Walking Holidays Europe: 20 Routes for the Best Hiking in Europe

By Rintsje Bosch

Find that one special trekking

Hiking in Europe. Whether you prefer walking in the rain or the sun on your shoulders, you can do anything when looking for walking holidays in Europe. Your ultimate goal may be the Everest Base Camp Trek or climbing Kilimanjaro, but then you may not have heard of the Malerweg, the Dingle Way or the Alta Via. There are enough multi-day hikes in Europe to last a lifetime. Discover the Alps, the Eiffel, the long-distance routes in the Lowlands or the Highlands. Come with us and discover the most beautiful self-guided walking holidays in Europe.

In the Netherlands, they have the Lange-Afstand-Wandelpaden, in France the Grand-Randonnée, in Portugal the Grande Rota and in Spanish the Gran Recorridos. These are the enormously long hiking trails that are all linked together and that can let you discover the whole of Europe if you want to. Then there are the hut-to-hut tours, via ferratas, the Steig routes in Germany and the endless trails in our own UK. And the very best multi-day hiking in Europe? The ranking is unimportant because one is not necessarily more beautiful than the other. Indeed, the list is never complete, because every hiking route has its own charm. But if we have to choose, we choose the following routes for a self-guided walking holiday in Europe.

1. One Hike, Three Countries: Tour du Mont Blanc

Whether you want to go hiking in Italy, in France or in Switzerland, the Tour du Mont Blanc gives you the best of all three. It is one of the most famous hiking adventures in Europe and the route is even run these days. Hikers usually do the 170 km of the Tour du Mont Blanc in 9 days. The traditional starting point is in Chamonix, on the French side of Mont Blanc. However, you can also start in Courmayeur, on the Italian side.

The best time to complete the Tour du Mont Blanc is during the summer months, July and August, when the route has little snow and the weather is usually good. Outside of these months, the logistics become more complicated as many of the hostels and mountain huts on the route are closed. If we had to recommend a more specific period, it would be the second half of August. During these 2 weeks, the number of trekkers and mountaineers is lower and the weather is usually quite pleasant.

2. The Coast to Coast Trail, North England

That's right, we don't have to travel far. Coast to Coast is one of Britain's most famous walks. The walk runs from the west coast of northern England to the east coast. This 192-mile walk starts at St Bees in the west and ends at Robin Hood's Bay in the east.

The route passes through three National Parks along the way, the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North York Moors National Park. The route was created by author Alfred Wainwright and first described in his 1972 guidebook 'A Coast to Coast Walk'.

3. Long Distance Hiking in Germany, Moselsteig

An unforgettable hiking holiday in Germany. The endpoint of the Eifelsteig, the beautiful Trier, is also part of the Moselsteig. The Moselsteig is one of our absolute favourites and not necessarily because of the fact that more or less the entire route is dedicated to wine. Indeed, along the banks of the Moselle, you will find the famous Moselle wines. In the villages along the way, there is always an opportunity to taste wine. The real reason why this route is our favourite is, of course, simply because it is so beautiful.

Although you can hike the Moselsteig at any time of year, the best seasons are obviously spring, summer and early autumn. Please note that some of the climbs on the Moselsteig in winter can be muddy and slippery. If you would like to combine the Moselsteig with the wine season, stick to July and August. In these months, there are various festivities around Riesling and other famous wines. Don't worry, there is always a good glass of wine to be found along the Moselle in the off-season.

4. The Biokovo Mountains in Croatia

One of the ultimate attractions when it comes to hiking holidays in Croatia is the Biokovo Mountains near Makarska. The peak of Vošac (1.421m high) is only 2,5km from Makarska and easily reached on foot. No wonder that this is one of the best-hiking destinations in Croatia. Not far from Vošac you can find the peak of Sveti Jure with a height of 1,762m, the highest peak of the Biokovo Mountains.

Another reason for the popularity of the Biokovo Mountains is that all 196 km2 of the area is protected as a natural park. You will find more than 1,500 species of plants and animals here, some of which are indigenous. Biokovo is one in a line of Dinaric Alps that stretches along the Dalmatian coast. Because of its location, Biokovo Mountains can be easily combined with an island tour on this side of the Adriatic coast. You quickly hop from island to island, and on these islands, you combine a walk with a refreshing dip in the Adriatic.

5. Camino de Santiago, Spain and the rest of Europe

El Camino de Santiago, better known as 'the road to Santiago de Compostela' or the 'Saint James route', is one of the oldest pilgrim routes in the world. Immerse yourself in Mediterranean culture and walk through vineyards, dine in small bistros and meet like-minded pilgrims while walking el Camino de Santiago.

When walking the Way of St James, there are several routes to reach Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The Camino Francés is by far the most popular route, but the Portuguese, English and Finisterre roads have also gained a large number of walkers in recent years. Go for a 7-day trek to cover the last 100 km or go the long way and become a real pilgrim during the three-week trek.

6. Self-Guided Walking Holidays for Beginners: Kesch Trek, Switzerland

On a hiking holiday in Switzerland? On this hike in the middle of the mountains of Graubünden, you can forget about everyday life for a while. Experience the spectacular high Alpine region between the Flüela pass and the Albula Pass. The Kesch Trek offers four days of spectacular hiking in the Graubünden. Magnificent mountain landscapes with wild valleys, rugged peaks and imposing glacier landscapes.

The Kesch Trek is normally done in six days, but can also be done in four. Due to the relatively small distance and 'only' 2800 vertical metres in total, the Kesch Trek is also seen as the perfect option for a hiking holiday for beginners.

7. The Pieterpad in The Netherlands

The Pieterpad is by far the best-known long-distance walk in the Netherlands. The route runs 498 kilometres from Pieterburen, in the north of Groningen, south through the east of the Netherlands to just south of Maastricht, at the top of the Sint Pietersberg, at an altitude of 109 metres. The Pieterpad is one of the official long-distance walks in the Netherlands and by far the most popular of the long-distance walking routes. It is possible to walk the route in both directions, and all year round.

Most of the stages can be reached easily by public transport. However, the buses may not run too often between small villages and some villages may be a little further from a railway line. Always check the timetables and plan your journey before you walk the Pieterpad. For those travelling by car it is advisable to park the car at the endpoint, then travel to the starting point by public transport and then walk back to the car. The other way round can be a bit of a rush because you have to catch the bus or train.

8. Mount Olympus, visiting the ancient gods in Greece

Greece has a wide variety of options for hiking and trekking and the destination you choose will have a significant impact on the whole trek. If you are looking for a more adventurous, real mountain trekking experience, then climbing to the top of Mount Olympus is the best option for you. Mount Olympus is undoubtedly one of the most famous mountains in the world. As the home of the twelve ancient Greek gods and with the highest peak in Greece (Mytikas at 2,917m), the mountain captivates the visitor at first sight with its incomparable natural beauty and the richness of its ancient history.

According to Greek Mythology, Mount Olympus was the home of the 12 Olympic Gods of the ancient Greek world. Gods would meet on Mount Olympus to decide the fate of the mortals below. The top of the mountain was supposed to be obscured from human eyes by clouds that constantly darkened the tops of the mountain. Although Olympus has become famous through mythology, the truth is that the mountain is also known for its exceptional biodiversity and rich flora. The area around the massif was the very first National Park in Greece, being declared as such in 1938. Climbing Olympus is a good alternative for those who are looking for a trekking adventure in Greece but want to get away from the beaches and enjoy the fresh mountain air.

9. The Stubaier Höhenweg in Austria

The very best option for walking holidays in Austria is the Stubaier Höhenweg. This route leads over 5,000 metres elevation and 8 huts over just under 90 kilometres. It goes around the Stubai Valley on one of the most beautiful, yet most challenging high-altitude hiking trails in the Eastern Alps. The hike is divided into 7 stages but can be arranged as desired. The absolute highlight of the route is the many glaciers between the Dresdner and Bremer Hütte.

The route is classified as a black mountain trail and runs through alpine terrain. Endurance, sure footing, the right equipment and a good sense of heights are basic requirements. It does not matter in which direction the path is walked. Both directions are possible. From each hut, you can also descend into the valley and ascend again if you want to walk the long-distance hike in chunks. The Stubai Valley is easily accessible via Innsbruck and the huts can also be booked as one package.

10. Beautiful Mediterranean: GR221 on Mallorca

Mallorca is part of the Balearic Islands, a group of islands in the Mediterranean Sea which also includes Ibiza and Menorca. The island has been a popular holiday destination for sunny beach holidays for decades, which is where you might recognize Mallorca from. Besides a number of seaside resorts, the island also boasts a varied and mountainous landscape with a nice sea breeze. Here you walk among almond and orange trees and enjoy views of the sea and mountains. Meanwhile, you'll hear the occasional goat bleating among the tall grasses and you might encounter a shepherd with his flock.

While officially the route is divided into eight stages, Bookatrekking.com really recommends completing the route in ten stages. This way, you build in more of a break and the day-to-day distances are not excessively long. In total, you cover over 140 kilometres and ascend and descend 6,140 and 6,150 metres respectively. The route has no technical difficulties and is suitable for anyone with a decent fitness level. That leaves plenty of time for breaks at the orchards, enjoying the beautiful views from the mountain trails and a drink on a terrace at the end of the day.

11. The Dingle Way in Enchanting Ireland

This circular walk begins and ends in the thriving town of Tralee, Co Kerry. During the eight to nine days it takes to walk it, you'll experience the foothills of Slieve Mish, the crashing waves of the Atlantic at Slea Head and the golden beaches on the Maharess. And also a wealth of Irish history, from 'standing stones' to a multitude of beehives.

Perhaps the best thing about multi-day walking in Ireland is the fact that each stopover is a village or small town, with appropriate accommodation for weary walkers. Depending on the route, this ranges from full-service hotels in towns like Dingle to self-catering pubs, inns and bed-and-breakfasts in the more remote areas.

12. The Ultimate Tour in the Dolomites: Alta Via 1

Alta Via means nothing more than High Route or High Path. High paths, there are many of them in the Italian Alps. That is why they all have a number. It is, as it were, a large network of paths and with the numbers, it looks like a road network for cars. Very handy, because you can navigate well that way. The Italian walking route that is number one is the Alta Via 1. Logically, this is the hiking route that leaves no highlight of the Dolomites unseen and crosses the entire mountain range.

The Alta Via 1 starts at Lago di Braies, which you can see in the photo above. Lago di Braies is easy to reach from nearby Cortina d'Ampezzo. From here, it is about 120 kilometres to a bus stop. Yep, a bus stop is the endpoint of the Alta Via 1. You have been on the road for about 10 days and with a short bus ride to Belluno, it's all over.

13. The 96 Mile West Highland Way in Scotland

The West Highland Way starts in Milngavie near Glasgow and ends in Fort William, and takes about 7 to 8 days to complete. This trek is generally walked from south to north and is the ultimate destination for your walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands. This trail runs through Loch Lomond National Park, the wilderness of Rannoch Moor and finishes close to Ben Navis Mountain. You can climb both Ben Lomond and Ben Navis if you like and enjoy the spectacular views from the top.

It is a well-marked, popular route that usually attracts a lot of people, so you will certainly not be walking alone. There are many hostels and B&Bs along the route, but you can also stay in various bunkhouses, wigwams or hotels if you want a more luxurious experience. But feel free to pack up your tent and go for a real wilderness experience. You can reach the West Highland Way by bus or train to Glasgow, and the easiest way to get back from Fort William is by train.

14. Triglav and the Julian Alps in Slovenia

Slovenia is a destination for those who love trekking as much as we do. Slovenia is a fascinating country situated between Central and South-Eastern Europe. For those who don't know, more than half of the country is covered in forest and has mostly mountainous terrain, a dream for any trekking enthusiast. With a dense network of rivers and some of the most diverse biodiversity in Europe, Slovenia is a great destination for those in search of nature.

Go hiking in the beautiful Julian Alps and climb Slovenia's highest peak, Triglav. Get lost in the beautiful forests and discover emerald glacial lakes. Join one of the hiking tours in Slovenia and discover this beautiful country in a completely different way. Enjoy nature and discover some of the most breathtaking landscapes this beautiful region has to offer.

15. The GR20 in Surprising Corsica

The GR20, also known as fra li Monti, is a GR (Grande Randonnée) footpath that crosses the Mediterranean island of Corsica and runs roughly from north to south. The whole route is about 180 km long with an altitude difference of 12,000 m. Although it takes about 15 days to complete, the route can be divided into two stages: the northern part, between Calenzana and Vizzavona, and the southern part, between Vizzavona and Conca.

The GR20 is not a hike through Hyde Park. During your trip you will have to do some scrambling, you will sometimes have to use the chains along the trails and you will have to climb a ladder on the northern section of the route. Some hiking experience in the mountains is required. Above all, you should be able to read route descriptions and determine your position on a map when necessary.

16. The Granite Dolomites: Alta Via del Granito

The Alta Via del Granito (Granite High Route) is a 3- or 4-day circular traverse of the unique granite area of the Cima d'Asta - Cime di Rava group in the Northern Italian Lagorai chain, geographically still part of the Dolomites. The Alta Via follows a network of ancient paths and former military roads, dating back to the First World War, connecting the only two refuges in the group. Three days of pleasant trekking amidst stupendous natural landscapes, stark reminders of the Great War, mountain huts and alpine pastures, good evidence of man's ancient pact with nature. In short: The Alta Via del Granito is pretty epic.

Do you like mountains? Are you looking for an epic hiking adventure off the beaten track? Of course, the Alta Via del Granito is for you! If you came here to get that questions answered, we have to have a very good chat. We can imagine you are looking for something different than the outrageously popular Alta Vias further up North. Maybe you came here because they are fully booked. Let's be clear that the Alta Via del Granito is not just an alternative to other treks in this part of the world. This is an epic adventure that is very popular with Italians but hasn't really made it to the mainstream long-distance hiking world yet. That, our friend, allows you to enjoy an unspoilt local rifugio experience.

17. Surf 'n Turf: The Canary Islands

Escaping winter and enjoying a hiking trip in the sun can be so easy. However, the right trip should be carefully considered. If you don't want to miss out on the sun even in winter and want to relax in the sun on a hiking trip, you should consider the Canary Islands or Madeira. On the Canary Islands, you can follow in the footsteps of the ancient Guanches and not only learn more about the culture of the indigenous people, but also explore the breathtaking volcanic landscapes. Gran Canaria and La Palma, for example, offer some of the densest laurel forests on earth. On the coast, you can stroll along the black volcanic ash beaches and in the mountains, rugged gorges await you.

Each of the islands has its own volcanoes and volcanic chains. Tenerife in particular, with Mount Teide, is a popular destination for hiking. The other Canary Islands such as La Gomera are considered a Spanish nature paradise par excellence: the Garanjonay National Park is the centre of attraction here.

18. Rock 'n Roll: Porta del Cel in the Pyrenees

Porta del Cel is Catalan for Heaven's Gate. In the Catalan Pyrenees, you can't higher than the Porta del Cel. This makes this trek an adventure for seasoned mountain goats. If you want a little piece of Catalan heaven, then the Porta del Cel with 65 kilometres and 11.000 vertical meters, is the hiking route to take. Just as the Carros de Foc, this is the Catalan side of Spain and the Pyrenees. Where the Carros de Foc already offers plenty of elevation, the Porta del Cel takes you much higher by adding in the 3,164-meter-high peak Pica d'Estats. This is the highest point of the Catalan Pyrenees.

Not only do you climb the highest peak, but you are in the largest national park and see the largest mountain lake in Catalonia. In that respect, the Porta del Cel is truly a trek of superlatives. That largest national park is called Parc Natural de l'Alt Pirinieu and you will have some of the most beautiful views that not only Catalonia but also Spain has to offer. On the Porta del Cel you will definitely be hiking for at least 6 to 7 hours a day. During the final stage, you are even hiking for a bit longer than that. This, together with all the elevation, makes the Porta del Cel definitely a hike for seasoned mountain goats. If you are not new to hut-to-hut treks, multi-day hiking, and have your gear up to level, you could totally consider doing the Porta del Cel.

19. Europe's Very Highest: Mount Elbrus

It may not be just any old hike, but you are definitely hiking for several days. When you think of high peaks, your thoughts automatically go to the Alps. After all, isn't Mont Blanc the highest peak in Europe? No, it is not. The continent of Europe is not divided by political borders.

A small part of Russia and also Georgia are part of Europe. And that is where we find the Caucasus. And anyone who has hiked in Georgia before knows that there are many peaks in the Caucasus. One of those peaks is Elbrus and, at 5642 meters, it is the highest peak in Russia, the Caucasus and Europe. If it is the highest in Europe, then it is also one of the Seven Summits. If you want to tick off all Seven Summits, it is likely that Elbrus will be one of your first summits. Read more about Elbrus here.

20. The Very Best of The Dolomites: Palaronda Trek

Pale di San Martino, the Pala Group, is majestic, elegant, literally hardcore, an Italian favourite, and, is home to one of the most fun and kind of sexy treks in the Italian Dolomites. Sexy, you say? Well, if you have a look at the photos and see the landscape you are hiking through, you can definitely get a few sexy profile photos or stories on this trek. This is the Palaronda Trek: short, accessible, not too technical, and a great way to spice up your time in Italy. The Pale di San Martino is the largest massif of the Dolomites and it is located between eastern Trentino and Ventore. Its highest point is 3,192 metres: Cima de Vezzana.

The Palaronda Trek is short, accessible, and doable for most hikers. The classic version, also known as the Palaronda Soft Trek, is 4 days long, counts about 35 kilometres and entails almost 3,000 of elevation. Sounds like the life of an ibex but you too can do this. Your daily hiking time isn't much longer than 5 hours max so in the huts you will have plenty of time to rest your legs, fuel up, and recharge yourself. Hiking times are generally a bit shorter than on other famous Dolomite hikes.

Where Do I Book My Walking Holidays in Europe?

You can go hiking all by yourself. Your flight, your hotel, your hut, your packing list: If you want, you can do that all by yourself. However, booking a hut for your hiking tour in Austria, finding a suitable B&B for the Rothaarsteig or organising luggage transport in Scotland can be a challenge. Our trekking experts have helped you find your ideal walking holiday in Europe. So, if you want to go hiking in Europe, talk to one of our trekking experts first.

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