Some people who love camping are undoubtedly guilty of an element of reverse snobbery when they look down their noses at people staying in hotels. People are tribal by nature and whilst many who choose to stay in luxury all-inclusive or boutique resorts would shudder at the thought of a camping holiday, the same can certainly be said the other way.
Camping enthusiasts would probably break out in a cold sweat if they were told they had to go and stay in an upmarket resort that they couldn’t leave, and the closest they would get to the great outdoors would be the waterfall feature of one of the hotel’s three swimming pools.
However, it really needn’t be that way and there is a wonderful and broad middle ground that allows people with different holiday preferences to go on vacation together; allows people to ease themselves into a new style of holiday or caters to those who simply want their cake and to eat it. And what’s the good of cake if you can’t eat it?
Guided walking holidays in Europe are a fantastic way to bring together a love of the great outdoors and the wish to get up close with nature, and the desire to have a degree of comfort that just isn’t an option when camping. The type of hotels you can choose to stay in will vary greatly but small, family-run three and four stars at very affordable rates are the norm on many such walking adventures.
Whether your interests are primarily historical, gastronomic or natural, there innumerable European destinations that will suit you perfectly. Much of the best walking in Europe, almost by definition, will also bring you into contact with stunning flora and fauna, peaceful rivers and lakes that open up a whole range of watersports and take you near gentle rolling hills laden with grapevines, yielding some of the best wines in the world.
In Turkey you can see sites such as Troy, the mystical contrasts of Istanbul or the ancient city of Ephesus, whilst in Spain you may walk part of the Camino de Santiago, culminating in a visit to the towering cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, supposedly the resting place of the remains of St James. Those who prefer their sites to be of a more natural variety can enjoy Tuscany’s famed landscapes, the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia or the flower-filled Alpine meadows around Chamonix.
Italy and France are replete with options for lovers of the finer things in life, with countless wine regions giving the opportunity to walk through vineyards, olive groves and other interesting flora by day, and the reward of a glass or two of the local wine by night. Both those countries, as well as Spain, also offer magnificent food that varies enormously from region to region.
Former camping aficionados wanting to turn the decadence dial all the way up could certainly find a canoeing trip down the Dordogne River in south-west France to be a great place to start. The region is famed for its fine Perigord truffles so why not laze the day away drifting down the river, taking in the splendour of the many chateaux and stopping for a lunch of a delicately perfumed truffle omelette?
The best thing about these types of holiday is that they allow campers to enjoy a little of the best of both worlds. You are still very much free to explore, to walk, to smell the air and hear the birds and interact with the locals. But at the end of a long day of discovery you can enjoy the relative luxury of a comfy bed and a soothing bath. And that sounds like a cake worth eating.