When most people think of Europe they think of historical cities and world-class museums. However, Europe is a hot bed for amazing hikes. Escape the hustle and bustle of the busy tourist cities and opt to get into the European countryside. Here’s the inside scoop on the best day hikes in Europe.
What do you need to hike on your European getaway?
When hiking isn’t your number one priority on your trip, it can be tricky to plan for a hike. Comfortable shoes, a few warm layers, and a bag to carry snacks and water are essential. You don’t need to be a pro-hiker to enjoy the best hikes in Europe, you just need a little know-how. Here are a few quick tips:
- Start early. You’ll not only beat the crowds but if you’re in an area prone to bad weather, you can beat the weather and heat too!
- Avoid wearing cotton. Synthetic materials will wick sweat away from you and keep you more comfortable. Try not to hike in jeans! Pack lightweight athletic clothing for your hike. Check out this post for more on the best hiking clothes for any budget.
- Carry a map. It’s important to always have a map or GPS app to keep you on track
- Prepare for changing weather. Always bring a rain jacket, a warm layer, and sunscreen!
- Snacks! Never forget yummy snacks. When you’re hiking you’ll want quick energy, so think carbs and fats. Seriously, who DOESN’T love chocolate?
- Tell someone where you’re going. Even if that person is far away, be sure to let someone know you’re heading out. Check back in when you’re back
For more hiking tips, check out these resources:
- It’s cool to be new: the ultimate beginner guide to hiking
- Amazing Hiking Gear for Women (coming soon)
- Hiking footwear for women
1. Wander the Blue Trail in the Cinque Terre, Italy
By Jillian of Adventure Dragons
The Blue Trail in Italy consists of an 11-kilometer long coastal trek that connects together all five villages of Cinque Terre. It’s one of the most beautiful hikes in Europe and is perfect for a beginner as well as experienced hikers.
Since it runs between the seaside villages, it consists of four separate segments, and you can opt to complete them all or choose just one portion. The first leg of the trail spans just 920 meters and takes only twenty minutes to complete.
Known as the Path of Love, it’s a popular walk for couples, and there’s even a gate full of love locks where lovers have stopped to pledge their devotion to each other by adding their own padlock to the mix.
The remaining three sections of the trail are a little longer–requiring an hour or more each to complete–but the stunning views of the sea make them well worth the trip. You’ll pass by olive trees and vineyards on your journey as well as have the chance to stop in each of the villages to enjoy their local charms.
When you reach my favorite village–Vernazza–don’t forget to walk down to the harbor to see the castle and watch the fishing boats come into shore. I also recommend staying the night in this village because it’s just so beautiful.
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2. The Best Day Hike in Europe on the E4 Trail Crete, Greece
By Jemina from All of the Colours
This part of the E4 trail is said to have the most stunning landscape in Western Crete – and it holds true. You will climb the ancient path that goes parallel the crystal clear, turquoise Libyan sea and the Lefka Ori mountains. This trek is not a crowded one – if you like peace and quiet, this one is perfect for you! In the end, in Agios Pavlos, there is a tiny 11th century Byzantine chapel.
To hike this portion of the E4 Trail, you need to get to Agia Roumeli to start the hike (only accessible by boat from Sougia or Sfakia or on foot). Ferry timetables and information: http://www.anendyk.gr.
This trail is approximately 4.5 kilometers, 1 h 20 min – 1 h 50 min one-way – the perfect length for beginners and solo hikers alike. You can enjoy the trail year-round, however, connections to Agia Roumeli are limited in the winter season.
In the summer, the path is partly sand and gets extremely hot during the days. It’s not advised to wear sandals for this stroll. Be sure to start around 7 am in order to avoid the brutal sun (bonus points if you start at sunrise!)
3. Stand on the High Point of Great Britain
By Clare of Epic Road Rides
Ben Nevis is Britain’s highest mountain and one of the best day hikes in Europe. It’s a special climb because of this but there are also fantastic views on the way up.
There are many ways to the summit. The most straightforward, and only route suitable for non-experts, is the path from Achintee on the east side of Glen Nevis, about 1.5 miles from Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.
It follows a path that doesn’t require a specialized kit or gear (though you’ll want a map and compass), assuming you walk between November and May and are not attempting it in poor weather, fog or clouds. Only experienced mountaineers would attempt the walk in these weather conditions.
Climbing your first mountain? Read these tips on hiking your first peak!
Be warned: all can seem fine at the bottom but conditions at the top are often wildly different. We walked up in February. It was sunny when we left Fort William but nearing the top, we were up to our knees in snow, walking on a bearing and couldn’t even see between the cairns (stone posts which mark the route). Winter skills and equipment are needed if you attempt the route with snow on the ground.
Great Britain might not be very tall, but don’t kid yourself, this is a strenuous hill walk. Assuming you’re relatively fit and the weather is good, it will probably take 3.5-5 hours on the way up and 1.5-2 hours coming down.
Read more about incredible adventures with Epic Road Rides.
4. Discover the Glaciers of Jostedalsbreen National Park, Norway
By Cory of You Could Travel One of the best day hikes in Europe for us was our adventure in Norway, towards the Nigardsbreen glacier. Located in the Jostedalsbreen National Park, Nigardsbreen is easily accessible via car from either the Breheimsenteret museum or from its own car park positioned at the beginning of the hike. To get to the car park, you need to pay a small fee to enter the National Park. For the hike, you have two options: you either trek from the car park to the Nigardsbreen, which will take roughly one hour, or take a boat ride towards the glacier and then hike for another 20 minutes. The hike itself is relatively easy but can be a little slippery. It is not recommended for elderly or those with mobility issues. To hike on the actual glacier, you must get a professional guide. The face of the glacier is off limits as bits of ice can break and fall at any second.
5. Pay the Old Man of Storr a Visit in Isle of the Skye, Scotland
By Kris at Travel Hacker Girl
The Old Man of Storr is a famous symbol for Scotland. It is located on the Isle Skye and due to its popularity, the parking lot and hiking trail can get really busy. We decided to try and avoid the crowd, by visiting the Old Man of Storr during sunset. It turned out to be a great idea.
We had the whole area to ourselves on that peaceful August evening. We only met sheep on the way, but no people. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the top without stopping. We then enjoyed the gorgeous views all around us. The sunset made the clouds orange. It was perfect!
On our way back to the car we even saw the moon shining. If you want a similarly amazing experience I suggest doing the hike either at sunrise or sunset. Portree is a good base, only 15 minutes by car from the parking lot. There are several guesthouses and even a campsite in the town. The hike is a 4.5 km round trip and good hiking boots are recommended as it is a rocky path.
6. Discover the Magic of the Balkans in Montenegro
by Allison of Eternal Arrival
For me, the best region to hike in Europe is definitely the Balkans. With hundreds of peaks between 2000-3000 meters, the Balkans are a fantastic place for beginner and intermediate hikers, as well as advanced hikers who are looking more for beauty than technical difficulty. One of my favorite treks in the region is in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro: the 1-day hike to Bobotov Kuk. The best place to base yourself from is Žabljak, a small mountain town (the highest in the Balkans, in fact, at 1456 meters!) that is the center of tourism in the Durmitor region. From there, there are several routes to get to Bobotov Kuk, but the easiest is to take a taxi to and from Sedlo, where you can complete the trail on one of the most beautiful and straightforward paths. However, it is possible to hike from Žabljak itself, going past the Black Lake, or to start in Sedlo and end up in Žabljak town, but that will impact how long it takes and maybe turn it into an overnight hike depending on your speed. If you do a route to or from Žabljak, you can also include an ice cave on your hike, but as I did the route to and from Sedlo I didn’t have a chance to see this. The hikes can be done solo without any special gear (I even did it in running shoes, not even proper hiking boots). However, I recommend staying at the mountain hostel Hiker’s Den, where you can meet up with other hikers and get tips on routes and safety from Alex, the friendly owner of the hostel who is an expert in the region. The hike is beautiful for the landscape it passes: mountains carved out by receding glaciers, leaving beautiful striations and patterns on the rock, chiseled by time. You’ll also pass glacial lakes and have the opportunity from the top of Bobotov Kuk to glimpse three countries all at once: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia. It’s about 10 kilometers round trip and can be completed in about 5-7 hours, depending on your speed and how much time you want to relax at the top and take in one of the most beautiful views in the Balkans.
Ready to add a little hiking to that European city break? I know I am after all of these inspiring day hikes in Europe. What’s your favorite European trail?