Exploring Europe on horseback offers the opportunity to take life at a slower pace, if only for a few days, as well as feel at one with glorious nature. Experience the thrills of beach rides, elegant estate trails and world-famous horses in these spectacular locations.
Ireland: Castle Leslie Estate
Ireland is famous for its hospitality and its horses. Put the two together and you have holiday heaven. The Castle Leslie Estate is a 1,000 acre estate just over the border from Northern Ireland set in undulating countryside with woods and glittering lakes. There are 20 miles of bridleways and 300 jumps ready to explore. The hotel (still in the hands of its founding family) has endless charm, luxury slipper baths and roaring fires, perfect after a day spent horseriding.
Crete offers affordable riding in a spectacular setting; unforgettable sunsets, a temperate year-round climate and varied terrain. The interior of the Island is made up of olive groves, verdant valleys and mountain peaks. What’s more, there are some of Greece’s best beaches surrounding the island, where you can ride alongside (or even into) the deep blue Mediterranean sea.
You can base yourself at Kalimera Archanes, a cluster of three traditional houses dating back to the early 19th century. Built with local Cretan materials and situated right in the centre of the historic, listed village of Archanes, this is a perfect base. After your ride you can explore the picturesque village and feast on local cheeses, oils and wild herbs: sage, oregano and thyme grow in abundance here.
Serenissima Boutique Hotel
The Serenissima Boutique Hotel is a great choice for a stay in the historic town of Chania, close to some of the Island’s most dramatic scenery. The hotel encapsulates Crete’s Island history with it’s Venetian architectural style and Ottoman Empire feel. Every room is designed differently but all are cool, modern and soft-hued. Post-ride you can sink those tired muscles into a luxurious four-layered Coco-Mat mattress which are in every room type. Food in the creative and atmospheric restaurant is divided into “Earth” “Sea” and “Vegetarian”, or go a la carte to select from a choice of locally-inspired dishes.
Hungary: The Lipizzaner Trail
Ever since the Middle Ages, the Hungarians have been known for being great horsemen. Today the country is known for its famous Lipizzaner horses. What an experience, to ride this incredible breed on native terrain. Gallop along forest trails, trot through medieval towns and meander through vineyards and gentle streams.
Base yourself in the picturesque Hernád Valley and stay at the Hotel Vécsecity, a truly unique hotels based around the former Vécsey-Sardagna Castle. Enter a world where opulence, style and art combine to give guests an immersive and magical experience from start to finish.
Wales: Brecon Beacons
Welsh cobs run wild in the beautiful and bountiful Brecon Beacons, the birthplace of pony trekking. You can ride along ridges of the mysterious Black Mountains, stop off for pub lunches and cool off in pretty streams and rivers. The Brecon Beacons has a list of horse riding centres who offer everything from beginner to advanced trails.
Just outside the National Park is Llansantffraed Court, a laid-back country house set in 20 acres of parkland. This corner of Wales is well-known as a foodie hotspot so it’s no surprise that the hotel also has an award-winning restaurant, Court Restaurant. Owner Mike Morgan is a founder of the successful Abergavenny Food Festival and most of the menu is derived from the recently restored Victorian walled garden. This is a beautiful country house which has a super-friendly feel (no hushed tones here) and incredible staff who really want you to feel at home.