There are two types of people in the world: those who love camping and those who don’t. Or are there? You don’t have to be a camping purist to lose yourself in sprawling woodlands, dramatic river views and bird-watching bliss. You don’t even need to pack a tent. This selection of Europe forest holidays provide everything you’d want from a rural retreat, without missing out on those cosy creature comforts:
1. Ramosch: Switzerland
Perfectly timed cockerels slowly raise you from your feathery white pillows. Their clucking spouses provide you with the freshest eggs for a breakfast made with love. Next, you step outside your authentic wood-panelled chalet. In their thousands, come the pine trees – dense, soldier-straight and flecked with more shades of green you ever knew existed. This is an average morning at Hof Zuort; a six-century-old mountain auberge, shelter and farmhouse perched in an idyllic forest clearing in the mysterious Val Sinestra valley. Which means you get to emerge yourself in a wild and remote time capsule, without the unpleasant sleeping-bag-slumber.
2. Akershus: Oslo, Norway
If you’ve seen Disney’s Frozen, you might just recognise Akershus – a fjord-and-forest dream that encircles Norway’s capital city, Oslo. That’s because the 500-year-old Akershus Fortress was the model for Elsa and Anna’s castle in the movie. The fact you’re deep in a Norwegian forest also adds to the Disney magic: check into 19th-century manor Losby Gods for the weekend and you’re plunged into a world of magnificent natural wonders. The calming countryside steeped – green hills, meadows and woodlands – are on your doorstep. And you don’t have to eat from a stove to enjoy them.
3. Mecklenburg Lake District: Pomerania, Germany
Perfect for a romantic weekend with a unique twist, some of the best Europe forest holidays await you in the glorious Mecklenburg Lake District. Known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’, the area is the largest coherent lake and canal region in Germany. Naturally, it’s home to a string of campsites, but if you prefer ending dream woodland hiking days with a beautifully squishy bed or aromatic whirlpool to sink into, set your compass for Schlosshotel Groß Plasten. That’s right, an actual castle. It’s even got themed rooms so you can snuggle up with champagne and candlelight like a pair of true Casanovas.
4. Småland: Sweden
You’ll get a full dose of Sweden’s finest scenery – moving from endless forests speckled with red cottages to mysterious caves where you can go gold-washing – in Småland. From moose parks to shimmering lakes, this is an epic journey that’s all about the views. Hotel Hestraviken sits among the achingly photogenic landscapes, with a idyllic garden, delightful yellow mannor and kitchen dishing out some of the region’s finest cuisine. There’s enough activities to fill a thousand Europe forest holidays: canoeing, rowing, cycling, swimming, walking, or simply lazing around in the spa facilities. Rooms are so close to the river, guests can almost fish from their balconies.