There’s nothing like soaking in the peacefulness of nature. Taking the time to enjoy beautiful surroundings at your own pace can be one of the best things to do on holiday. So, if you enjoy active getaways, why not consider taking a walking tour?
Travelling on foot allows you to slow down and experience the small things: birdsong, pretty wildflowers, the scent of herbs, and fresh forest air. It can also allow for more time to linger in front of awe-inspiring views, like those of lakes, mountains, or rolling vineyards.
With that said, we’ve partnered with Headwater – leading specialists in self-guided walking holidays since 1985 – to offer you some inspiration for your next trip.
Whether you picture yourself ambling along country lanes and forest paths in the Lake District or challenging yourself on mountain passes in the Swiss Alps, there’s a Headwater holiday to suit every level of walker. And with expertly hand-crafted itineraries, all you’ll need to worry about is taking in the views!
So, without further ado, here are 10 peaceful self-guided walking getaways in the UK and abroad.
1. Walking the West Highland Way, Scotland
The spectacular Scottish highlands are home to peaceful glens and deep blue lakes; and wild moors and rugged mountain peaks, over which eagles soar. The stunning scenery means there are some captivating walks to be had here – especially along The West Highland Way, which, at 151km, is one of the most legendary long-distance hiking trails in the world.
Headwater’s self-guided, eight-night walking holiday takes you from the suburbs of Glasgow to Fort William, in the foothills of Ben Nevis, with plenty of opportunity for smoked salmon and whisky tasting on the way.
Walking to your own rhythm, you can climb up Conic Hill for outstanding views over lovely Loch Lomond, and explore a cave on the shoreline which was allegedly a hideout for Highland outlaw, Rob Roy. You’ll also pass through the wild, uninhabited, Rannoch Moor – and climb the steep Devil’s Staircase for incredible views of the Glencoe mountains.
Along the way, film fans might recognise the magnificent pyramid-shaped mountain, Buachaille Etive Mòr, from the James Bond film, Skyfall. And as you make your way down to Fort William, picturesque Glen Nevis might look familiar from Braveheart, Highlander, or Harry Potter.
Stride through Scotland’s spectacular scenery
2. Secrets of Sicily Walking, Italy
If you’re seeking peace and tranquillity, the majestic mountain scenery, hidden sandy coves, coral grottos, and clear sapphire waters of Sicily’s western coast offer the perfect escape.
Headwater’s seven-night walking holiday weaves along stony coastal paths, allowing you to discover the secrets of one of Sicily’s most remote areas. Here, there are very few roads to disturb the peace, and plenty of spots to stop and absorb the jaw-dropping beauty.
This walking tour also offers a fascinating insight into the region’s history. You can visit the astounding 2,500-year-old Greek-style temple at Segesta, which was built on a hillside to impress the Athenians. And, on the island of Levanzo, a lilac-lined path leads to the prehistoric cavern of Grotta del Genovese, where you can marvel at well-preserved cave paintings and engravings.
At the Punta Lebecio lighthouse, visitors can enjoy a peaceful picnic, while looking out for red kites and eagles. While, later, a hike up Monte Cofano offers beautiful views over the Bay of Bonagia – with an inviting dip in the sparkling sea on the way down.
Discover the secrets of Sicily on foot
3. Hiking in the Swiss Alps
With dramatic snow-capped peaks, emerald-green slopes, amazing turquoise lakes, and the comforting ring of cowbells to bring you down to earth, the Swiss Alps is a magical setting for a walking holiday.
On this seven-night tour, you’ll be based in a friendly, family-run three-star hotel in the ‘chocolate-box’ village of Kandersteg, in the Bernese Oberland. Surrounded by peaceful meadows and Alpine wildflowers, it’s a truly magical spot. Expect breathtaking views of spectacular high peaks and glistening glaciers – and the occasional soaring eagle.
There are thousands of kilometres of well-marked trails, accessible straight from the hotel or via a short bus or cable car ride. Choose from inspiring walks alongside the cobalt-blue Oeschinensee mountain lake or venture through the hidden Gasterntal Valley – where glacial meltwaters thunder down a narrow gorge.
When you’re ready to take a break from walking, you can relax in the hotel’s heated pool and sauna. Staying on full board, you won’t go hungry feasting on four-course dinners from Nico’s kitchen, featuring regional dishes and fine wines.
Be inspired by Switzerland’s breathtaking mountain scenery
4. Walking the Coastal Trails of Menorca, Spain
There’s a real sense of peace on the beautiful Balearic island of Menorca. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is fringed by magnificent golden-sand beaches, hidden coves, and shimmering turquoise seas.
On Headwater’s seven-night walking adventure, you’ll gently wind along coastal trails with jaw-dropping views of dramatic red and purple rocks and azure bays.
History buffs can explore prehistoric settlements, fortresses, and castles overlooking miles of lonely, windswept beaches. And as you walk, you can enjoy fabulous flora – including the likes of sea lavender, golden asphodels, pink orchids, and gladioli.
When you feel the need for civilisation in this sparsely populated haven, head to the capital, Mahon. Here, you’ll find Georgian mansions, Spanish palaces, and seafood lunches in front of the Mediterranean’s most picture-perfect natural harbour.
Meander along the magnificent coastal paths of Menorca
5. Literary Walking in the Lake District, England
With majestic fells, gushing streams, and traditional Cumbrian stone villages that sit on the shores of England’s most beautiful lakes, it’s easy to see why the Lake District has been the inspiration for so many writers and poets, including William Wordsworth, Arthur Ransome, and Beatrix Potter.
On this six-day literary walking holiday, you can walk in their footsteps; strolling along idyllic lakeside paths, quiet country lanes (including the famous Cumbria Way), and through charming villages with olde-worlde inns and speciality shops.
Explore Grasmere Village – ‘Wordsworth’s Country’ – where William Wordsworth lived for 14 years; or stand on the shores of the pristine Coniston Water, which inspired Arthur Ransome’s much-loved Swallows and Amazons.
At Beatrix Potter’s former farm, Hilltop, near Hawkshead, you can also marvel at the 17th-century rooms, her original writing desk, and the pretty cottage garden which inspired many of her children’s tales.
Walk in the footsteps of writers and poets in the Lake District
6. Walking in the Venetian Hills, Italy
While many people visit this part of Italy just to see Venice, there’s a well-kept secret that sits across the plains just waiting to be discovered. The striking conical Euganean Hills – an unspoilt Natural Park cloaked in an astonishing variety of plants and trees – is a wonderful area for walking.
On this Headwater tour, you’ll spend your days hiking over gently rolling hills, along shady forest paths, and through colourful meadows stuffed with orchids, heather, and poppies. On the way, you’ll pass charming Italian rural villages and Venetian villas, churches, and monasteries.
Wander through the geranium-decked cobbled streets of medieval Arqua Petrarca – the birthplace of the famous 14th-century Italian poet, Petrarch. Or spend some time exploring the historic alpine village of Teolo, where Roman historian Livy was born. And if you fancy venturing further afield, romantic Venice and Padua, with their stunning medieval architecture, are both within easy reach.
This eight-night, self-guided walking holiday begins and ends at a cosy, family-run agriturismo in the hamlet of Cortela, nestled among immaculately manicured vineyards. Here, you can spend the evening feasting on regional fayre – including homegrown olive oil and honey – and sipping fine Venetian wine produced on the estate.
Walk in the wonderful Venetian Hills in North Italy
7. Best of the Cotswolds Walk, England
If you’re interested in a more leisurely walking holiday, where you can meander around delightful villages, enjoy riverside walks, and delve deep into history, a trip to the Cotswolds might be for you.
Known for its quintessential honey-coloured limestone cottages, picturesque squares, and beautiful churches that sit amidst rolling hills and meadows, this is England’s largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Following a linear route from Bourton-on-the-Water, you’ll visit sleepy Cotswold towns and villages like Broadway, Guiting Power, and Chipping Campden, before reaching Moreton-on-Marsh.
This walking holiday is a perfect blend of relaxation and discovery, with visits to some of England’s most fascinating historic sites. You can explore the ancient Saxon capital of Winchcombe, and Sudeley Castle – the final resting place of Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Katherine Parr.
Meander around villages and historic sights in the Cotswolds
8. Walking the Vineyards of Champagne, France
Thanks to the Benedictine monk, Dom Perignon, who accidentally invented effervescent wine at the end of the 17th century, this UNESCO-listed region in France is known as the birthplace of champagne.
With peaceful vineyards, terraced hillsides cradling pretty chateaux, and panoramic views at every turn, Champagne is fantastic walking territory. Producing world-renowned champagne such as Veuve Clicquot and Bollinger, picturesque wine villages such as Ay, Hautvillers, and Verzy are a must-visit.
On this carefree getaway, you’ll be welcomed by winemakers who’ll take you on personal tours of their chateaux and cellars, passionately explaining the details of their craft, and letting the bubbles speak for themselves at tastings.
At Epernay, known as the ‘capital of Champagne’, you can marvel at magnificent mansions and explore prestigious underground wine cellars of the finest Champagne houses. You’ll spend four nights here, relaxing in a contemporary three-star boutique hotel near the famous Avenue de Champagne, surrounded by vine-clad hills.
Take a carefree walk through the vine-clad hills of Champagne
9. Walking on Gozo, Malta
With magnificent coastal paths, colourful fishing villages, and balmy temperatures year-round, the tiny unspoilt Mediterranean island of Gozo is perfect for exploring on foot.
The slow pace of life gives this Maltese island an air of tranquillity – and, just 14km by 7km at the island’s widest point, nowhere is too far away. This means there are many wonderful walking routes that are ideal for taking in the island’s impressive coastline – and there’ll be plenty of time for exploring, swimming, and soaking up the atmosphere too.
Walking here affords spectacular views over Gozo’s rugged landscape, including Fungus Rock – a natural stone outcrop in the centre of Dwejra Bay and the Inland Sea. Between autumn and late spring, the countryside bursts into life with colourful wildflowers, the scent of herbs in the air, and fruit trees dripping with lemons, figs, and peaches.
The island is also rich in history and culture, and a highlight is the UNESCO-listed Ggantija Tombs at Xaghra – the oldest free-standing temples in the world dating from 3500BC.
Go to gorgeous Gozo for a tranquil escape
10. Walking the Camino De Santiago, France and Spain
The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St James) is one of the most ancient pilgrimage routes in the world. This famous ninth-century route stretches 800km through France and northern Spain, winding from the Pyrenees across the wheat fields of old Castile, through Leon, and onto glorious Galicia.
Headwater’s 10-night walk takes you on part of this medieval stretch; from Leon, along farm tracks, paths, and country lanes, to the spectacular finale at Santiago de Compostela.
You can wander ancient villages like O Cebreiro, with traditional thatched houses that sit amongst the hills. Then, descend between heather-clad villages to explore places like Sarria – the antiques capital of Galicia – or dine on freshly-caught octopus with a carafe of red wine in the country town of Melide.
Knowing that you’re following in the footsteps of pilgrims from centuries ago can add an almost spiritual dimension to your trip. And the sense of achievement when you arrive at Santiago de Compostela’s majestic Baroque cathedral makes trekking along this ancient path a once-in-a-lifetime holiday for many.
Walk in the footsteps of pilgrims in Spain
Walking holidays are one of the best ways to travel and can be an ideal choice for a peaceful escape. Travelling on foot gives you time to slow down and drink in salty air, scents of wildflowers in the breeze, or the tinkle of a cowbell in the distance.
Whether you’re drawn to the West Highland Way in Scotland, fancy a stroll through sun-kissed French vineyards, or want to feel the wind in your hair on a coastal trail in Malta, Spain, or Italy, we hope these walking holidays have inspired you.
The fact that holidays with Headwater are self-guided means you can explore independently, in your own time, and at your own pace. It’s up to you whether you choose to tackle their recommended walking routes, enjoy optional activities, or spend the day relaxing in hotel pools or gardens.
Plus, with decades of experience in creating tailor-made holidays, Headwater suggest the most wonderful destinations, spectacular routes, and characterful accommodations that all help to enhance your experience. So why not treat yourself to an unforgettable holiday on foot?