With everything from rugged coastlines to alien-like topography to breathtaking scenery on offer, choosing the best places to hike in Europe can be a challenge. For nature lovers, Europe is the perfect hiking destination. In
With everything from rugged coastlines to alien-like topography to breathtaking scenery on offer, choosing the best places to hike in Europe can be a challenge.
For nature lovers, Europe is the perfect hiking destination. In addition to stunning landscapes, many of the destinations can be hiked in different seasons for a completely different experience. Head to the Matterhorn in late fall for snow-covered mountains, or take on the mighty mountain in early summer to find flowering meadows and swarms of butterflies. Or discover hut-to-hut hikes for an overnight experience in the wilderness.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration or a chance to daydream, here’s our list of the best hikes in Europe.
Corsica’s GR20 Trail, France
The French island of Corsica is famous for many things: medieval constructions, old ports, and one of the most beautiful coastlines in the Mediterranean. It’s also home to one of Europe’s toughest long-distance hikes. The GR20 trail runs for 180 kilometers – almost the entire length of the island – and has a massive total elevation of 12,000 meters. Routes are jagged and rocky, with steep descents only apt for very fit hikers.
The central point of the trail is the village of Vizzavona, which can be reached by train. From here, hikers can also reach smaller villages to explore easier, shorter walking trails, such as the mare a mare (from sea to sea) trail, which cuts through the island from East to West.
Cinque Terre, Italy
No other hike in Italy comes close to the Cinque Terre route. The paths in this trail connect the five fishing villages that make up Cinque Terre. Set against dramatic coastal scenery and steeply terraced cliffs, the entire hike takes five to six hours. It’s also possible to stop at any of the villages along the way, then resume hiking the next day if you’d rather slow down your hike and linger at the most scenic stops.
Saalbach to Schmittenhöhe Hike, Austria
The entire route from the Alpine resort town of Saalbach to Schmittenhöhe mountain runs for 17 kilometers and takes at least six hours to complete. Considered one of the most stunning high-altitude hikes in the Eastern Alps, it requires some steep walking and long-distance endurance – but the rewards are more than worth it.
The best way to tackle this hike is to take the Schattberg X-Press gondola lift to the top station. From here, it’s a well-marked trail past Alpine meadows full of flowers, lush mountainsides, and mighty peaks all around. There are no huts along the way, so pack enough food and water for the day.
Switzerland’s Engelberg Valley
With hundreds of kilometers available to explore, the Engelberg Valley offers endless hiking opportunities – from multiple-day hut-to-hut hikes to relaxed walking trails with equally stunning views.
A popular hike here is the seven-kilometer Brunni Trail, which starts with a ride on the Brunni cable car up to the Ristis station. The views are already stunning from here, opening over the flowering Alpine pastures below and the soaring peaks around it.
Samaria Gorge, Greece
One of Crete’s top attractions, this 16-kilometer trail gets you from an elevation of 1,230 meters down to the shores of the Libyan Sea. The trail zigzags along cliffside vistas and Byzantine ruins as you descend through slippery terrain.
After the steep, difficult first three kilometers, the trail levels out as you reach the bottom of the valley. Once you cross the dry riverbed, the path smooths out almost completely. Continue walking until you find a stream, a great place for a break and to drink some cool water. The rest of the trail crosses through ruined villages and makeshift wooden bridges until you reach the path’s most famous spot, known as “the Gate.”
Green Lake Hike, Slovakia
Set in the heart of the country, the High Tatras mountains are part of Slovakia’s oldest national park. The area attracts hikers from all over Europe, who come here for its mix of alpine lakes and rugged mountaintops.
You could spend weeks in the High Tatras without running out of hiking trails to discover. But if you’re looking for a moderate adventure, the Green Lake hike is a long but doable day hike with stunning views.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist attractions. Home to stunning wildlife; cobalt blue lakes; and lush, vibrant forests, the park can get crowded in summer. For the best hiking, arrive in either fall or winter, which adds the beautiful reds and yellows of the season or the ethereal beauty of frozen lakes.
The park has well-marked, set trails that range from an easy 3.5-kilometer stroll to a difficult 18.3 kilometer, eight-hour-long walk zigzagging around waterfalls and over bridges.
Pravčice Gate Hike, Czech Republic
The Bohemian Switzerland National Park in northern Czech Republic is famous for its karst formations that are millions of years old. The park borders Germany’s Saxon Switzerland National Park. Hikers can start their adventure on the Czech side, then cross over into Germany to continue on the trails there.
Of the many trails and hikes available here, none is more famous than the Pravčice Gate Hike, an easy-to-moderate 10-kilometer hike that starts in the town of Hřensko. The hike lasts about four hours and takes you on a gentle uphill route past sandstone formations, rushing creeks and gorges, deep forests, and rocky castle ruins.
Hornstrandir Nature Reserve Hike, Iceland
Home to lunar-like landscapes found nowhere else on Earth, Iceland offers a unique experience avid hikers just can’t miss. The landscape is stunning anywhere you go in the country, but the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the West Fjords offers some of the most famous hikes.
This is a windswept, remote area where sea birds, Arctic foxes, and puffins reign. Trails don’t have names here, so picking one is done mostly by choosing an area to hike.
Pulpit Rock, Norway
Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock sits 600 meters above the Norwegian fjords. It offers stunning panoramic views over the blue waters below and the snow-covered peaks in the distance – which explains why this is one of Norway’s most visited natural spots.
Getting to Pulpit Rock requires a four-hour round-trip hike. The almost eight-kilometer trail starts at a car park in the municipality of Strand, and while it’s not a difficult walk, it does require some scrambling over boulders, plenty of steep ups and downs, and some slippery areas if you’re visiting in spring, when there’s still ice on the ground.
On the lookout for more exciting hiking trails across the globe? Check out our article on the best places to hike in South America here.
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