winter holiday trend

Sunny Hiking Holidays This Winter

Thursday 09th Nov 2023 |

Adventure holidays continue to soar in popularity, leading online travel agent loveholidays uncovering an exciting trend among British holidaymakers. Sunny destinations traditionally favoured for their relaxation (or party) appeal, such as Ayia Napa and Benidorm, have emerged as unexpected hiking hotspots – and they’re also beautiful in wintertime.

According to loveholidays’ data, adventure seekers are increasingly looking for experiences in nature, with additional searches for ‘walking holidays for beginners’ (+400%) and ‘cheap hiking holidays’ (+200%) also increasing over the last 12 months. 

To find out why many now opt for hiking and adventure holidays abroad, especially in the winter, loveholidays spoke to Jane Brookes, member of the Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers in Spain.

How the hiking in Spain started: 

“From a young age, every holiday my parents took me to the Lakes. I complained, at the time, however it gave me a love of hiking! We started walking in Spain specifically, because we were spending longer periods of time in our house there.

“We found the Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers (CBMW), who are a group of walking enthusiasts. They have various grades of walks, easy, moderate, moderately strenuous, and hard. The experts point out hazards, which we would never have known about such as processionary caterpillars, and interesting areas of historical interest.”

The health benefits of taking part in hikes abroad:

“Hiking is great for your health, physically and mentally. You can sit on top of a mountain, with silence all around you and just be. Since hiking, I have found myself feeling so much fitter and just generally strong – which is so important as you get older. Physically you must be careful and it’s important to know your limits, especially if you’re first starting out. However, when you have taken on several walks, your stamina and fitness improve substantially.”

The cost benefits of hiking abroad:

“While you do need boots, a waterproof and a backpack, they do not have to be expensive, or a ‘named brand’. On most walks there are no shops to buy anything from – you take a packed lunch and water bottle, and possibly a thermos and sit beside a river, waterfall or on a mountain top and experience the view and peace and quiet.

“In Spain, with our walking group, we will probably have a ‘caña’ (small beer) at the end, which can cost between €1-€3. We sometimes have the option for a ‘menu del día’, which can be around €20 for three courses with a beer/carafe of wine, but not compulsory. 

“A main in a UK spot such as the Lakes can range between £15-£27, with a pint anywhere between £4-6 and whilst the UK is a popular staycation spot for walkers, it can be pricier. We tend to eat out in Spain more because the quality is there along with the low prices, and you’ll often get a better range of food too.”

The reasons why Brits should consider taking part abroad in wintertime:

“A surprising element of walking abroad is the great social side; we have made quite a few new friends whilst hiking. To no surprise, the biggest benefit is that the weather in Spain means that even in the depths of winter you can go out walking. If it’s unpleasant in the UK and you languish indoors, you can become more isolated.”

“Winter is when walking abroad really comes into its own.  The UK weather can be unpredictable and therefore you are not guaranteed to be able to get outside.  Whereas in Spain especially , the heat of summer and early autumn has died down and temperatures can range from late teens to mid-twenties (in certain parts of Spain), making it ideal walking weather. Generally, it can be sunny, combined with fantastic air quality.  The summer hoards have disappeared and you can walk for miles and see hardly anyone.  The views can be spectacular and on more than one occasion we have looked over the Mediterranean and seen Ibiza.”

Jane’s top tips if you’re interested in hiking during your next holiday:

“Walks in Spain is a website which provides you with up-to-date route information. The main difference with hiking abroad over the UK is that the paths generally have less signage, so you might find one that suddenly finishes or has a house and fencing blocking it, so always be prepared. Since the terrain is pebbly, it could affect your descent, especially if it’s wet. On hot days, make sure you take enough water as it can make the trip more difficult. If a walk covers a dry riverbed be very careful, and make sure to go with someone who knows the area. Last, but most importantly, dress appropriately. Even though you’re on holiday, ensure you wear walking boots or shoes with good grip and long lightweight trousers.”

Dr Deborah Lee, from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, also comments on the benefits of walking holidays.

“Walking affects the way the brain processes negative emotions, lowers stress, and elevates mood. It’s also associated with lower anxiety and depression scores, as well as lowering blood pressure.

“Older adults have the same fitness recommendations as younger people in terms of needing to do 150 minutes of MIT exercise weekly – although each person should take advice from their doctor if they’re undergoing treatment. For older people, if long walks are challenging, perhaps split walks into 3 x 10-minute walks per day.

“I’d strongly encourage walking or hiking as an outdoor activity when on holiday. The health benefits have been proven. Being outside in nature we can breathe clean air and appreciate the beauty of the world around us.”

Christmas dinner – in a pie?