Welcome to another list of best destinations for hiking. If you don’t mind letting your quads burn, work out until you can’t go much further and don’t let steep drop offs and steep ridges scare you, then continue reading because we’re giving your our best hiking destinations in Europe for experienced hikers. Please note that, as with our previous top destinations for hikers, this is a personal selection only and that it doesn’t mean there are no easy hiking trails in the mentioned destinations … and of course we haven’t been everywhere (but it’s on our list) so please feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions how we could have improved this list! For now, enjoy this list and your upcoming hikes!
We love Iceland! I have been there no less than 10 times over the past decade and can’t wait to go back again this summer. Apart from the fact that Iceland is stunning as hell, it’s also an awesome place for hikers. Their fairytale-like waterfalls surrounded by glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs make up for some of the most extraordinary scenery you will ever experience by foot.
Those who like to venture out on difficult terrain will definitely feel at home in Iceland, many treks for example involve stuggling through deep snow (even in summertime!) and serious river crossings that can be potentially dangerous. Some of our favorite hikes include (ofcourse) the Laugavegur including Þórsmörk and also the Hengill Mountains just outside of Reykjavík.
South Tyrol, Italy
South Tyrol is home to one of the most magnificent mountain ranges in the world: the Dolomites. They officially belong to the Alps and are located in the northweastern part of Italy. So far, we’ve had the pleasure to go to the Dolomites twice. The first time was quite a long time ago, when we were invited to visit the Rosengarten area. We had seen beautiful pictures of this giant rock formation, yet the weather wasn’t in our favor: we had nothing but mist and rain for 3 days. It was pretty early in the season so we went snowshoeing each day.
The second time I went to this area was a few summers ago, when I went on a short trip to the area around the famous Tre Chime (Drei Zinnen) and did a marvelous hike and Klettersteig (Via Ferrata) there. Definitely not for the faint hearted or those with a fear of heights, but well worth every drop of sweat … The bonus for the Dolomites is that not only the hiking is magnificent, but also their kitchen is. Never before have I had such tasty food as in the Drei Zinne Hütte, taking a Limoncello after lunch was kind of hard on the legs on the way down though…
You won’t be surpised when I tell you that Austria is one of Europe’s top destinations for experienced hikers. We try to go to Austria at least one time each year and get lots of hiking done there. In fact, I can’t actually recall a day that we were in Austria and didn’t go hiking. If you don’t want to climb up, you can generally catch a cablecar up for some alpine hiking which is definitely a bonus if you don’t want to spend hours on getting into the alpine zone of the Alps. Some of the best areas for hiking are around the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena and definitely the Alpe Adria Trail in Carinthia.
We all know the famous pictures with hikers above fjords such as Preikestolen and Trolltunga. Norway is a true gem when it comes to natural beauty and to get these magnificent views over some of the world’s most impressive fjords, we suggest you venture out on foot, because in Norway, there is no easy way up. During our frequent visits to Fjord Norway, we were too early in the season to do any of the above mentioned famous hikes, yet we still were amazed by trails such as Rimstigen and Aurlandsdalen.
While both of those were described as fairly easy, we thought they were at least moderate. However, that probably has to do with the fact that we are from a flat country and only go mountain hiking while on acation. Traveling around in Norway for us felt like being a kid in a toystore: awesome hikes everywhere! If you are, like us, from a country without mountains, you’ll notice that and easy hike quickly becomes not so easy in Norway. Just so you know …
Even though their highest mountain is “only” 1.344 meters high, Scotland will offer you some of the best hiking in Europe. Throughout the country you will find plenty of long distance trails such as the famous West Highland Way but it’s also a great place for shorter treks and “Munro Bagging”, which means climbing mountains that are over 3.000 feet high. Some Munro’s are pretty easy to reach (Ben Lomond for example) and others will be quite a bit more challenging. When down in the valley, bogs and marshes can be a serious pain when hiking (I ended up in one almost waist-deep, not a fun experience) so always be careful and bring gaiters if you have them. And yes, prepare for rain. During our 2 week hiking trip, we had 7 days of rain and 7 days of sunshine. Definitely not something to complain about, looking back at it…
Also read our post with the best hikes in Scotland here
7. La Palma, Spain
Located only about 150 kms from Africa, La Palma belongs to the Spanish Canary Islands, together with well-know tourists destinations such as Tenerife and Gran Canaria. However, on La Palma you won’t find a lot of beaches, bars and tourists, but lots of awesome nature instead. On the island are two GR routes (long distance hiking trails) as well as various day-hikes. The routes are well marked and always full of surprises, such as steep ridges, unbridged river crossings, lush greens forests and tons of volcanoes. The central located National Park Caldera de Taburiente has it all and will be heaven for hikers who want to face some good challenges. If you want to go hiking on La Palma do not forget: it’s the steepest island in the world, so your legs will be sore … but all the pain will also be well worth it!
Conclusion and disclaimer
This ends our list with the top destinations in Europe for experienced hikers. We realize there is much more to see and that there are many more trails to be explored. Some destinations high up on our list are the English Lake District, Slovenia, the French Alps and the Spanish Picos de Europa, just to name a few places. So much to see, so little time… one step at a time …
Want to read more? Then also read 32 Best places to hike in Europe, a blog by Becky the Traveller
Note that this blog was first published in June 2015 and updated in March 2020.