Work hard, play hard — that’s how 90% of us live our lives today. This increased burned out, supercharged lifestyles has allowed a lot of us to slow down, pick activities that inspire us to wonder, think about life choices and embrace a non-linear creativity, hiking.
But not just ordinary hiking, rather trails that are wild, off-beat and trail-worthy in a part of world that has home to some of the best walking trails where treks weave through history, cascading waterfalls and the most pristine mountains. To beat overtourism, and avoid the intensity of the cities, the hiking trails in Europe are where wearied souls like me and you can allow ourselves to wander a bit, become aligned with our everyday actions, choose who we want to be in this new decade and boost our sensory smells, sights and hearing all at one go.
In Europe, you’ll find trails that are easy to go off the beaten path and still have general wildness of being in a new place that feels like you’re the first one to be there. It hits the sweet spot of sensory stimulation, not too much and not too little.
Travel storytellers and experts have rounded up their take and personal stories of what makes Europe the best hiking continent to go to for a hike. Explore hiking in Europe through these offbeat trails.
Also Read: The 15 Best Treks in Nepal For Every Level
Best Hikes in Europe
#1 Alta Via Dei Monzoni, Italy
The Dolomites are one of the most beautiful mountain chains in the world, and they are packed with incredible hiking trails. One of the most interesting one is Alta Via dei Monzoni, in Val di Fassa in the Dolomites. The starting point is in the parking lot of Passo San Pellegrino (about 15 minutes drive from Moena, one of the main villages in the valley), where you can ride the ski-lift to the beginning of the trail. From there, it's a 5 to 6 hours loop, depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop for photos.
The views throughout the hike are absolutely stunning - you get to see some of the most impressive peaks of the Dolomites. The trail goes along WWI trenches, and you get to see both the Austrian one and the Italian one, as well as some sniper stations. It's recommended to hire a guide, because although the trail is easy to follow and well marked, a guide will provide you with historical facts as well as information about the mountain range, the way of life in the region, and the local environment.
The hike can be classified as moderate, with some fairly easy bits when it goes through the meadows, and some more difficult parts when it follows the narrow trenches path.
by Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across The World
#2 Su Gorroppu, Sardinia, Italy
One of the best places to visit in Sardinia is Su Gorroppu gorge which is the island's deepest canyon and one of the deepest in Italy and Europe. Located in Sardinia's Barbagia region between the towns of Urzulei and Orgosolo, you can book tours also from the scenic Dorgali town, which is also not far from the canyon.
There are different types of hikes and tours that you can take here, all of them with different levels of difficulty. The guided tours usually last no less than 4 hours and can reach even 8 hours. The easy guided hikes are suitable also for families and take about 4 hours, while other tours of 5 to 8 hours are more challenging, require some expertise and also some hiking/climbing equipment.
If you feel confident enough, you can hike the canyon by yourself and decide which path to take. The natural routes are signalled in different colours depending on the difficulty, with green being the easiest that can be done also by families with kids, yellow that requires some climbing and ropes, and red for the more expert rock climbers.
Those looking for a good hike should definitely head to the Gorroppu canyon for unparalleled views of dramatic cliffs, mediterranean vegetation, forests of juniper trees and beautiful rocky mountains.
The best time to visit Su Gorroppu is between March to November where the climate is temperate. If it rains, it can get cold and windy and the days are shorter and it's not recommended to hike the canyon due to to loose rocks, slippery paths and fewer services and security.
By Angela from Chasing The Unexpected
#3 Rennsteig Trail, Germany
Germans love hiking and it seems like the state of Thuringia is all about hiking. Mountain ranges, lots of tracks and gorgeous views. In fact, this central German state is home to the Thuringia forest, which basically divides Germany (and its climate). It’s so prominent that is has its own climate and it can be alpine up at the top.
No wonder the Special Olympics: Thüringer Winterspiele (Thuringia winter games) are hosted here and you can don your skies in Oberhof. Plenty of people plan their winter holidays around this town. But no matter the time of year, the area’s main feature are the many hiking trails.
The Rennsteig is majorly popular for this among Germans but many tourists from abroad don’t even know about this special travel tip for Germany. In fact, it’s the most hiked long distance trail in all of Germany with about 100,000 people walking it each year. In total, it’s 170km long trail. Furthermore, it has historically marked the local state borders.
The best time to hike is in early autumn, when the leaves turn into a wonderful reddish hue and the days are still warm but not too hot. You don’t need to walk the entirety of the Rennsteig in one go, there are smaller sections and guest houses along the way for you to stop. The difficulty level is medium but hiking boots are definitely well advised.
by Annemarie from Travel On The Brain
#4 Schrammsteine, Germany
The Schrammsteine hike in Germany’s Saxon Switzerland National Park is one of the best hikes in Europe and an incredible introduction to the region. An extensive network of hiking trails allows visitors to explore the Elbe Sandstone Mountains range with Schrammsteine being the highlight.
The trailhead is just outside Bad Schandau, easily accessible from the town’s centre or a short bus ride away. We climbed gently into the verdant forest as the trail wound between enormous rock formations towering above. Signposted by easy-to-follow markers, we weaved through dense woodland and past vertical walls of rock loved by climbers. The last section involves some scrambling up steel stairs somehow wedged between the giant boulders.
The reward for all our effort was the Schrammsteine viewpoint, with panoramic views of the Elbe river, national park and, of course, Schrammsteine (“scar stones” in German) themselves. The jagged, vertical rocks jutted out majestically above the forest framing the stone pillars. We enjoyed a picnic lunch as we took in the tranquil scene.
Views extend into Czech Republic with the border town of Schmilka just 5km away. Schmilka makes for an excellent finish point to the hike. The trail from Schrammsteine is mostly downhill and the freshly baked pastries and refreshing beer at Schmilk’sche Mühle make a great celebratory treat.
The easy trail can be tackled by anyone regardless of fitness level or experience. Depending on your start and end points, it can be tackled as a 2-3 hour return trip or extended into a day hike.
by Alexei from Travel Lexx
#5 Samaria Gorge, Greece
Samaria Gorge is one of the longest canyons in Europe located in Greece. Located in southern Crete, a 16-kilometer-long (about 9 miles) trek starts at an altitude of 1230m near the settlement of Omalos. It normally takes around 5 to 7 hours to cover the distance between Xyloskalo trailhead to Agia Roumeli.
This typically includes stopping to take photos of the Gorge, taking short rest and snack breaks, eating lunch at the abandoned Samaria settlement, and relaxing after hours of hiking. I could have walked faster, but it wasn’t necessary as I still had two and a half hours for cooling off in the sea and having a beer before catching the ferry.
As an avid hiker, I long dreamed about hiking the gorge in this part of Europe. And it was an amazing experience! As with any long hike, you need to be physically fit to hike Samaria Gorge. The first couple of kilometers are extremely steep as you climb down the stairs.
Walk slowly to allow yourself to get used to the path and steep steps. If you would like to enjoy the view, just stop for a moment, don’t try to look around while walking. It is too easy to twist your leg and get hurt. The path itself is stony, so you may want to bring sturdy hiking shoes preferably with ankle support.
Samaria gorge is open from April until October. Opening times vary depending on the weather. The park is sometimes closed during the summer due to rainy days or excessive heat. The Samaria Gorge from Chania hike is quite long, so it is advisable to pack some snacks. You would also need a backpack to carry your water and snacks to keep fueled. One of the great things about this hike is that you don’t have to bring plenty of water. Refill your bottle at numerous water springs along the trail.
by Ivan from Mind The Travel
#6 Vikos Gorge, Greece
If you want to get away from the tourist crowds in Greece and reconnect with nature, I can't think of any better way than hiking through Vikos Gorge. Whereas the much more famous Samaria Gorge on Crete can sometimes get a few thousand visitors in a single day, the Vikos Gorge in the northern region of Zagorohoria is well and truly off the beaten track. Even walking all the way through it, you'll probably only see a handful of other hikers.
The terrain is rather rocky, so be sure to wear sturdy but comfortable hiking shoes with thick soles. And since there are no facilities of any kind inside the gorge, you'll definitely want to pack a picnic lunch and plenty of water. I recommend stocking up on food in Ioannina or another sizeable town, as the trailhead at Monodendri is a beautiful but tiny village and doesn't offer much in the way of supplies.
Prior experience is not really necessary, and anyone who's reasonably fit should enjoy this hike. There's no fear of getting lost, since the trail is a straight shot through the gorge. With impenetrable cliffs rising up on either side of you, it's not really possible to take a wrong turn. Do be sure to look up from time to time and admire the imposing rockface. The Vikos Gorge actually holds the Guinness record for being the deepest gorge in the world!
by Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan
#7 Lünersee Circuit Trail, Austria
Lünersee is a stunning alpine lake in Vorarlberg, close to the Swiss-border. Set in the Rätikon Alps, this enchanting mountain lake is a great place to spend a few hours or an entire day.
Lünersee is highly accessible due to an aerial cableway that connects the valley of Branderntal with the lake. While it’s possible to skip the cableway altogether and hike up from the valley, I recommend saving your energy for the trails and to start at the lake instead.
The Lünersee loop trail is something everyone can do. This 6-km trail wraps around the entire lake and takes about 2 hours to complete. One of the highlights of this trail is seeing and hearing bell-wearing cows graze along the lake. They produce quite a spontaneous musical ensemble as they amble across the sloping pastures.
For those seeking a more challenging day hike, consider hiking to Schesaplana peak as well. You’ll need 7 hours to complete the Lünersee loop trail and the Schesaplana summit, which is the highest mountain in the Rätikon Alps. Definitely wear sturdy hiking boots and bring hiking poles for this hike.
Use this Lünersee hiking guide to find out how to get to Lünersee, where to eat, and where to hike (multi-day hiking options included).
by Sabrina Brett from Moon & Honey Travel
#8 Calanque d’en Vau, France
The Calanques National Park is located on the fringes of the French Riviera, sandwiched between enchanting Cassis and lively Marseille. This hidden Provençal gem is named after the rocky inlets that are tucked away in between the towering limestone cliffs.
The park features nine such calanques, each one more gorgeous than the next, with crystal-clear aquamarine waters against a spectacular backdrop. Several meandering trails, leaving from either Cassis or Marseille, allow hikers to explore this dazzling decor.
The trailhead for the Cassis Calanques hikes is located in the first inlet called Port-Miou. From there, you can start exploring the incredibly scenic trail to the Calanque de Port Pin and the Calanque d’en-Vau. The hike is only 3,8 km (2.35 mi) one-way, which seems easy enough but you’ll notice that’s its quite intensive. The first part takes you up the cliff along a dusty trail and makes for an easy walk with a steep inclination.
But then the trail gets rockier and more intensive, involving a steep descent to the calanques. I took the hike with my husband and 2 kids (10 and 7). We’re not experienced hikers and the trail pushed us to our limits. But no matter how strenuous it got, we were amazed by the spectacular landscape and all agreed that it was very well worth the effort.
by Sarah Vanheel from CosmopoliClan
#9 Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia
Just 3 miles from the picturesque town of Lake Bled, Vintgar Gorge is one of the best hikes in Slovenia. It's an easy hike that is suitable for almost all levels of fitness and hiking experience.
You'll hike 1-mile through a narrow limestone gorge that is barely wide enough for both the river and the trail. You'll crisscross back and forth on bridges over the turquoise blue water, and at some points where the gorge is simply too narrow you'll continue on wooden walkways suspended from the high cliff walls.
At the end of the gorge, a suspension bridge hangs above the 40-foot tall Sum Waterfall. For the best views of the falls, you'll want to continue along the trail and descend the stairs to the viewing platform below the falls.
We hiked Vintgar Gorge in the fall and the weather was quite rainy. This meant that the Vintgar River was a rushing torrent rather than a peaceful stream and the Sum waterfall was at full flow - an amazing sight to behold!
After reaching the waterfall you can continue along Slovenia's impressive network of mountain trails, but most hikers simply return the way they came (making the roundtrip hike a total distance of 2 miles).
Vintgar Gorge is the most popular hike in Slovenia, Europe and is frequented by tour buses. So if you want to avoid the crowds be sure to start hiking early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
by Nick from Wandering Wheatleys
#10 Krnsko Jezero, Slovenia
When you think of the most stunning hikes in Europe, most people would head to the Dolomites in Italy or the Austrian Alps - rarely do people consider Slovenia, a hiking paradise.
It has the greenest lakes, known as the most forested country in Europe, the top greenest country in the world with increased efforts to make Slovenia a place for community-based tourism and responsible tourism.
While spending my summer in Slovenia, I visited one of the most best hikes in Europe - the Krnsko Jezero in Bovec.
The lake is surrounded by colourful poppies, including several endangered species such as the yellow Kerner Alpine poppy. The 2-3 hour hike to Krnsko Jezero lake (1350m) in the Lepana Valley brings you to an open mountain on the green trails where you will see a beautiful emerald-green lake. We sat there in the open and gazed at the breezy grasslands overlooking the lake, and seeing baby frogs hop from one rock to another.
Swimming in this lake is not an option due to the preservation of the ecosystem, which is already very endangered due to artificially inhabited fish.
There’s no direct bus that goes to Lepana Valley. The best way is to take the bus from Bovec that goes to Kranjska Gora, and ask if they go to Lepana Valley. Alternatively, ask the tourism office for the best route to go here and see if you could hitchhike halfway. The trail is marked and it will take you approximately 4 hours to complete it.
by Pashmina from The Gone Goat
#11 Tour Du Mont Blanc - France (Italy, Switzerland)
Arguably, the most iconic hiking trail in Europe is the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). 175km, 3 countries and over 9000m of elevation gain and loss. It circumnavigates Western Europe’s highest peak providing almost endless perspectives of the Mont Blanc Massif and the many glaciers inching down its slopes.
The terrain ranges from alpine meadows full of wildflowers, perfectly manicured swiss villages, snowy mountain passes and rushing glacial streams.
The TMB is a good introduction for novice hikers looking for a challenge. It can be completed by anyone who is reasonably fit. The trail is well signposted and easy to follow. Refuges provide lodging and meals at regular intervals allowing you to pack light, although need to be booked well in advance.
From our experience, camping in the Tour du Mont Blanc provided more freedom, flexibility and affordability. If you choose to camp, minimum requirements are a lightweight 4-seasons tent, sleeping bag suitable for -5 degrees Celsius and a sleeping mat.
The trail is popular but never feels crowded so you can meet people from all over the world or find a quiet spot all to yourself. The trail can be completed from any location or in any direction, although most start and finish in Chamonix and walk anti-clockwise. It takes 8-12 days to complete the entire circuit however doing a partial circuit is possible if time is limited. If this is your first visit to the Alps, this is the perfect introduction.
by Warren Dobe from Sling Adventures
#12 Hardergrat Trail, Switzerland
The Hardergrat trail is a 24 km ridge hike in Switzerland. It is a physically demanding hike and those who want to complete it need to set off early in the morning from Interlaken in order to catch the last train down from Brienzer Rothorn. Otherwise, they will have to hike down to Brienz after an already exhausting day. The trail has many exposed sections, so it is not suitable for anyone with vertigo.
Tackling the 3000m elevation gain is not an easy task, but the views are absolutely stunning along the way. It is a big challenge to hike the whole ridge and a great accomplishment for those who complete it. Despite having a lot of hiking experience, we didn't feel quite ready to hike the whole ridge.
Luckily it is possible to enjoy the most beautiful section without too much effort. Starting from Lombachalp we hiked up to Suggiture and then walked along the ridge to Augstmatthorn.
This round trip hike is 7 km, which took us 5 hours. We enjoyed fantastic views of the stunning turquoise blue lake called Lake Brienz and the Jungfrau region’s highest peaks. This hike also had some exposed and steep parts, but it was within our comfort zone. Thanks to the views, this day was the highlight of our 2 week holiday in Switzerland.
by Eniko from Travel Hacker Girl
#13 Valbona to Theth, Albania
When it comes to hiking in the Balkans, Albania’s Valbona to Theth route stands out as one of the best day treks in Europe. Set in the picturesque Albanian Alps in the country’s far-north, the full-day through hike links the two high-altitude villages of Valbona and Theth. You can walk either way, but I recommend starting in Valbona.
One of the best things about this trek is how remote and quiet it is. Although it is getting more popular, the crowds are nothing like you might expect for scenery so breathtaking. When I did the hike this past summer, we didn’t see another soul on the path until we reached the halfway point. (That’s not counting the kind-hearted farmer who had to chaperone us back to the track after we accidentally wandered into his yard!).
The first part of the trek is all hard slog until you reach the mountain pass. With the end in sight, it’s customary to throw down your day pack and scramble up one of the precarious rocky ledges for a bird’s eye view. The panorama is absolutely outstanding, all craggy mountains and pine trees.
After the challenging ascent, it’s all downhill to the next village. The route is well marked, so you don’t need a guide or a map. You only really need a moderate level of fitness to tackle the trek, and you can quite easily do it in sturdy sneakers. It takes anywhere from 5 to 9 hours depending on your pace and how often you pause for photos. There are a few small rest stops set up along the way where you can refill your canteen with naturally chilled alpine water. On the descent into Theth, there’s a proper cabin-style bar serving coffee and Albanian pastries.
by Emily Lush from Wander-Lush
#14 Morskie Oko Trail, Poland
I love hiking whenever I travel and one of the best hikes I've ever embarked on in Europe was to Morskie Oko, a gorgeous mountain lake in the Tatra National Park, outside of Zakopane, Poland. On the southern border of Poland lies the Tatra Mountain range, and an extensive set of peaks that stretch into nearby Slovakia. Making the trip to Zakopane is worth it to spend time trekking through these mountains.
One of the most accessible hikes is the path to Morskie Oko. This relatively easy, 2-hour walk (one way) through dense forest and up into the mountains may seem long, but the views are stunning the whole way, and even better at the end. As you come upon Morskie Oko, you'll be amazed by the crystal clear blue water that shines in front of you as if it's straight out of a postcard. Take time to circumnavigate the lake, finding a quiet spot to rest your feet by the water.
You can also continue hiking to another beautiful lake higher up the mountain: Czarny Staw. This trek is much more difficult with a steep path of boulders that takes about 40 minutes to traverse. However, the hard work will pay off as you look down on beautiful Morskie Oko and see Czarny Staw at the top. With two amazing lakes to experience on this hike, there's no doubt that the Morskie Oko trail in the Tatra National Park is one of the best hikes in Europe.
by Laura Wilkens from Adrift Aesthetic
#15 Rota Vicentina, Portugal
The Rota Vicentina is an amazing hiking trail in the south of Portugal. There are two routes: the Fishermen’s Trail and the Historical Way, both routes can be done as separate hikes or combined with each other. The total distance of the Fishermen’s Trail is 76km, the Historical Way - 229km.
The route follows the rugged coastline of the Atlantic ocean and offers breathtaking scenery; unspoiled beaches, blue water, dramatic cliffs, small fishermen’s villages, and lighthouses. We walked the Rota Vicentina in May and it was a perfect time for hiking warm but not too hot, not many people, lots of flowers and many storks’ nests at the edge of the cliffs along the route.
The spectacular scenery wasn’t the only thing we liked about the hike - local people were incredibly hospitable and friendly many of them speak good English, our lack of Portuguese wasn’t a problem.
The route is not challenging and doesn’t require previous hiking experience, the trail is well-marked, there are hotels, hostels, restaurants, and shops no need to carry camping and cooking gear hikers can walk with a small daypack carrying some clothes and toiletries. There are public buses that connect the towns and villages along the route as well as buses that connect the starting and the ending point of the trail with Lisbon.
The Rota Vicentina is a perfect combination of beach and hiking holiday, it’s suitable for any travelers.
by Campbell & Alya from Stingy Nomads
#16 Seven Hanging Valleys, Portugal
The Algarve coastline is some of the most beautiful in the world, so it’s the perfect setting for a scenic hike. The Seven Hanging Valley hiking trail near Portimao goes along the dramatic coast from Praia do Marinha to Praia de Vale Centeanes.
It's a well-marked and easy to follow trail. Along the way, you can make a stop to take a boat tour to the famous Benagil cave or relax at the stunning Praia do Carvalho (Carvalho Beach). As you walk along the cliffs, you will also pass some pretty interesting rock formations including a double arch and some sinkholes. It's also a good area for bird watching.
For the most part, it’s a pretty easy walk although there are some stairs and a few steep sections. The views are worth the effort, so don’t forget your camera! If you are lucky with the timing, you may even get to go inside the Alfanzina Lighthouse.
The hike is 3.7 miles one-way or 7.4 miles roundtrip. I recommend allocating a whole day to do the Seven Hanging Valleys hike so that you have time to stop and enjoy some of the scenic spots. It's not something that should be rushed.
by Anisa Alhilali from Two Travelling Texans
#17 Ben Nevis, Scotland
Though Scotland is filled with absolutely incredible hiking trails, Ben Nevis is without doubt the most iconic and a must for any UK hiking trip!
As the tallest peak in the UK, it sees hikers from all over the globe who come in search of the stunning views from the summit. On a clear day, you can see across half of Scotland stretched out in front of your eyes.
The trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mist-shrouded peaks and glistening valleys, all the way to the Isle of Skye.
The Mountain Track is the most popular Ben Nevis hiking route as it’s most suitable for all ages and hikers. This route is 10.5 miles long, with an altitude gain of 1,145m, making it a good full day out. Expect to spend 6-8 hours hiking, though no technical skill is needed it’s an intermediate hike which requires a moderate level of fitness.
Conditions can be harsh, particularly in winter months, so make sure you check the forecast before you start. Weather changes quickly, so be careful! Visibility can also be poor at the summit so taking a compass and map along with the skills of how to use them are advised during quieter periods.
The Ben Nevis walk has magnificent views as you climb through the Red Burn Valley, eventually crossing the famous river. The trail then zig-zags up the peak eventually reaching the summit, where there are incredible panoramic views of the surrounding mountains of the west highlands.
by Josh and Sarah from Veggie Vagabonds
#18 Rimetea, Romania
Rimetea, a small town of about 1000 people is a hidden gem in Romania. Located a little over an hour from the capital of Transylvania, Cluj Napco, travelers tend to miss this small town.
Buses that run to Rimetea are inconsistent and unreliable and the only way to visit it is through a rental car. It might seem a lot of effort just for a little bit of hiking but let me you tell why it is worth it. Rimetea is surrounded on one side by some of the most impressive mountains ever.
These mountains soar into the sky and overlook the beautiful traditional town. The trail that leads up the mountain is only 1.5 hours long, making it a great option if you decide to do a day trip from Cluj-Napoca.
Steep and filled with loose gravel, the hardest part of the hike is not ascending but rather descending. I would recommend bringing some proper hiking equipment, such as a nice pair of hiking boots with traction and hiking poles. The view at the top is truly breathtaking and picturesque. The beautiful natural scenery of Romania combined with the old traditional villages remains as an unforgettable sight for me.
by Sean Lau from Living Out Lau
Have you explored any of these hikes or would like to? Tell me in the comments below!
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