While you might think walking tours are something that only happens during the warmer months, there are lots of options throughout the year in Europe. Whether you’re looking to escape the cold and enjoy a trek under winter sun, or through a magical wintry wonderland, you’ll have lots to choose from. These winter walking tours, in particular, are truly worth planning a trip around.
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Iceland (Prices & Photos)
There are multiple options for winter walking tours that will bring you through Iceland’s popular tourist route known as the “Golden Circle.” Most excursions include several hours of walking each day, with opportunities for viewing the colorful northern lights during the long, dark nights. You’ll also be able to witness everything from cascading waterfalls, perhaps partially frozen and glorious geysers to ice caves. The famous Glacier Lagoon is a sight to see with its endless icebergs and sunbathing seals. As you walk along the south coast’s jet black beaches, marvel at the glistening chunks of ice that look like extraordinary works of art, contrasting beautifully with the dark sands.
Madeira, Portugal (Prices & Photos)
Portugal’s Madeira region is famous for its wine, endemic flora and fauna, and the unique, UNESCO-protected subtropical Laurel Forest. Located in the Gulf Stream, it boasts a mild climate year round that’s ideal for walking. Funchal is a great place to start, allowing walkers to experience its striking natural beauty and unspoiled charms by following an elaborate system of irrigation channels known as levadas on foot, which makes even the most remote parts of this flower-filled island accessible. Discover alluring colonial villages and towns, dramatic coastal scenery and an especially lush interior. The most beautiful hike, Vereda do Areeiro, links two of Madeira’s highest peaks, taking you high above the clouds as if you’re walking on top of the world.
Canary Islands (Prices & Photos)
Tenerife in the Canary Islands offers everything from short easy walks to a climb up Spain’s highest mountain, El Teide. If you have time, you might want to walk all the islands, including La Palma, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Gomea and El Hierro, discovering vibrant green valleys that descend to magnificent sea cliffs. The smallest of the islands, La Gomera is considered a secret paradise for hikers, with routes following forest walkways and old donkey paths at Garajonay National Park. View impressive rock formations, a wide variety of plants like hibiscus, juniper and papaya along with caldera peaks, waterfalls and dense canarian pine forest.
Corfu, Greece (Prices & Photos)
Corfu hosts an extensive network of trails that run alongside the coast and wander inland. Winter can be a fantastic time to lace up the hiking boots, put on a few layers and get out there without the intense heat of the summer sun. Discover coastal paths and routes that wind through wooded hills with everything short and easy walks to more challenging hikes. There are lots of opportunities for guided walks with hotel stays along the way, leading you along ancient footpaths above the coast and between olive groves, cypress -maritime pine and holm oak trees.
Bregenzerwald, Austria (Prices & Photos)
The sleepy village of Hittisau in Austria’s Bregenzerwald district is an ideal place to base your stay for a winter walking tour with its outstanding network of walking trails. Experience dreamy winter landscapes while embarking on everything from relaxed strolls through the valley to challenging mountain treks in Alpenregion Vorarlberg. Treks not only offer the chance to soak up breathtaking scenery, but to learn about the region’s past and present, including the locals and their way of life. Wood-shingled farmhouses stand next to modern structures while massive cheese stores offer the chance to fuel your exploits, selling tasty Bregenzerwald alpine and mountain cheeses with their distinct flavors.
Stockholm, Sweden (Prices & Photos)
Walking the frozen parks and waterways of Stockholm in winter means strolling frozen thoroughfares that thread this fairy-tale city with its spires, garrets and ornate roofs. A visit to the tourist office will tell you which are safe to set out on, with the 500-foot Kaknäs TV tower in Ladugardsgårdet Park an especially popular starting point. Another option is Tyresta National Park, extraordinarily beautiful when covered in snow. The hiking trails are postcard-perfect, and you’ll find a shop and cafe for warming up in between your jaunts in the cold. While you’re here, you may even want to take a boat tour with the Stockholm archipelago and its small islands fabulous to explore in winter, while bundled up inside the vessel with a glass of traditional Swedish mulled wine, sailing through the ice.
Meiringen, Switzerland (Prices & Photos)
The famous Bern region of Switzerland is home to Meiringen, the most prominent settlement in the Haslital Valley which stretches all the way to the tranquil waters of Lake Brienz. A panoramic trail links the scenic villages of the Hasliberg along a gorgeous high-altitude route, joining with the Brünigpass. The section along the sunny slopes high above Meiringen enjoys especially breathtaking views into the Rosenlaui area on the opposite side of the valley as well as Lake Brienz, a turquoise gem that provides a stunning contrast. You’ll find a wealth of other options too with over 15.5 miles of trails which are marked with pink signs.
Costa Blanca, Spain (Prices & Photos)
Costa Blanca offers endless winter sunshine and opportunities to explore castle ruins, rocky gorges and olive groves on foot. The Valencian peninsula experiences the mildest and sunniest climate in Western Europe during the season, and while sun can’t be guaranteed every day, on average there are six hours of it every day, even in December and January. The region is famous for its sandy beaches, but you’ll find challenging rugged trails like the extended Serrella Castle route, an adventurous trek where you’ll need to find your own path as some of the trails have eroded away and become overgrown. Or, approach the castle from Guadalest in the south, which requires a number of rock scrambles along with some flowing water that sweeps across the trail. The more height you gain, the more dazzling the views become. At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with an awe-inspiring 360-degree view from the castle ruins.