Savor the European Countryside
this Summer and Fall
Like many of you who delayed plans to Europe this past year, we were excited to hear the recent announcement that vaccinated Americans would be invited back to the EU sometime this summer. Autumn is a great time to visit the continent, but we’re still not sure about rushing back to cities like Rome, Paris, and Barcelona, unless we know that there will be some sense of normalcy visiting all major sites and dining out.

Our focus so far has been to design trips to the European countryside. There’s no better time to visit the Swiss Alps, Icelandic glaciers, Norwegian fjords, Scottish Highlands, and off-the-beaten-track Greek isles. Whether you prefer to travel independently or a group, ActiveTravels know the best way to get you deep into the scenic European countryside.

Start with these 6 destinations:
The Swiss Alps is blessed with an intricate network of trains and gondolas that can connect with endless opportunities for high adventure right outside your hotel doorstep. You never have to travel far, thus spending far less time in shuttles or transfers to the next destination. Swiss chocolate and fondue might be the main draw to the country, but one look at lofty Eiger Peak, standing 13,020 feet, as you take a gondola high above the mountain village of Grindelwald, and you can’t help but be mesmerized by the mix of snowcapped peaks, green valleys, glacier-fed waterfalls, and large lakes. Add Bern to your itinerary and you’ll have the unique opportunity to tube done the Aare River and take an electric bike ride in scenic Emmental Valley. We were fortunate to travel to Switzerland with Backroads on a family trip designed for older children. It still ranks as one of the top five trips we took as a family. Backroads Multi-Adventure Tour in Switzerland.
Home to some of the continent’s most stunning scenery, coupled with one of Europe’s least densely populated countries, Scotland perfectly fits the bill for post-pandemic travel.
Whatever sport you choose, we can arrange the activity, lodging, guides, and meals with a tour operator we love to use in the UK, Celebrated Experiences.

Hikers and mountain bikers can head to the ancient pine forest of Cairngorms National Park, the largest national park in the UK. Or canoe on the River Spey to the famous Speyside whisky distilleries. Sea kayakers can paddle around Applecross and the spectacular Isle of Skye, where for one summer, my brother worked as a bellhop for a hotel. The Brits didn’t tip so well back then, but he still loved being there. Sailors head to the Inner Hebrides for two days of sailing around Mull, Islay and Jura (where George Orwell wrote many of his books), finishing at Isle of Eriska and their Relais & Chateaux estate. Celebrated Experiences has vetted many private estates in Scotland, from medieval castles to island cottages. So if you prefer a private home to a resort, Scotland is a great option.
Who wouldn’t want to be whisked away to this stunning land of fjords, colorful and charming UNESCO World Heritage cities like Bergen, and a history that dates back to the time of Vikings? And you don’t have to opt for a cruise to visit Norway if you don’t want to.

With an office based in Lillehammer, the tour operator 50 Degrees North is our go-to choice for creating custom-design self-guided driving routes for ActiveTravels members who want to travel independently around the country. On their 6-day route, you start in Oslo, traveling to the charming town of Lillehammer, the glaciers and fjords of Lusterfjord, ending in Bergen. For those who want to leave the driving to someone else, the company offers an 8-day Beautiful Norway itinerary. A group of 10-12 people will travel by minibus from Oslo to Lillehammer to the heart of the Norwegian fjords on this weekly trip throughout the summer (leaves every Saturday through mid-September). You’ll be staying at distinctive boutique hotels, with the cost starting at $2,270 US per person. That includes 7 nights lodging, 7 breakfasts and 2 dinners, all transport, fjord cruise, and Flan railroad. Find 5 couples and we can book your own private minibus trip!
Greece has a nostalgic appeal for Lisa and me since we went there on our honeymoon a lifetime ago. We had no reservations and took ferries from island to island, quickly learning that there were many gems in the Mediterranean that no one except wise Scandinavians knew about. We purchased a book called “Undiscovered Islands of the Mediterranean” and off we went. Our first stop, Folegandros, was arguably our favorite island on the entire trip. With a handful of travelers, we scrambled into a mini-bus and were dropped off at an incredibly authentic main square, where people dined on wooden tables under a string of electric light bulbs. Men with mustaches out of an 1880s barbershop photo grilled souvlaki on an open grill. Olden men drank coffee at a small café. All was framed by whitewashed buildings and churches. You knew instantly that this was no Disneyesque version of a Greek Isle overrun with drunken American and European backpackers, but the real thing. We would take long walks on paths through olive groves and hire fishermen to drop us off and pick us up at deserted beaches. Tilos is another island where the locals, still unaccustomed to tourists, greet you as if you lived there your whole life. A place where one picks fresh figs off the tree and finds deserted medieval castles that request no admission fee. If you want to find an authentic Greek isle away from the masses, ActiveTravels will point you in the right direction!
All it takes is one very full day trip outside of Reykjavik on the acclaimed Golden Circle and you understand the allure. Stops include Tþingvellir, the historic rift valley where the Icelandic parliament first convened in 930 AD; Geysir, the geothermal hot spot that lent its name to all geysers; and the majestic Gullfoss waterfall. Add Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool where they just built a brand new resort (ideal for your first or last stop since it’s close to the international airport) and you’re just getting started. To truly appreciate Iceland, you need to rent a car and see some of the breathtaking beauty of the countryside. Just a short drive from Reykjavik, Hotel Glymur overlooks the cobalt blue waters of the Whale Fjord. The hotel was named after the Glymur waterfall, which is one of Europe’s highest. Or head out to sea to spot puffins, humpbacks, and orca whales on a wildlife cruise. It’s easy to leave behind the crowds in this country.
All of our clients who have visited the Azores stayed with our friends Rimi and Joao, the couple who own a small eco-friendly historic home turned hotel called Quinta Minuvida. Take the 5-hour nonstop flight from any East Coast airport on Azores Airlines to Ponta Delgada and you’ll soon be hiking Pico do Ferro, high above Lagoa das Furnas (the Furnas volcano crater, filled with water) and the town of Furnas. Then it’s on to a hot springs called Poca da Dona Beija for a calming soak. Invigorated by your day outdoors, you’ll return back to Quinta Minuvida to literally dig in. Before the hike, Rimi and Joao put a pot of meat and vegetables into the ground, a cozido nas caldeiras, where it cooks for six hours via volcano steam (a true geothermal stew). It’s full of chicken, sausage, pork, beef brisket, cabbage, kale, carrots, and taro root, washed down with Azorean and Portuguese wine. Within a five-minute walk of the property, you’ll find acres and acres of green grazing cows, cornfields, farmland, and old stone walls. Quinta Minuvida can also arrange yoga in their studio, other day hikes, biking routes, and fishing/boating excursions.
Tell us what you most want to see and experience and ActiveTravels will point you in the right direction and we'll make it a wow experience too.

Contact ActiveTravels now to get started on your European Adventure!
Win a Two-Night Stay
at the New Newbury Hotel in Boston!
In the April newsletter, Lisa disclosed how impressed she was visiting Boston’s new Newbury Hotel, which debuts a week from today. Occupying one of the best locales in town, overlooking the Public Garden in the former home of the venerable Ritz-Carlton, the rooms are spacious and packed with wonderful local art.

Now one very fortunate ActiveTravels member and their significant other will get to experience the Newbury firsthand! This year’s ActiveTravels Spring Giveaway is a 2-Night Stay at the Newbury Hotel, Breakfast Included. To register for this fantastic raffle, all you have to do is tell us the 5 destinations around the world you’re most excited about visiting post-pandemic. Good luck! We’ll announce a winner in our May 18th Tuesday Tidbit.
Quick Escape: New in New England
The Newbury is just one of many new properties to open this spring in New England.

Autocamp, the California-based Airstream hotel brand with locations in Santa Barbara, Yosemite National Park, and the Russian River Valley, just debuted their first East Coast property in the Woods Hole/Falmouth area of Cape Cod. Autocamp features 108 total accommodations, including customized Airstream Suites and Luxury Tents, as well as a two-story clubhouse, community fire pits, and on-site activities such as yoga and meditation, a campfire speaker series, music programming, local beer and cider tastings, and occasional farm-to-table dinners.
Opening Memorial Day Weekend on Nantucket is the 62-room boutique property, Faraway. Located in the heart of Nantucket’s historic district, Faraway will feature an indoor-outdoor restaurant called Sister Ship.

If you prefer a beach locale, consider the recently unveiled Shore House in Narragansett, Rhode Island. The former Ocean Rose Inn, dating from 1901, has been completely rehabbed and now houses 31 guest rooms and suites, all with ocean view.
Lastly on the Portland waterfront, within easy walking distance to all the James Beard-award winning restaurants in town, is the Canopy by Hilton Portland Waterfront. The new 6-story building features 135 guest rooms and two dining areas, including the rooftop bar, Luna.
Need a Quick Escape in New England this summer? Send us your dates and ActiveTravels will happily check pricing and availability. Contact ActiveTravels for reservations now before these new properties get noticed!
89 Roundwood Road,
Newton, MA 02464