Hiking – an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, allow our bodies some exercise, and even travel across borders into different countries and cultures. Whether you choose to hike for the health benefits or to be at one with nature, it’s an activity that can be completed with little equipment aside from our own two feet. However, choosing where to hike can lead to confusion, debate, and frustration. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular hiking routes in Europe. Below, you’ll find easy hikes, tough hikes, short hikes, long hikes, and everything in between, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one to suit your needs!
West Highland Way, Scotland
- Duration – 7 Days
- Distance – 100 miles
Copyright – Tatters
To start, we’ve chosen West Highland Way in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. With 100 miles of beautiful land to cover, seven days tends to be the average duration as you travel famous sights including Glen Nevis, Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Loch Lomond, and more. Not only does this journey offer some stunning natural locations, you’ll also be walking through history at Fort William, one of the largest settlements in the Scottish Highlands.
For those into the Harry Potter books and movies, the Jacobite Steam Train (the Hogwarts Express) can be found towards the end of the path that connects Milngavie to Fort William. Although the weather can be an issue outside the summer months, the walk is relatively simple compared to some others we have here today and there are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation along the way.
Tour de Mont Blanc, France
- Duration – 11 days
- Distance – 110 miles
If you’ve been researching the best hikes in Europe for even ten minutes, you’ve probably already come across the Tour de Mont Blanc (and for good reason!). Starting in France, the TMB, as it’s known, travels around the Alps through both Italy and Switzerland. If you’re looking for powerful scenery and dramatic selfies you can use as your phone wallpaper or for a Facebook profile picture, this is the ultimate solution. Your feet might ache and you might feel tired at times, but the rewards are plenty.
In terms of the hike itself, you’ll be travelling anti-clockwise around the Alps so there will be some ascents and descents; this means it’s certainly more challenging than others. As long as you have the right equipment and you spread the hike through a period of eleven days, you’ll be in a great position to enjoy this part of our magical planet. A good waterproof rucksack is essential for this type of trip.
Ladder of Kotor, Montenegro
- Duration – 0.5/1 day
- Distance – 1,000 meters (climb)
If you don’t have eleven days, or even a full week, to complete a hike, we have another option for you in the shape of the Ladder of Kotor in Montenegro. What we like about this one is that it’s unique, it offers wonderful views, and it allows for freedom depending on time constraints and other variables. Although the hike is only 1,000 meters in length, there are over 70 U-turns through woodland and in the open. This makes it more manageable and also easier to follow since handy arrows and directions have been painted onto the rocks.
Why is there such freedom? Well, you can choose to descend from the Krstac pass to Kotor or you can ascend along the old horse trail. Whichever you choose, there’ll be views overlooking the whole bay and plenty of opportunities for photographs. If you like the history behind a hike, the path was actually built by the Austrians and served as a military path for provisions. Perfect for a day trip, you can book this hike online for an in-depth history lesson and assistance or you can take on the hike yourself.
Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany
- Distance – Various
- Duration – Various
Sticking with the theme of ‘freedom’, Berchtesgaden National Park would be another fantastic choice if you aren’t yet sure of the time you’ll have available. Sitting close to the Austrian border, this particular national park offers numerous hiking trails across a vast 81 square mile space. You can visit one of the many information centres within the park and they’ll tell you the best routes, how to accommodate your group, and the best places to see (such as Mount Watzmann, Hintersee Lake, and The Ice Cave).
Why visit this location? Not only is it the only alpine national park in Germany, the plants and wildlife on the hiking trails are largely untouched so it’s one of the best options for forgetting the stresses of the world and just soaking in your surroundings. Furthermore, it’s like its own world since the trails are so varied; from quiet woodland to rocky cliffs and loud stretches of water. Finally, we should also mention the preservation work the national park does along with the various activities on offer.
- Distance – 35 miles
- Duration – Between 3 and 5 days
When you think of Iceland, it isn’t long before the Northern Lights spring to mind because, let’s face it, witnessing such an event is on the bucket list for many people in Europe and around the world. However, did you know that you can combine seeing the Northern Lights with a hike? Although it isn’t guaranteed, many have enjoyed this combination thanks to the Laugavegur Hiking Trail. Even away from this, the route itself is ideal for exploring the natural wonders of the world with canyons, volcanoes, mountains, and even ice caves.
In total, the hike stretches across just under 35 miles of land which is normally split between three to five days so a sturdy hiking backpack and other supplies are essential. The trail can be found in the south-west region of Iceland and the walk will start north and move south. With each day, you’ll come across picturesque locations before finally reaching the Thorsmork Nature Reserve which, in itself, is sure to create memories thanks to its glacial valley. If you’ve always wanted to visit the Nordic countries, this is a great place to start and is often considered the best hiking trail in Iceland.
Dingle Way, Ireland
Distance – 110 miles
Duration – Between 8 and 14 days
With Kerry as the starting and finishing point, Dingle Way is one of the many ‘edges’ of Europe with only Iceland (and the huge Atlantic Ocean) separating it from North America. Working as a circuit route, accommodation won’t be an issue on this hike as you travel through sceneries that wouldn’t look out of place on the movie screen. As we all know for the UK and Ireland, particularly as hikers, the weather isn’t always going to be kind so this is something to consider. Although the route itself would be considered ‘medium’ in terms of difficulty, the weather can change this.
As the name suggests, the trail follows the Dingle Peninsula and it’s perhaps the best way to really immerse oneself into the Irish culture. At certain points, you’ll come across homely Irish pubs to warm the insides on even the coldest of days.
Norwegian Fjords, Norway
- Distance – Various
- Duration – Various
Photo via Good Free Photos
One of the best things about hiking is that you have control over what you do; this means that a trail can be chosen that meets your needs. With this in mind, we couldn’t create a list of the best hikes in Europe without mentioning the Norwegian Fjords. In truth, your hike on the Fjords could be a couple of hours or a few days, and it could be a stroll for a beginner or a tough challenge for an experienced hiker. Either way, you won’t be forgetting the experience in a hurry thanks to the mountains, cool blue glaciers, vast forests, and more. If you choose an extended trek, the reward will come as you venture from one location to the next; the change in scenery can be quite amazing even if only a few hours have passed.
‘Where time moves in its own pace’ – this is entirely appropriate from VisitNorway and perhaps a better description than we could provide. For the locals, the Fjords present a memory of simpler times where the population would farm despite the challenging slopes. During your trip, you may just come across some remaining small villages just to top off the experience perfectly.
Costa Brava Way, Spain
- Distance – 136 miles
- Duration – Various
So far, we’ve covered some extraordinary locations that’ll be sure to impress…but what about a hike that utilises flat terrain? This is where the Costa Brava Way, also known as GR92 and Camino de Ronda, comes in. If you want to take in the full 136 miles, there will be some mountainous sections but the great thing about this hike is that it breaks up into smaller paths. Therefore, it makes for the ideal hiking spot for those with little experience. Perhaps you’re just entering the world of hiking and you want to experience the sights of Europe but without feeling as though you have to be fit enough for the Olympics to take part? If this is the case, you can choose a particular section of this trail and still enjoy the scenery.
In its entirety, the path runs from Ulldecona, near Valencia, all the way across to the French border and Portbou. Even in the flat sections of the route, you’ll have a view of the sea that’ll take your breath away. Also, there’ll be plenty of villages and small towns to explore so it becomes a combination of hiking and spending time with the locals.
Slovenia Mountain Trail, Slovenia
- Distance – 310 miles
- Duration – 4 weeks
What if you’ve been hiking for many years and you’re taking a break from work to enjoy the world for a while? Well, we’re finishing with a mammoth challenge in a country that may not spring to mind immediately when the topic of hiking comes up. At a staggering 310 miles, this journey will take you around four weeks and you’ll climb many of the highest peaks in Slovenia. The high point? That’ll be Mount Triglav, the highest point in the country, at just under 2,900 metres (9,400 feet). After completing this hike, you can say you’ve been at one of the highest points in Europe (13th in the rankings).
Other Notable Hikes
For those who have already spent some time hiking in Europe, you’ll know that there are some fantastic hiking trails we haven’t yet mentioned. For example; Camino de Santiago in Spain, Eagles Walk in Austria, Retezat Mountains in Romania, the Haute Route in Switzerland, the King’s Trail in Sweden, and the Walk of the Gods in Italy. If you get to visit even one of these in this list, we’re sure you’ll have a great experience. If nothing from this list fulfils your needs, we urge you to keep looking; even within your local region because what you find might just surprise you!