5 Beautiful Hikes in Europe
I would like to introduce my special guest Travel Blogger, Jess from Tripelio. She has spent the last 3.5 years traveling the world and has great insights and tips to share.
I’d like to thank Jaynie for publishing this article. Her site is a great place for exciting posts about great travel tips and adventures. If you’ve enjoyed this article and want to learn more, check out this post for a more in depth look at the Camino de Santiago.
Europe has long been a popular destination for hikers of all nationalities. The luscious scenery and breath-taking variety means that no two hiking holidays around this diverse and picturesque region are the same. From the impressive rock formations of the north to the sun-licked trails of the south or the world famous alpine treks, wherever you set your compass, you will be sure to be amazed by what you find.
However, which so much variation, it can be hard to decide where to even begin! Luckily, with a few tips and a little bit of insider knowledge, you can be sure to get the most out of your experience. Here are five of the best from north, south, east, west and central Europe to get you started on your hiking adventure.
Based in a UNESCO world heritage site, this hike makes the perfect day trip to see the best and most beautiful of Norway’s dramatic fjords. The Geirangerfjord is located in the region of Møre og Romsdal and the major town—Geiranger—has become a popular tourist destination for those wishing to see the famed beauty of this part of Norway. However, if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of tourist activity, the Keipane walk, which starts from the town, offers the perfect opportunity to get out into nature and really soak up the scenery.
Although this may be a bit of a challenging hike for some, as the four to five hour walk each way leads you up a very steep trail to the Keipane peak, the breath-taking views along the entire route means that you can turn back at any point without feeling like you’ve missed out.
El Camino de Santiago, Spain
No European hike list would be complete without the Camino de Santiago. This well-known epic route has many different starting points and can be up to 800km long for the most dedicated hikers. As a long-standing pilgrim trail that found its fame during the middle-ages, this walk has been undertaken by many millions for many different reasons. Although it ends at the Santiago de Compostela cathedral, you don’t have to be religious to become a pilgrim of this trail. Many undertake the challenge, as it has become well-known as a transformative experience that can touch the spirit of the religious and atheist alike.
Although it is not the most picturesque that the continent has to offer, the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie with fellow pilgrims that many find on this trail makes it one of the most talked about routes in the world. With many dedicated hostels on the route, you are sure to find companions to share your experience with, and the sense of pride when reaching the cathedral makes it well worth the effort.
Rila Mountain, Bulgaria
The “well-watered” mountain of Bulgaria, as the name translates, is one of the most spectacular mountain hikes up the highest peak in the Balkan Peninsula. There are several routes in this region, including two long-distance hiking trails as well as a number of day trips. Alongside the breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside, the mountain also offers several must-see stop offs, including the Rila Monetary, the most frequently visited attraction in Bulgaria; Sapareva Banya, a public bath with refreshing hot mineral waters; the Borovets ski resort and the Seven Rila Lakes.
The Seven Lakes can be booked as one day guided excursions starting from Sofia along with trips to the Musala peak—the highest in the region. There are 20 working huts and five refuges on the mountain that provide shelter and food for walkers, which means travellers don’t have to worry about carrying camping equipment. No matter what type of walk you’re looking for—guided or self-guided, long or short, cultural or geographical—the Rila mountain will definitely be able to provide you with a unique and fulfilling experience that showcases the best of what eastern Europe has to offer.
Commonly known as the Eagle Walk, the Alderweg hike through the Tirol region of Austria is a great place to experience the jaw dropping Alpine views in all their glory. The Tiroleon Alps cover a large region of Western Austria and provide many spectacular walking holidays, but the Alderweg route is by far the greatest. This well-marked trail runs from east to west and covers 413km in total, although the 24 stages break it up, so it’s easy to choose a section for a day trip.
The variety of terrain means this route poses an exciting challenge for the more daring hikers among us, and with a total elevation gain of 23,000 meters, the Eagle Walk really does live up to its name. For those looking to experience the Alpine beauty but hoping for a slightly shorter walking holiday, in East Tirol the Eagle Trail offers a 93 km snippet of its big brother with the same geographical features and an elevation gain of 8000 m.
The Kerry Way, Ireland
Finally, as west as you can go in Europe lies the Kerry Way. In County Kerry, on the west coast of Ireland, this perhaps overlooked hike offers a spectacular mixture of Atlantic coastline and rolling Irish hills. Starting and finishing in the picturesque town of Killarney, it creates an easily accomplishable round trip. The full trail is over 200km long and stands as the longest walking trail in the country, and although the county is home to the highest peaks on the island, the walk includes only moderate climbs, making it accessible to walkers of every level.
However, there is advice suggesting that those who want a more leisurely holiday rather than a physical challenge should schedule rest days and walk a shorter distance per hike. It’s also advisable to ensure you have a plan B as the unpredictable Atlantic weather could result in some unplanned days inside. For those traveling from abroad, be sure to take the necessary steps, so you can still access your favorite Netflix shows in case this happens.
Hiking is an ever-rewarding experience and a great way to travel Europe and see the varying beauty it has to offer. These five trails are a brilliant way to experience walking holidays whether you’re an eager beginner or a seasoned professional. If you’ve had any experiences of these routes or know any others that should be on this list, be sure to comment below.