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10 of The Best Hiking Trails In Europe

Europe boasts a diverse and enchanting landscape, offering an extensive network of hiking trails in Europe that cater to all levels of hikers, from casual strollers to seasoned mountaineers.

These hiking trails in Europe wind their way through ancient forests, traverse majestic mountain ranges, and meander along coastal cliffs, promising breathtaking vistas, encounters with wildlife, and a profound connection with the continent’s rich history and culture.

Whether you seek a leisurely stroll through picturesque countryside or a challenging trek to conquer some of Europe’s highest peaks, there’s a hiking trail here to suit every adventurer’s taste and skill level.

Hiking Trails In Europe Advice

First of all, some advice before heading to Europe and your hiking adventure.

Be sure to take out some travel insurance before leaving home to be on the safe side as if you have an accident while hiking you will want to have insurance to get you the help that you need.

Check the weather conditions of the hike(s) you want to do as well to make sure you don’t get caught out in very bad weather, especially in the mountains where the weather can change rapidly.

If you’re not already in Europe and coming from another country then it’s always best to change money before leaving. Changing money in Australia to Euros before coming to Europe was great to avoid the hassle of doing it on arrival, for example.

There are so many hiking trails in Europe to do but these are several favourites to choose from and cover different regions of Europe for hiking.

The Malerweg, Germany

The Malerweg, or Painter’s Path, is a 71-mile circuit that was opened in 2006. It has quickly become a German classic, located in the mountains that straddle the border of Germany and the Czech Republic.

The trek is typically completed over eight days and takes in highlights like sandstone outcrops and massifs. 

When choosing the best gear for your adventure, ensure you don’t select a big and wide backpack because you will get stuck along the narrower ladder sections.

But do pack your own sketching gear and the necessary camping equipment should you choose to use the campsites along the way. For those who would prefer skipping the tent, guesthouses are situated along the path.

Haute Route, Switzerland

In the picturesque Swiss mountains, the Haute Route is best for experienced hikers wanting to take in the mountain views and cosy lodges dotted around this incredible slice of nature.

The trail takes you from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn, a distance of 125 miles that passes through various remote villages. For those dedicated to completing it, the entire journey will take two weeks, but it can easily be broken into short three to five-day excursions. 

Many local tourist companies offer guided tours between the different villages along the route. Still, those hoping to forge their own path can arrange their trip alone, with on-trail accommodation, ranging from shared rooms to luxury private suites.

Mount Triglav, Slovenia

It may stand at only 2,863 meters. But be warned, Mount Triglav is a serious lump of rock, and to successfully traverse this remarkable place takes time, dedication, and careful preparation.

But your hard work is rewarded by one of the most incredible walks you can take in Europe. Every route requires at least two days to complete for regular hikers, with the most demanding ascent requiring nerves of steel to climb the iron cables. 

Those wanting to use a via Ferrata, choose from the Prag route or the Bamberg, with the former being slightly less intense.

Alternatively, the Krma route entirely skips any via Ferrata and allows you to travel with your feet firmly on the ground.

Alta Via 1, Italy

The Dolomites, named after the 18th-century French mineralogist, is the Italian extension of the Alps. It regularly pulls in the Adriatic clouds, perfectly encompassing the stunning peaks and unique rock formations.

The Alta Via 1 is one of the best hiking trails in Europe. It’s a north-to-south hiking route that passes various valleys filled with seasonal flowers, cascading waterfalls, epic ridges, and plenty of First World War history.

Most walkers start in the north, at Lago di Braies, and complete the 74 miles to La Pissa in 10 days, but it can be completed in the opposite direction.

While it is possible to finish in a quicker time, it is essential not to underestimate the challenging terrain. Furthermore, various via Ferrata can be included in your journey or left out if you would prefer to skip them, but you will need to bring a harness and lanyard to traverse them safely.

The West Highland Way, Scotland

The West Highland Way is a long-distance walking trail in Scotland, known for its stunning natural beauty and scenic landscapes. Plus you get the Scottish charm when in Scotland!

The West Highland Way is located in western Scotland and runs from Milngavie, a suburb of Glasgow, to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. It covers a distance of approximately 96 miles.

The trail takes you through some of Scotland’s most breathtaking and varied landscapes, including lush lowlands, forests, moors, and dramatic highlands, which makes it one of the best hiking trails in Europe.

It passes by Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater lake in the UK, and the iconic Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles.

The time it takes to complete the West Highland Way can vary based on your pace and the number of rest days you take. On average, it can take about 7-8 days to complete the entire trail.

Along the trail, you can find a range of accommodations, including campsites, hostels, guesthouses, and hotels.

Many walkers choose to stay in bunkhouses or bothies, which are basic shelters for hikers. It’s a good idea to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak walking seasons.

The Laugavegur Trail, Iceland

Laugavegur Trail

The Laugavegur Trail, also known as the Laugavegurinn Trail, is a popular multi-day hike in Iceland known for its breathtaking and diverse landscapes.

The Laugavegur Trail is located in southern Iceland, between the hot springs area of Landmannalaugar and the Þórsmörk valley. The trail covers a distance of approximately 34 miles and typically takes 2 to 4 days to complete, depending on the pace and weather conditions.

The trail passes through some of Iceland’s most spectacular natural features, including colourful rhyolite mountains, geothermal springs, glaciers, and rivers. You will witness a wide range of landscapes, from lush green valleys to stark volcanic deserts.

The terrain along the Laugavegur Trail is quite varied and can include rocky paths, river crossings, snowfields (depending on the season), and challenging ascents and descents.

The Laugavegur Trail is a magnificent trek through some of Iceland’s most stunning and pristine natural landscapes. It is often considered one of the best hiking trails in the country and one of the best hiking trails in Europe.

South West Coast Path, United Kingdom

The South West Coast Path in the UK is ideal for beginners looking for remote beaches and friendly pubs to stop in on their journey.

These pub walks, as they are commonly known throughout England and Scotland, can be shortened to one-day hikes or connect together for longer multi-day trips.

With a place to stop for a nice meal and warm bed each night, you can enjoy the 630-mile South West coast, taking in the dramatic cliff views and pristine, secluded beaches.

Completing the entire trail will take roughly a month, but with easy access to various coastal towns along the way, it is perfect for slicing and dicing to suit your itinerary.

One on the Southwest Coast Path be sure to check out some of the best seaside towns in Cornwall when there.

Kungsleden Trail, Sweden

The Kungsleden Trail is one of the most famous long-distance hiking trails in Sweden and one of the best hiking trails in Europe. It stretches for approximately 270 miles through the beautiful wilderness of Swedish Lapland.

The Kungsleden Trail runs through the northernmost part of Sweden, primarily within the province of Norrbotten. The trail is divided into several sections, each offering different landscapes and challenges.

Some of the most popular sections include the Northern Kungsleden, which is known for its dramatic mountain scenery, and the Southern Kungsleden, which takes hikers through dense forests and picturesque valleys.

The best time to hike the Kungsleden Trail is during the summer months, typically from June to September.

Along the trail, there are mountain huts and cabins, maintained by the Swedish Tourist Association (STF), where hikers can rest, eat, and sleep.

Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is a network of pilgrimage routes that lead to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain.

While the Camino de Santiago has religious origins, many people undertake the pilgrimage for non-religious reasons, such as self-discovery, adventure, or a physical challenge. It’s often seen as a spiritual journey or a quest for personal growth.

The Camino de Santiago has a rich history that dates back to the early Middle Ages. According to tradition, the remains of St. James were discovered in the 9th century, and the pilgrimage routes began to develop from various parts of Europe.

There are several different routes to Santiago de Compostela, with the most popular one being the Camino Francés (French Way), which starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France.

You can find various accommodations along the route, including hostels, albergues, and guesthouses. These accommodations are often simple and affordable, catering to the needs of walkers and cyclists.

The Glockner Circuit, Austria

The Glockner Circuit, partially located in the Hohe Tauern National Park, has become an Alpine Classic and one of the best hiking trails in Europe.

With 71 miles of tough footpath that circumambulates the highest peak in Austria, the Grossglockner, you will be treated to impressive forests, flowing waterfalls, cosy mountain huts, and, should the weather be good enough, plenty of wildlife. 

Take a post bus from Zell am See to Kaprun and head for the trailhead. From here, head in an anticlockwise direction around the peak, staying overnight in mountain huts.

The mountain huts and shelters along the circuit often provide meals and basic amenities.

Although this is a summer hike, higher sections can be impassable due to the weather, forcing you to take alternative routes. The Glockner Circuit is considered a challenging trek and is best suited for experienced hikers.

The circuit offers a fantastic opportunity to experience the rugged beauty of the Austrian Alps.

Österlen Way, Sweden

Sweden’s rugged coastline hosts one of the most scenic hiking backdrops you can find on the continent. One of the most famous hiking trails in Europe, Österlen Way, is a multi-day hike, ideal for moderate hikers looking for remote landscapes and quaint coastal villages. 

The trail is approximately 112 miles long and typically takes around 10 to 12 days to complete, depending on one’s pace and the stops made along the way.

You can expect to traverse a variety of landscapes, including farmland, forests, and the scenic coastline along the Baltic Sea. This route allows you to experience the natural beauty, cultural heritage, and local traditions of Österlen.

It’s a looped trail and you can stay overnight at family-run guesthouses and B&Bs along the coast of Kivik before moving slightly inwards and returning back to the beach. You can also camp along the way.

You will feel like you have been transported into a storybook, taking in the sights, sounds, and experiences of this magical place.

Hiking In Europe

These hiking trails in Europe offer an incredible opportunity to explore the continent’s diverse natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Whether you’re summiting alpine peaks in the Swiss Alps, meandering through historic villages in the Cinque Terre, or trekking along the ancient pilgrimage routes of the Camino de Santiago, Europe has something to offer every hiker.

For more hiking advice take a look at my hiking guides.

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