10 off-beat authentic experiences you should not miss in Europe’s mountains and valleys this summer

Mountain holidays are lovely, especially on hot summer days! It's easy to get a bike, hike mountain trails or just relax in the green. Now, if you are looking for more adventure, some off-beaten activities, or authentic local experiences, we have put together a list of 10 destinations where you can spend your days differently.


1. Ride down Lillehammer's Olympic bobsleigh track - Norway

Olympiapark Lillehammer, bob sleighing, wheel bobbing, Lillehammer, Norway

In 1994, Lillehammer in Norway was hosting the Winter Olympic Games. For some weeks, this ski resort in the Norwegian Gudbrandsdalen valley - just 2 hours from Olso - was the center of many outdoor events. Even though more than 25 years have passed, its bobsleigh track is still in use today. And you can take a ride down it! In winter, a rubber bobsleigh can take 5-6 passengers (in addition to the pilot) down the track, and in summer, you can wheel bob, reaching no less than 100 km/hr. So if you want something adventurous, you cannot miss this!


2. A family adventure on an inflatable boat in the Tiberius Gorges

Gole di Tibero, T|iberius Gorge, rubber boat tour, Madonie mountains, Sicily

The Tiberius Gorges (Gola di Tiberio) are located in Siciliy’s Madonie Park and date back to the upper triassic. A wonderful experience is to explore the Gorges on a rubber boat. You will pass many natural beauties and some secret passages of robbers who hid in the caves. Apart from boating, you will also walk along the river Pollina and have at the end time to a refreshing swim.


3. A morning cycling tour - with a little treat - in Irish Burren

Are you an early bird? Even on your holidays? Then we have the perfect activity for you: cycling in the Hills of Burren in the West of Ireland. The tour goes over quiet roads, where you can enjoy the spectacular landscapes (with curious landforms) for which the area is famous. Apart from the magnificent scenery, you pass some historical places like Gleninsheen, famous for the Bronze Age Collar of Gold found in 1934. Finally, you head up Corkscrew Hill to enjoy stunning views of the valley up to Galway Bay. After this strenuous activity, you can reward yourself with a well-deserved treat: A breakfast with fresh coffee and home-baked goods at Burren Fine Wine and Food near the small authentic village of Ballyvaughan. Can you start the day better?

Burren, cycling in the Burren, Ireland National Parks, Burren National Park, Ireland

4. Visit Unesco vineyards on Pico Island - Azores

Growing wine on volcanic rocks doesn't sound like an easy thing. Yet, some wineries on the Island Pico in the Azores managed to do it and created a successful wine business. The most impressive part is the landscape! Don't expect perfect rows of vines as you see in most European countries. Here, vines grow in small squares enclosed by low dry stone walls that protect the vines from the wind. If you want to learn more about Pico's winemaking history - which goes back to the 15th century - you can take guided tours of local wineries. Also, The Museu do Vinho do Pico is an excellent place to visit and sample the most famous grape varieties of Pico Island: Arinto, Terrante, and Verdelho.

Vinyards, Pico Island, The Azores, UNESCO heritage, wine making

5. Go snowshoeing at Glencoe Mountain - Scotland

Snowshoeing is a fast-growing outdoor activity in Europe, where you walk in the snow with small ski's underneath your shoes and some ski poles to keep you stable. Sounds difficult? No, it isn't, you can quickly learn the skills, and after a few steps, you'll surely get the rhythm.

snow-shoeing, cairngorms national park, scotland

There are many places in Europe to enjoy snowshoeing, one of which is Scotland's Cairngorm mountains. Here you can hit the slopes, and in case of heavy snowfall, you can even start down at Cairngorm Ski Resort. If you don't own your snow shoes, these can easily be hired locally in Aviemore, where you can also enjoy a warm coffee of chocolate milk in one of their charming cafés after your snow walk.


6. Explore Arouca Geopark - Portugal

Paiva Walkway, Arouca, Arouca Geopark, UNESCO Geopark, Portugal

The Arouca Geopark Southeast of Porto in Portugal is a fantastic playground for outdoor families and couples. Apart from sports activities such as rafting, canyoning, canoeing, and kayaking, the park has 13 well-marked hiking trails and many educational and cultural programs.

It allows visitors to enjoy breathtaking landscapes, learn about local traditions, and even taste local cuisine!

There are two activities that must be on your list. One is walking the Paiva Walkway. It is a fantastic steep wooden walkway (eight kilometers long) along the bank of the Paiva River that offers the most scenic views of the park.


Second, there is Arouca 516! An incredible suspension bridge that is hanging 175 meters above the Paiva River. The bridge is 516 meters long and one of the most impressive in the world! Access to the bridge is possible from Canelas or Alvarenga. Do you dare the passage?

Arounca suspension bridge, portugal, arouca geopark, UNESCO geopark,

7. An Icelandic Food And Farm Tour

Hvalfjordur, Iceland, Western Iceland, Food and Farm

Hvalfjordur is a magnificent land between the ocean and mountains in Western Iceland. It is the land of many farms that settled here hundreds of years ago and produced since then delicious artisan food. If you want to learn more about the past of the farms (and what they cook), you should take a "Food and Farm" Tour! During the tour, you will visit various farms, meet the people, and taste their homemade foods. In addition, you hear stories about daily farm life - which is quite an adventure- the families' traditions, and their connection with nature and local culture.


8. A photography workshop capturing the beauties of Peneda-Gerês National Park

Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal

Peneda-Gerês National Park in Portugal is a fantastic place with endless possibilities for making stunning images thanks to its varied scenery of mountains, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, and forests. If you like to get some professional help on how to capture the best pictures, you can join a photography workshop where you learn how to use your camera best while enjoying the surrounding landscapes. So whether you're a beginner or advanced photographer, you will surely come home with some incredible images to impress family and friends.


9. A family walk in the Madonie - Sicily

Sheperd's hut madonie mountains, hiking sicily, italy, sicily

The Madonie Natural Park - in the heart of Sicily - features various landscapes, plants, and animals. Instead of just making a walk in nature, you can join an educational family excursion to learn about local flora and fauna. During the tour - catered for families with small children - you will rest in the shepherd's hut, where you can hear some stories about the brave shepherds of the area. You can explore other parts of the park with older children, such as the natural limestone caves up in the mountains.


10. A sweet experience in Norway's fruit districts

The Hardangerfjord region accounts for 40 percent of all fruit production in Norway, including apples, sweet cherries, pears, and plums. The region is known as Norway's epicenter of handcrafted ciders, and all this is thanks to some English monks. They were experts in fruit fermentation and brought with them the knowledge of transforming apples into this unique liquid.

Apple ciders made from Hardanger apples are among the most exclusive worldwide. This is because all apples must be picked by hand and carried down to the farm as the apples grow on steep slopes along the fjord. In the town of Ulvik, a fruit and cider route connects various local fruit farms that invite you for guided tours and to taste some delicious products from their farmyard shop.