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Best Hiking in Europe – 17 Breathtaking Trails to Get Off-the-Beaten-Path

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There’s a reason that millions of people backpack through Europe each year. From the Italian Dolomites to the Icelandic Geothermal areas – it’s some of the best hiking in the world!

You can push yourself on challenging trails like the Swiss Alps, the Canary Islands, and the surprising treks of Norway. Or simpler hikes like the English Coastline and emerald-green lakes of Austria.

Use this guide to get off-the-beaten-path and discover the best hiking on the continent. I’ve included route tips, difficulty insights, and insights for planning the trip of a lifetime!


1. Dolomites – North Italy

Distance: 75 Miles total; 4-10 Miles per day
Square Miles: 6,155
Difficulty-Level: Easy to Moderate

The Italian Dolomites, also known as the Dolomite Alps, are absolutely breathtaking. Extending to the River Adige on the western bank, this trek is perfect for hiking, mountain climbing, cycling, base jumping, hand gliding, paragliding, and skiing.

Most of the activities are strictly in the summer months (June through September), hiking trails will be open through the shoulder seasons (April to October), and skiing resorts are available during the off-season (November to March).

I’ve only hiked in a few areas because the area is ginormous! But I think the best paths are Adolf Munkel in Odle-Geisler Mountains (low energy demand and gorgeous), and the course around Lago di Sorapis (a light blue lake that looks even better in person than in pictures). There are more difficult hikes, like Monte Grappa, and easier ones that could be done with young kids and pets.

Dolomites – North Italy

2. Calanques d’en Vau – Marseille, France

Distance: 4 Miles to the coast
Square Miles: 201
Difficulty-Level: Moderate

In the luscious French Riviera, I have to put this one high on the list because the views are otherworldly and the hike is perfectly moderate.

Nestled an hour away from the port city of Marseille, the Calanques d’en Vau in France is one of my favorite places in the world. With carved-out limestone surrounding bright teal waters, this cove-like destination will reward you at the end of your hike with stunning Mediterranean views.

Hop on a bus from Marseille towards the Calanques National Park. The hike itself is slightly downhill, so the trip coming back from the beach will be more difficult since it’s uphill. For an avid hiker or backpacker, this would be considered an easy hike. Just be sure to pack plenty of water because the bus ride is about an hour each way too.

Calanques d’en Vau – Marseille, France

3. Matterhorn – Valais, Switzerland

Distance: 19.7 Miles
Square Miles: N/A | Elevation of 14,692’
Difficulty-Level: Tough

Known as “the Jewel of the Swiss Alps,” the Matterhorn is a Swiss landmark that stretches between Switzerland and Italy. It is one of the most popular and well-known climbs in the world, but it’s also not cheap.

A basic tour would start at around $1,500 and take approximately 9-12 hours. But anything exceeding a 2-day accent could reach $3-5,000 for an accompanying guide, acclimation training, recruitment, etc. Getting ready for the high altitudes can also take extensive training and physical preparation.

The least demanding route will be Hörnli Ridge, which is also very convenient if you’re staying at the nearby town of Zermatt. It is not overly difficult on a technical level, but the altitude is what you need to prepare for. If you’re up for the challenge, I recommend you have a guide for safety, rock and ice climbing experience, as well as the necessary tools.

Matterhorn – Valais, Switzerland

4. Plitvice Lakes National Park – Near Zadar, Croatia

Distance: 1.8 to 11 Miles
Square Miles: 114
Difficulty-Level: Moderate

As one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever laid eyes on, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a haven for beauty and peace. It is Croatia’s oldest and biggest national park, with 16 lakes and 90 waterfalls. The limestone canyons, hiking trails, and hidden waterfalls are uber magical, but sadly you cannot swim in the water due to regulation changes in 2006.

Regardless, the labyrinth of tranquility is worth the visit! There are 8 trails (A, B, C, D, E, F, H, and K), so you can find different paths for different levels of difficulty. And there’s no bad time of year to hike, just remember to bring solid footwear that is slip-resistant because it can be a bit slick on wooden trails. The Park is easily reachable by taking day trips from cities like Zadar, Zagreb, and Split.

Plitvice Lakes National Park – Near Zadar, Croatia

5. São Miguel Island – Ponta Delgada, Portugal

Distance: 2.7 to 7 Miles
Square Miles: 287.5
Difficulty-Level: Moderate

São Miguel Island is the largest island in the Portuguese Azores archipelago. Combining the beauty of volcanos, lush flora, waterfalls, ocean views, and a variety of hiking paths – this sweeping landscape will offer the best of many worlds.

There are 23 trails dispersed across a huge area. The easiest is Miradouro da Boca do Inferno and the best views are on the Vista do Rei – Sete Cidades trail.

Ponta Delgada, the capital city, is nearby with tons of history like a Gothic church and a 16th-century fort. Just outside of the city, you’ll find hot springs, lakes, and volcanic fumaroles.

São Miguel Island – Ponta Delgada, Portugal

6. Făgăraș Mountains – Romania

Distance: 43 Miles total, 2 to 10 Miles per day
Square Miles: 1,840
Difficulty-Level: Moderate to Tough

The Făgăraș Mountains are a Romanian treasure within the Transylvanian Alps. Reaching an elevation of 8346 feet, the highest peak in Romania is a mountain called Moldaveanu. This is one of the most popular hikes for expansive landscapes, a 2-day trek beginning in Cluk-Napoca.

If you wanted to peruse the entire ridge, it would take about 6-days. There are also 4-day options in the Bucegi Mountains, another part of the South Carpathian range that stretches to the Czech Republic. Balea Lake is a fantastic starting point and I sincerely recommend bringing along a tent for top-notch camping sites. Be sure to check out the Sambetei Valley and Sebesu on the other side of the ridge.

Făgăraș Mountains – Romania

7. Lysefjorden (Kjeragbolten), Norway

Distance: 4.5 to 7.5 Miles
Square Miles: N/A | 26 Miles long | 1377’ deep
Difficulty-Level: Tough

Lysefjorden is a popular fjord in Rogaland, a county within Western Norway. While Lyesfjorden is one of the easier fjords to hike, it’s still not for the inexperienced (or faint of heart!) This towering mountain range is strange and daunting.

A boulder lies smashed between a mountain, thought to have gotten stuck in 50,000 B.C. during the last ice age. Hanging more than 3,000 feet in the air, the Kjera boulder is on the Kjerag trail that overlooks the fjord.

The hike itself is beautiful but long, typically only available in the summertime and it is recommended to have a guide. I’ll warn you that the path leading to the bolder is quite treacherous and narrow, possibly scarier than standing on the suspended boulder. There’s no major rock climbing or anything that’s technically difficult, but you’ll need to keep your footing, maintain endurance, and ensure the elevation doesn’t take its toll on your breathing.

Lysefjorden (Kjeragbolten), Norway

8. Mt. Bláhnjúkur Brennisteinsalda Loop – Landmannalaugar, Iceland

Distance: 4 to 6.8 Miles
Square Miles: 292
Difficulty-Level: Tough

Known as ‘the Pearl of Iceland’s Highlands,’ Landmannalaugar is a fascinating volcanic landmark with rhyolite mountains, comprised of silica and quartz. These colorful mountains hold rich minerals like iron, emitting a sulfur-like fragrance that has remained since its last eruption in 1477.

It is a complex landscape, mixing shades of yellow and snow-capped mountain peaks with black obsidian and green moss.

The Laugahraun Lava Field is the most popular and easiest hike, suitable for all ages. Mount Brennisteinsalda is referred to as ‘the sulfur wave,’ and it’s about a 2 to 3-hour path that is more feasible in the warm months (sans snow). Some visitors combine the Mt. Brennisteinsalda loop with Mt. Blahnúkúr to create one extended route, and the Sigöldugljufur Canyon is also marvelous for waterfall views and cliffside shots.

Mt. Bláhnjúkur Brennisteinsalda Loop – Landmannalaugar, Iceland

9. Grüner See (Green Lake) – Styria, Austria

Distance: 2.4 to 6.5
Square Miles: N/A | 1-3 Hours
Difficulty-Level: Easy

If you’re interested in Caribbean vibes in the European Alps – Grüner See is a sight to behold. Translating in English to ‘Greek Lake,’ this emerald oasis is surrounded by forests and the Hochschwab mountains.

The water is so bright and clear due to its origin as snow run-off, melting from the mountains. The water’s surface reflects the underwater foliage and grass, which results in a deep jade hue.

I will warn you that the water is cold! (about 40°F), but you are allowed to swim. If you’re into cold plunges and can wait for the warmer spring or summer months, it may be worth the initial discomfort. Note that the lake goes dry during the winter months.

Grüner See (Green Lake) – Styria, Austria

Flower Path and Grüner See Walk are my favorite routes! And they are each under 2 hours.

10. Tour Du Mont Blac – France, Switzerland, & Italy

Distance: 110 Miles
Square Miles: 155
Difficulty-Level: Moderate to Tough

Debatably one of the most well-known and legendary hikes in Europe, the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a BEAST that sprawls across 3 countries, France, Switzerland, and Italy. With glaciers, slopes, lakes, streams, and valleys, it is a commitment that will take you 7 to 11 days to see comprehensively.

It is for fairly experienced hikers and those prepared to take 33,000 feet of elevation, often at an upward incline and high altitude. If you are a novice hiker that is in shape, it would still be doable because it’s spread out across days or weeks.

You can plan an incredible getaway along the many ski resorts and luxury experiences built along the route. The Haute Route is the most challenging and the Italian section is near and dear to my heart. I recommend beginning in Chamonix, France, and moving clockwise from Switzerland to Italy, where it will start to get warmer along your travels.

Tour Du Mont Blac – France, Switzerland, & Italy

11. Seven Sisters Cliff’s Walk – England

Distance: 14 Miles
Square Miles: 617
Difficulty-Level: Easy

England is known for its peaceful cliffsides and softly textured countryside. The Seven Sisters Cliffs stretch through Saford to Eastbourne, easily accessible by a day trip from London. Starting in Seaford is the most simple game plan, and the trail will commence on Seaford Head Nature Reserve.

Walk inland and cross the river at a bridge, you can take this hike as slow or fast as you like, but I hope you will patiently relish in the surrounding details! It will take 7 hours on average to hike it and it’s a very simple path, feasible for inexperienced hikers. Just be prepared for long stretches of ascents and descents along the coastal cliffsides.

Seven Sisters Cliff’s Walk – England

12. Path of the Gods – Positano, Italy

Distance: 4.7 Miles
Square Miles: N/A | 1-4 Hours
Difficulty-Level: Moderate

The Path of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei) is named for its poetical views that overlook an endless horizon. Legend has it that this was the Greek passage for the ethereal powers that led Ulysses away from the sirens of Li Galli island. The jaw-dropping views over the Positano peninsula are heavenly and will have you feeling closer to transcendence. Its one-of-a-kind surroundings merit a place on this list.

This was one of my favorite activities when we visited Positano, and you can make it a 1 or 2-hour hike, or go for the extended 3 to 4-hour experience. The easiest place to start from is the town of Bomerano, an area of Agerola that can be reached by bus. Ask to stop at the Bomerano stop and follow trailhead signs that are slightly hidden. It’s a decently easy hike but it’s sloped very downhill, descending for more than 1,000 feet. You’ll be a bit out of breath and your legs will be tingling, but I can’t quite deem it as difficult. You will end up in the city of Nocelle and can get back to Positano by bus (or it’s about a 45-minute walk if you want to take the scenic route).

Path of the Gods – Positano, Italy

13. Isle of Sky – Scotland

Distance: 79.6 Miles
Square Miles: 639
Difficulty-Level: Easy to Moderate

At the Northwestern edge of Scotland’s Inner Herbridges islands, there are lochs and seacliffs that elegantly wrap around caves, castles, lakes, waterfalls, and hidden passageways. The Isle of Sky feels like a fantasyland. It was even used as part of the Winterfell set on HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones.’

The facets of this area are truly one of a kind, and you will find a suitable path for every hiker of every experience level. The Trottenish Ridge and The Skye Trail can be punishing (even to well-trained hikers) since it takes days and dozens of miles to complete. The Fairy Glen and Fairy Pools will be easy 2-3 hour hikes, but expect crowds because of this! In total, it would take you an average of 39 hours to explore the area. I would definitely opt for wellies or waterproof hiking boots for the mud!

Isle of Sky – Scotland

14. Hveradalir Geothermal Area – Near Reykjavik, Iceland

Distance: 7.8 Miles
Square Miles: 141
Difficulty-Level: Moderate

Hveradalir is… without a doubt… one of the most alien and weirdly cool places you’ll ever wtiness.

This geothermal area is part of the Golden Circle route in the Kerlingarfjöll Mountains, located about 30 minutes outside of Reykjavik. As a former ice age glacier, the area was formed after a volcanic eruption over 10,000 years ago. Now you’ll find snow-capped mountains and hiking in the summertime, and snow sports in the wintertime.

You can take a variety of hikes across orange slopes that look like Mars, finding geysers, steam holes, mud pots, and hot springs along the way. I recommend getting here early to avoid crowds and starting at the geothermal area. Be prepared for muddy slopes and foggy weather. You can end the hike at the Hveradalir hot springs valley to reward your efforts with a relaxing soak.

Hveradalir Geothermal Area – Near Reykjavik, Icelan

15. Seven Hanging Valleys – Algarve, Portugal

Distance: 4.8 to 7.4 Miles
Square Miles: N/A | 2-5 Hours
Difficulty-Level: Easy to Moderate

As a recognizable spot from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ the Seven Hanging Valleys in Portugal is a must-see trail with some of the most exquisite beaches in the world. It will take you about 5 hours if leisurely hiking the red cliffs by the sea, starting at the Praia de Vale Centianes and ending at the jaw-dropping views of Praia da Marinha.

The trails are fairly easy but be prepared for steep cliffs and plenty of stairs. There are secret beaches where you can swim, kayak, explore caves, and more. Pro Tip: Find the Farol de Alfanzina lighthouse at the edge of the sea!

Seven Hanging Valleys – Algarve, Portugal

16. Cascades de Purcaraccia Trail – Corsica, France

Distance: 3.5
Square Miles: 1250
Difficulty-Level: Moderate to Difficult

This is one of the most epic hikes I’ve ever done! You won’t find it on most hiking lists because it’s not a very long route, but it’s certainly one of the most unique… If you are an adrenaline junkie, this is the hike for you.

You hike up the mountain of Corsica’s Natural Park and dive feet-first into dozens of turquoise lagoons, descending all the way down to the tip of the mountain via waterfalls.

It was REALLY outside of my comfort zone. I am petrified of heights (I know, ironic for a hiker, but I don’t usually seek to jump off 30-50-foot high ledges into rocky coves!) Nonetheless, the thrill of canyoning was well worth it and I’m so glad I pushed myself to try something new. The water is a bit chilly but you’re wearing thick wet suits and guided by a professional team that ensures your safety the entire time.

You will start in the city of Bavella and hike to the top of the mountain, which takes about an hour. Then it’s another hour or two as you make your way down the staggering cliffs at your own pace. The steep granite, ravines, gorges, and cascading waterfalls will help you fill up your camera roll fast!

We booked this excursion easily from our Mediterranean cruise that began in Barcelona. MSC Cruiselines have rare itineraries that often stop in Corsica, France. So you could plan a more extended trip around this amazing stop. I highly recommend it 🙂

Cascades de Purcaraccia Trail – Corsica, France

17. Kallur Lighthouse – Trøllanes, Faroe Islands

Distance: 2.9 Miles
Square Miles: 4
Difficulty-Level: Easy

Last but certainly not least, the Kallur Lighthouse lies on the Faroe Islands between Iceland and Norway, slightly North of the U.K.

As a self-governing archipelago comprised of 18 islands, this is an intricate maze of bridges, tunnels, mountains, seaside cliffs, and rock beaches. Take the ferry from Klaksvik to Syðradalur and then drive to Trøllanes.

Finish your European tour with a mystical peak with incredible views of Trøllanes and Gjógv. The paths aren’t sharply carved and you will need sturdy mud boots. But the trek to this middle-earth-like hideaway is worth the journey. Between the historic lighthouse, crashing waves, hidden statues, and clouds that float over the cliff peaks, you’ll feel nearer to the clouds, perfectly situated between earth and sea.

Kallur Lighthouse – Trøllanes, Faroe Islands

We hope this guide has been helpful in your planning! Check out our packing guides for Hiking, Camping, and Europe for insider tips!

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