The 5 most scenic hiking trails in Europe
From snow-sprinkled mountain hikes to sun-soaked coastline walks, Europe is a melting pot of trails offering something for every hiker with its diverse landscapes and climes.
In this article, we look 5 of the best scenic hiking trails in Europe, speaking to travel bloggers about their experiences hiking these truly breathtaking trails and what makes them so unique.
1. Tour du Mont Blanc, France, Italy & Switzerland
The first on our list is the iconic Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) hiking trail which is a fantastic 170km-long. One of the most popular long-distance hikes in Europe, this snowy and rocky hike is sure to delight the explorer in you, as the trail passes through France, Italy and Switzerland.
With some of the finest scenery in Europe, you can expect gorgeous views across lush green valleys as well as dramatic passes that weave between snow-laden peaks. What’s not to love?
We spoke to Nicola from Polkadot Passport about her experience hiking the TMB. We asked her what makes the trail so unique.
“I think what makes the Tour Du Mont Blanc so unique is the fact that not only do you get to soak in the natural beauty of the alps, but you also get to pass through the quaintest little towns along the way.
“After spending the whole day breathing in the fresh mountain air, I love getting to the refuge every evening, drinking a glass of cider looking over the mountains.”
2. Cinque Terre National Park, Italy
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Cinque Terre National Park in Italy is located just below Pisa. This sun-soaked hiking trail comprises of five quaint cliffside towns, with the traditional pastel-coloured buildings overlooking the waters. As well as the mesmerising vistas this cliff-side hike has to offer, half the fun of trekking the trail comes from discovering the unique personalities of each town.
We spoke to Shannon from A Little Adrift, who told us why she loved hiking the Cinque Terre.
“The Cinque Terre is one of Italy's most iconic hiking spots for good reason - it's easy, accessible, and perfect for hikers of all levels. What sets it apart from other hikes in the world though are the views. The main trails along the path (and especially some of the less-hiked ones), hug the coastline and offer not only sweeping panoramas of the Liguria coast, but of the postcard-perfect villages. It just offers the right balance of nature, beauty, and culture - because as you hike through each town you can stop for gelato or indulge in a long lunch (with wine!) before continuing onward. It's a quintessential Italian experience and hikers of any level including families can enjoy it.”
Michael from Time Travel Turtle has also hiked the Cinque Terre. He told us what makes the trail so beautiful and romantic.
“Cinque Terre is one of the most romantic images of the Italian coastline and it's easy to see why. There's the large national park that rises up into the hills to olive farms and vineyards, the dramatic cliffs and bays along the water, and the charming towns dotted along the way.”
“The main Cinque Terre hiking trail links the five towns along the coast, between Monterosso and Riomaggiore. Along the walking trail, you'll get incredible views of the water, the cliffs, and the colourful houses of the towns perched around bays. At times, you may be alone on the tree-lined paths, even at the height of summer. But my favourite part of the Cinque Terre hiking trail is arriving in the towns and having a quick rest with a coffee or cold drink in the lovely squares or the cafes by the water.”
3. West Highland Way, Scotland
The most popular hiking trail in Scotland, the West Highland Way (WHW) tops the list of walking breaks in the UK. Fill your lungs with the crisp mountain air while taking in the myriad sights and landscapes this ever-changing trail has to offer. From tranquil lochs to soaring mountain peaks, this peaceful hike is just what the doctor ordered if you’re looking to take some time out and get back to nature.
Joanna from A Woman Afoot told us more about the WHW and what the highlight of the trail was for her.
“West Highland Way is probably the most famous trail in Scotland. It takes a hiker from Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow to Fort William, 154km to the North. It was officially opened in 1980 and became the first officially designated long distance footpath in Scotland. Thousands of people walk the WHW each year, and for a good reason – it takes the happy walker through an impressive variety of terrain and breath-taking views.
“Reaching the northern parts of the West Highland Way was the highlight. I was mesmerised by the magnificent scenery of Glencoe, the Rannoch Moor or views of Loch Tulla. Each section is rich in awe-inspiring views and exceptional beauty.
4. The Julian Alps, Slovenia
If you're looking for a bit of a challenge, hiking the Julian Alps in Slovenia requires some effort, but you’ll certainly be rewarded with some of the most charming sights in Europe. With craggy mountain ridges to explore, incredible alpine scenery and picturesque lakes beside enchanted castles, this hiking trail will make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a fairy-tale and change everything you thought you knew about Slovenia.
Taylor from Travel Outlandish told us why the Julian Alps offers hikers something truly unique.
“I was really blown away by the glacial lakes. It's not often that you'll see water that blue.”
“There are tons of incredible hiking trails in the Julian Alps, but the best part of all of them is that you get the classic Alps experience with far fewer crowds. While thousands undertake Mont Blanc each year, you can expect a quieter experience on hiking within Triglav National Park and the surrounding trails.”
5. Thórsmörk, Iceland
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a hiking trail in one of the Nordic countries! World-famous for natural springs and chasing the Northern Lights, Iceland is a treasure chest of natural beauty and wonder, and Thórsmörk is no exception.
“Thórsmörk is one of those places that looks too good to be true. Bright green mountains, volcanic glaciers, raw rugged nature, and braided glacier rivers -this place is literally out of a dream! And when you see it in person, you realise it completely holds up to its reputation.
“Thórsmörk in Icelandic translates into ‘valley of Thor’. Located in the highlands and nestled between three glaciers, in Thórsmörk you can really experience the power of nature and find some of the most incredible scenery in all of Iceland.
“We went to Thórsmörk in July 2016 and got ridiculously lucky with probably the best weather weekend of the entire summer. After three days and two nights hiking through the breathtaking landscapes and relaxing in the hot springs, I felt like I had only gotten a taste of what the valley has to offer!”
Want to find out more about guided walking tours in Europe? From flights and transfers to tour activities, get in touch with the HF Holidays team and start planning your trip today.