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Get active in Europe

Start your European sporting holiday with a visit to the annual International Extreme Sports Festival. Held in Montpellier, the event is free and sees amateurs compete at wakeboarding, snowboarding and skateboarding. The event takes place in the town centre and draws in quite a crowd. After watching this spectacle head to the French Alps, home of Europe’s most challenging cycling routes and try your hand at mountain biking or even sign up for a holiday boot camp.


The French Alps provide a dramatic backdrop to a fitness holiday. There are various options from cycling groups and walking clubs to full on holiday boot camps. Boot camps often pack in four exercise sessions a day (one being before breakfast) which can include everything from running and swimming to boxing and weight training. Mornings are also early so if you are looking for a lie in then a boot camp may not be for you. This region is perfect for all activities so, depending on what you want to achieve from your holiday (yes some people actually holiday to achieve rather than relax), then the Alps and France overall is a good option.

French Alps

Let’s not forget that France is also the home of fabulous wine, cheese and those oh so tempting boulangeries so, if you’re holiday aim is simply to work off the additional calories that you’ll take on consuming all of this fine French food, choose Provence, which is perfect for a gently bike ride through lavender fields. The wine regions of Dordogne with their river paths, woodland and nearby vineyards are ideal for a more relaxed approach to holiday exercise. Whether cycling, walking or taking part in a spot of canoeing, you are rewarded with some fantastic scenery and of course amazing wine on route!

The Spanish take on exercise is generally more extreme. Of course there are the usual boat trips, swimming and sailing that are all popular from mainland Spain and the islands but the rugged coastline also lends itself to caving and abseiling, particularly in Majorca. Those happier in the sea can discover a whole new underground world with qualified instructors. For abseiling you’ll need a head for heights and a certain amount of fearlessness but it is a great opportunity to learn a new and exciting skill with friends and family and is certainly something different to spending a day at the beach. If you prefer to retreat to the safety of dry land then running away from bulls or being pelted with tomatoes could be a chosen form of holiday calorie-burning fun. The Pamplona takes place in July in Navarre as part of the San Fermin Festival and was traditionally a way to get the bulls into the bullring, these days it’s for foolhardy locals and tourists who try and race the bulls (with a small head start) for just over 800 metres to the bullring.


If you’re in mainland Spain in August then La Tomantina in Bunol, branded the ‘world’s biggest food fight’, is less of a work out and more fun. Over-ripe tomatoes are pelted at one another until the streets and its people become a sea of red. The fight lasts for an hour after which point the street and sometimes the people are hosed down. La Tomantina is surrounded by a festival which has plenty of opportunities to party, dance, watch fireworks and eat paella. For budding equestrians, Andalucia offers great terrain and opportunities for horse riding holidays, all abilities are catered for and it’s a great opportunity to see the region’s natural parks whilst letting the horse take the strain.


For a healthy Italian holiday head to Sardinia, yes home to the humble Sardine with its healthy oils and high protein but also home to some of Europe’s best rock climbing. There are no less than six rock climbing locations throughout Sardinia. The main climbing can be found on the north of the island and handily (for the non-extreme sport enthusiasts in the group) so can some of the best beaches. There’s excellent snorkelling and scuba diving around this part of the island as well so there’s plenty to do on land and in the sea.

Obviously if holidays for you really are all about relaxing on the beach then dust off your trainers and find out that exercise DVD (that’s still to be unwrapped) and put in the effort before you even think about packing your case!

Claire Powell is Digital Marketing Manager at Abercrombie & Kent.

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