Hiking in the ‘Old Continent’: 20 of The Best Hikes in Europe

the best hikes in Europe

With Alpine peaks, rocky coastline, fairytale forests, and dazzling rivers and lakes, Europe’s diverse landscapes contain some of the world’s best hiking trails. In fact, Europe is where hiking first emerged as a form of leisure and recreation. Since the 1700s, Europe has become one of the top hiking destinations on the planet, with thousands of incredible hikes to choose from. In this post we cover some of the best hikes in Europe.

With so many extraordinary trails, it can be hard to decide where to go on your next hiking trip. To help inspire your travels, we’ve selected 20 of the best hikes in Europe. Some of the trails we chose are famous hikes, while others are more off-the-beaten-path destinations you may have never heard of before. Whether you’re headed to a tourist hot spot like Chamonix or a lesser-known destination like Montenegro’s Durmitor National Park, we’ve got you covered with the best hikes across the continent.

From epic day hikes to unforgettable multi-day treks, here are 20 of the best hikes in Europe to add to your bucket list.

Tour du Mont Blanc in France, Italy, and Switzerland

Tour du Mont Blanc in France, Italy, and Switzerland one of the best hikes in Europe

Trail Length: 110 miles / 170 km

Elevation Gain: 35,000 ft / 10,670 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Multi-day Hike

Duration: 10-12 days

This breathtaking loop trail circles Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc (15,778 ft / 4,809 m), and is one of the region’s most iconic hikes. In addition to striking views of the Alps, hikers will experience traditional Alpine villages and green meadows bursting with wildflowers. The trail takes about 10-12 days to complete, with around 5-7 hours of hiking each day.

The stunning Tour du Mont Blanc allows hikers to visit three different countries – France, Italy, and Switzerland. Most people start and end their trek in the resort area of Chamonix, France. Hikers can choose from various lodging options along the trail, including mountain huts, refuges, bed and breakfasts, hostels, and campsites. Plan your trip between late June and mid-September, and book your lodging at least six months in advance for the best experience.

Mount Triglav, Slovenia

Trail Length: 13.8 miles / 22.2 km

Elevation Gain: 7,168 ft / 2,185 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Multi-day Hike

Duration: 2 days

Considered a rite of passage for many Slovenians, Mount Triglav (9.396 ft/2,864 m) in the Julian Alps is Slovenia’s tallest peak. Triglav skirts the line between mountain climbing and hiking. There are many routes to choose from, but some of them require more technical mountaineering skills and climbing or via ferrata equipment. We recommend starting in Trenta, with an overnight stay in either the Dolic or Planika mountain hut.

All routes up Triglav have some steep, exposed sections. To navigate the narrow trail in these places, you’ll need to use the help of steel cables and optional via ferrata equipment. Make sure you come prepared with the proper gear and skillset, or book a guided tour.

Most hikers need two days to climb Triglav, but it is possible to do as a day hike for those in exceptional physical condition. For a longer trek, consider adding the Seven Lakes Valley trail (16 miles/26 km), which explores one of the most popular and scenic areas in the Julian Alps.

Trolltunga, Norway

Trolltunga, Norway

Trail Length: 17.4 miles / 28 km

Elevation Gain: 2,280 ft / 1000 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 10-12 hours

Located in Norway’s spectacular Hardangerfjord region, the 17.4-mile (28-km) trail to Trolltunga is considered among the best hikes in the world and certainly among the best hikes in Europe. The highlight is the Trolltunga, or Troll’s Tongue, rock formation. This awe-inspiring rock juts out around 2,300 feet (700 meters) above Lake Ringedalsvatnet, making for a magnificent photo opportunity. Plan some extra time here since you’ll likely have to wait your turn to walk out on the rock formation and get your photo.

The trail is strenuous and long but not particularly technical. The best time to hike to Trolltunga is between June and August, but you can make the trek any time of year if you book your trip with a guide and have previous winter hiking experience.

The West Highlands Way, Scotland, UK

The West Highlands Way, Scotland, UK

Trail Length: 96 miles / 154 km

Elevation Gain: 10,351 ft / 3,155 m

Difficulty: Moderate

Type: Multi-day Hike

Duration: 5-10 days

One of the United Kingdom’s oldest hiking trails, the West Highlands Way stretches 96 miles (154 km) from Milngavie north of Glasgow to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. Most hikers complete the trail from south to north since the northern sections are more demanding.

The trail packs in tons of diverse scenery, including countryside, lochs, moorlands, and mountain peaks. With sights like Ben Nevis, Loch Lomond, and the Trossachs National Park, the West Highland Way features many of the Scottish Highlands’ most famous and beautiful spots.

Most hikers require 5-10 days to complete the trail, with 7 days being the most popular itinerary. As far as lodging, you can choose to camp along the route or stay in a mountain hut, cabin, or hotel. If you want to add to your adventure, consider adding a climb up Ben Nevis or a ride on the Harry Potter steam train to the end of your trip.

Fimmvörðuháls, Iceland

Mount Triglav, Slovenia

Trail Length: 15.5 miles / 25 km

Elevation Gain: 4,593 ft / 1,400 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike or Multi-day Hike

Duration: 12-14 hours to 2 days

Located in southern Iceland between the Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers, the Fimmvörðuháls trail is one of the country’s top tourist attractions. With 26 waterfalls, three unique landscapes, two glaciers, and a volcano, this hike contains some of Iceland’s most breathtaking scenery. From lush green valleys to black volcanic peaks and ice caps, the views on the Fimmvörðuháls trail are truly spectacular, making it one of the best hikes in Europe.

Most hikers begin the trail at the famous Skógafoss waterfall and end in the Thórsmörk valley, but you can hike whichever direction you prefer. The hike is possible to complete in a day for those in good shape, but some people choose to break it up into a two-day excursion. You’ll need to reserve a spot at either the Fimmvörðuháls Hut or Baldvinsskali Hut for a two-day trip. Logistics can get tricky on this point-to-point hike. Plan ahead and make sure you have transportation arranged back to the starting point.

Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, Madeira, Portugal

Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, Madeira, Portugal

Trail Length: 6.7 miles / 10.8 km

Elevation Gain: 3,871 ft / 1,180 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 6-7 hours

Often called “the Hawaii of Europe,” the Portuguese island of Madeira is packed with incredible hiking trails. The route between Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo stands out above the rest. In addition to climbing to the highest point on the island (the summit of Pico Ruivo), hikers will enjoy sensational panoramic views of Madeira’s lush mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

This steep route is strenuous and not recommended for those afraid of heights. You’ll need to be sure-footed and do some scrambling at times, so make sure you’re up for the challenge if you embark on this epic trail. Sunrises are particularly beautiful from the tops of Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo – consider setting out before the sun comes up to enjoy this unforgettable experience.

Schynige Platte to First, Switzerland

Schynige Platte to First, Switzerland

Trail Length: 10 miles / 16 km

Elevation Gain: 3,202 ft / 976 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 6 hours

Located in Switzerland’s Jungfrau region, the trail from Schynige Platte to First is one of the best hikes in Europe and arguably the world. Hikers on this route will experience some of the most spectacular views the Swiss Alps have to offer. Highlights include blue alpine lakes, soaring peaks, traditional mountain huts, cows grazing in green meadows, wildflower blooms, and snow-covered trails.

To get to the starting point at Schynige Platte, you’ll need to take a ride on a cogwheel train from Wilderswil. Upon reaching First, you can take a gondola ride down to Grindelwald and a train back to Wilderswil. It’s also possible to do this route in reverse and start your journey at the panoramic overlook of First.

Kjeragbolten, Norway

Best Hikes in Europe: Kjeragbolten, Norway

Trail Length: 7.5 miles / 12 km

Elevation Gain: 1,870 ft / 570 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 6-8 hours

This trail highlights some of Norway’s most picturesque scenery, including the Lysefjord, its surrounding rugged mountains, and the famous Kjeragbolten. There’s a good chance you’ve seen a picture of the Kjeragbolten, or Kjerag boulder. The rock is wedged between two cliffs with about 3,000 feet (914 meters) of empty space below it.

The trail climbs from ​​Øygardstøl to Kjerag. Located 3,556 feet / 1,084 meters above sea level, Kjerag is the highest peak in Norway’s Lysefjord. The whole route offers beautiful scenery, but the panoramic views at the top are absolutely stunning. You’ll likely have to wait your turn to step out for a photo on the boulder. This scary photo op is not for the faint of heart! One wrong step will send you plunging into the fjord below.

The hiking season for this trail runs from around June to September, depending on the conditions. The trail has some steep sections with chains to help hikers avoid slipping. If you don’t feel comfortable tackling this trail on your own, consider booking a guided hike through one of the area’s various tour operators.

Pinzgau Trail from Saalbach to Schmittenhöhe, Austria

Pinzgau Trail from Saalbach to Schmittenhöhe, Austria

Trail Length: 10.6 miles / 17 km

Elevation Gain: 2,133 ft / 650 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 6-8 hours

You’ll need good endurance to tackle the Pinzgau Trail, but the gorgeous Alpine views are worth the effort. Over the course of 6-8 hours, hikers can take in some of the best views Austria has to offer, including meadows, wildflowers, jagged peaks, and turquoise Alpine lakes. This high-altitude hike reaches an elevation of 6,827 feet (2,081 meters), so come prepared for a challenge.

To reach the trailhead, you’ll need to take a ride on the Schattberg X-Press gondola to the top station. Once you reach Schmittenhöhe, you can descend with the gondola to Zell am See and take a bus back to Saalbach. There are no mountain huts along the trail, so make sure to pack plenty of food and water for the strenuous trip.

Bláhnjúkur Brennisteinsalda Loop, Landmannalaugar, Iceland

Bláhnjúkur Brennisteinsalda Loop, Landmannalaugar, Iceland makes our best hikes in Europe list

Trail Length: 6.4 miles / 10.3 km

Elevation Gain: 2,076 ft / 633 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 4-6 hours

Located in Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Highlands of Iceland, Landmannalaugar is one of the country’s best areas for day hiking. Landmannalaugar is a spectacular place to experience Iceland’s unique geology and natural features. With lava fields, geothermal hot springs, and colorful rhyolite mountains, the area has fantastic scenery.

There are tons of great trails to choose from in this area, but the Bláhnjúkur Brennisteinsalda Loop is one of the best. You’ll get to summit two peaks (Bláhnjúkur and Brennisteinsalda), see steaming fumaroles, and hike across lava fields. When you finish your hike, take a dip in the People’s Pool hot spring near the Laugahraun lava field.

Samaria Gorge, Greece

Samaria Gorge, Greece

Trail Length: 9 miles / 14.5 km

Elevation Gain: 8,772 ft / 2,674 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 5-7 hours

As one of the top attractions on the island of Crete, the Samaria Gorge in Greece is a phenomenal hiking destination. The gorge, which cuts through the White Mountains, is UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of Europe’s longest canyons.

The trail zigzags along the cliffs, past Byzantine ruins, all the way down to the Libyan Sea. You can cool off at the end of your hike and explore the coastal village of Agia Roumeli. The route is busy for the first couple of miles, but then the crowds thin out. Plan your trip between May and October, and keep an eye out for donkeys along the trail. The logistics can get a bit tricky on this point-to-point hike, so book your trip with a guide for a stress-free experience.

Valbona to Theth, Albania

Valbona to Theth, Albania

Trail Length: 7.5 miles / 12 km

Elevation Gain: 2,625 ft / 800 m

Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 6-9 hours

Although tourism is increasing in Albania, it remains one of Europe’s lesser-known hiking destinations. This route from Valbona to Theth is a hidden gem that lies in northern Albania’s Valbona Valley. Hikers will experience stunning views of wild Balkan rivers, dense forests, and the soaring Valbona pass, which reaches a height of nearly 5,095 feet (1,800 meters).

The trail was originally a mule route and does not see much traffic due to its isolated location. Although the hike only takes around 6-9 hours, you’ll need to allow 3 days to get to and from the remote area and complete your hike.

Bobotov Kuk, Montenegro

Bobotov Kuk, Montenegro

Trail Length: 6.1 miles / 9.8 km

Elevation Gain: 2,942 ft / 897 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 7-8 hours

This challenging trail in Durmitor National Park takes hikers to Montenegro’s highest peak – Bobotov Kuk at 8,278 ft (2,523 m). The route has some loose scree and several steep, technical sections that require scrambling and the use of steel cables and chains. However, the incredible vistas make Bobotov Kuk well worth the effort.

Hikers can enjoy the area’s picturesque scenery the entire length of the trail, with a sensational 360-degree panorama at the top. In addition to striking views of limestone peaks in the Dinaric Alps, you’ll see scree slopes, natural amphitheaters, lakes, meadows, and river canyons.

Dolomites High Route n. 1 (Alta Via 1), Italy

Dolomites High Route n. 1 (Alta Via 1), Italy

Trail Length: 75 miles / 120 km

Elevation Gain: 21,833 ft / 6,665 m

Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Type: Multi-day Hike

Duration: 8-12 days

The Dolomites High Route n.1, also called Alta Via 1, is the oldest of the ten marked High Routes through the Italian Dolomites. Over the course of 8-12 days, the trail will take you past some of the most spectacular peaks in the Dolomites, including Monte Santa Croce, Civetta, Tofane, Marmolada, and Monte Pelmo.

In addition to seeing the towering 10,000-foot (3,000-meter) peaks, hikers will experience stunning scenery like blue alpine lakes, green pastures, and fairytale forests. The hike is not overly technical, but you’ll need good endurance to complete this trek. Plan for around 1,970-2,950 feet (600-900 meters) of elevation gain each day, with six or more hours of hiking.

The average time to complete the Alta Via 1 is 10 days, but this number could range from 8 to 12 days, depending on your pace and fitness level. Accommodation is in rustic mountain huts along the trail, usually placed in stunning locations.

Pennine Way, United Kingdom

Pennine Way, United Kingdom

Trail Length: 268 miles / 431 km

Elevation Gain: 40,000 ft / 12,000 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Multi-day Hike

Duration: 16-19 days

The Pennine Way was the first National Trail in England and is considered the hardest of England’s National Trails. The famous long-distance route extends 268 miles (431 km) from Edale, England, to Kirk Yetholm, Scotland, and passes through some of the wildest parts of northern England. The terrain is hilly and remote, with pastoral landscapes, rocky outcrops, bogs, and verdant valleys.

The trail offers a mix of natural scenery and history, with highlights like the picturesque Derbyshire Peak District, Yorkshire Dales National Park, and UNESCO World Heritage Site Hadrian’s Wall. Most people require 16 to 19 days to complete the trail, but some hikers need up to three weeks.

El Caminito Del Rey, Spain

Best Hikes in Europe: El Caminito Del Rey, Spain

Trail Length: 4.8 miles / 7.7 km

Elevation Gain: 898 ft / 274 m

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 3-4 hours

Translated as The King’s Little Pathway, El Caminito Del Rey is in southern Spain, near the city of Málaga. This trail was known for some time as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world, but infrastructure improvements and renovated boardwalks made the path significantly safer when it reopened to the public in 2015.

The trail is not physically demanding, but you’ll need a good tolerance for heights and exposure. While it’s no longer considered dangerous, El Caminito Del Rey takes hikers to dizzying heights along walkways and suspension bridges in the Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes gorge. From around 328 feet (100 meters) up on the cliffside, you’ll have gorgeous views of the canyon and the Guadalhorce River’s green waters rushing below you.

Plitvice Lakes National Park Loop, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park Loop, Croatia is considered one of the best hikes in Europe

Trail Length: 9 miles / 14.5 km

Elevation Gain: 1,456 ft / 444 m

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 4-5 hours

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is one of the most scenic national parks in Europe. The park is world-famous for its 16 dazzling lakes and numerous travertine waterfalls. There are a variety of walking paths where you can experience these spectacular sights.

One of the best hikes in the park is a 9-mile (14.5-km) trail that takes visitors through the Upper and Lower Lakes. The easy to moderate path is relatively flat and allows you to experience some of the park’s top attractions, including the enchanting blue-green lakes, dense beech and pine forests, and cascading waterfalls. You’ll also see the park’s tallest waterfall, Veliki Slap (meaning “the Big Waterfall”), at 256 feet (78 meters) high.

The Dingle Way, Ireland

The Dingle Way, Ireland

Trail Length: 111 miles / 179 km

Elevation Gain: 13,303 ft / 4,054 m

Difficulty: Moderate

Type: Multi-day Hike

Duration: 8-9 days

The Dingle Way is a 111-mile (179-km) loop trail on the Dingle Peninsula in western Ireland. One of the country’s most remote and rugged areas, the Dingle Peninsula has been ranked among the most beautiful places on the planet.

From picturesque farmland and villages to sea cliffs and rocky coastline, the diverse and dramatic scenery makes this 8-9-day trip exciting the entire time. The Dingle Way crosses magical landscapes full of history and legends. Hikers can also explore some of Ireland’s top archaeological sites, including monastic settlements, dry-stone huts, and ancient stone forts.

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, Portugal

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, Portugal

Trail Length: 7.4 miles / 12 km

Elevation Gain: 1,292 ft / 394 m

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 4-6 hours

Portugal is world-famous for its beaches, but it’s also a phenomenal coastal hiking destination. The Algarve region in southern Portugal is one of the world’s most scenic coastal areas and is home to one of Europe’s best hikes: the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail.

This easy to moderate trail traverses cliff tops and offers stunning views of Portugal’s rugged coastline framed by the Atlantic’s azure waters. The trail features interesting rock formations, including natural arches and sinkholes. As an added bonus, you can take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy the region’s sunny beaches when you finish hiking.

Green Lake Hike, Slovakia

Best Hikes in Europe: Green Lake Hike, Slovakia

Trail Length: 12.6 miles / 20.2 km

Elevation Gain: 4,570 ft / 1,393 m

Difficulty: Challenging

Type: Day Hike

Duration: 8-11 hours

This hike in Slovakia’s High Tatras National Park features majestic peaks, lush forests, mountain chalets, and quaint countryside. The highlight is a picturesque emerald lake called Zelené Pleso, or Green Lake. There are several routes to the lake, but the best is a 12.6-mile (20.2-km) loop trail starting in Tatranska Lomnica. If you want to shorten the hike, you can skip the first section by taking a cable car from Tatranska Lomnica.

High Tatras National Park is known for its biodiversity. The Green Lake hike offers abundant opportunities to view the region’s flora and fauna, including wildflowers, marmot, the Tatra chamois, lynx, and bears.

Conclusion

Ready to pack your bags? We sure are! Before you set off on your European hiking adventure, here are a few more things to keep in mind.

Although summer is typically the best time for hiking in Europe, some of these trails are accessible year-round. If you have limited vacation time in the summer or want to plan your trip between October and April, consider a hike in southern Europe or in a low elevation area, like the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in Portugal. Even in northern Europe, some of the trails remain navigable year-round – especially if you book your trip with a guide.

While it’s not always the case, the greatest views often require great effort. Many of these trails are considered challenging, so make sure to take the time to prepare physically and mentally for your journey (see our Hiking Exercises post for some tips).

No matter which of these hikes you choose, solid planning and preparation are the keys to an enjoyable and safe journey. Check out our Hiking Tips and Gear Tips articles to ensure you’re ready to tackle the best hikes in Europe.


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