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A coastal walk is a very special experience. If you love the sea, there’s nothing better than a walk that takes you along cliff tops, beaches and peninsulas, with the crashing waves or crystal clear sea an ever-present companion as you make your way.
If looking out across the ocean to the horizon is an important element of your walking holiday, take a look at some of our favourite coastal walks.
The South West Coast Path, at 630 miles, is the longest National Trail in the UK, and the majority of it winds its way along the spectacular coast of Cornwall, regularly voted Britain’s favourite holiday destination. Despite Cornwall’s popularity, you can easily escape the crowds, dipping in and out of coves and harbours and ascending beside dramatic cliffs, up to high viewpoints, along promontories and back down to expansive beaches which out of the high season can be all but deserted.
Sherpa Expeditions offers several trips along different sections of the South West Coast Path, each one offering something special as you pass through delightful fishing villages, larger towns and some of the most stunning scenery to be found anywhere in the UK.
Read more about all of the trips we offer on the South West Coastal Path here.
The Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the quintessential Italian holiday - with stunning scenery and mouth-watering food. Pastel coloured fishing villages are perched on the staggering cliff side overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.
You can walk along the Amalfi Coast using the extensive web of footpaths and mule tracks that thread along the cliffs, and a wealth of natural and cultural treasures can be reached relatively easily. The walking routes pass close to nature reserves, beautiful monasteries, caves and ancient farmhouses. You will also have the chance to walk through the historic towns of Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello, Scala Praiano and Positano, all little pearls set in a fantastic landscape.
Sherpa Expeditions offers the Classic Amalfi Coast as a 6-day, 8-day or 11-day trip – and you can also combine it with the best of the neighbouring Cilento region in our new Cilento and Amalfi Highlights 10-day trip.
Starting in France and finishing in Spain, this walk along 'La Cote Vermeille' follows the steep coastline where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean. Taking in the culture and cuisine of French Catalunya and Spanish Catalonia, the trip visits beautiful coastal villages, including Collioure, where the colourful Fauve school of painting began, and follows waymarked paths between the vineyards of Roussillon and through heavily scented maquis to the seaport of Banyuls, home of the great French sculptor Aristide Maillol.
After crossing the frontier into Spain, you continue past rocky bays and then climb inland over a high col and along the mountains to the monastery of San Pere de Rodes, before descending steeply, passing ancient Dolmens to the attractive fishing village of Port de la Selva. From here the trails become more remote as you head into the recently established Natural Park of Cap de Creus - into the beautiful whitewashed old town of Cadaques.
This is a great opportunity to explore a lesser-known, but beautiful, stretch of European coastline. Find out more about the trip here.
Sardinia is an inspirational island of natural beauty, with a mix of Italian and Spanish cultures. Walking from the black mountains of Montiferru to the Sinis wetlands you will discover beaches, bays, headlands, ancient ruins and historical sites. This is a gentle walk crossing a variety of terrain and home to much bird life, especially in the spring. The Montiferru mountains, a basaltic area famous for green forests, clear spring water and local 'red' beef provide wonderful walking opportunities with sweeping coastal views, charming accommodation and plenty of places to swim.
Bird watchers will be entertained by the large colonies of grey herons, pink flamingoes and a wealth of other bird life, while the ancient Spanish watchtowers, small villages and the ancient site of Tharros occupied by the Phoenicians, Punics and Romans offer welcome distractions for those keen to learn more about the island's history and culture.
Find out more about the trip here.
With Sherpa Expeditions you can walk or cycle the entire coastline of the Isle of Wight, a jewel of an island off the south coast of England, where you can visit historical places on scenic coastal paths and cross hilly grassy down land, through ancient woodlands, and past rustic farms.
Famous for its sailing regattas, white chalk cliffs and Queen Victoria’s holiday home, Osborne House, the Isle of Wight seems to exist in its own time. Beyond the big tourist towns of Shanklin and Sandown, and the sophistication of Cowes harbour, everything is on a manageable scale - no huge towns, or big industrial blights, but long chalky downs, sandy beaches and enchanting woodlands. Seaside rock, ice cream and fish ’n’ chips of course, but also great pubs and restaurants, quiet paths, historical churches and gems of villages.
Whether you choose to walk or cycle around this island, you’re sure to have a quite charming experience. Find out more here.
The Cleveland Way isn’t an entirely coastal walk – but fans of walking along cliff tops overlooking the sea will have plenty to entertain them, as over half of the walk follows the hilly coastline of the Yorkshire seaside.
This is the second of the UK’s National Trails, dating from 1969 and is rooted in the North York Moors National Park and Yorkshire Heritage Coast. Along its length there are contrasts in walking between field-quilted farmlands, forest patches, dramatic sandstone rock scarps, bleak moorlands and the highly eroded coastline, punctuated by beautiful little fishing villages, clinging to the cliffs. Apart from busy coastal towns such as Scarborough, it remains a tranquil area, bolstered and protected by the presence of the National Park of which about 80% of the walk occupies. Highlights of the Cleveland Way include, the remains of the Norman Rievaulx Abbey, and 13th century Whitby Abbey (but dating from the 7th century!), the Captain Cook Monument and Robin Hoods Bay with its cliff-hanging cottages.
Find out more about walking the Cleveland Way here.
Enjoy some of the finest coastal walking in Europe on this the most beautiful section of the Italian Riviera. The five charming villages of the Cinque Terre - Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore have been praised by artists and poets for centuries. They have celebrated the tiny aquamarine inlets that serve as fishing harbours and the ancient terraces rising steeply out of the coastal crags in words and pictures.
The trip is perfect for walkers who enjoy being based at a single centre. You’ll stay in a traditional style ‘albergo’ in the small resort of Monterosso close to the sea, where regional dishes are very much the speciality. The idea is that on most days you either walk from the hotel or take the train from Monterosso to start the next walk. If you don't feel like walking, or if you want to reduce the length of the existing walk, you can always spend time on the beaches or more time discovering the beautiful villages of the Cinque Terre more intimately, with each village boasting its own unique character and flavour.
Find out more about Cinque Terre Villages here.
The variety on offer for a walking holiday in Italy is simply amazing. From the mountains of the Dolomites and the Alps, down to the lakes, across to the islands, and along the Amalfi coast – whatever type of holiday you’re after, Italy delivers it in stunning form. Add to this the delicious food and wine, and the warm welcome offered by the locals, and you have the perfect recipe for an unforgettable holiday.
Here are a few of our favourite Italian trips for 2019. For the full programme of tours in this beautiful country, visit our Italy homepage.
The Cilento National Park may not be quite as well known as its more famous and popular neighbour, Amalfi, but it offers a huge amount for a varied and rewarding walking tour. There is a wild kind of beauty here - rocky ridges set between small picturesque inlets and richly scented pinewoods backing onto wide sandy beaches. This 5-day Cilento tour is both along the coast and inland across low mountains, through pristine natural areas and attractive countryside, with all its cultural treasures - rural chapels, ancient farm houses, old water mills and charming medieval villages.
Find out more.
Available as a 6, 8 or 11 day tour, our Classic Amalfi Coast walks encapsulate everything that makes an Italian holiday so special. The entire coast has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and a walking holiday here makes it easy to see why. The stunning views, culture, food and wine combine to create an unforgettable experience. The towns, villages and towers that cling to the cliffs can be a riotous mix of vibrant colours and pastel shades, and provide the backdrop to a truly special walking tour.
Find out more.
Coming soon – we’re currently putting together a new 11-day trip that combines the best of our Cilento and Amalfi trips. This will be available to book early in 2019 so watch this space!
The Dolomites are like no other mountains in Europe, and provide a completely different backdrop to the Alps’ jagged peaks. The Dolomites are dominated by continuous sheer cliffs, forming giant chiselled monuments. Below the mountains lie green meadows full of wild flowers, orchards and vineyards. The Dolomites are also an area of fascinating history, as they were heavily fought over during WW1. This 8-day trip encompasses an exhilarating mix of high mountain paths, lush meadows, pretty villages and mountain restaurants.
Find out more.
Sardinia is a beautiful island, with a unique mix of Italian and Spanish cultures. Walking from the black mountains of Montiferru to the Sinis wetlands you’ll discover beaches, bays, headlands, ancient ruins and historical sites. This is also a great trip if you’re interested in wildlife, and in particular, birds – as you’ll encounter large colonies of Grey Herons, Pink Flamingoes and a wealth of other bird life. This is a gentle walk that takes in some spectacular scenery, lovely villages and plenty of places to enjoy delicious Mediterranean cuisine.
Find out more.
This walk threads together some of the most attractive towns and villages in Tuscany. It’s a perfect introduction to the region and for people who love museums and galleries, Gothic and Romanesque architecture, there is plenty to see and do. You have plenty of time for attraction visits on most days. However the emphasis of the tour is to enjoy the countryside, the rolling vineyards, the poppies in spring and the wild cyclamen in autumn. This is a relatively gentle tour that is suitable for those who are new to walking. More experienced walkers will also enjoy the classic Tuscan landscape of small but sometimes steep hills, olive groves and vineyards.
Find out more.
The beauty of Lake Como has to be seen to be believed. The majestic mountains rolling down to the shores of the crystal clear blue water, the charming towns and villages dotted along the shoreline, ancient Roman villas and the majestic hotels built for wealthy European and American tourists during the Victorian era all add up to a landscape like no other. This lovely trip starts at the historic town of Como before taking in all that the area has to offer over the next 8 days, including hilltop ascents, villages, churches and ferry crossings.
Find out more.
Finding the right route on a walking or cycling trip in a new environment is not always straight forward. The maps and route notes that you receive on Sherpa's self guided cycling and walking holidays allow you to take the right decision on the trail. Another useful aide are trail blazes, as writer Richard Mellor describes in this article.
By Richard Mellor
Do you ever wander about waymarks (or trail blazes, as they’re called outside of the UK)?
I mostly spend my hikes looking for these symbols, feeling either triumph when one appears, or a growing trepidation that I’ve gone astray amid their continued absence.
But occasionally – as with this section of Sherpa’s Cilento Coast & Mountain walk that I am currently undertaking [red. May 2017], following a high ridge down from mighty Monte Stella, the sea glittering far ahead – I have a rare certainty of being on-track, and can instead ponder these universal hiking signposts.
The Cilento’s paths mostly utilise the classic red and white bars, plus some same-coloured wooden arrows. To install these, trail blazers must therefore have had to stride long sections lugging a large tin of red paint, a large tin of white, brushes for each and, for the arrows, lots of nails to sink into trees or rocks.
They’ll also have been needing all the stuff I carry: water, extra clothing, maps, food (my main luggage fortunately was transferred by the Sherpa team).
Which means – I realise while crossing butterfly-rich heather, the stone-built village of Galdo now visible ahead – they’re probably hauling heavy loads around for long distances, and often up and down steep hills. Ouch. Suddenly, waymakers seem like heroes.
Last year I hiked in northwestern Spain, and let’s just say the waymarks were intermittent. At certain forks invisible on my map, there they, er, weren’t.
At the time, I blamed wild boars or rogue farmers. But now I’m imagining that perhaps the daubers simply ran out of paint, or were conserving their last precious blobs for a tougher junction.
Who are these blazers anyway? Is waymarking an official thing, only to be done by official people? I make a mental note to find out this evening. (Wikipedia, it later turns out, suggests a mixture of volunteer and local authorities)
Also, how often are waymarks updated – some smudges here are very faded, yet others so fresh I swear I can smell paint – and who decides? Do they travel in pai...
Hang on a second. I’m now entering Galdo and, now I think of it, when was the last waymark? Uh-oh. Let the worrying commence…
Richard describes the panoramic day walk along the Monte Stella ridge on day 4 of the Cilento Coast & Mountain walking holiday. Superb views of the Amalfi Coast and Capri, an abandoned fortress, and charming historical villages like Celso, Cannicchio and Galdo characterise this day’s walk.
Like to know more about the Cilento Coast route in a remote section of Italy? Find the trip details, grading and cost of the Cilento Coast & Mountain walk now.
Richard Mellor is a freelance writer and copywriter on mainly travel related topics. He gives lectures on journalism and you can read his articles in Metro, The Times, The Guardian, Telegraph Online and many more. Early May 2017 he walked solo Sherpa Expeditions’ 5-day Cilento Coast & Mountain trip in Italy. Follow Richard on Twitter.
Planning a trip to Italy and looking for holiday ideas that you can undertake fairly soon? We have created an overview of the first trips travelling to Italy this year. You can be packing your bags and hitting the Italian trails in spring undertaking one of these pleasant walking holidays in the land of pizza and the Romans.
The itineraries travel across the country and from the first of March, be among the firsts this year to enjoy the Italian walking paths, sip from your cappuccino on a quiet terrace in the first beams of sun in spring, visit ancient Roman sites without the crowds, and follow the trails of the Cilento Coast, Lake Como, Amalfi, Sardinia and Cinque Terre.
The great lakes of northern Italy have been a popular holiday destination since Roman times, evidenced by the array of lavish villas and sumptuous gardens which line their shores. When you visit Italy in March, April or May, you can enjoy full flexibility on this itinerary that uses the old Roman tracks. They cross the mountains on the west side of Lake Como, exploring forested valleys, mountaintops and traditional villages. Still in use today by the locals, they have been transformed into a series of way marked trails offering breath-taking views.
>> Learn more about the 8-days Lake Como Rambling holiday
A brand-new trip in Italy to the less known side of Amalfi was launched in March 2017. Most visitors to Italy’s world famous coastal strip do not continue beyond Vietri sul Mare, the Amalfi’s easternmost point. Go a few miles further south though, and you will find Cilento: the country’s largest National Park. Richly scented pinewoods, mediaeval farm houses and traditional water mills remain largely ‘undisturbed’ by the 21st century.
>> Learn more about the 5-days Cilento Coast and Mountain walking holiday
Few trips in Italy take in such a diverse combination of iconic highlights and stunning seascapes, making it impossible to escape the hordes of crowds that head to ‘Nastro Azzurro’ (Blue Ribbon) in the summer months. But, travel between March and May and you will have the Amalfi Coast virtually entirely to yourself.
>> Learn more about the 11-days Classic Amalfi Coast walking holiday, or check out the 6-days or the Classic Amalfi Coast - 8 Days options
The Cinque Terre (Five Lands) is Italian Riviera at its best. The coastline of the Cinque Terre in north-western Italy is as stunning as Amalfi, yet somehow even more colourful! For centuries artists and poets have praised the tiny aquamarine inlets that serve as fishing harbours and the ancient terraces rising steeply out of the coastal crags in words and pictures. You can opt for the gentle coastal strolls or strenuous hikes into the surroundings hills. Visit churches and viewpoints, walk through cliff-side vineyards and pine forests, while reserving ample time to feast on the rich Italian cuisine.
>> Learn more about the 6-days Cinque Terre Villages walking holiday
The weather in Sardinia in March and April is often already relatively warm and pleasant for undertaking outdoor activities. When you visit the Italian island in early spring, stay around the coast to enjoy gentle walks and explore secluded bays and ancient watchtowers. Taste the clear spring water, spot birds like Grey Herons and Pink Flamingos, and watch the sunset turn the cliffs to shades of yellow and pink.
>> Learn more about the 8-days self guided walking holiday A Saunter in Sardinia
For more information on your options for visiting Italy in March, April and May and for booking details, you can download the trip notes on each trip’s page or contact our team of travel experts by phone or email.
For anyone wanting to experience what is beyond Italy’s most popular stretch of coastline, from 2017 you can explore a new part of Italy’s south: the Cilento National Park. A new walking holiday takes you to the lesser-known Cilento Coast, on the Gulf of Salerno’s southern shore, the natural extension of the famous Amalfi Coast.
There is more to the Amalfi Coast than Positano, Ravello, endless sips of limoncello and crowded walking paths.
Concentrating on Cilento, Italy’s largest national park, the new self guided trip is a short walking break designed to appeal to anyone who wants to experience ‘the other side of Amalfi’. A place which in many ways exists in its own time warp, little visited Cilento remains largely undisturbed by the 21st century.
In Roman Times, Cilento was known as Campania Felix – or ‘happy land’!
The walk takes you along rocky ridges, richly scented pinewoods and centuries-old olive trees and intersperses with quaint fishing villages, medieval farm houses and traditional water mills. Stay in an ancient convent and enjoy quiet and remote walking in a stunning, yet less known, pocket of Italy. Highlights include:
- Take in the wild beauty of the Cilento Coast, with rocky ridges set between small picturesque inlets and richly scented pinewoods backing onto wide sandy beaches and serene Italian fishing villages
- Witness the traditional way of life as you visit medieval borghi (fortified hilltop villages), rural chapels and ancient farm houses in Cilento National Park
- Enjoy sumptuous, drenched-in-olive-oil banquets – homemade pasta, locally sourced ingredients and wines from the somewhat unusual (but very amenable) aglianico grape
- Follow the old mule track to the ‘Valley of the Mills’, named after the many medieval watermills that once dotted the course of the stream
- Cross the ‘Alta Via’ along the Monte Stella ridge, past the Chapel of Monte Stella and through chestnut woods to the abandoned, pre-Roman fortress of Castelluccio
- Admire panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri – on a clear day you may even catch a glimpse of Sicily if you look south!
- Visit the archaeological site Paestum – famous for its Doric-order temples, the museum in Italy preserves a unique Diver’s Tomb, a prime example of Greek funerary painting.
Take the new Cilento Coast and Mountain trip in Italy either as a standalone short break or as an extension to our 8 and 11-day Amalfi itineraries.
For more information on Cilento National Park and to speak with one of our travel consultants, there are various ways to contact us.