official: we’ve walked our favourite WFH route so many
times that we’re fairly certain we could do it blindfolded. If you,
too, are fed up of grabbing your ugliest pair of trainers, chucking
on a scruffy sweatshirt and setting off with your go-to soundtrack, or of giving more awkward nods to that same
neighbour than the famous Churchill dog, then it’s time to shake
things up a bit.
From Sweden’s craggy corners to Croatia’s most picturesque
National Park, these are our seven favourite European routes to
take in 2022.
Europe’s most scenic walking routes
We’re the first to long for a hot summer’s day in the cooler
months, but there’s also no better feeling than a crisp, frosty
stroll – the sort that leaves you with rosy cheeks and a new spring
in your step. Enter, King’s Trail, located north of the Arctic
Circle, amid the snowy landscape of Kungsleden. Despite its
dramatic setting, the terrain doesn’t require much expertise. We’d
suggest starting at Abisko, from where it’s around a 10-day hike
(speed depending) to the Sami village of Nikkaluokta.
Duration: 10-12 days
France’s Grande Randonée (Long Trek) 34 is the only trail in the
country that never fails to lose sight of the sea. Taking you from
Mont Saint-Michel Bay to the Pont de Saint-Nazaire, with plenty of
clear red and white markers along the way, it makes for a
spectacular French escape. While the trail itself is relatively
straightforward, some sections feature narrow, twisting paths along
the hillside’s edge. We’d suggest rounding up your gang for this
one: a group effort will guarantee no slipping or sliding.
Duration: Up to six weeks
Cinque Terre, Italy
Sitting pretty on Italy’s Ligurian coast, Cinque Terre is just a two-hour drive north of Pisa.
Famed for its pastel-coloured buildings, the area is made up of
five different towns – Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia
and Riomaggiore – and there’s no better way to explore them all
than with a good, old-fashioned ramble. Though you’ll find plenty
of different paths on offer, we’d recommend starting with one of
the slightly easier routes, the Blue Trail. Set off from
Riomaggiore, from where you’ll climb the coast to Manarola – every
step of incline rewarded with spectacular 360-degree vistas.
Duration: Five to six hours
Situated in the canton of Valais, Zermatt pulls in winter sports fans from around the
world for its majestic Matterhorn and 28 other 4,000m-or-higher
peaks. For a change, we’re ditching the skis and strapping on our
backpack. While we’re always up for a challenge (and smashing our
10,000-daily-step count), this route is not for the faint-hearted.
More experienced hikers should start at Riffelalp train station,
then follow the signs west to join the trail. Insider tip: for much
of this route, you’ll be scaling rocky meadows and clambering sharp
slopes – don’t attempt it without a buddy on standby.
Duration: Two to three hours
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Croatia’s oldest and largest national park, and
a Unesco World Heritage site since 1979, Plitvice Lakes National
Park delights visitors with its 16 thundering waterfalls and wild,
dense forests. To wander the wooden walkways and gaze at its
crystal-clear lakes, you’ll want to start out at Entrance 1. Taking
around two hours, the trail rewards walkers with views of the Great
Waterfall and includes a beautiful bridged section over the Kozajka
Lake. Fancy something a little more intensive? The 18km Trail K
covers the entire park, taking around eight hours to complete.
Duration: Two hours
The undisturbed landscape of Portugal’s south-western coastal
paths has to be seen to be believed. Those who enjoy beach days as
much as thrill-seeking adventures will love the Fisherman’s Trail,
which allows travellers to combine the two. Set off from Porto
Covo, from where it’s a four-day trek to Cabo de Sāo Vicente.
Pitching a tent come nightfall is not permitted along this route,
so do bear in mind that you’ll need to plot out your pit stops
before setting off.
Duration: Four days
The Slovene Mountain Trail
The longest and most popular trail in Slovenia, and the longest
connecting trail in the world, the Slovene Mountain Trail welcomed
its first walkers in 1953. Today, it draws some of the world’s
toughest hikers, who see crossing its 23 peaks and five towns as
something of a rite of passage. The much-storied route takes in the
rolling plateaus of the Pohorje Hills, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps,
Karavanke Alps and Julian Alps, before finishing up on the
sparkling Adriatic coast. Though it can take up to 40 days to
complete, some ultra-competitive trekkers have completed it in as
little as seven – we’re assuming they’re keen runners, too.
Duration: Up to 40 days