Have you ever wanted to explore the best hiking in Europe? Like crossing towering mountain ranges, taking a dip in an alpine lake and shaking up in alpine huts? Us too. To ease our desire to hike (so far), we came up with the ultimate adventure-bucket list of the best peaks to climb and mountain towns to explore rated on the irreconcilable scale from least to most epic.
Ready to plan an international hike? Here is our overview of the best hikes in Europe.
And as it goes on all the destinations we share, practice good track etiquette and remember that Leave no trace. This means unpacking all your rubbish, being respectful of others on busy paths and following the established rules.
Black Forest mountain range
Where: Southwest Germany near the border with France
This is a mountainous area in southern Germany and is home to the region’s highest peak outside the Alps, the Feldberg mountain. In the warmer months, visitors can hike through the Black Forest Westweg Path on the European Long Distance Trail E1, which runs through several different European countries.
The Westweg Trail will take you through a scenic lush green landscape with small villages often known as the inspiration for the Grimm Brother’s adventure. In winter, skiing on the nearly 5,000-foot-high Feldberg mountain looks like a European winter adventure in itself and is definitely a stopping point that you must not miss on your European Mountain Bucket List. Other bucketlist-worthy hikes include the Zugspitze massif in the Bavarian Alps and the Harz Mountains in northern Germany.
High Tatras, Carpathian mountain range
Where: Northern Slovakia
The Carpathians in northern Slovakia tower over most other peaks in Eastern Europe, with High Tatra range be one of the tallest and most beautiful among them. To imagine the High Tatras means to imagine ultramarine alpine lakes and vast meadows, jagged peaks and pine forests suitable for hiking in summer and skiing in winter. This wild and isolated landscape is also a national park that gets pretty crowded with tourists eager to experience this beautiful place, so plan ahead!
Picos de Europa National Park
Where: Asturias, Northern Spain
Surreal, iconic and stunning are three words best used to describe Spain Picos de Europa National Park. Carved out of glaciers over 300 million years ago, the rugged limestone peaks of the Picos de Europa feel ancient and almost prehistoric. The best trails we would like to tick off our European Mountain Bucket List are the Ordiales Scenic Balcony Trail, the Covadonga Lakes Circuit and the steep but beautiful Cares Route.
Hardangervidda National Park
Where: Southern Norway
Why is Hardangervidda National Park on our list of the best hikes in Europe? Two words: Wild. Reindeer. Oh, and of course also mountains, alpine lakes and its vast plateau. This geologically diverse region of Norway is famous for its Arctic flora and fauna, inhabiting the alpine meadows of the Hardanger Plateau, flanked by Harteigen, an iconic flat-topped peak rising from the flat glacier landscape. Taking a day or multi-day hike on the Hardangervidda Transverse is without a doubt the best way to explore the region, but cross-country skiing comes in second place. Either way, you can not go wrong.
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
This well-known Scottish hill is not quite a mountain, but still earns a place on our hiking list in Europe thanks to its fascinating history and reputation as a mythological (and geological) monument. Just shy of 1,000 feet high, legend has it that this hilltop was possibly home to King Arthur’s castle and court Camelot. As one of three, Arthur’s seat is the highest peak above the city of Edinburgh near the famous Edinburgh Castle, so climbing the entire 823 feet up to Arthur’s Seat will give you access to breathtaking panoramic views of the city. It is also a popular climbing spot, but just make sure to get a pass before heading out.
Lovingly known as “the toughest ride in Europe”, The GR20 is the ultimate item to cross your European hiking list. This 112-kilometer-long trail runs right through the center of the Mediterranean island of Corsica complete with rugged alpine terrain, crystal-clear pools and mountain huts or shelters for shelter and supply. Although challenging, the trail is known for being popular and well-marked, so all you need is plenty of determination and of course a well-packed backpack with significant spines to handle it! Good trip!
The Saint-Gotthard massif
Where: The Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Wild meadows, sapphire lakes, high-lying villages and rugged peaks – it is almost impossible to choose just one place in Switzerland’s alpine region for the best hikes in Europe. But with hundreds to choose from, it is definitely worth a visit The Saint-Gotthard massif mountain range and the town of Andermatt.
Andermatt, a typical Swiss alpine village, boasts idyllic scenery plus easy access to the Gotthard hiking area, which has over 60 blazing paths through the Saint-Gotthard massif. It is a great place to enjoy Switzerland’s iconic natural beauty and of course practice your yodeling.
Stara Planina Mountain, Botev Peak
Where: Central Bulgaria
Located at the foot of Botev Peak, the highest point on Mount Stara Planina Raiskoto Praskalo waterfalls, requires an arduous 5-hour hike that is worth the trip. Raiskoto Praskalo translates to “a sprinkle from the sky” with a stop at the sky itself along the way. Rai, the trail cabin, offers relief for weary hikers and a bed for the night if you need one. It is easily one of the most beautiful places on the Balkan Peninsula and an often overlooked location overshadowed by other famous European peaks.
Five Terre Coastal Trail
Where: Cinque Terre, Italy
More than just your computer’s wallpaper, Five Terre’s the coastal area is also home to a national park with trails connecting each coastal town. It’s not just a European Mountain Bucket List, but a single Bucket List item for many – a hiking trail that connects each of the scenic five cities? Well, it’s simply a cherry on top. From paved brick stairs to rock-filled switches, it has diverse terrain that can be challenging, so be prepared and put on good shoes (or you will be rejected!), pack the most important thing and enjoy the view!
Guided tour of Mont Blanc
Where: Swiss, French and Italian Alps
Embark on all three of Europe’s iconic alpine mountain ranges on this multi-day backpacking trip The Mont Blanc massif, which offers some of the best hiking in Europe. You will certainly be prepared as it is an 11-day hike that covers over 100 miles (170 km) across varying alpine terrain and over 3,000 feet of vertical winding. Luckily, there are mountain huts and shelters along the route where you can sleep down for the night and get enough rest to start your next day!