The notion of a walking expedition — a long, slow, cross-country trek during which you might lodge overnight at roadside hotels – has long been regarded as a romantic adventure for the young. But within the last year or so, seniors throughout the world appear to be going on more long distance pilgrimage-style walking tours than ever before.
Maybe it is because senior-friendly travel walks have earned new meaning for older people after the pandemic. Or maybe it’s because we all feel a bit of nostalgia for old world romance after the pandemic.
Many of us who have survived the worst global health crisis in 100 years find ourselves in a strange new world where the things we used to take for granted have suddenly assumed far greater significance.
Friends are dearer, family members are closer, and life’s small joys are better appreciated. Hence, for many, the idea of senior-friendly travel walks in some faraway landscape seems far more appealing than it was four years ago.
In fact, whether you’re seeking a new sense of purpose, a new adventure, or simply celebrating life, what may have seemed like a luxury before feels like a necessity now.
After all, senior-friendly travel walks make you cherish what most of us fail to appreciate properly. The joy of walking might just be the only mystery in the world that just a scant few are eager to investigate.
Except perhaps for gurgling toddlers who have only recently taken their first steps, few have ever given any thought to the act of walking itself.
Its benefits are under every step we take, yet we never seem to stop to appreciate them. We rarely think about walking when we walk. We just keep on walking.
Those who “walk down the aisle” or endure “the walk of shame” don’t think about walking when they do it. Neither do people who feel so happy they’re “walking on air.”
Of course, that is unless you are considering a walking holiday in scenic Europe. Then we must pay attention!
- 1 Why Go on a Walking Holiday?
- 2 4 Spectacular European Destinations for Senior-Friendly Travel Walks in Europe
- 2.1 Cinque Terre, Italy
- 2.2 The Cotswolds, England
- 2.3 3. The Swiss Alps, Switzerland
- 2.4 Provence, France
- 2.5 What You’ll Need for Your Senior Walking Holiday
- 3 Have a Good Walk!
Why Go on a Walking Holiday?
Senior-friendly travel walks in Europe offer a uniquely healthy, vigorous, and pleasurable experience for seniors looking to continue living fulfilling lives in retirement.
In a recent report, the European Union suggests that authorities in Europe usually classify walking tourism as a soft adventure tourism activity.
The same report says that most of the tourists who go on walking vacations in Europe are 55 years old and older.
That’s easy enough to understand. Walking is mostly a preoccupation for those to whom the years have imparted a taste for simpler pleasures. As the old saying goes, “The older you get, the wiser you are.”
A Rare Joy for a Privileged Few
Of all the many things new acquaintances might tell you about themselves, “I love to travel” might just be the most banal and predictable. The sentence tells you nothing about the person because just about everyone on the planet loves to travel.
But walking? Well, not quite everyone likes to walk. We know people who would rather drive two blocks to the grocer’s to buy a carton of milk than walk the same distance. In airports, you’ll encounter grown men with very little luggage stopped along the travellator. They block your path and jam the line behind them and they simply cannot be bothered with the small courtesy of stepping aside to let everybody else through.
It’s not as if they would get any more tired than they are by walking another 20 meters with a gym bag stuffed with clothes and an overnight kit. They just prefer to wait for the moving walkway to get them to where they are going rather than endure a single step forward.
It almost seems that the pleasure of walking is a gift in and of itself. Or you might call it an acquired taste. So, while walking might be as primal to Homo sapiens as curiosity and the will to survive, senior-friendly travel walks may not be for those who are averse to the very idea of putting one foot in front of the other in succession. The loss is theirs, of course.
4 Spectacular European Destinations for Senior-Friendly Travel Walks in Europe
For millions of seniors who have spent their whole lives working, the novelty of discovering new and breathtaking landscapes while on a journey on foot is sure to elicit refreshingly youthful excitement.
Towering peaks, majestic glaciers, green, rolling valleys, and picturesque little villages huddled against enormous, snowcapped mountains create a postcard-perfect setting.
The glorious, bursting scenery alone is enough to bring feelings of rare contentment to your senior-friendly travel walks.
Below are four breathtaking places for a truly satisfying walking holiday in Europe.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre’s dramatic coastal landscape – with its rugged cliffs, colourful villages clinging to the hillsides, and terraced vineyards overlooking the Mediterranean Sea – conjures a picture-perfect setting for senior-friendly travel walks.
The five villages of Cinque Terre—Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore—are each uniquely charming. (Cinque Terre means “five lands”).
These villages run along a 16km stretch of rocky seaside between the town of Levanto and the harbour of Porto Venere.
All five villages are postcard picturesque – and each one deserves a few hours of your senior-friendly travel walks.
The pastel-coloured stone houses, narrow alleyways, and lively harbours insinuate a sense of old-time authenticity and history you simply cannot find anywhere else.
As for the food, we urge you to head for one of the local trattorias for the Pesto Alla Genovese. We need not say more.
The best time for walking trips is in the spring, just after winter fades. This is when the landscape of Cinque Terre comes alive with lush greenery, newly budding grapevines, wildflowers, bougainvillea, and fragrant citrus blossoms.
What makes Cinque Terre an ideal site for senior-friendly travel walks?
The network of trails that connect the villages offers spectacular views of the coastline and provides an intimate experience of the region’s natural beauty.
The paths wind through vineyards, olive groves, and along the cliffs, offering unparalleled vistas. While some paths in the area can be challenging, several trails between the villages are relatively gentle. These are perfect for senior-friendly travel walks in the late afternoon.
Seniors can also choose easier routes like the Via dell’Amore or sections of the Sentiero Azzurro. These are well-maintained and manageable.
Cinque Terre also has train connections that link the villages. These provide convenient transportation between locations for seniors who prefer to limit walking distances.
You’ll be pleased to know that boats ply the coast, offering a scenic alternative for travel between villages.
The Cotswolds, England
Known for its low, gently rising hills, charming villages, and well-maintained footpaths, the Cotswolds offers scenic walks in quintessential English countryside.
Bubbling streams, rolling hills, and lush meadows define the landscape and are the high point of any senior-friendly travel walks in the area.
The greens are dotted with sheep farms, historic estates, and ancient woodlands, creating a patchwork of quiet pastoral beauty to surround retirees on senior-friendly travel walks.
The region also has some stunning historic architecture, including medieval churches, manor houses, and market halls. The old buildings exhibit Cotswold stone, a golden limestone that gives them their distinctive warm hue.
This is a place made for walking, especially in the spring when the countryside explodes into life with bright flowers – from fields of yellow rapeseed to meadows gone delirious with bluebells, daffodils, and wildflowers.
What makes the Cotswolds an ideal site for senior-friendly travel walks?
The gently rolling landscape makes the Cotswolds more accessible for seniors compared to steep or rugged areas. The walking trails often follow well-maintained paths and lanes rather than challenging inclines for people on senior-friendly travel walks.
There’s a wide range of walking routes in the Cotswolds, too. These include shorter, more manageable paths for various fitness levels.
Retirees on senior-friendly travel walks can choose routes that suit their pace and comfort, allowing for enjoyable walks without excessive physical strain.
The villages of the Cotswolds are located relatively close to each other. Seniors can explore these charming villages on foot.
They can stroll through streets lined with traditional stone houses, gardens, and historic landmarks without the need for long-distance walks.
3. The Swiss Alps, Switzerland
The Swiss Alps are an awesome natural wonder. The entire area is known around the world for the most majestic peaks in Europe. These include the Matterhorn, Eiger, Jungfrau, and Mont Blanc.
These towering mountains with their rugged cliffs and snow-capped summits create a stunning and dramatic backdrop for senior-friendly travel walks.
The Alps cradle picturesque valleys, meadows, and alpine forests. The landscape is blanketed with an explosion of colourful wildflowers, crystal-clear lakes, and cascading waterfalls.
Glaciers such as the Aletsch Glacier, the largest in the Alps, add to the allure of the region. These immense ice masses cleave through the mountains, huge, powerful, and immovable, creating truly awe-inspiring views.
What makes the Swiss Alps an ideal site for senior-friendly travel walks?
Retirees senior-friendly travel walks will find a network of well-marked and maintained walking trails for various fitness levels throughout the region.
There are routes ranging from gentle strolls through valleys to more challenging paths for those seeking a moderate workout.
Many trails in the Swiss Alps traverse gentle terrain with manageable inclines, allowing seniors to enjoy stunning views without encountering overly steep or challenging paths.
There are numerous shorter walking routes available. Many trails also offer flexibility, allowing seniors to choose sections or distances that suit their abilities and pace.
The region is well-equipped with amenities, including easily accessible accommodations, restaurants, and services.
These are all within easy distance of the senior-friendly walking trails. Seniors generally have quick access to these facilities and support along their walking routes.
Provence is among the most beautiful regions in the world. The area is famous for its vibrant lavender fields, particularly in the Luberon and Valensole.
To go on a senior-friendly travel walk in Provence is to be treated to endless rows of purple blooms stretching across the landscape.
The flower fields create a mesmerizing, sweet-smelling spectacle, especially when in full bloom during the summer.
The countryside of Provence offers diverse landscapes, including rolling hills, olive groves that seem to stretch endlessly into the horizon, sunflower fields, and cypress-lined avenues.
The combination of these vistas creates a patchwork of colours, textures, and shapes that is nothing less than breathtaking.
The region is speckled with picturesque villages, colourful stone houses, narrow cobblestone streets, and a multitude of varicoloured shutters.
From mid-April to early June, the region pops with colours as lavender fields bloom, and wildflowers carpet the landscapes. The weather is mild, and the countryside is quiet and serene, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities.
After a long day’s walking trip, retirees can treat themselves to the famed wine and bouillabaisse of the region in places with names like Gordes, Roussillon, and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
What makes Provence an ideal site for senior-friendly travel walks?
Numerous walking trails across Provence offer flat terrain, particularly in coastal areas, along riverbanks, and through the vineyards.
These paths are generally even and well-maintained. Walking is easy and comfortable, and there are no significant elevation changes. They are ideal for senior-friendly travel walks.
Many trails in Provence consist of gravel or dirt paths. These can vary in smoothness. But most of these paths are well-trodden, and the hard-packed dirt underfoot is compact enough to provide stable footing while walking.
These rises and dips are usually gradual and manageable for seniors, providing a bit of challenge without being overly strenuous. They offer retirees an excellent opportunity for light exercise.
What You’ll Need for Your Senior Walking Holiday
Keep in mind that the right gear and equipment can significantly enhance the enjoyment of senior-friendly travel walks.
Wear lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing that’s suitable for the weather. Layering is key, especially in regions where temperatures might vary throughout the day.
Be sure to carry a lightweight, comfortable backpack or daypack to hold essentials like water, sandwiches, and sunscreen. And don’t forget to pack a lightweight camera. You will want to take pictures!
Depending on the terrain and your personal preference, consider bringing walking poles. These can provide stability and support, especially on uneven or hilly trails.
Bring ample supplies of sunscreen for your walks. You’ll also need sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself against the sun, especially in warmer climates.
Depending on the season and location of your tour, carry a lightweight, packable rain jacket in your backpack. Unexpected showers are fairly common in Europe.
For non-English speaking regions, a language guide or translator app is indispensable. This will be especially helpful when you need to inquire for directions.
That said, bring a map or a guidebook.
Remember to carry essential documents like identification, insurance information, and any necessary permits or tickets for the attractions you intend to enjoy during your senior-friendly travel walks.
Trust us, forgetting even one of these will be enough to ruin your walking holiday.
Have a Good Walk!
There is something innately satisfying about taking a walk in a beautiful place. You do not need to be an obsessive walker to understand that.
Perhaps it is because the act of walking answers an urge that is inherent in most humans. After all, people have been walking country trails since prehistoric times.
In stories told around campfires and hearths, old-way forest-and-hillside wanderers offer a captivating explanation: that forest walking paths might lead you to a misty meadow where you can slip out of this world and journey back into an ancient one.
Repeatedly, these old wanderers – many of whom may have enjoyed senior-friendly travel walks as avidly as their modern counterparts – speak of a tingling feeling of otherworldly connection, of strange voices heard along midnight trails.
One famous Japanese wanderer is said to have told a student that – while walking one evening – he spoke with long-dead wanderers from the past, including his own forbearers. The famous wanderer was so taken by the experience that he came to imagine his solitary walks as “conversations between a ghost and a ghost-to-be.”
Clever as that turn of phrase is, we ourselves must admit that we have never experienced anything as unsettling during our own senior-friendly travel walks. We would not know what to do if we did!
Maybe it is because the modern trekker is a little more attuned to the moment than those who walked the same paths in earlier times. Or maybe it is because the pandemic has taught us to be content with things that are less than magical. Who knows?
What we do know is that walking in the countryside cheers the spirit in a way that feels earned and fulfilling. It feels right. And a walk in the gorgeous European countryside, like a generous and appreciative friend, meets us more than halfway.
Under such sweet circumstances, a walk is no longer simply the slowest way to get from point A to point B. Instead, it becomes the intention of the journey itself – and we need no ghosts to tell us that.
What do you think?