Top 10 Hiking Spots In Europe
Going on a hike in some of Europe’s most spectacular trails is one of the most fulfilling outdoor adventures you can ever have. The fresh air and the fantastic sights to behold, there’s nothing better than spending several days marveling at what Mother Earth can offer. It is unfortunate, however, that some of us do not have days to spare to appreciate Europe’s stunning landscape. There are, nevertheless, destinations that you can complete in a day. If you’re curious about which places these are, then get ready with your hiking shoes as we share with you Europe’s 10 best day hikes.
1. Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen Valley
Right in the heart of the Swiss Alps is a haven for family fun. Lauterbrunnen is a municipality in the Swiss canton of Bern. It is a picturesque valley that features Alpine glaciers, peaks, and meadows.
The valley boasts of limestone precipices that come with extreme steepness. It is this geologic feature that makes this Alpine valley so famous for its many waterfalls. The most popular of these falls is the Staubbach Falls which drops from a height of 900 feet in a single unbroken fall.
Hiking the Lauterbrunnen Valley in a day means you’ll be passing along the scenic Weisse Lutschine River. You can chill your drinks in its cool waters as this river sources its water from melting snow high up in the surrounding mountain.
The hike itself gives you the very rare feeling of walking in paradise. Your hike opens your eyes to pristine peaks, lush greens, and turquoise lakes. It has the perfect Alpine breeze, crisp mountain air, and stunning scenery that you’ll think you’re in a different world. It tends to be wet so make sure you have your water shoes for hiking handy.
2. Spain’s Zumaia Flysch Route
Fans of Games of Thrones will love the sedimentary rock features of Zumaia in the Basque region of northern Spain. It is a small town but one that features unique geological formations. These natural architectures are a magnet for aspiring geologists and geological fanatics. The rock formations are a testament to the ongoing process of building and reshaping of the earth’s crust.
Zumaia is not only famous for its continuous rock strata; it is also popular for its beaches. Itzurun Beach, for instance is a haven for archaeologists. Ammonites and other fossil remains abound in this beach. What you may not know about this Spanish town is that it is prominent for its octopuses.
Your day hike may include a trip down the beach of Itzurun or the coastline from Zumaia to Deba. You can join local village folks in catching octopus. These sea creatures love to hide in the holes and cracks of underwater rocks. It’s a much better way to see the wonderful scenery of the Zumaia landscape in your mind.
3. Isle Of Skye’s Fairy Pools
Get your hiking sandals ready for a scenic walk in one of the most magical places on earth. Fairy Pools boasts of waters that come in vivid greens and blues. It is this characteristic that makes this place so mystical, almost magical. There is reason to believe that this natural waterfall phenomenon is not natural at all.
Getting to the Fairy Pools is a comfortable 20-minute walk from the car park at Glen Brittle in the Isle of Skye. Get your swimming trunks ready as the Fairy Pools is also a favorite of wild swimmers. On your way to the Fairy Pools, you will dazzle yourself with an amazing collection of plovers, turnstones, pipits, and curlews. Sheep, rabbits, and red deer also make their presence felt as you head for the falls.
Hiking the fascinating sights of the Fairy Pools takes a mere 3 hours to complete. But more than the famous Scottish island landscape, you’ll be spending most of your time in the waters of the Pool. It’s a magical journey that everyone deserves to experience.
4. Montenegro’s Ladder of Kotor
Overlooking the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea is the old coastal town of Kotor. The coastal town boasts of overhanging limestone cliffs that look as if they’re ready to take a dip into the Mediterranean. Some folks believe Kotor is a fjord, but it is more of an underwater river canyon.
The best part of Kotor to engage in a meaningful day hike is the Ladder of Kotor. This is not a natural geologic ladder. It is a steep path that often zigzags its way through the historic cross-country route of ancient Kotor. The zigzagging path gives you the feeling of navigating through and endless series of sharp U-turns. It is an easy hike, but one that requires strong knees. Aside from your hiking shoes or hiking sandals, it is best to bring along a hiking stick as well.
After going through the Ladder of Kotor, the view opens up to the stunning ruins of the old town of Spiljari. You’ll marvel at St. George’s Church despite its old and rundown look. Upon reaching the top, you can sit on a rock and let the beauty of the Kotor Bay transport you to a time when large ancient ships came home to the pier below.
5. Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park
Bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is Croatia’s largest and oldest national park. It is also one of the best places to have a remarkable day hike. What makes this place so fascinating among day hikers is the fact that it comprises 16 different lakes. These lakes connect like extra-large ponds in a world-class golf course. The lakes come in different hues of blue, green, and turquoise. Each can provide with you amazing waterfalls that accompany your climb. It’s a day hike in a fairytale place.
The lakes and waterfalls are not the only ones to behold in Plitvice. The series of limestone and dolomite karstic rocks and their respective caves can be magical as well. All over the park are several pit-caves that are worth exploring. Base jumpers find the Cudinka Pit Cave to be perfect for making that leap of faith.
Hiking through the Plitvice system of lakes, caves, forests, and rivers is like walking through the lands of a fairytale story. Getting yourself to Veliki Slap can give you the best view of this magical land complete with the picture-perfect clear lakes. Prepare your walking shoes cause you are up for an amazing walking adventure.
6. France’s Lac Blanc
There’s the famous Tour du Mont Blanc for avid hikers and trekkers. You can complete 110 miles through the Alpine landscape of Mont Blanc, taking you through Switzerland, France, and Italy in 11 days. But we’re not here to hike for that long. We only need a day to experience the mysticism of France’s most famous mountain – Mont Blanc.
Lac Blanc is the best place for day hikers wanting to explore the French Alps. Absolute newbies will love the hike as it is gentle on the body. It is also one of the most scenic walks you will ever get. From the little ski resort commune of Chamonix to the Index, you’ll take a cable car then a chairlift. From the Index, you’ll be hiking your way towards Lac Blanc and its clear and calm waters. These waters act like a mirror that serves to create a perfect mirror image of France and Italy’s most famous peak.
The high-altitude mountain lake can give you a very different viewpoint of the Mont Blanc Massif. Viewing the sunrise and sunset at this place offers the most beautiful and ever-changing alpine colors.
7. Greece’s Samaria Gorge
Get ready with your hiking shoes as you’ll test the limits of your endurance in the 5- to 7-hour trek to complete the famous Samaria Gorge walk. The 11-mile stretch is a dried-up river bed that runs between Mt. Volakias and the White Mountains in Crete’s Chania region.
Your hike starts in the northern entrance of Omalos at a height of 4,100 feet. You will then snake your way through the most famous section of the Gorge, the Gates. This section is only 13 feet wide yet the walls on both sides can reach a height of 980 feet. It’s like passing through the Gates of Mordor.
Through the gorge are a series of rivers which you have to either cross or wade in. No matter how you wish to navigate these waters, you’ll love looking at the natural structures that abound. There are also fascinating flora and fauna to make your day hike more memorable. Your journey terminates in the small fishing village of Agia Roumeli on the turquoise waters of the Libyan Sea.
8. Madeira’s Pico Do Arieiro
Standing some 5,965 feet above sea level, one of Madeira Island’s highest peaks also happens to be one of the best places to have a day hike. It connects to Pico Ruivo in the north by way of a natural footpath. More than a thousand-day hikers take these footpaths every single day to experience a sensation that very few places on Earth can offer.
Climbing up the peak is not for absolute newbies as there are steep slopes and ridges that one has to navigate. There are tunnels, too, that can offer a different experience altogether. However, reaching the top can make whatever discomforts you may have as the view opens up to the vast expanse of the Atlantic. When the sky is clear, you can see Madeira’s island neighbor of Porto Santo.
It is a 4-hour hike that is well worth every step. Standing at the peak gives you a rare chance to look down on beautiful cloud formations that blanket the island. You’ll also marvel at the volcano crater valley and the wildflowers that call this peak their home.
9. Austria’s Zillertal
The scenic valley of Zillertal plays host to tens of thousands of tourists every year, offering them four large ski resorts. While this Austrian valley boasts of winter sports activities, day hiking is not far behind. There are thousands of miles of footpaths and trails that cater to both beginners and pros.
Making the day hike is all about fantastic mountain views of the Austrian Alps. The rivers feature crystal-clear and cool waters that come from melting snow high up in the Alps. Head over to the Hintertux Glacier or the Jochsee and Pfitscherjocchaus where you can stand in awe of the magnificence of the place.
Day hiking in the Zillertal is easy, although there are certain trails that are too technical for beginners. You should be able to complete the hike in 5 to 6 hours. However, given the sights, it is not uncommon that you’ll need more time to appreciate natural beauty at its finest.
10. Italy’s Cinque Terre Coastal Trail
Covering five Italian towns that are on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, the Cinque Terre Coastal Trail is an idyllic 6.3-mile coastal trek. The 4-hour hike takes you through the towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. You can stop in each town to indulge in the local culture and extend your hike to more than a day.
In the past, day hikers who were feeling romantic would take the Via dell’Amore or Love Walk between Manarola and Riomaggiore. This 1,100-yard pedestrian street provides spectacular views of the sea. It’s the perfect place to day hike with your loved one while renewing your vows and rekindling your passion for each other. Too bad, this section no longer exists. Instead, there’s another trail that takes you a bit farther from the waterfront. It is longer and steeper, too, than the Via dell’Amore.
The views of the Mediterranean on one side and sheer rock formations on the other are sure to take your breath away. The towns themselves make for the perfect scene to put in your Instagram account. Colorful buildings and quaint houses dot the rock face. The gentle waves of the Mediterranean announce their presence with their faint smashing of the coastal rocks.
Europe is a land of many wonders. From the shores of the Mediterranean to the islands in the Atlantic to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps, there are destinations that you can go for an awesome day hike adventure.