In addition to its wealth of cultural sights, the European Alps offer a wider range of outdoor recreation than any other similarly sized region in the world. Adventurers of all ages hike hut-to-hut on multi-day treks, skiers slide year-round on glacial slopes, and Sunday walkers stroll forested trails. Bikers loop icy blue lakes, and mountaineers scale up waterfalls and down canyon cliffs. Europeans cherish their wilderness areas, and none more so than the pristine forests of the Alps. Modern adventurers run the gamut from rich to poor, young to old, and native to transient foreigner. So take a look around. That bus driver. . . This tour guide. . . Your hotel concierge. . . They may just be showing you the Europe they think you want to see. Take a moment to ask how they spend their own free time - odds are that each will spend a day outdoors this weekend. Want to know where they go? The plains of northwestern Italy rise steeply into Alpine terrain. Our coverage spans the westernmost section of the Alps' arch, from the Mediterranean in the south, along the French to Mont Blanc, and then east along the lakes and the Swiss frontier. Activity here centers on the enormous city of Milan, which sprawls out below the Alps and the spectacular scenery surrounding Lake Como. Across the plain to the south of Milan, Turin bustles with industry - and still bustles from its stint as host of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. The city's mountain resorts rise to the east, and the Val d'Aosta juts off to the northwest. Here, at the foot of Mont Blanc, steep valley walls harbor the Roman town of Aosta, the barren peaks of the Gran Paradiso National Park, and the delightful mountain resort of Courmayeur.This guide tells you all about the things to do in the area, the hikes, walks and bike trails, where to stay and eat, what to see and do.
Read alsoAdventure Guide to the Alps: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein & Switzerland
If castles, cuckoo clocks, and bell-laden cows dominate your image of the Alps, you are - like most travelers - missing out on one of Mother Nature's greatest gifts. It's a secret Europeans like to keep to themselves. In addition to its wealth of cultural sights, the European Alps offer a wider range of outdoor recreation than any other similarly…