Love hiking? Europe has you pretty much sorted.
From Irish featherbed bogs, through Alpine giants and yawning gorges, all the way to the majestic lakes in the east. It’s the backyard to countless, eye-watering trails.
Less remote than the mountain ranges of Asia. More manageable climates than the Americas. Europe is home to diverse and accessible landscapes. So naturally, we’ve been busy scouring the continent for the most epic hiking adventures it has to offer.
Sure, there’s plenty to choose from, but here’s 5 of the best…
1. KRÖNDLHORN, AUSTRIA
Kröndlhorn is a mighty brute. The loftiest of all the mountains in the Austrian municipality of Westendorf, this rolling green expanse poses a challenge for proficient hikers.
Those who take on the 2,444m climb will need to come well prepared for a long, dogged scramble, that’s littered with obstacles. But don’t get distracted. The Kitzbüheler Alps are handsome and beguiling in a fairytale kind of way.
Ready yourself for knockout views, picturesque plateaus and secret, sprawling lakes at checkpoints along the way. It’s this natural beauty that puts Kröndlhorn right up there.
2. VIROS GORGE, GREECE
Visitors get a slice of mythological history when they come to the Viros Gorge – the backdrop for Pyrrhus’ (the son of Achilles) journey to ancient Sparta to wed Hermione, the only daughter of Menelaus and Helen of Troy.
Multiple walking paths weave through the Gorge, which connects Mount Profitis Ilias to the Messenian Gulf, many of which make use of ancient mule tracks.
Hikers glimpse the countless Greek villages that line the Gorge, before reaching Kardamili Bay. But be sure to make your trip a summer excursion as it regularly floods in the winter months!
3. BALLINRUAN – GORTNAMEARACAUN, IRELAND
Rugged coastlines, romantic architecture and hiking trails at every turn. Welcome to the Emerald Isle.
It’s the unmistakable fields and marshland that make Ireland such a popular hiking destination, and this route snakes through all the action. A 15km loop across impressive wilderness takes trekkers from Ballinruan Village through forests and woodland, before reaching soggy featherbed bogland.
At its highest altitude, the trail offers up 360° vistas that encapsulate the Slieve Aughty Mountains and the bedrock of The Burren. It’s a relatively untouched route with some real allure.
4. CORNO GRANDE, ITALY
Found in the region of Abruzzo, Corno Grande is the highest mountain (2,912m) in Italy’s “rocky heart”, the Gran Sasso massif. It’s also a superb location for some simply glorious hiking.
The ascent up Corno Grande takes 4-6 hours, but on a clear day it’s worth every minute of your time. An achievable climb for ambitious wanderers, the trail sees hikers traverse the massif’s western ridge, along a meandering trail that cuts through mossy foothills.
Expect magical panoramas and a pulse-raising scramble on the approach to the cathedral-like summit.
5. LAKE BLED, SLOVENIA
There’s a reason Slovenia has seen such a generous influx of tourists lately…
The country’s now not-so-secret landscapes are unbeatable. Walking routes from the adjacent town of Bled, through the foothills of the Julian Alps, take you straight to the very best of it. Lake Bled runs an impressive celeste blue, Gothic architecture lays scattered around its outskirts and awesome mountains rise high in the distance.
More of a stroll than a hike, this is an easy one for hikers of all abilities. Looking for a laid-back walk with charm, culture and postcard backdrops? This is it.
NEW YEAR, NEW ADVENTURE?
It’s not just the high altitudes that’ll take your breath away when traversing Europe.
You also come to realise that each region has a culture all of its own. The time-honored feel that comes with the architecture and way of life in the small European towns and villages you pass along the way, brings yet another dimension to the experience.
Paired with crazy beautiful scenes (and superb trails to match), there’s every reason to start planning for a European hiking adventure in 2018!
Want to find out more about the trails in this article, and explore 5 more epic hiking regions while you’re at it? Jump into our European hiking map and take the tour here.