Mountain resorts aren’t just for skiing. Come spring and summer, the snow melts and they come to life, with meadows bursting with wildflowers and tumbling rivers taking centre stage. You’ll discover some wonderful hiking, biking and good old-fashioned R&R, as well as a wide variety of arts and music festivals. Here’s our guide to the top five mountain tours this summer, brought to you by our sister company, BSpoke Tours.
Taking in one of Europe’s most rewarding treks, the Tour du Mont Blanc crosses the borders of Switzerland, Italy and France on its winding route through the Alps. It covers roughly 170 kilometres with an ascent of 10,000 metres in ten walking stages, offering even seasoned hikers a good challenge. Over 15 days, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to take in the spectacular Alpine scenery of pine forests, jagged peaks and lakes. Wildlife photography fans can try to capture the ibex and mountain goats which populate the paths, and the marmots that roam across the rocks. The beauty of passing through three countries is the variety of cuisine you’ll encounter – from fine French wine and cheese to handmade Italian pasta. Your luggage will be taken from one family-run hotel to another, with a stop of just one night in most.
Loved for their dramatic national parks and off-the-beaten-track feel, the Canadian Rockies are so much more than a winter bolthole. Beginning in cosmopolitan Calgary, Walking in the Rockies is a 13-day trek which traverses Kootenay, Yoho and Jasper national parks, with their towering glaciers and thundering waterfalls. Skiing hotspots Banff and Lake Louise are still alive and kicking in the summer months, with stunning sunsets and buzzing bars. There’s even the opportunity to visit the Radium Hot Spring, Canada’s largest. Along the trail, you might spot moose, elk and bears, and mostly you’ll be camping in the wilderness – an unforgettable experience. There are also overnight stays in a ski lodge and a hostel, for a few home comforts.
The Dolomites to Lake Garda self-guided cycling trail meanders through the valleys of north eastern Italy. Your eight-day route takes you through the spa town of Merano, with its leafy boulevards and Art Nouveau villas. The Saben monastery is not to be missed: an ancient pilgrimage site sitting high on a rock spur with breathtaking views. This trail is deeply immersed in history and culture, flanked by charming villages such as Klausen, with its medieval walls, and sprawling vineyards where you can stop for a wine tasting. Halfway through the tour, you’ll come across Castle Trostburg – among the most majestic in the South Tyrol, despite tough competition. Indulge in a restful night’s sleep at hotels along the route, with a hearty Italian breakfast included.
A cycling holiday which offers the very best of lakes-and-mountains scenery, without the leg-burning climbs, is the St Moritz and Lake Como tour. From Tirano, your base for the first two nights, you’ll take an unforgettable train ride on the Bernina Express train up into the Swiss Alps for panoramic views across the Bernina Pass. Your first ride follows the Sentiero Valtellina cycle path, which takes you along tranquil riverbanks to a picturesque medieval village dominated by two castles. One of the more glamorous stops is the world-renowned ski resort of St Moritz. It’s just as magical in summer, with its beautiful lake and mountain backdrop, as well as plenty of shops and restaurants. The jewel in the crown is of course the mesmerising Lake Como, where you can relax and take it all in.
The ultimate Austrian Alpine ride, the Mountains and Mozart cycling tour, takes you from Innsbruck to Salzburg, with stops for a stein or two en route. Take your time through the Tyrolean mountains, drinking in the snow-capped peaks, meadows and lush valleys. You’ll find tiny market towns with plenty of character, while breweries on the Bavarian border offer warm hospitality and local craft beer. The tour’s highlights include visiting Innsbruck’s Altstadt (Old Town), with its impressive Habsburg architecture, and swimming in the lake at Walchsee. The tour ends in fairytale Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and backdrop for The Sound of Music, where you could extend your trip for a few days to experience all that the city has to offer.