Top 10 Holidays with Faster Riding in Europe
A look at of some to the best horse riding holidays available which offer faster riding in Europe
Europe boasts an impressive variety of cultures and terrains, and since the advent of the budget airline industry it is now easier to get to than ever. Getting away from the crowds and visiting lesser known areas is often shows a completely different side of a country, and going by horseback opens up all sorts of new opportunities. We’ve compiled a list of some to the best horse riding holidays available which offer faster riding in Europe.
Expect stunning scenery, an abundance of history, culture and fine wine on this ride through the mountains along boarder between Bulgaria and Greece. The trail covers 300km between the distinct regions around the Rhodopes, Slavyanka and Pirin mountains. The riding here is excellent as the fit and sturdy horses take you through ever-changing scenery from pine forests to mountain peaks, crystal lakes and sand pyramids with the chance to see many rare birds, wild animals and endemic plants along the way. Accommodation is in thoughtfully chosen guesthouses along the route with picturesque views and a warm welcome to all. This 8 day/7 night point to point trail takes you to Rila Monastery, Trigrad Gorge, Dospat Lake where you can swim with the horses and Melnik, the smallest town in Bulgaria and famous for its fine red wines.
This well organised trail takes you through the Killarney National Park in County Kerry with its mountain passes, lakes, peat bogs and golden beaches. Here the tranquillity of the beautiful countryside is only disturbed by the sound of the Irish hunters as you gallop along the beach or trot along the old road to Cahersavane. The horses are willing and reliable allowing you to take in all the sights and enjoy the faster riding confidently. Accommodation along the route is in small hotels and B&Bs which exude the infamous Irish hospitality and humour, and everywhere the history of the region is evident. This 7 day/6 night point to point trail was listed as one of the top 15 ‘World’s Greatest Horse Treks by CNN international, and takes in such sights as Seefin Mountain, Caragh Lake, Cnoc Bawn, Derrynane Abbey and Skellig Michael.
Discover Italian history, nature and the rich charm of Sienna on this luxurious horse riding holiday through the Tuscan countryside. Staying in renovated accommodation in a tranquil medieval village, you follow your knowledgeable guide along ancient paths, across rolling hills, through dappled forests and alongside meandering rivers. The fit, responsive and impeccably schooled hunters keep up a good pace throughout the day as you ride from castle to castle and admire the landscape that inspired the Italian Renaissance. The food on this holiday is another highlight, with local culinary delights and the best wine from the area every night in Castello di Tocchi. Top class horses, luxuriously renovated traditional accommodation and the best of Italian hospitality make this 7 day/6 night holiday an experience not soon forgotten.
Strictly speaking, this isn’t in Europe, but it’s just as easy to get to with direct flights from London under 4 hours and less than £200. A fantastic based stay just 300 metres from the Atlantic Ocean, this hacienda-style ranch offers a tailor-made holiday with the opportunity to ride in the on-site arena or ride out to explore the coastal area. Lively Arabs and Barb Arabs will give you a fantastic ride along the 18km of beach, or take you to local fishing villages where you can see more of the Berber culture. Full day rides and 3 day mini trails along the coast or to the mountains are also available for those wanting to explore further afield. Nestled between the coast and the lesser Atlas Mountains, the ranch serves traditional cuisine packed full of flavour and also has a spa to help you relax after a great day’s riding. The 8 day/7 night programme is entirely flexible and is arranged to match your riding and interests.
If you’re an experienced rider looking for a holiday with lots of riding, lots of canters, but don’t have much time, this is the one for you. Riding up to 30km a day on endurance-trained horses through the Parc Natural Los Acornocales on this short break allows you to see many of the historical locations in the area. The trail follows sandy tracks through shady cork forests, old Roman roads to medieval castles and the flowing river across a fertile valley towards the traditional white Andalusian village of Jimena. Where the land opens out so do the horses into long canters and the occasional gallop for those that want to. There is even the option to ride along the beach at certain times of the year. Well-appointed accommodation and excellent food gives a real luxury feel to the holiday, and the amount of history and culture fitted in will amaze you. On the 4 day/3 night trip you will see the medieval fortress of Castellar, the 8th century Moorish castle at Jimena as well as riding through areas inhabited since prehistoric times and enjoying the local food and hospitality.
With 250km of protected beaches and one of the largest forests in Europe, the Atlantic coastline of France is a great choice for a riding holiday. There is access to the beaches all year round and sandy paths through the forest are perfect for long canters on the fit and well-schooled Anglo Arab horses. This is a point to point trek, covering up to 40km each day passing lagoons and lakes, marshes and sand dunes all with their own fauna and flora, and there is usually the chance to canter through the surf or take the horses swimming when its warm enough. Accommodation is in a mixture of hotels, homestays and camping along the trail, and as you might expect on a French holiday, the food is rich, plentiful and accompanied by generous amounts of local red wine. This 8 day/7 night trail is ideal for experienced riders looking for a fun ride close to home.
The Puszta, or ‘great plains’ of Hungary are ideally suited to faster riding with open plains, expansive meadows of wildflowers and forests with sandy paths offering ample opportunities for long canters on fit and responsive horses. On this ride you can explore hidden tracks and traditional farms in the World Heritage Kiskunság National Park, where you will find plenty of wildlife, wild flowers and discover the traditional pastoral life of the local farmers. Comfortable accommodation in guesthouses run by locals along the trail completes the experience, with swimming pools to relax in and freshly cooked traditional cuisine each night. This 8 day/7 night circular route immerses you into the rural Hungarian culture while still having the feel of a luxury holiday.
Follow in the hoofprints of the Icelanders of old on this fast-paced trail across the heart of Iceland. For centuries the path has been used to travel from the north to the summer parliament in Thingvellir in the south. Riding the famously sturdy Icelandic horses you will visit Gullfoss Waterfall and Langjökull glacier, extinct volcanoes and wild glacial lakes as you cross the rugged wilderness. Experience the unique tölt as you travel up to 35km each day through highlands, across green meadows, past icebergs floating on the glacial lakes and into barren sand desserts as this ride shows you all the wonders of Iceland. Spend each night in a rustic cabin in the wilderness on accentuates the feeling that you have stepped back in time and are really an Icelandic pilgrim. The trip also includes a visit to the Geyser Hot Springs in the historical site of Thingvellir itself. Learn about local heroes and villains on this 7 day/6 night adventure across the mystical land of ice and heat.
To really make the most of your precious holiday time, it doesn’t come much better than this lively trail in the l’Empordà region of Catalonia. Covering 170km in just 4 days the trail horses really show you what they’re made of. Long canters across forest paths, open plains and beaches eat up the distance and show you the best of what the region has to offer. Beautiful views across prairies and meadows open up when the trail follows streams up in to the mountains, and then lower down the valley olive groves and cereal fields surround quaint villages and country cottages. Medieval and Roman architecture appears all along the trail; with most of the roads still untarmacked and a lack of fencing you could be forgiven in thinking you had stepped back in time riding through the peaceful countryside. Riding along the beach offers an opportunity to really let the horses fly, and explore some more of the authentic natural beauty of the area. This 5 day/4 night ride is an intense and exhilarating way to discover the people and landscapes of Catalonia.
Deserted beaches, lagoons, fishing villages and green coastal mountains await you on this extraordinary ride along the Costa Azul in the south west of Portugal. Also known as the Blue Coast, the 36 mile stretch is as long and beautiful as the Algarve, more so because of the lack of crowds and gaudy tourist centres. Here the countryside is untouched save for the odd farm or fishing village, and the area around the mouth of the River Rio Sado is now a huge wildlife sanctuary. It is here that you are most likely to see the dolphins as they feed and play in the estuary. First class Lusitano horses come into their own as you canter sure-footedly through forests of pine, cork and eucalyptus, sand tracks through the countryside and of course along the stunning beaches. Away from the crowds, this holiday shows the best side of Portugal with charming accommodation run by friendly locals, and the sound of the horses approaching always draws the villagers out to give you a warm welcome. Every day produces fantastic riding at all paces through the changing terrain of this spectacular corner of Portugal, and the horses love to have a gallop when the opportunity presents itself. On the 8 day/7 night trip you will ride through the lush mountains of Grandola, past Morgavel’s Water Reservoir and the Lagoon of Sto until reaching the beaches of the Costa Azul.
For more information and to book:
Webpage: Europe: Faster Riding
Telephone: 01767 600606 (UK); 1-437-371-2822 (Canada); 1-888-420-0964 (USA); +46 (0)8-58176336 (Scandinavia)
Article by Nicki Barker