Where to go on a self guided walking holiday


Self guided walking holidays allow you that independence, while leading you gently by the hand into regions you might not have thought of before. So the Alps are always mind-blowing, but the Mercantour National Park in the Southern Alps is stunning. And empty. The Italian Riviera is dreamy, but the Amalfi Coast is verging on walking pornography, the views are that obscenely good. And the Camino de Santiago is world-famous as a self guided walking holiday but, to escape the crowds, you will have more than a few heavenly moments walking through the deserted coves of Catalonia. These are some of our highlights, but the experts who create your itineraries along each self guided walk are the ones who hold the real secrets within.
Amalfi Coast, Italy Italian Riviera Camino de Santiago Picos de Europa Portugal Catalonia Andalucia The Alps Croatia Scotland Turkey Pilgrims’ Way, UK Poitou-Charentes Mercantour National Park Ireland

The Alps

Alpine walking holidays vary greatly, from ‘the hills being alive with the sound of music’ type to the more ‘full on conquering Mont Blanc’ type. You can go winter walking or summer meadow walking. You can take a guide or a donkey. You can touch toes with the Alps in France, Switzerland, Austria or Italy. Take your pick. Which you will need, when the snow hits.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

This is coast candy for hikers. Mountains rise up from the Mediterranean, picture perfect towns nestle neatly into isolated coves and fine food and drink tumbles out of every trattoria. Follow ancient mule paths up from affluent villa clad beaches, and bash your boots through the likes of Sorrento, the Valle delle Ferriere nature reserve, Pompeii, Ravello, Capri and Positano.


Welcome to the Moorish heartland of Spain with walking holidays exploring the hills around the famous Arab-infuenced cities of Ronda, Malaga, Seville and Cadiz. Hike your way through Arab, Jewish and Christian history. Or enjoy the sheer gorges, glacial lakes and powder-dusted peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the highest mountain range in Europe after the Alps.

Camino de Santiago

This humble trail across northern Spain draws pilgrims from across the globe to share in the classic landscapes, the hearty northern dishes and the very Spanish sense of “solidarity”. Roughing it in hostels is still possible – but plusher accommodation is now springing up along the Camino, meaning you can enjoy the trail's highlights but with a quiet, comfy bed to collapse into at the end of each day.


This is one of those ‘why have I never come here before now?’ places. As you walk, you will see that the famous Catalan regional pride is totally justified, boasting snowy Pyrenean peaks to sun-soaked Mediterranean coves as well as a volcanic park. There is a plethora of hiking trails traversing wild, deserted coasts and dainty turquoise coves, or the inland Aiguamolls Nature Reserve.


With its pine forest islands and medieval walled cities, the coast is what most of us know about Croatia. But there are also extraordinary walking holidays to be had less than an hour inland, with five national parks to explore. Try the green valleys of Konavle, where ancient mills and family-run vineyards hide away against the Montenegro border.


There are many ways to see Ireland, but walking along the Kerry or Dingle Way are a couple of great ones. Yes, you'll need rain gear on these wild mountain and coastal hiking routes, but you will never be far from a hot whiskey to warm you up again. Or a restaurant serving local seafood chowder and homemade Irish bread. Or, in true Irish style, a fine welcoming smile.

Italian Riviera

This is Liguria. Say the name a few times with an Italian accent and you’ll feel as if you are reciting a love poem. Liguria has that effect with walkers falling in love with beauties like Portofino or the medieval Portovenere. Following the coast path, there are stunning views of the Apennine Peaks along the way. And beautiful swimming too, such as below the ancient monastery at San Fruttuoso. Liguria, ti amo.

Mercantour National Park

In Nice, take an hour-long mountain train into the otherworldly wonders of the Alpes Maritimes and Alpes de Haute Provence, all part of the relatively unknown Mercantour National Park. A popular area for walking with donkeys to carry your bags, you follow in the steps of shepherds who still do the same, along waymarked ways through ancient forest, up rocky inclines, and along icy river valleys.

Picos de Europa

Extraordinarily, this 2,650m-high mountain range has not popped up on most hikers' compasses. The limestone massif is frequently snow-draped, and shelters chamois goats, bearded vultures, Iberian wolves and even brown bears. The villages here are isolated yet welcoming, the food is possibly Spain's finest – and you're still just 10km from the craggy Costa Verde.

Pilgrims’ Way, UK

This 200km trail follows an ancient track between Winchester and Canterbury, with a good part of it following in the footsteps of those taking on the North Downs. A popular section is from the historic cathedral town of Rochester, following the chalk ridge along the edge of the North Downs, to the medieval cathedral town of Canterbury.


Rural rambling for Francophiles who don't want to tackle the Alpine peaks, but crave a few hits of Gallic gorgeousness. Such as Les Cinq Communes walk through wild orchid filled woods, or Le Beugnon Lake, with leafy valleys and overflowing orchards. And the Marais Poitevin, a vast patchwork of ancient canals surrounded by pastures, woods and the obligatory picturesque French villages.


The 350km Rota Vicentina waymarked way, along Portugal's southwest coast, gets douze points from the European hiking jury. Hike through coastal wildflower valleys, cork forests and up into the Alentejo uplands. Inland, trace the Serra de Monchique's ancient paths through orange and almond groves, or if you want to aim high and head for the Serra d'Arga mountains.


You have to walk in Scotland. It's against the law not to. Well, actually, the right to walk all over their varied landscape is enshrined in law, so even if they don't make you hike, it's rude not to really. There are good guides galore to show off the delights of the Cairngorms National Park as well as the islands and Highlands. A hipflask full of malt is also the law.


Far from the madding crowds of the coastal resorts lie almost deserted hiking routes, such as the Lycian Way coastal trail from Fethiye to Antalya, which takes you up to the limestone peaks of Olympos. Or the Carian Trail into the hiking heartlands of southwestern Turkey, following old mule paths, with plenty of cool down options in glittering bays and the shade of ancient ruins.
If you'd like to chat about walking holidays or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Rosy & team.
01273 823 700
Photo credits: [Top box: Fresco Tours] [Amalfi Coast: Pug Girl] [Picos de Europa: Larra Jungle Princess] [Turkey: Warren Talbot] [Pilgrim's Way UK: Mikael Leppä] [Poitou-Charentes: Webzooloo] [Mercantour National Park: Catherine Mack]
Written by Catherine Mack
Self guided walking holiday in France

Self guided walking holiday in France

Idyllic walking in France with great food, wine and ambience

From £900 7 Days ex flights
Picos inn to inn walking holiday in Spain

Picos inn to inn walking holiday in Spain

Hike through beautiful mountains staying in rural inns

From £1275 8 Days ex flights
Croatian coast walking tours, self guided

Croatian coast walking tours, self guided

A seven-day walking holiday on the Dalmatian coast — islands and Dubrovnik included

From €575 7 Days ex flights
Japan self guided walking holiday, Nakasendo Trail

Japan self guided walking holiday, Nakasendo Trail

Self-guided walking along Japan’s ancient Nakasendo trail

From £750 5 Days ex flights
Amalfi to Sorrento walking holiday in Italy

Amalfi to Sorrento walking holiday in Italy

Explore the peninsula between Ravello and Sorrento

From £1869 9 Days inc UK flights
Bergamo circular walking tour in Italy

Bergamo circular walking tour in Italy

Begamo; start hiking at about 5 km distance from the airport

From €658 8 Days ex flights
Volterra to San Gimignano walking holiday in Italy

Volterra to San Gimignano walking holiday in Italy

Picturesque Volterra and soaring towers of San Gimignano

From £1539 9 Days inc UK flights
Catalonia self guided walking holidays

Catalonia self guided walking holidays

Self-guided walking holidays in Catalonia

From €715 8 Days ex flights
French Alps self guided walking holiday

French Alps self guided walking holiday

Chalet based, self guided walking holiday in the French Alps

From £525 8 Days ex flights
Piedmont walking holiday, Vineyards of Barolo

Piedmont walking holiday, Vineyards of Barolo

A gastronomic gem quietly tucked away

From £1899 9 Days inc UK flights
Andalucia self guided walking holiday, Spain

Andalucia self guided walking holiday, Spain

Moderate walking in foothills of Olive and Almond groves

From £350 7 Days ex flights
Walking holiday in Alicante

Walking holiday in Alicante

Explore beautiful countryside on foot in Mediterranean Spain

From €340 8 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: Thomas Schweighofer]
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