From the Italian Alps to the Scottish Highlands, Europe’s best hiking trails are as much dynamic as they are breathtaking. Although most of these are no walk in the park, there is no better way to experience Europe than on foot.
Europe’s 10 Best Hiking Trails
1- Camino De Santiago (Spain)
Spanning what is essentially the entire width of Spain, this age old pilgrimage (and even older Roman trade route), sees hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. The way of St. James ends at the shrine to St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compestela located in Galicia, Spain. There are numerous starting points, but the most popular is five miles past the Spain-France border in St-Jean-Pied-de-Por, France.
After acquiring a ‘Pilgrim’s Passport’ from a local church, the trip is a relatively inexpensive one. Because you are considered a pilgrim, most hostels along the way are 6-15 euros a night, with some being completely free.
Not up for the month’s long 800km trek? Start out in the closest city, Serria, located about 110km away and finish in about a week.
2- West Highland Way (Scotland)
The West Highland Way, or Slighe na Gàidhealtachd an Iar in Scottish Gaelic, is a 96 mile trail from Milngavie to Fort William in the Highlands.
Taking about a week to complete, the path is traversed on what is mostly old military roads.
Before you take off make sure you pack for inclement weather, as the hike goes on (and more north), the colder and rainer it can get. Things like a waterproof jacket, and waterproof boots are a must.
Preikestolen is a beautiful flat mountain peek located in southern Norway. Drawing in about 200,000 tourists annually, the top can be reached in about 2 hours.
Your starting point is at the mountain lodge, Preikestolen Fjellstue, which has accomodation, amenities, and help if needed. It’s suggested to go between the months of April-October because of ice in the wintry months.
And don’t forget, be careful on the edge, there’s no fence!
4- Alsace “Wine Route” (France)
The Alsace Wine Route is the oldest and most popular wine route in France. Stretching almost 200km, this wine route covers 300 wineries as you pass the countryside of Marlenheim in the north, to Thann in the south. There are numerous accomodations along the way, as well as tours, bike rentals, and even spas.
If you happen to go in July and August, you will most likely stumble upon the many wine festivals held in the region. Santé!
5- Laugavergurinn (Iceland)
It’s no wonder this 34 mile hike is Iceland’s most popular. As you pass active volcanoes, black mountains, and green valleys, you witness an untamed beauty hard to come by nowadays.
Iceland’s weather is definitely no joke and should be taken seriously (it can even be cold in the summer!). Warm clothing and good boots are a must, with the option to stay at cabins (every 6-10 miles), or sleep in the campgrounds next to the cabins.
6- Cervinia, Valle d’Aosta (Italy)
In the shadow of the Matterhorn of Cervinia (which lies on the Italy-Switzerland border) this picturesque landscape is a ski resort in the winter and a hiker’s paradise in the summer. From bright blue waters, snow capped mountains (year round) and medieval castles – Valle d’Aosta is one of a kind.
There are several trails to pick from in the area based on difficulty.
7- GR20 Trail (Corsica)
Considered to be one of the most difficult of the Grandes Randonees (grand excursion) trails in Europe, this 180km trail runs from Calenzana in the north to Conza in the south. Typically taking the average hiker a little over two weeks, you will pass through rugged mountains, pine forests, and small towns along the way.
8- Lilac Bloom (Germany)
Northern Germany transforms into a lilac wonderland at the end of summer every year. A 223km trail between Hamburg and Celle allows hikers to become fully immersed in the stunning purple countryside, which owes its beauty in part to local sheeps that maintain the area.
9- Faroe Islands (Denmark)
The remote beauty of the Faroe Islands is something to be witnessed. Located west of Norway and north of Scotland, the many hills and mountain tops make for unrivaled views.
There are numerous hiking trails to choose from: For great views check out the island of Eysturoy; for a stroll, hike around Sørvágsvatn Lake; for peace and quiet, spend some time in the quaint village of Gjogv as you explore the surrounding countryside.
10- Plitvice National Park (Croatia)
Last, but certainly not least – Plitvice Lakes National Park.
This world-famous park is a total of sixteen lakes, with stunning waterfalls leading one after the other. A notable feature of the park is the waters vibrant blues and green, which can be attributed to the specific organisms and minerals in the lakes.
Plitvice covers a total of 296 sq. km. and is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe, the largest in Croatia, and as of 1979 apart of the UNESCO Word Heritage registry.