In spite of being the second smallest of all the continents, Europe is incredibly diverse. From the black sands and glacier capped mountains of Iceland to the coastal cliffs and turquoise sea of Sardinia, the best way to explore all these different landscapes is indisputably on foot. If you are unsure of where to start, here is a list of the five best hikes in Europe, each of which is quite unique but also incredibly beautiful.
The Haute Route (France, Switzerland)
This week-long hike through the stunning beauty of the French and Swiss Alps follows the classic ski touring route. It is the perfect way of getting some unforgettable views of the Alps’ most iconic peaks, such as Mont Blanc (4.810 m), Grand Combin (4.310 m) and Monte Rosa (4.630 m).
Beginning in the famous resort town of Chamonix, France and finishing under the shadow of the Matterhorn (4.480 m) in Zermatt, Switzerland, this hike stretches for 180 kilometers of diverse and rugged terrain. Along the way you will hike over four glaciers, through flower filled meadows, along turquoise blue lakes and beneath 10 of the Alps’ highest peaks.
The trip has numerous highlights with different and equally stunning views each day. However, toward the end, you will ascend the top of the Tete Blanche (3.710 m). From here the views of the Matterhorn are simply astounding.
For any hiking aficionado, this trek is a must-do. There are few better ways to spend a week during the summer than exploring the exquisite alpine wilderness of a route which has drawn adventurers for the past two centuries.
Tour du Mont Blanc (France, Italy, Switzerland)
Enjoy some of the most iconic views of the Alps and trek through three countries all in the course of 10 days! These are among the numerous highlights of the Tour du Mont Blanc, which has been referred to as the ultimate mountain hike.
Traditionally departing from and returning to Chamonix, this 160-kilometer loop takes you to Trient, Courmayeur, Vallee des Glaciers and Val Veny among many other locations. Along the way, you will hike over glaciers, along mountain ridges, through evergreen forests and past pristine lakes.
Passing through Switzerland and Italy en route back to Chamonix, the tour really gives you a bit of everything, including outstanding alpine views as well as the chance to experience some of the local culture.
While the trip itself is perfect for intermediate hikers – and often used as a warm up for the Haute Route – certain variations give you the chance to ascend one of the region’s many iconic 4.000 meter peaks, such as Gran Paradiso (4.060 m), Monte Rosa (4.630 m) or Mont Blanc (4.810 m).
Your summer could hardly be better spent hiking through the incredible alpine terrain of this unique region, while meeting new people in the local towns and experiencing why tourists from around the world have set their sights on this spot for the past 200 years.
Selvaggio Blu (Italy)
For those with an affinity for challenges and heights, the Salvaggio Blu delivers on both of those and more. The 45-kilometer hike stretches along the stunning coastline of Sardinia and provides amazing views out over the turquoise-blue Mediterranean Sea.
Connecting the picturesque towns of Saint Maria Navarrese and Cala Gonone, the trek was designed in the 1980s by two Italian climbers who were fascinated by the beautiful and stark scenery.
The entire hike takes eight days, along narrow paths that sit atop steep and rocky cliffs. There are also sections of the trail that lead you through forests, reeds and limestone caves all between the altitudes of 300 to 1.000 meters. Due to the difficult terrain and narrow paths it is considered one of the toughest in Europe.
The highlight of the trip is easily the numerous rock outcroppings that provide panoramic views of the surroundings. Perhaps, the best one is Serra Salinas, a 500-meter sea cliff with a simply spectacular view of one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia: Cala Goloritzé.
The hike is simply stunning and available all year long. However, from autumn to spring is when the weather is generally the most pleasant for this awesome adventure.
Laugavegur Trail (Iceland)
Nestled in the beautiful highland valley of Thormstork, this five-day trek takes you through a geothermal paradise full of surreal and wonderful sights. From the black sand created by eroded volcanic rock to the glacier-capped mountains and rhyolite hills, this Icelandic paradise makes for the perfect backdrop for your next hiking adventure.
Starting from Landmannalaugar, you will spend the next days wandering through the remote wilderness of the Icelandic highlands, passing geysers, hot springs and volcanoes along the way. Each day brings something different and immerses you in one of the least populated landscapes in all of Europe.
It is impossible to pinpoint one highlight alone. From glacier-carved fields filled with sheep to the stunning views of lakes seen from colorfully striped mountain passes, each days brings a new set of wonders. On the final leg of the journey, you make your way through Thor’s Forrest – a valley full of unique flora, wildflowers and incredibly tall trees – before arriving at your end-point: Þórsmörk.
Throughout the summer months, there is no hike through a more diverse and dreamlike landscape than here in the heart of southeast Iceland.
Corsica GR20 (France)
The eclectic and isolated beauty of Corsica makes this large Mediterranean island a hiker’s paradise. The GR20 is a challenging 180-kilometer trek that takes you through the island’s rugged granite peaks and gives you a snapshot of some of its rich history and culture along the way.
Running diagonally from the island’s northwest to southeast, the CR20 splits Corsica down the middle and provides you with a sampling of everything that the island has to offer. Most treks last for about 15 days and take you from Calenzana to Conca.
Along the way you will witness isolated citadels on top of granite outcroppings, quaint mountain meadows glacial lakes and valleys, panoramic views of the sea and surroundings. The trek takes you to the top of 2.000 meter mountains, across the island’s largest river and through idyllic settlements.
From May to October, when the skies are sunny and clear, few spots in Europe will offer you the same diverse scenery, rugged landscapes and rich cultural experiences as Corsica’s GR20. However, during July and August, temperatures can be scorching so coming before and after the peak of summer is generally best.
Europe truly is a diverse and unique continent, complete with nearly every climate zone geographic oddity imaginable. Not to mention some incredible wilderness. The best way to become intimately acquainted with its natural beauty is to lace up your hiking boots and get walking!
You can find these incredibly beautiful treks at Explore-Share.com, an online booking platform for guided adventures worldwide. Set out on the adventure of a lifetime!