The 16 Best Hiking Destinations in Europe

Woman standing on top of a rock admiring sunset at Pico do Arieiro, Madeira, Portugal
© Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

Comprised of about 50 countries, Europe offers not just a diverse offering of food, culture, and history, it also boasts an endless number of choices when it comes to hiking destinations. With some of the world's most famous trails as well as off-the-beaten treks, the continent has plenty of outdoorsy adventures to satisfy your yearning for nature's best. From easy day hikes to multi-day treks, here are some of the best hiking destinations in Europe to add to your list.

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Kazbegi National Park (Republic of Georgia)

Holy Trinity Church near the village of Gergeti in Georgia
lukutin77 / Getty Images
Address
Sno-Akhaltsikhe-Juta, Georgia

The Republic of Georgia is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets when it comes to hiking. A three-hour drive north of the country’s capital, Tbilisi, is Kazbegi National Park. Situated in the northern part of the Caucasus mountains, Mount Kazbegi is the third highest peak in Georgia at an elevation of 16,581 feet. Base yourself in the town of Stepantsminda, from where you can hike to the Gergeti Trinity church for panoramic views; if time permits, continue onward to see the Gergeti Glacier. End your day in the mountains by enjoying some local delicacies, including Khachapuri, the famous cheese-filled pastry, or meaty Georgian dumplings (Khinkali).

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Ushguli (Republic of Georgia)

Fortified stone towers (koshi) of Ushguli Village with Mount Shkhara (5193m, Georgia's highest peak, Great Caucasus Range) in background, Upper Svaneti (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Georgia
James Strachan / Getty Images

Hikers will find themselves taken back in time in Ushguli; located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Upper Svaneti, this community of four villages dates back to prehistoric times and is known for its medieval tower houses. You can hike up the Shkhara glacier, located in the Greater Caucasus mountain range, or immerse yourself in local life by embarking on a four-day trek from the town of Mestia to Ushguli. Along the way, you'll get to stay and experience home-cooked meals in locals' homes. You can reach Mestia from Tbilisi via train, minivan, or local flight.

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Lagodekhi National Park (Republic of Georgia)

Black Rock Lake with reflections of surrounding mountains in Lagodekhi national park located in Caucasus mountains, Northern Georgia
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Address
Georgia

For an off-the-beaten path experience minus the crowds, Lagodekhi National Park in Georgia truly captures the calmness of nature. Check out Black Grouse Waterfall or Machi Fortress, or take the two- to three-day trek to Black Rock Lake, which shares the border between Georgia and Russia. You have the option of carrying your own sleeping equipment and camping by the lake, or spending a night in a rustic cabin for a small fee. Make sure to bring your passport with you for the border checkpoints. To get to Lagodekhi, it's an easy two- to three- hour ride on a marshrutka (minivan) from Tbilisi.

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The Dolomites (Italy)

A sunset over a lake in the Dolomites

Tripsavvy / Michela Sieman

Covering 6,155 square miles of wilderness in the Alps, this UNESCO World Heritage Site deserves its reputation as a world-class hiking destination for its mountain sceneries, rocky peaks, and emerald lakes.

There are plenty of options for day hikes here, including the trail to the famous landmark, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, and to the highest point, Marmolada (10,968 feet). For the more adventurous, the Dolomites’ Alta Via network of long distance trails features a variety of routes, including via ferratas (iron treks) that require some climbing equipment to maneuver iron cables, steps, and ladders. And if you're limited on time, most major landmarks can be accessed through the use of gondolas.

Whichever route you choose, travelers will find themselves enjoying the comfort and experience of the hut-to-hut style of trekking. The city of Bolzano is the gateway to the Dolomites, and can be reached easily by car or train from a number of major cities in Italy.

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Stromboli Volcano (Italy)

Young woman watching volcanos' eruption
Buena Vista Images / Getty Images
Address
Stromboli, Italy

Located north of Sicily, Stromboli is one of the seven volcanic Aeolian islands. For more than 2,000 years, it's been one of the world's most active volcanoes, and tourists visit the island to book a night tour and witness the fiery display of lava and hear the thunderous noise up close.

Before embarking on the two-hour guided hike, you'll be provided with a helmet and shoes specially designed for walking on the ashy trail. Those who make it to the viewing area are rewarded with a spectacle of intense red magma bursting out of the volcano’s mouth; as you look over the island and the sea beyond it, the experience becomes simply unforgettable. To reach the island, you must take a ferry boat from Sicily or Naples.

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Teide National Park (Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain)

Man admiring the view of volcano Teide at dusk. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Andrea Comi / Getty Images
Address
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Phone +34 922 92 23 71

Mount Teide, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a volcano located on the island of Tenerife; at an elevation of 12,188 feet, it's the highest point in Spain. Visitors to Teide National Park can spend the day hiking its extensive network of trails to discover a colorful display of geological formations. If you have time, you can do a multi-day trek and stay one night at the Altavista del Teide refugio; from here, you can embark on a sunrise hike to the top of Mount Teide, or ride a cable car and walk the last 525 feet to the summit. Note that a hiking permit and reservation with the refugio are both required. Transportation within the park is limited, so it's recommended that you rent a car. If you're unable to book a stay at the refugio, Vilaflor, a small village 30 minutes from the park entrance, has the best options for accommodations.

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Mallorca Island (Spain)

Hiking on the GR 221, Mallorca, La Dragonera in background
fschuetz / Getty Images

Mallorca’s Mediterranean location can fool you into thinking that it’s solely a beach destination, when in fact it's also hiking heaven. The island's legendary long distance trail, GR-221 (also known as Ruta de Pedra en Sec, which translates to "Dry Stone Route"), is 87 miles long and runs throughout the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Serra de Tramuntana. Along the way, you'll be treated to beautiful coastlines, limestone structures, stone paved paths, mule trails, olive groves, forests, and spectacular panoramic cliff-side views. The multi-day trek brings avid hikers to quaint cobblestone towns, including the beautiful mountain town of Sóller; accommodations are a mix of hotels, guesthouses, refugios, and campsites.

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Madeira Island (Portugal)

Woman in Levada do Caldeirão Verde- Madeira island- Portugal
Iñigo Fdz de Pinedo / Getty Images

Madeira is known for its levadas—an irrigation channel unique to the region—and the island's so-called levada walks take hikers through its lush, green landscapes and to numerous waterfalls, cliffside ocean views, and volcanic rock pools. Those who wish to climb a peak can do so by hiking up Pico Rivo, the highest point in Madeira (6,108 feet), or Pico do Arieiro, its third highest peak. The city of Funchal is the ideal base for exploring Madeira, thanks to a variety of accommodation and restaurant options. Although there is a public transport system, renting a car is the easiest way to get to Madeira's hiking trails. The island's springlike weather attracts hikers all year round—but to avoid the cruise crowd, it’s best to come to Madeira in spring or autumn.

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Prokletije (Albania)

Tourists walking up a ridge in Prokletije mountain, Montenegro
Maya Karkalicheva / Getty Images

Prokletije, also known as the Albanian Alps or the Accursed Mountains, is quickly gaining prominence as a prime hiking destination in southern Europe. It comprises the southernmost part of the Dinaric Alps, and is characterized by sharp, jagged peaks. One of the most popular day hikes in the area is the trail between Valbonë and Thethi. In either village, you will find a limited number of guesthouses and tourist facilities; as both remain untouched by commercialized tourism, be sure to bring your own food supply. If you wish to do multi-day trekking, consider taking the Peaks of the Balkans trail, which is an absolute must. Thethi is accessible by car, while Valbonë requires a ferry ride from the city of Shkodër.

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Durmitor National Park (Montenegro)

Walking path at Durmitor National Park, Zabljak, Montenegro
Ljubomir Stalevic / 500px / Getty Images
Address
Žabljak, Montenegro
Phone +382 52 361 337

At first glance, the highlight of Montenegro is Kotor, where the quaint preserved medieval town is complemented by the gorgeous Bay of Kotor. However, hikers are in for a treat, because Montenegro’s Durmitor National Park has pristine and rugged wilderness that has yet to experience mainstream tourism. There are many trails to choose from, including a seven-hour roundtrip hike to Bobotov Kuk, the highest point of the Durmitor mountains (part of the Dinaric Alps). Multi-day trekking is also possible via the long distance route, Via Dinarica, which traverses the Dinaric Alps from Albania to Slovenia, and passes through Montenegro. Wild camping is permitted in the park, but for those who wish to sleep indoors, the mountain town of Žabljak has hostels and guesthouses. Žabljak is a three-hour drive from Kotor.

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Paklenica National Park (Croatia)

Adriatic Sea Bay With Dramatic Sky Overlooking Paklenica National Park Mountains
RafalStachura / Getty Images
Address
Stari Grad, Croatia
Phone +385 23 369 155

Many tourists come to Croatia via cruise ships and stay in port-side cities such as Split, Dubrovnik, and Zadar. Unbeknownst to many, though, Croatia has plenty of trails for hiking. Located about 29 miles from Zadar, Paklenica National Park is best known for its two canyons, Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica, both located within the Velebit mountains (part of the Dinaric Alps). Other picturesque features include lush meadows, crystal clear lakes, and rock formations, which entice many climbers and scramblers. Within the park, there are rustic lodges for travelers while they explore the area; if staying here, be sure to bring a sleeping bag. You can reach the park by car or public bus from Zadar.

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Triglav National Park (Slovenia)

Autumn in Zelenci nature reserve
Remedios / Getty Images
Address
4260 Selo pri Bledu, Slovenia

Triglav National Park in Slovenia is the home of the Julian Alps and the country’s highest point, Mount Triglav. Here, you'll get some of the best views of the Alps: glacier-fed lakes, rocky terrains, gorges, and picturesque valleys where you can spot wildlife such as ibex. Base yourself in Lake Bohinj, where you can easily access the trails via an extensive bus transit system during the summer season. From Lake Bohinj, you can explore the Seven Lakes Valley, Slap Savica waterfall, and Mostnica Gorge, or begin your trek to the summit of Mount Triglav. You can get to Lake Bohinj from Ljubljana by bus in two hours. The national park entry is free and camping is only allowed on designated sites.

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Laugavegur Trail (Iceland)

Beautiful colorful volcanic mountains Landmannalaugar and hikers on trail, Iceland
Neurobite / Getty Images

Iceland has been deemed “the land of fire and ice” for its unique volcanic but wintry landscapes and geothermal features, making it one of the top hiking destinations in the world. From June to August every year, many hikers are lured into doing the classic four-day trek on Laugavegur trail, which starts in Landmannalaugar and ends in Thórsmörk (although ambitious trekkers can extend this trek easily by trekking all the way to Skógar). Those who brave the challenge are rewarded with some of the best landscapes that the planet has to offer: colorful rhyolite mountains, black sand deserts, glaciers, canyons, and strikingly gorgeous green valleys. All this with the added bonus of bathing in geothermal hot springs.

Note that this is a popular hut-to-hut trek that requires hikers to make their hut reservations months in advance. You can also bring your own tent, but do keep in mind that the weather in the area is unpredictable and snow can fall even in summer months. Also, you must be in decent shape as trekkers are required to carry their own food and gear. The only viable time to go is during the summer season, when bus service is available between Reykjavik and Landmannalaugar or Thórsmörk.

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Tour du Mont Blanc (France, Switzerland, and Italy)

Ibex, Range of Mont-Blanc, French Alps
porojnicu / Getty Images

Tour du Mont Blanc, also know as TMB, is a 105-mile trek that circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif, taking you through the Alps in France, Switzerland, and Italy. From beginning to end, you'll be treated to classic Alps landscapes: snowcapped mountains, green pastures, emerald green lakes, glaciers, and alpine meadows. Many start their TMB trek in the mountain town of Chamonix in France; the duration of hikes can vary from one day to over two weeks. The trek can be done independently, or you can join a guided TMB tour. When it comes to accommodation, you'll have your pick of campsites, mountain huts, and luxurious hotels.

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Corsica Island (France)

Panoramic view of the natural landscape and hiking area of ​​the GR20 route from the Plateau of Coscione, Corsica, France
Eisenlohr / Getty Images

While mainland France has the Alps, the French island of Corsica has one of the toughest long distance treks in Europe: GR-20. The 110-mile trail runs from the northern town of Calenza to the southern town of Conca, and takes two weeks to complete. GR-20 is not for the faint-hearted as it requires some serious rock scrambling on rugged terrain, particularly maneuvers around granite rocks in various degrees of difficulty. But those who are looking for something easier will be equally satisfied with other hikes around the island, including the trail to Monte Sello, which offers a stunning view over northern Corsica's mountains. Whichever hike you choose, you will enjoy the combined beauty of the Mediterranean sea and mountains. Corsica is reachable by plane or ferry from mainland France.

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The High Tatras Mountains (Poland and Slovakia)

Gasienicowa Valley in Tatry mountains, Poland
dzika_mrowka / Getty Images

Part of the Carpathian Mountains, the High Tatras Mountain range straddles the border of Poland and Slovakia—in fact, trails here often cross from one country to the next. Although not as high as the Alps, the High Tatras is a less crowded hiking destination that rivals with its own stunning natural beauty and landscapes. There are an endless number of day hikes and multi-day treks to choose; the path up to Mount Rysy, the highest peak in Poland and the seventh highest peak in Slovakia, is one of the more popular ones. While the views are more dramatic and most of the hiking trails are found on the Slovakian side, the easiest way to access the High Tatras is from Zakopane, less than two hours from Krakow.

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The 16 Best Hiking Destinations in Europe