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The best new active Europe trips

Most of you will have been to Europe, visited the museums, done the capitals and awed at the cathedrals and classical ruins. And you loved it. But now you want to go back to Europe and experience a different side - landscapes, small villages, the food and wine, the cultures. Active trips are a great way to incorporate all that. You set off in the morning on foot or by bike, journey by some amazing viewpoint and through some small hamlets, have lunch in a local restaurant, explore a town, chat with the owner of a vineyard.... It is all in a days holiday. Here are the best new active Europe trips.

Portugal: Guided Best of the Portuguese Way 10 days from $3,460 rated introductory to moderate, 4 out of 10 For many pilgrims, the Portuguese Way is more spiritually connected to the Camino than any other way. The Portuguese Way extends from the capital, Lisbon, across the border to Santiago, and this guided walk takes in the most popular, beautiful and intriguing sections between these two classic European cities. View trip

Portugal: Self-guided Walking Portugal's Land's End 9 days from $2,035 rated leisurely to moderate, 2 out of 10 This holiday takes you away from the tourist crowds of the Algarve to the unspoilt Sagres Peninsula, a stunning region of golden beaches, dramatic, rugged coastlines and idyllic countryside. You'll follow a mix of forest, valley and coastal trails as well as some wonderful cliff-top routes on the south coast, enjoying superb scenery as you go. This is a great area for spotting birdlife too, with endemic and migratory species passing through from Africa and Northern Europe. View trip

Ireland: Guided Wild Atlantic Way

8 days from $3,225 rated moderate, 3 out of 10 The Burren and Connemara face each other across Galway Bay, with the glorious Aran Islands strategically placed in between. It is hard to imagine two more contrasting landscapes. ‘Burren’ is derived from the Irish word boireann meaning ‘place of stone’, and the name could not be more apt. There is no part of Ireland where rock so obviously dominates the landscape as it does in the Northwest corner of County Clare. By contrast - Connemara is an imposing landscape of lakes, moorland and rugged mountains. This trip is not to be missed if you love wildflowers. The flora of the Burren region accommodates 75% of all Ireland's wildflowers. This region is world famous for its botany. View trip

Italy & Switzerland: Guided Cycling the Italian and Swiss Lakes 8 days from $2,465 rated moderate, 3 out of 10 The Italian lakes of Como and Maggiore are famed for both their spectacular scenery and their well-heeled residents. The rich and famous clearly have good taste as the scenery here is simply wonderful with forested hills and medieval properties overlooking the glistening blue waters. This is a fascinating place to discover on two wheels with excellent roads that closely follow the winding shores. We visit the 10th Century Borromean castle and the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, a striking overhanging abbey built by a rich merchant. The Villa del Balbianello with its ornate Italian gardens may look familiar to film buffs, having featured in international movies such as Bond’s Casino Royale and Star Wars: Attack of the clones. There will be opportunities to taste plenty of delicious local produce en route, including cheese, cold meats, honey, wines and ice cream, before riding across the border to Lugano in Switzerland for a visit to the Chocolate Museum of Alprose. The excellent cycle rides will hopefully help you build up an appetite! View trip

Italy: Self-guided Secrets of San Gimignano Cycling 9 days from $2,465 rated moderate, 3 out of 10 This cycling holiday combines fabulously unspoilt Chianti countryside with the chance to visit the world-famous cities of Florence and Siena. This holiday is, quite simply, outstanding in every way - think rich scenery, fantastically contrasting hotels, superb local cuisine and exceptional wines. View trip

Italy: Self-guided Gastronomic Barolo Walk 9 days from $2,775 rated leisurely to moderate, 2 out of 10 On this self-guided, hotel-to-hotel walking holiday, you'll explore the beautifully tranquil Langhe region of Piedmont, a gastronomic gem quietly tucked into Italy's north-western corner. Recently recognised by UNESCO, the countryside is a glorious mix of gently rippling, wave-shaped hills cloaked by layers of vines, sunflowers and oak forests, crowned with honey-hued hamlets and majestic Savoy castles. View trip

France: Self-guided Walks Along the Banks of the Dordogne 9 days from $2,375 rated leisurely to moderate, 2 out of 10 Perigord is one of the largest and most picturesque areas in France. It is divided into two by the River Dordogne which founded the historic frontier between France and England during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). Along its banks you'll find over a thousand castles steeped in legend and history, and witness to centuries of conquests and conflict. Today the rich and varied culture of this land is still here for you to discover. You will meander along paths that follow the twists and turns of the valley and you will climb through fields and shaded woodland to hilltop towns and fortified strongholds with impressive views. View trip

France: Self-guided Contrasts of Alsace and the Vosges Walk 9 days from $2,085 rated leisurely to moderate, 2 out of 10 Incorporating both Alsace's Route des Vins and the picturesque Vosges National Park, this walking holiday showcases the very best that the region has to offer. Your holiday starts in the heart of the wine country and takes you west through ancient forest and into the Vosges Mountains, straddling the French and German border. Here you'll discover the crumbling ruins of once-mighty hilltop castles and vivid reminders of Europe's wartime past. View trip

Spain: Footsteps of Dali Guided Walk 7 days from $1,820 rated moderate, 5 out of 10 Discover the coastal villages that inspired many artists over the centuries including the great Salvador Dali. Catalan hospitality provides a further dimension to the walk in the company of an expert mountain guide who will introduce you to the hidden gems of the area. View trip

Spain: Self-guided Classic Catalan Cycling 9 days from $2,015 rated leisurely to moderate, 2 out of 10 This holiday explores the wonderfully undiscovered Catalan countryside, a region of pine-fringed valleys dotted with historic castles, hilltop fortresses, ancient wine villages and beautiful countryside. Rich with mediaeval villages, historic castles and churches, Catalunya is contrasted with an impressive rocky coastline, dotted with pretty fishing villages, crystal-clear waters and beautiful golden sandy beaches. Steeped in culture and history, Catalunya's traditions date back over thousands of years. View trip

Germany: Self-guided Bavarian Castles and Rivers Cycling 9 days from $2,165 rated leisurely to moderate, 2 out of 10 Like Andalucia to Spain, Bavaria is very much the archetypical Germany. Bratwurst, beer and Lederhosen are still the mode of fashion. Behind this caricature of German psyche lies a stunning region surrounded by the German Jura Mountains, dissected by a network of beautiful rivers, pine-clad hills, hilltop castles and pretty towns and villages around every turn in the road. View trip

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