Europe – and especially the Alps – provide so many choices to go hiking and walking, it is difficult to decide exactly where to go, and which itinerary to choose. All of the alpine destinations feature spectacular and beautiful mountains, lush alpine meadows, countless hiking trails and incredible food. There are the mountaineering capitals of the World with plenty of mountain lore such as Chamonix, Zermatt and Grindelwald, and other more hidden gems.
The Greek Island of Crete is still off the beaten path for many North American travellers, but is one of our ultimate favourites when choosing from any hiking region of the world. Normandy with its hundreds of years of history is a treasure trove for any active traveller, and with his family being originally from Normandy, director of Alpine Interface Louis Marino knows all the best places and restaurants.
Have a look at the regions that are included in the website, and enquire if you’re interested in others. We will actively add all our favourite areas.
When conjuring up images of Switzerland, most of us think of chocolate, Swiss Army knives, cuckoo clocks, a red flag with a white cross, the Matterhorn, mountains, lakes and lots and lots of cheese.
You would not be wrong but Switzerland is much more and packs a huge punch for such a small, landlocked country in the centre of Europe. With only 8 million inhabitants, 25% of whom are foreigners, Switzerland is a quirky country. 60% or the country is made up of the Alps, making mountain activities a huge part of the lifestyle.
Our guided, private walking and trekking trips offer access to some of the most stunning parts of Switzerland, primarily in the Wallis Canton and the Bernese Oberland area of Canton Bern.
Valais – Matterhorn
The Matterhorn, a towering pyramid of rock is probably the most iconic and most photographed mountain in the world. It lies on the border with Italy and Switzerland above the ski resorts of Zermatt and Breuil-Cervinia. Our Walker’s Haute Route Tours end in Zermatt, one of the most exciting of all mountain towns. With over 100 hotels, many 4-5 stars, some of the best restaurants in the Alps and a row of luxury branded retails stores, Zermatt has become a must on any European tour. With a mélange of ancient buildings and modern structures, its iconic church in the centre of town, electric cars only and a maze of cobbled streets, it is difficult to label exactly what defines Zermatt. Is it a ski town, a luxury resort, a shopper’s paradise, a collection of kitsch stores or a combination of all of these?
Zermatt lies hemmed in by some of the highest peaks in the Alps, included the Monte Rosa, the second highest peak in the Alps along with 37 other 4000-metre peaks, all attainable from Zermatt itself! Throughout the year, mountaineers from around the globe converge on Zermatt -using the many cable-cars and cog trains to access the peaks-in order to test themselves on the surrounding summits and coveted north faces. Our Best of the Alps Day Hikes and Haute Route treks will focus on the surrounding trails and valleys including the Trift Gorge and possibly the best hike in the Alps, the Höhbalmen or Edelweiss Trail which snakes it way high above the valley. Stopping at the Hôtel du Trift for homemade apple pie and iced tea and chatting with the owners Hugo and Fabienne Biner, will give us the energy to carry on. The hotel, originally build in 1887, serves today as a mountain inn for mainly day-trippers but also for mountaineers trying to summit the Rothorn, located high above the hotel.
We often extend the hike to the Swiss Alpine Club refuge, the Schönbielhütte, for lunch before returning to Zermatt via the 500- year old hamlet of Zmutt for an afternoon coffee. Our Best of the Alps Day Hikes take advantage of some of the engineering marvels found in the valley such as Europe’s highest open-air cog railway, the Gornergrat and Europe’s highest hotel, the Kulmhotel. Using this infrastructure really makes exploring easy as most of the valley is accessible to all ability levels.
GUIDED & SELF-GUIDED
The Bernese Oberland is located in the Canton or Bern, just north of some of the most famous peaks such as the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch which have heavily glaciated faces and are permanently covered in snow.
Because of this, the climate tends to be a bit wetter and cooler than some of the other areas in the south, with very lush fields strewn with wildflowers. The valley bottoms are quite low, where small villages combine traditional agriculture along with tourism. Traditions and family bonds are very strong here, with families living and tending herds of dairy cows such as the tan and white Simmentalers, for many generations. This breed of cow is possibly the most popular in the world, great for milk production and also meat but once you meet one, you instantly become a vegetarian! They are far too friendly to end up in your plate.
Our tours allow you to discover some of the most spectacular villages, such as Wengen, Mürren, Lauterbrunnen and of course, the picturesque Grindelwald. Beginning in Meiringen, made famous by the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, our series of hikes bring you up close to some of the highest peaks in the region, such as our train journey to the Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest train journey. We make our way south-west across a series of valleys before our final day along the shores of the stunning cobalt blue Oeschinensee Lake before reaching our final destination Kandersteg.
Accommodation is a mix of boutique hotels, family-run inns, 4-stars and one rustic inn which still operates as a working farm, serving up delicious home-cooked meals.
VALAIS – mONT bLANC
When it comes to hiking, our Essential Alps trip takes in the areas not to be missed. The Bernese Oberland is home to the Eiger, Zermatt is home to the Matterhorn and Chamonix or course is in the shadow of the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in western Europe and the epicentre of world mountaineering. Having lived in the Chamonix Valley for 12 years, we are incredibly fond of returning each year to offer our guiding services and allow you to discover this magical mountain scape.
Mont Blanc (4810m) was first climbed in 1786 by a local French hunter and Swiss doctor.
This ascent and many thereafter created the sport of mountaineering with its capital in the town of Chamonix, France. Chamonix is small but with a big history, from first ascents to first descents and is home to some of the best climbers and skiers from all over the world who come to test their skills against the granite spires and steep shoots. This once sleepy farming village at the foot of Mont Blanc is surrounded by blue-grey glaciers, jagged granite mountains and a thriving tourist scene with great restaurants, amazing nightlife and superb hotels.
Runners and hikers flock here for the twisting trails, diversity of terrain and memorable adventures in this compact valley. With numerous cable-cars and lifts, including the Aiguille du Midi linking France to Italy on the south side of Mont Blanc, Chamonix and its surroundings have been our home base for nearly 20 years.
Italy - Dolomites
Dolomites – a name that stands for unsurpassed scenic contrasts: Stunning limestone towers above blue lakes and green valleys with quaint mountain villages. Although part of Italy, the Dolomites are a region where Austrian, Italian and Ladinian cultures overlap. The chosen route will take us diagonally through the Dolomites from the southwest to the northeast in order to sample the highlights.
France is the world’s most popular tourist destination with nearly 85 million tourists each year making the trek to see the Eiffel Tower, the Mont-St. Michel and the Aiguille du Midi cable car in Chamonix, to name but a few hotspots. It would be incredibly reductive to speak of France simply as a tourist destination as it has been, and still remains -though less so lately- at the centre of European politics and culture for at least 1000 years. With architectural marvels, world-class museums such as the Louvre in Paris and ancient cave paintings dating back thousands of years, such a medium-sized country packs a real punch.
France is famous for many things: cheese of course, wine, haute couture, zany film directors, bad English accents, incredible castles, the best food in the world, amazing mountains, rivers and countryside. With a population of nearly 70 million, France is a compact, populous country, with 7 main mountain ranges, major rivers, a sea and ocean, plains and deep gorges. France is also steeped in history, from Viking conquests to more recent battles such as the D-Day landings. With a land mass slightly smaller than the state of Texas, France’s geography goes from arid coasts to high mountains and almost everything in between.
Our focus is on three areas for our hiking and walking trips: Normandy (Rouen, Mont St. Michel and the D-day beaches), Provence (specifically around Avignon), and, of course, the French Alps in the Haute Savoie and Savoie, combined with the neighbouring Italian and Swiss Alps (Tour du Mont Blanc, Haute Route, Essentials Alps, Day-hikes from Chamonix).
From Viking conquest to Roman towns, Normandy, situated in the northwest corner of France, has literally been at the heart of French and European history for centuries.
Our walking journey through Normandy and the Loire Valley combines guided cultural walks with moderate hikes to some of the most picturesque areas of France.
Sights include the famed monastery of Mont Saint Michel, (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the majestic spires of Rouen’s cathedral, and the dramatic D-Day beaches where Allied troops fought so valiantly and incurred heavy losses. Travel to the Corsair city of ST. Malo enjoy gourmet meals and guided visits of this historically important city. We will also visit Honfleur, made famous by Samuel de Champlain who sailed from this port to found the city of Quebec.
Our meticulously chosen accommodation in both luxury chateaux to quaint sea-side inns bring home the meaning of Old World charm.
The Alpine Arc is 1200km long and runs from Triest in Italy, to the French Mediterranean coast, cutting through 8 countries.
As a mountain range, it has defined regions and held back armies, and has been a playground both in winter and summer for the last 150 years. The highest peak in Europe is the Mont Blanc, towering above the French town of Chamonix, in the Haute Savoie region which hosted the first Winter Olympics.
At nearly 5000m, the Mont Blanc and satellite peaks are the setting for an incredible hiking journey. Towering granite spires, hanging glaciers and dense larch forest are the backdrop for a trip of a lifetime.
With major international airports such as Geneva and Zurich a short train journey away from many great hiking destinations in the Alps, connecting to an alpine adventure is easy. Getting to Chamonix could not be easier as the major highway runs right through town a mere 1 hour from the Geneva International Airport.
Greece - crete
Kalimera and welcome to Crete, the southern-most and largest island in the Greek archipelago.
With permanent habitation dating back nearly 4000 years, history is omnipresent on the island, from the magnificent ruins of Knossos, the Minoan palace in Iraklio to Roman and Greek sites scattered over the island.The Museum of Archeology in Heraklion boasts large numbers of Greek artifacts and houses the Phaistos Disk containing Linear A inscriptions.
Crete is mostly an island of mountains with some peaks reaching over 2500 meters where snowfall is frequent, allowing for plenty of water for agriculture. Walking has always been part of the culture and today, the island is a hiker’s paradise with the European 4 hiking trail crossing the island from east to west and numerous, ancient, well-maintained paths making discovering the island on foot easily.
Accommodation is plentiful and meals are often the highlight of the day with fresh produce, meats and fish all from the island. With ample opportunities to swim and relax, you will understand why Greeks in general are so laidback.
Slovenia - Julian Alps
Geographically, Slovenia could not be blessed with more than it already has. Surrounded by mountains, the Mediterranean and the fertile Pannonian Plains, Slovenia has so much in such a small land mass. Crossing the country on good motor ways takes but a few hours (truck traffic is making it more difficult to travel quickly), and the Croatian Coast is only a short distance away from almost any part of the country.
The Julian Alps, home to Mount Triglav (2864 metres), the country’s highest peak is a major destination for climbers, hikers and tourists searching for dramatic scenery close to excellent infrastructure. The Triglav Protected Area which borders Italy and Austria, is one of the oldest and the largest area of protected land in the country, and is home to a vast Karstic terrain, which is soluble rock such as Limestone, eroded away by water and wind.
The capital, Ljubljana, is a modern, cosmopolitan city with excellent restaurants, boutique hotels and a vibrant cultural life. With major universities nearby (nearly 20 faculties), the city is a hub of activity from street markets to outdoor music festivals in the summer. With nearly 60,000 students, the city centre is abuzz with young people in the latest fashion sipping drinks in riverside cafes.