A good European trip includes more than a series of castles and museums. Europeans are into outdoor adventure, and many American travelers are finding fun ways to get wet, windblown and out of breath too. Any tips on outdoor thrills for mild-mannered back door tourists not packing ice axes? Share your favorite outdoor activity.
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Hiking in Ireland
Connemara National Park in Ireland is a great place to hike and get great views of the Irish countryside. In Gaelic, Connemara means 'Inlets of the Sea', which is borne out by the region's filigreed coastline.
The park is great because there are 4 different hiking loops to choose from that range form easy to difficult depending on your fitness level and amount of time you have.
We went with a travel club for solo travelers and photo lovers--got great pics here and was a perfect way to go on a trip to meet new travel buddies.
Atlanta, GA USA 11/12/2012
Bellagio Water Sports Kayak Club
Deciding to kayak with Mich of Bellagio Water Sports Kayak Club was the best choice I made on my trip to Bellagio! We began our adventure in Pescallo, a beautiful spot along the shore of Lake Como a short distance from downtown Bellagio. It was my first time kayaking so I felt a bit unprepared, but Mich assured me that I would do just fine. After a tutorial we began our tour along the beautiful Lake Como. I was taken back by how much beauty is missed when on a boat or walking along the shore. There are absolutely many things you see up close while kayaking that you simply would miss otherwise. Mich guided us along our path towards the center of Lake Como giving us details of our surroundings while allowing us moments to take photos and enjoy the scenery. The water was still and the weather was perfect for kayaking, and I couldn't have felt more comfortable and in control (it being my first time and all). The center of the Lake was beautiful as was the view of Downtown Bellagio from the water. This experience was the highlight of my trip to Italy. It was fun, adventurous, beautiful and enlightening. I was so excited afterwards that I proceeded to tell everyone I met about how wonderful it was.
If you are planning a trip to Bellagio (and if you aren't i highly suggest you do), I suggest you consider taking a kayak tour with Mich, or renting kayaks and venturing on your own if you are comfortable. This experience is amazing and you will not regret it. If you have never kayaked before, this is the place to do it. Mich will make sure you are comfortable and make the experience quite enjoyable!!
I cannot wait until my return to Bellagio so I could do more exploring on the water!!
San Francisco, CA USA 10/27/2012
Bellagio Water Sports Kayak Club
Although his main business is renting kayaks and guiding kayak tours of the lake, Mich kindly took me sculling with him one morning during my recent visit to Bellagio -- and showed great patience with how rusty my skills had become since my university rowing days. What's more, as he drove me in his car between my hotel & the boathouse (exchanging greetings with half the people we passed) and introduced me to a fellow rower on the jetty, he made me feel less like a tourist client and more like a new friend.
Vienna, VA USA 09/30/2012
Bike tour in Italy
We are just finishing a 10-day bike trip with Iron Donkey. It was self guided, so just me and the hubby on our tandem bike (which we brought with us). You can rent a single bike, and sometimes a tandem from this company. The tour was in Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche. Great climbs, wonderful downhills. The towns we visited were quiet and fun. Hotels were a combination of 2- and 3-star. Only one was not to our liking.
This is our second trip using irondonkey.com. Tony, the owner will actually call you to discuss your needs and wished for a special trip. You can just take one of his normal guides trips, or do what we've done and added a few days extra and the towns we really wanted to visit. I've found this company to be a great value for the Euro. US based guided tours have gotten very expensive, I tend to give this business to the natives of Europe, the people who actually ride the roads they take you on.
Need more info about a self guided bike tour? PM me. We've now been on 6 ! Used 3 different companies after doing some research on the web.
Centennial, Co USA 09/24/2012
Adventure Travel Group-Biking
We just got back from a Sicily Bike Trip! The travel club and group we go with is super laid back and plan really fun and unique trips to Europe and beyond. If you like adventure travel this is the travel group to join (its free to join too).
Check them out at: http://www.photoflytravel.com/
Fort Lauderdale, FL USA 08/21/2012
Bellagio Water Sports Kayak Club
Bellagio Water Sports Kayak Club, especially the owner Michele, have a flawless focus on customer service. I travel to Bellagio frequently and always look forward to escaping the crowded town and spending quiet time out on the lake. It's such a pleasure to do business with Michele, that it takes almost no effort to get out on the lake and enjoy the quiet, the view of the mountains, and the spectacular views back into town. On my most recent trip I went from Pescallo down the Lecco side of the lake. Other times across the lake to Varenna, or just paddling close to the Bellagio shore. Whatever path you take, Bellagio Water Sports will give you the support, advice, and flexibility you need to have a great time.
Bellagio Water Sports Kayak Club
Bellagio, Italy 08/16/2012
Bellagio Water Sports Kayak Club
If you're looking for something to do outdoors while on Lake Como, contact Mich at Bellagio Water Sports Kayak Club. My husband & I did a kayak tour with him in May. He was the kindest Italian we met on our trip & this tour was a wonderful value & time well spent on Lake Como. The tours leave from a small town near Bellagio. Mich is an excellent email communicator so booking a tour with him is a breeze. We stayed in Varenna & took the ferry over to meet Mich the morning of our tour. Defenitely a highlight of our trip.
Raleigh, NC USA 05/31/2012
The hiking trails of Cinque Terre are great! There are trails for any level of fitness. Also enjoy walking around the ruins of Pompeii.
Gonzales, LA USA 05/11/2012
Natural Italy -Hiking Tours in Tuscany
Natural Italy has great hiking tours of Tuscany. We did the 'Walk like an Etruscan' tour in Southern Tuscany. They took us to some fantastic sites and to eat some great food! One of the hotels was in a castle!!!! We found the tour through their blog! www.naturalitaly.it!
Boston, MA USA 04/23/2012
If you're in Reykjavik and you have a car make the 1-hour drive out to Thingvellir National Park (Žingvellir in Icelandic). Excellent hiking and spectacular scenery with meadows, streams and rock formations.
Los Angeles, CA USA 01/30/2012
We walked part of Hadrian's Wall for the first time on our last U.K. and France trip. What fun! After reading up on it, we decided the best spot, with most of the wall still remaining, is from Housesteads Roman Fort to the Once Brewed National Park Centre. It was up and down all the way, but what a view. Next time we hope to hop the bus to the other end, then walk back. Don't forget to explore Chesters Roman Fort with its museum of Roman artifacts. How many people can say they walked where the Romans in 122 AD walked? Amazing!
Spokane, WA USA 01/06/2012
Mount Rigi, Switzerland
Visiting Mount Rigi was one of the most beautiful days of my life. I was staying in Baden, Switzerland, so I took trains from Baden to Lucerne via Zurich. I explored the city for a bit, and then took the ferry from Lucerne to Vitznau which provides a lovely view of the lake and surrounding mountains, even on a cloud-covered day. From here I took the tram halfway up Mount Rigi to Kaltbad. It was a beautiful view, when the sun came out it was beautiful and warm. We took the aerial cablecar from Kaltbad down to Weggis and back up (though you could exit the ferry at Weggis and go up to Kaltbad that way). When arriving back at Kaltbad we walked around some more, took more photos (I love photography and it's a wonderful setting). Then we took the tram up to Rigi Kulm, the top of the mountain. You can walk up to the summit, get some soup or coffee and a few little restaurants at the top, more photos. You can return back down the mountain to Weggis or Vitznau, but since we were returning to Zurich it was easier (and provided a new route down the mountain) to take the other tram from Rigi Kulm to Art-Goldau and take a train from there to Zurich/Baden. The day was beautiful and gorgeous and outstanding. The scenery is wonderful, the air so crisp and clean. I highly recommend it. For the more adventurous (or just well-packed with hiking clothing/boots, we had none) you could hike up parts or all of the mountain.
Plus, if you have a Swiss friend who can purchase a tageskarte gemeinde (a day pass) for you, all of the transportation is covered for only 33CHF for the whole day. Outstanding.
Ballwin, MO USA 12/29/2011
Avignon Wine Tour
Avignon Wine Tours with Francois....what a wonderful day! We booked at the last minute a few weeks ago while in Avignon. Picked us up at doorstep...and then the magic began. So knowledgeable, so fun, so organized. Our group of 6 were welcomed at many wonderful vineyards, had a great lunch stop selected in advance by him, and felt like the entire day was a highlight. Highly recommend...about $80 per person for the entire day...A+!
Minneapolis, MN USA 11/10/2011
Extreme Ireland adventure tours
Just a quick note re a walking tour i went on with Extreme Ireland. I did the 8 day south and had a great time. Thanks all at www.extremeireland.ie
Charles O Connell
Toronto, Ontari USA 07/07/2011
Ireland Burren Walks
If you are in Western Ireland and plan to visit the Burren I highly recommend Tony Kirby's Burren Walks. He leaves from the Burren Center in Kilfenora and provides and really informative walk about the history and geology of the area. A must for a curious traveler.
Wheat Ridge, CO USA 07/05/2011
Off the Beaten Track Walking Tour
We like to be on our own schedule, not someone else's, so we just got back from a self guided walking tour in the Luberon Valley, Provence, France. We were somewhat off the beaten American tourist track. After a night in Ilse sur la Sorgue we started walking in Fontaine de Vaucluse and six days later ended up in Saignon with stops in Gordes, Goult, Bonnieux and the Aiguebrun Gorge along the way. Our stops were mostly in French hill towns and our walks were along ancient stone walls, vineyards, lavender fields and olive groves. The trails were up and down so we had our share of spectacular views too. The tour was organized by Walk Inn Provence. They gave us explicit directions and moved our luggage so we only needed day packs. They are one of several companies offering walking and bicycling tours in Provence.
Bill & Chris
Gilford, NH USA 05/09/2011
Swimming in a Norwegian Fjord
I went swimming in the Sognefjord in Norway. Just plunged right into the cold water off a boat dock in Balestrand. Because the water is salty, I floated easily and just spread out on my back in the middle of the fjord, gazing at the towering mountains around me or closing my eyes and communing with nature. I felt a little awkward at the beginning because I was the only one splashing around in my bikini while fully clothed people strolled around on dry land - though when I asked the girl in the tourist office where I can swim, she suggested here and even directed me to the changing rooms on the dock - but after my initial uneasiness and hypothermia, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I even got a nice suntan (in Norway!).
Los Angeles, CA USA 05/05/2011
Bindelweg Hike to Rifugio del Viel
During a road trip through the Dolomite mountains in northern Italy, we stopped in Canazai. We rode the gondola to the Rifugio Belvedere. From there we hiked the easy going Bindelweg trail to the Rifugio del Viel. The mountain vistas are BELLISSIMA and the cheese cake at the Rifugio del Viel is delizioso. My son and I took a more challenging ridge route back. Check out our little adventure on youtube - just type in Frametofame and view the Castelrotto & The Best of the Dolomites video. Next time we'll have to rent a couple of mountain bikes!
Vernon, BC USA 03/02/2011
Cinque Terre's hidden treasures
I had the best experience in Cinque Terre with a Trek guide that showed us the hidden treasures that even some of the locals haven't seen. Just amazing, and we didn't feel like we are on a cow trail with everybody else. A true back road travel experience. Worth the money and inexpensive. http://www.trekguyd.com
Pacific Grove, Ca USA 02/04/2011
The Rhine and Burg Eltz
There is nothing quite like a bike ride along the Rhine in the beginning of fall; I biked the stretch from Bacharach to Bingen and it was beautiful (though I would have stopped before Bingen, and be warned that the ride is easiest on the way down the river than on the way back up). The stretch from Bacharach to St-Goar is supposed to be even prettier. Burg Eltz is such a breathtaking place, especially on the inside, but also because of the 90-minute hike through the most gorgeous woods to get from Moselkern train station to the castle. It smells so fresh and sweet in the woods, and the light is so beautiful as it reflects off of the Eltz river and among the colored leaves of fall. One of my favorite (and most exhilirating) adventures of my trip.
Baltimore, MD USA 01/18/2011
Hiking in Tuscany
If you stay in Montalcino Italy, take the hike from the town to the Abbey of Sant'Antimo. 2 1/2 hours and a bit rugged (let's call it an "ungroomed" trail) but we did it! Past vineyards, grazing sheep and cows, through tiny agriturismos, and for much of it no traffic, no people. At the end of the hike, we had lunch in a small ristorante in Castelnuovo dell'Abate and took a bus back to Montalcino.
Portl, OR USA 10/30/2010