Discovering the Great Outdoors in Europe

Most of us love Europe mainly for the picturesque medieval city centres, stunning cathedrals in which they are art themselves, historical monuments painting a picture of the past, delicious cuisine ready to be consumed. There is, however, another side to Europe: its natural landmarks. The dramatic coastal cliffs where the ocean laps the rugged coastline, the tranquil and glassy lakes that mirrors the sky, the towering mountains capped with a fresh dusting of snow, lush and unspoiled forests where animals roam freely or the rolling hills that cover the countryside. From Italy to Switzerland and Finland to Iceland – Take a look at some memorable escapes to discover what Europe has on offer.


Lets start at the south of Italy where you will find the largest Mediterranean island of Sicily – full of natural beauty and home to 5 regional parks and 77 nature reserves. Sicily’s diverse landscape makes for a dramatic first impression – whether you are flying into Catania where you are greeted with the rising smoke of Mt Etna, one of the biggest active volcanoes in the world, or you are arriving into Palermo with the glistening waters of Golfo di Castellammare. The backdrop of the rolling hills, the translucent blue sea and the volcanic scenery makes for beautiful outdoor activities. You will see hikers winding along the rugged coastline, climbing erupting volcanoes and ambling through the mountain meadows before enjoying some of the most crisp and pristine waters of the Mediterranean.

If you are tripping up from the south of Italy you will more than likely visit Tuscany- it’s so easy to fall in love with Tuscany! With its gentle rolling hills this area was made to be discovered by Vespa. Just imagine riding by the undulating vineyards and through dozens of quaint villages, stopping in at local tavernas to enjoy local wines and taking photos of the soft morning mist that blankets the picturesque landscape. Tuscany’s scenery is as varied as it is spectacular and there’s so much more to do under the Tuscan sun!

As you make your way north, adding to your European outdoor experience a trek through the UNESCO-listed Cinque Terre is a once in a lifetime experience with breathtaking views of the iconic colourful houses that cling for dear life just above the sea. The well-known path called Sentiero Azzurr (or Blue Trail) which offers the most spectacular coastal scenery can be done in one day however many visitors choose to spread the walk over a few days, stopping to enjoy the beautiful, remote fishing villages along the way.


As we cross the border into Switzerland you can’t help but stare in awe at the grand beauty of this mountainous country. Switzerland may be famous for many things but the Swiss Alps with snow-capped peaks is definitely one of them. It’s really a no-brainer that the Swiss Alps boasts some of the best ski resorts. With dramatic scenery from the crisp mountain tops down to the isolated and majestic lakes you will definitely want to pack extra memory cards for your camera. The breathtaking Matterhorn is simply stunning and can be captured from every angle while exploring the surrounding area. Your time in the Alps is not complete without visiting the ‘Top of Europe’ –Jungfraujoch. Climbing up 3454 metres, the train ride is one of Switzerland’s classic experiences and with views across the rippling peaks and the glittering Aletsch Glacier is reason enough to visit the Swiss Alps.

Interlaken lies between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and has fast become known as the adrenaline capital of Switzerland. From skiing, paragliding, white water rafting, kayaking, canyoning, hiking to relaxing nature watching, you won’t be disappointed with the selection of outdoor activities.

With impressive mountains and panoramic views the best way to explore this area is by soaring above the lakes and mountains by paraglider. However, if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground the Two Lakes Bridge at Harder Kulm provides spectacular views of Interlaken and Lakes Thun and Brienz. Interlaken is a great base when visiting as there are many great things to discover just outside the region.


Start your Northern Europe holiday off in Helsinki, Finland with Suomenlinna, the ‘fortress of Finland’. This UNESCO World Heritage site began construction in the 18th century and is now enjoyed by locals and visitor alike. Suomenlinna is visually striking with old bunkers to be explored along with crumbling fortress walls and plenty of grassy picnic spots to enjoy the local produce. Perhaps you are looking for a carefree day exploring, a tranquil evening stroll or even a jog – then this is the best place to escape the bustling city for a park-like backdrop.

Finland’s nickname ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’ comes from the Lakeland area, and are we surprised with many of Finland’s 188,000 lakes forming this staggeringly beautiful district? One thing that the Finns are extremely proud of is boasting the cleanest and purest air and water in the world. A great way to experience Lakeland is to slow down, relax and take in the natural beauty that surrounds you while gliding effortlessly through the waters in your canoe. If you happen to be here during winter, don’t let the frozen lakes deter you, from ice skating and ice fishing to fat-biking and snow-shoe walks your days will be full of adventure and unforgettable memories. Or if you want to see the Finnish Lakeland like never before speed your way through snowy forests and over frozen lakes on a snowmobile safari or the lovable husky safaris.

A visit to Finland is not complete without a visit to Lapland where reindeer roam free and often spotted on the road sides. Lapland is full of contrasts – In the summer, you can enjoy endless days of sun – quite literally with Midnight Sun where the sun doesn’t set, and in the winter months with guaranteed snow you can ski your heart out for months. Lapland is known for its snowy landscapes, home of Santa Claus and the Northern Lights but there is so much more to be discovered. Whether it’s hiking through rolling fells in one of the many National Parks during autumn, a swim or quick dip in a cool lake after a relaxing sauna, listening for the wildlife in the lush forests or trying your hand at gold panning in the legendary Ivalojoki Rover.


Northern Norway, between late September and late March, is dark from early afternoon until late morning. The lights, also called aurora borealis, show up at night when the sky is dark. Tromsø, also known as ‘the capital of the Arctic’ is one of the best places to view this natural phenomenon. Standing in complete silence, while cascades of unbelievable colours dance across the night sky is hypnotic and should be on everyone’s bucket-list! Their impressive, magnetic beauty is the reason why you’ll happily endure the icey Arctic chill. Photos won’t do it justice so make sure when you are here experiencing aurora borealis you take in the natural beauty for yourself.

The Norwegian fjords are often described as “nature’s own work of art”, and the only way to understand this fully is to see it for yourself. With more than 1,000 fjords around the country it’s hard to know which ones are best to visit. The Geirangerfjord is listed as world heritage by UNESCO and is believed to be the most dazzling of the fjords with the dramatic scenery of almost vertical mountainsides adorned with numerous waterfalls and snow-capped mountain peaks all year round. Another Fjord worth the visit is the Hardangerfjord which is the second longest Fjord in Norway and a national icon, mainly due to the flourishing abundance of apple trees that cling to the hillsides during the Spring.


Iceland’s incredible natural beauty is world-renowned; everywhere you look you will be mesmerised by the diversity this country encompasses – geothermal lagoons, glittering glaciers, dramatic landscapes of volcanoes, geysers and lava fields, majestic waterfalls and the spectacular light show of aurora borealis. The country’s most famous waterfall is Skogafoss at 62 metres high and can be seen toppling over a rocky cliff in dramatic style. Luckily for us we can walk to the foot of the waterfall to truly appreciate the grand beauty. From cascading waterfalls to something a bit more different – ice caves! These have been naturally created by warm flowing water from seasonal glacial melts that run beneath thick and hardened winter ice and change from year to year. It’s an unbelievable experience with colours ranging from opaque white to crystal clear blues. In contrast to the icey walls of the underground caves, why not take a dip and relax in a natural geothermal Hot Spring. While the raw and untouched hot springs may not be your thing, there are so many more luxurious bathing options which the most popular choice being the Blue Lagoon with milky-blue waters and rich in minerals. Whichever option you choose just know that it will be an unforgettable and enchanting experience. One of Europe’s last true wilderness areas is Hornstrandir Nature Reserve which is home to rugged mountains, exposed sea cliffs and plunging waterfalls. With challenging terrain for hikers and excellent opportunities to spot Arctic foxes, seals, whales it its yet another stunning choice of outdoor beauty.

Please contact our knowledgeable consultants to book in your Outdoor Beauty adventure.