As the weather cools in many parts of Europe, autumn is a great time to combine a walking break with your villa holiday.
Avoid the heat and rush of the tourist season, and see the seasons change and autumnal colours come to life. A walking holiday is peaceful and relaxing, allowing you to get back to nature and discover a new place in the best way possible – on foot.
From hiking in the Pyrenees to exploring the hills of Yorkshire, there are so many places to enjoy a walking holiday. Many of our rental villas are close to walking trails and National Parks, making them the ideal place to base yourself from.
Why take a walking holiday?
Some of the prettiest places in the world are meant to be explored on foot – there’s a reason why some of our favourite countries are home to some of the best walking trails! A walking holiday gives you the chance to slow down, take in the beauty of nature, and re-connect to travel in a more eco-conscious way. Walking holidays are particularly good if you’re looking to embark on a slow travel trip too, as they allow you to take in your destination in a more authentic way.
There’s also no need to worry about getting your exercise in while on holiday either – a walking holiday is a great way to get your daily steps in, and a brisk walk helps improve cardiovascular as well as mental health too. You may find yourself returning from your trip more energised and fitter than when you left!
Overall, we’re big fans of the walking holiday, particularly as the weather cools and we move towards winter. Say goodbye to beach days and hello to foresty paths!
What to pack for a walking holiday
Packing for a walking holiday is slightly different to packing for a beachside trip. It’s less about style and more
focused on comfort – no one wants sore feet and soggy clothes on day one!
- Walking boots – a good pair of walking boots are essential for your trip. Opt for ones that are more boot style, giving greater support to the ankle.
- Thick socks – preferably walking socks specifically tailored to hiking boots. Avoid blisters and cold feet!
- Breathable raincoat – choose a rain jacket that has good ventilation as well as being waterproof. Zip up pockets and a detachable hood are also good features to look for.
- Reusable water bottle – eco-friendly and stylish, a reusable water bottle should be included in any day bag.
- Padded rucksack – speaking of bags, a comfy, padded rucksack is also vital. You’ll be carrying it for hours across multiple days, so pick one that best fits your body and needs.
- Trekking poles – great for more challenging terrains or if balance and stability is something you struggle with, trekking poles are also useful if you suffer from any joint restrictions.
- First aid kit – though we hope you never have to use it, carrying a first aid kit is a must.
- Head torch – if you’re planning to walk through to the evening, make sure to pack some sort of head lamp as well.
There are also loads of apps and resources you can download to help make your walking holiday even more fun. Challenge yourself and keep track of your time/pace, by logging your route on Strava. Your friends and family will be able to see what you’ve been up to as well! Map My Walk is another great one, allowing you to not only track your trek but also discover new trails in your area. Add a bit of excitement to your walk and find some Geocaches – these hidden treasures are logged by other ramblers and encourage you to go off the beaten path.
Where to go on a walking holiday
Peppered with quaint vineyards and traditional villages, the Douro Valley is a charming place to enjoy a walking holiday.
While the heat of the summer months may deter tourists from exploring the trekking trails, autumn brings with it cooler temperatures and some exciting local events: the grape harvest usually happens in the second half of September. How delightful does a fresh glass of wine after a long day walking sound?
You can explore the region on your own or choose to take part in a guided walking tour, many of which also combine culinary experiences in the region with the walking, too. We recommend taking a route that winds through the vineyards in Douro Valley, known for their world-class wines.
No matter where you wander, you’ll be treated to spectacular scenery and incredible views – the entire Douro Valley is actually a UNESCO Heritage area. Spend days exploring the pristine greenery and untouched landscapes.
Where to stay: Quinta do Quirino – One of our newest villas in Portugal, Quinta do Quirino has the luxury of being on a working vineyard. It even has its own wine cellar that (in the offseason) can be used for events/celebrations during your stay. A separate studio makes the home a great option for multi-generational escapes or large groups holidaying together. A blend of design textures gives the home a luxurious and unique feel. An excellent villa near walking trails.
Stradling southern France and northern Spain, the Pyrenees provides a spectacular wall between the two countries, whose epic mountains and hillside towns have made it a go-to destination for skiers and walkers for years.
While the months during autumn may not be the best time to hit the slopes, this time of the year is a wonderful period to hike and wander, taking in the beauty of the area. The heat of the summer has worn off, and the change of the seasons makes for incredible colours.
If you wanted to walk the entirety of the Pyrenees it would take you around 40-60 days, depending on your pace. However, if that much annual leave isn’t at your disposal, there are a number of famed hiking trails that will allow you to take in just a fraction of this magnificent area during your villa holiday.
Some routes take as little as a couple of hours and are suitable for all skill levels, perfect for squeezing into a busy family holiday. Many of the trails have accessible paths and signposted directions, making them quick and easy to follow. Complete one of these short walks daily to experience the Pyrenees and all its natural wonder, before returning home to your villa each evening. A walking holiday without the stress of camping!
We recommend combining your walking holiday in the Pyrenees with a trip to southern France; with so many beautiful towns and villages to discover in this area, you’ll have a fantastic time exploring the unique culture of the region, which has been shaped by the mountain range.
Where to stay: Chateau Arize – It would be rude not to stay in a French Chateau during your walking holiday in the Pyrenees, and with 20 acres of surrounding parkland, Chateau Arize is the ideal addition to your nature-inspired trip. There’s a sauna, heated pool and jacuzzi for that added touch of luxury, while sports lovers will enjoy the gym, tennis courts, and nearby cycling track and golf course.
Walkers will be spoilt for choice in the Scottish Highlands. Just a short drive away from the bustling cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, lie some of the most impressive terrains and breathtaking scenes in the UK. A challenging and unforgiving environment, routes take ramblers through the deepest depths of the Highlands to experience a wealth of history and culture.
Possibly the most popular walking route in Scotland is the West Highland Way, starting at Milngavie and finishing at Fort William and spanning 96 miles in total. There are iconic landmarks and beautiful attractions dotted along the route, including Loch Lomond, Devil’s Staircase, Glencoe, Glen Nevis, and more. Choose your starting point and experience one of the countries best-loved walking trails.
Did you know you can walk the entire circumference of Loch Ness? The Loch Ness 360 trail is a relatively new route, starting and finishing the highland capital of Inverness and covering 80 miles in total. Join at any point along the route for some stunning views in this incredible part of Scotland – keep your eyes peeled for Nessy, too!
The great thing about a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands is that you don’t need to go far and wide to experience ultimate relaxation. These secluded and quiet areas are ideal if you’re looking to switch off and get back to nature during your trip.
Where to stay: Sky Lodge – Set on the banks of the River Lochy, Sky Lodge is a wonderful home to return to each night after a busy day of walking in the Scottish Highlands. There’s an Aga and log burning fire, making for luxury cosy evenings. The nearby Ben Nevis distillery is a wonderful afternoon out, or indulge in a spot of salmon fishing in the nearby river.
We know what you’re thinking: hiking, in Tenerife? Yet aside from being an island known for its sweeping beaches and bustling coastal resorts, Tenerife is also home to some incredible walking trails. Visiting during the autumn months also means you’ll enjoy cooler temperatures (but still lovely and warm, for those moments spent around the pool) and fewer crowds.
The most popular place to hike in Tenerife is Mount Teide, a volcano on the island that gave the area its grey and ashy environment. The summit of Mount Teide is also the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level of all the islands in the Atlantic. Impressive!
Whizz your way to the top via cable car, taking in some stunning views as you do so. The vantage points boast incredible vistas across the island and beyond.
Once you’re up there, a number of walking routes managed by the Teide National Park are at your disposal, each taking you to various vantage points. These trails are great for a family walking holiday – easily signposted and relatively tame, your little ones are sure to enjoy their experience of the great outdoors.
Of course, if you do fancy more of a challenge, there is always the option to forgo the cable car entirely and hike Mount Teide on foot. The sparse environment and steep ascent certainly aren’t easy to climb, but you will be rewarded with spectacular views and a wicked sense of achievement when you do reach the top.
Where to stay: Princess Villa – With all that exercise, it’s only fair that you indulge in a little luxury during your walking holiday in Tenerife. With its own heated pool and luxury amenities, the Princess Villa provides just that and is a wonderful villa near walking trails. Unwind after a busy day exploring the island – the villa is also in one of the spa resorts in Tenerife, meaning you’re guaranteed rest and relaxation. Take your pick from the Indian spa, fusion restaurants, and 24/7 services of the staff.
You don’t need to hop on a plane to experience fabulous walking trails with incredible views. Yorkshire is home to three National Parks, all of which offer various routes to hike. The North York Moors, Peak District and Yorkshire Dales are all ideal for a walking holiday in the UK – we recommend choosing one area and spending a few days exploring the terrain on foot.
A good place to start is by sampling the National Trails, sections of which pass through Yorkshire and its National Parks. The Cleveland Way winds its way through the North York Moors, ending by the coast and the delightful seaside town of Filey. A whopping 98-miles in total, completing parts of the walk during each day of your cottage holiday in Yorkshire is a great way to spend your trip.
The Pennine Way actually starts in the Peak District and ends all the way up in Scotland – but you don’t have to finish the 270-mile route during your holiday, don’t worry! In Yorkshire, you’ll pass through Bronte country and other areas of cultural and historical significance. See limestone structures and miles of heather as you brush up on your navigation skills embrace the countryside.
Going from coast to coast in East Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Wolds Way is a gentle and scenic route that is ideal for a more relaxed walking experience. Passing through popular points of interest and tourist hubs, there are also train stations at either end of the route, making for easier planning.
Of course, there is also the option to simply stay nearby one of the National Parks and take your pick of one of the many routes that criss-cross these magnificent areas. Have the freedom to choose the right kind of hike and length of walk for you. The Parks have tons of clearly signposted trails and that range from just 30 minutes to the entire day.
Where to stay: Swaledale House – Perfectly located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, this converted barn house is the perfect base for your walking holiday in Yorkshire. Return ‘home’ each evening to a comfy and cosy space, with plenty of areas for dining and lounging for all six guests. Be treated to sweeping views across the surrounding hills, or enjoy a family picnic on the lawn.
Tucked away in the northeastern corner of Italy lie the might Dolomites, a towering mountain range that boasts a unique natural beauty and cultural area. The Dolomites are easily reachable if you’re staying near Venice or Lake Garda – just jump in the car, drive north, and head for the hills!
The Dolomites has lots of circular walks that take in the prettiest towns and villages in the area. The South Tyrol area is actually a German-speaking enclave, so expect bountiful beer and hearty food! The capital of the region is Bolzano-Bozen, where natural landscapes meet incredible architecture. You’ll probably also pass through Cortina, a lively holiday town, home to Italian restaurants and elegant boutiques; Brixen, the oldest town in Tyrol with a unique Mediterranean atmosphere; and Chiusa, surrounded by chestnut groves and wineries and perfect for art and culture lovers.
The Alta Via 1 is a route that passes through many important areas of the eastern Dolomites, covering 75 miles in total. The trail begins at Lago di Braies and ends in Belluno, one of the more bustling towns in the region. Whichever section of the route you choose to walk, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the snowcapped Dolomites and adorable areas of cultural interest.
Where to stay: Villa Selva – a few hours drive from the Dolomite region, Villa Selva is a lovely place to retreat to after your walking holiday in the Dolomites. Unwind with stunning views of the lake, or indulge in your home spa. We can’t think of a better villa near walking trails in Italy. Pampering is necessary following all that exercise!
Though a walking holiday may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Croatia, the small country has many spectacular routes that lead ramblers through the diverse terrain. Traverse mountains and coastal towns. Explore islands and waterfalls. A walking holiday in Croatia is unique and action-packed, especially when visiting during the cooler months of autumn.
The most popular region in Croatia, the Dalmatian Coast boasts rocky coves and forest paths that lead to impressive sites. Whether you’re based in Split or Trogir, there’s so much to explore around these areas on foot. The Krka National Park is home to the iconic waterfalls, and walks here are relatively gentle too. Head over to the island of Brac and hike the tallest peak of the Adriatic Islands, Vidova Gora. Don’t worry – you’ll be able to relax on the beach afterwards!
Over towards Dubrovnik, the islands just off the bay make for great walking day trips. See the lush green fields of quiet Lopud, and explore the island’s old churches. Lokrum is also worthy of a visit, with a beautiful monastery and gardens that make for a rewarding day of walking.
Or how about taking on the Istrian Peninsula instead? A walking holiday in Istria will see you discover Venetian castles, Renaissance palaces and hilltop villages, as you traverse some of the oldest towns in the country on foot. There are panoramic walking paths crisscrossing this area, leading you through ‘ghost villages’, orchards, truffle-rich woods, and rich and bountiful culture.
Where to stay: Villa Frajga – Located on the idyllic Sipan island, Villa Frajga is a beautiful villa near walking trails, making it perfect for your walking holiday in Croatia. Surrounded by olive and fig trees, citrus groves and vineyards, a stay here will see you enjoying breathtaking views of the countryside and sea.
Ready to start planning your autumn walking holiday and discover a luxury villa near walking trails?
Our knowledgeable Oliver’s Travels concierge team can help make your holiday dreams a reality, assisting with everything from the best villas to rent during your stay, to tips and tricks for getting the most out of your chosen destination.
Get ready to embrace the outdoors and have a relaxing, active escape!