Embrace Spring: Four active holidays in Europe

How about an early morning hike past soaring snow-capped mountains, spending the day cycling along sprawling untamed coastlines, or diving deep below glistening azure waters to discover the local sea life? There are so many incredible locations across the pond just waiting to be explored on foot, ski or scuba – and with P&O Ferries, you can take everything from surfboards to bicycles for free. Now all you have to do is choose one of these stunning destinations for your next active holiday in Europe.

Cycling in the Netherlands

Cycling in the Netherlands
There’s no better way to catch the best Dutch scenery than on two wheels

If there’s one country that inevitably springs to mind as a cycling heaven, it must be the Netherlands. From the buzzing capital of Amsterdam to the northerly Groningen, its cities are renowned for being bike-friendly (and car-free), making it the perfect place for all abilities to explore on two wheels.

For long stretches of quiet, countryside cycling, try the North Sea Cycle Route. Taking you along the length of the country’s coastline, this 6,000km route is a showreel of traditional Dutch scenery, with many opportunities to stop off for a seaside break. If you visit in the spring, take to the Bulb or Dune region to breeze past stunning multi-coloured waves of tulip fields.

As the terrain of this country is famously low and flat, this trip is perfect for beginners or families, and travelling with bikes on a P&O ferry is easy – simply strap the whole family’s bikes onto the car for free.

Water sports in France

Sailing in the Cote d’Azur, France
Why not try sailing on the crystal-clear waters of the Cote d’Azur?

With more than 3,400km of coastline, France is perfect for seaside pursuits. Sailing in the south of France is a dream; the luxurious French Riviera (otherwise known as the Cote d’Azur) is famous for its stunning sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and beautiful towns, with many smaller, quieter islands to be explored. If you haven’t sailed before, begin your journey at Brittany and learn on the calm Atlantic, which provides perfect conditions for learning the ropes.

Surfers looking to ride the waves should head to Biarritz, which hosted the ISA World Surfing Games in 2017. However this resort isn’t just for experts – local surf schools offer lessons for all ages and levels of experience, making it perfect for families.

Alternatively, explore the deep blue through some scuba diving excursions. Jacques Cousteau, nicknamed ‘the Father of scuba diving’ due to his developments in the sport, was born in Bordeaux – and unearthed many of the magical dives France has to offer. The waters of Normandy offer fascinating wreck dives, the southern Mediterranean coast is a scenic wonder, while Nice offers a diverse range of marine wildlife.

Skiing in Germany

Skiing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen resort in Germany
The ski slopes of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen resort in Germany make it the hidden rival of the Alps

A real hidden gem when compared to larger Swiss and French resorts, Germany has a fantastic range of slopes for all levels. Serious skiers and boarders should take to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen resort, which is considered to be the best in Germany. Linking together two towns named after the famous German skiers in the 1936 Olympics, the resort is situated at the foot of the highest mountain in Germany (the Zugspite), with fantastic snow conditions. You can also head up to the mountain’s glacier, which has reliable snow for a long seven months of the year.

Video by AsWeTravel

Less experienced skiers or families should head to the hidden jewel in Germany’s snow sports crown – the Black Forest. This wonderful destination is not only just six and a half hour’s drive from both the Calais or Zeebrugge ports, but it’s less crowded and cheaper than The Alps. As well as cruising down some of the area’s 250km of pisted slopes – not to mention its 1,700km of cross-country ski tracks – you can also try out the toboggan run, or show off your skating skills on the ice rink.

Walking in Belgium

Walking in the Ardennes, Belgium
A stroll through the Ardennes reveals surprising sights around every bend

Whether you prefer city wandering or countryside rambling, Belgium has it all. The Ardennes is a beautiful region filled with unspoilt evergreen forests and rolling hills, which is unique when compared to the typically flat Belgian countryside. The region extends into France, Luxemburg and Germany, but the Belgian towns of Dinant, La Roche-en-Ardenne and Bouillon should be top of your list. All of these can be reached in less than three hours from the port of Zeebrugge.

The cities themselves are beautiful: charming canals, pastel-coloured houses and wonderfully quaint cafés. But head to the green outskirts of these lovely centres and you’ll find yourself surrounded by winding river valleys, high protruding rock structures and mystical caves. There are many different routes to take, but a picturesque journey to the ancient Bouillon castle, with its dark passageways and grand stone bridges, has to be a highlight.

Ready to plan your active holiday in Europe? Take a look at our crossings today.