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 top 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!
Ohhh Iceland, not a year summer has passed by over the past 7 years that either of us went to Iceland. For work or for pleasure or both… 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 (where you can climb the impressive Mount Rjúpnafell, Vesturdalur and the Hengill Mountains just south of Þingvallavatn.
2. 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. A lot of fun but also pretty exhausting as I was in poor shape back then (talking 2006 here) and showshoeing was not something I ever did before. The second time I went to this area was last summer, when I went on a short trip to the area around the famous Tre Chime (Drei Zinnen) and did a marvelous hike and Klettersteig 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 (although this seems to be the first year in a loooong time we are unable to make it) 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, the Stubaital and the Wilde Kaiser. During one of this recent visits to Wilde Kaiser, Martijn made the following movie:
4. Fjord Norway
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 last year’s visit 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 we ever manage to save up again (because yes, Norway is expensive) we’ll definitely be back for some more hiking and this time in summer, so we can also do the really famous hikes!
5. Wallis, Switzerland
If you fancy climbing some 4.000-ers then make your way to Switzerland. Although a visit to this small country in the middle of the Alps will hurt your bank-account, it will also carve images that you will never forget into your memories. The Wallis region is located in central Switzerland and offers some of the best hiking in Europe. You can try getting up high peaks such as Weismiess and the Dom. If you have mountaineering experience they should be do-ale for you without a guide, if it’s your first time up on the ice we recommend you hire a guide. As a bonus, Wallis is also home to the famous Matterhorn, which we are all dreaming of seeing once in our lives, right?
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…
7. La Palma, Spain
Our most recent “discovery” in means of hiking destinations is the island of La Palma. Located only about 150 kms from Africa, it 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 …
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 …
Which destination should we put on top of our list for our next hiking trip?
Want to read more? You may like these:
– The best hikes in New Zealand
– The best destinations for newbie hikers
– The best (half) day hikes in the USA and Canada
– 32 Best places to hike in Europe, a blog by Becky the Traveller
Thank you for sharing!