Whether it’s lofty alpine vistas, jaw-dropping oceanside walkways or calming rural countryside, Europe has something compelling to offer any hiking enthusiast. In this compilation, travel bloggers write about the best hikes in Europe, from short day walks with the kids through to multi-day endurance treks. Ready to get on the trail?
In this article:
Best hikes in Europe: multi-day trails
1. Mestia to Ushguli, Georgia
Located about 250 kilometres north of Kutaisi, Mestia has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Georgia. While some visitors don’t go beyond the nearby villages, glaciers and lakes, quite a few venture onto the four-day hike from Mestia to Ushguli.
This is one of my favourite hikes in Georgia as it offers medieval towers, remote villages, snowy peaks, impressive glaciers and wild rivers. In addition, it traverses below the summits of some of the highest peaks in the region, and crosses several high passes, like the Chkhunderi Pass located at 2,700 metres.
The trek can be completed in three or four days, and is of medium difficulty. The path is pretty straightforward. I did it on my own, like most people do, and I found it easy to follow. You can either camp in the wild or you can stay in the local guest houses that you’ll find along the circuit. The price for accommodation and food in the homestays is around 20 US dollars per night.
The best months to hike the Mestia to Ushguli Trek are from June to October. However, keep in mind that the trail gets quite crowded in July and August. If you have the chance, I recommend that you go in June or September.
2. Laugavegur, Iceland
The Laugavegur in Iceland is one of the most famous and stunning trekking routes in the country. You can easily get to the trailhead and end by local bus, making it an easy-to-reach hike for many. Therefore you will notice that it’s rather busy on the hike.
The distance of the Laugavegur is 54 kilometres, which can be covered in four days. Many also choose to trek onwards to Fimmvörðuháls to Skogar, meaning another one to two days of hiking. However, this section of the hike especially requires good weather. I attempted it twice and had to cancel both times because of foul weather.
Highlights of the Laugavegur are the coloured mountains in Landmannalaugar, the glaciers you will see around you and the green valleys around Þórsmörk, where you’ll end the walk. Note that you cannot buy food along the way, and that you need to carry everything yourself. There are various river crossings, sometimes hip deep, and therefore bringing wading shoes is recommended.
Although the altitude is not incredibly high, you are still in alpine environment. The last time I was in Landmannalaugar (where the trail starts) it was early July and there still was a lot of snow on the hiking trails. Generally the trail is open from end of June until the end of August and despite the fact you’re in Iceland in summer, you need to carry four-season gear without a doubt.
3. Mullerthal Trail, Luxembourg
Chosen by Paulina Rubia, Paulina On The Road | follow on Instagram
One of my favorite hikes in Europe is without any doubt the Mullerthal trail in Luxembourg. Not many think of Luxembourg as a hiking destination. Well, today I want to convince you of the opposite!
The eastern part of the only Grand-Duchy in the world is also known as Little Switzerland. Even though the region lacks the mountain peaks of the Alps, it has at least as many hiking trails.
One of the most famous hiking trails in Luxembourg is the Mullerthal Trail. On a length of 112 kilometres, the Mullerthal Trail passes through all the natural particularities of the Mullerthal region. The paths are all natural and lead you through forests and pastures.
However, my favorite parts are the impressive, sometimes extremely narrow canyons and bizarre rock formations. They always remind me of an enchanting fairytale and there are plenty of myths and legends around them. The difficulty is medium.
If you don’t want to do the full 112 kilometres, I highly recommend that you hike from Berdorf to Echternach, the oldest town in the country. Here, plenty of scenic cafés and bakeries will be awaiting you.
If you are wondering where to stay in Luxembourg for hiking holidays, I recommend booking a family-owned hostel or the Belair Wellness Hotel near Berdorf. It’s the ideal place to get pampered after your hike.
4. Coastal Route of the Portuguese Camino, Portugal
Chosen by Alya Akhmetgareeva, Stingy Nomads | follow on Instagram
The Coastal Route of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago is an amazing trek. It starts from Porto and follows the coastline all the way to Spain where it continues going by the sea past Vigo to Pontevedra, and from there it’s a couple more walking days inland to Santiago de Compostela. The total distance of the trek is 280 kilometres, and it usually takes between 10 and 14 days to complete the whole route.
The Coastal Route offers incredible scenery, a great combination of beach and the sea with small fishing villages and interesting historical towns on the way. We walked this route in summer, and could enjoy refreshing swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and beautiful sunsets and sunrises.
The route is not a traditional wild hike where you have to carry a tent, cooking gear, food etc. with you. Walk from hostel to hostel (or albergues as they are called on the Camino), past villages and towns every day where you can stop for lunch or coffee.
You sleep every night in a bed (usually a bunk bed), you do sightseeing on the way – all you need is a sleeping bag (not all hostels have blankets) and a change of clothes. No walking with a heavy backpack for days or weeks.
Another good thing about the Coastal Route is that it’s a budget option to travel through Spain and Portugal; albergues cost 5-10 Euros, no transport expenses (you walk all the time), and you can buy food in supermarkets for 5-10 Euros. In total you’ll spend between 15 and 20 Euros per person per day, which is not much for Europe.
For those of you who love walking, being by the sea and exploring new places, the Coastal Route is a perfect alternative to a traditional holiday.
5. The Fisherman’s Trail, Portugal
Chosen by Lauren Chu, The Ridgeline Report | follow on Instagram
The Fishermen’s Trail in Alentejo, Portugal, is a 120-kilometre hike along an untouched, rugged, wild, and vibrant coast. Following the Atlantic Ocean on the south-west, the Fishermen’s Trail is part of the Rota Vicentina: a network of trails inaugurated in 2013 that has gained a fantastic reputation and is slowly bringing tourists to this lesser known piece of Portugal. I’ve now hiked the trail twice, and will be back to lead another group on the trail in 2019: I couldn’t be happier.
Staying in guesthouses and lodges along the way, the trail is the perfect beach vacation-cross-hiking adventure. Trek by day, swim in the afternoon, then indulge in fresh seafood paired with Portuguese wine by night.
The constant sound of crashing waves, enduring sunshine, and quaint fishing villages soothe the soul. It’s a true escape from city life. Plus, in a region that sees 300 days of sun per year, you’re almost certain to love the weather!
The trail is of moderate difficulty. Covering between 15 and 25 kilometres per day, the distance isn’t the true challenge. Walking through soft sand takes a toll on the legs! Always along the coast, you’ll pass dozens of species of seabirds as they nest in the cliffs and islands.
Secluded beaches of white and black sand line the coast. Inland, there are cork trees, bamboo forests, eucalyptus plants and pine. Best of all, celebrate your hike with some of the world’s best surfing in the laid-back surf towns along the way.
The Fishermen’s Trail is truly a hidden gem: see it for yourself before the masses realise its wonder!
6. Moldoveanu peak, Făgăraș Mountains, Romania
Also called the Transylvanian Alps, the Făgăraș Mountains feature a few of the highest peaks in Romania – Moldoveanu (2,544 metres) and Negoiu (2,535 metres). For this reason, hiking to the roof of Romania (Moldoveanu peak) is very popular in summer.
However, whichever route you choose to climb Moldoveanu, keep in mind that it’s a demanding trail and it may include an overnight stay at one of the huts located high in the mountains.
My favorite ascent to Moldoveanu peak is from Bâlea Lake, along the main ridge, then up to the peak. The trail has a few slightly difficult sections equipped with cables, and it is also demanding (eight hours one way). Once you’ve reached Moldoveanu, there are two options: sleep at the mountain refuge below Moldoveanu peak (it has basic conditions), or turn back for two hours and stay at Podragu Hut.
From my point of view, the best way to plan an ascent to the highest peak of Romania is to sleep at Pogragu Hut. The hut is situated in magnificent scenery, a glacial valley overlooking the serrated ridges and an impressive lake. It’s possible to hike from Bâlea Lake to Podragu Hut in five hours, stay there overnight, then climb Moldoveanu peak the following morning and descend along the Viștea Valley (at least seven hours).
7. Arran Coastal Route, Scotland
The Arran Coastal route is a circular route around the stunning Island of Arran, just off the west coast of Scotland. It covers 65 miles so it’s best to do it in stages, preferably over a week.
I absolutely love Arran and this walk shows it off perfectly. It takes in all the main attractions, such as the Machie Moor Standing Stones and stone circles, which date back to between 3,500 BC and 1,500 BC, the King’s Cave, where Bonnie Prince Charlie hid after being defeated in a battle with the English army, and Glenashdale Falls, a series of breathtaking waterfalls.
If you are feeling energetic (which I wasn’t!) you can climb Goatfell, the highest mountain on Arran, or you can enjoy the cute little villages of Brodick, Whiting Bay and Lamlash.
Arran is known as ‘Scotland in miniature’ so the walk differs widely from the mountainous and rugged north to the rolling lush green fields and beautiful beaches in the south. You don’t ever get bored, especially with wildlife such as eagles, red squirrels and otters to be found.
When we stopped in the evenings we discovered so many restaurants and traditional pubs to while away a few hours, and the locals are chatty and welcoming. This is a spectacular walk with scenery so outstanding that you’ll need to pack your camera.
8. Triglav Summit via Valley of the Seven Lakes, Slovenia
Chosen by Taylor Record, Travel Outlandish | follow on Instagram
Most people think of the German Alps or the Dolomites when they think about trekking in Europe, but the Julian Alps are a completely underrated stretch of Europe’s best-known mountain range.
The Julian Alps amble between the northeastern tip of Italy and Slovenia, with many of the trails clustered in Triglav National Park. The best-known hike in the region is the long-distance Slovenian Mountain Trail (or Transverzala) where you travel up to 599 kilometres through the jagged mountains and drop out on the Adriatic Coast. But if you’re lighter on time, hiking to the summit of Mount Triglav will still give you a glimpse of the alpine meadows, high passes, and brilliant blue lakes that make trekking in this region so awesome.
It’s a hut-to-hut route to the Triglav summit with tons of approaches based on how much time you have and your skill level. The Valley of the Seven Lakes approach is the most scenic, and usually takes three days and 40 kilometres of hiking. While it’s a tough mountain to the summit (it’s the highest peak in Slovenia, after all!), it’s not considered technical. That said, some of the route also requires via ferrata equipment, so you’ll need to pack in a helmet, harness, and learn the via ferrata basics before starting (or go with a guide who can help you out).
9. The Camino, Spain
Chosen by Bradley Williams, Dream Big Travel Far | follow on Instagram
The Camino is an epic 800-kilometre walk across the entirety of northern Spain. It starts just over the border in France and ends in Santiago de Compostela on Spain’s western coast. The Camino is easily one of Europe’s best hikes and draws in tens of thousands of walkers from all across the world, every single year.
It actually started out as a pilgrimage route a few hundred years ago, but is today frequented by all kinds of travellers. I am by no means religious, but couldn’t help but get swept up in the incredible spirit of togetherness you feel when walking the Camino. The route takes you through countless small Spanish towns and villages, as well as a few much larger cities.
For the entire journey, you spend your days meeting and walking with new people from all walks of life. It is a wonderful experience getting to hear their stories and sharing yours with them as well.
What’s great is that there’s no need to carry any of the typical heavy hiking gear like tents and cooking equipment. Instead, you spend each night in one of the hundreds of albergues dotted all along the route.
In the end, I walked a little over 30 kilometres every day and completed the entire Camino in 32 days. I highly recommend the Camino to everyone I meet who is passionate about hiking, and fully intend to go back and complete it once again when I am older.
Best hikes in Europe: day hikes
10. Valbona to Theth, Albania
One of the most beautiful hikes of Albania is, in my opinion, the hike from Valbona to Theth. You will start walking from the village of Valbona in the Valbona Valley National Park and slowly make your way through a small part of the Northern Mountain Range of Albania to end up in Theth.
My favourite thing about this hike and the region is the lack of tourists. Although Albania is slowly getting a small boost of tourism, it’s not in the form of thousands of people at the same time. We In this hike from Valbona to Theth, you will cross wild rivers, see the most wonderful views and pass the Valbona pass of almost 1,800 metres. There are old, authentic villages, little bars at the houses of locals, and plenty more things to see.
One thing I love about hiking in Albania is the true, authentic wilderness that can still be found in this area. If you’re deep in the forests of the Valbona Valley National Park (which you won’t do on this hike), you can even find bears, wolves and lynxes. It’s a mesmerising national park, one of a kind that is rare to find in Europe.
The hike from Valbona to Theth will take you around six to seven hours depending on your fitness, but it’s truly worth it. When you’re visiting Albania, you have to make the time to go to the northern part of the country to visit one of the several mountain ranges. It’s an unforgettable experience.
11. Mount Aragats, Armenia
Chosen by Juozapas Žygas, Nomad Joseph | follow on Instagram
I climbed Mount Aragats in October 2018, and it was definitely the best experience during my trip in Armenia. Mount Aragats is the highest point in Armenia and it is only 60 kilometres away from the capital city Yerevan. Together with Jonathan from a hostel in the city, we agreed to wake up early and hire a taxi, which was very cheap. For around 60 kilometres we paid less than 15 US dollars, and the driver was super friendly.
Aragats has four peaks which are called Southern, Northern, Eastern and Western. In a day trip we managed to climb three of them. The highest and hardest one is the Northern peak of Aragats. You definitely need to be fit and know what are you doing. I didn’t expect it, but climbing Mount Aragats Northern summit was actually quite dangerous. From ‘fake summit’ to real summit you will need to pass a difficult and thin ridge with steep cliffs on both sides.
I climbed Mount Aragats during the off season, but the weather was still good. We met some people on the Southern summit, but on the highest point, the Northern peak, we were alone! Can you imagine standing on the highest point in the country alone?
12. Green Lake, Austria
One of my favorite places for a very scenic hike is the Green Lake in Austria. This natural jewel is located near the small town of Tragöss, about two hours from Austria’s capital, Vienna. For many, this emerald green lake is one of the most beautiful places in the country.
As soon as winter is over and temperatures rise again, the lake fills with meltwater from the surrounding mountains. Then, the Green Lake shines in the most beautiful shades of blue and green colors – therefore, locals also call it the ‘Caribbean of Austria’.
Fortunately, I don’t live far from the Green Lake and so I can manage to go there almost every year for hiking. When visiting, you can choose between many different hiking routes. The easy route starts from the parking lot and takes around 1.5 hours. The hiking path leads through a dense forest, past two other lovely lakes and finally you will enjoy the wonderful ambience of the beautiful Green Lake. Around the lake are plenty of nice places for having a break, and if you don’t mind cold water, you can even have a swim there!
Athletic hikers can continue up to the surrounding Hochschwab-Mountains. A recommendable route is the hike to Sonnschein-Alm and then further on to Pribitz. From the Pribitz you will enjoy a spectacular view down onto the Green Lake.
13. Pirin-Vihren peak trail, Bulgaria
The Balkans are a mountainous land. There are many mountains, small in area, but very beautiful. One of them is Pirin Mountain in Bulgaria. Its peak, Vihren (2,914 metres), is the third-highest peak of the Balkans, and one of the highest in Eastern Europe. The trail to the peak offers some of the most breathtaking views and a great experience for those who like hiking.
Pirin is located in the southwestern part of Bulgaria and it rises over Bansko, a famous winter resort and an old town with rich culture and history. But we came to our hiking adventure in summer. From Bansko, first we approached Vihren Chalet by car, ascending from 950 to 1,980 metres in altitude, crossing the whole spruce forest zone. Vihren Chalet is the starting point of the trail, and there were a lot of hikers attacking the peak.
We started our hike in the morning, with our kids, who were the only kids on the trail. The small path ascends on the steep slope over Bistritsa valley, reaches the main summit of Pirin, then proceeds on the summit to the peak. The trail is of relatively high difficulty, but our kids made it successful, gaining the admiration of the other hikers. Then we hiked back down to Vihren Chalet.
The whole hike was ten hours, but normally without kids it can be done in six or seven hours. We did the main trail, but there are two more difficult trails from Vihren Chalet to the peak, which we plan to ‘attack’ too next time. And the whole experience with the stunning landscape of Pirin mountain is really worth making it.
14. Pljesevica Mountain, Croatia / Bosnia & Herzegovina
Chosen by Becki Rendell, Meet Me In Departures | follow on Instagram
If you’re looking to get off the beaten track and away from the nearby crowds and tourist traps at Plitvice Lakes, then the Pljesvica Hike needs to be on your bucket list. The trail meanders upwards through the countryside, forested areas and eventually on to a steep and windy path.
Located right on the border of Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, this is undoubtedly one of the best hikes to do in Croatia. The hike is relatively long and arduous but your reward for your efforts is a stunning plateau offering 360 panoramic views over the two countries (you can actually stand with one foot in each!).
At the summit of the hike, history and abandoned-places buffs will relish in the relics from the Yugoslav war. You’ll find remnants of an old runway, derelict bullet hole-ridden checkpoints and eerie abandoned barracks. Do take caution if you decide to explore these areas; the harsh winters and remote location means they aren’t maintained, so health and safety is lax. Also, (and you’ll see the signage dotted around the trail at the top) do not go off the trail on the Bosnia & Herzegovina side of the trail, there are still landmines buried there (the Croatia side is absolutely fine).
The pinnacle of the trek is Croatia’s most famous rock. Scramble up to the top for a gorgeous natural stage looking out over the landscape.
The Pljesevica Trek was one of the highlights from my recent trip to Croatia. Check my full article on the stunning Pljesevica Hike where I’ll tell you exactly where to find the start of this trail, what to expect and a load of other tips on navigating this trail (after going astray several times, I’ll tell you how not to get lost!).
15. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Chosen by Constance Panda, The Adventures Of Panda Bear | follow on Instagram
Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most gorgeous parks in the world, and has become super well known thanks to its Instagrammable status. Even though it’s very popular, Plitvice Lakes National Park is amazing for hiking.
As the first national park in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park is famous for its beautiful lakes and waterfalls. The park is divided between the Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes, but most visitors usually tend to only hike through the Lower Lakes.
If you have most of the day, we loved Trail C. The trail takes between four and six hours, covers a total of five miles (eight kilometres), and also includes part of Trail A. As such, this trail goes from the Lower Lakes (Milanovac, Gavanovac, Kaluđerovac, and Novakovića Brod), on a boat ride across Lake Kozjak, to the Upper Lakes, and on a tram ride back down to the main entrance, Entrance 1.
We loved walking along the trail and seeing the beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park, it was amazing getting to see the gorgeous blue and green tones. Because we went during the fall, we also got a taste of the autumn foliage against the blues. We’ve heard that if you visit during the winter, the snow and frozen waterfalls are beautiful, but some trails may be closed due to the weather.
Literally any hike within Plitvice Lakes National Park is amazing, Trail C is a great way to see almost all of the park in a single day.
16. Bohemian Switzerland, Czech Republic
Chosen by Veronika Primm, Travel Geekery | follow on Facebook
Bohemian Switzerland is a unique national park covered in stunning karst formations located in the very north of the Czech Republic. It continues across the border to Germany, where the area is called Saxon Switzerland.
The most popular hike in the area is the one to the Pravčická Gate, or Pravčická brána in Czech. It’s a unique natural rock bridge – the second largest in the world. It even appeared in the Chronicles of Narnia. Right by the gate is a beautifully restored old hotel made from wood. It used to accommodate noble families visiting the area.
Since I’m Czech myself, Bohemian Switzerland is one of the areas in my country that I’m most proud of. It’s natural, it’s beautiful and well preserved. The tourists there are mostly Czechs.
The best place to start the hike is in Hřensko, a small local town. The red trail starts there. If you follow it for about 1.5 kilometers, you’ll get to Tři Prameny crossroads. Follow the signs to the left leading to the Pravčická brána. You’ll reach it after another 2.5 kilometers.
The Bohemian Switzerland National Park can be reached by a two-hour drive from Prague. There are frequent train connections as well.
17. Roseberry Topping, England
Chosen by Anna Liddell, My Travel Scrapbook | follow on Facebook
Roseberry Topping is a delightful hill in the Yorkshire Moors National park in the North of England. Whilst it is by no means the biggest peak in the area, this hike is one of England’s finest due to its fascinating history as well as iconic shape.
Captain James Cook lived close to Roseberry Topping as a boy. It is said that he would hike Roseberry whenever he could, and that these hikes influenced his wanderlust for his later explorations. Indeed, it is impossible to forget his association with the hill, as the Captain Cook monument stands proudly on the neighbouring moor and can be seen from the summit of Roseberry Topping.
Roseberry Topping itself is interesting from a geography perspective. The hill has a conical shape, resembling the shape of whipped cream on an ice cream sundae. Dr Seuss might have imagined such a shape and drawn it in his comics. Some even nickname the peak ‘the little Matterhorn’ due to its distinctive peak features.
The hike itself takes around half an hour from the car park to the summit, making it a perfect hike for all abilities. The path is wild once you leave the woods meaning it is not recommended to undertake in wet weather or icy conditions. Yet on a sunny or dry day, the hike on Roseberry Topping is one of the best in the world.
18. Scafell Pike, England
In the north-west of England, the Lake District has hundreds of superb hikes, but there’s one which is on every hiker’s list: Scafell Pike. The tallest mountain in England might not rival Everest, but that means it’s an achievable peak for anyone of average fitness.
The beauty of hiking up Scafell Pike is that you can do it in so many different ways, approaching the summit from several different locations. The most popular route is from Wasdale Head, which also happens to be the shortest. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park; you’ll be hiking relentlessly uphill for a couple of hours, but will be rewarded with stunning views all the way to the summit (conditions permitting, this is the English Lake District after all!).
The path to the summit is only five kilometres long, but there is little flat track to give your aching legs a break. If you take your time though there is very little to stop you making it to the top; the terrain is rough in places, but nothing too challenging.
If the weather is clear, you’ll have one of the best views in England, seeing to Scotland in the north and Blackpool in the south. You can also see virtually every peak and lake in this stunning part of England. Even if the cloud sets in as you arrive at the summit like it did for us, it’s still an atmospheric spot, and an incredibly satisfying feeling.
We recommend making an early start as the path is extremely popular, especially in the summer. If you start the track just after sunrise on a weekday you’ll find it a lot easier to park, and likely have the summit to yourself.
19. Mount Kazbegi, Georgia
Georgia in Eastern Europe is not one of those countries that many adventure seekers look up to for hiking. However, Georgia is a very naturally diverse country in Europe. From long stretches of beaches, mighty mountains, and countless rivers, the country has everything to offer to the adventure seeker.
Being a mountain lover, I was looking for a short and sweet hike in Georgia during my seven-day road trip in the country. Upon researching, I found that one of the most common short hikes is in the small town of Kazbegi near the Russian border. The hike is on Mount Kazbegi, which is the tallest peak in the region.
A lonely 6th-century church sits at the top of the main viewpoint on Mount Kazbegi, which can be reached by walking through a scenic route between the lush green alpine trees on the snow-capped mountain. It is a beginner-level easy hike of two to three hours to reach the main viewpoint, which is the Trinity church. It can alternatively also be reached by a 40-minute off-road ride for those who are not up for the hiking adventure.
The views from the Trinity church viewpoint on the mountain were absolutely breathtaking. The whole small town of Kazbegi can be seen from there, sitting in the lap of the mountains surrounding it from all directions. It is a highly recommended hike for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of Georgia within a short time.
20. Bastei, Germany
Only about one hour from Dresden – a popular historic destination, and the cultural and arts hub of Germany – Bastei is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One can easily reach here by car or public transport. In either of the options, you will reach Rathen, a spa town.
This is a cute and small town on the banks of the river Elbe. One can easily see the huge towering cliffs of mountains on the backdrop. That’s where we are heading to.
I like to start my hike with a strong cup of coffee at some river view restaurant. On the main street (actually, this side of the town has only one ‘street’), you will see a detailed map of the hiking route. There are various options to choose from according to your interests and strength.
One can choose to make a small round trip visiting the heritage rocks site, or walk further on nature trails and reach nearby towns. I would recommend the smaller round trip for beginners because the hike is pretty steep and demanding.
In about 30 minutes to one hour, one can reach the typical rock formations and the famous postcard site of the rock bridge of Bastei. Visit the museum of prehistoric settlement for a nominal fee. I would recommend paying this entry fee to get the best view of the bridge. Once on the bridge itself, enjoy the views of the river Elbe way down below, and Koenigstein Hill in front.
There is a restaurant if you are exhausted and want to refill yourself. From this place, one can continue hiking further ahead, or return back to Rathen town to enjoy some local delicacies.
21. Samaria Gorge, Crete, Greece
When I heard I was going to work on Crete, Greece, I researched a lot about why it would be an amazing destination. One of my first hits was the Samaria Gorge in the south of Crete, an 18-kilometre gorge which you can hike through. It is closed when it is too hot or if it has rained a lot, because it is too dangerous.
The gorge is about 100 metres high at its highest point, and the views are amazing. The lowest point is about three metres. The hike is a pretty intense one if you never walk or you are in bad shape. But there are also a lot of children who walk the gorge. So as long as you have the energy, you can walk it. I even walked it with a bad knee.
I loved to be able to walk at the bottom of the gorge, where it’s not possible to walk in the winter, and to see the lines of the water on the stone. There are also wild goats that only live in the gorge. My food was stolen by a goat!
In the middle of the gorge lays the city Samaria. The story behind it is wonderful and the location is amazing. It is in ruins now, but just imagine that people used to live here. When I visit Crete again, I will definitely be back to walk the gorge.
22. Vikos Gorge, Greece
Chosen by Wendy Werneth, The Nomadic Vegan | follow on Instagram
Vikos Gorge, tucked away in the Zagorohoria region in the north of Greece, is a world away from the crowded beaches of the Greek islands. Despite its spectacular natural beauty, not many tourists make it to this authentic and untouched part of the country.
The whole time that my husband and I were hiking through Vikos Gorge, we only came across a handful of other hikers. But that’s definitely not because the gorge is not worth visiting. In fact, it holds the Guinness world record for being the deepest gorge in the world! Being inside this natural wonder and looking up at the cliffs towering above me is something that I won’t soon forget.
The terrain is a bit rougher than the much more popular Samaria Gorge on the island of Crete, but it’s not that difficult as long as you wear sturdy and comfortable shoes. And it’s pretty impossible to get lost. You’re inside a gorge, remember, so you couldn’t really take a wrong turn even if you tried!
The trailhead for the hike is in a picturesque village called Monodendri. It’s possible to get here by bus from Ioannina, but check the schedule carefully, as departures are not that frequent. And be sure to bring plenty of trail snacks with you, as Monodendri is not a great place to stock up. The hike finishes in Mikro Papingo, an even more beautiful village of slate-tiled houses perches on the cliffs above the gorge.
23. Gap of Dunloe, Ireland
Ireland’s Killarney National Park is full of hikes with challenging climbs and breathtaking scenery. But of all those I’ve done, the relatively gentle Gap of Dunloe is my favourite. Its beautiful mountain lakes and valleys are some of the most photographed in the world.
After taking the Killarney Shuttle Bus from Killarney Town, I was brought to Kate Kearney’s Cottage, where the hike begins. From there, it’s an 11-kilometre trek through the Gap and down through the Black Valley to Lord Brandon’s Cottage. Along the way, I saw herds of sheep, the “wishing bridge” (photo above), and a charming old house with greenery sprouting up through its former rooms, where a couple were taking engagement photos.
On the back side of the gap, coming down through the valley, I passed lots of traps, with ponies pulling groups of tourists up and down the route. There were even a few cars, pausing every 100 metres or so to get a photo. I couldn’t help but wonder why people wouldn’t want to hike the whole thing and experience more of the beauty of it all. (Keep in mind that this was during last summer’s heat wave. It wasn’t raining and the weather was absolutely perfect.)
Once I reached Lord Brandon’s Cottage, it was time for the second leg of the journey: the boat ride. I was treated to a cruise through the famous Lakes of Killarney, which were the deep blue of sapphires on a necklace that day. Our boatman regaled us with stories about the history of the area while we relaxed and looked around.
When the boat ride was over, we were dropped back at the well-kept Ross Castle, where I ended a perfect day by taking a tour. Though I’ve done many more hikes in the park, the Gap of Dunloe remains my favourite, and I even took my sister back when she came to visit me this summer.
24. Legend trail to San Giacomo Church, Dolomites, Italy
The Italian Dolomites has to be one of the best areas in the world for hiking. Whether you are looking for easy hikes from the top of a cable car or more adventurous multi-day treks through the mountains, you will find it all in the Dolomites.
We chose to base ourselves in the Val Gardena, and made several treks in this area. The one that we rate the highest and as one of the best (and most accessible) hikes in Europe is the legend trail to San Giacomo Church (the protector of all hikers!).
It is not one of the longest or toughest hikes though. It is a 7.5-kilometre circular walk out of the village of Ortisei through woodlands to areas where you can see the classic views of the rocky Dolomite peaks.
The path climbs steeply, but was not a problem carrying our young baby. Along the way, information boards tell the story of Count Jakob who is said to have built the church in the middle of the woods in gratitude for coming back alive from Santiago de Compostela. The highlight of the walk is the picturesque location of the church and the fabulous views across the valley behind.
It was the perfect short hike to begin our exploration of the Dolomites. Over the next few days we took on longer and higher treks, but this first short walk has proved to be the most memorable.
25. Mount Vesuvius, Italy
Chosen by Jaclyn Brandt, Travel Spark
When visiting Italy, ancient Pompeii is a must-see for any history fan. The city was preserved in such a unique way, and many don’t realise how large and advanced they actually were. You could spend days or weeks wandering through the city and its homes, colosseum, and theatre.
However, if you are planning to visit the site, it’s well worth visiting the volcano that preserved the city in such a way. Mount Vesuvius is open to hikers and it’s not difficult to climb all the way to the top. When leaving (or arriving at) Pompeii, there is a bus that will take you most of the way to the top (do not purchase a ticket from a guy standing on the road or from the ticket office, that is for something else — you will purchase your ticket while on the bus, but you will need to be prepared with cash).
Once you are dropped off, you will hike up the mountain nearly a mile at a fairly steep incline. The hike is not dangerous in any way, and there are shops and even a small cafe at the top. You will be able to see the city of Naples from the top as well as the sea.
If you are planning to go all the way to Pompeii, a hike to Mount Vesuvius will be a beautiful added bonus to your trip.
26. Val Veny, Courmayeur, Italy
Being based in Courmayeur in the Italian Alps means I am spoilt for choice when it comes to fantastic hiking opportunities.
One of my favourite walks is just a short drive from the village. Val Veny is a perfect starting point for a number of hikes, from more challenging routes heading up into the glaciers to those trails that are suitable for walking with children and even buggies. The landscape is simply stunning, and quickly changes from forested slopes to open views of the valley and crystal clear rivers.
I was blown away by the valley when I first walked up to it, and it continues to enchant any visitors that I have, whether they are seasoned walkers or not.
The route can get busy in high summer season so I recommend getting there early to enjoy the tranquillity. We normally park at the Hobo Campsite and then walk up a well marked road from there.
Even if you are only walking as far as Cabane Du Combal where the valley opens up, I would recommend adding another 20 minutes or so onto your hike to climb up to Lago Miage. This is a glacial lake with two separate sections: one with deep blue waters, and the other with grey waters resulting from the high sediment concentrations.
The lake is surrounded by impressively tall ice cliffs, but it does mean that care should be taken when near it, as pieces of ice often suddenly break off falling into the water below. Due to climate change and glacial retreat, the lake is shrinking every year, and it is best viewed at the start of the summer.
Hiking into Val Veny is not possible in the winter months as the approaching road is closed when the area is used for skiing.
27. Preikestolen, Norway
One of my favorite hikes in Europe is the one to Preikestolen in Norway. I hiked it in September 2018 and loved the amazing views it offers. As you walk along the trail, you pass forests and small picturesque lakes. And reaching Preikestolen and looking down 604 metres towards Lysefjord is just incredible.
Preikestolen is about two hours away from Stavanger, and the most convenient way to get there is to take the ferry to Tau (40 minutes) and then the express bus (one hour). The bus drops you off at the ‘Preikestolen mountain lodge’, which is the trail starting point. There is a parking lot so you can also drive there yourself. The Preikestolen, also known as Pulpit Rock, is a 25×25-metre big ledge and the end of the trail.
The official hiking season is from May to October, but with the proper gear it is possible to do this hike year-round. During the summer months it can be rather crowded, but when I was there in September the crowds had decreased a lot.
The trail to Preikestolen is 3.8 kilometres one way, so the total length is 7.6 kilometres. It has an elevation gain of 350 metres and is a mix of flat areas and steep staircases. If you are a somewhat experienced hiker, the entire hike should take you around four hours. And if you are like me and spend a lot of time taking pictures, it might be closer to six hours, so plan accordingly.
It is possible to wild-camp close to Preikestolen, which is what I plan to do next time. Seeing the sunset and sunrise while sitting on the rock plateau is reputed to be amazing.
28. Ryten hike to Kvalvika Beach, Norway
The Lofoten Islands, located above the Arctic Circle in Norway, are a hiker’s dream. But there is one that stands above the rest, and that’s hiking up Ryten Mountain overlooking Kvalvika Beach. Relatively speaking, as many trails in Lofoten are ridiculously steep, this isn’t a difficult trail to do.
Located near the town of Fredvang, there are several parking options (each priced differently, cash only). Regardless where you start from, it’s a flat beginning to the hike. But it isn’t long before the climb starts. The trail varies between inclines and steps. Luckily, in areas where it can be very muddy, there are boardwalks.
Reaching the mid-point on the trail, the views start. Lakes and mountains as far as you can see. For as small as the Lofoten Islands appear, from above they are absolutely massive, epic, and just spectacular. The final push up is the steepest part. Fully exposed, you can expect strong winds. But soon you are at THE spot.
Though not the top of Ryten, there’s no mistaking why this hike is popular. Far below you is the secluded Kvalvika Beach surrounded by mountains. And the colour of the water! That aqua-teal with the white waves hitting the shore, it’s the best of Lofoten. There’s even a small outcrop that, when the camera is positioned the right way, looks like you’re standing on the edge ready to dive into the water. And it’s this view that makes Ryten Mountain one of the best hikes in Europe.
To reach the actual summit of Ryten, it’s about another 5–10 minutes’ walk up. But you don’t see the beach from there. When you’ve had your fill of the views, return the way you came. Overall, hiking the 5.5 miles should take 2–3 hours to complete.
29. Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, Madeira Island, Portugal
Chosen by Edyta, Say Yes To Madeira | follow on Instagram
Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike is one of the most popular and best-rated hikes on Madeira Island, and trust me – if fully deserves it. The full name of the hike is “Vereda do Areeiro – PR#1”. It is a hike between two peaks of Madeira Island – Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo (the highest peak on the island). It takes about four hours to complete if you walk only one way.
The hike is officially classified as ‘difficult’, and it can be demanding to some people with a poor physical condition or vertigo. You can get to both peaks by car, but there are also multiple tour companies offering tours with a qualified guide and they also pick you up at your hotel in Funchal (the main city of Madeira).
What makes it so special? It is a beautiful walk with spectacular views. The most beautiful part of the route is around the Pico do Arieiro peak. It is there where you will find the famous narrow stairs with an abyss on both sides. If you are lucky enough and the weather conditions permit, you will feel like you are walking above the clouds. Mountain peaks on Madeira are frequently covered in a bright, fluffy and dreamy carpet made of clouds, which is pretty spectacular.
For us, this place is particularly important. I even hiked a small bit of this walk wearing my wedding dress, as Pico do Arieiro was the place we chose for our Madeira wedding scenic photo shoot.
We highly recommend the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo walk and to choose Madeira Island for your next hiking holidays. With the amazing hiking route network it offers, Madeira is a true heaven for all hikers.
30. Seven Hanging Valleys, Portugal
Chosen by Linn Haglund, Brainy Backpackers | follow on Instagram
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is without a doubt worthy of the list of the best hikes in Europe. The linear six-hour hike follows the rugged coastline in southern Portugal and stretches from Carvoeiro to one of the world’s most astounding beaches, Praia da Marinha.
Starting with Carvoeiro boardwalk, which beautifully sits on top of the cliffside overlooking the deep, blue Atlantic Ocean, I couldn’t resist getting off the trail and exploring the cliffs through tunnels and hidden stairways. Once the boardwalk finishes, there is a detour down the steps to Algar Seco where lots of people go for a swim in the natural pool. I chose not to as there was a strong current while I was there.
The trail continues past Vale Covo and Vale de Centeanes beach all the way to Alfanzina Lighthouse, which is the trail half-way point. At Benagil beach you need to get up on the road before the path continues, so I found it perfect to go for a swim to cool down.
Before reaching the famous Praia da Marinha, there are some incredible caves where you can look straight down through massive holes that are formed in the rocky cave roofs. Please respect the barriers around the holes, as you can fall deep, and in most of them straight down to the swelling waves smashing into the cave walls.
Passing the iconic natural arches, you are nearly there. I really enjoyed the last part of the trail for the views of Praia da Marinha from above. It is just stunningly beautiful! Also, after the long hike under the burning sun, it was perfect to buy a cold can of Aquarius to cool down in one of the little kiosks before descending to the actual beach.
31. Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Chosen by Anisa Alhilali of Two Traveling Texans | follow on YouTube
If you like waterfalls like me, then you have to do the Fairy Pools hike on the Isle of Skye. I consider it one of the easiest and most scenic hikes I have ever done.
Even of a dreary day, I thought the waterfalls flowing into crystal clear pools with the stunning Black Cullin mountains as the backdrop were stunning. I would allow an hour for the 2.4-kilometre round trip walk so that you have plenty of time for pictures.
The only part of the hike that was a bit challenging was crossing the stream on a rock bridge. I was worried I might slip and fall in the shallow water. Some people do come to swim in the Fairy Pools, but the water is a bit cold for my taste.
It’s about a 40-minute drive from the town of Portree to the Fairy Pools. Use postcode IV47 8TA in your GPS to navigate to the parking lot. It is free to visit the Fairy Pools; you don’t even have to pay for parking.
Bring along some rain gear so that you are prepared for the unpredictable Scottish weather. Get there early to beat the crowds, as the Fairy Pools are popular and parking is limited.
32. Bachledka Treetop Walk, Slovakia
The Bachledka Treetop Walk, which is situated in the heart of the verdant forests of Pieniny National Park in Slovakia, gives you a good glimpse of the stunning natural landscapes of the Belinaske Tatras mountain range.
With a total length of 1,234 metres, the walkway will provide you with plenty of opportunities to spot the various forms of wildlife indigenous to this region. Learn about the local flora and fauna by reading about them in each educational stop, where you will find some pictures and bits of humorous trivia that will provide a bit of entertainment for all ages.
In between the tranquil walks on stable boards, you veer into an adrenaline corner, where balance and agility are needed to continue on your trek. Perfect for both children and adults, all of these attractions are completely safe, albeit a bit scary.
The coup de grace of this fantastic walkway is the sightseeing tower, where you will be treated to panoramic views of the mountains around you. At the centre of this tower is an adrenaline net that will test your fear of heights, as you will be gazing into a 32-metre drop as you set foot on it. Perfect for bored kids and adults, but not quite for people who are afraid of heights.
To get there, head to the Bachledova Valley, where a 45-minute walk on a well marked path will bring you to the beginning of the trail. If you are not keen on walking, watch out for the ten-person cabin lift that is currently being constructed.
33. Eiger Trail, Switzerland
If you are short on time and want see a good chunk of classic Swiss scenery in one hit, the Eiger trail is a great option for you. This six-kilometre downhill (or uphill if you fancy it) trail begins at Eigergletscher station (2,340 metres) and ends at Apiglen, with the option of continuing on to Grindelwald on the valley floor.
Alighting the train at Eigergletscher, you will immediately see the massive (but quickly retreating) Eiger Glacier to your left. Take a few minutes here to appreciate the size of it; it’s quite rare to get this close to a glacier at this height.
Walking on from the trailhead, the north face of Eiger will be your constant companion for the first few kilometres. You will come in touching distance of the face, extending above you another 1,600 metres.
It’s very easy to get distracted on this trail, between the face of Eiger and the views in the valley of Grindelwald far below – this is true fairytale scenery. If you have binoculars handy you may be able to spy climbers high on the face; the Eiger north face has some of the world’s most well known climbs.
On towards Alpiglen, by now you will be congratulating yourself for selecting the downhill route. You will see waterfalls, jewel-toned lakes, alpine meadows full of flowers, and herds of extremely friendly Swiss cows that will soundtrack your hike with the syncopated clang of their cowbells, all while descending into the valley surrounded by the Bernese Alps.
The Eiger trail finishes at Alpiglen, at the extremely convenient café (read: pub). Treat yourself here to an ice-cold pint of the local Rugenbräu, and take in the views of Mittelhorn in the distance.
34. Heidi Alps Walk, Switzerland
In the small village of Maienfeld, Switzerland is a wonderful family hike inspired by the stories of the little orphan girl named Heidi who goes to live with her grandfather, a goat herder in the mountains. My first trip here was on a cycling trip years ago, so it was a must-do destination to take our girls to when touring Europe with a little caravan.
Johanna Spyri lived in the original house that is passed on the walk, starting from the Maienfeld train station, inspired by the mountain scenery and lives of the local villagers.
We hiked through the ‘Heidi Village’ where the girls could pat goats, drink from the local fountain and see beautiful sculptures depicting Heidi, the grandfather and her friend Peter with his herd of goats. The hike to the Heidi Alp and ‘grandfathers’ hut’ takes about two hours following a well signposted trail with signs depicting scenes from the wonderful children’s story. One of their favourites was a large replica wheelchair made from timber that was a reminder of Heidi’s friend in the story, Klara.
The hut at the top of the walk is a small café, which was a beautiful spot to have some lunch and take in the views of the mountains and meadows below.
We visited the Heidi House in Heidi Village, which is a charming little museum that depicts life as it was lived in Heidi’s time, over 100 years ago. Our girls just loved every aspect of their day spent in the meadows and villages. We had the book with us and read it together during the trip across Europe so that they were both familiar with the story again.
As the hike combined something special for the girls as well as stunning scenery, it was a perfect destination, and one that anyone can enjoy even without kids.
35. Schynige Platte to First, Switzerland
In July 2019, I got a chance to explore the Jungfrau region in Switzerland and decided to do the 16-kilometre hike from Schynige Platte viewpoint to the summit of First.
To reach the starting point of the trail, you need to take an old cogwheel train from the village of Wilderswil up to Schynige Platte. I recommend that you start your day early, because you have about seven hours of hiking to do and you don’t want to miss the last gondola from First to the village of Grindelwald at the end of your trek. Remember to check when the last gondola departs before you start hiking.
Once you’re at Schynige Platte, follow the Panorama trail which will take you to some stunning viewpoints over Interlaken and the turquoise blue Lake Brienz. As you continue the hike, you will pass impressive rock formations, beautiful green valleys and fields of alpine flowers, perfect for a little picnic or a snack break.
From there, the terrain gets slightly more challenging with steeper ascents and occasional patches of snow as you approach Faulhorn, which is the highest section of the hike. Once you’re past that point, it will be a relatively easy downhill walk towards First, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Bachalpsee lake and a backdrop of snow-capped Swiss Alps. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some adorable squirrel-like creatures called marmots that live in the alpine meadows.
Overall, the hike is quite strenuous. However, the majority of the ascents and descents are mild, and the unbelievably picturesque surroundings will distract you from the fatigue you might experience.
To this date, the hike from Schynige Platte to First remains one of my all-time favourites and the memories are still vivid in my mind.
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