Our Ultimate Guide To The Best European Hiking Tours
If you are looking for the Best European Hiking Tours, look no further. We’re here to help you find some great hiking adventures! It is claimed that long-distance hiking originated in Germany over a century ago. However, that may be true when we talk about hiking as a leisure activity. We also know that pilgrimages have been around since the beginning of Christianity.
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Hiking trails across Europe are generally relics from the old Roman merchant and trade routes or pilgrim routes to holy sites and lands. Others have their origins in strategic ways for conquests and battlefields or are steeped in economic, cultural or political history.
What makes hiking trails so great?
Having hiked for more than 13 years now, I still find it exhilarating and rewarding to crest that hill or mountaintop. While my calves are burning and my lungs still trying to catch their breath, I am in awe of the vistas that meet me from the crest of the hill and across an unfamiliar valley.
The reward is immense when the hike is complete and the day is finally done. Although tired, the satisfaction of tucking into a hot steaming meal prepared in a local village Inn, restaurant or Pub is the ultimate way to celebrate your achievements of the day.
Although Europe is considered to be an overpopulated continent, walking trails across Europe allow you to get away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. It really is not that difficult to find those idyllic landscapes and views of green valleys and snowcapped mountain ranges. Hiking in Europe, it can be said, is always rewarding!
Origins of long-distance hiking trails
It is nice to be aware of the origins of your preferred hiking trail in Europe before you start, as this will add an extra dimension to your experience, making it all the more enjoyable.
Europe boasts world-class hiking trails and offers anything from day hikes to self-guided or guided multi-day trips and camping adventures.
If you’re new to long-distance hikes, it is crucial to do your research and find the trails that suit your level of experience and fitness. Look for the beginner or intermediate hiking trails and consider the overall distance and the ascent and descent, as this is where the muscles will work the hardest and joints will get the hardest workout.
Why European Hiking Tours Are Worth It
Exploring Europe on foot is an excellent way to immerse oneself in the continent’s diverse landscapes, history, and culture. Hiking tours in Europe offer you the opportunity to walk ancient trails through forests, mountains, and coastlines, each with its unique story to tell. From the misty green hills of the Scottish Highlands to the sun-soaked vineyards of Italy’s Cinque Terre, there are endless experiences awaiting the intrepid trekker in Europe.
Europe’s hiking trails are remarkably diverse, spanning varying geographical features, climates, and cultures. Whether you’re an experienced mountaineer seeking a challenging trek or a casual walker looking for a relaxing stroll amidst picturesque landscapes, Europe’s hiking tours have something to cater to everyone. The meticulously marked trails and availability of self-guided tours offer a safe and enjoyable experience.
The 10 Best European Hiking Tours
1) Hiking the Coast-to-Coast Trail in England
The Coast to Coast Trail is one of England’s most famous hiking routes, stretching 192 miles from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. This self-guided tour takes you through three national parks, including the Lake District, and past charming villages and historic landmarks.
You’ll stay in traditional inns and guesthouses along the way, and your luggage will be transported for you. The trail is challenging but rewarding, with stunning views of the English countryside at every turn.
2) Trekking the Dolomites in Italy
The Dolomites are a mountain range in northeastern Italy known for their dramatic peaks and stunning vistas. This guided tour takes you on a multi-day hike through the heart of the Dolomites, with stops in charming alpine villages along the way.
You’ll stay in mountain huts and refuges, and your guide will take care of all the logistics. Highlights of the tour include hiking to the top of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, one of the most iconic peaks in the Dolomites, and exploring the picturesque town of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
3) Walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain
The Camino de Santiago is a network of pilgrimage routes that lead to the shrine of the apostle Saint James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. This self-guided tour takes you on the most popular route, the Camino Frances, which starts in the French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and ends in Santiago de Compostela.
Along the way, you’ll pass through charming villages and historic landmarks and meet fellow pilgrims from all over the world. The tour is challenging but rewarding, with plenty of opportunities for reflection and self-discovery.
4) Hiking the Mountains of Croatia and Slovenia
Croatia and Slovenia are two of Europe’s hidden gems, with stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage. This guided tour takes you on a multi-day hike through the Julian Alps, the Triglav National Park, and the Dinaric Alps, with stops in charming villages and historic landmarks along the way.
You’ll stay in traditional guesthouses and mountain huts, and your guide will take care of all the logistics. Highlights of the tour include hiking to the top of Mount Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia, and exploring the picturesque town of Bled.
5) Exploring the Scottish Highlands on Foot
The Scottish Highlands are a rugged, windswept landscape with stunning vistas and rich cultural heritage. This guided tour takes you on a multi-day hike through the heart of the Highlands, with stops in charming villages and historic landmarks along the way.
You’ll stay in traditional inns and guesthouses, and your guide will take care of all the logistics. Highlights of the tour include hiking to the top of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Scotland, and exploring the picturesque town of Fort William.
6) Trekking the Mont Blanc Circuit in France, Italy, and Switzerland
The Mont Blanc Circuit is one of Europe’s most iconic hiking routes, taking you on a multi-day hike through the heart of the Alps. This guided tour takes you through three countries, France, Italy, and Switzerland, with stops in charming alpine villages along the way.
You’ll stay in mountain huts and refuges, and your guide will take care of all the logistics. Highlights of the tour include hiking to the top of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, and exploring the picturesque town of Chamonix.
7) Walking the Barrow Way in Ireland
Immerse yourself in Ireland’s beautiful landscapes and rich history by walking the Barrow Way. This long-distance trail stretches approximately 120 kilometres along the tranquil Barrow River, the second-longest river in Ireland. Starting in the charming town of Robertstown in County Kildare, the trail meanders southwards through idyllic countryside, traditional Irish villages, and historical sites, finally ending at the bustling river port of St. Mullins.
One of the oldest man-made canals in the British Isles, the Barrow Way offers the opportunity to witness Ireland’s natural beauty at its finest. From the rolling farmland and lush meadows of County Kildare to the dramatic gorges of County Carlow, the landscape along the trail is remarkably diverse. With an abundance of flora and fauna, the route is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, while history buffs will appreciate the numerous archaeological sites and ancient settlements that pepper the route.
Managed by Walking Holiday Ireland, a leading tour operator specializing in self-guided walking tours, the Barrow Way is an accessible and enjoyable trek for all abilities. With detailed route maps and comprehensive information provided, walkers can embark on this journey at their own pace, soaking in the breathtaking views, the tranquillity of the river, and the warm Irish hospitality. Walking Holiday Ireland also offers hiking trips on the Cooley Peninsula, The Mourne Mountains, The Antrim Glens and The Causeway Coast.
8) Walking the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia
The Dalmatian Coast is a stunningly beautiful stretch of coastline in Croatia, with crystal-clear waters and charming villages. This guided tour takes you on a multi-day hike along the coast, with stops in traditional guesthouses and historic landmarks along the way.
You’ll explore the picturesque town of Dubrovnik, hike through the stunning Krka National Park, and enjoy the local cuisine and hospitality. Highlights of the tour include hiking to the top of Mount Biokovo, the highest peak in the Dinaric Alps, and exploring the charming town of Split.
9) Hiking the Matterhorn in Switzerland
The Matterhorn is one of the most iconic peaks in the Alps, with its distinctive pyramid shape and stunning vistas. This guided tour takes you on a multi-day hike through the heart of the Swiss Alps, with stops in charming alpine villages along the way. You’ll stay in mountain huts and refuges, and your guide will take care of all the logistics. Highlights of the tour include hiking to the top of the Matterhorn, exploring the picturesque town of Zermatt, and enjoying the local cuisine and hospitality.
10) Walking the Cinque Terre in Italy
The Cinque Terre is a series of five picturesque villages on the Italian Riviera, known for their colourful houses and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. This self-guided tour takes you on a multi-day hike along the coast, with stops in each of the five villages along the way. You’ll stay in traditional guesthouses and enjoy the local cuisine and hospitality. Highlights of the tour include hiking through the vineyards and olive groves of the Cinque Terre and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
The tour also includes visits to picturesque towns such as Vernazza, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, where travellers can explore charming narrow streets and colourful houses. Additionally, travellers will have the opportunity to taste delicious local wines and traditional Italian cuisine. The tour perfectly blends outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, and relaxation in one of Italy’s most stunning coastal regions.
Tips for Choosing the Best European Hiking Tour
Choosing the Best European Hiking Tour depends on several factors. Consider the difficulty level of the trek, the time of year, and your specific interests. Would you prefer a remote, mountainous journey or a coastal trek with village stops? Are you interested in a self-guided tour, or would you prefer a group experience with a guide? There’s a tour for everyone, and considering these factors will ensure you pick the best one for your adventure.
- Difficulty Level: Be sure to check the difficulty level of the tours you are considering. Some may require advanced fitness levels and hiking gear, whilst others may be tailored for beginners. Think about your physical fitness and your hiking experience before choosing a tour. If you are a beginner, choose a tour that will challenge but not overwhelm you.
- Time of the Year: The time of year you decide to go on a hiking tour in Europe can greatly affect your experience. Make sure to look into the weather conditions during the time you wish to go. The summer months are the best time to explore most hiking trails.
- Your Interests: Would you prefer a wildlife-focused tour, or maybe you’re more interested in the local history or architecture? Hiking tour operators typically offer different tours focusing on different areas of interest.
- Duration: Check how long the tour is. Some last only a day, while others last several days or weeks. If you’re planning a long-distance hiking tour, remember that it will require a higher level of physical fitness and commitment.
- Destination: You may have a specific destination in mind where you would like to go hiking, or you may prefer a multi-destination hike. Certain hikes are famous for their breathtaking views and unique destinations, like the trail along the Amalfi Coast in Italy or the Mont Blanc circuit, which takes you through France, Italy and Switzerland.
- Type of Hiking Tour: There are self-guided tours where you hike at your own comfort and pace, or there are guided tours where a hiking guide takes you through the trail. Determine which you are more comfortable with.
- Accommodations: Some hiking tours include accommodation, while others do not. Also, the type of accommodation varies; it may range from camping to staying in luxury hotels. Be sure to choose a tour that fits within your budget and comfort level.
- Recommendations and Reviews: Do your research. Look at recommendations and reviews from previous hikers. This can give you insights into what to expect on the tour.
- Safety: Make sure the tour operator has safety measures in place and that all necessary precautions are taken to ensure the safety of hikers.
Remember, the right hiking tour largely depends on your preferences and physical condition. Choosing a tour that best aligns with your interests, fitness level, and budget is important. Happy hiking!
Conclusion: Explore Europe’s Best Hiking Trails
Europe offers an incredible variety of hiking trails, each with its unique charm. Whether you’re seeking a strenuous mountain hike or a leisurely walk along the coast, there’s a trail for every interest and ability. Remember to consider the following when planning your European hiking adventure:
- Research your hiking destination: Get to know the geography, climate, and culture of the region you’re visiting.
- Choose a suitable tour: Consider your hiking abilities and preferences when choosing your tour.
- Be prepared: Ensure you have the right gear and sufficient supplies for your journey.
- Respect nature: Follow the leave-no-trace principles to preserve these beautiful landscapes for future generations.
Best Europen Hiking Trail FAQ
What is Europe’s best hiking trail?
While “best” can be subjective and depend on personal preferences, the Tour du Mont Blanc, spanning France, Italy, and Switzerland, is often rated as one of Europe’s best hikes. This iconic route offers stunning views of alpine scenery and the opportunity to experience three different European cultures.
What are the best months to hike in Europe?
The best months to hike in Europe are typically from late spring to early autumn (May to October). However, this can vary depending on the specific region and the trail’s difficulty level.
What is the best trails app in Europe?
There are several excellent trail apps for hiking in Europe. Among the most popular are Komoot, ViewRanger, and AllTrails, all offering detailed trail maps, route descriptions, and user reviews.
What is the most famous hiking trail in the world?
The Appalachian Trail in the United States is one of the most famous hiking trails globally, stretching over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. In Europe, the Camino de Santiago holds similar renown.
What is the most popular hiking trail in the world?
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is considered one of the most popular hiking trails in the world, attracting tens of thousands of hikers each year.
What is one of the most beautiful trails in the world?
The Milford Track in New Zealand is often considered one of the most beautiful trails in the world, known for its pristine lakes, sky-scraping mountain peaks, and immense fjords.
What is Europe’s toughest trek?
The GR20 in Corsica, France, is often considered Europe’s toughest trek. This challenging trail covers rugged terrain across the island, with significant elevation changes and technically demanding sections.
What is the most famous pilgrimage in Europe?
The most famous pilgrimage in Europe is the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide walk this network of ancient pilgrim routes leading to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, is the most famous pilgrimage trail. Its network of routes spans across Europe, all leading to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where the remains of the apostle Saint James are believed to be buried.
What is the longest hiking trail in Europe?
The longest hiking trail in Europe is the E1 trail. It extends over 7,000 kilometres from North Cape, Norway, to Scapoli, Italy, traversing through countries including Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.