Why Do People Take Active Holidays?

6 European trails that provide a 'sense of achievement' 

During a past Cycling Survey we tried to get to the crux of the question 'Why do people take active holidays?'. Admittedly, our questions related to cycling but we feel confident the answers would apply to walking holidays as well. 
So, what did the nearly 2000 people who answered the survey say? 
Firstly, an active holiday is for many a natural extension of people’s active lifestyles and they like the idea of keeping their fitness in check when travelling. Secondly, the feeling of being closer to nature resonates with active travellers. 
Overwhelmingly however, it was the ‘strong sense of accomplishment’ that motivated people to lace up the boots or to get in the saddle. Almost 70% of everyone who answered these questions mentioned that they loved that warm fuzzy feeling that wells up inside when you look back at a trip, sometimes literally from an extraordinary vantage point.. First timers and seasoned active travellers alike will feel overwhelmed with pride when completing all, or even smaller stages of, the six classic European tracks and trails below.

Walk the full Spanish Camino

Walkers on the CaminoFinishing the Camino provides a great sense of achievement That’s exactly what Cheryl and her friend Janice from Queensland did – all 40 days of it. “I’ve always been pretty hopeless at other sports but I love walking... I think it becomes an addiction and the Camino has been on my bucket-list for some time, “ says Cheryl. “... At the end of every day there was an enormous sense of achievement. Not only about the k’s covered. My friend, with whom I did it, and I both agreed that to be with another person 24 hours a day for over five weeks and to still be speaking to each other is a huge achievement. I could never have done it with my husband - without ending up divorced!” Walk the Fulll Spanish Camino like Cheryl did, or, if 40 days is a little too long for you, walk the final 115 kms from Sarria to Santiago.

Cycle around Lake Constance

Cycling around Lake ConstanceCycling around Lake Constance - both rewarding and fun Imagine this – cycle through three countries in less than a week. Anywhere outside of Europe and this may sound like a pipe dream, but when it is around a 270km shoreline shared by Germany, Austria and Switzerland, already it starts to sound achievable. And achievable it is. Graded introductory to moderate, our Lake Constance Circuit is suitable for nearly everyone. "I did the Lake Constance Circuit with my husband and 8-year old daughter and we loved it! It was challenging for my daughter (35-50 km per day; mostly flat) but she was up for it," recalls Angela B. "We loved the self-guided aspect as we could pick and choose where we stopped." If you want to up the ante, try our Lake Constance By Bike.

Ride the 'Loire à vélo' Cycle path

Cycle the Loire a velo cycle pathCycle the Loire a velo cycle path - not getting lost is an achievement for some! Stretching over 800km, the 'Loire à vélo' is one of the most scenic cycle routes in France. Crossing two historic regions and six official French ‘departments’, the trail makes you want to pull on your own yellow jersey as you follow the Loire River for most of the way as you cycle from Burgundy towards the Atlantic Ocean. "We had already cycled the length of the Danube and the Elbe and the Loire was a good option," says Dennis Dawson, who co-ordinates the Ghostrider overseas rides. "Part of my motivation is always to encourage others (especially those who have not travelled much) to step out of their comfort zones and to take a proverbial leap of faith. On the 2013 Loire Ride I know that everyone was feeling exhilarated when we reached the Atlantic Coast at Le Croisic. It is as much a shared group achievement as an individual achievement." Like all large problems, break it down.  UTracks offers the route in two stages, a 7 day cycle from Nevers to the historic city of Orléans and the 15 day ride from Orléans to the rugged Atlantic Coast.

Traverse Northern England – from coast to coast

Coast to Coast Walk, EnglandCoast to Coast Walk - Traverse England and 3 National Parks If the idea of traversing a country on foot sounds appealing but out of reach cast your attention to skinny old England – all of a sudden it seems possible. Dip your toe in the Irish Sea near St Bees then cross through the Lakes District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors national Park to dip your toe again 309km later in the North Sea near Robin Hood’s Bay. Sounds sublime, right? Pam from Sydney says she did this walk to challenge herself. "Fitness is so important. The walk is challenging - harder than I thought - and I had been training hard, three sessions per week for 2 months before the walk." And the feeling of accomplishment? "Arriving in Robin Hood's Bay and realizing that we had completed the walk!" Guided or self guided, shorter stages or the full length, walk or cycle – experience the Coast to Coast walk in England your way.

Corsica’s GR20

Walkers on the GR20 in CorsicaHikers scrambling to the next vantage point on the GR20 The holy grail of European walks is not the longest trail mentioned in this list. In fact, it’s the shortest. And the toughest. Traversing the interior of this remote French Island will take exceptional levels of both mental and physical toughness. There are few places in the world where you can be admiring both the ocean and snow capped peaks from your vantage point, and to experience such moments without resorting to a teleferique is sure to provide a sense of achievement without par. "I've climbed Kilimanjaro and this was certainly tougher than that!" says Gus from Noosa. "The last day of the southern section was one of the hardest days of my life. My body was spent but the feeling of exhilaration I felt having completed this long held goal was the strongest I've ever felt after a trip like this."   View all GR20 walks in Corsica.

Walk the Mont Blanc Circuit

Feeling great on the Tour du Mont BlancFeeling great on the Tour du Mont Blanc Whether you are 8 or 80 there are opportunities to walk sections of Europe’s most famous walking route that will leave you inspired and feeling amply rewarded. Alpine purists will no doubt tackle the Tour de Mont Blanc however there are many other options that provide shorter daily distances and offer more comfort. ‘The accomplishment of completing a challenging hike then arriving at a new place with a shower, a beer, and a soft bed was perfect,” says Danielle Sink, who completed our Mont Blanc Rambler - a more relaxed paced walk around Mont Blanc - in July 2015. “In the last couple years I have spent 10 days in Bora Bora and a week rafting the Grand Canyon. Mont Blanc is not only bucket list material like those, but a trip I would (and plan to) do again.” View all Mont Blanc walks.

>> Find more travel inspiration. 

England, France, Germany, Spain

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