Q I’d like to book an adventurous long weekend in Europe — any recommendations?
Alastair Humphreys, Author of Great Adventurers: Why not look at what’s on your doorstep? I would head for the Highlands of Scotland on a sleeper train. There’s an excited buzz in the air as the train pulls slowly out of London on a Friday evening and you settle down with a drink from the bar carriage. When you wake up, you’re in the Highlands. From Inverness, zoom north in a hire car (Focus Rentals meets you off the train with your car in Inverness) and head for the empty, desolate beauty of Assynt. Suilven is my favourite mountain in the UK and a fine destination. You can camp wild wherever you wish in Scotland (within reason), or you could stay in the lovely bothy that looks over Suilven. Assynt has fabulous hills, lochs galore, and empty, sandy beaches. It feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Then, on Sunday evening, I would take the sleeper train back home, arriving nicely in time for the start of the working week.
Ben Lerwill, freelance travel writer: Long weekends can become quite forced if they involve lengthy travel, although at the same time you want to feel you’re going somewhere special. I’d recommend Salzburg, which is under two hours’ flight from the UK but still feels nicely far-flung. The city itself is a decadent blow-out of baroque domes and spires and offers an implausibly large selection of coffee and cake. It was also Mozart’s hometown, of course, which holds its own appeal. But look beyond the city limits and you’ll find another fine reason to visit. Some of Austria’s best outdoor scenery is on Salzburg’s doorstep.
Thirty minutes’ drive to the west brings you to the lakes and mountains of the Salzkammergut region. Nobles and aristocrats used to base themselves here for weeks at a time to wallow in the scenery and fresh air, although these days it’s geared as much to active travellers as it is to sedentary tourists. Try basing yourself at lovely Fuschlsee — the closest of the lakes to Salzburg — where you can try everything from stand-up paddleboarding and hillwalking to golf and road biking.
Published in the October 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)