Four active hostel breaks for 2017

Posted on 13 January 2017

With a new year stretching ahead of us, we aren’t just thinking about travel: we’re also thinking about how to set some new personal goals and shed some of the pounds we put on over Christmas and New Year. With that in mind, we’ve thought up a few inspiring active backpacking breaks that’ll get you into a new sport, introduce you to a new one or push your performance to a new level. And because they’re in places with plenty of cheap hostels, they won’t break the bank either…

A kayak tour of Stockholm (and beyond)

Hostels - kayak tour of Stockholm

An active break in a major European city? No, we haven’t lost it – Stockholm, remember, is one of several cities that claim to be the ‘Venice of the North’. There’s water everywhere. But the Swedish capital isn’t just a compelling web of islands, lakes and canals. It also extends out into a stunning archipelago that just begs to be explored by canoe or kayak. Base yourself in a city centre hostel and pair top-notch paddling with the best of Swedish art, food and nightlife.

A mountain biking holiday in Tenerife

Hostels - Biking holiday in Tenerife

Tenerife consists of a central volcano – Teide – fringed with pine forests, valleys and ravines, while a chain of mountains stretches off to the northwest, capped by the Anaga massif. You don’t even need to see that landscape to know it spells great riding. The Spanish island offers everything from shady forest tracks to tough ascents to serious downhill trails, and there are loads of mountain biking operators to provide guiding and instruction. A word of warning, though: avoid summer. The temperatures are too high for biking, and the island – whose superb beaches are popular with package holidaymakers – will be busy.

A city-and-surf break in Lisbon

Hostels - Surf break in Lisbon

Portugal’s Atlantic coast gets superb swells, and there are loads of great surfing spots at the mouth of the Tagus river, well within striking distance of historic Lisbon. Public transport will get you out to the beaches of the Estoril coast (loosely, from Carcavelos to Guincho), where there are masses of surf schools ready to guide you to the best waves and sharpen your skills. And if you can get hold of transport, the quality surfing continues all the way up the coast – so you could easily hire some kit and drive north, exploring as you go.

A hiking holiday in Bled or Bohinj

Hostels - Hiking holiday in Bled or Bohinj

Slovenian capital Ljubljana was the European Green Capital in 2016, but that’s just one reason to put this criminally underrated country on your hit list. A few hours on the bus will bring you to the foothills of the Julian Alps, and some of the best lakes-and-mountains scenery you’ve ever seen – think turquoise water, thick forest, dramatic gorges. Lakes Bled and Bohinj are both fabulous bases; Bled edges it on sheer prettiness and has a bigger town centre, while Bohinj (pictured) is larger and wilder, so it’s perfect if you want scale, drama and a good range of outdoorsy activities. They’re about 45 minutes apart by bus, so it’s easy to move between the two.