Read about 5 beautiful HIKES to take while visiting EUROPE
Europe has long been a popular destination for all nationalities who like to hike around this diverse and picturesque region. The luscious scenery and breathtaking variety mean that no two hiking holidays are the same.
From the impressive rock formations of the north to the sun-licked trails of the south, or even the world-famous alpine treks, many destinations can be hiked in different seasons. Wherever you set your compass, you’ll be sure to be amazed by what you find.
However, with so much distinction, it can be hard to decide where to even begin! Luckily with a few tips and a little bit of insider knowledge, you can be sure to get the most out of your experience. Here are five of some of the best from north, south, east, west, and central Europe to get you started on your hiking adventure.
1 | Keipane Mountain Hike NORWAY
Based near a UNESCO world heritage site, this hike makes the perfect day trip to see the best and most beautiful of Norway’s dramatic fjords. The Geirangerfjord is located in the Sunnmøre region of Møre og Romsdal county.
Geiranger is a small village at the end of the fjord that became a popular tourist destination for those wishing to see the famed beauty of this part of Norway. However, if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of tourist activity, the Keipane walk, which starts from the town, offers the perfect opportunity to get out into nature and really soak up the scenery.
Pro Tip: The four to five-hour walk each way leads you up a very steep trail to the Keipane peak. Although this may be a bit of a challenging hike for some, the breathtaking views along the entire route mean that you can turn back at any point without feeling like you’ve missed out on something.
2 | El Camino de Santiago Trail SPAIN
No European hike list would be complete without the Camino de Santiago. This well-known epic route found its fame during the middle-ages as a long-standing pilgrim trail. It has many different starting points and can be up to 800 km or 497 mi long for the most dedicated of hikers. Many undertake the challenge of this walk for many different reasons.
Although it ends at the Santiago de Compostela cathedral, you don’t have to be religious to become a pilgrim of this trail. It’s become well-known as a transformative experience that can touch the spirit of the religious and atheist alike.
Maybe it’s not the most picturesque that the continent has to offer, but many find the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie with fellow pilgrims on this trail rewarding. And that makes it one of the most talked-about routes in the world. With many dedicated hostels on the route, you’re sure to find other companions to share your experience with, and the sense of pride when reaching the cathedral makes it well worth the effort.
3 | Rila Mountain Trail BULGARIA
The name Rila translates to the “well-watered” mountain of Bulgaria. It’s one of the most spectacular mountain hikes up the highest peak of the Balkan Peninsula. There are several routes in this region, including two long-distance hiking trails as well as a number of day trips. Alongside the breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, many stop to visit Rila Monastery, the most visited attraction in Bulgaria; Sapareva Banya, a public bath with refreshing hot mineral waters; the Borovets ski resort and the Seven Rila Lakes.
The Seven Lakes are a group of glacial lakes that can be booked as one-day guided excursions starting from Sofia along with trips to the Musala peak (formerly Stalin peak) — the highest in the region. There are 20 working huts and five refuge stations on the mountain that provide shelter and food for walkers. This is great because travelers don’t have to worry about carrying camping equipment.
This mountain has it all. Whether it’s guided or self-guided, long or short, cultural or geographical routes, no matter what type of walk you’re looking for. Rila mountain definitely provides a unique and fulfilling experience showcasing the best Eastern Europe has to offer.
4 | Alderweg Hike AUSTRIA
Commonly known as the Eagle Walk or Eagle’s Way, the Alderweg hike through the Tyrol region of Austria is a great place to experience the jaw-dropping Alpine views in all their glory. The Tyrolean Alps cover a large region of Western Austria and provide many spectacular walking holidays, but the Alderweg route is by far the greatest. This well-marked trail runs from east to west and covers 413 km or 256 mi in total; although the 33 stages break it up, so it’s easy to choose a section for a day trip.
The variety of terrain means this route poses an exciting challenge for the more daring hikers among us, and with a total elevation gain of 23,000 m or 73,173 ft, the Eagle’s Way really does live up to its name. For those looking to experience the Alpine beauty but hoping for a slightly shorter walking holiday, you’re in luck! In East Tyrol, the Eagle Trail offers a 93 km or 58 mi snippet of its big brother with the same geographical features and an elevation gain of 8000 m or 26,247 ft. They’re both rated difficult hikes and you should be familiar with basic alpine techniques and orienteering skills. These are long-distance mountaineering trails.
5 | The Kerry Way Hike IRELAND
Finally, as west as you can go in Europe lies the Kerry Way. County Kerry is on the west coast of Ireland. This perhaps overlooked hike offers a spectacular mixture of Atlantic coastline and rolling Irish hills. Starting and finishing in the picturesque town of Killarney, it creates an easily accomplishable hike round trip. The full trail is over 200 km or 124+ mi long and stands as the longest walking trail in the country. Although the county is home to the highest peaks on the island, the walk includes only moderate climbs. This makes it accessible to walkers of every level.
Pro Tip: However, there is advice suggesting that those who want a more leisurely vacation rather than a physical challenge should schedule rest days and walk a shorter distance per hike. It’s also advisable to ensure you have a plan B. The unpredictable Atlantic weather could result in some unplanned days inside. For those traveling from abroad, be sure to take the necessary steps, so you can still access your favorite Netflix shows in case this happens :).
Hiking is an ever-rewarding experience and a great way to travel Europe to see the endless beauty it has to offer. These trails are a brilliant way to experience walking holidays whether you’re an eager beaver beginner or a seasoned professional. If you’ve had any experiences on these routes or know others that should be on this list, be sure to comment below.
Have you hiked any places mentioned?