Our Ultimate Bucket List of the Best Hikes in Europe
Get climbing up some of the best trails in the world as you hike around European landscapes. With diverse terrain across the continent, every day is a new adventure. Down for some mountain peaks? Got ’em. How ’bout beachy coastlines? Yup. Want to trek glaciers? You can! It’s time to cross some of those dreamy trails off your bucket list by getting your butt to Europe!
Hiking in Slovenia
Grab a bird’s eye view of Slovenia’s spectacular scenery from the highest mountain in the country: Mount Triglav. Or, take in the beautiful landscapes from ground level as you trek a hut to hut route through lush green valleys and lakes. Slovenia’s got it all, no matter what kind of hiking experience you’re after. So set that phone camera to panoramic mode — you’re gonna want to freeze every moment in time.
- Triglav National Park. Intermediate | 9km | 14 hours. Summit the highest peak in the Julian Alps on this easiest trail up the legendary Mt Triglav. Mentally prep for the final 400m via Ferrata passage, but don’t worry — you’ll be secured.
- The Julian Alps. Hard | 269km | 84 hours. Ready to see Slovenia the true hiker’s way? Explore everything that this country has to offer via the Juliana Trail — from beautifully-preserved forests and tranquil lakes to World War I sites and alpine farms, you’ll get the whole experience.
- Seven Triglav Lakes. Hard | 40.6 km | 16 hours. Head to the glacial Valley of the Seven Triglav Lakes to complete one of the best multi-day hikes in Europe. You’ll snack on local cheese in summer, hear legends of mythical creatures, and sleep in mountain huts along the way.
- Lake Bohinj and Lake Bled. Hard | 14 km | 5.25 hours. Crush the entire trail around Lake Bled for a 360° view of the famous waters, or choose a single hill to climb. Then, take a dip in the lake or head to the iconic Bled Castle.
- Soca Valley. Intermediate | 7.8 miles | 6.5 hours. Delight your senses with a summit up Cold Peak, high above the Soca River and valley. Early mornings or late afternoon (hello, golden hour) are the best times to take on this wild mountain hike.
Hiking in Croatia
If you like lush forests, ancient history, and absolutely stunning waterways, then you’ll love Croatia. This Balkan country is home to some of the best hiking in Europe. With ten UNESCO sites, eight national parks, and breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea, exploring the Croatian wilderness is a no-brainer.
- Parenzana Trail. Intermediate | 21km | 5.5 hours. Tackle a section of the famous trail, Parenzana, that spans three countries: Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. Enjoy a day hike down this former railroad path, or try the whole 123-kilometer route!
- Plitvice Lakes National Park. Easy | 8.9km | 4-6 hours. Start your circular hiking trail with a quick boat ride across Lake Kozjak before exploring lush canyons filled with turquoise waters and magical waterfalls. Then, you’ll get a chance to kick up your legs on the train ride back through this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Paklenica National Park. Intermediate | 3.8km | 1.75 hours. Do the rocky climb up Bojin Kuk, where you’ll show off your via-Ferrata skills as you reach that summit. The breathtaking scenery of limestone and the distant sea will leave you feeling like the total badass you are!
- Split. Intermediate | 5.8km | 3 hours. Explore the magnificent Vranjača Cave before your Mosor Mountain trek starts! From here, you’ll climb up to Vickov stup — the most famous peak on the mountain.
Hiking in Scotland
It’s not all haggis and lake monsters in the Scottish highlands. This dreamy region is also home to some of the best hikes through mountain ranges, above mysterious lochs, and along the beautiful coastline. So whether you need time in the unspoiled wilderness up the highest mountains or dream of a laid-back scenic hike, Scotland has the perfect trail for you.
- Torridon Mountains. Hard | 11.5km | 9 hours. Advanced hikers only — the steep ascents up Liathach are only for the most seasoned adventurers. But once you glimpse those stunning views of the surrounding mountains, glistening waters, and the Isle of Skye, this tough trek quickly becomes an unforgettable experience.
- Cùl Mòr. Hard 13.5km | 5 hours. Expect a bit of scrambling, a bit of bogginess, and a whole lot of lochan landscapes on the popular hike up Cùl Mòr. Take advantage of your elevation gain and ascend the neighboring Creag nan Calman while you’re there!
- Old Man of Stoer. Intermediate | 7km | 3 hours. Starting at the Stoer lighthouse, you’ll wander the sea-side on the rocky walls of the Sutherland coastline. Once you reach the Old Man, you can even climb the unique rock formations — if you dare.
- Quinag. Hard | 14km | 8 hours. Have you ever dreamed of conquering three corbetts in one hiking route? Quinag, a mountain protected by the John Muir Trust, lets you do exactly that. Win!
- Ben Bhraggie. Easy | 9.5km | 4 hours. Your body will thank you as you break from challenging trails and take an easier coastal route to the hilly Ben Bhraggie. The forest path takes you to the controversial Sutherland monument (“The Mannie”) and out through Rhives Farm, but extend your hike towards Big Burn falls for some impressive gorge action.
Hiking in Iceland
Steaming hot springs, roaring waterfalls, and impressive glaciers splatter the jagged Icelandic terrain. The Nordic nation is a haven for the nature-lover. With dramatic fjords, gorges, and ice caves, it’s no wonder one of the world’s most spectacular hikes is found right here.
- Thingvellir National Park. Easy | 4.2km | 1.5 hours. The looped hiking trail to Öxarárfoss Waterfall may be short, but it sure is sweet. Gravel and wooden paths make for easy terrain to this ethereal sight near the meeting of two tectonic plates.
- Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Moderate | 10.3km | 3.5 hours. Venture out where icy formations meet jagged peaks near the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Experienced hikers only out here!
- Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. Easy | 3.2km | 1 hour. Witness the beautiful scenery only Iceland can offer as you stroll the effortlessly gorgeous Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. It may not be one of the more challenging trails you’ve ever done, but the hiking destination is so worth the stop.
- Svartifoss waterfall. Easy | 5.5km | 2 hours. Take a gentle hike along the circular route past three majestic waterfalls, including Svartifoss. You’ll cross pedestrian bridges and enter the canyon until you’re up close and personal with this natural beauty.
- Laugavegur. Intermediate | 54km | 4 days. When NatGeo crowns route one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, you take your time enjoying it. Soak up this paradise and all it offers: black lava, hot springs, adorable mountain huts, and more!
- Sólheimajökull. Moderate | 2.3km | 1 hour. No equipment necessary on the self-guided part of this round trip trail. As this outlet glacier melts, the trek from the car park to where the trail starts takes hikers longer and longer.
Other Popular Regions for Hiking in Europe
Hiking in Portugal
Spectacular coastlines, unique local villages, and scenic spots galore make Portugal a destination for even the pickiest hikers. Dare we say this country bears some of the best hikes in Europe? As you pass through fishing villages on the Mediterranean along the way to sunny, sandy beaches, you’ll see what all the hype is about.
- Algarve. Intermediate | 12km | 6 hours. Portugal is home to one of the best hiking trails in Europe: Seven Hanging Valleys. Golden rockfaces, sea caves, and sandy beaches give this route a top ranking of the most beautiful hikes around.
- Ria de Aveiro. Easy | 130.8km | 6 days. The Great Route of the Ria de Aveiro’s Blue Route is the easiest of these famous multi day trails in Portugal. You’ll cross through multiple municipalities on this canal-side hiking holiday.
- Levada do Rei. Intermediate | 10.6km | 3.5 hours. Hiking adventures await as you trek one of the best walking trails you’ll ever accomplish. The rich Madeira forest is other-worldly, but don’t get too lost in the moment — there are fantastic bird watching opportunities here!
Any Swiss Alps trail is destined to be a gorgeous one. It’s a hiker’s paradise here! And with a diverse range of easy trails most hikers can finish in a few hours to a challenging trek towards the tallest mountain huts, there’s something for everyone.
- Nendaz. Easy | 13km | 3.5 hours. Follow the historic aqueduct system around Nendaz and catch remarkable views of the panoramic surrounding mountains, including the iconic Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. Rest your legs, sample local delicacies, and enjoy this gentle stroll.
- Vaduz. Hard | 390km | 20 days. Grab your hiking poles and get ready for the trek of your life: 20 days across 14 alpine passes. Words can’t describe the awe you’ll feel walking mountain ridges with your head in the clouds (literally), passing cows in alpine meadows, and absorbing authentic Swiss culture.
- Chemin du Gruyère. Easy | 11km | 3.25 hours. A hike that includes cheese and chocolate tours? Only in Switzerland. But equally as delicious are the scenic trail views that get you to your destination: a medieval small town, castle and all.
- Matterhorn. Hard | 3.9km | 8.5 hours. Only advanced mountaineers should attempt Switzerland’s most famous trail up the Matterhorn, and even then, you should bring a guide. This incredibly challenging hike is not for the faint of heart, but the beautiful views from the highest point will stay with you forever.
How to Prepare for a Hiking Trip in Europe
Invest in a really good pair of hiking boots
Give your feet all the help they can get (hiking actual mountains is hard work!) by choosing a supportive mid- or high-cut pair of hiking boots. European terrain varies from place to place, so there’s no one-size-fits-all shoe to choose. For rocky, grueling trails, try durable leather with a stiff midsole. If you’re sticking to well-traveled paths, split-grain leather or synthetic materials might be what you need.
Train your body for your adventure
Any body can crush a European hike like a total pro, but everyone needs to train for their adventure (ugh, right?). Endurance is a must for those long-distance walks, and strength exercises will help you carry that backpack. If the idea of working out is totally freaky to you, join our EC fit program to get you mountain-ready — and you bet it’s beginner-friendly!
Learn the landscape
How you prepare to trek the best hikes in Europe can completely differ based on where you’re heading. For example, do you need to adjust to high elevations and wear winter clothing to summit that mountain range? Need a tent for that long distance trail, or will you stay overnight on a hut to hut route? Consider these details, and the only F-word you’ll be dropping is “fjord.”
Practice some language basics
Just because you’re in the wilderness doesn’t mean you won’t have to communicate! English is common in most European countries, but learning some relevant phrases goes a long way. Practice emergency phrases, directional questions, and the native names for your trail destinations.
Hiking Gear for Europe
Summer hiking can make you really hot, really fast (hello underboob sweat). And when you’re already pushing your bod, you don’t need your clothing choices adding more problems. However, you’ll definitely need these essentials on a summer hiking vacay:
- Breathable, quick-drying, sun-protective t-shirt that’s odor naturally resistant
- Stretchy, UV-protective Bermuda shorts (with pockets!)
- Fast-drying, extremely durable pants
- Polarized sunglasses
- Sun-protective, cooling, brimmed hat
- Wind- and rain-proof venting jacket
Hiking in winter presents its own set of challenges. Keep warm by grabbing:
- Insulating, yet breathable base layer top and bottoms
- Thermal, wind-proof zippered jacket
- Glacier sunglasses with 100% UV protection
- Itch-free, insulating hat
- Cushioned, temperature-regulating hiking socks
And regardless of the season, you should always be prepared when hitting the trails. Bring these along to every hike you conquer:
- Broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen
- Adventure first-aid kits
- Filtered water bottle
- Backpacking food
- Emergency blanket
Europe According to Explorer Chicks
Our badass group of Explorer Chicks constantly proves that mindset is everything. Christina, 61, shared that her Icelandic hiking adventure squad was filled with much younger women, but she crushed those seven days like it was nobody’s business!
Her hard work, preparation, and strong-willed attitude led her to an awesome time hiking in Europe. You go, girl!
Ready to Get Hiking?
Join some incredible like-minded adventure women ready to tear up those European hikes with you? Take on these challenging routes that WILL push you, but you’ll have a fierce group of ladies supporting you all along the way. See you across the Atlantic, Explorer Chick style!
Meet the Writer
Megan Wray is a queer, mixed-race Japanese-Canadian freelance writer based on Treaty 1 Territory. Passionate about pleasure, identity, and anti-oppression, Megan’s fuelled by meaningful chats about topics that aren’t “appropriate” for dinner table conversation. When she’s not writing, you can find Megan cooking vegan food, singing to live music, and trying to understand astrology.
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