No-fly holidays: see the best of Europe by land and sea

From vibrant cities to natural wonders, see the best of Europe on these no-fly holidays

Whether you fear flying or you’re simply trying to be more planet-friendly, a no-fly holiday offers the perfect way to see the best Europe has to offer without the need to travel by plane. Here’s our pick of the best to try in 2020…

The Mediterranean by cruise ship

Best no-fly holiday for: European sunshine

Crete, Greece

The North Entrance of the Palace of Knossos in Crete, Greece

For those in need of some well-deserved sun as the end of winter finally beckons look no further than the clear seas of the Mediterranean.

Cruise in luxury with Saga on their Tales from the Ancient Mediterranean tour. This trip takes in delights such as Crete’s Palace of Knossos, the baroque architecture of Malaga and the ancient Acropolis in Athens, all bathed in golden sunshine.

With Malta and Lesbos also fascinating stops on this 22-night trip, this relaxing journey offers the chance to explore this region’s fascinating history in style. Saga Cruises offers the ‘Tales from the Ancient Mediterranean’ cruise on the Spirit of Adventure, departing Southampton on 10 October 2020 from £5,928 per person.

Black Forest, Germany by car and foot

Best no-fly holiday for: Walking

Black Forest, Germany

Germany’s Black Forest is a dream holiday destination for walkers. To get there by car, use the convenient Eurotunnel to cross the English Channel before driving on to Germany, taking in the beauty of mainland Europe as you go.

Head to the Black Forest Highlands, with their storybook Hansel and Gretel charm, for a self-guided hotel-to-hotel walk. Experienced hikers will love the chance to see the dramatic Ravenna Gorge and climb Feldberg, the region’s highest peak. The woodland provides natural shade (handy in high summer) and if you’re quiet, you might even spot an illusive herd of deer.

Cote D’Azur, France by train

Best no-fly holiday for: Soaking up the glamour

Cote D'Azur, France

The French Riviera has long been associated with continental glamour – and what could feel more sophisticated than arriving by train? Board the Eurostar at London’s St Pancras International, change trains in Paris and enjoy views of rolling French countryside as you travel south to Nice.

Here you can browse the city’s designer boutiques, enjoying a sunshine stroll along the Promenade des Anglais or dip your toe into the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. Come evening, we recommend a cocktail at opulent hotel Le Negresco, before sampling the Old Town’s fine restaurants.

Gorges du Verdon, France by train and foot

Best no-fly holiday for: Exploring the great outdoors

Gorges du Verdon, France

If the great outdoors is more your thing, Gorges du Verdon – Europe’s answer to the Grand Canyon – just outside of Nice is worth the trip.

The Continent’s deepest river canyon stretches 17 miles between the picturesque towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, with stunning panoramic views over the ancient riverbed from its ridges.

Experienced hikers and casual walkers alike will find many routes to suit them in this protected area, with the Martel Trail and Point Sublime offering popular ways to take in the spectacular scenery.

Ramblers Walking Holidays offers a Gorges du Verdon holiday from £1,449 per person departing 12 and 26 September 2020, with optional complimentary transfers from Nice.

Lake Garda, Italy, by coach

Best no-fly holiday for: A romantic break

Lake Garda, Italy

Lake Garda’s lush green hills and lapping waters make for the perfect couples’ getaway. Nestled amongst the dramatic mountain vistas of northern Italy you’ll find tiny villages on the lakes’ shores to explore.

Wine lovers can sample some of the local delicacies over a romantic meal for two in one of the many cantinas. Alternatively, scenic walking routes such as the Bardolino via Rocca Vecchia trail offer the chance to spend quality time together uninterrupted. The gradient may be quite steep in places, but the view from the top is well worth the effort.

It’s possible to reach this picture-perfect spot – one of our best places to visit in March – by coach with Leger Holidays. Their seven-day Delights of Lake Garda tour gives you four nights in Italy, with travel in an executive or silver service coach.

Salamanca, Spain by ferry

Best no-fly holiday for: Culture

Salamanca, Spain

Travel to Spain in a leisurely fashion – and all without taking to the air.

Brittany Ferries offers ferry crossings from both Plymouth and Portsmouth to Santander in northern Spain. Arrive feeling refreshed after a night in your en-suite cabin and then drive inland to the ancient city of Salamanca.

There’s plenty to soak up in this charming place. Take a tour of the Old City, home to one of the world’s oldest universities, the 12th century University of Salamanca, plus two cathedrals.  to explore plus the grand Plaza Mayor, famous for its galleries and arcades.

After all that sightseeing, treat yourself to a feast of local delicacies, including ibérico ham and suckling pig.

Words: Laura Millar, Helena Cartwright and Emma Shacklock

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