The 13 Best Hikes in Europe: Hiking is one of the most engaging physical activities. Exercise is done and at the same time nature is enjoyed. That is why it is usual that, often, a part of our vacations or the trips that we are going to make focus on finding an attractive place that we want to know to practice it.
If you want to know about the most interesting we can find in our continent, we recommend these 13 essential places for hiking in Europe.
It is not about routes in themselves, from point A to point B, but of spaces where we can practice hiking and enjoy nature on multiple routes so that for the most part you can select the level of difficulty that we want to face depending on our ability or state of physical form. Let’s see some of the most interesting places.
1. Rhodopes Mountains of Bulgaria
To the south of Bulgaria is this mountainous system that occupies more of 80% of the surface extending to its neighboring Greece. Thanks to a mild annual climate, we are facing an ecosystem rich in biodiversity, which has around fifty reserves, some of which are under the protection of UNESCO.
The great advantage is that it is a place that is not overcrowded, so when we arrive, we will be able to truly enjoy nature without having to be surrounded by tourists and hikers.
There are a wide variety of routes for hikers, from the simplest, to perform with the family, to those suitable only for those with more experience and physical fitness.
We can alternate long journeys walking and rest in the small towns of the area. In the Rhodopes, we will find isolated places of civilization, which will allow us to enjoy a unique experience along the way, and with a varied fauna and flora, as well as finding ourselves in a paradise for birds with more than 270 different species.
2. The House of the Giants of Norway
The house of the giants is one of the most emblematic places in Norway. In it, we will discover wild landscapes walking through the highest mountains of the country, surrounded by lakes and glaciers, and being able to ascend to the Galdhopiggen which, with its 2469 meters, is the highest mountain in Northern Europe.
Their routes are classified according to the level of difficulty. For beginners, with short routes of little unevenness and paths with good roads. The average level consists of routes of less than four hours with some more difficult stretch.
It also has a more demanding route for experienced hikers, with slopes of about 800 meters; and another for experts, although in this case, we are talking about routes for mountaineers with a lot of baggage.
We can visit the places we want, but always taking into account the warnings and respecting the nature that surrounds us. In addition, we will have numerous shelters to rest and regain strength.
3. Skocjan Caves (Slovenia)
In the Kras region, this system of limestone caves is found. The route is about 5 kilometers of underground passages, which have been formed with the passage of the Reka River over the rocks and its view is worth it as it is a unique and incredibly spectacular place.
Your visit is guided, so lonely adventurers will have to adapt. It lasts between two and four hours since we can choose between a main visit that goes through the main cave or extend it by visiting two more caves.
The route is not heavy or distressing, despite being several hours underground, but there are many steps, up and down, throughout the cave although they are quite bearable, since the visit is done very leisurely.
It is a very interesting experience and suitable for almost everyone (abstain people with claustrophobia) who wants to discover this wonder of nature, declared a World Heritage Site in 1986.
4. The Welsh coast
Since 2012 Wales is the first nation with a path that crosses its entire coastline. There are almost 1,400 kilometers of terrain conditioned to travel on foot, passing eleven nature reserves, and with some sections suitable for cycling, which is why it was declared one of the best destinations of 2012 by the prestigious Lonely Planet travel guide. .
The Welsh landscape is notable for the combination of white sand beaches and rugged cliffs of sublime beauty. The place is well signposted and is divided by sections of little difficulty.
During the tour, we can visit the Pembroke Coast National Park, the only British natural park entirely coastal and consist of multiple services for hikers, or perform as a family the route of the medieval castles and abbeys that, by the way, are countless.
For the more adventurous, between hiking and walking, you can go climbing on the cliffs of the Gower Peninsula or even paragliding.
5. Tarn Valley in France
One of the most tourist routes for hikers is that of the Tarn Valley. It runs through old French towns developed during the Middle Ages, endowing the place with incredible landscapes and trails, and great cultural wealth.
In addition, we will have the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of canoeing as a family, while the most intrepid do it with rafting, canyoning or canoeing in its many rivers.
We can choose different routes and in all of them we will find a great variety of landscapes: the hills of Gaillac planted with vines in the north or the rugged hills of the Pays de Cocagne to the south, without forgetting the gorges of Aveyron and Viaur.
We will always find some stages with difficulty but, in most cases, they can be done as a family. In addition, the area offers varied activities such as canoeing, canoeing, climbing through the walls of the gorge or cycling routes. Of course, it should be noted that perhaps the area is a little overcrowded in summer.
6. The Black Forest in Germany
The Black Forest is a mountainous massif located in the southwest of Germany. Hiking is the best way to get to know this region famous for its bucolic landscapes and charming villages.
As a surprising fact, it should be noted that the majority of the region retains its traditions and typical customs, as well as an open and friendly character. We can find organized trips to visit it without problems.
The Black Forest offers several routes for walkers of medium / easy difficulty and, among these, the Route of the Two Valleys that will attract us from the beginning for its wild nature, with landscapes of rocks, gorges and the waterfalls of the valleys of Elztal and Simonswald.
On the way, we will cross wonders, such as the Zweribach waterfall, the Huberfelsen rock or the valleys covered with meadows and streams of Elztal. Undoubtedly, this is the best options in the heart of Europe for tourism in a natural environment.
The lakes of Plitvice form the largest national park (295 square km) that Croatia has and since 1979 is UNESCO’s world natural heritage. The lakes are known for their waterfalls, formed in limestone and calcareous rock.
The park has different routes available that are very well indicated at the entrance of the park, where we can choose between duration, difficulty, and distance, combining the walks with trips by boat or train, which will help us to visit the entire park.
It is one of the places we should not miss if our trip takes us to Croatia. A route that is perfectly accessible to everyone and can be done as a family.
8. Routes on the Montblanc (The Alps)
The area offers a great variety both in the difficulty and in the time that we want to invest. The Montblanc cannot be missed as one of the most coveted places for trekking, perhaps even crowded in summer.
In this case, we have the possibility of making an itinerary that makes the complete return to the highest summit in Western Europe through three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland, with a total of 100 kilometers approximately and a cumulative difference of over 13,000 meters, suitable for those accustomed to making half-mountain routes.
9. Crete (Greece)
The largest island in Greece is full of routes that will delight any hiker. It has more than 250 gorges to explore, and the great majority has good accessibility. The end of spring and summer is the best time to visit them, as we can descend the gorge and take a bath in one of its wonderful beaches at the end of the route.
The best-known gorges are those of Samariá and Agia Eirini. The first is the longest in Europe, it takes about 5 hours to complete it, but it is a beautiful route, with notable changes in the landscape and very well marked.
The second one is perhaps the most spectacular and a bit shorter. In both cases and, especially in summer, we should not forget the comfortable footwear, sun protection and good hydration, although on the route of Agia Eirini we will find rest areas where we can provide water thanks to several sources.
These are just two examples, since in Crete, in addition to an imposing nature, we can enjoy its gastronomy and the extraordinary kindness of its people.
10. Iceland, Land of Ice and Fire
If what we are looking for is contrasts in our route, without a doubt Iceland is our option. It is a country where we find frozen landscapes, volcanoes, geysers and fumaroles, lava fields, etc. We can make Landmannalaugar trekking, a route to the south of Iceland in which to appreciate all the contrates of the country and for which it takes four days to complete the whole.
However, while the more experienced trekking enthusiasts may be inclined to make it complete, it is also possible to perform some of its stages.
We also have the alternative of doing other types of excursions that help us appreciate this island that for many are a great unknown, with different degrees of difficulty and available to everyone.
It is very essential if we are going to sleep on route booking the accommodation previously if we travel in summer, which is when the influx of travelers is higher.
11. Hiking through the Natural Landscapes of Slovenia
Slovenia has one of the best preserved natural environments in Europe, which is why hiking is one of the most popular activities, enjoying a multitude of routes to choose from, from short walks through the valleys and hills to demanding roads secured in the high mountains.
All the routes are well signposted, and the most amateurs have the possibility of hiring guides that will accompany them and offer detailed information about the area.
One of the most popular destinations is the National Park of Triglav, for the mountain of the same name, with a height of 2,864 meters and located within the so-called Julian Alps.
12. Lapland: North Cape and Lake Inari
The Northern Lights show is the most beautiful that can be seen. In Lapland, we have a place like Inari, the most important cultural center “Sami” in Lapland, which is located in one of the wildest and most isolated areas of Finland.
Its coordinates, latitude 69ºN, longitude 28ºE, place it about 300 km above the Arctic polar circle 66º33’N. In addition, it is the largest municipality in all of Finland, its territory covers more than 17,000 square kilometers of wild nature.
If we travel in winter, instead of walking their paths on foot, we will have to go to the sleigh or the snowshoes. The main difficulty of the routes in the area is especially in the depopulated area, which means we have to carry all the necessary equipment.
13. The Scottish Highlands
If there is a place of extraordinary beauty and with spectacular open-air routes that are, without a doubt, Scotland. The variety of landscapes that it offers is unique in the world, and trekking enthusiasts can enjoy the most emblematic natural spaces.
We can choose many routes and, also, we will find a lot of information and good signage. One of the most visited is the West Highland Way, which begins outside of Glasgow and ends at Fort William, in the heart of the Highlands.
It consists of 152 kilometers and we will be able to cross the well-known Lake Lomond (if something can boast Scotland is of lakes) until we reach the highest mountain in the country, the Ben Nevis.
But if what we want is tranquility and little company, we can opt for a more solitary route, especially during the summer months, and feel like Rob Roy McGregor, since, indeed, there is the “Rob Roy Way”, making honor that for many were the Scottish Robin Hood.
Offcourse we can not ignore the Great Glen Way, whose route, from Fort William to Inverness, passes through the most emblematic and mysterious place in Scotland, Loch Ness. This route is also interesting because it is one of the few that can be traveled by bicycle.
Without a doubt, Scotland is one of the best options for hiking, but always bearing in mind that we must be well equipped since time is as variable as its landscapes.
The equipment in the trekking is always very important, especially when we travel to places where we do not have a reference as present as in our country. It is essential to be well informed in advance to make the displacement.