Just as urban areas are different from one continent to the next, wild spaces are vastly different, too. And Europe has some of the best wilderness in the world. Sure, you can venture into the Baltic countryside for a weekend or drive through the Alps by car. But if you want to experience what unbounded nature is really like, you’ve got to go for a trek in Europe.
Wander off into the Dolomites. Pass through the Alps that span 8 countries. Experience true solitude when you explore the interior of Iceland. Amble coastal trails that look out across the Pacific Ocean. Make a pilgrimage to holy sites that have been walked for centuries. And if all this sounds a bit rugged, there is one major perk of trekking in Europe: the accommodations are pretty great too. You can finish your day drinking Aperol Spritzes in rifigio or in a picturesque Swiss village. Pretty much anything is possible if you’ve got the time and energy to make it happen.
Ready to embark on a hike across Europe? Swear you won’t regret it.
This post on the best treks in Europe was written in collaboration with 20+ travel and outdoor writers. The photos and excerpts are based on their experiences. Some photos have been edited for color and may not reflect the style of the photographer.
THE BEST HIKES & TREKS IN EUROPE
The Adlerweg | Austria
Nearest City: St. Johann, Tirol, Austria // Difficulty: Hard // Duration: Varies // Distance: 412 km
The Adlerweg (or the Eagle Walk) is a 33 stage, long-distance hiking trail that covers some of Austria’s most stunning Alpine scenery. It’s named for trails that look like the wings of an eagle outstretched across Tirol.
The Adlerweg can be broken into day hikes, conquered over nine days between Grossglockner and the Grossvenediger, or hiked in its entirety from east to west Tirol in 33 days.
It’s one of the toughest treks in Europe as it gains more than 30,500 meters when you hike the whole route. But since it’s a hut-to-hut hike, you’ll have the benefit of traveling light and customizing your route to one that’s comfortable.
Rila Mountain Trail | Bulgaria
Submitted by Roshni of The Wanderlust Within
Nearest City: Samokov, Bulgaria // Difficulty: Hard // Duration: 4-7 Days// Distance: 74 km
The Rila Mountain Trail covers 74 kilometers of landscape characterized by sunken valleys, alpine meadows, granite peaks, and countless glacial lakes.
It is recommended for experienced hikers, due to the steep ascents, and March to October is the best time of year as seasonal mountain huts are open, though you can also camp. The highlight of the trail is conquering the highest peak in the Balkans, Mount Musala (2,925m) and luckily for hikers (and non-hikers), there are numerous natural hot springs found throughout this region to soothe your weary legs after this picturesque trek.
The GR20 | Corsica
Submitted by Ellen of Adventures with Nelle
Nearest City: Calvi, Corsica // Difficulty: Hard // Duration: 14 Days // Distance: 180km
The GR20 is a challenging hike along the ‘backbone’ of the Mediterranean Island of Corsica. The route covers 180 km and over 12,000m of ascent and descent over rocky terrain, with plenty of scrambling. The stunning views, mountain villages and sense of camaraderie amongst fellow hikers make the long days, steep inclines and stays in mountain huts completely worthwhile.
The GR10 | France
Nearest City: Hendaye, France // Difficulty: Hard // Duration: 52 days // Distance: 866 km
The GR10 is a path that runs through the French Pyrenees. It’s a long-distance hiking trail most often hiked west to east. And if hiked in full, its one of the longer treks in Europe – the route takes 52 days.
While non-technical, the GR10 isn’t easy, either. The trail makes frequent ascents and descents which amount to 48,000 m elevation change. It’s a historical trail notable for dramatic scenery and high-mountain villages. Accommodations along the way are mostly simple huts and hotels, but they’re quite cozy.
Tour du Mont Blanc | France
Submitted by Mags of The Family Freestylers
Nearest City: Chamonix, France // Difficulty: Hard // Duration: 11 days // Distance: 161 km
The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the world’s classic high altitude multi-day treks that circles Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe and crosses three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland.
This famous 161 km trek takes around 11 days to complete (although it’s possible to do in two halves). The trail has an accumulated height gain and loss of approximately 10,000m climbing over 10 mountain cols & descending into 7 valley floors. The height gain over the entire trail is higher than Everest.
Accommodation is in charming alpine hotels along valley floors or in high altitude mountain huts (refuges) accessible only on foot.
The Tour du Mont Blanc can be hiked self-guided – the trail is well marked, is busy & has refuges every 5kms, but note that the high mountain passes require a degree of mountain safety & good map & compass skills (in the event of bad weather).
Mestia to Ushguli | Georgia
Submitted by Erika of Erika’s Travel Ventures
Nearest City: Mestia, Georgia // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: 3-4 Days // Distance: 58 km
The hike from Mestia to Ushguli in Georgia takes you through some of the most incredible mountain landscapes that Georgia has to offer, in the Svaneti region bordering Russia. Over 3-4 days you hike village-to-village through the countryside, and stay and eat in homestays offered by the locals. After a river crossing on the third day, the highest elevation is reached at the Chkhunderi pass (2655m), where hikers can enjoy beautiful 360-degree views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and nearby glaciers.
The Westweg | Germany
Nearest City: Pforzheim, Germany // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: Varies// Distance: 285 km
The Westweg is a long-distance hiking trail and one of the most beloved treks in Europe. The 285 km trail wanders through the Black Forest in Southern Germany, an area that includes not just forest but also moors and the Hohloh mountains.
Along the way, you’ll pass through German villages that look plucked out of fairytales. You can sleep in cozy hostels and eat in local restaurants rather than schlepping your gear. And while it’s not a beginners’ hike, it doesn’t have the same elevation gain as hikes in the German Alps while still offering much of the beauty.
Laugavegur | Iceland
Submitted by Ela & Beata from Stunning Outdoors
Nearest City: Skaftárhreppur, Iceland // Difficulty: Hard // Duration: 4 days // Distance: 55 km
The famous Laugavegur is a 55km hiking trail from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork that takes you through the breathtaking and diverse landscape of Icelandic interior. Bubbling hot springs, multi-colored mountains, glaciers and lava fields – every day provides new sights and experiences. The hike is suitable for experienced walkers; it involves several river crossing, navigating in ever-changing weather conditions, carrying supplies for 4 days with a total elevation gain of 1300 meters.
The Alta Via I | Italy
Submitted by Jake
Nearest City: Trentino-South Tyrol, Italy // Difficulty: Hard // Duration: 11 Days // Distance: 120 km
Italy’s Alta Via 1 explores the Dolomites, offering some of the finest mountain trekking you could possibly ask for. Surrounded by jagged limestone peaks and with relatively plush accommodations in mountain huts, the AV1 is something out of a mountain-lovers fever dream.
That said, the trek isn’t for those looking for an especially easy holiday: it spans 120 kilometers, reaching a high point of 2,750 meters at Mount Lagazuoi (where you will spend the night!), with a total elevation gain around 6,665 meters (~22k feet), featuring rigorous climbs and descents on hard rocks.
The San Vili Trek | Italy
Submitted by Cate of Sacred Wanderings
Nearest City: Trentino-South Tyrol, Italy // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: 6 days // Distance: 100 – 112 km
The San Vili Trek or Cammino San Vili is a moderate 6+ day hike that follows the alleged path of San Vigilio, a bishop of Trent in the North of Italy as he brought Christianity through the region. The trek has two routes – a high path and a low path – and can be hiked from Madonna di Campiglio to Trento or vice-versa. It’s also an excellent trek to piece-hike with many quaint towns, painted churches, historical stops and museums along the way.
The Causeway Coast | Northern Ireland
Submitted by Simon of Wild About Travel
Nearest City: Portstewart, Northern Ireland // Difficulty: Easy // Duration: 3 days // Distance: 52 km
The Causeway Coast Way is a relatively easy 3-day coastal hike in Northern Ireland, taking you through dramatic scenery. The 52 km trail from Portstewart to Ballycastle (or the other way round) is one of the most scenic coastal hikes in Europe. Furthermore, it will take you through the Giant’s Causeway. The 40,000 polygonal basalt columns dating back from 50-60 million years ago makes it a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Along the way, you’ll hike surrounded by amazing steep white cliffs, green meadows dotted with sheep, castle ruins, and beautiful golden beaches. The Causeway Coast Way also crosses a few charming towns, where you can have a break, and enjoy a bite and a drink.
The trail is well marked, and you won’t need a guide unless you wish so. You need to beware of the strong winds that sometimes sweep the coast. The weathering Northern Ireland is unpredictable and prone to change several times during the day. That’s why the meadows are lush, and the light and colors unique. Be sure, however, to wear layers since you’re likely to need them several times during the day.
Rota Vincentina | Portugal
Submitted by James of the Portugalist
Nearest City: Odemira, Alentejo, Portugal // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: Varies // Distance: Varies
The Rota Vicentina is a 450 km network of walking trails that spans across two regions, the Algarve and the Alentejo. It is made up of two main multi-day walking trails, the Historical Route and the Fishermen’s Trail, as well as several smaller circular walks. The most popular path, the Fishermen’s Trail, usually takes a minimum of 4 days to complete the main 75 km of the trail and longer if you want to do the additional 45 km or so of add-on walks.
The West Highland Way | Scotland
Submitted by Kathi of Watch Me See
Nearest City: Glasgow, Scotland // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: Varies // Distance: Varies
The West Highland Way is one of Scotland’s most iconic and popular long-distance trails. Imagine a trail that begins (conveniently) at the outskirts of Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, and slowly makes its way past lochs and Munros deeper and deeper into the mountainous heart of the Scottish Highlands. The trail finishes in Fort William, at the foot of Britain’s highest mountain – Ben Nevis.
Fife Coastal Path | Scotland
Submitted by Gemma of Two Scots Abroad
Nearest City: Fife, Scotland // Difficulty: Easy // Duration: 5-8 days // Distance: 188 km
Fife, or the Kingdom of Fife to give it its full title, is a region over the water from Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. The Fife Coastal Path is popular because of its length and location. As the name indicates, much of the multi-day hike is situated along the Forth taking you through seaside towns such as Aberdour. The route starts in Kincardine and the endpoint, 188 kilometers later, is at Newburgh.
The Slovenia Mountain Trail | Slovenia
Read More: The Other Alps: Hiking the Julian Alps
Nearest City: Maribor, Slovenia // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: 3-28 days // Distance: 599 km
While most travelers flock to Germany or Italy for their alpine hikes, the Slovenian Alps are where you’ll find some of the most picturesque and uncrowded treks in Europe. The Slovenian Mountain Trail (or Transverzala) travels between all of the Alpine ranges in Slovenia – Kamnik Alps, Karavanke Alps and Julian Alps. Along the way, you’ll amble through alpine meadows, pass brilliantly blue lakes, and climb the highest peak in Slovenia until you eventually drop out on the Adriatic Coast.
It’s a hut-to-hut route so you’ll be able to pack lighter than you would for most long-distance trails. That said, some of the route also recommends via ferrata equipment. It’s recommended that you pack your helmet, harness, and learn the basics before starting.
The Camino de Santiago | Spain
Submitted by Katie-Beth of Her Life in Ruins
Nearest City: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: Varies // Distance: ~800 km
The Camino Frances is a path of the Camino de Santiago that traditionally begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France and stretches around 800 km to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The route takes pilgrims over mountains, through vineyards, into historic cities, and all around the gorgeous Spanish countryside in around 35 days. This lengthy trip is fairly inexpensive, as pilgrims can use a credential (picked up at tourist centers along the way) to stay in albergues each night; I recommend budgeting around 30€ per day.
Submitted by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan
Nearest City: Oviedo, Spain // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: Varies // Distance: ~330 km
The Camino Primitivo, at 330 kilometers, is shorter than the more popular 800-kilometer Camino Francés. Passing through the two northern coastal provinces of Asturias and Galicia, it’s also much greener, wetter and hillier, and is considered to be the most difficult of all the Caminos de Santiago.
As the word “primitivo” indicates, the very first pilgrimage made to Santiago was along this route, and that first pilgrim is said to be the King of Asturias in the ninth century.
del Norte Route
Submitted by Campbell & Alya of Stingy Nomads
Nearest City: Irún, Spain // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: Varies // Distance: ~845 km
The Camino del Norte is one of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes in Spain. It starts in a small Basque town of Irún on the border with France and finishes in Santiago de Compostela, the total distance of the route is 845 km. The Camino crosses four Spanish regions; the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia. Most of the time the route goes along the coastline and offers breathtaking scenery; rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, hidden bays, cozy beach towns, and endless coast.
Most people walk the Camino independently but it’s possible to join a group or to arrange the walk through an agency. Walking the Camino del Norte is probably one of the most budget ways to explore the beauty of Northern Spain, the average daily cost is between 20-25 Euro per person.
Submitted by Inma of A World to Travel
Nearest City: Santiago de Compostela, Spain // Difficulty: Easy // Duration: Varies // Distance: ~90km
The Fisterra-Muxía is the only ‘Camino’ route that begins in Santiago de Compostela. If done fully, it takes around one week but it can also be done faster, depending on your pace. Each year it is walked by more and more pilgrims who, after finishing some of the typical paths to Santiago, want to continue walking a few more days until they reach the Galician coast.
Submitted by Michelle of Oh What a Journey
Nearest City: Lisbon, Portugal // Difficulty: Moderate // Duration: Varies // Distance: 250 – 620km
The Camino Portugues is a pilgrimage that spans two countries and up to 620 kilometers. This self-guided hike takes you through Portugal into Spain toward the final destination, Santiago de Compostela where the other Caminos also finish. Thousand of Pilgrims walk this moderate hike every month with only a painted arrow and occasional way marker to guide them, and you don’t have to be super fit or religious to walk, just motivated by the spirit of the Camino.
The Kungsleden Trail | Sweden
Submitted by Kathi of Watch Me See
Nearest City: Abisko, Norrbotten, Sweden // Difficulty: Hard // Duration: Varies // Distance: Varies
Kungsleden is a 440km trail through northern Sweden. The most popular section leads from Nikkaluokta to Abisko which takes 5-7 days. Along the way, you walk through diverse landscapes, cross over the stunning Tjäktja Pass. You’ll also have the chance to climb Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise. Wild camping is a must and an absolute delight on this trail – here is everything you need to pack for this trip!
The Walker’s Haute Route | Switzerland
Submitted by Leigh of Campfires & Concierges
Nearest City: Chamonix, France // Difficulty: Hard // Duration: 12 Days // Distance: 225km
The Walker’s Haute Route is a walking path from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland. The trail is 225km long and takes most trekkers around 12 days, with nights spent in mountain huts or small Swiss villages. Each day brings new breathtaking scenery, quaint Swiss towns and plenty of trains, buses and chairlifts if you want to take a day off!
Hadrian’s Wall | The UK
Submitted by Carol of Wayfaring Views
Nearest Town: Wallsend, UK // Difficulty: Easy // Duration: Varies // Distance: 128 km
The Hadrian‘s Wall walk is a 128-kilometer coast-to-coast path transiting what in 225 AD was England’s Roman border with Scotland. Along the way you hike through the beautiful English countryside where you get views of Northumberland National park and plenty of opportunities to stop and tour the Roman fortifications. The path is very accessible and you can do as little or as much as you wish, but the best bits are in the middle, which you can hike using this four-day itinerary.