Europe offers tourists a lot of trekking destinations to challenge their strength and inspire their minds. With such a plentiful array of options, there’s no wonder you may have a difficult time choosing the right setting for your next adventure. But we’re here to help: we’ve comprised a Top 10 Awesome Europe Hiking Destinations to satisfy your wanderlust.
1. Mallorca, Spain
There are lots of choices when it comes to walking and hiking in the picturesque island of Mallorca. You can find most difficulty levels here, ranging from easy walks along the seaside or more intense treks around the mountain.
The Serra de Tramuntana and the Serra de Llevant see a great ebb and flow of tourists each year because you can do different treks. The majority of trails around here are still pretty quiet though, so it might just be you and a couple of mountain goats.
If you’re planning a trip to Mallorca, spring and autumn are the best seasons because the weather is friendlier. Plus, you’ll get to see all the blooming flowers of the spring or the colorful falling leaves of the autumn.
The trails are very well marked and accessible, and the landscape is amazing. From stalagmite caves to steep cliffs, coves that descend to the sea and quaint villages with prehistoric remains, all the routes are challenging and rewarding.
2. West Highland Way, Scotland
Since this trek covers about 96 miles of land, you definitely need to consider bringing more equipment. But the weather isn’t that bad so it would be wise for you to bring along a bivy sack instead of a tent seeing as bivouac sacks are lighter and take less room.
However, you’ll delight yourself walking on different ancient roads from the south of Scotland to its north. The routes are diverse and attractive, and you’ll need about a week to complete the journey, though you can take all the time you need to enjoy everything.
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You’ll see the granite obelisk of Milngavie, walk country roads, forests, hills, and parks. The loch shores of Rowardennan inspire with their grave solitude, and the Devil’s Staircase features an amazing tundra-like landscape. This rocky ridge is located between two imposing summits, so it’s a pretty challenging walk.
Next, you’ll pass through moors, military roads and open valleys, to end up at the highest peak in the United Kingdom, Ben Navis. You can summit this massif before going down to Fort William, which is the end point of your hike.
3. Zermatt, Switzerland
This is another one of the most enchanting wildernesses on our planet. There are plenty of trails to try out here too, each with its magical beauties. For instance, the Five Lakes Walk is a moderate trek that takes you to five gorgeous lakes, each very different from another. You can swim, enjoy the wild flowers or the rough terrain.
You’ll see glacier moraines, have a picnic or take your kids to a playground. You still need good footwear and hiking poles, though. And if you’re trying the Abenteuerweg trek, you definitely need specialized equipment. This is a steeper hike, but you’ll see the Alpine peaks on both sides of the trail for a thrilling experience.
An easier route is offered by the AHV-Weg which allows you to see the quaint local village while walking through the luxuriant forest. The path offers an easy climb, during which you’ll see an old railway, a metallophone, and a small, cute chapel.
4. Chamonix, France
Among the best trekking destinations, you’ll find this charming spot. The panoramic views offered by the large plethora of hikes will surely leave you in awe. You can hike the steep path from Plan de Aiguilles to Montenvers Train Mer de Glace, where you’ll zig-zag through the lush forest to see the majestic massif.
Or, you can have a stupendous overlook of Mont Blanc from the Aiguilles Rouges reservation. You can have picnics hear or admire the wonderful lakes, some of which are entirely trapped under a generous layer of ice.
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There are various other treks to take so you can admire a glacial landscape. The Mer de Glace, Bossons and Taconnaz glaciers look really imposing, and you can either head out just to their base or even hike to the point where they meet.
But since Chamonix is located at the intersection of France, Switzerland, and Italy, there are particular outlook points where you can see all these countries together. Aiguillette des Posettes is such a point, and it only takes you about four hours to get here.
5. The Bavarian Forest, Germany
With more than 800 available trails, the Bavarian Forest has it all. If you take the Hirschenstein trail you’ll see the highest peaks of the Bavarian Forest and the Danube plains. You can even see the Alps and enjoy the amazing nature trails along the lush forest.
You can also try the hike to St. Englmar, where you’ll climb a steep, sharp trail and underpasses. There are various other attractions here, like quaint chapels and old bridges, even an adventure park that offers entertainment for the whole family.
Hirschenstein über Mühlgrabenweg is another beautiful trek that can be attempted even by beginners. You’ll travel through tall pine trees, see rapid water streams and small waterfalls. The view from the old stone tower is absolutely bewitching and you’ll delight your gaze with the impetuous Danube river. Hiking further up, you’ll see a large valley and the nearing peaks that are sometimes covered in a large sea of clouds.
6. Gran Paradiso, Italy
A true Italian gem, the Gran Paradiso National Park offers many trails of its own. You can try the Colle della Losa if you’re an expert hiker. The whole trek lasts about 5 hours and the difference in elevation is 750 meters, ascending from the Orco Valley to the French border.
So this is an international trail that takes you to the Vanoise National Park in France, where you’ll get to the Isère Valley after climbing the Isère Hill. The passes are really challenging, and you’ll even have to use chains and ropes to get there. The steep trail is another challenge, but the beautiful summits and lush wetlands are worthwhile.
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The other attractions here include the Pila ski resort, the ancient Roman iron mines of Col di Chomole and the quiet lakes. You can see ibexes and chamois, which are stupendous animals. You can spend the night in mountain huts, see old villages and enjoy the delicious meals offered by the locals.
7. Skaftafell, Iceland
The amazing Iceland offers tourists captivating trails, with circular routes that allow you either to return the same day or not. For instance, the Skaftafellsjökull is an easy route that takes about an hour total, considering the trip back too. The markings are great and most of the trail is paved, while the other part has gravel. But the best thing is you’ll get to see a majestic glacier at the end.
The road from Svartifoss to Sjónarsker–Sel is another easy trek that lasts in the ballpark of two hours. You’ll see an impressive waterfall with a viewpoint right above it where you can take awesome photographs. In this glacial landscape, you’ll see ravines, basalt column steps, and turf houses.
Skaftafellsheiði and Kristínartindar are more challenging routes. You’ll see rivers, abrupt rock screes, steep ridges and glacial valleys. In fact, the glacial and volcanic landscape in Iceland complement each other to perfection, and the vertical cliffs offer a magnificent contrast to the luxuriant forests.
8. Mount Olympus, Greece
A mountain that overlooks the sea, home of the ancient gods, what could be more enticing? There are plenty of routes available on Mount Olympus that involve summiting it from different sides.
The southwest trail starts at the friendly village of Spilia and has amazing views. The end point will bring you right on top of the Aegean Sea, but you’ll get to admire the rapid river of Pinios and even the immense pyramid that’s Mount Athos in the far distance.
This goes through luxuriant coniferous woods and calcareous landscape, much like the northwest ascent. The mountain slopes and ridges are enchanting, but also a bit tricky, so hiking poles are a great addition to your gear.
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Longer hikes start right at the sea level, taking you through varied deep forests consisting of birch, oak and fir trees. All this luxuriant vegetation allows the growth of various mushrooms along water streams, but you’ll also feast your eyes with shy wildflowers and green herbs.
The great waterfall of Kalypso is another attraction here, while the Kalypso canyon will render you speechless. The Megas Lakos is another awe-inspiring canyon that’s located in an almost perfect wilderness seclusion.
9. The Carpathian Mountains, Romania
Trekking the Carpathian Mountains will offer you the satisfaction of admiring different landscape with interesting rock formations. You’ll get to see it all here: calcareous and volcanic landscapes, glacial formations and snowy peaks.
The large valleys are guarded by high, sharp cliffs and the steep terrain is well complemented by more gentle paths. And you can choose any number of trails here, traveling from one summit to the other.
The Eastern Carpathians have a legend for every rock formation. They encompass lush forests and immense pastures, mighty waterfalls and imposing summits. But if you want a more intense hike, you should try the Southern Carpathians, with a rocky terrain that’s difficult to navigate. Both these places are rich in glacial landscapes, with glacial lakes and ravines.
And if you want an underground adventure, you can try the Western Carpathians, with a wide plethora of cave systems, filled with stalactites, underground lakes, and waterfalls. However, the trails here are easier and the landscape is more quaint.
10. Mount Etna, Italy
The varied landscape and different trails on Mount Etna will certainly quench your thirst for hiking. And you’ll find trails either for the more advanced, loner-types or for the whole family. So you can challenge yourself accordingly, though it’s best to take into account your physical capabilities.
You should also bring the proper equipment, so never try a trek here without the proper hiking shoes, even on a family route like that on Sartorius Mounts. The volcanic vistas here are amazing, you’ll see ancient craters and birch woods that can only be found near the Etna Volcano.
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The path to the Sartorius Craters is gentle enough, guarded by endemic vegetation. The red valley before your final stop offers you an outstanding view of the coast, craters, lava rocks and pine woods. You can climb up and around the craters where you can actually see the lava flow.
On the other hand, Bove Valley offers a more difficult path, but you’ll see the same volcanic landscape, with craters and lava flow, among which the “dicchi magmatici” are the most interesting lava formation. The steep descent and ascent require the use of hiking poles, though.
Where will the road take you?
With so many wilderness gems to travel to, we’re curious what your destination will be. Will you choose the virgin wilderness of Iceland or a more populated adventure like those offered by Mount Olympus? Which Europe hiking destinations is your favorite? Leave us a comment below.
This post has been contributed by Rebecca at Hiking Mastery.
Rebecca lives in the USA but loves hiking all over the world. Her favorite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, the company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passion is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She also writes for HikingMastery.com