Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Last-minute walking holidays.
Fresh air and fantastic views await on a host of last-minute walking holidays that are still available around Europe.
And you don’t need to lug around a giant rucksack with all your gear to enjoy them.
Stroll on: The Carter Company offers a self-guided Potter Through Provence holiday where the route winds through postcard-pretty villages such Bonnieux (pictured)
Some holidays are based in a single hotel, so you can unpack and follow carefully selected routes each day, while others move to different hotels through the week and your luggage is transported by taxi as you walk between them.
Breakfasts are always included, while some throw in dinners and picnic lunches.
Pick a small-group holiday to get the services of a tour leader or choose a self-guided trip where detailed directions are provided and you get to set the pace.
Fragrant: The Potter Through Provence holiday features relaxed daily walks – none more than nine miles – that meander through vineyards, lavender fields and cedar forests
Walking holidays based around boutique, four- and five-star hotels in Europe (and the UK) are the speciality of Buckinghamshire-based The Carter Company.
The route on its self-guided, seven-night Potter Through Provence holiday winds through postcard-pretty villages such as Gordes, Lacoste, Bonnieux and Lourmarin.
Relaxed daily walks – none more than nine miles – meander through vineyards, lavender fields and cedar forests. You’ll pass ruined castles, Romanesque abbeys and chateaux with views from the snow-topped Alps to the Mediterranean Sea.
Costs from £1,715pp plus flights (the-carter-company.com).
Expect an equally civilised time on Responsible Travel’s Walking And Wine-Tasting holiday in Tuscany. It’s a small-group trip led by a local guide and includes Siena, San Gimignano and Florence.
Easy walks on the first two days end with chianti tastings in vineyards while day three includes a guided vineyard walk and a short course at the Tuscan Wine School. Costs from £1,449pp, including flights (responsibletravel.com).
Wine tasting is an equally big part of Inn Travel’s Valley Of Gold holiday in Portugal. The week-long trip begins with a train ride from Porto to Pinhao on the banks of the Douro, the ‘river of gold’ famous for its stunningly reflective water as the sun is setting. Daily walks – none more than ten miles – take you through vineyards, villages and woodland valleys, and you’ll stay in a mix of elegant country houses and four-star hotels.
Inn Travel’s Valley Of Gold holiday in Portugal begins with a train ride on the banks of the Douro – aka the ‘river of gold’ – famous for its stunningly reflective water (above)
Costs from £1,195pp plus flights (inntravel.co.uk).
A little more fitness is needed for the seven-night self-guided Walking At Lake Como holiday with Headwater. You’ll hike up to hilltop villages most days, pass along ancient mule tracks and pilgrimage paths with peach trees, waterfalls and mossy valleys. In the evenings you can star-spot (George Clooney owns a house nearby) and eat in the lakeside villages of Torno, Varenna and Bellagio.
Costs from £1,299pp plus flights (headwater.com).
The small-group Walking The Corfu Trail holiday takes you through olive groves and cedar forests, and to some of the beaches made famous by the ITV series The Durrells.
On Headwater’s self-guided Walking At Lake Como holiday you’ll spend evenings in the lakeside village of Torno (pictured)
At night, bed down in rooms attached to family-run, beachside tavernas where the group and guide eat together. Costs from £655pp plus flights (explore.co.uk).
Or Pura Aventura offers an eight-day self-guided tour of the villages of southern Spain which includes accommodation in a converted watermill. The final day of Villages Of Andalusia Inn To Inn Walking Holiday promises a lunchtime tasting menu of regional specialities.
Costs from £1,140pp plus flights (pura-aventura.com).