Looking for the Best Hikes in Europe? Look no further!
Long-distance hiking is believed to have originated in Europe - Germany, to be precise - over a century ago.
Despite the continent being relatively overpopulated, there are many diverse and pristine areas. Views of idyllic landscapes, snow-covered mountain spires, grassy fields and hospitable villages, make hikes in Europe ever more rewarding!
Some are relics of the old Roman ways or Christian pilgrimages, while others mark historical battlefields or link strategically important locations for many centuries of European military, economic, political and cultural history.
Regardless of your motivations, we hope you find a European hike below that will inspire you to come back to Europe over and over in search of ever more challenging endeavours.
Most hikes in Europe are not just nature walks, one can not hide away from the local culture and heritage. Many of the trails themselves are intertwined with rich traditions and history.
Flowing over the peaks and valleys of the Western Alps through the stunning landscapes of France, Italy and Switzerland, The Tour du Mont Blanc definitely deserves the crown as one the best hikes in Europe and in the world.
And not only because it provides the finest views of the tallest mountain in the region!
Although physically challenging, it allows you to experience the most picturesque parts of the continent in less than 2 weeks. The hike will take you all the way from Chamonix in southeastern France and through several famous villages like Courmayeur in Northern Italy.
However, the hike’s 11-day-durarion allows for route customisation – usually an anti-clockwise trek around the whole Mount Blanc Massif, it provides plenty of route variations to satisfy even the pickiest hikers.
And as if this wasn’t enough, the Tour du Mont Blanc offers a treat with its accommodation options, varying from boutique hostels and luxury ski resorts to rustic mountain huts.
With its contrast landscapes and passing a few 4,000-meter glaciers along the way, the Walkers Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt, also known as Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn or La Haute Route, astounds everybody embarking on this two-week journey.
Peppering France and Switzerland, the snow peaks, lush green valleys and European villages lifted straight from the fairy tails, offer constant eye rest on this very demanding and challenging hike.
A real mountaineering crew from England initially walked and skied the route in mid-19th century, creating the path for the modern-day challenge, best undertaken in summer.
Study our route variations well, to select the right one for your level of hiking experience and physical fitness.
And the last Alps’ trail on our top 20 list is Tour de Monte Rosa. As the other two hikes, it takes you through unforgettable scenery of the most popular European mountain range.
Taking you up and down the Renaissance paths, it provides the best views of the magnifico 4-thousanders.
Concurred in early 1500s by none the other but Leonardo da Vinci himself, the Monte Rosa (meaning ‘Glacier’) provides an unforgettable backdrop to the hike.
It truly is a hike across a magical Snow Kingdom, which is safer to admire in summer, preferably not earlier than in July.
Set in the powerful and scenic Scottish Highlands, the West Highland Way Hike seems to be getting even trendier than before. Connecting Milngavie outside Glasgow and Fort William, home to the highest mountain in Britain, the infamous Ben Nevis, the trail offers some of the harshest and refreshing views.
You will be treated to the Scotland’s best natural beauties – mysterious lochs (like Loch Lomond), sumptuous heights and glens, serene moors and magnificent woodlands.
Highlights worth researching in advance include: Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, and Glen Nevis.
Since you are hiking towards a fort, don’t forget to read up on the 18th century military history, as most of the roads around the area will be a real testament to some great historical events.
At the end of the path you will be in for a delightful ride on the Jacobite Steam Train, nicknamed the Hogwarts Express after featuring in the Harry Potter movies.
It’s no secret that this part of the country gets rather wet and hostile around fall and winter time, so it is advisable to embark on the journey between May and October.
If you are after the untouched truly Nordic natural beauty with barren tundra plains and local mountains, harsh Artic summers, miniature dwarf pine trees, birch forests and endless valleys, rivers, lakes and ponds accompanied by massive glaciers, than the Kungsleden Trail is definitely for you.
If you aren’t as keen on the northern winds and Lapland sceneries in virtually non-existent summers, you might still find the experience rewarding and manageable.
Although the only true wilderness of the Western Europe, the trail offers some camping comforts in many rustic huts along all of the four 110-kilometer hikes.
One of which takes you from Abisko to Nikkaluokta providing a view of the highest peak in Sweden, the stark Mount Kebnekaise.
Pick the hike according to climate zones you’d like to explore, or based on your preferences of nature reserves, of which there will be four on the entire journey, Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, peppered with several Scandinavian Mountains, being one the most popular and definitely the largest.
The best time to visit is either during the popular summer season – from June to early September, or mid-September, when most European hikers are gone and mosquitoes have died out.
Originally the most famous route for Catholic pilgrims, it is today a well-mapped trail for any culture-driven hiker.
The most picturesque route of Camino de Santiago Trail meaning the Way of Saint James is called the French Way. It takes your across the valleys with powerful rivers, roaring alongside the summits.
Thanks to its heritage, the trail is packed with major cultural sites of the region, including a very impressive Cathedral at Santiago built in Gothic Baroque style.
If you were to take the route from St Jean Pied de Port and walk through an infamous town of Pampolona in July, you’d be greeted by the fearless Running of the Bulls festival, which worthy of a pilgrimage on its own!
From here you can take a trip to the coast, but this could add another 3 days to the trek.
Traversing through the entire Mediterranean island of Corsica, GR20 is considered one of the hardest hikes in Europe.
From Calenzana (near Calvi to Conca) the route is a chain of seemingly never-ending climbs up and down very steep and spiky footpaths.
You might find it a relief to learn that the start of the trek – Northern part of the island – will pack your hardest days, and it gets a bit less gruelling as the days progress.
Although, be prepared for a touphest section where you will have to rely on bolted chains to climb over.
But it all becomes worth it! Winding from North to South of Corsica, this covered in pine trees hike penetrates the very spine of the island – its single mountain range.
It provides the best views of the rocky walls protecting the warm valleys, lush meadows and sparking lakes.
As the heat can add even more pain to the journey, try hiking either in June, September or even October, to save yourself from a pounding sun.
The difficulty of the hike is determined by its tiresome and continuous accent, so if you are not prepared to be climbing for days on end, then select a shorter version with more rest days for your comfort.
While hiking in the Central Pyrenees, you will discover some landscape landmarks like the Gaube Lake, Cirque de Gavarnie (UNESCO Heritage Site) and the Vignemale (highest peak in the area).
With breathtaking valleys and fascinating peaks, the views are simply unbeatable. But unlike many other hikes in Europe, this section of GR10 also offers some bird watching and animal spotting opportunities.
As you might busy yourself with taking pictures of brown vultures and griffons beware of being spotted by the golden eagle from above!
If you would like to see these majestic kings of the sky, make sure to walk through the Néouvielle National Reserve.
Arguably, one of the central routes will take you through spa towns – Cauterets and Bagnères-de-Luchon – to give you time to rejuvenate your aching muscles.
The hike will offer a glimpse into the region of Spain called Andalucía. It is a land of mounting summits, enormous basilicas, whitewashed villages, blooming orchids and ancient mountain towns that outlived the rises and falls of the three major European and Eastern empires.
Considered the most dangerous hike in the world, it requires mental stoicisim and some bravery. Due to landfalls the path was closed and only reopened recently, so safety is definitely a number one priority.
However, don't forget to look around and take in the views of the canyon, the gorge and the quite sublime river running only 100 metres below the path, curving the sides of the gorge.
It is likely you will never see this kind of beauty again!
Although the entire Rota Vicentina Trail is hefty 250 miles, it is divided into chewable sections, with the Fishermen’s Trail on top of the list.
Considered one of the best coastal trails in Europe, it takes you through some of the wildest southwest areas of Portugal.
It starts in Santiago do Cacem and ends at the most southwestern point of continental Europe, the Cabo San Vicente. The trail consists of two parts, the Fisherman Trail and the Historic Trail, which runs a bit further inland and takes hikers along remote farm lands and small villages.
Mostly known for a variety of unforgettable and even frightening landscapes spiced up with volcanoes, multi-coloured mountains, ice caves, lava fields, canyons and black arctic deserts the Laugavegur Hiking Trail is made for those who prefer to see all the planet Earth has on offer.
Although the views could be completely out of this world!
Walking from North to South, through the South-West of Iceland, you will also be treated to some hot springs in Landmannalaugar, before enjoying the fascinating beauty of the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve (Thórsmörk) and it is glacial valley.
The Hot Spring Route (translation) takes you through the scenery fit for fairy tails and fantasy movies.
Don’t be afraid of hoping for some magic, and perhaps you’d be rewarded with the fascinated light show that is the Northern Lights.
Being the most popular trail in the country, it is better undertaken at the beginning or end of the summer months.
The Westweg, or the West Way, is the most famous trail in Germany. Running all the way from Pforzheim to Basel it is practically the birthplace of the concept of hiking itself.
Established in 1900 it is still frequented by Germans and the international hikers alike.
It runs from North to South, but if you are familiar with the Nordic European forests you might find the North section a bit tiresome on the eye, so it could be better to start the hike in Schonach, a small idyllic village.
Continue in the Southern parts of the trail, you will pass primordial forests, emerald seas of meadows, lakes, and be often reminded of the majestic spikes of the Alps and the peaks of the Black Forest Mountains on the way.
The area is packed with trails running through the dark forests that inspired brothers Grimm, across muttering creeks and through rolling pastures surrounding.
Small guest houses that serve local cuisine are dotted all around, so you will score some traditionally German food.
If you have long been trying to convince somebody to get into hiking with you, the Alta Via 1 or the Dolomite High Route is a great place to start.
And not only because by being in Italy it allows room for a more relaxing cultural or even beach holiday afterwards!
The ragged summits with their grand splendour of the Dolomite Mountains can inspire the least outdoorsy hikers. You can choose any of the trails that connect various local villages and pearls of nature.
Interlacing through North East of Italy will take you past limestone cliffs, various 3-thousanders, generous meadows dotted with sheep, unspoiled lakes and even the historical World War I battlegrounds located at high altitude.
Although these mountains are usually outshone by the Alps, we believe them to be the most dramatic and compelling on the continent, or at least in the West of Europe.
With their pictorial rock formations and quite distinctive geology, it’s no wonder the UNESCO listed it as its World Heritage Site.
Although the trail might pose some physical challenges, you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the homemade food and tidiness of the beds in the huts along the way. More experiences hikers would know that that is a very-very rate treat on a remote trail.
The best time to hike is from late June to September, as the summer should save you from dealing with the snow.
But whatever you do, avoid hiking in August, as during this time, it seems, you are likely to meet all hikers in Italy taking on the challenge.
A hike on the Edge of Europe could well be the Dingle Way’s nickname, had Iceland not been halfway between you and the North American continent.
The trail is definitely one of the best hikes in Europe because of its remarkable sceneries and enriching exposure to the Irish culture along the way.
Around almost every turning point of the hike you will be mesmerised by gorgeous slopes, lavish countryside and sandy shorelines and the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
A circuit route around the picturesque the Dingle Peninsula – from Kerry back to Kerry – the hike comprises 30 Irish long-distance walking trails in the South West of the Ireland.
Famous around the world idyllic Irish pubs with their fresh beer, seafood and traditional local County Kerry cuisine will not allow you to get too bored or tired on your hike.
Although a very popular hike in Norway, with thousands of people visiting the area every year, we couldn’t ignore the North Cape's (or Nordkapp's) Arctic beauty and, unlike many other destinations, its popularity actually translates into its worth.
Mid-hike you will see the two mighty oceans – the Atlantic and the Arctic – fearlessly collide in front of you.
Although most hikers would only attempt the trail in the slightly less wet summer months, if you brave it out in winter you'd need to ski over, as the snow would make it impossible to walk.
But at the end you can experience the North, as it should be experienced - with a number of wonderful winter activities like dog sledding and visit the colourful fishing villages like Skarsvåg, which is the world’s northernmost fishing village and Gjesvær with its amazing views of the Gjesværstappan Archipelago.
And if you are up for it, (and since you are researching the best hikes in Europe, we can safely assume that you are) you could extend the hike to the Cape Knivskjellodden on Magerøya, which is more challenging and is the actual most northern point of Europe.
The name is a quite obscure, and perhaps is to blame for the fact that tourists overlooked the place for years, regardless of the wide understanding that this is, in fact, the true north of Europe. So to make it stick - try to remember it by its rough but powerful translation as the Knife Shield.
Here you will enjoy the cliff face of the North Cape Plateau – the most iconic of them all. It’s a good idea to camp in Knivskjellodden overnight to amplify your experience of this iconic place, before walking back the next morning.
Although not very famous for hikes outside Europe, Slovenia is a paradise of hiking.
The renowned Slovenian Mountain Trail also known as Transverzala will take you to and from some of the best natural pearls.
Along the Kamnik-Savinja trail, you’ll see simple examples of traditional alpine architecture in a shape of chapels made of wood and huts nestled in the scrumptiously green meadows wrapped by dense pine forests.
The Logarska Dolina is a glacier formed valley, notable for its numerous waterfalls cascading down the mountains.
All the way, you will be hiking past 2-thousanders, while enjoying the welcoming chirping of the meadows and forests.
The most notorious mountain passes in the north of Slovenia include the Jezersko Sedlo between Carinthia in Austria and the Jezersko in Slovenia, and the Pavlič Pass.
On the intersection between Europe and Asia, high in the Caucasus Mountains you will most likely be left alone for most of part.
The Mestia to Ushguli is a perfect trail if you would like to experience a country not popular with the Western tourists.
Surrounded by the verdant valleys, impressive glaciers covering pointy peaks and aquamarine lakes, you will most certainly immerse in nature at its purest.
The beauty of the hike in the is that it takes you from one ancient stone village to another (called Savan), some of which are famous for their UNESCO World Heritage guard towers.
Here people still travel by horse and keep the traditional mountain lifestyle, unlike anywhere else in Europe.
Svaneti is a very easily trekked area, so you can extend your trail from 4 to 7 and to 14 days if you continue to wonder around the region.
Attempt to plan a hike from the beginning of June till late September, but avoid the busiest months of July and August, as it is more difficult to find a place in the guest houses.
Famous for their abrupt limestone walls, the Carpathian Mountains, also known as the Transylvanian Alps, offer a truly of the beaten path hiking experiences.
Although they are popular with European hikers, Americans are rarely seen around for miles.
Many take on the challenge of hiking the Transylvanian Alps Trail to see the notorious Bran Castle suspended on a rocky cliff.
Built in the 14th century, it has been widely associated with infamous Dracula, although it is unclear why, since an inspiration for the book, Wallachian prince Vlad Tepeş, isn’t directly affiliated with the place, as long as we know.
You will most likely take the trail that leads along the main range of the Făgăraş Mountains and climb over the three of Romania highest peaks.
On the way you can visit one of the medieval towns called Sighisoara and see a few monasteries and fortified Saxon churches and local castles.
With the largest number of glacier lakes and streams, the Retezat National Park is another treasure not to be missed.
The best time to hike is from May to October, but note that accommodation on the trail is very basic, so it is safer to bring a sleeping bag with you.
The name of the Eagle Walk says it all – the hike gives you not less and not more than a view of the Alpine scenery granted by the of a local king of the sky.
Just as the eagle, the trail travels through Tirol – from east to west, the whole length of Austria. Viewing the map you will realize that the walk symbolizes a proud eagle spreading its wings all over Tirol.
Divided into multiple sections between Kaiser Mountain Range and Arlberg it comprises 9 stages between Venediger and Grossglockner Mountains in East Tirol.
Any of the routes on the Eagle Walk offer superb opportunity to explore the nature. From simple walks through stunning scenery to vigorous hikes over various summits, we are sure you’ll find a hike that is right just for you.
There is probably no person online who hasn’t seen the iconic images of the Cinque Terre hanging off the cliffs above the turquoise waters glistening in the sun.
But such postcard images of the five towns the area in coastal Italy connects aren’t everything.
To avoid the crowds, ignore the most popular Trail 2 (the Sentiero Azzurro, or Blue Trail), which you can do later by train or by bus, and ask your guide to take you on the more challenging Trails 1, 4, 6, 9 and 10.
The guide is a good idea as these hikes have little room for purchasing water, so you need a local with you to make sure you don’t inadvertently ruin your entire experience.
Trail 1 is called the High Path of the Cinque Terre Moutain Trail, taking your from the charming Portovenere and to the luxurious area of Levanto alongside the beautiful coastline.
There are two major benefits to this trail: it’s less frequented by the tourists and takes you through all five towns of the Cinque Terre.