10 great European routes for everyone

walking how i love you let me count the ways There is the feeling of freedom, fresh air and moving forward; the big prospects and small surprises; how good a chilled Pinot Gris tastes after a walk. And none of those things – none of them – require you to wander until you’re broken every day.

Gentle hiking is still hiking. Tackling shorter, easier routes at a gentle pace, you’ll still reap the slowly unfolding, richly inhaled, otherwise unattainable benefits that only exploring on foot can bring. In fact, you’re arguably reaping them more fully than the hardcore trekker who blasts through the miles with no time to stop and stare. Sleeping in, having a hearty breakfast, leisurely hiking, crossing beautiful landscapes, stopping where and whenever you want, knowing that a cozy inn and a good glass of wine are waiting for you, is an exquisite pleasure.

No, you don’t have to fight to get the most out of a hike. As long as you get the basics right. And the first thing to do is decide what you really like. If you spend a focused time exploring an area, make it an area that is really attractive. You have decided to go for a walk, yes, but what else do you enjoy? Sea air and wild swimming? Forests full of birds? Potter through cobbled villages? Are you traversing heady wine country (with many cellar doors open)? Make sure you go where you’re interested so walking isn’t the only reward.

Even hiking doesn’t have to leave you with aching limbs. The breadth and variety of hiking trails – especially throughout Europe – is immense. So look for suitable routes: short trails, soft surfaces, rest days, and trains, boats, and funiculars that can ease the effort.

Baggage? You don’t want to worry about that. If you decide to stroll from hotel to hotel, choose one that takes your large bags in advance so you can travel light—just a daypack with the essentials: waterproof, water bottle, gourmet picnic.

Yes, gourmet – why not? After all, this is your vacation and there’s no need to spoil it. There are excursions that combine the best of everything, where you can spend days strolling through historical splendour, nibbling on fine local fare and staying at former palaces or five-star spa hotels with a Michelin star feast to end. Gentle walking, I really love you.

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