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Self Guided Walking Holidays in Europe

Difficulty Grades

The guidelines below should give you a general idea of what to expect from your adventure holiday. Mind that hiking and cycling times and distances are strongly affected by the steepness of terrain and elevation change i.e. a 10 km easy hike may take 3 hours along a fairly flat route but a 10 km moderate hike up and downhill over steeper terrain may take 5-6 hours. Therefore if in doubt it is better to refer to both time and distance when provided.

Walking Grades

EASY: Relaxed and mild walks suitable for walkers with average levels of fitness and who are generally in good health. These walks are typically on maintained trails or timber roads and have marked trails with signage. Gradients are mild with no steep uphill or downhill section. No previous hiking experience is required and they are suitable for novices and different age groups. Walking is typically limited to 3-5 hours per day (up to 12 km of walking).

EASY TO MODERATE: Mostly Easy but may include longer moderate hikes on some days with some moderate uphill/downhill elevations and steeper ascents/descents. Generally, the walking routes will be well maintained but may involve some mixed/rougher terrain and steep/exposed sections on certain days. Walking is on average 4-6 hours per day (up to 15 km of walking).

MODERATE: Suitable for more regular hikers who are generally fit. Moderate grade itineraries include longer walking days and steeper ascents and descents. May include longer stretches of uphill climbs and descents or a number of shorter steeper uphill and downhill sections along the route. Terrain may be mixed including rocky area areas and mixed surfaces underfoot. Moderate grade holidays include on average 5-7 hours of walking per day (up to 20 km of walking).

MODERATE TO STRENUOUS: Suitable for active hikers with a good level of fitness looking for more demanding and challenging hikes. They involve extended steep ascents and descents. May also include high mountain (alpine) terrain which is rugged and rough underfoot and some sections of scrambling. Mostly moderate walks but may include longer strenuous treks on some days. May include hut to hut walks on some days and require carrying your own belongings/backpack along the route. Include on average 6-9 hours of walking per day (up to 30 km of walking).

STRENUOUS: For very experienced hikers with a high level of fitness. Navigation skills required. Include steep ascents and descents over rough and varied terrain in high mountain regions and may include some exposed areas, fixed ropes and scrambling. May be in expedition-style and may require hard trekking every day. May include hut to hut walks on some or all days and require carrying your own belongings/backpack along the route. Include on average 8-10 hours of walking per day (30+ km of walking).

Cycling Grades

EASY: Relaxed cycling, ideal for beginners and for families looking for a cycling adventure. You will have plenty of time to relax en-route with short cycling days and not many uphills, the terrain being mostly flat. Cycling distance is typically up to 35 km per day.

EASY TO MODERATE: Perfect for the occasional rider: mostly Easy but may include longer Moderate stretches on some days on generally flat terrain with some occasional moderate uphill/downhill sections. Cycling distance is typically between 25 and 55 km per day.

MODERATE: Suitable for more regular cyclists who have an active lifestyle. Moderate grade itineraries include longer cycling days and steeper ascents and descents. May include longer stretches of uphill climbs and descents or a number of shorter steeper uphill and downhill sections along the route. Cycling distance is typically between 45 and 75 km per day.

MODERATE TO STRENUOUS: Suitable for very active cyclists with an excellent level of fitness looking for more demanding and challenging cycling. Moderate to strenuous itineraries involve extended steep ascents and descents along routes. Cycling distance is typically between 65 and 85 km per day.

STRENUOUS: These are challenging itineraries, great for keen cyclists who have solid long-distance cycling experience over multiple days and are in perfect shape. These are typically road cycling tours. Cycling distance is typically over 85 km per day.

Mixed Grade

Certain holidays combine options for different routes on some or all days i.e. it is possible to choose either an easy or a moderate hike. These are presented with a distinctive colour scheme – the example here shows a holiday that as a whole can be graded either as MODERATE or MODERATE TO STRENUOUS depending on the options chosen for each walking day.