Sport & Activities
Is there something specific you want to do on your next vacation? Look no further. We’ve compiled some amazing places to try out sports and activities in Europe, helping you to enjoy the hobby of your choice in a magnificent manner.
Cookery Course at Villa Le Barone, Tuscany, Italy
At Villa Le Barone, guests eager to receive a practical, hands-on introduction to Tuscan cuisine may take part in a morning or afternoon cooking class with our own chefs. These classes are for small groups to guarantee that participants finish the class with all the knowledge they require to produce a delicious Tuscan meal when back at home.It is a mid-morning, two hours, hands on, practical course where you prepare a complete typical Tuscan meal. We provide our own recipes and a lovely apron you can bring back home as a souvenir. After class, on our terrace, you have lunch and taste the four course meal you have prepared.
The famous ‘Ladder of Kotor’ hiking trail, Montenegro
The view of the Bay of Kotor is one that never fails to elicit swoons and sighs - and it looks even better from above. Those that embark on the famous ‘Ladder of Kotor’ hiking trail are treated to panoramic vistas from more than 3,000 feet above the UNESCO-protected Old Town. It’s not a hike for the faint-hearted, with more than 70 U-turns following an old horse trail to the fjord, but the sights that surround you are worth the trek. Hiking the ladder during early summer means the climate isn’t scorching, but you’ll still need plenty of water and of course, a fully-charged camera. The hike can also be done from the top down if you’re not too keen on the ascent.
Where to stay: Once you reach the bottom, rest your wonderfully exhausted limbs at the award-winning Hotel Cattaro. In the heart of Old Town, the historic boutique hotel blends 18th-century charm with modern luxury, with remarkable views of Kotor Bay.
Wild and beautiful Mani region, Greece
Some of the best hikes in Greece are nestled amid rugged foothills, olive groves and rarely explored scenery. One of the wildest and most beautiful spots is the Mani - a remote corner of the Peloponnese that remains largely untouched, even with Greece’s mass tourism. No hiking in the country is quite as the dramatic as the much-underrated peninsula: walking trails stem out from tiny villages, speckled with Byzantine churches, stone towers and hilly humps.
Where to stay: Few hikers venture beyond Mani’s stunning Diros caves - but head deeper south (about a 25-minute drive from the caves) and you’ll be rewarded with a base of sleepy coves and medieval villages. While few tourists visit, even fewer stay the night: white pebbles, crystal-clear waters and time-hopping charm await you at Kyrimai Hotel. This enchanting stay encompasses the region’s history into both its buildings and cuisine: both of which have garnered several accolades, including a Michelin Star and the Best Historic Hotel of Europe by the Water Award.
Trek through Tuscany’s famous regions, Italy
Garfagnana, Lunigiana, Casentino and the Florentine hills are among the most famous in the region. Curve through the Italian countryside on a pilgrim trail: the Via Francigena winds from north to south of Tuscany, comprised of 15 trail sections that average just more than 18 km per day. On each leg of the grand hike, you’ll discover historic gems such as the famous town of Massa (known for its quality marble), while traversing through towns, fortresses and castles along the way. You’ll even catch a glimpse of the enchanting Tuscan coast. For a less demanding walking experience, take to the Wine Road of the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. This 10-mile route follows the white roads of Tuscany, stopping at some of the region’s prettiest towns, churches and even gelato spots along the way.
Where to stay: Perched in the picturesque Chianti hills, Villa Le Barone provides an ideal base for a Tuscan hiking holiday. The centuries-old villa is still lived in by the same family, who’ve retained its splendid Tuscan charm with rose gardens, authentic cuisine and that much-soughted Italian hospitality.
Pustervalley in South Tyrol, Italy
The Italian Dolomites are the dazzling poster-boy for world-class peaks. With over 90,000 acres of mountainous terrain, rolling green landscapes and thoroughly vibrant culture, they lure nature lovers and adventurers from all over the world. Avoid getting clogged up in tourist traps by going to lands less wandered – Puster Valley is an enchanting mix of fairytale woodlands, cycle paths, paddle-boat-speckled lakes, and, of course, those lovely, looming Dolomites.
Where to stay: Rest those trekked-out limbs with a night at the life-restoring Hotel Alte Goste, located in the heart of the valley with a history spanning back to 1142.
Hike from hut to hut in Graubünden, Switzerland
Experience the Swiss high life on a mountain tour between the Flüela Pass and Albula Pass. Don’t expect a phone signal up here – this is all about fresh-air fun, your company… and you. You’ll end your soul-stirring trip in the ancient village of Bergün.
Lai da Palpuogna, Switzerland
It’s small wonder the glorious mountain lake Lai da Palpuogna was once named the most beautiful spot in Switzerland. The blue-green lake is nestled in an impossibly serene mountain realm, where the colourful scenery is at its most vibrant in autumn. Just a short train ride on the spectacular UNESCO-world heritage route – and a 30-minute hike from Bergün – this is a real hidden gem.
Where to stay: Check into Art Nouveau award-winner Kurhaus Bergün. If you’re unsure where to start with a mountain adventure, the helpful team at this former wellness hotel can organise it for you.
Killary Fjord, Ireland
You don’t have to travel to Norway to hike your way through beautiful fjords. Ireland is home to three glacial fjords – Lough Swilly, Carlingford Lough and Killary Harbour. The latter forms a natural border between Galway and Mayo and is one of the best spots for hiking in Europe. One of the most famous treks is the 10-mile Famine Walk, stretching from Killary Fjord through Connemara and into County Galway. It’s wild, raw and packed with history. You’ll stroll past tiny cottages that were once home to residents during farsh famine times in the 1840s. With bogs, boulders and the looming Mweelrea Mountain at your side, you’ll feel like you’re in an epic movie as you make your way to the finishing point.
Where to stay: Take the short drive to Renvyle House Hotel, where you’ll be treated to some stunning seascapes. This historic country house overlooks the sparkling waters of the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as a freshwater lake where you can go boating, canoeing and fly-fishing. A superb choice for your sailing stay.
Horse-ride through the valleys of Sils-Maria, Switzerland
It might not be the first activity you consider in St. Moritz – what with all the lakes to swim, mountains to hike and trails to cycle. But horse-drawn carriage rides into the Val Fex are probably the most romantic way to experience this heavenly countryside.
Where to stay: Your accommodation is an adventure in itself: Hotel Waldhaus is a much-loved, family-run hotel looking over the Fex Valley and carrying a worthy five stars. Passed down through generations since 1908, this grand forest lodge radiates old-world grandeur.
Mountain biking serenity: Arezzo, Italy
Summer-time brings flocks of keen cyclists and mountain bike lovers to the region, thanks to a 62km cycle route that runs close to Arezzo all the way to Chiusi. Since it’s almost all flat, you’ll be able to cruise through the blissful Tuscan wild at a smooth speed. Along the way, you’ll discover an 18th-century sluice gate, earth-wall houses and an impressive bridge over the Canale Mestre.
Where to stay: Embrace true Tuscan spirit with a stay at nearby Castello di Gargonza – a 13th-century fortified village with an award-winning castle hotel and apartments enclosed within. Mountain bikes are available from the hotel reception, free of charge.
Kvaner Gulf, Croatia
In northern Croatia you’ll find Kvarner Gulf - a scintillating bay home to independent restaurants, bars and clubs that sit snugly against the coast - where you can sail among dolphins against a colourful horizon.
Where to stay: If Kvarner Bay is where you want to be, check out Villa Astra. This renovated property, designed by an esteemed Venetian architect, is beautiful, boutique and bespoke: the ideal trio.
Head down south, and you’ll be spoilt for choice for other prime sailing destinations. There’s the island Brač, where you’ll discover one of the country’s most famous beaches, Zlatni Rat - also known as the “Golden Horn”. The blue cave in Biševo is well worth your attention, too, while the Pakleni islands - a stunning archipelago full of tropical treasures - provide plenty of places for you to explore on the water.
Where to stay: Down south, Puteus Palace offers a luxury five-star heritage hotel experience you’re bound to appreciate even more after fulfilling and thrilling - but tiring - days on the waves.
Fjord near Bergen, Norway
The city of Bergen is one of Norway’s leading cruise ports, and what’s more, sits close to a gorgeous fjord - giving you plenty of scope for sailing adventures. With handy resources and boating companies based around the city to help you start sailing, it’s easy for you to get to the water - and encouraged, too, as it’s known for being one of the best ways to sightsee. In particular, Bergen’s popular sailboat cruises combine the beauty of the fjords with Nordic history: complete with a captain that shares stories about Bergen’s unique past while you float by, and admire, the city’s shores. A special experience for all sailing aficionados.
Where to stay: Hotel Park is just a short walk away from Bergen’s various waters, along with a handy boat equipment shop where you can stock up on whatever you need for embarking to your sailing destinations. The building itself, which dates back to the 1890s, has a lovely, historic feel too - decorated with tasteful rare antiques and traditionally-furnished rooms that sets it apart from the other hotels in the area.
Kenmare Bay, Ireland
Ireland has long-been revered for its glittering coastlines and sandy bays... but when you’re throwing sailing into the mix, there are a few spots that really stand out. Kenmare Bay - a gorgeous blue expanse of water surrounded by lush wildlife - has many “water adventures” on offer via companies such as Star Outdoors, including cruise ships, kayaking, canoeing, pedal boating and sailing.
Where to stay: Right on the bank of beautiful Kenmare Bay is Park Hotel Kenmare, which won our Best Spa Award in 2013. Relax and rejuvenate after an intense day on the water, or sit back with a glass of wine and admire the incredible views that encircle the hotel.
Carlingford Lough, Ireland
Elsewhere, the glacial fjord - Carlingford Lough - promises sailing adventures aplenty in the midst of the more untapped Irish countryside.
Where to stay: Ghan House is a fantastic choice. Only five minutes away from the lough and a short drive away from other incredible sights, such as Trim Castle and The Giant’s Causeway, this eighteenth-century Georgian house is a brilliant, central location to many of Ireland’s best spots.
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
In Donegal, Lough Swilly is a must-visit… particularly as it sits on the Wild Atlantic Way. Between its famously varied coastline and array of blissful beaches, there are more than enough sailing destinations here to whet the watery appetites of every type of sailor.
Where to stay: The four-star hotel Rathmullan House - for those venturing to Lough Swilly and the Wild Atlantic Way - offers 32 beautifully-upkept rooms, an award-winning restaurant and spa: wonderful amenities that’ll encourage you to mix up your days on the water with luxurious days at the property. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Killary Fjord, Ireland
There’s nothing quite like a Killary Fjord boat tour. Relax as you cruise the cobalt waters, taking in spectacular panoramic views of Ireland’s various peaks and valleys on the way. We’d recommend you keep your eye on the water, though. This tour is best-known for being a great way to spot dolphins, which often swim alongside the ship as you sail along.
Where to stay: At Renvyle House Hotel you’ll be treated to some stunning seascapes. This historic country house overlooks the sparkling waters of the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as a freshwater lake where you can go boating, canoeing and fly-fishing. A superb choice for your sailing stay.
One of the obvious places to consider is Rhodes. A famously beloved Greek island, this tourist hotspot is also a fantastic place to kickstart any number of water-based adventures. Right in the heart of the Dodecanese, and close to fascinating locations including the volcanic island of Nisyros, the fishing villages of Tilos and much more, you could spend weeks on the water here and still not manage to see it all.
Where to stay: Situated on a charming cobblestone street in the medieval heart of Rhodes, you’ll find Allegory Boutique Hotel. Equal parts inviting and noble, its guests enjoy a range of contemporary amenities in a cultural setting that simply oozes history: a favourite combination of ours.
Historic Crete also has similar sailing fruits on offer, and from here, you can enjoy a variety of boat tours from Heraklion, Chania, Elounda and more: giving you plenty of flexibility for where you’d like your aquatic adventures to lead.
Where to stay: Elsewhere, in Crete, the lovely Avli Lounge Apartments definitely deserve your attention. This cluster of Venetian houses contains seven luxurious, bespoke suites that are bound to give you some interior design inspiration, along with fantastic touches throughout the hotel such as Cretan art, fountains and a sprawling wine cellar.
For a less touristy trip - you might want to consider the Deep Mani area of the country, which boasts hidden coves and glistening, private bays that have managed to remain something of a secret to holidaymakers. Enjoying breathtaking sailing excursions to the Diros caves - which look like something from another world - or explore the even more remote parts of the rocky peninsula by going further south, where traditional villages and quiet, secluded beaches await…
Where to stay: Finally - for your secretive excursions in Mani - Kyrimai is the place to go. With its warm and traditional furnishings and delicious on-site restaurant, as well as a string of accolades to its name - including The Best Historic Hotel of Europe by the Water award - you know you’re guaranteed an incredible stay when you book.
West Pomeranian Sailing Route, Poland
Poland might not immediately spring to mind when you think of sailing destinations across Europe, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering… quite the opposite. Though the country is more known for its culture-filled cities and fascinating history, its countryside also bears many fruits: particularly the West Pomeranian Sailing Route. This watery trail encompasses a network of harbours and marines between Szczecin and the West Pomeranian Baltic coast, with an impressive twenty locations on the way - allowing you to dive into the country’s more rural side from many sapphire shores. What’s more, you can try out many different water activities on this route, from windsurfing to kite-flying and kayaking.
Where to stay: A fairytale forest deserves a fairytale palace to match - and that’s exactly what you’ll find in the exquisite Manowce Palace. Flanked by woods and close to one of the West Pomeranian Sailing Route’s many starting points, this one-of-a-kind hotel will help you enjoy the Polish countryside in an unmatched fashion. It’s a great choice if you’re travelling in a group, too - available for full hire, this hotel can cater to weddings, meetings and events of nearly every ilk. Time to plan that next big trip...
The UK´s only coastal National Park, Wales
Pembrokeshire Coast is a wonderful location with some magnificent sailing destinations to match. Navigate the tranquil waters of St. Bride’s Bay and admire the whimsical Welsh wildlife, or - if you’d like to brush up on your boating skills first - head to one of the many sailing schools up and down the shore, where you can become an even more adept sailor. Alternatively, there are also plenty of ports which offer pre-planned boat trips, so you can sit back and relax as a skilled navigator transports you around the bay. One thing’s for sure - whether you’re pioneering or a passenger - you’re bound to love sailing on these azure waters.
Where to stay: Two words: Roch Castle. Built in 1995, this uniquely-situated, five-star historic property sits on top of a hill offering panoramic views of the Pembrokeshire countryside. Complete with traditional rooms, an incredible heritage and world class service, we wouldn’t blame you for booking a second stay before your first trip here has even ended (and third, and fourth…).
Kronplatz: South Tyrol, Italy
Kronplatz is an exception to the usual rough and rugged Dolomite terrain. It’s like a smooth cone, a poster boy for the perfect slope – as if purposely sculpted for adrenaline-pumping skiing. Fast long pistes provide thrill-seekers with the ultimate descent, while beginners can cruise at their own pace on gentler slopes. Gondolas zig-zig about the place and the state-of-the-art lift system is wonderfully efficient – this is definitely Italy’s best-kept ski secret.
Where to stay: After a day hurtling down the mighty mountain, linger in a herbal bath, warm up in the sauna or enjoy a recharging treatment at Hotel Alte Goste. Book in for the weekend and soak up the Dolomites from your very own bedroom in this charming hideaway, first mentioned in a document in 1142.
Valley of Schnalstal: Merano, Italy
High-altitude adventurers will fall in love with the glaciers of South Tyrol. Head to the valley of Schnalstal and experience your favourite winter sports in a breathtaking 185-acre natural park. In dream-like Merano, ski-lovers can dive into a duvet of snow. With 40km of slopes providing wide and pleasant descents.
Where to stay: The only thing that can top it off is nearby Hotel Castel Rundegg. Savour many a delicious delicacy in the South Tyrolean restaurant and marvel at the 12th-century castle and its spacious, fine-furnished rooms.
Deep in the valleys of south eastern Switzerland, the Engadine has something for everyone. Ever tried snowkiting? Winter’s alternative to kite surfing in summer allows you to glide across the frozen Lake Silvaplana on skis or a board, propelled by a colourful kite.
Where to stay: Overlooking this winter wonderland is Hotel Waldhaus, owned by the same family since 1908, the hotel retains its golden age grandeur and irresistible warmth – the perfect way to round off a day in the snow.