Walking and Climbing in the Benelux
Explore the broody shores of the Atlantic Coast in France, Spain, and Portugal, or heading across the waves to Britain, Ireland and Iceland. Ancient standing stones, nesting sea birds, jagged cliffs and some incredibly green pasture land will keep you entranced until you find your next pub for a warm-up.
You can’t find a more fascinating place for unexpected hiking and climbing territory in Europe than in Iceland. The island is largely covered by lava, glaciers, lakes and sand and speckled with geysers, rare ferns, and colorful hot springs. Few places in Iceland have marked walking paths, but hiking is a favorite pastime for Icelanders and tourists alike. Walk for a day or for a week, and during the summer far into the night if that suits your fancy. You can choose organized excursions or strike out on your own, but if you organize your trip independently, make sure you bring adequate clothing and provisions, and that someone knows where you are going.
Roam through deserted countryside, get off the beaten track and let your imagination loose amongst luscious green hills and heather-coated mountains in Ireland. There's a good reason why the emerald isle becoming known as a walker's paradise. not only does is have the kind of temperate climate that walkers love, but the variety of landscape here is exceptional for such a small country. Ireland is a land filled with powerful and dramatic landscapes just waiting to be discovered – from rugged rural landscapes to Europe’s highest sea cliffs. Tackling Ireland’s mountains and soaring hills is a challenging and inspirational way to get close to the country’s nature and wildlife, while a trek along an ancient pilgrim’s route brings Ireland’s unique history to life.
In the Minho, walking and hiking are the best way of exploring the greenest of Portugal’s regions. Explore the stunning landscape of the Peneda Gerês Natural Park on any of its various routes. Head past dolmens and Roman remains. You’ll also come across animals indigenous to the park, such as wild horses and birds of prey, and the friendly ‘Gerês Garrano’ pony, which has been domesticated for riding. In Madeira walk through a forest of age-old vegetation set in the middle of the ocean. Amble through the forest by following the water channels known as "levadas", and you will discover all kinds of rare species of fauna and flora. It is said that the world’s first orchid grew here. Those in search of excitement can climb up to the mountain peaks of Pico do Areeiro and Pico Ruivo where they can walk above the clouds and look down at the island below.
A paradise for hikers, Spain offers diverse landscapes and serenity wrapped up in a pleasant climate almost all year round. Whether you seek a long distance cultural path, such as the Way of Saint James or nature-filled trails, you’ll find them on mainland or on the Balearic and Canary Islands. Walk across Medieval bridges, Roman roads, magic valleys, or along stone pathways on the banks of rivers, seeing castles or walking through vineyards; every region of Spain offers trails to take you on the most intimate exploration of its natural beauty and cultural diversity, at the same time requiring whatever level of exertion or outdoor expertise you want. The Pyrenees are particularly spectacular for climbing and hiking; imagine finding hidden waterfalls or an unexpected view of the ocean in the far distance.