Beyond the Beach in Europe
Spend time in Europe's green spaces and connect with nature.
Summer holidays often mean long, lazy days on the beach, and while there’s nothing wrong with this, Europe can give so much more. Beyond the typical beach break are destinations that can invigorate you with back-to-nature activity or enrich by cultural experience. Here are ideas for summer among mountains and fjords, hilltops and meadows.
"Delve deeper into Europe and be rewarded with wilderness, wide-open spaces and dramatic mountains. Step away from the crowds and enjoy a quieter side to Europe."
FJORDS AND FORESTS
Summer in Norway is a breath of fresh air, literally. Daylight stretches far into the evening, so time spent in the enveloping forests and fjords takes on a surreal, suspended quality. Mossy woodlands with every variation on the colour green are incredibly peaceful and the sounds of nature surround you.
The real draw is the fjords though: majestic panoramas of mountains and narrow water channels. It’s easy to sit back and stare, but the scenery is just too good not
to experience. Challenging hikes take you up and out onto dramatic jutting promontories that give uninterrupted views over the fjords. The tranquil water is perfect for boat trips and kayaking, passing by waterfalls that tumble with spray so clean you can fill your drinking bottle.
Andalucía - Spain
Andalucía’s wild interior will surprise any visitor who steps back from the southern beaches of Spain. The craggy landscape is made up of serrated peaks, where white-washed settlements cling to mountains like a dusting of snow. Hiking is a great way to enjoy rural Andalucía, past olive, orange and almond trees. Nature lovers may be lucky enough to see ibex, Iberian lynx or fallow deer.
Thrill-seekers can take to mountain bikes or gallop on horses to feel the rush as meadows and shallow streams pass at speed. Head to parque natural Sierras de Cazorla for a refreshing swim in the emerald lake or admire Segura de la Sierra, a small mountain community topped with a medieval castle.
The Dolomites - Italy
This is the holiday for adventurous families looking to bond over activities on the soaring peaks, scented meadows and river-tangled valleys of the mighty Dolomites. Known for its great skiing, in summer the region comes into its own as an epic playground for altitudinous adventures surrounded by crisp mountain-fresh air.
Cable cars smoothly take you to new heights over herb-filled countryside, where you can hike to mountain huts for an Italian picnic of panini, pancetta skewers and polenta under shady pine trees. Take a dip in clear natural pools and sunbathe on the grassy slopes. Come down via a specially designed bike track that switches back through woodland paths with a dazzling backdrop of jagged peaks.
Tuscany - Italy
BEYOND THE VERDANT HILLS
Stand atop a hilltop in Tuscany. For miles, you’ll see chartreuse-green hills with gold-hued villages balanced on top like royal crowns. Swathes of sunflowers and meadows of poppies are dotted with needle-like Cypress trees. Tuscany is an absolute beauty. But there’s more than just pleasing scenery. Connect with culturally rich Tuscany and its customs.
Learn about its wine, especially the montepuliciano grape, which holds its own in the worldwide wine industry. Inspect ancient vines and atmospheric cellars on a wine-tasting tour. Experience Tuscan culture during festivals, and join locals celebrating. The Palio di Siena festival is a thrilling bareback horse race dripping with pageantry, where processions and communal dinners fill the neighbourhoods.
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