Hiking in Europe: 12 of the best hiking trails
Hiking in Europe: 12 of the best hiking trails in Europe
I regularly have discussions with friends about whether you have to travel far away (= outside of Europe for me) every year. Not only because of the flying embarrassment that seems to be on the rise, but also because there are plenty of nice walks in Europe. You don’t always have to go far to see beautiful landscapes. Need inspiration? Then read on in this article with the beste places to hike in Europe, from north to south. All trails have been made by myself so I only advise you from my own experience, as you are used to from me. Enjoy reading and hiking!
Landmannalaugar – Iceland
My favorite place to hike on Iceland is Landmannalaugar. This unrelenting region in the Icelandic highlands is only accessible in the summer and with a 4WD car or by bus from Reykjavík. You will find countless hiking trails in Landmannalaugar, but my favorite tour here is the first section of the famous Laugavegur hike, from Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker, the first mountain hut on this hike. You take a full day there and back (24 km return, approx. 6-8 hours) but the walk is really worth it. If you don’t want to walk that long, you can, for example, climb the Brennisteinsalda or take a trip through the Laugahraun – an endless lava field where I even got lost more or less a few years ago when I set off here solo.
Landmannalaugar is known for its orange and brown rhyolite mountains which you can see below on the photo and the hotpots. There is a hot spring at the campsite where you can bathe after your hike. Furthermore, there is an occasional shop in an old school bus and you can camp or sleep in the refuge. There are no hotels in the area, Landmannalaugar is really a destination for adventurers!
Forget Trolltunga, Preikestolen, Kjeragbolten and those other famous hikes in Norway, one of the best day hikes in Norway you can make here is the lower section of the Aurlandsdalen trail. The Aurlandsdalen is also called the Grand Canyon of Norway and is 40 kilometers long. The lower part of the hike, from Østerbø to Vassbygdi is a full day hike but very worthwhile. You start the hike at the Østerbø Turisthytte and walk down into the lower part of the Aurlandsdalen. Sometimes the path is wide and relatively flat, sometimes narrow and steep. The distance of this hike is 20 kilometers and it takes approximately 6 hours.
You can reach the start of the route by bus or taxi from the parking place in Vassbygdi. Here at the end is a small hut where you can buy some drinks after your trek. You can find the bus schedule for this hike here.
Dayhike in Sonfjället National Park – Sweden
A special place in Sweden that I visited last year was the Sonfjället National Park. This small nature reserve in western Sweden is one of the best areas in the country to see brown bears. Fair enough, you have to spend two days strolling through it, but we succeeded, or well, David has seen a brown bear through his binoculars. And that without a guide!
In addition to watching bears, you can also enjoy a wonderful walk here, we did the daily “round of Sonfjället” – which is also described in this hiking brochure as Hike to the shelter at Stor-Ryvålen. This 14-kilometer walking tour starts from Nyvallen and takes you around the highest peak of the park through some pretty unrelenting lands. You have non-stop beautiful views over the wide surroundings of Sonfjället and you have the chance to see brown bears and reindeer along the way. A super cool hike and for me one of the most best walks in Europe.
Lost Valley, Scotland
In my opinion Scotland is one of the most rugged and beautiful hiking destinations in Europe. My favorite hike in Scotland is the Lost Valley Hike. This relatively unknown hike in the Glencoe area will take you half a day and a lot of sweat, but once you reach the end of the hike it is well worth the effort. The Lost Valley bears this name for a reason, because you cannot see it from the road and the parking lot of the hike. After more than an hour of climbing and scrambling do’ll arrive in the valley that suddenly reveals itself. From here you can go even further down the valley, but there is no marked trail anymore. The walk is about 4.5 kilometers return and will take you around 2-3 hours.
Also read my list with the best hikes in Scotland
The Kammenroute, Veluwezoom National Park
When you make an overview of the best hiking trails in Europe while being Dutch, a hike in the Netherlands cannot be missed. It was a difficult choice, but the Kammenroute on the well-known Posbank is ultimately my favorite hike you can do in my country. Of course, the hike is recommended in the summer when the heath is in bloom, but it is also beautiful in the fall when the leaves are coloring.
The Kammenroute is 6 kilometers long and has nice height differences for Dutch standards. You can park your car at the Veluwezoom visitor center in Rheden and walk the route from here. At the top of the Posbank you will find the Pavilion where you can take a break and in the weekends Koepel de Kaap is also open. Tip: walk this route on a weekday, it is a lot quieter there than in the weekends, when the Posbank is a popular tourist attraction.
Luxembourg is a true hiking paradise and an excellent place with good hiking trails for starting hikers to practice their alpine skills. Two of the most beautiful long-distance beautiful hiking trails in Europe can be found here, the Mullerthal Trail and the Lee Trail. On the latter you will find the most beautiful view of the Ardennes, the Gringlay (or Gringlee). From here you have a beautiful view of the river Sûre below you.
The ascent can be made from two sides: from the station in the village of Michelau, which is the least steep and takes you a good hour and a half to the top. From Camping du Moulin in Bourscheid Moulin it is steep and you are at the top within an hour.
Hiking near the Geierlay swingbridge – Germany
It probably doesn’t surprise you that the Geierlay Suspension Bridge in the Saarland is also on the list. I have been here three times now and time and time again I am amazed by the beauty in this area. You can visit the Hängeseilbrücke Geierlay by a 1.8 kilometer walk from the village of Mörsdorf, but the 6.2 kilometer route is more beautiful. Another good option is to do a stretch of the Saar-Hunsrücksteig. The Blankenrath – Kastellaun route takes you across the bridge and is 17 km long. The hotel where we stayed, Hotel Burgstadt, can arrange transfers for you. It’s definitely one of the best hikes in Germany!
From my most recent visit to the Geierlay Suspension Bridge I made a short vlog, check it here;
Bohemian Switzerland, Czech Republic
Last November I was in the Czech Republic for a few days to hike in Bohemian Switzerland, a place with some totally epic hikes! One of the walks we took here was that to Pravčická brána – the largest natural sandstone bridge in Europe. You can visit this attraction from multiple places, but only on foot. It not without reason that it was quite busy on Sunday. The most logical starting point is Hřensko, make sure you buy a hiking map here so that you can decide your route.
We ourselves walked up and down the Mezná tour, this was a journey of about 14 kilometers in 4 hours. At the top of the Pravčická brána you have various viewpoints over the surrounding area and a restaurant. Access to the bridge is only possible for a fee, but we did not find it worth paying for. Tip: visit Bohemian Switzerland in the fall, because the colors of the leaves make the landscape even more beautiful!
Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe naar Heiligenblut – Oostenrijk
I have been coming to Austria ever since I was a little girl and made countless hikes here. It is difficult to name the most beautiful area, but one of the best hikes in Austria I ever did was the first section of the Alpe Adria Trail, from Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe at the foot from the Grossglockner to the picturesque Heiligenblut. This hiking trail takes you from the glacial landscape through the terminal moraine and alpine lakes through a green valley far back to civilization. The distance of this trail is approx. 13 kilometers and you can find my full article here.
Tre Chime / Drei Zinnen, Italy
One of the best hikes in Italy that should not be missed on this list of the best places to hike in Europe is the Tre Chime / Drei Phrase hike in the Dolomites, Italy. This famous rock formation is one of the most beautiful in the world for me and you can make all kinds of hikes here. I myself combined the hike at the Drei Zinnen with a Klettersteig (Via Ferrata), but you can also easily walk around the Drei Zinnen. You should also have lunch at the Drei Zinnen Hütte, it can be quite busy but the pasta is excellent! If you want to do the walk around the Drei Zinnen, the distance is around 11 kilometers.
Ruta de los Volcanos, Spain
For Spain it was difficult to choose what my favorite hike is, but in the end I ended up at the Ruta de los Volcanos, one of the most famous hikes in Spain. This day hiking trip on the island of La Palma is an ultimate beautiful hike along countless volcanoes and offers you fabulous views of the entire islands and various other Canary Islands in the distance when the weather is nice. The route starts at Refugio El Pilar, accessible by taxi, and ends in Los Canarios.
Although the route is nowhere really technical, it’s nevertheless a tough walk since the weather can be huge on the ridge of Cumbre Vieja. Fortunately I had good weather both times that I walked the Ruta de los Volcanos, but do this walk only when the weather is good. The hike is about 18 kilometers long and will take you around 6 hours.
Vikos Gorge, Greece
In the north of Greece lies the Vikos gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world. It is a pure paradise for hiking and you can enjoy hiking in as well as around the gorge. There are countless day hikes here but if you have less time to spend, the hike from Monodendri to the Agia Paraskevi monastery is a must, about half an hour each way. From the monastery you have a fantastic view over the gorge and I will tell you a secret: from the monastery you can go a little further along a very narrow path. You will automatically come across a sign “entering at your own risk”, from here you can walk a little further along a path with steep abysses, which is unsuitable if you are afraid of heights, but well worth the views!
Conclusion and disclaimer of hiking in Europe
Hopefully you have gained a lot of inspiration for the future of hiking routes in Europe. Europe is perfect for making beautiful trips, whether you are looking for a short walk or a multi-day hike. If you have any tips for this list with the best hikes, please let me know in the comments below so that other readers can also enjoy your suggestions as well.
Also make sure to check our list with the best destinations in Europe for experienced hikers here and this post with best one day hikes in the world.
Guide Bohemian Switzerland
Thank you for recommend the Bohemian Switzerland for hiking in Europe. If anyone need help, there is free download map: http://www.bohemian-switzerland.cz/map
Nice article, thanks for the inspiration! The GR20 is another European hike that I would highly recommend!
I’ve heard of it and would love to try it myself one day!
Thanks for sharing your lovely adventure Antonette. Fabulous post!