Part 7 of the Series: The Best Hiking in the World
The Best Hiking in Europe
How can we possibly nominate the Best Hiking in Europe?
After all, Europe has some of the most incredible natural features.
From the beaches of the Mediterranean to the fjords of Scandinavia. From the peaks of the Alps to the Rhone valley, the complete list couldn’t possibly fit in one page.
After tackling this project, we couldn’t agree more. And this job was too big to handle alone.
That’s why we have selected these travel writers to give us an up-close view of some of their favorites.
I think this sampling will demonstrate why they deserve consideration as some of the Best Hiking in Europe.
Pieni Karhunkierros & Karhunkierros Trails – Oulanka National Park, Finland
by Ronja Talala from Ronja Goes Abroad
Finland, the land of lakes and forests. Finland has over 185 000 lakes, over 65% of Finland’s land area is covered by forests. There are 40 national parks in Finland, every single one as unique as the other. So there are many hiking possibilities in Finland.
Oulanka National Park in Kuusamo, Finland is one of the most popular destinations for hiking. One of the reasons being that Finland’s most popular hiking trail, Pieni Karhunkierros (eng. translation= The Small Bear’s Ring), is located there. This trail and Oulanka National Park were chosen by Lonely Planet in 2016 as one of the best national parks in Europe, so the hike is known worldwide.
Pieni Karhunkierros is a 12 km (about 7.5 miles) that takes between 4-9 hours to hike. This is a hike most people can hike. You don’t need a hiking experience. There are many elevations, so having great shoes is a must.
This hike is for everyone. The endless forests of Finland, the river flowing throughout the hiking trail, and the wildlife from birds to reindeer and sometimes even bears (where the name comes from). The national park and hiking trail are a must-see for every nature lover!
Pieni Karhunkierros is the shorter version of the main hike in Oulanka National Park. Karhunkierros, also known as the Bear Trail, takes you through the whole national park. Karhunkierros is an 82 km (50 miles) long hiking trail. This hike can be divided into sections, which each take a couple of days to hike. As Finland follows freedom to roam you are allowed to camp anywhere keeping in mind some small rules. This makes hiking the long trail, even the shorten one if wanted, easier as you can stop and camp pretty much anywhere.
If you are someone who loves hiking Oulanka National Park is the place for you!
Will send the other submission, Hiking Mt Rigi, in another email so they don’t get mixed up. I have also attached two photos, so you can choose which you like the better!
MAGISTRALA TRAIL – HIGH TATRAS, SLOVAKIA
by Slavka from On2Continents
High Tatras are the smallest of the world’s large alpine mountains. They belong to the Carpathian Mountain Range and consist of the highest peaks of the whole mountain system. These mountains are an extremely popular hiking and vacation place within Central Europe.
There are many excellent hiking trails that can range from easy to difficult. The most versatile and the most beloved of all of them is the Tatranska Magistrala Trail which leads horizontally along most of the southern High Tatras.
The trail is easily accessible from several starting points and takes hikers to higher altitudes with magnificent nature and alpine scenery. The trail itself is a starting point for other trails leading into deeper valleys and higher peaks.
A first-time visitor to the High Tatras should try the part of the trail between Hrebienok and Skalnate Pleso. Both starting points are accessible by a funicular and a gondola respectively, offering a comfortable access to higher altitude where the trail stays on the same level with minimum elevation. The trail from Hrebienok to Skalnate Pleso leads upwards and the opposite direction is descending. A leisurely hiker who takes snack-and-photo breaks needs around 2.5-3 hours to walk this section.
Parc National des Calaques, France
by Elisa from Travel Franc Bucket List
The Parc National des Calanques is one of France’s national parks, located in Southern France, between Marseille, Cassis, and La Ciotat. This stretch of land by the Mediterranean Sea offers spectacular marine and terrestrial landscapes and interesting fauna.
The Calanques de Marseille offers endless outdoor activities, like rock climbing, sailing, and diving. Of course, the area is also covered by multiple hikes of different lengths and difficulties, which is the best way to explore this national park. The scenery in the Calanques is incredible, and hikers can combine long walks with breaks in one of the lonely creeks along the way, ideal for a refreshing bath.
The best time to hike the Calanques de Marseille-Cassis is during the shoulder seasons in France: April to June and September to November. Summer in the Calanques (and in Southern France in general) is very hot and not recommended for hiking. Another critical element to consider when hiking in the Calanques is the mistral wind, which blows strongly in this area and can make hikers fly. Hiking poles and good, sturdy hiking shoes are always a good idea. Also, bring a hat, sunglasses, and enough drinking water.
From Cassis, there’s direct access to the Calanques, while from Marseille, a local bus takes hikers to the starting point of various hiking trails.
Schaflegerkogel Loop – Innsbruck, Austria
by Zoe from Together in Transit
Looking for a new place for hiking in Austria? Then the Schaflegerkogel Loop in Innsbruck Austria is the next place to be for your summer holiday. This beautiful hiking route is around 6 to 7 hours long, making it perfect for a day hike for those who love getting out of the day in nature.
The length of the hike is 15.7km long, where you pass through the stunning Austrian mountains with some of the best views of the peaks on a clear day. The hiking route leads the way up 4 peaks in total and finishes in a beautiful nature valley. Along the way you may be lucky to see some of the local cows that hang out and live in the area. You will likely hear them first with the bells that they wear.
For the practical side, make sure you are well prepared as the weather can change very quickly, even in the summer in Austria. It can also be cold at the top due to the winds so have a long-sleeved jacket and suitable hiking shoes.
After the hike, head down to the gorgeous centre of Innsbruck for refuelling with a delicious meal. There are some decent restaurants near the Golden Roof, which is one of the top highlights for Innsbruck.
The Panorama Trail – Mt Rigi, Switzerland
by Ronja from Ronja Goes Abroad
Switzerland, the land of mountains, blue lakes, and the most amazing views. This country is the perfect place for hikers. One of the most beautiful destinations for hiking in Central Switzerland is found at Mt Rigi.
Mt Rigi is almost entirely surrounded by three lakes: Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug, and Lake Lauer. And don’t forget the Alpine mountain tops you can see around you. So you can guarantee the views are amazing.
The easiest way to get to Mt Rigi is by train first to Arth-Goldau Railway Station and then taking the cable car (either to the top of Mt Rigi or some of the other stations on the way).
There are tens or maybe hundreds of hikes on Mt Rigi (there is about 120km of hiking trails), but one of the more popular ones is the Panorama Trail. The Panorama Trail is 8.2 km (around 5.1 miles) is an easy trail from the top of the mountains downhill. Shorter versions are available. The trail basically follows the Rigi Staffel tracks. So before hiking remember to check out your route so you don’t get lost and hike down the wrong side of the mountain.
Why is the trail called the Panorama Trail? Because during the hike you will have a panoramic view. There will be some spots during the trail where you could stop and have a break. One of these being at the Cliff Walk path. This short trail is a short segment along the cliffs. During this path, the views are some of the most beautiful you will see during your hike. And as promised you can stop and have a break, sitting on the benches and enjoying the view. After that, you will have about half of the trail to go. But it will be worth it!
The Panorama Trail is one of the best hikes ones to take at Mt Rigi and definitely worth the visit if you are in the cities nearby or just looking for some beautiful views and great hiking moments!
Cinque Terre Hiking Trail – Italy
by Dymphe from Dymabroad
One of the best hiking trails in the world is definitely the Cinque Terre hiking trail. There are many great places for hiking in the area of Cinque Terre, which lies in the country of Italy.
Cinque Terre consists of 5 different villages that are similar to each other. These villages are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Monterosso al Mare.
Each one of these villages has houses and other sights that are amazing to see! The houses that are in the villages of Cinque Terre are very small and very colorful.
This is what sets them apart, and it is why there are so many Instagrammable places in Cinque Terre! When hiking the Cinque Terre hiking trails, it is possible to hike from one village to the next one. Each village is not only connected by train, there is also a hiking path connecting them all.
Along the way, there are spectacular views of the city and the landscape is amazing! During the hikes it’s possible to see the Mediterranean Sea, the houses of the villages from a distance, and the nature in between the villages.
Keep in mind that a hiking pass is needed to walk these hiking trails in Cinque Terre.
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Black Lake, Montenegro
by Clotilde from A Princess Travelling With Twins
Montenegro in recent years has begun to attract more and more tourists. Kotor and its bay, Skadar lake, and the beaches along the coast are often the main attractions of a trip to Montenegro. However many have begun to discover that Montenegro also offers incredible options for hikers who love to enjoy the still unspoiled nature.
Durmitor National Park is not the only one, but is the largest area in which to engage in this activity. There are several routes, all well marked, and one of the most beautiful is certainly the easy but extremely scenic trail around Black Lake.
The Black Lake, a glacial lake actually composed of two connected lakes, is so named for the color it assumes by reflecting the forests that adorn the slopes of the surrounding mountains. The path around the lake is about 3.5km taking about an hour and a half to go around.
Access to the lake is for a fee (€ 3), you can drive to the parking lot where you buy tickets, then you have to walk for about fifteen minutes until you reach the most animated area of the lake, where in warm sunny days people take a swim, a picnic or relax with a pleasant ride in one of the boats and canoes for rent.
Zablijak is the largest town (but still really small) in the surrounding area and is an excellent place to stay in Montenegro while visiting this area. The lake is about 3km from the center of Zablijak, and so it is also easy to reach on foot.
After reading those, you have to admit these suggestions deserve some merit to be on this list.
Arguably, these are some of the best hikes you can find in Europe.
More definite is the skill of these outdoor travel writers of conveying the wonder of them all.
We want to thank each of them for their contribution to this article. They took the time to give us a sampling of their travels and their writing.
If you liked it, be sure to follow their links to their websites to get even more great hiking in Europe and around the world.
More Great Hiking
Of course, you may have noticed that we didn’t touch Spain or the UK on this list.
In fact, we received so many submissions we had to dedicate them to their own article.
Stay tuned as we present those later this week as we continue this series.
In the meantime, we have plenty of other hiking, camping, and road trips to share.
For example, we covered our hilarious hiking trip on the Cliffs of Moher on one of the windiest days imaginable. Find out how we survived that epic hike.
But most of us want to get out into nature even more. Which is why we scoured the world for the best camping spots.
Don’t miss these amazing campsites across Europe.
And some of our personal favorite places to camp around Iceland.
And we have recently finished our driving series finding the Best Road Trips in the World. You may be especially interested in our top European road trips.
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