There is nothing better than going for a swim in the ocean after a full day’s hike or even stopping off at a secluded beach in the middle of your route! The easy-going lifestyle of maritime cultures, the sun that warms the Mediterranean and Adriatic, and the winding trails that dive from high clifftops to the shoreline all combine to synthesize into the best coastal hikes in the world. Whether traveling along the white-rocked Dalmatian Coast of Croatia and Montenegro, the southern beaches of Portugal and the Costa Brava, or island hopping along the Italian Amalfi Coast and the Aeolian Islands off the edge of Sicily, Ryder-Walker has gathered what we think is the most iconic suite of coastal trails in Europe.
Portugal: The Southwestern Scenic Coastal Trail
The beaches of Portugal have drawn visitors for generations, with travelers looking to move between the colorful streets of Lisbon and the sunny Iberian Coast. However, these same tourists have generally overlooked the excellent hiking that runs along this coast, visiting even more secluded beaches, vineyards, and stunning cliff-top vistas. The Southwestern Coastal Trail in Portugal allows for a fully-fledged hiking adventure, connecting the string of villages that run along Portugal’s southernmost coast with full hikes that are sure to leave even the most dedicated hikers satisfied. Among the crowning reasons to visit Portugal is the region’s rich culture and astoundingly diverse cuisine, all of which are on full display as we explore the southeastern edge of Europe.
The Costa Brava in Spain brings together the best elements of traveling through Catalonia. Only a couple hours from the spires of the Barcelona cathedrals this stretch of sunny coastline was the visual inspiration for many of Salvador Dali’s paintings. Windswept lighthouses, secret beaches, and bustling seaside villages all combine to mix up the perfect experience of adventure and comfort. Whether you are enjoying some tapas in the Aigua Blava Bay or taking a water taxi into the port of Cadaqués, the Costa Brava is sure to ignite your hunger for adventure (and fresh seafood).
Montenegro and Croatia: Highlights of the Adriatic Coast
While we have been visiting Montenegro for years now, exploring the Durmitor Mountains and Dinaric Alps, we have only just recently combined visiting Montenegro and Croatia for one of the most “out there” coastal hikes possible. The rugged landscape of Montenegro is sure to fill you with awe as you look out towards the sea from the heights of the Lovćen National Park. As the route continues up the coast, we depart from the historic pirate haven in the Bay of Kotor to begin island hopping between the isles that dot Croatia’s coast. Fresh seafood and hidden grottos await you on this new Ryder-Walker excursion.
Croatia: The Dalmatian Coast
For self-guided travelers who still hope to visit Croatia, hiking along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is some of the most exceptional and secluded coastal hiking anyone could hope for. Highlights of this Croatia-focused trek include visiting the Isle of Mljet where, according to legend, Odysseus stopped on his journey home from battle as well as a guided tour of Dubrovnik including a walk along the fortress-city’s medieval walls.
Sicily: The Aeolian Islands
The string of islands that trail off the coast of Sicily is among the more exotic locations in Europe. Known as the Aeolian Islands, this island chain features dense forests, rocky coastlines, and active volcanoes! Truly a land that time forgot, the local villages are lively with music and stories of adventure. On Ryder-Walker’s unique island-hopping itinerary through the Aeolian Islands, you will take a guided volcano tour, walk across obsidian moraines, and explore the unique cultures of five different islands. We also have this itinerary as a self-guided adventure, learn more about that option here.
Italy: Capri and the Amalfi Coast
Capri is legendary across Europe for its glitz and glamor, but what if we told you the jewel of the Tyrrhenian also hides some exceptional hiking? Kick up your feet at the finest hotels in Capri after exploring the island’s rocky summit or the Villa Jovis, the historic home of the Roman emperor Tiberius. After fully experiencing Capri our itinerary takes us to the colorful Amalfi Coast, where awe-inspiring trails lead us high above the seaside to take in the painted villages and vibrant scenery that make Amalfi such a world-renowned destination. To top it all off, the Tyrrhenian-Italian chefs have certainly mastered the art of seafood, serving up banquets of shellfish, freshly caught fish, and hearty fish stews that are certainly not to be missed.