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Europe’s Best Walking Trails: Where to hike in Europe

Hiking in the Mont Blanc region | Dana Garofani
Hiking in the Mont Blanc region | Dana Garofani

We've asked you before about how many epic trails around the world you know. Walking brings a lot of benefits from reconnecting with nature, to challenging yourself, spending time outdoors with your loved ones, and discovering places otherwise not easily accessible. It is therefore that we wanted to bring you this list of the UK & Europe's best walking trails (and one cycling path) to present you with some options closer to home.

Most of the European hiking trails below can be undertaken as a self guided walking (or cycling) trip: perfect for travellers who are after a lot of freedom, flexibility and sense of accomplishment without compromising on the security and organisation of a guided tour. For those that prefer a guided option, we have indicated the possibilities for this per trail.

1. Wainwright’s Coast to Coast

Length: 309 km / 192 miles across England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea

Walking up from Fleswick Bay on Wainright's Walk |  <i>John Millen</i>

What makes it special: One of Britain’s classic walking routes, the Coast to Coast, was originated and described by Alfred Wainwright, author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the English Lake District. Walk this trail for the accomplishment of crossing England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea under your own steam. Along the way, explore the stunning three national parks of the Lake District, Pennines and North York Moors.

>> Guided options available.

 

2. Camino de Santiago: Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela

Length: the French part of the pilgrimage comprises 461 km / 286miles and the Spanish section to the tomb of St James adds another 481 km / 298 miles

Pilgrims on a self guided walk along the Camino in Spain |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

What makes it special: In the 9th century the tomb of the apostle St James was unearthed in Compostela. The site became the focus of a pilgrim trail beginning in France and crossing Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. Ever since, walkers have completed this route that comes with a true sense of camaraderie along the way. While there are many different routes to Santiago de Compostela, the most well-known of the Camino de Santiago walks are in Spain and France.

Did you know? 2021 and 2022 have both been declared by the Pope as Holy Year, normally when St James’ Day on 25th July falls on a Sunday. Complimented by lots of festivities, ending your Camino pilgrimage during the weeks around St James is an extra special time to be there.

>> View guided full Camino walks.

 

3. Tour du Mont Blanc

Length: circling the Mont Blanc massif in roughly 170 km / 105 miles

The Mont Blanc region offers some of the best walking in the world |  <i>Tim Charody</i>

What makes it special: Sitting on the Italian and French border is Western Europe’s highest mountain – Mont Blanc. At 4810m, the scale of Mont Blanc and the other 4000m+ peaks in this region of the European Alps is certainly impressive. The Mont Blanc massif was first climbed in 1786, and the ascent gave birth to modern day mountaineering. It is not only a region for climbers however, walking in Mont Blanc has become so popular that the region is now the third most visited natural site in the world. Anyone who travels here will soon see why.

Without doubt the most famous Mont Blanc trek is the classic and full circumnavigation: Tour du Mont Blanc, however families and walkers of various abilities can choose a trail to suit their fitness level. Summer traditionally is the most popular time, travel in spring or autumn for even quieter trails and perhaps some snow on the route!

>> Guided options available.

 

4. Via Dinarica

Length: 1260 km / 783 miles for the entire length of the main route from Slovenia to Albania

Enjoying the splendid view over Trnovacko Lake on the Via Dinarica walk

What makes it special: The Via Dinarica is a long distance mountainous walking trail of which the main route (White Trail) spans the Balkan countries of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania. This European walking trail follows the main ridge of the Dinaric Alps, a glorious landscape woven with primeval forests and cosy mountain villages. Along the way, collect mesmerising natural sights such as the heart-shaped Trnovacko glacial lake; the turquoise waters of Rakitnica Canyon; and the rocky panoramas of Bosnia's highest peak, Maglic.

>> Guided trip.

 

5. Haute Route

Length: 180 km / 111 miles from the Chamonix valley, home of Mont Blanc, to Zermatt, home of the Matterhorn

On the way to the Matterhorn, Switzerland |  <i>Carol Gorgie</i>

What makes it special: The walkers’ Haute Route (High Level Route) links the valley of Chamonix in France to Zermatt in Switzerland. You trek through some very dramatic alpine scenery, experience traditional European mountain culture and find yourself amongst the highest peaks in Western Europe including the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc and Dent Blanche. The hiking trail is steeped in mountaineering legend, a route first taken by British climbers at the end of the 19th Century.

Although the Haute Route is popular, it is rugged at times and you will find that compared to many other areas in Switzerland, most of the paths are little trodden, giving rise to an excellent variety of alpine flowers and frequent sightings of alpine animals.

>> Guided options available.

 

6. West Highland Way

Length: 155 km / 96 miles across the Scottish Highlands

Group at Blackrock Cottage, Scotland

What makes it special: Embark on a hike on the West Highland Way and you step back into history - most of the stages follow the famous droving and military roads that linked the Scottish Highlands to the Lowlands. Many of the hotels you find today have originated from the droving inns that have operated for centuries. On this official UK long distance trail you’ll also walk to the foot of Ben Nevis and past the shores of the UK’s largest lake, Loch Lomond.

 

7. Rhone Cycle Path

Length: 1250 km / 776 miles along the course of the river Rhone from Switzerland to France

Crossing the Hermitage Bridge on the Via Rhona

What makes it special: Connecting the Swiss Alps with the Mediterranean, the Rhone River holds an important place in history. Serving as an inland trading route where goods were transported as far back as the Greek and Roman civilisations, the Rhone connected many of France's most important cities and subsequently many smaller villages were built alongside it. Today, the cultural and architectural legacy of this period can still be found in many places along the river and can be discovered on a cycling trip.

 

8. Via Alpina

Length: the full thing is about 5,000 km / 3,100 miles, but our section is around 100 km / 62 miles

Hohturli Pass from the Bluemlisalp Hut |  <i>Nicola Croom</i>

What makes it special: Also known as the Swiss Alpine Pass Route, which is part of the full Via Alpina across eight countries, the section between Meiringen and Lenk on the Via Alpina captures the essence of the Alps and Switzerland’s most stunning alpine scenery. Whilst the high mountains are an obvious drawcard, there are so many other highlights such as the sound of cowbells as you make your way along scenic paths, the picture postcard villages and towns you pass through and the wildflowers lining the trail.

 

9. King Ludwig’s Way

Length: 120 km / 74 miles to King Ludwig’s famous castle of Neuschwanstein

Bearded King Ludwig pointing the way. |  <i>Will Copestake</i>

What makes it special: When walking in Bavaria it is plain to see that Germany is proud of its rural heritage. It is a stronghold of the green movement and the country’s wealth has helped it to conserve its beautiful landscape and historic monuments. The King Ludwig’s Way walking trail takes in two of Bavaria's most scenic lakes and passes through charming villages of geranium-bedecked chalets and characteristic onion-shaped church spires. There are masterpieces of baroque architecture, monasteries, churches and a cathedral, to be seen on the way and not forgetting King Ludwig's extraordinary castles of Neuschwanstein at the end.

 

10. John Muir Way

Length: 215 km / 134 miles along what is known as the Scottish Coast to Coast

Wild Landscape towards Loch Lomond |  <i>John Millen</i>

What makes it special: The John Muir Way is a route that symbolically links Dunbar (John's hometown) with Scotland’s first national park (Loch Lomond) and the Trossachs with Helensburgh (from where John and his family departed for the USA) in the west. Both towns are located by the sea and as such the trail is known as the Scottish Coast to Coast. Along the way, you are rewarded by views over Ben Lomond, an exploration of Edinburgh, and lots of historical features. There are many highlights on the John Muir Way – contact our team to learn more.

 

Would you like to know more about any of these long distance trails in Europe? Please do get in touch by email or for a phone call with our experienced team to discuss your queries.

Comments (3)

Fernando Lima

Hello,
I might be interested on joining a group for the Mont Blanc tour. Just would like to join a young group and get an idea when You'll be doing this tour during summer time or closer to it.

2 months ago
World Expeditions

Hi Fernando,
Excellent choice! Our team will be in touch to talk you through your options. Hope to see you on the trails this summer.

2 months ago
Jonathan Nicol

OK👍 Moscow & St Petersburg. August👍

2 months ago
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