Traveling to Europe is a fulfilling experience, especially if you take advantage of the gifts each place has to offer including the great food, lively music, cultural conversations, and expeditions through the stunning landscapes.
Many of the most iconic and dramatic hikes in Europe are multi-day or thru-hiking backpacking trips. However, most of the trails, if not all of them, are sectioned off so that hikers can enjoy anywhere from a half-day hike to a 30 day trek and not miss out on the any of the breathtaking views.
So, whether you are looking for a short day hike or a multi-day adventure, Europe’s trails will not disappoint!
15 Best Hiking Trails In Europe
1. Tour du Mont Blanc
Location: France, Italy, and Switzerland
Distance: 106 miles (170 kilometers)
Average Time: 11 days
(Featured image above – View of the Mont Blanc Massif)
The Tour du Mont Blanc is located in the highest elevation and most picturesque part of Europe. It consists of none-stop dramatic views of the tallest mountain in the region, the Grand Col Ferret. The trails are well marked and widely used. It is known for being strenuous with 6 mountain passes. But, as challenging as a hike it may be, it is not very technical.
Most people hike this trail counterclockwise around the Mont Blanc Massif. It is a physically challenging route with about 25,000 feet (7,620 meters) of ascent and 28,000 feet ( (8,534 meters) of decent. There are plenty of hotels, luxury ski resorts, boutique hostels, and rustic mountain huts to stay at along the long-distance trek.
There is a reason why it is the most popular trek in Western Europe, but unfortunately, that also means it is especially busy and popular. If you are looking for a remote experience away from the crowds, this is not the best choice. However, the views make it well worth the while every time.
Learn more about Tour du Mont Blanc here.
2. Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route
Location: France, Italy, and Switzerland
Distance: 90 miles (153 kilometers)
Average Time: 11 days
Comparative to the Tour du Mont Blanc is the Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route. Offering views of forests, deep valleys, large glaciers, and spectacular peaks. The trail consists of dirt paths, boulder-hopping, rock scrambling, ladders and support chains. It has 8 high mountain passes (including some higher than those of the Tour du Mont Blanc) and technical, strenuous hiking.
The crowds are smaller on the trail, especially outside of Chamonix and Zermatt where hikers encounter the most tourists.
This route has 23,000 feet (7,000 meters) of elevation gain and 25,000 (7,620 meters) of elevation loss over the 90 miles. The highest point of the route is at 9,800 feet.
Learn more about the Haute Route here.
3. Caucasus Mountains
Level: Easy to Difficult
Distance: 500 miles (800 kilometers)
Average Time: 4-14 days
Many of the trails throughout the Caucasus Mountains have recently opened and visiting here would result in a very new, unique, and remote experience.
Along any route you are likely to see aquamarine lakes, lush valleys, glaciers, and tall peaks. The region, as an intersection between Europe and Asia, is also home to the highest mountain of eastern Georgia, Mount Kazbegi, with an elevation of 16,558 feet (5067 meters).
This region provides the opportunity for hikers to break up their trip into different sections, allowing for hikers to choose to do shorter day hikes to longer 2 week long backpacking trips.
The trails skirt medieval villages and towns and hikers have the choice of camping, staying in huts, or camping along the routes. Hikers can spend nights socializing and getting to know the local culture. Some of the villages along the trail are UNESCO World Heritage sites and guard towers. The best time of year to visit is June to late September, with July and August being the busiest tourist months.
Learn more about Caucasus Mountains here.
4. Laugavegur Trail
Distance: 34 miles (55 kilometers)
Average Time: 2-5 days
Wild Icelandic horses, neon green valleys, thermo-features, black volcanic rocks, glaciers, waterfalls, folklore – more than enough reasons to make the trek across the most famous trail in Iceland. The unique landscapes and breathtaking scenery last the entire duration of the trip. The trail goes north to south through the south-west of Iceland.
Hikers have a choice of which direction they want to travel, either north or south (the more popular direction) or south to north (more elevation climbing, but less people).
The hike starts in Landmannalaugar and ends in Thorsmork with remote landscapes between. Along the route there are rustic huts or camping locations. Buses make it easy to get to and from the trailheads, but only run during 2-3 months of the year when the hiking is best. The best time of year for this trail is mid-June (depending on the amount of snow) through mid-September.
If you plan your hike during the end of August or September, it is likely you will see the Northern Lights dancing in the sky.
Learn more about Laugavegur Trail here.
Distance: 112 miles (180 kilometers)
Average Time: 14 days
The GR20 goes from Calenzana to Concha along the spine of the Corsican Mountains and crossing the island of Corsica diagonally from north to south. You will experience pine trees, gigantic rock walls, valleys with lush meadows, and lakes. The path is rough and the climbs (up and down) feel like they go on forever.
It is considered one of the hardest hikes in Europe, with the first couple of days being the most difficult. Avoid the unbearable heat and hike in late spring or early fall. Along this route there are guts, refugees, campsites, and hostels.
Learn more about GR20 here.
6. Retezat Mountains
Distance: 75 miles (120 kilometers)
Average Time: 7-10 days
The Retezat Mountains offer endless hiking options through a multiple types of terrain. The trail system is located in Transylvania and finds its way through the southern part of the Carpathians, over three of Romania’s highest peaks, past the Bran Castle, and around medieval towns. There are two main hiking areas.
The Limestone Retezat, at a lower altitude, consists of caves, dens, and gorges and the Central Retezat is home to the countries high peaks with valleys and glacier lakes.
The Retezat National Park is Romania’s first national park, a UNESCO Reserve of the Biosphere, and one of the last wilderness areas in Europe. Visitors are likely to see over 100 species of birds and the iconic brown bears, chamois, wolves, and lynx.
Hikers can camp (in designated camping areas), stay in mountain huts, or in guest houses in the local villages. Weather in this region can be unpredictable so hikers should be prepared with waterproof and warm layers. The best time of year to visit is from May to October, although the park is open year round for those who enjoy winter hiking.
Learn more about the Retezat Mountains here.
7. Westweg Trail
Distance: 177 miles (285 kilometers)
Average Time: 5-15 days
The Westweg Trail travels through south-west Germany linking Basel to Pforzheim. Some deem this trail the birthplace of recreational hiking. A part of the trail crosses through the Black Forest. The high peaks of the Black Forest are just under 4,921 feet (1,500 meters). There are quiet mountain lakes, dense fir and spruce forests, glacier valleys, and photogenic summit views. Most of the terrain is easy with some steep ascents.
The best time of year to hike this trail is from April to the end of October. The trail passes through small villages making it easy to find accommodations (at hostels, guest houses, or camping spots) and food along the route.
Learn more about Westweg Trail here.
8. West Highland Way
Distance: 94 miles (154 kilometers)
Average Time: 6-8 days
The West Highland Way is the most popular hiking trail in Scotland. It connects Milngavie (outside Glasgow) to Fort William. This trail leads hikers through the most iconic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. It makes its way through woodlands, over the Rannoch Moor, and into more dramatic scenery of the Nevis Range.
Also read: 15 Top-Rated Day Hikes in Scotland
The highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, is located along the trail in the Nevis Range. Visitors also walk along the edge of the Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater lock in all of Great Britain (by surface area).
Hikers can choose to stay at hostels, bed and breakfasts, or campsites along the route. Due to the climate of the region, it is often very wet, especially in fall and winter. The best time to visit is May and October. A bonus of this route is that it does not require a lot of preparation or logistical experience.
Learn more about West Highland Way here.
9. Camino De Santiago
Distance: 500 miles (800 kilometers)
Average Time: 7-10 days
The Camino De Santiago, the way of Saint James, is a network of routes making up the spiritual path in Northern Spain. It is a well-known pilgrimage route to the shrine of apostle, St. James, in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain.
The trail leads hikers through the short range of the Pyrenees mountains, which divide northern Spain and France and cuts through the small country of Andorra. The most popular trails of the 8-section route are the Camino Frances (French Way) and Camino Portugues.
The Camino Frances begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (home of the Running of the Bulls Festival) on the French side of the Pyrenees and takes hikers across valleys, along rivers, and over picturesque mountain summits.
The best time to hike the Camino Frances is in spring or autumn, as June and July are very crowded. Along the trails are rustic huts, hotels, guest houses, and camping options.
Learn more about Camino de Santiago here.
10. Eagles Walk
Distance: 256 miles (412 kilometers)
Average Time: 1-10 days
The Adlerweg, or Eagles Walk, crosses the length of Austria from east to west through Tirol with constant views of alpine scenery. It begins in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains, goes through the Alps, Rofan Mountains, Karwendel Mountains, and Lechtal Alps.
The elevation gain is 101,706 feet (31,000 meters) throughout the 33 stages of the hike, but it is easy to only commit to a single mountain chain at a time. The trail gets its name from its shape which resembles an eagle with its wings stretched out.
Learn more about Eagles Walk here.
11. Cinque Terre Coastal Trail
Distance: 7 miles (11 kilometers)
Average Time: 6 hours-2 days
The Cinque Terre Coastal Trail is its very own cultural experience. The trail connects the towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso, which are all considered part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
The hike works its way along the Mediterranean Sea presenting views of the turquoise sea waters, the Italian Rivera coastline, cliffs, and tiers of colorful vintage houses built along the cliff sides.
The most popular portion of the trail is the Sentiero Azzurro, or Blue Trail. Visitors will hike the trail either in a single day, or take their time and stay in any of the towns at hotels, guest houses, or bed and breakfasts. To avoid the tourist crowds, plan to visit during March-May or September-October.
Learn more about Cinque Terre Coastal Trail here.
12. Slovenian Mountain Trail
Distance: 310 miles (500 kilometers)
Average Time: 3-30 days
The Slovenian Mountain Trial makes it way across the alpine mountain ranges of Kamnik Alps, Karavanke, and Julian Alps of Slovenia. Slovenia is a small country but packed with natural beauty and paradise. The trail meanders through glacier formed valleys, past numerous cascading waterfalls, and up and over mountain passes.
The highest point of the hike is Slovenians tallest peak, Mount Triglay, at 9,396 feet (2,864 meters). There is a large variety of plant and animal species and this region has some of the richest flora and fauna in the world.
Although the longest trail in Slovenia, it is not very popular and reported to be underutilized. Hikers can stay in rustic huts along the route, but plan accordingly because the high mountain huts open later in the summer season due to snow conditions. Winter months can be cold and snowy, so unless hikers are looking for a winter experience, the best time to visit is from mid-June to the end of September.
Learn more about Slovenian Mountain Trail here.
13. Kings Trail
Distance: 273 miles (440 kilometers)
Average Time: 7-14 days
The Kings Trail, known as the Kungsleden, is considered the true wilderness of Europe. It is a low altitude trail that makes its way through green valleys, tundra plains, birch forests, rivers, lakes, and arctic glaciers. Along the route hikers can enjoy a view of Sweden’s highest peak, Mount Kebnekaise. Hikers travel through the Nature Reserve in Sweden, Vindelfjällens, which is the largest protected area in Europe.
Most hikers will only do a section or two of it. The best time to hike this trail is during the summer, June through September. Although, in the winter people often enjoy skiing this trail. Hikers will find campsites and huts to stay in during their treks.
Learn more about Kings Trail here.
14. Piltvice Lakes National Park
Distance: 2-5 miles (3-8 kilometers)
Average Time: 1-2 days
This is a great hike to do with a group of all ages and hiking abilities. Piltvice Lakes National Park is Croatia’s first national park. It is home to the process of tufa formation, which ultimately created the park’s turquoise lakes. The park contains 16 lakes, interconnected by waterfalls and surrounded by thick forest and wildlife (including deer, bears, wolves, boars, and many bird species).
The highest point of the park is at 4,200 feet (1,280 meters) and the lowest at 1,247 feet (380 meters). The park has a series of gravel pathways and wooden boardwalks strategically placed for viewing of the most beautiful waterfalls and pools. The park is on the UNESCO World Heritage list for the concentration of waterfalls, the fauna, and the lakes.
There are 4 different hiking trails and 7 different routes throughout the park. The park is located between the capital city of Zagreb and the city of Zadar on the coast. It is open all year round and each time of year provides a different type of experience. There is an entrance fee for the park and the best time of day to go in order to avoid the crowds is right when the park opens.
Learn more about Piltvice Lakes National Park here.
15. Via Dinarica
Location: Balkans (Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, and Macedonia)
Distance: 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers)
Average Time: 6-90 days
The Via Dinarica traverses the spines of Dinaric Alps and the Sharr Mountain Range across multiple Balkan countries. It is absolutely a cultural corridor across Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, and Macedonia. The trail is knit together with old shepherd paths, strategic war routes, and established trails.
It weaves its way through high peaks, steep valleys, beech forests, alpine lakes, and the Tara River Canyon. This is one of the few off-beaten-trek adventures found in Europe.
Choose to thru-hike the route in its entirety, or section hike pieces of it. There are hotels, lodges, huts, bed and breakfasts, and camping along the route. The best time of year to trek through this region is in June and September. The earliest to start the trek is in late May or early June, depending on the snow. July and August can be very hot, and October starts to become too cold.
Learn more about Via Dinarica here.
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