The Best hikes in Europe

The Best hikes in Europe

by Julie Rustad

Why hiking?

Ah, the great outdoors of Europe! Today, we embark on a journey to explore the best hikes in Europe, where the charm of old-world landscapes meets the thrill of exploring untamed wilderness.

It’s no secret that hiking in this breathtaking continent is a bucket-list dream for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. So lace up those hiking boots, for we’re about to venture into the heart of Europe’s most scenic trails!

Factors to Consider When Choosing Hiking Trails in Europe

Before we dive into the beautiful hiking trails, let’s take a moment to get the practicalities straight. When choosing the perfect hike, several factors come into play:

  • Firstly, it’s essential to consider the difficulty level and fitness requirements. Some trails are a breeze for beginners, while others are more challenging and demand seasoned hikers.
  • Secondly, safety should never be compromised. Keeping an eye on trail conditions and safety measures will ensure a smooth and secure hiking experience.
  • Thirdly, accessibility and transportation options should be on your radar. Some trails might be tucked away, while others are easily accessible, so plan accordingly.
  • Lastly, immersing yourself in the local culture and exploring nearby attractions can add a unique dimension to your hiking journey.

Trail 1: The Alpine Wonderland – Tour du Mont Blanc

Tour du Mont blanc trail

First on our best-hikes-in-Europe-list is Alpine Wonderland, known for its breathtaking scenery. Stretching across an impressive 170 kilometers, this trail takes you on an exhilarating journey through three countries – France, Italy, and Switzerland – treating you to awe-inspiring vistas of the majestic Mont Blanc massif. Prepare yourself for an adventure of a lifetime, as this trail is not for the faint of heart. With its challenging terrain and varying elevations, it beckons to those seeking the ultimate adrenaline rush amidst nature’s grandeur.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a dream come true for hikers who crave the thrill of conquering dramatic landscapes. Over the course of approximately 10 to 12 days, you’ll weave through picturesque alpine meadows, traverse rugged mountain passes, and witness gleaming glacial valleys. Each step you take brings you closer to the epitome of untamed beauty.

To make the most of this unforgettable journey, it’s essential to choose the right time to embark on the Tour du Mont Blanc. The window from June to September is ideal, as the weather tends to be milder, and the trails are mostly snow-free, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable hike.

As you set out on this epic adventure, be prepared to encounter the warm hospitality and distinct cultures of the Alpine regions along the way. Delight in the hearty mountain cuisine, immerse yourself in the unique traditions, and take time to absorb the rich history of this iconic trail.

So, if you’re ready to lace up your hiking boots and embrace the Alpine Wonderland, get ready to experience an unforgettable journey through the heart of Europe’s most scenic and captivating landscapes on the Tour du Mont Blanc!

Trail 2: The Cinque Terre Coastal Trail

The Cinque Terre Coastal Trail

Another beautiful hiking trail is the Cinque Terre Coastal Trail. Nestled in the enchanting region of Liguria, Italy, this trail weaves together five charming coastal villages. Prepare to be captivated by the breathtaking beauty of the Mediterranean coastline as you embark on this unforgettable journey.

Stretching approximately 12 kilometers, the Cinque Terre Coastal Trail offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. The moderate challenge it presents is well-suited for most hikers, making it an accessible and enjoyable experience for nature enthusiasts of all levels.

As you traverse the rugged cliffs and meandering pathways, the journey rewards you with awe-inspiring views of the sparkling sea below and the colorful terraced houses perched on the hillsides. Every step unveils a postcard-worthy scene, turning it into a photographer’s paradise and a haven for anyone seeking inspiration from nature’s beauty.

To savor the best of what the Cinque Terre Coastal Trail has to offer, plan your visit between April and October. During these months, the weather is at its most pleasant, allowing you to soak in the Mediterranean hues and enjoy the gentle sea breeze. As you make your way through each village, take the time to relish the local flavors, indulge in seafood delicacies, and connect with the warm-hearted locals who call this coastal paradise home.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a leisure seeker, the Cinque Terre Coastal Trail promises an unforgettable journey along one of Europe’s most stunning coastlines. So, pack your bags, put on your most comfortable walking shoes, and let this Italian gem unveil its magic as you explore the delightful fusion of land and sea on the Cinque Terre Coastal Trail!

Trail 3: The Majestic Scottish Highlands – West Highland Way

West Highland Way trail

Ready for the next hiking trail on our list? Let us introduce you to the legendary route: West Highland Way. The route stretches across an impressive 154 kilometers and weaves its way through a diverse tapestry of landscapes, from serene lochs to majestic mountains and enchanting moorlands – all surrounded by the splendor of surrounding mountains.

Embarking on the West Highland Way is not just a hike; it’s an epic adventure that will leave you with lasting memories. Experienced hikers seeking a true wilderness escape will find their haven here, as this trail challenges both mind and body, rewarding every step with breathtaking vistas and a profound sense of accomplishment.

As you traverse this storied path, you’ll discover the untamed allure of Scotland’s most famous glens and valleys, immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of history and folklore that envelopes this remarkable region. Each day brings new wonders to behold, from the mirror-like waters of tranquil lochs to the ancient ruins perched on windswept hills.

For those planning their pilgrimage to the West Highland Way, the ideal time to embark on this adventure is during the summer months, from June to September. During this season, the weather is at its best, providing you with comfortable hiking conditions and longer daylight hours to savor the beauty of the entire trail surrounding you.

So, if you’re ready to answer the call of the wild and experience the untamed majesty of the Scottish Highlands, lace up your hiking boots and set forth on the unforgettable West Highland Way. Embrace the spirit of adventure and let this trail lead you through a land of ancient tales and timeless beauty.

Trail 4: A Walk Among Giants – The Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago trail

Moving on to the next trail. One of Europe’s most popular hiking trails – The Camino de Santiago. An ancient pilgrimage route that holds deep spiritual significance for countless souls. This sacred path weaves its way through the picturesque landscapes of Spain, Portugal, and France, offering a diverse range of routes to suit hikers of all levels. Whether you seek a personal quest for self-discovery or wish to bask in the tranquility of nature, the Camino de Santiago promises a profoundly transformative experience throughout the entire hike.

The beauty of the Camino lies not only in its spiritual allure but also in its flexibility. The total length of the route varies depending on the chosen path, allowing pilgrims to select a journey that resonates with their individual aspirations. From shorter sections for those seeking a taste of the pilgrimage to more extensive routes for the adventurous at heart, the Camino caters to all.

For an enchanting and crowd-free experience, consider embarking on the Camino during the spring and fall months. The weather during these seasons is mild and pleasant, bestowing the perfect ambiance for reflection and connection with nature’s wonders. As you traverse ancient cobblestone streets, quaint villages, and breathtaking countryside, you’ll find your heart and spirit stirred by the centuries of history and devotion that have graced this sacred trail.

The Camino de Santiago beckons to all who seek an extraordinary journey, an odyssey of both the body and soul. Whether you walk alone or in the company of fellow pilgrims, prepare to be humbled, inspired, and transformed by the giants of history who have walked this sacred path before you. So, pack your backpack, and set forth on a pilgrimage that will forever leave its mark on your heart.

Trail 5: The Icelandic Wonderland – Laugavegur Trail

Laugavegur Trail

Prepare yourself to be transported into a realm of enchantment as we introduce you to one of the best hikes in Europe: Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail. This trail will take you on a surreal and breathtaking journey through a wonderland of vibrant rhyolite mountains, black sand deserts, and geothermal springs.

Spanning approximately 55 kilometers, this challenging trail promises an unforgettable adventure over 4 to 5 days. As you navigate through Iceland’s untamed wilderness, you’ll witness nature’s artistic palette at its finest.

To witness the full splendor of this Icelandic gem, plan your visit during the summer months from June to August. During this time, the weather is mild, and the long daylight hours offer ample time to relish every moment of this ethereal journey. With each step taken on this captivating hiking trail, you’ll discover a fresh vista of breathtaking beauty. From bubbling hot springs and emerald-green valleys to glacial rivers, the scenery beckons you to pause and marvel at its majestic allure.

The Laugavegur Trail is not merely a hike; it’s a transformative experience that immerses you in the raw power and unspoiled charm of Iceland’s wilderness. As you traverse this wonderland, allow yourself to be enchanted by the ever-changing landscapes that bloom with life and color during the Icelandic summer. So, set forth on this surreal adventure, and let one of the best hikes in Europe, the Laugavegur Trail, weave its magic as you discover the true essence of Iceland’s natural wonder.

Trail 6: The Fairytale Forests – Black Forest Trail (Schwarzwaldhochstrasse)

Black Forest Trail

From Iceland to Germany, we’ll now introduce you to the mesmerizing Black Forest Trail nestled in Germany’s enchanting Black Forest. This trail is a true ode to nature’s beauty, featuring fairytale-like landscapes with dense forests that seem straight out of a storybook and picturesque villages that exude charm at every turn.

The loop trail covers approximately 60 kilometers, offering a perfect blend of adventure and immersion into the wonders of the Black Forest. Completed in 3 to 5 days, this moderate challenge is well-suited for most hikers, inviting you to uncover the treasures hidden within the forest’s embrace.

As the seasons change, the Black Forest dons a breathtaking coat of vibrant colors during the autumn months, making it one of the best hikes in Europe. This transformation creates an enchanting atmosphere that captivates the senses, making it the perfect time to embark on this magical journey through Germany’s captivating Black Forest.

With every step you take on the Black Forest Trail, you’ll find yourself immersed in a fairytale-like setting, where rays of sunlight filter through the foliage, casting dappled shadows on the forest floor. The gentle rustling of leaves and the soothing sounds of nature will surround you, providing solace amidst the embrace of ancient trees that have witnessed countless tales.

Friendly locals and hearty cuisine

Beyond the breathtaking natural beauty, the Black Forest also boasts charming villages that dot the landscape. Take a moment to explore these picturesque hamlets, engage with the friendly locals, savor the hearty cuisine, and discover the warmth of their hospitality.

If you long for a captivating escape to a fairytale world, get your hiking gear ready and set forth on the Black Forest Trail. Allow yourself to revel in the splendor of autumn’s palette, and let the fairytale forests weave their spell.

Looking to delve deeper into the wonders of Germany? Be sure to check out our Germany Travel Guide.

Trail 7: The Norwegian Splendor – Trolltunga

Trolltunga trail

The last hiking trail on our list is the Norwegian Trolltunga trail. Jutting out over Lake Ringedalsvatnet, this iconic rock formation promises a breathtaking reward for those bold enough to tackle its challenging trails.

The day hike to Trolltunga spans about 28 kilometers round trip, taking hikers on a thrilling journey through Norway’s rugged landscapes. This trail is reserved for experienced trekkers seeking an unforgettable and adrenaline-fueled adventure. With a typical completion time of 10 to 12 hours, this day hike demands physical endurance and mental fortitude, but the ultimate panorama that awaits you at the summit is truly one for the books.

For the most favorable conditions, consider planning your trip to Trolltunga between July and August, when the weather becomes more predictable. However, keep in mind that the Norwegian wilderness remains untamed, so be ready for sudden changes in conditions. Fortunately, the extended daylight hours during the summer provide ample time to marvel at the spellbinding beauty that surrounds you throughout this remarkable journey.

As you ascend the challenging trails, each step will bring you closer to the edge of Trolltunga, where you’ll be rewarded with an unparalleled view of the glimmering Lake Ringedalsvatnet below. This thrilling vantage point will leave you with a sense of triumph and a rush of emotions as you absorb the splendor of Norway’s natural wonders.

Trolltunga beckons to the adventurers at heart, the ones who crave the thrill of conquering the unknown. So, if you seek an experience that will leave you in awe of nature’s grandeur, gather your courage, and embrace the challenge of Trolltunga.

Insider Tips for Hiking in Europe

A map

Now that you’ve got the top trails in your sight, here are some insider tips to elevate your European hiking experience:

  • First and foremost, pack essentials like sturdy hiking boots, proper clothing layers, and a trusty backpack to carry your supplies.
  • Safety should always come first! Be sure to carry a first-aid kit and stay informed about the weather forecast before setting out.
  • For the best hiking conditions and picturesque landscapes, aim for spring or autumn when the weather is mild and the trails are not overcrowded.
  • Connecting with local guides and tours can enrich your experience by providing valuable insights into the region’s culture and history.

Honorable mentions

While our list of the best hikes in Europe has already dazzled you with its breathtaking trails, we couldn’t resist sharing a few more gems that deserve special recognition. These honorable mentions promise enchanting journeys through some of Europe’s most captivating landscapes. Let’s dive into two extraordinary trails that will leave you spellbound.

The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Discover the awe-inspiring Seven Hanging Valleys trail in Portugal’s Algarve region. This 5.7-kilometer (3.5 miles) coastal path boasts dramatic cliffs, sea caves, and turquoise waters. Suitable for various skill levels, it offers mesmerizing views of the Atlantic Ocean. Best explored during spring or autumn, this captivating trail promises unforgettable memories of Europe’s coastal splendor.

Transylvanian Mountain Trail

Explore the breathtaking Transylvanian Mountain Trail, an idyllic hiking route in Romania’s picturesque landscapes. Stretching over magnificent mountains and valleys, this trail offers hikers an enchanting experience surrounded by nature’s splendor. With its diverse terrain and stunning vistas, the trail is a true paradise for hikers seeking a memorable adventure.

Thank you for reading!

Hiking in Europe is an adventure unlike any other, where nature’s splendor awaits at every turn. We’ve uncovered some of the best hikes in Europe, making this captivating continent a haven for scenic wonders and challenging trails that will leave you spellbound. As you plan your next hiking adventure on the best hikes in Europe, remember to stay prepared, embrace the local culture, and let the beauty of Europe’s trails ignite your wanderlust. So, pack your bags, and let the trail lead you to unforgettable memories!

Seeking more outdoor adventures? Read our blogpost: Best Destinations in Europe for Outdoor Activities.

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