Travel in the Alps, Scandinavia and the UK
Alpine Exploratory holidays start at your first hotel, but we have always loved travelling before and after our trips. We take pleasure in giving the most useful notes that we can on how to reach your trip; we suggest direct routes and where suitable more scenic, if slower, routes.
Our recces criss-crossing the Alps as well as Norway have shown how near the other side can be, whichever the other side is. For example we have had success in flying into Switzerland or Germany and out of Italy (Venice or Turin for example). We've also tested (and rated) the most scenic public transport lines in our destinations to give you a flavour of what is possible. Please see each holiday page for our broad suggestions of how to reach the trip.
Holidays - our full programme
Here we look at fabulous cities reachable from our hikes in the Alps, Scandinavia or the UK. Please look across our three pages:
The Alpine Exploratory team takes care to travel in the same way as clients are likely to. This means taking the same trains and traveling through the same airports. Our evolving system for recces is taking into account the cities. We love to pass through or even better purposefully to spend time in these cities, either side of our visits. We add new cities to our Travel Notes which clients receive on booking.
The Exploratory system
In 2016 we added Basel in Switzerland, an hour from Zurich and with lots of flights from the UK, and Luzern which sits in between Zurich and Basel. In Italy, Turin is an alternative to Geneva for reaching the Tour du Mont Blanc. For Austrian trips we have added to previous visits to Salzburg and we have seen for the first time Graz in the East of Austria - quite charming and off the tourist map. In late Summer 2016 we spent a little while in Milan; we made the links by train from Brig in Switzerland and across the plains to Turin.
In Norway, 2016 saw our first nights spent in Oslo. We began with a broad coverage South and West of the city centre, knowing that our forthcoming Norwegian treks fit well with an Oslo break.
In Switzerland we added Lausanne to our notes, a warm and welcoming French-Swiss town. It's a fine alternative to Geneva for after the Tour du Mont Blanc or Via Alpina. Across in the East of Switzerland, while completing the Via Alpina we stayed in St Gallen and liked it very much. This is the last of our big Swiss towns. It's a fine little university town and overlooked by the big Swiss tourist trade.
In Norway it was a pleasure to add Bergen and Trondheim to our notes alongside Oslo. These visits involved the scenic train lines: Oslo to Bergen via Voss, and Oslo to Trondheim via Lillehammer and Dovre.
This year we consolidated our knowledge of Bergen and Trondheim in Norway, while adding the compact and colourful city of Stavanger down the coast. In the Alps we spent several nights in Bern during coverage of the Via Alpina. In the Hebrides, Suze and Simon spent time in Stornoway.
In the North of Sweden, Ollie and Simon each visited Kiruna across Winter and Summer in advance of our Kungsleden route. In Norway we traveled to Narvik and Bodo laying the ground for future visits to the Lofoten islands. To our Scandinavian knowledge we add Helsinki and Tallinn following our season-end trip.
2020 and 2021
In these funny years we managed to add to our Geneva knowledge (Swiss Alps) and Stornoway (Western Isles of Scotland). Pushing the frontiers wasn't as easy as we had planned.
Our city plans for 2022
We plan to push further North in Norway and, in Sweden, to see towns useful for the Kungsleden: Gallivare and Lulea. To the South of the Alps we hope to look at Verona in Italy. This links by train with Milan and the Dolomites. For Austrian trips, Klagenfurt is due a return visit. It's a handy point on the Salzburg-Ljubljana route near Villach.
Cities vis a vis mountain villages
Mountain villages are easy to get around and have clean air; the lifestyle on trek is purposeful yet relaxing. Hitting a bustling city straight after a trek can be a shock and sometimes a let down, so we advise caution! Please ask us to advise on what you'll find in each city.
Among the more manageable cities are Basel, Turin, St Gallen and Graz. Stepping off the train at the Hauptbahnhof can be daunting in Munich or Vienna, as two enormous cities bordering the Alps, but a quick walk or tube in the right direction can work wonders!
City temperatures often above 30C in the European summer, with a dry Continental air, can be stifling. We have grown used to the lifestyle; workers seem to adopt a slower pace. Bars and cafes have shady tables outside. Sandals and light, loose clothes are a tip for after your trek!
Guided and self-guided holidays - see our full range