OTTAWA — European active holiday specialist UTracks has a top 10 list of holidays for 2016, for active travellers.
European activity holiday specialists UTracks is a division of World Expeditions, an independently owned and a truly global company, with seven offices around the world, including London, Sydney and Ottawa.
Covering over 25 countries, more than 350 stand-alone, off the beaten track itineraries are available across Europe, from short four-day breaks to longer two-week trips.
Here’s the list:
1) For active families
Berlin Wall Trail Cycle
A ‘live’ history lesson with a twist for everyone in the family. Once a symbol of division, the Berlin Wall provides today an alternative way to explore one of Europe’s most dynamic capitals. Immerse yourself in Germany’s fascinating history as you follow the 100-mile loop Wall Trail along the former border line, on what once were patrol roads. The trip concludes in Potsdam, home to the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, the largest World Heritage Site in Germany.
Berlin Wall Trail Cycle ● Self guided (five days) departs May-September; suitable for active families with children from 10 years old.
2) For island hoppers
Southern Aegean Bike and Sail
In the South Aegean, between the coast of Turkey and the Cyclades, lies a group of 12 larger and 150 smaller islands known as the Dodecanese. Travelling from Bodrum aboard a comfortable yacht, during a week you will take in the lively Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, Nisyros, Symi and Halki – you can cycle between mountain villages, relax on the peaceful beaches and enjoy authentic Greek cuisine and hospitality.
Southern Aegean Bike and Sail ● Guided (eight days) departs April-October.
3) For history buffs
Cycle the Western Front
2016 marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in history in which more than one million men were wounded or killed. From Amiens to Ypres, this new cycling trip traces the Western Front, a series of trenches built by the Germans during World War I and stretching from the Belgium coast to the Swiss border. The battlefield, which is still preserved in parts, is a hugely evocative landscape.
Cycle the Western Front ● Self guided (8 days) departs April-October.
4) For wine aficionados
Prosecco Wine Cycle
This new centre-based cycle exploration in the heart of the romantic Veneto region is specially designed to allow for plenty of opportunities to sample the world famous Prosecco sparkling wine from local vineyards. Staying at a historic hotel located in a picturesque setting just outside the provincial capital of Treviso, each day features a gentle cycling route, from following the Piave River Wine Route to exploring rail trails and the Sile River Nature Reserve.
Prosecco Wine Cycle ● Self guided (seven days) departs April-October .
5) For a personal challenge
Slovakia High Tatra
Straddling the Polish and Slovak border, this small mountain range – the highest in the Carpathian Mountains chain – features more than 20 dramatic summits over 2,500m within the confines of its 26km length. Founded in 1948, Tatra National Park was the first European cross-border national park, with its trails linking a series of mountain huts. En route you will gain outstanding views of pristine mountain scenery and crystal clear lakes, with lush valleys in stark contrast to the dominating rocky peaks.
Slovakia High Tatra ● Guided (8 days) departs July-August.
6) For seasoned cyclists
Cycle Copenhagen to Oslo
Cross borders and fjords and trace the Viking history between the capitals of Denmark and Norway on this epic 480 km ride. Joining in Copenhagen, past the iconic sites of the Royal Castle and the Little Mermaid, you will cycle along quiet roads to Aarhus. Through verdant forests and undulating landscapes, you will board the ferry at Hirtshals for the crossing to Larvik in Norway, passing Tønsberg, the country’s oldest settlement, on your way to Oslo.
Cycle Copenhagen to Oslo ● Self guided (11 days) departs July-August.
7) For Mediterranean ramblers
The Carian Trail is a 500-mile long-distance walking path through the southwest coast of Turkey. This new walk combines the best sections of the trail through pine-scented forests and ancient ruins (the Carian civilization dates back to the 2nd millennium BC) to reach stunning views of secluded bays with crystal-clear turquoise waters. Along the way you will discover the authentic side of Turkey, away from the crowds and the busy tourist resorts.
Carian Way ● Guided (eight days) departs March-October.
8) For those who want the paths less travelled
Treasures of the Baltic by Bike
While Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia share the same Baltic coastline, their contrasting characters become evident on this scenic cycling route from Vilnius to Tallinn. From the three capitals to small villages that have changed little over time, this trip follows low traffic roads and dedicated cycle paths. See thousands of crosses of every size and design at the Hill of Crosses, marvel at the Trakai island castle and take a mud bath on the island of Hiiumaa.
Treasures of the Baltic by Bike ● Self guided (11 days) departs June-September.
9) For an alternative pilgrimage
Portuguese Way Cycle: Lisbon to Santiago
Pilgrims looking for an alternative experience on the Camino can now reach St James’ resting place from the south following Caminho Portugués, the often overlooked Portuguese Way which is quieter than the better-known Camino de Santiago. The path – from Lisbon to Coimbra, on to Porto and finally Santiago – combines a wealth of history with rural landscapes. Traditionally experienced on foot, this new version makes it is possible to cover the route by bike in just over two weeks.
Portuguese Way Cycle: Lisbon to Santiago ● Self guided (16 days) departs April-October.
10) For an escorted adventure
Macedonia Guided Cycle
Cycling in Macedonia allows you to slow down to the pace of the locals and absorb its extensive history and stunning landscapes. Starting in the relaxed capital of Skopje, take in vistas of snow-capped peaks that tower over translucent lakes, explore UNESCO World Heritage monasteries and towns, visit one of Europe’s oldest human settlements at Ohrid and discover a rich history which draws from the Greek, Ottoman and Roman Empires.
Macedonia Guided Cycle ● Guided (eight days) departs May-September.
For more information and to book, visit worldexpeditions.com or call 1-800-567-2216.