With such incredible landscapes in Europe, there is incredible hiking to be had. This guide shares the best hiking in Europe so you can plan your next big waking vacation.
The Old Continent is one of the most historically saturated and topographically diverse terrains in the world. There is just so much to do and see within a relatively small area.
Thanks to its splendid patchwork of topographical landscapes and biomes, Europe represents a real treat for hikers; it really has some of the best long-distance tramping in the world! Whether you’re hiking in Sicily or taking on a multi-day monster trek in Switzerland; there’s something for all hikers in Europe.
If you are warming up for a trip to the Northern Hemisphere, take a peek at these destinations that offer the best hiking in Europe.
The Best Hiking in Europe: Six Trails to Add to Your Hiking Bucket List
Hot Spring Route, Iceland
Though you’ll want to explore everything, but sure to check out the Hot Spring Route, also known as Laugavegur; this trail is amongst the best hiking in Europe.
Don’t let the name fool you, though. Depending on the time of year you are visiting, the temperatures for a major portion of the hike might be far from pleasant. One of the hallmarks of the 55km long hike is the Pórsmörk glacier valley, so you’ve got a fairly good idea of what to expect weather-wise – it can be chilly! Thankfully though, all it takes is some careful outfit planning for subzero temperatures. Make sure to avoid cotton and stay wrapped up in layers.
The last thing you need is to embark on an epic hike and compromise your health, so always plan your outfits for contingencies!
When it comes to hiking in low temperatures and changeable climates the old adage is spot on…
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
The Most Famous Hiking Trail in Europe: Camino de Santiago, Spain
If there’s one hike you’ve heard of in Europe, it’s likely to be the Camino de Santiago – a real pilgrimage trail.
Many devoted Catholics from France and Spain alike embark this trip to one of the most spectacular, enchanting cathedrals you’ll likely ever get a chance to see – Santiago de Compostela, all the way up in the north-western corner of Spain.
The most popular trail (known as the Camino Francés) stretches 780km from its starting point near Biarritz in France, right to Santiago in Spain.
This part of Spain (on the Iberian Peninsula) is riddled with countless snaking trails and paths through captivating Mediterranean woods and plains. The region around the cathedral is also renowned for strong winds and regular rainfall, so this one poses a welcoming challenge for hikers that want a genuine, powerful experience.
With that said, the trails themselves are fairly manageable, even for novice hikers. The biggest challenge for many will be walking day after day after day.
Is it doable though?
Absolutely – hundreds of thousands of hikers take on this trail each year.
Will be be counted in that number, taking on some of the best hiking in Europe?
Westweg Trail, Germany – A Highlight of the Best Hiking in Europe
The ancient and infamous Black Forest is a rite of passage for avid hikers through Europe.
This is a region of the world that has given birth to most beloved fairy tales of our childhoods, and it is only fitting to pay it a proper visit.
The Black Forest also covers immense tracks of land in the Baden-Württemberg region of southwest Germany. For this reason alone, you should probably kick it off with a specific trail – we recommend the Westweg as it really offers a magical experience. This whopping 285km long trail passes through many villages with wonderful accommodations along the way.
It is a real hiking highlight in Germany.
Tara Mountain, Serbia
Carpathian trails have become particularly popular, so why not go off the beaten path to discover some of the best-kept secrets in the Balkans?
Tara Mountain spreads along the riverbed of Drina and offers incredible vistas, especially if you choose to embark on a popular Zaovine triptych route. The impressive topography of the Drina Gorge shows just how diverse the topographical makeup of Dinarides can be.
GR20, Corsica, France: A Mammoth Amongst the Best Hiking in Europe!
If you are an experienced European hiker, you have almost certainly heard of the notorious GR20 in France. This 180km long trail cuts through the heart of Corsica (which is a part of France), from north to south on the diagonal. The GR20 is also lauded as one of the hardest (if not THE hardest) route on the island.
It is, however, well worth the prolonged preparation, hassle and effort.
The splendour of rugged landscapes, spread out in front of you, is just amazing. Many hikers that have traveled all around the world consider the challenging GR20 to be in their top 10 most magnificent trails of Europe, if not in the to 5.
Be warned though, it will take you two full weeks at the very least to cross it, so if you are eager to take up the challenge, go through an intense training session to prepare.
Hardangervidda National Park, Norway
Hardangervidda spreads across a vast region in the very heart of southern Norway, known as one of the most breathtaking regions in Europe. When it comes to otherworldly allure, it contends with Iceland’s own landscapes, though Hardangervidda offers its own set of interesting features. There, the hiking trail cuts through the very heart of the national park.
The region is very diverse geologically; there is something truly primordial about everything you’ll encounter here. Whether you’re relishing in the sheer epicness of Harteigen, the flat-topped peak, or the rugged meadows on the Hardanger Plateau – it all feels undeniably ancient and worthy of utmost reverence.
Now, when it comes to specific hiking trails, the Hardangervidda Transverse is the most popular and accessible way to explore the region, though it may take you 7 to 12 days in order to truly take everything in.
The irresistibly charming huts you’ll lodge in along the way are worth the price of admission alone!
The Best Hiking in Europe: Which Trails Will You Take On First?
The primary selling point of European hiking is accessibility.
Naturally, other continents have an impressive cavalcade of mountain ranges, valleys, and plains, and you can easily argue about each of them being the most beautiful in the world without ever being wrong.
After all, almost everywhere we travel has something that makes it beautiful and unique!
However, hardly any continent has as much to offer in the way of easily accessible landmarks and natural beauty. You can get from one spectacular hiking trail to the next in a matter of a day, and sometimes even less.
The arrangement of beloved hiking destinations in Europe demonstrates the sheer volume of what there is to take in, and that is merely the beginning.
Which trail will you take on first? That’s the big question!
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Guest Post: Nemanja Marinkoff is editor-in-chief and TheGearHunt and WalkJogRun. He’s a marketing expert, and he’s interested in all things related to basketball. He also loves marzipan, although his wife hates it. You can find him on Twitter.