Put On Your Walking Shoes: The Mediterranean’s Very Best Hikes



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Walking isn’t simply a means of connecting A and B. Neither it is just the world’s oldest method of transport. Instead, it is an activity that is unequivocally good for mind, body and soul, with countless studies pointing to the wide ranging benefits of taking a stroll, saunter, hoof or hike. And that’s achieved even in the gloom and doom of a wet Wednesday night in Grimsby…

…Now, imagine how spectacular and soul-nourishing a sashay through some of the Mediterranean’s most striking stretches can be. So, put on your walking shoes, there’s one thing on your mind; a walk through the Mediterranean’s very best hikes.

Cinque Terre Trails, Italy

It is hard to beat the breathtaking, diverse natural beauty that a walking holiday in Italy offers. The Cinque Terre Trails is a mesmerising hiking experience that will take you through five charming Italian fishing villages providing views of the glittering Medittarenan sea and steep terraced cliffs. There are two key trails you can take, the Sentiero Azzurro and the Alta Via delle Cinque Terre, but both will take around six hours to complete. You could also stop in one of the villages if you want to break it up and take your time.

Distance: Approximately 12 km (7.5 miles) in total.

Time To Complete: Around 6 hours for the full route.

Difficulty: Moderate, with some steep sections.

Highlights Along The Way: The trail offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, terraced vineyards, and the opportunity to explore five picturesque fishing villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Each village has its own unique charm, with colourful houses, quaint cafes, and local artisan shops.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Croatia has surged in popularity as a travel destination in recent times, and for good reason. It has a great mixture of cultural cities, expansive countryside, and beautiful beaches. Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most popular in-land attraction with steep forested hillsides and 16 stunning emerald-blue lakes that are connected by a series of waterfalls. 

There is a network of paths and wooden bridges, making it easy to traverse, with the shortest hike being two hours, which is perfect as an off-shore excursion for those on Mediterranean cruises. An entrance ticket will also give you a ticket to a boat trip across the lakes. 

Distance: Various trails ranging from 3.5 km to 18.3 km (2.2 to 11.4 miles).

Time To Complete: From 2 hours for the shortest trail to 8 hours for the longest.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate, with well-maintained paths and wooden walkways.

Highlights Along The Way: The park is renowned for its 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls, set in deep woodland populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars, and rare bird species. The contrasting colours of the lakes, the soothing sounds of waterfalls, and the serene boat ride across Lake Kozjak are some of the many highlights.

Corsica’s GR20 Trail, France

The GR20 is often described as the toughest long-distance hiking trail in Europe, but you should not let that deter you. The 112-mile-long trail will take you across the entire mountainous island, which contains a range of mountainous terrain, dense woodland, sandy beaches, and coastal towns. 

If you are up to the challenge, you could attempt to complete the GR20, but it is also easy enough to break down into smaller, more manageable sections. There are 15 stages with stop-offs along the way, allowing you to easily pick a section suited to your abilities. 

Distance: The entire trail covers approximately 180 km (112 miles).

Time To Complete: The full trail can take around 15 days to complete, but it can be broken down into smaller sections.

Difficulty: Challenging, considered the most difficult trek in Europe.

Highlights Along The Way: The trail traverses the island’s diverse landscapes, from rugged peaks and forests to glacial lakes and streams. Notable highlights include the view from the Cirque de la Solitude, the glacial lakes of Lac de Capitello and Lac de Melo, and the chance to spot local wildlife. The trail also passes through charming Corsican villages and shepherd huts where you can experience local hospitality.

The Lycian Way, Turkey

Turkey’s Lycian Way offers an enchanting trekking experience, combining ancient ruins, turquoise waters, and rugged mountain landscapes. This long-distance footpath, stretching over 500 km along the southern coast of Turkey, is steeped in history and natural beauty. The trail takes you through old Lycian and Roman cities, quiet beaches, and pine forests, offering a glimpse into the region’s rich past.

Distance: Over 500 km (approximately 310 miles) in total. 

Time To Complete: It can take around 25-30 days to complete the entire trail, but it is possible to hike shorter sections. 

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging, with some rough terrain. 

Highlights Along The Way: Key attractions include the ancient cities of Olympos and Myra, the eternal flames of Chimaera, and the stunning coastal views from the high cliffs. The trail also winds through traditional Turkish villages where hikers can indulge in local cuisine and hospitality.

The Samaria Gorge, Crete, Greece

The Samaria Gorge, nestled in the White Mountains of Crete, is a world-renowned hiking destination. This majestic gorge is one of the longest in Europe and offers a unique trek through diverse ecosystems. The hike begins at an altitude of 1,250 meters and descends through the narrow passageways and forests to the Libyan Sea.

Distance: Approximately 16 km (10 miles). 

Time To Complete: Around 4-7 hours, depending on pace. 

Difficulty: Moderate, due to its length and rocky terrain. 

Highlights Along The Way: The hike features the famous “Iron Gates,” the narrowest point of the gorge, ancient stone staircases, and abandoned villages. The diverse flora and fauna, including the rare kri-kri (Cretan goat), add to the experience. The trail ends at the quaint coastal village of Agia Roumeli, where hikers can relax on the beach or enjoy a refreshing swim.

Read: What local delicacies is Crete known for?

The Camino de Santiago, Spain

The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is not just a hike; it’s a pilgrimage that has been undertaken by millions over the centuries. The routes to Santiago de Compostela are many, but the most popular is the Camino Francés, which stretches across northern Spain. The journey is a blend of spiritual quest and hiking adventure, passing through historic towns, rolling vineyards, and picturesque countryside.

Distance: The Camino Francés is about 780 km (nearly 500 miles). 

Time To Complete: Typically, it takes about 30-35 days to complete the full Camino Francés. 

Difficulty: Moderate, with some challenging sections due to distance rather than terrain. 

Highlights Along The Way: The route is dotted with Gothic cathedrals, medieval monasteries, and Romanesque churches. Key stops include the city of Pamplona, famous for its running of the bulls, the wine region of La Rioja, and the stunning cathedral of Santiago de Compostela itself. The Camino is as much about the journey and the people you meet along the way as it is about the destination.

And that’s a mantra for life we’re happy to carry with us, you know…

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