Top 10 Holidays with Faster Riding in Europe
A look at of some of the best horse riding holidays available which offer faster riding in Europe
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 the best horse riding holidays available which offer faster riding in Europe.
10 – Kingdom of Orpheus Panorama Trail, Bulgaria
Join this fantastic week-long horse riding holiday in the famous Rhodopes mountains. This trail follows a 150km route through a variety of landscapes. A great mixture of nature and culture, from crossing the protected area of ‘Sredni livadi’ to visiting the oldest Orthodoxal monastery of Bachkovo on horseback. The ride starts with a tour of the ancient city of Plovdiv, one of the world’s oldest continually-inhabited cities. Accommodation is in comfortable family-run hotels and guesthouses. Riders spend the first and last night at a biggest show jumping stable in southern Bulgaria.
Highlights of this trail include riding in the Rozhen meadows, swimming with horses in the lakes of Momchilovtsi and visiting the rocky phonomenon that is ‘Chudnite Mostove’ (The Woderful Bridges). Legend has it, the mythical singer, Orpheus, was born in the Rhodope mountain.
Bulgaria is a fantastic and underrated horse-riding destination, this trail showcases the best of the country with fit and sure-footed horses, knowledgable guides and a completely unique one-way itinerary taking you right up close to the Greek border. The Rhodope Mountains are one of the most biodiverse areas in Europe and are home to a range of fascinating flora and fauna – bears, wolves, wild cats, birds of prey and an incredible number of bat species inhabit the region so this is the ideal trip for nature and wildlife lovers able to ride at an intermediate level.
Travel back in time following the medieval Zagoria caravan pathways into a land of myths, tales and ballads. Starting in Gjiroksater, the circular mountainous route passes through ancient ruins of the Illyrian civilization, medieval villages and many remote churches and monasteries. You will experience rural Albanian traditions by staying with local people and riding through vibrant, unspoilt natural landscapes.
The horses used on this ride are a local breed mix of Tarpan and Arab. They are small but perfectly suited to the rocky terrain being surefooted and accustomed to trekking long mountainous routes, allowing riders to feel confident, relaxed and free to enjoy the stunning views.
You will meet friendly locals and learn about their traditions while enjoying accommodation as guests in local homes. Your luggage will be transported by car with the most necessary things in saddle bags on your horse. The guides are professional and good company. The main objective of this ride is to celebrate the harmony between humankind, horses and nature.
8 – Cappadocia Adventure Trail, Turkey
Join this horse riding adventure in Cappadocia, a beautiful region in central Turkey famous for it’s fairytale scenery. Discover its extraordinary landscape of fairy chimneys and volcanic formations. Over centuries, the erosion of volcanic rocks has formed this surrealistic breathtaking landscape. Visit cave villages, underground cities, troglodytic monasteries and ancient frescoed churches to discover the historical and cultural wealth of this region – a UNESCO World Heritage site.
From canyon to canyon, through tunnels, ride strong, sure footed Anatolian horses (Barb-Arab crosses) that will effortlessly carry you over the varied terrain, allowing you the time to take in the wonderful scenery. In groups of no more than 8 riders, cover 5-6 hours per day (first day being a shorter ride, 3 hours), traversing 25-40km. The pace is mostly walk with opportunities for trots and canters every day.
Accommodation in comfortable hotels. A luxury hotel option is also possible on request, please enquire for more details.
Visiting Turkey but can’t commit to a full week trail? Why not book a shorter version of this trail, for more information click here.
7 – Dalmation Mountain Explorer, Croatia
Explore the Dalmatian countryside of Croatia on this break for experienced riders. Enjoy delicious homemade food and wines, fast, thrilling riding, and friendly and knowledgeable hosts on this delightful based stay. Escape the summer crowds and see a side of Croatia rarely explored by travelling to the spectacular mountain interior of the Dalmatian region. Ride old Roman roads and cattle paths through this mountainous rural area with gentle slopes and wide valleys, making it ideal horse country. Reach the summits of Svilaja and Mosec mountains while experiencing Croatian hospitality first-hand, riding through villages where tourism is still rare. Allow some extra time to explore the city of Split, especially the UNESCO-protected Diocletian Palace before departing.
Accommodation is in simple double rooms with shared bathrooms and home cooked meals.
6 – Morvan National Park Endurance Trail, France
Join one of the fastest-paced trails in Europe in the beautiful setting of the Morvan Natural Park, home to verdant scenery, great lakes and lush forests. You’ll be riding specially-trained endurance horses from Frances’ first endurance stud and will be accompanied by a qualified equestrian guide who knows both the region and the horses extremely well.
The stages on horseback are often quite long at between 40 and 60 km and the pace is very fast, based on an average of about 10 km/h. This is an exhilarating trail which includes long and frequent canters, steep downhill descents and lake crossings. The trail takes you on a large loop in the park and over the week you’ll be riding through: Les Settons, Dun Places or Quarré Tombs, Vézelay, Lantilly, Chateau-Chinon and Saint light under Beuvray before finally returning to the equestrian centre at Sommant.
Accommodation is provided by a variety of two-star hotels in the Morvan and you’ll spend one night in a 13th century castle.
5 – Atlantic Coast Trek, France
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 it’s warm enough. Accommodation is 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.
2 – Catalonia Extreme Trail, Spain
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.
1 – Dolphin Coast Trail, Portugal
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