1) Portugal (Surf & Yoga in Portugal

algarveHead completely off grid and retreat to a world of simple living and rolling waves. Surf Algarve sits in a secluded valley close to the village of Aljezur in western Portugal with accommodation in shared tipis. Every effort is made to be eco-friendly – expect composting toilets, water heated by the sun and an organic vegetable garden. The camp offers twice daily yoga sessions either on the beach or their yoga deck, as well as surfing lessons and guiding. In other words if you can’t get your chakras aligned here then it’s time to take up another hobby.

2) Horse Riding in Italy

Most of the Cilento region south of Naples is a national park with stunning rugged scenery lending itself perfectly to a week of horse-riding on trails alternately running through ancient villages, olive groves, coastal paths and wild hilltops. The routes offered are suitable for beginner riders through to advanced and for those keen to taste more of Italian culture than horse hair, meals (along with accommodation) are provided at I Moresani, a farm which prides itself on its organic and home-grown produce.

3) Multi Activity in Sardinia

bike man overlooking secenery smallAfter the hordes of Italian holidaymakers have departed, but before winter sets in and everything closes, there is a delicious window of opportunity to enjoy the natural playground of Sardinia without being burnt alive in the midday sun. The Lemon House in Ogliastra on the island’s east coast is run by two mountain biking and rock climbing enthusiasts who are more than keen to impart their knowledge on routes – both up and down – as well as advise on hikes, road cycles and kayak trips. The house throbs with a love of physical activity which makes the classic Italian sundowner on the roof even more worthwhile.

4) Canoeing in Sweden

Dalsland, the Swedish lake district, sits around two hours north of Gothenburg. Interconnected lakes and vast expanses of forest offer up the perfect combination of wild adventure and moderate activity. Nature Travels has a seven-day, six-night self-guided canoeing trip which leaves you free to adapt your route depending on your enthusiasm and fitness. And while pretty villages pepper the landscape as you drift past, accommodation each night is under the stars with wild camping spots and fireplaces adding a touch of Bear Grylls to the proceedings.

5) Cycle France

loire valleyThis is a wonderfully relaxed ride through a most quintessentially French corner of this beautiful country. The Loire Valley conjures up images of architectural masterpieces, beautiful rolling countryside, world renowned vineyards, and picturesque villages wafting the irresistible smell of freshly baked bread from their local boulangeries. The cycling pace of this region can be very laid back, giving ample opportunity to visit the opulent chateaux of Chambord and Chenonceaux, enjoy gentle cycling along the banks of the Loire and of course savour the wonderful local flavours during lazy lunches.

6) Mountain Biking in Austria

cycling italysmall jpgMaybe not the first place that comes to mind when you think of mountain biking in Europe, but Austria has some beautiful and uncrowded trails just a stone’s throw from major airports (if your stone takes one and a half hours to land that is). The village of Ellmau sits proudly at 2,700ft and slap bang in the middle of both the Wilder Kaiser and the Hartkaiser ranges. Take your pick from free ride, cross country and tight single-track all with cable cars to transport you back up should your thighs require the help. Be warned though – the folks at Uphill and Downhill love going both ways. Accommodation is on a working dairy farm meaning you do not have to worry about being well fed after a hard day on the trails.

7) Swimming with Dolphins in the Azores

Rather than just lobbing you off the side of a boat in the open ocean, Vision Travel can offer you a real interest in marine conservation and ecosystems, encouraging you to develop your understanding of the environment they are swimming in and offering lectures on marine biology. Its week-long swimming with dolphin trips which include five boat excursions as well as guidance in how to develop confidence in the open water.

8) Kite surfing In Spain

You can lounge around on a beach all day but where’s the fun in that? Tantrum Kitesurf is based in the windy and sunny town of Tarifa on Spain’s south-west coast meaning you’ve got ample conditions to get to grips with this fast-moving sport. A week-long immersion course includes unlimited instruction and promises to have you whizzing up the learning curve faster than you can yell “big wave!”

9) Hiking In Romania

hiking older adultssmall.Hikers looking for a more off-beat challenge than the Alps need look no further than the Fagaras range. The mountains form an incredible ridgeline offering amazing views of glacial lakes and steep valleys. Vision Travel can offer you an eight-day trek with accommodation in mountain huts and including two days spent trekking in the Piatra Craiului national park, home to wolf, bear and lynx. Safe to say you’ll get your outdoor fix.

10) Hiking To View The Northern Lights in Finland

One for romantic types. You don’t have to wait until the freezing depths of mid-winter in order to witness the aurora borealis although that may make rubbing noses seem a bit more logical. Take yourself off to the remote Finnish village of Nellim on the Russian border and spend your evenings searching the skies while your days are spent hiking through hundreds of acres of wildness, pausing for picnics created using local produce. You can even pan for gold nearby which could turn it into a very successful holiday indeed.