Roadtripping across Europe was a bucket list goal of mine for many years. This summer we had the opportunity to visit ten countries: Spain, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, and Monaco.
- Total days on the road = 39
- Kilometers driven = 7619.9 (4,734 miles)
Our kids came with us as we traveled to races, hiked in the Alps, and podcasted from the road. You can hear the audio recap of our trip on podcast episode 389.
In this post I want to share eight excursions (runs, hikes, swims) that I particularly enjoyed!
Excursion Number One . . .
Overnight Hike on the Tour du Mont-Blanc
While in France 🇫🇷 we did an overnight hut hike on the beautiful Tour du Mont Blanc trail. We started in the village of Les Contamines and hiked to the Refuge des Prés.
The kids are not too keen on hiking so we only went eight miles the first day and five miles the second day. One of my bucket list goals is to complete the full Tour du Mont-Blac hiking from hut to hut.
The Tour du Mont-Blanc is a 170 kilometer total trail that circles Mont Blanc (the highest mountain in the alps) through France, Italy, and Switzerland. Most people do it counterclockwise and it takes between 7-10 days. It’s hard to believe that people like Courtney Dauwalter can run it in one day!
We were only on the trail for one night so I chose a section known for it’s historic sights:
- The Church of Notre-Dame de la Gorge built in the 13th century.
- The Sainte-Chapelle (a chapel carved into the mountain dating from the Middle Ages).
- Ancient Roman Bridge
- Refuge Nant Borrant
- Lacs Jovet (Alpine lake)
Excursion Number Two . . .
Running the Marathon du Mont-Blanc
The Marathon du Mont-Blanc is a beautiful but rugged trail marathon that ascends up to 2,540 meters (8333.333 feet) above the town of Chamonix, France 🇫🇷.
This was my 19th marathon and toughest yet! The mountain ground me down and I didn’t finish until 09:47:33 (12 minutes before the cutoff). Read and listen to my full recap here.
From the race website:
To participate to this race, it’s recommended to have a good mountain race experience, to be comfortable in any ground and to be autonomous for several hours.
Excursion Number Three . . .
Traversing the Via Ferrata Müren
While in Interlaken, Switzerland 🇨🇭, I had the chance to do a climb called the Via Ferrata (which is Italian for iron path). This hike begins in the village of Mürren -which is only accessible by cable car or train.
I started at 1628 meters up (5341 feet) and traversed across the face of the mountain on a steel cable attached to the rock. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life and only cost 40 euros to rent the equipment in Mürren. See video below.
Excursion Number Four . . .
Morning Run in Budapest
We stayed in Budapest, Hungary 🇭🇺 for three nights thanks to a generous Academy member named Kris who let us use his apartment. Budapest is a very clean and beautiful city with great running paths.
One can start in the center city and run to the Parliament building complex. The path along the river takes you across the Danube to Margaret Island where you can find a flat 5.3 km running track encircling the whole island.
Excursion Number Five . . .
Exploring Lake Tisza
We were invited by an Academy member named Kris to be part of a 4 person relay around Lake Tisza -which is 1.5 hours from Budapest, Hungary 🇭🇺. Unfortunately Angie was sick on race day so our 4 person team was reduced to a 3 person team.
It was so hot that day, 93 degrees Fahrenheit, that running meant just surviving. I finished just 14 miles and gladly let my teammates take over.
To cool off, my son Liam and I rented a boat and explored Lake Tisza -the largest man-made lake in Hungary.
Excursion Number Six . . .
Morning Run in Bratislava
We stayed in the capital of Slovakia 🇸🇰 for 1 night before heading back to Austria. This city is a hidden gem! Like Budapest it is clean, safe, and situated along the River Danube.
We left our Airbnb in the city center and ran along the river, crossed a bridge, ran to the UFO tower, crossed the river, and ran back to the city center. One thing you encounter in Bratislava are many interesting art installations . . .
Excursion Number Seven . . .
Walking to Monastery Andechs
One hour south of Munich, Germany 🇩🇪, is the Monastery Andechs built on the Heilige Berg (holy mountain) a place of pilgrimage since 1138. The monks have been serving beer (really good beer) to pilgrims since that time.
The Monastery Brewery is “one of the last genuine monastery breweries managed by an active religious order”.
You can drive to the monastery parking lot but we chose to park a half mile away and walk along the pilgrim path. It was a good way to work up an appetite for beer and pork knuckle.
Excursion Number Eight . . .
Downhill Hike in Südtirol
Südtirol in northern Italy 🇮🇹 is one of my favorite places on earth. I was here last year for the Südtirol Sky Marathon, so it was special to bring Angie and the kids to this other-worldly place.
Like everywhere in the Alps, the area proliferates with hiking trails. We started in Renon and hiked along the Freud Promenade (named after Sigmund Freud who spent a holiday here in 1911).
In Oberbozen we came upon a group of tourists on a llama excursion. I guess you can pay money to hike with llamas! We stopped for a drink at the lovely Hotel Post Victoria before continuing our hike.
The hike from Oberbozen to Bozen is a 9 kilometer downhill quad-buster but affords amazing views of the valley. The kids remember this section as hot and lasting too long. 😂
Once we reached Bozen (a city of 106,000 people) we took the cable car back up to where we started.
I could add cliff jumping in Tarragona, Spain 🇪🇸 to this list but unfortunately I didn’t get any photos. We also did walking tours in big cities like Madrid and Vienna and toured a few castles, as one does.
Thanks for reading my post! Where do you like to go in Europe?