Views of snow-covered mountain peaks, idyllic landscapes, grassy fields, and hospitable villages make hiking in Europe extremely rewarding. From hut-to-hut routes to hiking trails that take more than a day to complete, both experienced and new hikers can find just about anything in this compact and small continent.
If you are planning to go hiking in Europe for the first time, you may want to know where you can find the best hikes. Luckily for you, we have compiled a list of the 10 best hikes in Europe. After going through this article, you should know where to go after donning your hiking boots and packing your hiking backpack.
Best Hikes in Europe
1. Tour du Mont Blanc
Flowing over the valleys and peaks of the Western Alps, through the landscapes of Switzerland, Italy, and France, Tour du Mont Blanc deserves the crown as one of the top-rated trails you can find in Europe. The hiking trail covers a distance of approximately 170 KM and gains an altitude of more than 10,000 meters in about 11 stages.
Most hikers, after donning their hiking pants, prefer to start their hike in Les Houches, France, going anticlockwise. The 11-day hike allows for a lot of route customization – the anticlockwise trek around Mount Blanc Massif features numerous route variations to satisfy even the pickiest trekkers.
Although quite physically challenging, the hiking trail allows hikers to experience the most picturesque parts of Europe in less than 2 weeks. If you already know how to take great landscape photographs, you should be able to take ideal photos of the tallest mountains in the region, alpine meadows, and stunning glaciers.
When exploring Tour du Mont Blanc, you won’t have to worry about accommodation – the trail offers treats with its accommodation options. The accommodations range from rustic mountain huts to luxury ski resorts and boutique hostels. If you prefer solitude, you can always set up your backpacking tent in the wilderness.
Distance: 170 Kilometers (110 miles)
Countries explored: France, Switzerland, and Italy
Number of days: 11 days
Accommodation: Hostels, Mountain huts, and ski resorts
2. Walker’s Haute Route
Featuring a couple of 4,000-meter glaciers along the way and a wide range of contrasting landscapes, Walker’s Haute Route is capable of astounding anyone who decides to embark on a 2-week journey on the trail for hiking in Europe. The 180 kilometers journey starts in Chamonix at the base of Mont Blanc and ends in Zermatt. All along the way, you will get to enjoy iconic views of the Matterhorn.
Peppering Switzerland and France, the lush green valleys, snow peaks, and the European villages offer the hikers a constant eye rest on this challenging and demanding hike. If you get tired of being on the trail, you can decide to savor the Swiss hospitality in the hostels, mountain huts, and hotels. If you prefer enjoying the pure mountain air alone, you can decide to set up a camping tent in the wilderness.
There are numerous ways to complete the Haute Route Circuit. While hiking is the most common method, you can decide to walk over glaciers, ski, climb over peaks, or even cycle. Depending on your preference, you can decide to complete the hike alone or hire a guide or an agency that can organize transport and accommodation.
Distance: 180 Kilometers (112 miles)
Countries explored: Switzerland and France
Number of days: 14
Difficulty level: Difficult
Accommodation: Hotels, Hostels, Mountain Huts
3. West Highland Way
Set in the scenic and powerful Scottish Highlands, the West Highland Highway is one of the best hikes in Europe. Running from Milngavie just outside Glasgow to the highest mountain you will find in Britain, the infamous Ben Nevis, the trail features some of the most refreshing views. The trail passes through Fort William.
While exploring this trail, you will get to treat yourself to Scotland’s best natural beauties, including mysterious lochs (like the Loch Lomond), magnificent woodlands, serene moors, sumptuous heights, and glens. Some of the highlights you may want to research before embarking on the hike include the Glen Nevis, Glencoe, and Rannoch Moor.
This trek is known to get rather hostile and wet during the fall and winter seasons. For this reason, it is a good idea that you plan your hiking trip between May and October. It is also a good idea that you avoid hiking in the mid-summer due to the blood-thirsty and awfully annoying midges which invade the hiking trail.
On your 7-day trip on the trail, you can stay in charming traditional hotels, B&Bs, and inns. If you forget to carry backpacking cookware, you can always eat in authentic local restaurants and pubs.
Distance: 151 kilometers (100 miles)
Countries explored: The United Kingdom and Scotland
Number of days: 7
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (largely depends on the weather)
Accommodation: B&Bs, campsites, hostels, inns
4. Kungsleden Trail
For hikers who are after truly Nordic natural beauty, the Kungsleden Trail, which is divided into four 110 kilometers hikes, should be an excellent option. The Trail features barren tundra plains, miniature dwarf pine trees, stunning mountains, endless valleys, lakes, rivers, ponds, birch forests, and massive glaciers.
You can do the hike in sections. This means that if you do not want to do the whole Kungsleden trail, you can always choose to do only part of it. The northern section of the trail happens to be the most popular. However, there is no “bad” part of the awe-inspiring hike.
Although the Kungsleden trail is the only true wilderness you will find in the western part of Europe, the trail does feature camping comfort in most of the rustic huts existing on all its 4 routes. Most of the huts do sell canned and dried food. As long as you are not extremely picky, bringing a lot of hiking snacks may not be necessary.
The best time to explore the Kungsleden hiking trail is either during the extremely popular summer season which runs from June to early September. If you would like to explore the trail when the European hikers are gone and the mosquitoes have died out, you may want to visit around mid-September.
Distance: 440 Kilometers (270 miles) – divided into four 110-km trails
Countries explored: Sweden
Number of days: 7 to 14
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult (depending on your fitness level)
Accommodation: Rustic huts and campsites
5. The Causeway Coast Way – Ireland
The Causeway Coast Way is probably the most famous hiking trail in Ireland – and it is easy to understand why. In addition to leading along stunning coastal cliffs, the trail crosses past numerous landmarks like the Dunluce Castle and the world-famous Giant’s Causeway.
The Giant’s Causeway happens to be the most iconic sight that you will see when exploring the hiking trail. Located in County Antrim, the geological masterpiece features interlocking basalt columns that were a result of a volcanic eruption. Dunluce Castle, on the other hand, bears witness to the long and tumultuous Irish history. Also located in County Antrim, the Castle was built on the dramatic coastal cliffs in 1500.
Being moderately difficult, 33-mile Causeway Coast Way may present a challenge when it comes to endurance and stamina. However, you do not have to walk the entire 53 kilometers. With companies like My Ireland Tour, exploring the entire trail (and other scenic sites in Ireland) should be much easier.
Distance: 33 miles
Countries explored: Ireland
Number of days: 2 to 3 days
Difficulty: Moderately difficult – you may want to train for the hike beforehand
Accommodation: Guesthouses, hotels, camping
If you are prepared to test your mountain hiking skills, flying out to Corsica and exploring the GR20 hike may be an ideal option. From Calenzana, the hiking trail is a chain of seemingly never-ending climbs. You will have to use your trekking poles to climb up and down spiky and steep footpaths throughout the hike. In some sections, you will have to rely on bolted chains to climb over.
It might be a relief to learn that the start of the hike – The northern part of the island – will be the hardest part. You will still have enough energy to tackle the start. Things get easier as the days progress.
Although quite difficult, the hike is worth it. Winding from the North to the South of Corsica, the pine-tree-covered hike takes you through the heart of the island – its one mountain range. The trail offers great views of rocky walls that protect lush meadows, sparkling lakes, and warm valleys.
As you probably already know, heat is capable of adding more pain to your hiking trip. To save yourself from the pounding sun, you may want to hike in June, September, and October.
Distance: 180 kilometers (112 miles)
Countries explored: Corsica and France
Number of days: 14 days
Accommodation: Rustic huts, basic hostels, campsites, refuges
The classic GR10 hiking trail will take you through the French Pyrenean mountains. If you decide to hike the entire trail, it will take you about 2 months to complete. However, the trail is conveniently divided into numerous varied routes – you can do one in about 8 to 15 days.
The difficulty of the hiking trail is largely determined by the continuous and tiresome accent. If you are not prepared to climb for days after donning your hiking shoes and hiking hat, you may want to choose a shorter version featuring more rest days.
With fascinating peaks and breathtaking valleys, the views present on the trail are unbeatable. For example, when exploring the Central Pyrenees, you will get to discover a wide range of landscape landmarks, including the Vignemale (the highest peak in the region), Cirque de Gavarnie (a UNESCO Heritage Site), and Gaube Lake.
The trail also offers some exciting wildlife spotting and bird watching opportunities. When taking pictures of the griffons and brown vultures, do not forget to look up the sky, especially when you are in the Néouvielle National Reserve, to spot the golden eagle.
If your muscles start aching while you are on the trail and yoga poses for hikers fail to work for you, you do not have to worry. One of the central routes should take you through spa towns – Bagnères-de-Luchon and Cauterets – which should help you rejuvenate the aching muscles.
Distance: 538 miles – divided into smaller sections
Countries explored: France
Number of days: 8 to 15 (per section)
Accommodation: Rustic huts, hostels, and campsites
8. El Caminito Del Rey
If the element of danger sounds appealing to you, the El Caminito Del Rey trail could be one of the best hikes in Europe for you. If you decide to explore this trail after packing your backpack, you will be exploring one of the most dangerous hikes in the world.
To complete the hike, you will need some bravery and mental stoicism. Due to landfalls, the hiking trail had been closed and was reopened recently. This tells you that safety should be your number 1 priority.
The hiking trail will give you a good glimpse into Andalucía, a region of Spain. Andalucía is a land of enormous basilicas, mounting summits, blooming orchids, whitewashed villages, and a wide range of ancient mountain towns that managed to outlive the falls and rises of the 3 major European and Eastern empires.
When exploring the trail, you should not forget to look around. Simply looking around should allow you to take in the views of the canyon, the gorge, and a quite sublime river that runs 100 meters below the hiking path, curving around the sides of the gorge.
If you do enjoy wildlife, exploring the hiking trail after gathering all your hiking gear should be a good idea. The area is home to a variety of flora and fauna – specifically, the region features notable birds such as Honey Buzzard, Golden Eagle, and the Egyptian Vulture. Additional wildlife you may come across includes Genet, Fox, and Mountain Goat.
Distance: 3 Kilometers
Countries explored: Spain
Number of days: half a day
Difficulty: Easy but dangerous
9. Laugavegur or Laugavegurinn
Mostly known for a wide range of unforgettable and frightening landscapes spiced up with various volcanoes, ice caves, multi-colored mountains, canyons, lava fields, and black arctic deserts, the Laugavegur hiking trail is ideal for people who are willing to spend up to 5 days outdoors.
If you decide to hike North to South, through the Southwest of Iceland, you will be treated to a variety of hot springs at Landmannalaugar. This is just before you enjoy some fascinating beauty in the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve (Thórsmörk) and the glacial valley.
The trail is generally a moderate to difficult trek. You will have to climb up steep areas and cross rivers (you may need some hiking water shoes for this) during the hiking trip. While it is possible to complete the entire hike with an average fitness level, training beforehand can make the whole hike much easier.
Distance: 54 kilometers (34 miles)
Countries explored: Iceland
Number of days: 3 to 5 days
Difficulty: Easy (this may change depending on the weather)
Accommodation: Camping and rustic huts
10. Westweg in the Black Forest
The Westweg is the most popular trail you will find in Germany. The trail for hiking in Europe runs all the way from Pforzheim to Basel. Established back in 1900, the hiking trail is frequented by both the Germans and hikers from other parts of the world.
Although the trail runs from the North to the South of Germany, you may find the Northern part quite boring if you are already familiar with the Nordic European forests. This makes starting your hike in a small idyllic village known as Schonach a much better idea.
Continuing in the southern parts of the hiking trail will take you through lakes, emerald seas of meadows, and primordial forests. You will be happily reminded of the majestic spikes of the Alps and the Black Forest Mountain peaks. If you have a hiking camera in your hiking camera backpack, do not forget to use it when exploring these areas.
You won’t have to worry about accommodation and food. Small guesthouses are dotted all around the hiking trail. Most of the guesthouses serve traditional German food.
Distance: 285 kilometers (177 miles)
Countries explored: Germany
Number of days: 5 to 15 depending on the chosen path
Accommodation: Guesthouses, hostels, camping
Globo Surf Overview
Home to some of the most beautiful mountains in the whole world, Europe is a paradise to all nature lovers. The Continent features some of the best hiking trails in the world – you can find day hikes, week-long routes, and some which may take you more than 2 months to complete.
In this article, we have outlined some of the best hikes in Europe. Depending on your level of fitness, most of the trails for hiking in Europe listed in this article should be easy to moderately difficult. To make your time easier on the trails, training beforehand is always a good idea.
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- 10 Best Day Hikes In Europe You Need to Explore, Aworldtotravel.com