Scotland Hiking Jules Torti Hero

June 5, 2024

Your Ultimate Guide to Europe

- By Jules Torti

Continue reading Your Ultimate Guide to Europe

If you missed backpacking around Europe in your gap year, you can still do it. Bonus: the grown-up version means fewer tins of tuna, zero hostel bunk beds but all the bohemia and thrill of exploring a new destination with even newer friends!

Wild Women offers adventures in Europe that let you strut your stuff, kick back and cruise, saddle up or paddle-power your way along the Ligurian Sea. If you’re looking for a super active itinerary (Switzerland) or a laidback one (a small ship expedition from Scotland to Iceland), here’s the highlight reel!

Switzerland Hiking Adventure

Switzerland Hiking Adventure Lake

Find your true “sole sisters”on this 8-day immersion in the Bernese Alps. Join a charged-up group of Wild Women eager to tear up some terrain in the face of granite mammoths (and marmots!). The reward is found  in some serious panoramas from the Schynige Platte and Gemmi Plateau. See the famed “Sprutz” (waterfall), Monte Rossa massif, James Bond’s sky high film set and the vineyards of Valais. Take in the car-free charms of Zermatt, impromptu picnic lunches, fondue, lessons in goat-milking and cheesemaking from a goat shepherd. There’s also a deep insight into the impact of climate change on the glaciers.

On this alpine-high, hike in the spirited shadows of Lucy Walker, the first woman to climb the Matterhorn back in 1871. The steely British climber was 35 when she started her ascent, wearing a long flannel skirt with trousers underneath to keep with the morals of the era!

This hiking-centric trip is designed for experienced hikers who are ready to knock-out an average of 6.6 miles (11 km) to 10 miles (16 km) days. The elevation is real– this ain’t no walk in the park. You must be sure-footed, confident and comfortable with high altitude and steep, exposed trails.

Italy Kayaking Adventure

Italy Kayaking Cinque Terra Jenny Martindale

Perhaps your preferred seat is in the cockpit of a kayak? Earn your gelato by paddling between scoops. The Riviera and Cinque Terre by paddle is an unforgettable way to feel, taste and move through the spirit of Italy via the emerald Ligurian sea.

Slide into Cinque Terre National Park–Italy’s first (and smallest)! Designated in 1999, the park includes five (cinque!) picturesque seaside villages (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) that cling to the rocky coastline in a captivating pastel palette. The villages are a marvel of Benedictine monasteries, Roman villas and ancient churches, all dwarfed by sharp cliffs and coastal hills. The sheltered bays and coves below are a playground for kayakers! Be prepared to paddle 4-5 hours in ocean conditions. If Mother Nature is not in the mood, expect to hike between the villages (insert steep stairs and some solid uphill climbs here).

Croatia Active Adventure

Croatia Hvar Island Hike Malo Grablje Jules Torti

This trip offers the best tasting menu. From slick Zagreb to ancient Dubronik, Croatia is an open history book. The time-worn pages reflect turbulent war-torn years, earthquakes and a royal battle for independence. Imposing fortresses and cathedrals, immaculate walled cities and the regal palaces of aristocrats remain. The unearthly national parks, twee marinas and palm-lined promenades and abandoned villages will fill your senses to the brim.

Hike, kayak and island hop from Hvar to St. Clement to Vis by water taxi, speedboat and catamaran ferry. In between–visit a local wine and cheesemaker, taste just-caught sea bass, cuttlefish, truffles and lamb baked in an ash-covered cauldron.

The Camino de Santiago Hiking Adventure (Spain)

Camino de Santiago Woman Traveler

There’s an international, ageless nature to the Camino. In the company and camaraderie of new friends, walk the final 67 miles (108 km) of The Way  to the historic Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Fuelled by impromptu café con leches and tapas shared with your fellow pilgrims, the distance is often forgotten over easy conversation and the rhythm of footfalls through the eucalyptus forest.

This Camino experience allows great freedom: your accommodations are reserved and your luggage can be forwarded! If you’re feeling whipped, there’s a support vehicle to jump in to take a break or call it a day. Breakfast and dinners are pre-arranged but you can choose to have lunch wherever and whenever you want!

If you’ve forgotten something critical or unexpected, you’re traveling with your own built-in support system of Wild Women who will have extra Compeeds, a squirt of sunscreen, protein bars or any sort of pick-me-up that you might need on the trail. You’ll have your own group of cheerleaders which makes covering 12 miles (20 km) a lot more doable and, dare we say, fun as hell!

Scotland Hiking Adventure

Scotland Hiking Jules Torti

The tundra-like landscape gives way to moody lochs, submarine serpents, wee hills and the hulking shadows of Ben Nevis Mountain. There will be dramatic castle ruins, sleepy fishing villages, seafood hooked fresh from the denim waters and hillsides blurred purple with Scottish heather.

Elusive wildlife like the tabby-like Scottish wildcat, pine marten, red deer and capercaillies (the largest member of the grouse family) surprise the quiet hiker. Air out your punky hiking boots for the day in exchange for a guided sea kayaking experience in the serene Sound of Arisaig. There are intimate coves, rock skerries and remote beaches to discover.

Hikes range in time, distance, terrain and ascents. Depending on the group’s pace, skill level and ambition, options start at 4.5 miles (7 km) to 11.25 miles (18 km) The trail can be muddy and boggy to downright soupy with river crossings (on stepping stones), slippery rocks,turf steps, steep and rocky sections and sometimes–they are snow-covered too! Ready for some rock n’ roll?

Azores Horseback Riding

Photo: Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore

Faial Island is just 13 miles (21 km) long and nine miles (14 km) at its widest point which makes experiencing it by saddle an exclusive experience. The gentle Lusitano horses of the Jungle Horse Camp are a majestic Portuguese breed thought to be one of the oldest in the world. Tap into your inner cowgirl-self on this 8-day exploration of the Blue Island. The tour includes three days of English-style horse trail riding sessions and saddlebag picnics with a knock-out view. Bonus: unpack once as the group spends seven nights at Patio Lodge!

If you’re seeking a balance of moderate hikes and horses, Faial is the island you didn’t even know you were longing for! There’s a volcanic rim hike, stops at the Volcano Visitor Centre and  Whalers Museum; a 3-hour whale watching tour and Verdelho varietal wine tasting session at Vineyards of Pico, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During the riding days, the Wild Women group can be divided into beginner and advanced riders to ensure everyone is challenged and rewarded. Please note that this trip is suitable for confident beginners with some experience but not advised for non-riders.

Iceland Horseback Riding black sand beach

Photo: Jenny Rate Bateman Photography

Southern Iceland’s super scenic Golden Circle is a never-ending story above and below the surface. The island is famous for its dramatic volcanic and geothermal landscape full of fissures and frisson. The expansive valleys and mountains make for ideal and exceptional riding conditions. Expect saddlebag picnics, a historical interlude at Thingvellir National Park, the wow of Gullfoss, geysers, hot spring soaks and a sneak peek at the life of the “cave people” of Laugardalshellir caves. 

This 9-day trip is a beautiful balance of riding, panoramas, geological wow factor and authentic Icelandic cuisine. And, of course, the sweet-as-all-get-out Icelandic horses known for their distinctly smooth gait and sweet personalities.This trip is suitable for women with solid novice to intermediate skills who are open to learning, as the style is quite different. More experienced riders will appreciate the introduction to the signature tölt and flying pace.

Iceland Circumnavigation

From cosmopolitan Reykjavík, round the immense island country and back on this 10-day small ship expedition aboard the Ocean Endeavour. It’s a constant highlight reel of nature at its most sublime from birds to bergs. Expect ribbons of waterfalls, black sand beaches, volcanoes, towering mountains and dramatic fjords. 

The wildlife is equally impressive with puffin colonies and whales stealing the show. Iceland is also a wonderland of peculiar museums dedicated to herring, ghosts, sharks, sea monsters and motorcycles. Poke around the world’s northernmost botanical gardens and travel back in time by visiting the Laufas Turf Houses from 1865. Optional excursions to a geothermal spa and organic farm round out this all-encompassing adventure.

Scotland, Faroe Islands and Iceland: North Atlantic Saga

SFI Group Shot Cline Owen

Aboard the Ocean Endeavour, this 11-day navigation from Aberdeen, Scotland to jazzy Reykjavik, Iceland (with 18 volcanic Faroe Islands scattered in the sea in between). This small ship expedition delivers a solid dose of Highland cattle, Viking ghosts, stone henges, puffin colonies and Icelandic hot dogs! 

Visit the Orkneys, an archaeology-studded archipelago off the northeastern coast of Scotland. Feel the deep ancestral vibes of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a mystical UNESCO World Heritage Site of monuments, ceremonial stone circles, henges and settlement remains from 5,000 years ago. Photographers will enjoy playing with the moody skies and ominous remains of the Ring of Brodgar and Stones of Stenness.

Birders will love the Fair Isles (Scotland) and the Westman Islands (Iceland). The Zodiac cruise in search of seabirds that nest on the sheer rock faces and storm-beaten ocean cliffs of the Westmans include frequent fliers like puffins, storm petrels, razorbills and skuas.

In Reykjavik there’s an opportunity for self-guided exploration post-trip too. Hug your dear Wild Women friends goodbye, or drag them along to see what the slick city has up its sleeve!

Ready to bounce over to Europe? We are!

Adventures featured in this post:

Please confirm you are a person.

Find Your Trip Let's Talk!