Italy's ultimate outdoor adventures
From rocky mountains to placid lakes, quiet country lanes to woodland hiking trails, Italy is the ideal destination for outdoor adventure. As travel restrictions ease and routes open up, these are our pick of Italy’s ultimate outdoor experiences. Best of all, each one is within easy reach of a Finnair destination, meaning your dream trip is closer than you think.
Via Ferrata in the Dolomites
The Dolomites in north eastern Italy are home to over 150 via ferrata, climbing routes that use permanent cables and steel rings. Also known as ‘iron paths’, the first of these were laid during World War I, when the mountains here were a battleground between Italian and Austrian troops. Today, they offer a chance to access areas usually reserved for rock climbers. You’ll need to be in good shape, but the process of clipping in a rope and pulling yourself up on these set routes is straightforward, especially if you bring a guide along for the adventure. The Giro de Sorapis, a two-day route up and over jagged peaks, with the chance to stay at the region’s simple but beautiful refugio mountain huts, is the best of them all.
Wild swimming in Campania
Italy is blessed with some truly beautiful wild swimming spots. But few are as magical as the Cascata Capelli di Venere in Campania. The name means ‘Hair of Venus’ and relates to the way the water tumbles over the rocks and into the gorgeous plunge pools. Close to Casaletto Spartano, around two hours by car from Naples accessing this location is easy by foot. For adventurous types, there are other great swimming holes close by, as well as places to pitch a tent if wild camping appeals. This is a great destination when the weather is warm and a long swim is the only way to cool down.
Stand-up paddle boarding on Lake Garda
Lake Garda’s charm is undeniable. Its northern reaches have a more Austrian feel, while in the south the Italian vibe is strong. But whichever part of the lake’s shores you choose to stay on, the best place to see the sensational surrounding scenery is from the water. Stand up paddle boarding has enjoyed a boom here in recent years, with plenty of options for hiring a board and wetsuit. First timers should take a guide out with them who can teach them how to ride the wind ruffled waves and point out the different mountain passes and villages which dot the horizon.
Hiking in the Apennines
The Apennines are easily overlooked in favour of the towering majesty of the Alps. But this mountain range, which forms the backbone of Italy, is home to hundreds of kilometers of amazing hiking trails, from routes along old shepherds roads to narrow paths over windswept mountains. It includes part of the Via Francigena, an old pilgrimage route that runs from Canterbury in England to Rome, but also offers plenty of options for hikers who prefer shorter, day-long treks. For a socially distant break in some of Europe’s most underappreciated countryside, a walk here is hard to beat.
Cycling in Sicily
Sicily’s warm weather and hilly terrain make it the ideal choice for keen cyclists looking for a vacation away from the crowds. Those who prefer exploring the island by road can set out from the coastal town of Balstrate and head up into the hills for incredible views out to sea. For mountain biking, Monte Pellegrino offers a great challenge and the reward of spectacular scenery when the going gets tough. On Sicily offers bike hire and guides, making a trip on two wheels here easy to arrange.