Destinations Magazine

Top 5 Destinations to Hike in Europe

By Monkeys And Mountains Adventure @Laurel_Robbins

Guest post by Jess Singet of Tripelio.

One of the great things about hiking in Europe is that there are so many different types of hikes that you can take depending on your level of fitness. You don’t need to be in peak condition and go scaling the Alps if you want to explore; you can also choose from a slew of tamer trails. And boy is there some beautiful scenery in Europe, both in natural landscapes and historical buildings. Here are some great hikes in Europe that you may or may not have heard about:

The Haute Route

Top 5 Destinations to Hike in Europe

Haute Route photo by JackPh, via Wikimedia Commons

Obviously no post about hiking in Europe would be complete without mention of the Haute Route. This trail links Chamonix, France with Zermatt, Switzerland. In the summer, you can cover the distance on foot; in the winter, it’s a popular destination for ski-touring.

Although many people wince at the cost of hiking the Haute Route or at the number of tourists on the route, it’s some of the best scenery in the world, and certainly some of the best scenery in the Alps. If you’re really worried, get yourself in shape and do the classic Haute Route; many tourists these days opt for the lower “Walker’s Route”, which stays below 3000m of elevation. The Walker’s Route can also be a good choice if you’re unfamiliar with using crampons and other technical equipment, as it generally can be hiked without these things during most of the spring, summer, and fall.

The Camino de Santiago, Spain

Top 5 Destinations to Hike in Europe

Camino Santiago photo by José Antonio Gil Martínez via Wikimedia Commons

 The Camino is an old pilgrim’s route which stretches from the foot of the Pyrenees in southwest France down across northern Spain. The main route of the Camino, or the Camino Frances, passes through both Pamplona and Leon. Need some inspiration? Watch “The Way” on Netflix, about a father who hikes the Camino in the footsteps of his dead son. (Note: to watch Netflix outside the US, you may need to set up a VPN first.)

During the height of the season, the Camino can become very busy, but if crowds aren’t your thing, you have many alternatives. Try the Camino del Norte, which follows the coast of northern Spain and winds through the Basque Country. Or try hiking at a different time of year—Spain’s weather is pretty temperate most years, so even hiking in November or December is possible once you’re out of the Pyrenees, if you’ve done your planning.

The Julian Alps of Slovenia

Top 5 Destinations to Hike in Europe

Photo by Ciaran Roarty, via Wikimedia Commons

Slovenia is a surprisingly forgotten about country in Europe, and that should change. Granted, it’s a pretty small country and its perfect that way, but it’s definitely got some fantastic hiking that more people should know about. Head up to Bled and go hiking around the lake and out to Vintgar Gorge. This will give you a bit of a taste of the Julian Alps, but the further you go into Triglav National Park, the more stunning the scenery will become.

It gets cold in the winter, especially once you’re up in the mountains, and on snowier years, certain trails may be slippery or even closed. But if the pristine and picturesque wilderness isn’t enough to get you there, know that Bled does a fantastic fireworks show over the lake at New Year’s, which is an event that is not to be missed!

Mont Blanc

tour du Mont Blanc, one of the top long distance hikes in Europe

Photo by Laurel Robbins

 

Circumnavigating the highest mountain in the European Union, Mont Blanc in France, requires passing through three countries: Switzerland, France, and Italy. Some of the best views of the mountain itself can be found from sections of the trail located near Chamonix, but you’ll have fine vistas throughout the course of the trail. All those quaint mountain villages that come to mind when you think of the Alps? This is the place to see them.

Accommodations along the trail may be a bit more expensive than you’d like, but hey, what’s money when you’re making memories like these? Worried you might not have the strength or stamina to hike in the Alps? Here you can choose from a few different routes that are appropriate for various fitness levels.

Kungsleden

Top 5 Destinations to Hike in Europe

Photo by Alexandre Buisse via Wikimedia Commons

This trail in Sweden, known as Kungsleden or the King’s Trail, meanders through a wilderness of tundra, birch trees, and glacier-carved mountains. Along the trail, you’ll also be able to see Sweden’s highest mountain peak, Mount Kebnekaise.

During the summer, you can hike the trail; during the winter, you can use cross-country skis to cover that same distance. Whatever time of year you choose to go, you’re sure to experience a fantastic sense of peace in this giant swath of nature. As for accommodation—you can camp all along the trail, and there’s also a network of huts maintained by the Swedish Tourist Association.

Wherever you choose to hike, you’re sure to make a ton of memories and meet tons of other hikers, travellers, and interesting locals along the routes. Hiking is a great way to get out into the “real” feeling of a country during your vacation, rather than strictly sightseeing in cities. And after all, why do we travel except to see the world? Explore and enjoy!

Bio of Jess Singet from Tripelio: I’m never in one place for very long. My parents were travelers before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older!
Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble I live in made me want to travel even further. Traveling is my drug and I’m addicted. (Please, no intervention!)


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