Top 5 Reasons to Explore Europe on Foot

Cassandra Overby, the author of "Explore Europe on Foot: Your Complete Guide to Planning a Cultural Hiking Adventure" explains why your next trip to Europe should involve hitting the trail.
Cassandra Overby Cassandra Overby
Mountaineers Books author
September 26, 2018

Forget the long lines and expensive tickets of traditional European tourist sites. There’s a better way to explore Europe—on foot. Here are 5 reasons to pack your backpack, lace up your boots, and hit the trail across the pond.

1. You find your way to the best small towns

If you want to truly experience a foreign culture, the best place to look is a small town or rural outpost where people primarily speak the local language, cook local food, listen to local music and have real communities with a flavor all their own. Those towns are easy to find when you’re walking, because long trails—those that go village to village or hut to hut—are typically divided into daily stages that end where you can find accommodations, food and interesting things to do.

2. You catch a more authentic glimpse of the culture

Hiking into one of these villages is an amazing way to drop in on a culture and see it for what it really is and how it really functions. As travel host Samantha Brown said in a speech in Washington, DC, “Authentic travel is never in the must-sees, always in the mundane.” Traveling on foot makes you more accessible to local people and thus more likely to be brought into the fold, so it’s easier to learn about the rhythm of everyday life, about when people get up, what they do for work, how they spend their free time, when they go to bed and what they believe. To the people who live there, it’s the mundane. To a traveler, it’s magical.

3. You have historical wonders all to yourself

Exploring on foot not only takes you to intriguing small towns where you can discover the most authentic culture, it also leads you to important places like remote WWII battlefields or impressive archeological ruins that don’t get visited as often because they’re not as convenient to get to or are downright inaccessible by car or coach. Another bonus: You can experience these gems on your own time, whether that means spending an hour in contemplation or giving them a quick nod of appreciation before moving on.

4. You gain a greater appreciation for the landscape

Besides coming across the best small towns and most interesting sights when you’re hiking, you also gain a far greater appreciation for the land and scenery you’re traveling through. This is something that can’t be experienced in three minutes as you drive along a road or from the air-conditioned interior of a museum. It needs to be processed by your body—and every sense you have. That’s easy to do when you’re walking. As Robert and Martha Manning, authors of Walking Distance, say, “The deliberate pace of walking allows us to more fully sense the world, to see its richness of detail, to touch, hear, smell and even taste it.”

5. You have a better experience for less money

It’s almost hard to believe, but when you explore on foot, you visit more interesting towns, experience culture more vividly, see undiscovered sights and gain a better appreciation for the landscape, all for less money than you would spend on traditional sightseeing. One of the reasons is that your main activity each day is walking—not purchasing admission into expensive attractions or paying for spendy tours—so you don’t have a lot of costs beyond gear, food and accommodations. And when your money goes further, you can hit the trail more often.

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Thanks, Cassandra! For more information on exploring Europe on foot—and planning the trip of a lifetime—check out Cassandra’s new book, Explore Europe on Foot: Your Complete Guide to Planning a Cultural Hiking Adventure, and visit her at explore-on-foot.com.

Learn More | October 16

Join us on October 16 from 6-7pm for a free, live web presentation and Q&A session featuring Cassandra Overby, the author of Explore Europe on Foot, and Beth Jusino, the author of Walking to the End of the World

Beth and Cassandra will introduce you to the variety of trails that crisscross Europe, and give you their top tips for narrowing in on the walking holiday that’s right for you, whether you want to walk for a day, a week, or longer. Whether you're a casual stroller looking for a more active way to travel or a hard-core hiker looking for a bucket-list-worthy alpine trek, they'll show you just how accessible and affordable a European walking holiday can be—and how to get started planning the cultural hike of a lifetime.

Register today, even if you can't attend on Oct. 16, and we'll send you a recording of the event. Plus, when you register you'll automatically be entered to win a free copy of both Explore Europe on Foot and Walking to the End of the World!

Register Here to Attend