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Best Mountain Towns for an Active Holiday in Europe

Ana RosbergJune 11, 2019

Adventure travel is a great way to revitalize the body, the mind, and the spirit. Reconnecting with nature, reveling at breathtaking landscapes and putting one’s strength and stamina to test are some of the uplifting aspects of choosing to go on an active holiday rather than more sedentary options. Whether it’s hiking, trekking, canyoning, and rock climbing in the warmer months, or skiing, ice-climbing, glacier trekking and snowshoeing in winter, there is plenty of fun to be had for everyone. The question is what, when and where.

Europe is a great destination for active holidays with a great variety of mountain towns to go on amazing adventures. Some of the pluses of choosing Europe as a destination include that it is easy to access, it has very well preserved wilderness areas, and it has a well-developed touristic infrastructure. But Europe, although small, is big and offers many options that can range from ski touring and sailing in Norway to rock climbing in Kalymnos, Greece. Below, we’ve outlined our selection of best mountain towns for an active holiday in Europe to help you take your pick!



1. Chamonix, France


Active holiday
Photo by Mathis Dumas

A classic, Chamonix is the “mountaineering capital” of Europe which is why it is at the top of our list. It is located in southeastern France, north of Mont Blanc, and on the junction of France, Italy, and Switzerland. It is one of the oldest ski resorts in the country, and it hosted the first Winter Olympics, which makes it a historical and prestigious mountaineering location. Furthermore, it has top of the line facilities and infrastructure and a unique and lively mountaineering community.

Climbing Mont Blanc is the obvious reason why Chamonix attracts so many adventurers, however, it is not the only fun to be had in this stunning place. Hiking, trail running, via-ferrata, ski touring and rock climbing are all viable, and highly recommendable, options in the region

Read more about the best trail running routes in Chamonix, or find the top ski touring spots in the Mont Blanc area before you plan your next adventure.

Recommended trip:

Go outside of the established boundaries on this Chamonix Vallée Blanche guided off-piste skiing adventure!

2. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy


Active Holiday
Photo courtesy of Enrico Geremia

Cortina D’Ampezzo is located in northern Italy, in the Dolomites region. This stunning mountain range is famous for its heart-stopping views, glittering peaks, towering cliffs, rugged rocks, deep green meadows, and breathtaking blue alpine lakes. This makes it an ideal spot for skiing adventures, hiking, rock climbing, via ferrata and more.  At 3,244 m.a.s.l, Tofana di Mezzo is the highest peak in Cortina that lies within the Tofane group. Other mountaineering hotspots in the region include the Sorapiss to the east and Cinque Torri to the south, as well as Marmolada and Tres Cime di Lavaredo.

Located on the Boite River, Cortina is also famous for its aprés-ski scene in winter, and mountaineering environment during the warmer months, as well as being a historical region that is also well-known for its crafts. Furthermore, there are options for all levels in this stunning region.

Read more about the best rock climbing spots in the Dolomites, the best via ferratas, the best hiking areas, and the best places to go ski touring in this stunning Italian location.

Recommended trip:

Try this Via ferrata adventure in Punta Anna, from Cortina in the Tofane mountain group!

3. Bled, Slovenia


Active holiday
Photo courtesy of MITJA ŠORN

Overlooking its namesake Lake Bled, Bled is a beautiful town in northwestern Slovenia. From the top of a rock, over the lake, is the famous Bled Castle, and surrounding the town are the lush forested mountains of the Julian Alps, the Karavanke Mountains and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. The nearby Triglav National Park, which is the only national park in the country, is a stunning spot and a favorite for mountain adventures. Glacial lakes, waterfalls, and varied flora make this breathtaking place in Slovenia with fairy-tale like landscapes and untouched wilderness areas unforgettable.

The highest mountain in the area, Mount Triglav, with an elevation of 2,864 m.a.s.l., is a national landmark and an intermediate 2-day ascent. This area is also great for rock climbing, via ferratas, mountain biking and canyoning in the warmer months, as well as for ski touring and winter mountaineering in the colder seasons.

Find out more about what outdoor adventures you can enjoy in Slovenia and start planning your next active holiday.

Recommended trip:

Try climbing Mount Triglav, the highest point in Slovenia, via the Krma Valley, the easiest way to the summit. Or, read more about climbing Mount Triglav for suggestions of more challenging routes. 

4. Interlaken, Switzerland


Active holiday
Photo courtesy of Peter Frick

Located in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, Interlaken is set between lakes Thun and Brienz and surrounded by breathtaking mountains, including the well-known Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau, three emblematic mountaineering landmarks. In winter, ski touring is a great option for an active holiday in this awe-inspiring location. In summer, try hiking, canyoning, rock climbing, and even paragliding!

The Jungfrau Marathon is one of the most famous in the world and takes place in September. Also, you can also enjoy the region’s stunning historical heritage sites that are well worth visiting. Read more about the best things to do in Interlaken and get ready for an unforgettable active holiday!

Recommended trip:

Discover the beautiful Chli Schliere Canyon on this Chli Schliere (Interlaken) Guided Canyoning adventure!

5. Zakopane, Poland

Active holiday
Photo courtesy of Marcel Kubinsky

Zakopane is set at the base of the beautiful Tatra Mountains in southern Poland. This postcard-perfect town boasts plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities as is also famous for the vibrant local Goral culture and lively buzz.  In the winter, try a hut-to-hut ski adventure, an ice-climbing challenge, or a snowshoeing excursion. In the summer, enjoy swimming in the Dunajec River, try rock climbing or hike up the Giewont, which at 1,894 m.a.s.l is the highest mountain in the Tatras. Find out more about all the Zakopane adventure opportunities and start prepping those trekking boots and skis!

Recommended trip:

Try this unique hiking adventure to the top of Giewont (1,894m) in the Tatra Mountains, from Zakopane, Poland and enjoy a spectacular adventure for the whole family. 

6. Innsbruck, Austria

Active holiday
Photo courtesy of Markus Emprechtinger

Innsbruck is Tyrol’s capital and a famous location for adventure sports and for its beautiful architecture. It is set in a stunning valley between the Karwendel Alps, the Patscherkofel mountain and ski area, and the Serles mountain, also known as the “altar of Tyrol”. Having held the winter Olympics and Paralympics several times, it is a renowned location for winter sports especially, and even boasts some areas where skiing is possible in the summer. Of course, trekking, climbing and other exciting outdoor activities are also popular in the warmer months.

Keep reading about all the outdoor adventures you can enjoy from Innsbruck.

Recommended trip:

On this 1+ day Guided Ski tour around Innsbruck, Austria, you can tailor the ski touring program to suit your preferences and needs. 

7. Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany


Active holiday
Photo courtesy of Rudi Muller

Located in the Bavarian Alps, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a beautiful Alpine town that lies close to Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak at an altitude of 2,962 m.a.s.l. Partenkirchen was originally a Roman town, while Garmisch appeared some 800 years later. It wasn’t until 1935 that they became one. Therefore, besides being a beautiful European mountain town, ideal for active adventures, this is also a very interesting historical location.

The Oberreintal Valley is an important rock climbing spot, while hut to hut hiking is another fun option for the warm months. In the winter, freeriding, ski touring and ice-climbing are all popular in the region. Learn more about all your active holiday options in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and start planning your adventure!

Recommended trip:

Join this Oberreintal 2-day alpine climbing course and discover some of the classic climbs in the region as you learn the ropes!

Europe is an ideal location for active holidays. It boasts plenty of stunning mountain towns where you can set off on thrilling adventures, regardless of the season. Whether you are looking for a short summer hike, a thrilling rock climbing challenge, a canyoning or via ferrata day with the family, or whether you want a longer hut-to-hut ski touring adventure in the winter, at, you will find the perfect program for you.

Don’t miss out on the chance to discover some of Europe’s most emblematic mountain towns while getting in touch with nature and yourself on a unique adventure holiday!


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