European Peace Walk - Long Distance Route

A 550 Kilometer Walk Through Six Eastern European Nations

European Peace Walk Route
European Peace Walk Route.

As more and more walkers are being drawn to walk the Camino de Santiago, other dreamers are creating a new long distance walkway in Eastern Europe to celebrate the cause of peace. The European Peace Walk (EPW), was inaugurated on July 28, 2014, the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. It is available to walk annually.

The 550 kilometer (341 mile) route route starts in Austria and winds along the borders of Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, ending in Italy at Trieste on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

The walk takes 18-20 days, with walking distance approximately 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) per day. Walkers who want a shorter walk can start or end in two cities along the route for a walk of 5, 10 or 15 days. Check the EPW site for dates for upcoming years. The walk is evolving from year to year as it is developed and refined.

Registering for the European Peace Walk

The walk is open only during specific start periods. It is limited to 20 walkers per start date, as that is as many walkers as can be accommodated along the route.

Walkers register on the EPW site and pay a fee to support the signage and arrangements made by the organizers. Walkers pay for their accommodations and food along the walk out of pocket. The organizers have arranged Camino-style hostel accommodations (minimal but comfortable) at a cost from nine to 16 euros per night.

Bag transport can be arranged between accommodations, but must be arranged by the walker herself.

European Peace Walk Route

The route from Vienna starts with a train ride to Wolfsthal, Austria and a short nine kilometer (5.5 mile) walk into the center of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Then the longer walking days take the walkers along the Danube into Hungary.

The route is chosen to visit historically and culturally important sites, and to follow national borders. They pass through Örségi National Park and into Croatia, through quaint towns and Slovenia’s wine region and forests. The end at the Mediterranean at Trieste takes them into Italy.

Walking the Inaugural European Peace Walk

One hundred of the first walkers for the inaugural 2014 walk will be representing their countries. Ruthi Solari was the U.S. ambassador to the walk. She is the founder and executive director of SuperFood Drive, a San Diego non-profit committed to the fight against hunger. Although the European Peace Walk is not set up as a charity event, walkers can turn it into one if they chose to do so. Solari raised walk donations for Women for Women International.

We asked Solari before the walk what she was most looking forward to about this adventure.
"I am most looking forward to being a part of something bigger than myself. The EPW is an opportunity to have a personal journey while connecting to a vision and mission that can touch the lives of many. Both creating the permanent EPW route to be walked for generations to come, and raising funds for Women for Women International fulfill a deep desire within me to contribute to the greater good."

"In addition, the scenery is supposed to be absolutely fantastic. We get to hike through 6 countries: Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. It will be wonderful being surrounded by such spectacular nature. We criss-cross the borders and will be immersed in different cultures along the entire route. One day, we will have breakfast in Austria, lunch in Slovenia and Dinner in Croatia all in the same day! I also look forward to meeting the other peace walkers. Anyone who is committing to walking 550km in the name of peace is someone who I would like to know. It sounds like we will have people joining the EPW from all over the world!"

Solari is a veteran guide of week-long backpacking trips with Outback Adventures and Outward Bound. She has hiked for a week on the Pacific Crest Trail and spent three weeks hiking the Annapurna Circuit trail through the Himalayas in Nepal. She has also run San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon twice. She has been training for the European Peace walk with hikes in Switzerland where she now lives.
More: How to Train for a Long Distance Walk

We asked how she became involved with the European Peace Walk. She was researching what events would commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I when she discovered the EPW. "I loved everything that I read about this being a grassroots effort to bring together people from all over the world for a pilgrimage in the name of peace. At the time, the organizers were recruiting volunteers to act as ambassadors for as many countries from around the world as possible. Something activated inside of me and I knew that I would be involved in some way. So I submitted a written application that included information about my previous humanitarian work, why peace is important to me and what I believe I can bring to the trail," Solari said.

"The EPW combines many of my favorite things: long distance hiking, being in nature, exploring new places, meeting new people and raising awareness for a cause that unites humanity. This being the inaugural year, it is exciting to be a part of making history by co-creating a permanent walking route that individuals will walk for generations to come - all in the name of peace!"

As far as challenges she expects on the long walk, she is preparing for hot weather and will make an effort to stay hydrated. More: 7 Tips for Walking in Hot Weather

"Initially, it might be a challenge for me just to slow down. Life is quite fast paced: due dates, emails, social media, projects, etc. and it might take a few days just to let all of the fast paced part of life slip away. I will miss my husband. I am grateful that he supports me on this journey and hopefully he can use the time I am away to do whatever makes his heart sing as well," said Solari.

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