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Hiking holidays with some of the best mountain walks

Hiking holidays with some of the best mountain walks

Mountains return to us priceless capacity for wonder which can so insensibly be leached away by modern existence, and they urge us to apply that wonder to our own everyday lives.” – Robert Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind

There are few people who can express the magic and mystery of mountains better than British writer, Robert Macfarlane. This is perhaps because, for most of us, the humbling feeling that we gain from being in our great mountain ranges leaves us without words. Hiking in the Alps, Carpathians or Pyrenees, to name but a few of our best mountain walks, is to experience poetry in motion. Which is why so many walkers have an almost visceral need to be enveloped by them again and again, as their calming and uplifting effect is like nothing else. 

Best mountain walks 

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to walking in the mountains. So we have put together some of our best mountain walks, some better known than others. These treks are all self-guided (although we do offer several guided small group walking holidays), with your luggage transferred for you, and they vary in terms of whether they are easy, moderate or strenuous. We have steered away from big summits for this blog, such as Everest, Toubkal or Kilimanjaro, focusing on mountain walks that can be enjoyed independently and without years of experience. This is just a handful of our favourites, but there are hundreds more to choose from

Easy mountain walks

Sierra Nevada, Spain

One doesn’t really associate the Sierra Nevada with easy mountain walks but, just because your holiday is in the mountains, doesn’t mean you have to climb up all of them. This walking holiday in the Sierra Nevada starts and ends in one of Spain’s finest cities, Granada, famous for its Moorish heritage, and most particularly for the Alhambra complex, all with a mountainous backdrop. Walks around the city are both easy and exquisite, and the same can be said for the mountains, with short hikes along ancient trails in the Poqueira Valley, or through the oak forests of the Trevélez Valley, in the shadow of Mulhacén (3,479m), the highest mountain on the Iberian Peninsula. 

St Patrick’s Way and the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland

St Patrick’s Way in Northern Ireland is a 132km long-distance trail that takes in cultural and Christian heritage sites between Armagh and Downpatrick, as well as the natural spectacle of the Mourne Mountains. This pilgrimage walking trail offers some of the best walking in Northern Ireland and includes two days of walking among the Mourne’s range of twelve peaks, on easy walking trails. To have a more immersive walking experience here, you can choose to walk the Mourne Way, which is categorised as ‘easy to moderate’. It is most definitely exquisite though, exploring the likes of Slieve Meelbeg, Commedagh and Donard, Happy Valley as well as Castlewellan Forest Park.

best mountain walks
Mourne Wall, a stone wall that stretches for 35km across the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland.

Moderate mountain walks 

Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

This Bulgarian mountain range stretches across the south-west corner of Bulgaria, its karst limestone gorges and caves, ancient forests and traditional trails creating an adventurer’s arcadia. Hiking in Bulgaria’s Rhodopes is not short on landscape highs, such as the 300m high ​​Trigrad Gorge, the giant underground waterfall in Devil’s Throat Cave and the rocky phenomenon that makes up the Chudnite Mostove, aka the Wonderful Bridges. However, this mountain walking holiday takes place on the range’s gentle slopes and is suitable for regular walkers, covering an average of 14km (5.2h) of hiking per day. 

Peaks of the Balkans 

Peaks of the Balkans is a long-distance hiking trail traversing the Western Balkans, on a circuit that encompasses the heritage highlights (and highlands) of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. Depending on the heights that you want to hit, there are options to ascend Mt. Trekufiri, Hajla, Taljanka and Arapi, all promising the most peaceful panoramas. For moderate level, self-guided walking where you are on your feet for between five and eight hours every day, with daily ascents of maximum 1,000m, our Peaks of the Balkans Highlights and Peaks of the Balkans Complete holidays are best. 

Salzkammergut, Austria’s Lake District

If you want to access the Alps the easy way, and envelop yourself in their greatness without big gradients, the Salzkammergut Lake District is just under 50km from Salzburg. Spend a week walking in terrain where dramatic mountains plunge into sparkling blue glacial lakes, creating fjord-like landscapes. Stroll in the shadow of Dachstein (2,995m), the highest peak in upper Austria and enjoy gentle walks in the foothills around Lake Hallstatt, with its traditional villages and spas. For a walking itinerary with options to push yourself up into higher terrain, check out our High Trails of Salzkammergut walking holiday. 

The Carpathian Mountains, Poland

The Tatras Mountains are the most colossal of Poland’s Carpathians, but the Bieszczady Mountains, in the Eastern Carpathians, are also superb mountain trekking terrain. Both are suitable for walkers of a moderate level of fitness, during winter and summer months. In the Tatras, hike through a limestone landscape of great gorges and great gorgeousness. Don your crampons and trek up to the likes of Kopa Kondracka (2,005m) on our winter walking trip, or through Malej Laki Valley and Kondracka Pass to the park’s gateway town of Zakopane. In the Eastern Carpathians, there are some summits to be conquered here too, such as the range’s highest peak Tarnica (1,346m) or Kremenaros (1,221m), where the three borders of Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine meet. 

best mountain walks
The Bieszczady Mountains, in the Eastern Carpathians, have some spectacular easy walking trails.

Pyrenees, Spain

Walking holidays in Spain don’t get much more spectacular than in the Spanish Pyrenees, which boast six of the country’s ten highest peaks. Surprisingly, most of our walking holidays in this mountain range fall into a ‘moderate’ category with plenty of transfers to trailheads, making your adventures a little easier. Keen walkers come back again and again to experience the Pyrenees’ dramatic and varied landscapes, such as on the High Trails of Catalonia or, in contrast, Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park with four valleys packed with glacial treasures such as the Great Canyon of Ordesa and the Añisclo Gorge. For a few days of more strenuous treks, check out our trek in Vall de Boí and Aigüestortes National Park

More strenuous mountain walks

Corsica’s GR20, France

Corsica is, in many ways, like a natural kingdom all of its own, its colossal peaks towering over the Mediterranean, 170km from the French mainland. Its crowning glory for hikers is the GR20 trail, which takes both training and a good head for heights. GR stands for Grandes Randonnées walking trails, a network covering over 35,000km of waymarked ways in France. The GR20 is considered one of the toughest but you are rewarded with some of France’s most exquisite elevated landscapes, such as the route between Vizzavona to Calvi on the north coast where you have to really work out to bliss out. 

The Skye Trail, Scotland

The Isle of Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides archipelago and a bit like a microcosm of the mainland’s natural highlights, with its lochs, rugged peninsulas and valleys wrapped around the foothills of its mountainous interior. The Skye Trail goes the length of the island along the eastern side, passing through some of the best hiking areas of the island, including Black and Red Cuillin, Trotternish Ridge, Loch Coruisk, and Skye’s most northerly point, Rubha Hunish. This is a challenging Caledonian adventure over nine days and one that requires plenty of wild walking experience. With tours available between June and September, if it’s mountainous wilderness you’re after, the Skye’s the limit.

Walking up to the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.

Tour de Mont Blanc, France, Italy and Switzerland 

Known as the TMB for short, it does not actually conquer the great peak but circumnavigates it instead. This is one of the world’s most celebrated long-distance mountain walking trails and, although it starts and ends in France, it’s actually a multinational massif, inviting you into Switzerland and Italy en route. Although fairly strenuous if you take it all on in one go, staying in mountain huts along the way rather than opting for hotels or guesthouses to rest your weary feet, it is possible to do if you have moderate fitness and seek a few comforts along the way. Check out all our Tour de Mont Blanc walking holidays

Pirin Mountains, Bulgaria 

Lesser known but equally stupendous are Bulgaria’s Pirin Mountains, which are not only protected by national park status, but also by UNESCO so, as you can imagine, they are a special place. On a five day, fairly feisty walking holiday, staying in small mountain guesthouses, trek up to the range’s highest peak, Mt. Vihren, (2,914m), also Bulgaria’s second highest. Walking up to Mount Polezhan (2,850m) is also a spectacular adventure, with the help of a chairlift to get you on your way. If you have more time to spare, we recommend our eight day Summits and Glacial Lakes of Rila and Pirin holiday.

best mountain walks
The pure prettiness of the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria.

Our mountain walks come in all shapes and sizes, and this blog only scratches the surface of all the great mountain walking holidays that we have on offer. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information. You may also enjoy reading our blog on How to prepare for a hiking trip