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Five invigorating European destinations for outdoor lovers

It’s time to stretch those legs and get a fresh perspective on life — and what better way than with a refreshing outdoor adventure in Europe? From the delights of exploring Germany by bike to marvelling at the Norwegian fjords, there are so many ways to take in the sights and sounds of beautiful European destinations, while getting your blood flowing in the process. Combine a visit to one of our spectacular historical stays with an exciting local activity for an experience you’ll never forget.

Ramble in Ireland’s Burren National Park

The lunar-like limestone landscape of the Burren may be as close as you get to walking on the surface of the moon without boarding a space shuttle. A UNESCO Global Geopark on Ireland’s west coast, the Burren is home to many rare species of plants and flowers (including Arctic varieties as well as native). As you amble over this breathtaking stone pavement and its many cracks (grikes) and rocks (clints), you’ll soon find out why this ancient region has captured the imagination of writers and poets over the centuries.

Stay at: Within a stone’s throw of the Burren’s Ballyvaughan Wood Loop is Gregan’s Castle Hotel  — an 18th century manor house situated along the Wild Atlantic Way coastal driving route. Priding itself on its eco-friendly credentials, the castle offers views that stretch across the Burren hills to Galway Bay. An award-winning restaurant, gorgeous interiors and welcoming service make this the perfect base for all your Burren adventures.

2. Go kayak fishing in Pembrokeshire, Wales

The blue waters off the coast of Pembrokeshire are teeming with bass, pollock and mackerel; hopping aboard a kayak is the perfect way to explore the nooks and crannies of this beautiful coastline while also trying your hand at lure fishing. St David’s Head is known for its excellent fishing, with many local operators running sustainable fishing trips around Ramsey Island (with some tours even offering the chance to prepare and cook your catch over an open fire).

Stay at: The majestic 12th century Roch Castle is a spectacular sight, sitting high above the Pembrokeshire countryside. With panoramic views over St Brides Bay and the Preseli Hills, it’s an idyllic base from which to access sea fishing and lure fishing in the area. This historic stay offers the atmosphere of a real castle, while providing all the luxuries and facilities of a modern guesthouse.

3. Cruise the fjords of Norway

Norway’s fjords occupy a prime position on many a bucket list. With the university town of Bergen known as the “heart of the fjords,” it’s the ideal base for an unforgettable cruise experience through two of the largest fjords in the country, Hardangerfjord and Sognefjord. A wealth of cruise tours depart from this picturesque heritage town, giving passengers the chance to take in the awe-inspiring sight of the fjords from the water. The rugged Hardangerfjord is perfect for day trips, while Sognefjord, the larger of the two, is well worth the extra effort to explore.

Stay at: The charming Hotel Park in Bergen dates back to the 1890s, with its two buildings located on one of the city’s historically fashionable streets. Just a short stroll from the harbour, it offers a boat equipment shop with all you could possibly need for your cruising adventure on the nearby fjords. Tasteful antiques and traditional rooms provide the perfect backdrop to your fjord experience.

4. Saddle up in Germany’s Mün­ster­land

In Mün­ster­land in western Germany, there’s only one smart way to get around: by bicycle. A paradise for cycling enthusiasts, Mün­ster­land boasts a mostly flat net­work of cycle paths that wind their way through beautiful landscapes, taking in traditional restaurants, pubs and a plethora of cultural attractions. The region is well signposted for visitors and offers a total of 4,500 kilometres of cycle paths and more than 200 circular routes. You’ll pass historic castles, welcoming towns, traditional farms and guesthouses, allowing you to experience the joys of Mün­ster­land at your own pace.

Stay at: Hotel Schloss Hertefeld is 1 hour 45 minutes away from Mün­ster­land, idyllically situated on the River Niers. Dating back to the 14th century, it is said to be Germany’s only inhabitable castle. It seamlessly blends heritage and character with modern luxury and is the perfect historic adventure to undertake when your two-wheeled journey concludes.

5. Canter through the Engadine Valley, Switzerland

This Alpine valley area in the eastern Swiss Alps is famous the world over for its pleasant climate, stunning landscapes and range of adventure activities. Located in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, this 1800-meter high mountain valley shelters rare high-alpine flora and fauna while the delightful village of Sils Maria offers a picturesque glimpse into the centuries-old Swiss tradition of hospitality. Grab the reins with the help of local riding schools and explore the valley on horseback — the best way of taking in the towering majesty of the Swiss mountains that surround you.

Stay at: Hotel Waldhaus Sils perches above Lake Silvaplana in the Engadine, with the majestic Fex Valley to the south. A charming forest lodge owned by the same family since 1908, the Waldhaus is thoroughly unique — and offers an authentic flavour of Alpine culture, history and hospitality. Filled with grandeur and fairytale magic, the Waldhaus is an architectural landmark and a welcoming retreat from the modern world.

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