Europe is home to stunning islands that offer some of the most spectacular terrains in the world. Boasting rocky shores, pristine beaches, and dramatic sea cliffs, they are a mecca for hikers.
A hike by the sea is spectacular in various ways, especially if you do it with people who share the same passion for hiking. No matter how challenging the route is, it will be well worth it since you’ll be rewarded with incredible views, wildlife sightings, or unexpected discovery of secluded beaches.
So, if you’re planning to go hiking with friends or family, here are some of the best islands in Europe to consider.
Ireland & Northern Ireland
Nothing beats Ireland when it comes to dramatic coastal views. It packs a punch for such a small island when it comes to the best hiking options. There are more than 900 hiking trails all over the country – each with varying landscapes.
One day you’ll find yourself scaling the hills in Belfast. On some days, you could be circumventing Cork’s rugged coast.
The Causeway Coast, dubbed the best coastal walk in Northern Ireland, stretches for 33 miles. It starts at Portstewart and will take you to Ballycastle while passing through Dunluce Castle before reaching The Giant’s Causeway.
If you want to avoid the crowds, hike beyond the area where you’ll find a secluded coastline with the most stunning views. The track threads along a rocky shoreline, passing through Port na Spaniagh, a secluded cove containing the wreck of one of the ships from the ill-fated Spanish Armada.
For a spectacular walk within easy reach of Dublin, check out Glendalough, home to vast mountainous paths and stunning landscapes. The trail covers the extensive monastic complex of Glendalough and the Lower Lake before ascending by the Poulanass waterfall towards the towering Spinc cliffs.
The many unique charms of Cyprus make it a wonderful destination for hikers of all levels. It has a laid-back appeal and has plenty of nature to explore, making for an interesting hiking trip with your friends.
From scenic coastal walks to short nature trails and strenuous excursions into the hills, hiking in Cyprus can make for a truly unforgettable experience.
The Madari Circular Walk on the Troodos Mountain range is a circular trek with several starting points. As you take up this 13-km trail, you’ll interact with nature and history, with wild trees and vegetation along the way.
You’ll also pass by a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Panagia Tou Araka Church of Troodos, where you’ll learn about the history of Cyprus. Stop to admire the magical views at the Xyliatos Dam, a postcard-perfect artificial feature. But perhaps, the best part of the trail is the stunning view of the Mesaoria Plain.
While hiking is fun, it can be very tiring. Staying in any of the large Cyprus villas with a concierge who can look after you after a hard day of walking might be a good idea. These villas are spacious enough to accommodate groups of friends and have all the facilities you need for a relaxing and comfortable stay in Cyprus.
Krk is a large Croatian island along the northern Adriatic Sea. It’s built on a rock 50 metres above the sea with a history dating back to 1100. Given such a long history, the island has plenty of historical sites, including the 5th Century Krk Cathedral. You’ll discover more interesting sites as you hike the island’s 300-km marked hiking trails.
Hiking the Krk Island is a wonderful way to discover the island’s most breathtaking views. You can enjoy a light walk along the coast at sunset or take up more challenging trails that will take you to the island’s highest peaks to enjoy stunning views.
One of the best hiking trails in Krk is the circular route known as the Camino Krk. It’s a 20-km trail that you could take up for seven days to come full circle and requires passing through the towns of Krk, Malinska, Dobrinj, Omišalj, Baška, and Vrbnik.
In Dobrinj, you can also embark on a full-day circular trail known as the Paths of Dobrinjština, starting in Šilo.
The Canary Islands are home to some of the best hiking trails in Europe, most especially on the island of Tenerife. It has a unique volcanic landscape that will feel like you are on Mars. The most impressive hiking trails on the island are concentrated around the Anaga Mountains, Teide National Park, and Teno Mountains.
The Pico del Teide often gets all the press as Spain’s highest mountain. But if you look beyond this imposing volcano, you’ll find numerous hiking trails. If your group prefers to take short and easy walks, hike up the Roques de García trail.
With the views of Mount Teide in the background, you’ll circuit the park’s most stunning rock formations in just more than an hour. The hike will begin at the viewpoint of Mirador de la Ruleta, right across from Parador Nacional. From the lookout point of Mirador de la Ruleta, you’ll see the stunning La Catedral rock jutting out into the Caldera floor.
When planning your hiking adventure with friends, consider getting a beautiful Tenerife holiday letting with a hot tub where you can unwind after a long day spent trekking the island.
Naxos is a beautiful Greek Island along the South Aegean Sea, with a fertile landscape spanning ancient ruins, mountain villages, and long stretches of beach. With stunning views along the way, hiking Naxos with your friends is an experience you’ll never forget.
The Seven Villages Trail is a 12-km trail that will take you through picturesque villages on the island, with a lovely waterfall and small chapel. You will also come across historical sites, such as the Farage Kouros, a 4.7-metre-long statue of white Naxian marble.
This trail is highly recommended if you want to learn about the island’s long history. Consider hiring an expert guide who will not only walk you through the route but will also share the interesting history of the island while walking through the villages.
Hiking Europe’s Islands
Those are just 5 islands in Europe that are great to hike on out of many other options to choose from.
For more on travel in Europe take a look at my destination guides to Europe.
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