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By the sea

Besides the abundance of fresh fish and seafood on restaurant menus, the big attraction of a coastal walking, cycling or touring holiday is, of course, the fact that you can pause at beaches along the way.
  • Over 8,000 islands lie off Sweden’s beautiful Bohuslän coastline, some of them big enough to host villages of red and white clapboard houses, others no bigger than one of the many fishing boats which ply the waters in search of mussels, oysters, langoustines and lobsters, some of the best you will taste anywhere in the world. For similarly wild and untamed coastal scenery, we also recommend our Journey to Å holiday in Norway’s Lofoten Islands.
  • For some of our easiest coastal walking, head to Catalonia, where the broad camí de ronda (built originally for anti-smuggling patrols) hugs the coastline, crossing sandy beaches, pine-fringed coves and rocky promontories as it leads from one traditional, whitewashed fishing village to the next. Besides the picturesque coastline itself and the numerous opportunities for swimming en route, one of the big attractions here is the food: the area’s gastronomy, which often combines ingredients from the land and sea (mar i muntanya), is renowned throughout Spain.
  • More reminiscent of North Africa than the Iberian Peninsula, Almería boasts 3,000 hours of sunshine each year. This makes it a perfect choice for autumn and winter walking, as is Lanzarote, where you can walk through volcanic landscapes of many colours. In northern Spain, green is the predominant colour on the aptly named Costa Verde, where hills tumble down towards secluded coves. Tranquillity also reigns in northern Ibiza, well away from the party set, and on Menorca, a charming island characterised by golden beaches guarded by crumbling towers.
  • With its own language and the highly Celtic flavours of its culture, Brittany has a distinct identity. Choose our walking holiday, and you can explore the Côte du Granit Rose, along which pink boulders have been weathered into weird and wonderful shapes, and seabirds wheel overhead.
  • On the Mediterranean, the villages possess that distinctive southern feel, and the Pyrenees provide a dramatic backdrop as you walk over rocky coves and craggy headlands either side of the Franco-Spanish border en route to Dalí’s favourite place, Cadaqués.
  • The western side of Algarve feels worlds away from the popular resorts around Faro. Here, the wide beaches are framed by weathered, honey-coloured cliffs and these in turn are backed by the enchanting hills of the Monchique Sierra, which also deserve exploration on foot. For wilder scenery still, opt for the haunting beauty of the Costa Vicentina, whose virgin beaches are backed by dramatic cliffs and washed by the restless ocean.
  • Bathed in plentiful sunshine and frequented by flocks of flamingos, Sardinia possesses an undeniable exoticism which is enhanced by the palm trees, white-sand beaches and turquoise sea. As you explore, you encounter reminders of this idyllic island’s past: Phoenician ruins, and nuraghi dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. Sicily also boasts an attractive coastline, particularly that of the Zingaro Nature Reserve, where precipitous cliffs swoop down to a series of white-shingle coves. Or explore tiny Marettimo, one of the Mediterranean’s hidden gems.
  • So remarkable is the Amalfi Coast that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mountains clad in olive and lemon groves plunge down to the sea, while picturesque villages cling to the slopes. Further north, in Liguria, the Cinque Terre has also been recognised by UNESCO. Again, the scenery is a dramatic fusion of mountain and coast, with fishing villages of tall, brightly painted houses huddled in the coves. The lower paths are deservedly popular, but our routes take you across the quieter upper slopes for far-reaching views along this spectacular coastline.
  • Although they all boast inviting beaches, our chosen Greek islands are all quite different. For spectacular sunsets, head to Corfu’s charming west coast, where wooded hills slope gently to the sea. For more dramatic scenery, choose western Crete, whose towering mountains and deep gorges vie for your attention with Minoan palaces and frescoed monasteries. Cypress-clad Cephalonia, meanwhile, is one of the greenest and most alluring islands. In the Cyclades, you can combine three islands, discovering Serifos’ churches, Sifnos’ terraced hills and Milos’ surreal white-pumice landscapes.
  • The coastline of south-west Turkey offers an irresistible combination of golden beaches, secluded coves, a backdrop of imposing mountains, and a fascinating history. As you walk along the Lycian Way, the long-distance coastal path pioneered by Englishwoman Kate Clow, you pass the site where the eternal flames of the mythical chimaera emerge from the ground, as well as ancient cities, ruined sarcophagi, Crusader castles and Greek temples.
  • In Dalmatia, the sea is omnipresent, lapping at the shores of the myriad islands and promontories. Although there are some beautiful sandy beaches such as those of Saplunara on Mljet, many comprise pebbles or large, smooth boulders, but this is more than compensated by the exceptionally clear water, which is hard to resist. The sea combines with the olive groves, holm-oak woods and expanses of herbs, to create a landscape in which blue and green dominate. It is utterly beguiling and the emphasis of our journeys here is squarely on leisurely discovery.
  • North of Copenhagen, on Zealand, the largest of Denmark’s many islands, the coastline is nothing if not colourful. The white sand, blue sea and green dunes are complemented by traditional wooden beach huts painted every colour of the rainbow (and more besides). The fairy-tale villages which lie behind the coast are no less colourful, with red and mustard-coloured cottages topped with thick thatch. Add to all this the grand royal palaces and the delicious seafood, and you have all the ingredients for a very varied cycling holiday. If this appeals, so too will Rügen, a timeless and intriguing island on Germany’s Baltic Coast.

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