10 AWESOME WAYS TO EXPLORE EUROPE YOU WOULDN'T THINK OF
Europe remains one of the most exciting destinations on the globe. From the smoky beer halls of the Czech Republic to the sun-kissed isles of the Med, it's packed with awesome things to do and see. It's also the perfect place to get creative with your travel, with possibilities for everything from hiking jaunts to boating on the seas. Check them out…
Yacht through the Adriatic
Sun on the face, salt in the air, cold beer in hand, tunes drifting across the deck and the sound of the splashing swells hitting the hull of your own luxury yacht. Yep, there's really nothing quite like it. We'd know, because we've spent countless summers riding yachts over the waves of the Adriatic Sea. It's safe to say we simply adore this sort of traveling. You'll spend whole evenings partying up on deck, whole days wandering untrodden islands. You'll get to swim in coves that no one else can get to, party with A-lister yachters in cool cocktail bars, and gawp upwards at the rugged peaks of Dalmatia. Sounds pretty good, right?
Hike the Alps
It goes without saying that a trip to walk the greatest mountain range in Western Europe promises to be a bucket-list topper. Still, nothing can quite prepare you for the sheer beauty of these craggy peaks, which rise to over 4,000 meters with the ice-topped silhouette of Mont Blanc in France. Some of the best walking routes through the range go from the city of Munich to Bergamo in Italy, encompassing the UNESCO-attested Dolomites and the massive Grossglockner (the highest summit in Austria) as it goes. Just try not to eat too much pizza as you go!
Walk the Camino
Europe is crisscrossed with ancient walking paths, from the depths of the Balkan Peninsula to the windblown hills of Scotland. But there's arguably none more famous than the Camino trail, which has been a great pilgrimage route since the early middle ages. Thousands of travelers come to conquer the path, which cuts right the way through the heartlands of France and Iberia, before weaving between the snow-topped peaks of the Pyrenees and down to the beautiful backcountry of northern Spain. The end point is the city of Santiago de Compostela, and the gorgeous Gothic cathedrals that loom there. You don't have to be religious to complete the Camino – today everyone from dedicated hikers to history buffs enjoy it too!
Island hopping in Greece
Okay, so while island hopping in Greece might be precisely the sort of trip you would think of (who wouldn't?), it's now easier than ever to plan a trip to this beautiful corner of the Med. That's because there are now oodles of local ferry connections linking little islands that were otherwise left off-the-beaten-track. And there are also loads of planned holidays like our own YachtLife Greece, each connecting the major must-sees like Mykonos (get ready to party) with lesser-known spots like Paros (think whitewashed Cycladic villages and rustic tavernas).
Use only local buses
Why not forget trying to plan your European trip from beginning to end and employ a little spontaneity by relying only on local buses to get you around the continent. It's hardly a tried and tested method of seeing the world, but means arriving in some destinations you will simply never have heard of, mingling with the locals, and keeping prices on the downlow, which is always good. Be sure to use online booking tools to check ahead and see if there's somewhere to sleep where you're headed - if you know where you're headed, that is.
Sail the turquoise coast
The second of our water-based ways to explore Europe that might not have crossed your travel-hungry mind takes us to the shimmering waters of the Turkish Riviera. This region, which bends its way around the from the Greek Aegean Sea to the sun-scorched lands of Asia Minor, is hailed as one of the most amazing yachting spots on the globe. Towns like Marmaris and Bodrum offer top places to moor up – they are packed with awesome clubs and sparkling beaches. And then there are the inland excursions, which include jaunts to the crumbling ruins of Ephesus, the bubbling hot springs at Pamukkale, and oodles, oodles more!
Hitch your way through
Hitching certainly ain't dead in Europe. No sir, many countries – think Poland, Slovakia, Hungary – used to rely on hitch hiking, and many people there still use the good old thumbs up to get around on a daily basis. Of course, you'll have to have your wits about you, travel in groups, and always judge whether to get in on a car to car basis, but you definitely can get from A-to-B for free. If you're not sure about standing roadside a la Sal Paradise, perhaps you could consider using lift sharing websites, which come with reviews for each driver – you know, so you can check you're not getting a dodgy ride.
Train your way from north to south
Over the last couple of decades, train travel has become a lot easier in Europe. National rail systems have been improving from France to Poland, meaning it's now relatively easy to get good train connections right across the continent. What's more, with the rising popularity of things like Interrail, going for an odyssey on the tracks has never been easier. You could start in the northern bucket-list towns of Amsterdam and Berlin, head south through the romantic heartlands of Germany and finish off lazing on the beaches of Sicily or Greece. You could even link it all up with an LBW YachtLife tour!
Wild camp through Scandinavia
Scandinavia is not the most budget-friendly of destinations by a long shot, which might just be why these northern lands are often reserved for the older tourist, off limits to roughing-it backpackers. However, there are one or two things worth knowing that could put the impossibly beautiful part of Europe back on the map this year. Start with the Freedom to Roam laws which cover all of Norway, Finland and Sweden, invariably allowing right of access to uncultivated land, and wild camping rights away from major settlements. You'll have to read up on all the caveats (there are a few) before you go, and then just look forward to gratis accommodation under the Northern Lights!
Thanks to the advent of uber-cheap air carriers in Europe (trust us, there are loads!), a plane hopping trip across the continent is now a totally viable way to see this corner of the globe. Use online price comparison websites and book far in advance, and you could forge a real experience of a travel journey for cheap. Think one week spent skiing in Poland; the next spent devouring seafood on the Med; the next spend lazing on the Greek beaches; the next spent walking the Scottish hills. Cheers Ryanair et al…