Find your Camino

> View the Best of the Camino guided tour.
 

 
What did you think of it? At UTracks, we absolutely love the song and the sentiment! Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
The Camino Song by Dan Mullins

Somewhere Along the Way (the Camino Song) by Dan Mullins

Dan Mullins is a Sydney-based singer/songwriter, broadcaster, author and podcaster who is very passionate about the Camino de Santiago. His most well-known song is Somewhere Along the Way (the Camino Song), which was on his debut album, Duende. This song was notably featured in the Camino film, The Way, My Way by Bill Bennett.
 
 
Since we found this song we hear it every day and think of our own Caminos. The past and the future ones. Thank you for the good vibes!!!
 

Listen to Somewhere Along the Way (the Camino Song) by Dan Mullins below

 
 

🔒 Camino Price Lock 🔒

Get your shells ready: you can now book your 2025 Camino!
 
We're celebrating by locking up Camino tour prices. You can now book your 2025 Camino tour at 2024 prices. But you best be quick to save - this offer is available for a limited time only. Book your 2025 Camino now.

 
 
 
 
What song do you recommend listening to while experiencing the Camino de Santiago? Share your favourites in the comment section below.
 
  
Sue Cycles the Champagne Trails of France

Sue Cycles the Champagne Trails of France

What a destination Sue chose for a holiday with her gal pals - the vineyards, fine food and rolling hills of the Champagne region of France! Read on to learn more about the highlights of this self-guided cycling tour and perhaps become inspired yourself.
 
The rolling hills of France's Champagne region |  <i>Fernand Champagne</i>
 
 
It all started as a plan to tick off bucket list item, a visit to Paris’s Roland Garros and the very stylish, French Open Tennis Championships, with my sister and 3 tennis-loving girlfriends.  We’d bonded over regular visits to the tennis in Melbourne and a plan was hatched to create a tennis-watching ‘girls away trip’.  
 
Obligatory photo in front of the Eiffel Tower |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
We didn’t want to travel all the way from Australia to Paris just for a week of tennis so the question was how to fill a week or so before or after the French Open?  
 
UTracks’ ‘Champagne Trails’ self-guided cycle ticked all the boxes for us, the start in Reims,  just a 45 mins TGV train ride from Paris; a self-guided cycle over undulating country-side with a sprinkle of charming townships; world-renowned champagne houses and caves and a sumptuous choice of food and wine offerings.  
 
What’s not to like?
 
French vineyard at sunset |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
The French Open starts mid-May so the timing is perfect for a pre-cycle active week, enjoying glorious baby-blue skies and moderate temperatures.  
 
Crisp Spring mornings warming to the middle twenties afternoons were ideal for sightseeing and a spin down paved cycle-ways and undulating country laneways.  
 
Highlights of cycling France's Champagne trails |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
Our Champagne cycle starts in the city of Reims (pronounced ‘Rance’ with a distinctly rolled ‘R’) in northeastern France, the unofficial capital of the Champagne wine-growing region.  
 
It is definitely worth staying an extra night or two pre-cycle to see the magnificent Cathedrale Notre-Dame, a grand cathedral of stained glass windows and Gothic portals, hosting the coronation of French kings for over 1,000 years.  
 
Of course, no visit to Reims is complete without saluting a glass or two at one of the many champagne houses headquartered there, followed by a leisurely lunch at an outdoor bistro on one of the city’s expansive boulevards.
 
The home of Taittinger Champagne |  <i>Sue Marr</i>

Our bikes are delivered to our Reims hotel so we have the chance to check seat heights and gears on a light spin around the block.  The e-bike batteries are fully charged so we are ready to go the next morning after a hearty breakfast of juice, baguette, croissants, cheese, ham, boiled eggs and copious cups of coffee.  
 
Typical French breakfast |  <i>Sue Marr</i> Art imitating the French lifestyle |  <i>Sue Marr</i> Highlights of cycling France's Champagne trails |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
For this trip, I’ve chosen a standard bike but is more than adequate for experienced riders for the flat to undulating journey.  My novice-cyclist companions are very happy with their chosen e-bikes and slip easily into cruise mode, finding them comfortable, sturdy and stable.  
 
As our luggage is transferred to each overnight stay, all we need to carry with us are a few useful items to get us through the day such as water, snacks, a jacket and phones/camera.  We invested in gel bike seats (thanks Aldi) and carried our own helmets – although the latter were offered locally if we wanted them.  We dressed in light layers so we could easily adjust as the days cycling and sunshine warmed us.
 
Cycling France's Champagne trails |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
The first day’s cycle takes us south along the paved cycle path of the Reims canal, heading south towards the Montagne de Reims natural park, through rural villages to Ay and then to Epernay for an overnight stay.  
 
Champagne houses in Epernay
 
The magnificent house of Moet and Chandon is headquartered here so make sure you plan ahead and book a tour of the underground cellars as these are very popular and sell out well ahead, especially on weekends.  
 
If you happen to miss out on a tour, you can still visit for a champagne tasting in the outdoor courtyard or to find a treasure or two in the gift shop.  It is well worth a visit just to see the beautifully restored building with stunning chandelier, stone floors and lovely gardens.  
 
The Mumm vineyards |  <i>Sue Marr</i> Mumm Champagne on display |  <i>Sue Marr</i> Cyclist finding a leafy backdrop for a photo |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
The Champagne houses of Pommery and Mumm should also be added to your visit list, the outdoor courtyard at Mumm is especially comfortable for a sip and relax.  
 
The home of Mumm champagne |  <i>Sue Marr</i>

The smell of French home-cooking from a local bistro or fresh-baked baguettes from a small boulangerie usually decided our coffee and lunch stops each day.  The panniers fitted to our bikes come in very handy when we have an impromptu visit to a local champagne house, courtesy of the Bistro owner’s friendship with the wine maker’s family.  
 
A highlight of our self-guided cycle was that we were free to follow our noses and set our own schedule with the freedom to experience these special, random moments.
 
Taking a break from cycling for bubbles |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
Our next cycle day takes us through the beautiful Marne Valley, cycling along the undulating ‘veloroute’ and country roads, through vineyards and fields of waving wheat, framed by charming villages.  
 
Scenes from cycling France's Champagne Trails |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
Be sure to plan your day around cycle times between villages to take advantage of rest stops with coffee and pastries from exquisite local boulangeries.  These tend to close in the middle of the day, especially early in the season.  Champagne house tasting rooms close for tours and tastings between 12 noon and 5pm so again, if visits are part of your day’s activity, check ahead for opening hours to avoid disappointment.  
 
Bistros in the larger towns are generally open for lunch and dinner without a break and offer daily specials on a blackboard menu on the front door.  For a simple picnic lunch, visit a market or boulangerie early in the day to stock up on provisions as there are an abundance of beautiful parks and rest stops along the way.
 
Delicious French pastries |  <i>Sue Marr</i>

Our overnight stay in the small village of Reuilly Sauvigny was an absolute highlight of our Champagne visit.  
 
The Auberge Le Relais is a small guesthouse with a renowned restaurant serving lunch and dinner.  We’re told by a departing lunch guest that they had driven from Epernay just to experience the chef’s degustation lunch and congratulated us on choosing such an ideal location for our overnight stay.  Thanks UTracks!  
 
The Auberge has only 7 rooms but they are very modern and well-appointed with glorious views of the valley through waving willow trees.  So picturesque, so tranquil and so many shades of green, it was a picture post card of loveliness.
 
Highlights of cycling France's Champagne trails |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
It was nice to have a break from cycling to wander through the small village, visiting the local church and the manicured cemetery.  
 
After a short rest to luxuriate in our beautiful rooms, there was time for a glass of bubbles before we were invited to enjoy an incredible, seemingly endless degustation menu, each course presented with theatrical flair by our young waiter, delighting in our ecstatic ‘ooohs and aaahs’.  
 
After a long day in the saddle and a memorable meal, it was time to check the e-bike batteries were sufficiently topped up before succumbing to the delightful tiredness induced by exercise, great food and conversation.
 
Oyster in France |  <i>Sue Marr</i> Enjoying champagne in France |  <i>Sue Marr</i> Oysters in France |  <i>Sue Marr</i>

 
The next day’s cycle included a visit to the beautiful Orbais l’Abbaye and the Chateau de Montmort Lucy enroute to the charming town of Vertus with lots of dining options and the inevitable choice of champagne house visits on offer.  There’s also an aquatic centre just outside the town if you feel the need for a swim.  
 
Highlights of cycling France's Champagne trails |  <i>Sue Marr</i> Charming wall fronts in France |  <i>Sue Marr</i> Art imitating the French lifestyle |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
The final day’s ride undulates through vineyards and small villages with plenty of options for rest stops to enjoy the valley views.  There are a host of Grand Cru champagne houses to visit or to just to admire the decorative gardens and trimmed hedges along the way.  
 
Cycling the Champagne trails of France |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
Spring gardens are in full bloom with roses in abundance in multiple hues so if ever there was an excuse to stop and smell the roses on our way to Epernay, the Champagne Trails cycle is definitely the trip to choose!  
 
As the perfect exclamation point to a fantastic trip, Epernay is hosting a weekend market showcasing the best of the local food and wine producers, so all in all, wonderful timing and an ideal ending to an enjoyable week in the Champagne capital of the world.
 
Scenes from cycling France's Champagne Trails |  <i>Sue Marr</i>
 
 
Do you wish you were with Sue on her girls trip in France? We're certainly inspired! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
Meet Anthony, our in-house Francophile

Meet Anthony, our in-house Francophile

Get to know Anthony, a key member of UTracks Australia's reservations team. When he's not managing bookings and planning active holidays for travellers throughout Europe, he's likely dreaming of all things French. Learn more about Anthony's passion for France in this interview and perhaps feel inspired to visit the Land of Wine and Cheese.
 
 
Anthony at the Chateau de Chambord |  <i>Anthony Boutoubia</i>
 

Why do you like France? What motivates you?


I’ve been a big fan of history for as long as I can remember, and France was the first place in Europe that I visited in my early teens where I was truly blown away – I was seeing in real life the things I’d only read about. Visiting the Louvre for the first time was transformative for me. This trip planted the seed which really began to sprout when I went onto university and started studying the French language. Throughout the process of learning the language I began to really immerse myself in aspects of the culture; food, film, history – and going there several times more recently has led me to fall in love with both its natural and built beauty. 

At present, I am motivated by the desire to explore further; I have seen quite a bit of France but each time I visit I find there is so much more I want to see – I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon!
 
Visit world-famous art at the Louvre in Paris
 

Which trip in France are you most keen to experience?


At the moment I’m actually most excited by our new Atlantic Coast Cycle from La Rochelle to Bordeaux. La Rochelle is a city of great historical significance with its Vieux Port, and I love the idea of cycling through amazing beachscapes before getting into some of the best wine country in the world. It fills a couple of gaps in my France-wide journey, and I’m always happy to end up in Bordeaux for some delicious Sauternes tasting.
 
Self guided cycle way from Bordeaux to Biarritz
 

What have been the main highlights of your travels in France?
 

Its so hard to distil highlights down to a few moments, but focusing on my recurring themes of history and beauty, I’d say my top three highlights were Mont Saint Michel, Carcassonne, and the Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley. It just so happens that we offer different itineraries that each visit these places!
 
Walkers near Mont Saint Michel
 

Can you describe your favourite food and drinks in France?
 

I find French food so consistently impressive, so I always eat well when I’m there!
 
In terms of a favourite, I do love some escargot (make sure you dunk the bread into the persillade!), but the humble croissant is always a winner, especially at the local boulangeries. 
 
Escargot, Paris |  <i>Rachel Imber</i>
 
For a drink, in France, how could I not say wine? I have visited all of the major wine regions in France and been consistently blown away by the dedication and quality. The best thing about it as well is that it’s so much easier to find a decent well priced glass or bottle from the local Cave (wine shop). Look out for the prestigious Chateauneuf-du-Pape if you’re a fan of grenache, and a glass of Sauternes with dessert is an experience not to be missed.  
 
Underground wine tasting in St Emilion, France |  <i>Deb Wilkinson</i>
 

What surprises you the most about France?
 

Every time I go to France I am surprised by the sheer diversity present around the country. Each of the regions feels very distinct with its own charm, food, way of life, etc. Just means it’s very easy to go back again and again! 
 
Taking it all in on the GR70 in France
 

What was your favourite town? Why? 
 

Probably Vienne, south of Lyon. Its Roman ruins were snow-covered and it made the whole place look just like a fairytale. 
 
Otherwise, Saint-Emilion near Bordeaux gets an honourable mention for its medieval charm and incredible wine industry.  
 
St Emilion, Bordeaux
 

Do you have any favourite destinations in France for standout views, mountains, flowers, lakes or wildlife?
 

Definitely Annecy in the alps near Switzerland and Mont Blanc. Situated on the eponymous Lake Annecy, this place is a postcard picture come to life. I visited last in winter, and 
even then the gloomy days were elevated by the lake and surrounding mountains’ natural beauty. 
 
Enjoy cycling around Lake Annecy in France |  <i>B. Becker/Auvergne Rhône Alpes Tourism</i>
 

Can you share advice for other travellers going to France?
 

My biggest piece of advice would be to always start with a ‘bonjour’ or a ‘bonsoir’ depending on the time of day. 
 
The French have an (erroneous) reputation for being rude or snobby, but my experience was that this is far from the truth. If you begin with a simple bonjour, you will find that the people will open right up to you and be very willing to listen and help. More often than not as I was going along in my rusty French, they would helpfully switch to English, and be more than happy to assist as much as they could. 
 
Flower Market  - Aix en Provence
 
 
 
Are you a fellow Francophile? What do you love about France? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
The Camino Portuguese Explained

The Camino Portuguese Explained

Walking the Camino Portuguese is one of the popular pilgrimage routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. Walking the Camino in Portugal is a pretty alternative to Spain and it offers a wealth of history, culture and postcard-perfect scenery.
 
Whether you want to walk the Portuguese Camino from Lisbon, from Porto, from Viana do Castelo, or the final stage from Tui, you'll find that all roads along the Camino lead to Santiago de Compostela.
 

What are the Camino Portuguese routes?

Explore beautiful historic towns on the Camino Portuguese
 
There are two Camino trails in Portugal a pilgrim needs to consider: the Portuguese Coastal Way and the Portuguese Way. Note that there are other ways of saying these routes: the Portuguese Road, the Camino Portuguese, the Portuguese Coastal Camino, the Camino Portuguese Coastal Route. The key difference is that one path goes inland and the other is more coastal. Simple!
 

Camino Portuguese Inland Route

Walking along the Camino Portuguese
 
The Portuguese Way is the main Camino route and is referred to as the inland or central path, taking pilgrims over the beautiful interior of Portugal. This route starts in Lisbon and is often broken up into stages: 
 
Camino Portuguese Inland Route
 

Camino Portuguese Coastal Way

Pilgrims walking the coastal way of the Portuguese Camino |  <i>John Parker</i>
 
The Portuguese Coastal Way, as the name suggests, takes travellers on a scenic route closer to the Portuguese coast. This route starts in the town of Viana do Castelo, not far from the city of Porto, then heads north through small hamlets, past eucalyptus and pine woods, over ancient bridges and along stunning coastal scenery. This is one of the quieter Camino paths.
 
 
Camino Portuguese Coastal Route
 

Which Camino Portuguese route is the best?

Pilgrims crossing a bridge along the Portuguese Way
 
If you're anything like me, I'm a completionist so would need to walk the entire path from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela on the Full Portuguese Camino tour. However, this isn't always possible due to time restraints - it takes 32 days! Below are some of the reasons for walking each of the Camino Portuguese sections:
 
Portuguese Way: Tui to Santiago. The trail from Tui is more than 100km, meaning you will qualify for the Compostela certificate upon your arrival in Santiago. So if you wanted to do the minimum distance along the Camino Portuguese, then the Tui to Santiago tour is for you.
 
Portuguese Way: Porto to Santiago. This tour combines two sections of (arguably) the most fascinating stages, from Porto to Tui to Santiago. R. Revie from Canada recommends this tour. "Walking past the vineyards during the harvest, seeing the grapes being collected and talking to some of the workers were all unexpected bonuses." 
 

Can I cycle the Camino Portuguese?

Admiring the view on the Camino Portuguese stage between Porto and Santiago de Compostela |  <i>Pat Rochon</i>
 
Yes, you can. Cycling the Portuguese Coastal Way from Viana do Castelo to Santiago on a self-guided trip takes 12 days (view trip here). The central Portuguese Way can be finished in 16 days on the Full Portuguese Way Cycle, or the route can be cut in half and cycled from Porto to Santiago. There's also the opportunity to upgrade to an e-bike if you would like.
 

Can I join a guided Camino Portuguese tour?

Camino group having fun in the historic Portuguese city of Braga. |  <i>Garry Glazebrook</i>
 
If you'd like to join a tour of like-minded travellers along the Camino in Portugal we recommend our 'Best of the Portuguese Way' trip. This covers the entire distance of the Portuguese Way in just 10 days as your professional guide will transfer you to the most interesting sections to walk. In just 10 days you'll experience the highlights of the Portugeuse Camino and stay in a parador, one of the historically significant luxury hotels along the route.
 

Is there a slower-paced Camino Portuguese?

Yes! The Porto to Santiago Rambler features an itinerary with shorter daily distances that makes it more achievable for travellers to accomplish. It's the perfect trip for those who like to have plenty of time to stop and smell the roses along the way.
 
Following the trail signs on the Portuguese Camino |  <i>John Parker</i>
 

If you've walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain should you bother with the Camino Portuguese?

 
We'll leave this five-star review from one of our UTracks Travellers to answer this question.
 
Having walked the Camino a few years ago I was wondering how this would compare. There is no comparison, that would not be fair to this trail. It's quite a different experience indeed, and much quieter. The Portuguese people and culture bring this trail to life and given my interest in this topic I was pleased I chose a self guided holiday so that I could satisfy my interests without feeling guilty about holding up a group. Everything was well organised and I certainly would recommend this trip to anyone. Thank you.
 
K. Cross. | Armidale, NSW. Australia
 
A pilgrim admires the incredible architecture of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

 
 
 
 

 
Which Camino route will you be walking or cycling? Let us know in the comment section below!
 
 
  
Join Newsletter
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ADS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Adventures South"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Adventure South</div>
Adventure South NZ is unrivalled in their geographic coverage, originality and overall quality of adventures holidays in New Zealand. Choose from walking, cycling, winter or multi-activity holidays, on either the North or South Island.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/AWH.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Walking Holidays"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Walking Holidays</div>
Australian Walking Holidays specialises in small group guided walking adventures. Since 1982 we have been guiding small groups of travellers on Australia's finest walks across our tropical, coastal or red centre landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GCT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Canadian Trails"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Canadian Trails</div>
Great Canadian Trails specialises in active holidays in Canada. With both guided and supported self-guided options available, our unique itineraries draw upon some of Canada's most inspiring parks, trails and landscapes from coast to coast.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/HUM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Humac Challenge"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Huma Charity Challenge</div>
Huma enables those with adventurous spirits to challenge themselves and make a difference for a cause close to their heart. Travel, fundraise and meet life-long friends on one of Huma's meaningful and unique challenges around the world.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Tasmania Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX-new.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Utracks"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions Schools"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions Schools</div>
World Expeditions Schools is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Yomads"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ACT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Cycle Tours"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Cycle Tours</div>
Australian Cycle Tours specialises in high quality self guided and guided cycling experiences in a selection of the most beautiful regions in Australia.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WEX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions</div>
The pioneers of original, worldwide adventure travel holidays since 1975
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TJX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Trail Journeys"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Trail Journeys</div>
Self-guided cycling experts on New Zealand's Otago Rail Trail and more
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/BMAC.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Blue Mountains Adventure Company"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Blue Mountains Adventure Company</div>
The original Blue Mountains canyoning, hiking, climbing and abseiling experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GWNZ.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Walks of New Zealand"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Walks of New Zealand</div>
Explore New Zealand's most spectacular wilderness regions with the self-guided hiking experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/NAA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="North America Active"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>North America Active</div>
USA Canada hiking & cycling tour specialists, choose from self-guided or guided trips