The 10 best European countries for an epic hiking holiday

After a boiling summer spent hiding from the sun or conserving our energy, many Europeans are still craving some quality time in the great outdoors.

Hiking is the perfect way to enjoy the fresher air of autumn, keep fit and admire some gorgeous scenery. But with so many epic locations in Europe, how can you choose where to stretch your legs?

Luckily, has compiled a list of the top 10 best hiking destinations in Europe, from Mediterranean trails to Nordic climbs.

10 – Portugal

First up is a country known for its sizzling summers and beautiful beaches. But Portugal is more than sun, sea and sand and can boast some of Europe’s most wonderful walkways.

The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail stretches to the Algarve coast and features the famous Bengali cave. Elsewhere, dramatic red sandstone cliffs can be your backdrop on the beach walk of the Costa de Caparica Trail.

Away from the coastline, the Trilho dos Currais takes hikers through the breathtaking Inpeneda-Geres National Park.

9 – France

From the Alps to the vineyards of Bordeaux, France has walks (and wine) for every occasion. If you fancy a break from the bright lights of Paris or Mediterranean beaches, hiking in the French countryside is a must-try..

The Pilgrim’s Trail, Mont St Michel is best done at low tide and it’s recommended you tackle with with a guide. It will take you to the incomparable sight of the island of Mont St. Michel.

Further south, intrepid hikers can admire the Azure rivers and the Verdon River as they walk the Verdon Gorge.

8 – Germany

Germany has so many beautiful forests, rivers and mountain ranges you’ll understand instantly why hiking is such a popular German pastime.

The warm German summers are perfect for a hiking holiday and exploring routes which show fairytale castles in the home of the Brothers Grimm. On the Rhine Castle Trail, you can do just that or visitors can explore the Goethe Way in Harz National Park.

Meanwhile, the Painters’ Way is the backdrop for many films and TV shows and is widely considered the most beautiful walk in Germany.

7 – Norway

Enjoy a bit of scandanavian ‘friluftsliv’ and get into the great Norwegian outdoors. With a lunchbox full of pickled herring you can climb to the picturesque and dramatic Pulpit Rock or explore the fjords of southern Norway.

The more ambitious travellers can even try to get to the top of Galdhøpiggen, the highest peak in Northern Europe.

6 – Switzerland

One on the list that you may have expected, Switzerland is home to chocolate, cuckoo clocks and sensational mountainous landscapes.

On the Engelberg Trail you can enjoy panoramic views while breathing in the crisp alpine air or climb the Matterhorn – one of the highest summits in the alps.

5 – Spain

A sun-soaked mediterranean trail is beckoning you in Spain, which can add a walking holiday to its already established reputation as beach and culture destination.

Walk the spiritual Camino de Santiago and reach the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, or you could visit Peñalara National Park during a stay in nearby Madrid. Spain also boasts mountain trails and you can explore the Pyrenees on the Pico Sobarcal.

4 – Italy

Italian cuisine and ancient monuments are well publicised, but incorporating a hiking trip into your holiday in Italy could break up the carbs and colosseum trips.

You can spot wildlife on the Sella-Herbetet Traverse or admire the crystal clear ocean and colourful towns along the Blue Trail. Mountain climbing is also an option with the Dolomites or even Vesuvius, thankfully less active these days than in ancient Roman times.

3 – UK

The UK is made up of four nations with distinct characters and landscapes. As such, there are walks there to satisfy every ability. You can climb Snowdon in Wales, explore the Lake District in England or walk the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.

If you have the time, why not try the famous coast to coast walk which will take through three different national parks and two feuding counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

2 – Iceland

Iceland might be cold but the Icelandic volcanoes, dramatic beaches and giant waterfalls will make you forget the weather. Where better to drink some fresh glacial water or see a stunning geyser?

Iceland boasts the Laugavegur which is perfect for viewing the Icelandic highlands and the Fimmvörðuháls Trek which begins at a stunning waterfall and includes views of a volcano.

1 – Ireland

The overall winner is the Emerald Isle itself, Ireland. While Ireland’s weather may be unpredictable (it can begin raining at any moment) the temperate climate makes it perfect for hiking. Sample some famous Irish hospitality when you walk the Giant’s Causeway or climb Torc Mountain in Kerry.

The Irish countryside and coastlines are perfect and everything else there will make weary wanderers feel right at home.

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