The Outside Trip-Finder: Europe

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, February 1996

The Outside Trip-Finder: Europe
By Kathy Martin

AUSTRIA: Mountaineering and Climbing in the Zillertal Alps

    The Route: A ten-day expedition into southern Austria's rugged Zillertal range, including lessons in ice climbing and glacier technique and ascents of several 9,800 to 11,000-foot peaks

    When To Go: July-Septmeber

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Travel Advisory: You're in good hands. Your guide, Peter Habeler, was on the first team to summit Everest without oxygen (along with Reinhold Messner), and these hometown Alps served as his training ground.

    High/Low Points:

  • Summiting 11,083-foot Grosse Löffler for the stupendous sight of the Ziller Valley framed by snowcapped Tirolean peaks
  • Losing the coin toss for the last piece of Linzertorte mit schlag at the alpine Stuben halfway up

    Luxe Factor: Rustic lodging

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Mountain Travel-Sobek / 3 / $2,475

FRANCE/ITALY: Cycling and Snorkeling Corsica and Sardinia

    The Route: An 11-day exploration, via bicycle, boat, and swim fins, of the green mountains and unspoiled shorelines of northern Sardinia and western Corsica, separated by just 18 miles of the Mediterranean

    When To Go: May, June, September-October

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Travel Advisory: Bring a lightweight, breathable, mesh-lined wind jacket and wind-resistant pants. The breezes here are stiff, variable--even blustery.

    High/Low Points:

  • Carbo-loading on your boat captain's spaghetti alle vongole and local wine on the beach at Isola della Maddalena
  • Seeing eyebrows lift as you stroll among Costa Smeralda's society elite in your cycling duds .

    Luxe Factor: Tourist hotels

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Ciclismo Classico / 4 / $2,540

GREENLAND: Sea Kayaking the Fjords

    The Route: A 14- to 16-day voyage through northeastern Greenland's huge fjord system, with side hikes to Inuit villages and Norse ruins, as well as musk oxen, polar bear, and walrus habitats

    When To Go: July, August

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Travel Advisory: A pile jacket and thermal underwear are musts, but a wetsuit or drysuit is optional. A high-pressure system in the summer practically ensures mild, dry weather--like southeast Alaska without the rain.

    High/Low Points:

  • Maneuvering your craft between luminous icebergs here in the birthplace of Inuit kayak culture
  • Listening to yet another boatmate try to spell Ittoqqortoormiit, the name of an Inuit village

    Luxe Factor: Camping

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Black Feather / 1/ $4,000
    Mountain Travel-Sobek / 2 / $3,930
    The Northwest Passage / 1 / $2,800

ITALY: Hiking Sicily and the Aeolian Islands

    The Route: An eight- to ten-day tramp through the mountains and citrus groves of Sicily and nearby islands, with scrambles up 10,902-foot Mount Etna and active volcanoes on Lipari, Vulcano, and Stromboli

    When To Go: April-October

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Travel Advisory: Avoid Sicily in July and August, when siroccos off the Sahara can crank temperatures up to 110 degrees.

    High/Low Points:

  • Bivying overnight on the rim of Lipari or Stromboli's volcano under the incandescent glow of lava
  • Finding that your high school Italian bears no resemblance to Sicilian dialect

    Luxe Factor: Camping, Rustic lodging, Tourist hotels

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Adventure Center / 11 / $890-$920
    Ciclismo Classico / on demand / $2,215
    Mountain Travel-Sobek / 2 / $2,250

JORDAN: Touring 11,000-Year-Old Ruins

    The Route: An eight- to 17-day excursion through the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with stops at the stone city of Petra, the Wadi Rum Desert, the Dead Sea, and the coral reefs at 'Aqaba. Most outfitters add on Syria and/or Israel.

    When To Go: Year-round

    Difficulty: Easy

    Travel Advisory: Israeli stamps in your passport disqualify you from crossing the border into Syria. If you're planning to travel to Israel first, just request a removable card when you apply for your visa.

    High/Low Points:

  • Entering Petra via the siq, a narrow slot that winds through sandstone walls
  • Wondering how Lawrence of Arabia would find his peace nowadays among Wadi Rum's tourist tent camps

    Luxe Factor: Camping, Rustic lodging, Tourist hotels

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Adventures Abroad / 9 / $2,040*
    Butterfield & Robinson / 1 / $3,495
    Himalayan Travel / 24 / $795-$850
    Overseas Adventure Travel / 8 / $2,590-$2,890*
    Sunny Land Tours / weekly / $4,280-$4,570*
    Wilderness Travel / 3 / $3,695

NORWAY: Ski-Touring in the Hallingdal Mountains

    The Route: A ten-day journey on nordic skis over the rolling hills, glaciers, and forested trails of western Norway's Hallingdal Mountains, traveling an average of 12 miles per day between ski hotels and cabins

    When To Go: March

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Travel Advisory: Extend your trip to take in World Cup downhill runs, groomed cross-country tracks, or dogsledding at Geilo, the major winter sports resort where your loop tour begins and ends.

    High/Low Points:

  • Gliding through the former training grounds of Robert Scott and his 1910 South Pole expedition team
  • Impatiently waiting your turn for the hotels' wood-fired saunas

    Luxe Factor: Rustic lodging; Tourist hotels

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Above the Clouds Trekking / 1 / $1,750

PORTUGAL: Riding Horseback Along the Blue Coast

    The Route: An eight-day ride south of Lisbon through eucalyptus and pine forests, along cliffs and sand dunes on the Atlantic, with stops to visit castles and coastal villages

    When To Go: Year-round

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Travel Advisory: Be forewarned: You must have advanced intermediate riding skills and weigh less than 180 pounds. Trip leaders have thrown clients off the ride if they've overstated their proficiency and held the others back.

    High/Low Points:

  • Cantering your Lusitano stallion through the dunes between Zambujeira and Carvainal beaches
  • Adapting your Western-style rear end to an English-style saddle

    Luxe Factor: Tourist hotels

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Equitour /10 / $895-$1,020

SCOTLAND: Hiking the Western Highlands

    The Route: An eight- to 14-day march along the wild moors and lochs, craggy ridges, and 3,000-plus-foot munros of the Scottish Highlands, as well as visits to remote settlements and fishing villages

    When To Go: April-October

    Difficulty: Easy to moderate

    Travel Advisory: Bring serious raingear and don't forget to waterproof your boots. The Highlands get 60 inches of rain per year, and you will get rained on, no matter when you go.

    High/Low Points:

  • Gulping down a pint at the Kings House Hotel, the oldest pub in Scotland
  • Hearing one more tourist bring out his best Rob Roy brogue

    Luxe Factor: Tourist hotels

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Above the Clouds Trekking / 10 / $875
    Backroads / 3 / $2,498
    Butterfield & Robinson / 2 / $3,150
    KE Adventure Travel / 2 / $2,395
    Top Guides / weekly / $945-$1,790
    Wilderness Travel / 2 / $1,995

TURKEY: Rafting the Coruh River

    The Route: A 16-day trip down Class V whitewater beneath the thousand-year-old castles of the Seljuk and Byzantine Empires in western Turkey, with side hikes to settlements in the Kackar Mountains

    When To Go: June, July

    Difficulty: Strenuous

    Travel Advisory: Unlike most raft trips, this one requires very different clothes for activities off the water. Men need to bring long pants, and women long skirts, for visits to traditional Islamic villages.

    High/Low Points:

  • Coming off the isolated river to socialize with twentieth-generation rug weavers and beekeepers in Yusufeli
  • Being startled by trucks barreling down the brief stretch of road along the river

    Luxe Factor: Camping

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Mountain Travel-Sobek / 2 / $3,195

WEST-CENTRAL EUROPE: Cycling Across the Continent

    The Route: An epic five-week pedal across France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy, including several train rides (most of the uphill segments) and an unparalleled sampling of Euro grub

    When To Go: May-September

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Travel Advisory: The bike routes parallel rail lines--your equivalent of van support--and the travel style is youthful and on-the-fly. You'll sleep in pensions, country inns, and the occasional train berth.

    High/Low Points:

  • Flying down the 30-mile descent from Zermatt after two days of summer skiing
  • Maintaining that fine balance between wine tasting and cycling prowess in the Côte d'Or

    Luxe Factor: Tourist hotels

    Outfitters / Departures / Price
    Blue Marble Travel / 5 / $4,295

Includes airfare from U.S. See also:

Trip Finder Directory

Copyright, 1996 Outside Magazine

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

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