9 of the Best Hikes in Europe

Get ready to experience gorgeous green landscapes, colourful coastal backdrops, and a lot of steps on the pedometer. It’s time to get back into nature and see what our fine continent has to offer on foot. Get the compasses ready, we're heading on a trip through the best hikes in Europe.

1. Alta Via 1

Best hikes in Europe Alta Via 1 Dolomites
Image via iStock: Creativaimage

Begin your journey through the best hikes in Europe surrounded by the imposing Italian Dolomites. Alta Via 1 is a 120km trek through stunning peaks and valleys in the north-east of Italy.

 

As nice as it would be to camp out under the stars, camping is not permitted along Alta Via 1. Instead, book a stay in one of the rifugios to rest up during your hike.

 

The trek has some rough terrain, so don’t go thinking you’re Bear Grylls. Take it easy. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey after all.

 

Fly to Venice

2. Camino de Santiago

Best hikes in Europe, Camino de Santiago
Image via iStock: sollafune

Camino de Santiago in Spain is one of Europe’s most popular hikes with hundreds taking part in the pilgrimage each year.

 

The Camino itself isn’t a hugely difficult walk with most of the ground being flat and on good paths. Choose to tackle the trail on your own or join one of the organised tours if you'd prefer some company.

 

There are a number of different routes you can take with the most popular one starting near Biarritz and ending in Santiago. Check out the website for more information.

 

Fly to Biarritz

3. Plitvice Lakes National Park

Europe's best hikes, Plitvice Lakes National Park
Image via iStock: tomch

One of Europe’s best hikes is in the idyllic surroundings of Croatia’s Plitvice National Park. Green and turquoise as far as the eye can see make this one of the most beautiful hiking destinations in Europe.

 

There are 8 different hiking routes available, all with varying levels of difficulty and duration. The shortest route is 3 hours, with the longest lasting 8 hours.

 

Plitvice is quite popular, so make sure to arrive early to avoid any potential crowds. Pack a picnic, take a break, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

 

Fly to Zadar

4. Cinque Terre Coastal Trail

Best hikes in Europe Cinque Terre coastal trail
Image via iStock: ellobo1

Ah, Cinque Terre. Not only is it fun to say, it has one of the most fun and beautiful hiking trails on the continent.

 

It’s a shorter journey than most on our list which makes it perfect for those looking for a relaxing hike with time to admire the views.

 

Made up of five Italian coastal towns, Cinque Terre sits above the Italian coast. The 11km walk is worth it for the Instagram photos alone.

 

Fly to Pisa

5. Westweg Trail

Best hikes in Europe Westweg
Image via iStock: ssiltane

Beginning in Pforzheim in the southwest of Germany, trek through the Black Forest and 282km later you’ll find yourself in the beautiful Swiss city of Basel.

 

Often considered the reason for the popularity of hiking in Germany, the Westweg Trail was the first designated path of its kind when it was built in 1900.

 

The journey is divided into 12 sections, so if you’re a newbie you can ease yourself in with a few practice runs before taking on one of the best hikes in Europe in full.

 

Fly to Karlsruhe

6. West Highland Way – Scotland

Europe's best hikes West Highland Way
Image via iStock: UlyssePixel

Scotland’s beloved long distance hiking path was first opened in 1980 and has since developed a reputation as one of Europe’s best hikes.

 

The West Highland Way brings you through some of Scotland’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Spanning 154km you’ll experience everything from open moorlands to loch shores.

 

With it being Scotland you can expect the weather to be quite temperamental so make sure to pack for rain, wind and the cold before lacing up your hiking boots.

 

Fly to Glasgow

7. La Masca – Tenerife

Best hikes in Europe, La Masca
Image via iStock: leskas

From the wind and rain of Scotland to sun and shine of Tenerife, La Masca is a truly beautiful destination for hikers.

 

The town’s spectacular natural scenery frames charming village homes in one of Tenerife’s prettiest towns.

 

Once again we advise arriving early to avoid the crowds so you can really appreciate all the La Masca has to offer.

 

Fly to Tenerife

8. Goethe Path – Germany

Europe's best hikes Goethe Way
Image via iStock: DieterMeyrl

Named after famed German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the path aims to live up to one of the statesman’s most famous quotes: “Only places where you have been by foot are places where you have really been.”

 

The trail is 19km long. Along the way you’ll find 17 places that pay homage to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

 

So if you’re a fan of his, or just a fan of walking, Goethe Path is a must do.

 

Fly to Leipzig

9. The Kerry Way – Kerry

Europe's best hikes The Kerry Way
Image via iStock: no_limit_pictures

Ireland is famed for its landscape. There are plenty of options for seasoned and new hikers when visiting the Emerald Isle.

 

But the Kerry Way is a must-do for nature fans. 200km in length, it’s Ireland’s longest signposted walking trail. It starts and finishes in the vibrant town of Killarney.

 

Follow the trail anti-clockwise around the Iveragh Peninsula and you’ll pass through some of Ireland’s most dramatic countryside.

 

Fly to Kerry

 

So dust off those hiking boots off, fill up your best reusable water bottle and book a flight with Ryanair to begin your journey across the continent on one of Europe’s best hikes.

 

- Seán Walsh