Although there are many rewarding experiences to be had close to home, sometimes nothing can replicate the encounters and adventures made possible by travel. Our self-guided walking, cycling, touring and snow holidays visit many of Europe’s lesser-known corners, where the unique experiences on offer range from fjord tours to dog-sledding to exploring remarkable volcanic landscapes.
Walk on lava
All of our Canary Island walking holidays explore the quieter side of this ancient archipelago, but no island is more remote and unspoiled than El Hierro. It was regarded by early explorers as the ‘end of world’, and its varied landscapes – dense pine forests give way to volcanic cones and lava fields – as well as its rich folklore and abundant flora and fauna, mean that walking here today is still richly rewarding. One of the real highlights of our longer walking holiday on El Hierro is a privately guided excursion through the volcanic ‘badlands’ on the southernmost tip of the island, a chance to see some rare lava formations and gain insights into El Hierro’s fascinating geology and history.
An oenophile’s delight
Wine-tasting experiences are not exactly rare, but there are few better places to treat yourself to a glass of claret than in Bordeaux, capital of the wine trade and one of Europe’s most elegant cities. Bordeaux is home to a highly acclaimed wine museum – the Cité du Vin – where you can learn all about world wines before trying a glass or two yourself; and the surrounding countryside plays host to numerous vineyards, almost all of which offer tours and tastings. Our self-guided Bordeaux cycling holiday explores both the city and the wider Bordeaux region, and includes a visit to St Emilion, beating heart of the French wine scene.
Join the olive harvest
Tradition is key in Mairena, a timeless mountain village tucked into the southern slopes of Spain’s Sierra Nevada. Our centre-based Mairena walking holiday – on which you stay at a charming rural hotel which has been lovingly restored by your hosts, David and Emma Ilsley – offers ample opportunities to immerse yourself in the culture and customs of local life, including – if your stay falls in December or January – the chance to join in with the village olive harvest. As you work together with the locals, knocking the olive tree branches with a sturdy stick to dislodge the stubborn fruit, you will enjoy the unique buzz that only animates these immaculate groves during harvest time.
A truly Norwegian experience
What is a Norwegian experience? Choose our walking holiday on Norway’s west coast and you will soon find out, for from the extremely pretty town of Ålesund you have easy access to a wide range of quintessentially Norwegian activities: boat trips along a choice of fjords – into which thundering waterfalls and steep-sided cliffs plunge; walking routes that command sublime views without the need for strenuous ascents; the chance to take to Ålesund’s waterways by kayak for a completely different perspective of the town’s elegant architecture; plus countless opportunities to delve into its intriguing history and emerging foodie scene in the many museums and restaurants.
Where winter is magical
Forget dry ski slopes and artificial winter fun – our snow holiday in Finnish Lapland is packed full of magical winter experiences that you will remember for a lifetime. As your base, we have chosen the very welcoming and beautifully decorated Hotel Ylläshumina, which is set on the banks of a frozen lake and is known for its many excellent cross-country skiing trails. Skiing is far from the only activity on offer here, however: you can experience the thrill of dog-sledding and snowshoeing; explore the serene wilderness on snowshoes; or try your hand at ice fishing or even the increasingly popular Nordic winter sport of fat biking…