Who doesn’t love a trekking adventure that lifts you from reality and leads you to incredible landscapes? Trekking is an activity for the soul where you can lose yourself amidst nature and off-beat trails with stunning views. The thing we all know is that nobody does stunning vistas better than the diverse scenery of Europe. Whether you’re looking to trek through forested mountains, open hills, or snow-covered wonderlands, Europe has it all.
Listed below are some of the most well-known towns in Europe for your next trekking adventure, be it an easy stroll or a challenging hike.
Close to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, Bled is a hotspot for trekking enthusiasts. The town, overlooking the Bled Lake, has some of the most scenic hikes, littered with waterfalls and lakes. Slovenia’s central location means that you can visit Bled year-round. You are sure to receive a unique experience, from walking amongst green flora and fauna to skiing in the Alps. From Bled, you get the option to choose a multitude of trails in the famous Julian Alps or Karavanke Mountains. You can also opt for the popular Triglav National Park which is in proximity to the town.
Home to Mount Triglav, the National Park is a top pick as the hikes range from easy to intermediate ascents. These may require as much as two days to complete. A famous day-trail at Triglav is Vintgar Gorge Loop Trail. The trail surrounds the Vintgar gorge and is made up entirely of marked paths and boardwalks, some of which run right above the gushing river. At the end of the 2 to 3 hours trail opens to the showstopper railway bridge and waterfall. From here, you can loop back or exit through the longer route. If you choose this trail make sure to plan it well before your trip as it is a popular spot in Europe. You can also stick to one of the many off-beaten paths that are scattered all over Bled, Slovenia.
Another choice is the Mala Osojnica and Ojstrica which offers picture-perfect views of Lake Bled. However, reaching the viewpoints offers more of a challenge as the steep ascend is dangerous during the rain when the part gets muddy. The trail is often recommended with some amount of preparation and the correct shoes for trekking.
Stavanger is a central point through which you can reach some of the most diverse hiking spots in Norway. The town is close to the breath-taking Lysefjord and Magma Geopark, a UNESCO park. Some of the most famous hiking trails that offer the true extent of the beauty of Norway are Pulpit Rock, Kjerag, Flori 4444, Dalsnuten, Store Stokkavannet, Manafossen, and Trollpikken. These offer an abundance of flora and rock formations. Out of them, Pulpit Rock, also known as Preikestolen is the most famous trail in Stavanger, and arguably in Norway.
The Preikestolen Trail takes an average of 4 hours to complete, excluding the numerous stops you will take to capture the beauty around and below you. From the base to the top is a trail of roughly 2 hours filled with beautiful landscapes, stone hopping, and the occasional narrow pathways of people ambling down from the top. The trek is truly an adventure but not one that is difficult enough that you pay more attention to your breathing than the view. You will have to cross stone stairs and wet patches but the view of the Lysefjord with its milky waters is enough to make you forget the exercise.
Aside from this, you can explore the Lysefjord from another point of view through the challenging 10 kilometers Kjerag- Lysefjord hike with the iconic boulder between the mountains shot. Flori 4444 with its 4444 wooden staircases climb to the top is also a commendable trek. Local hikes that are closer to the city include Dalsnuten and Store Stokkavannet. You can also check out the Manafossen climb which ascends along the highest waterfall of Rogaland Country at 92 meters. However, it is still suitable for all fitness levels with challenging alternatives, should the path seem too easy.
It is no surprise that Chamonix in France made this list. Located in the north of Mont Blanc, the region is often known as the mountaineering capital of Europe. It is also famously known for hosting the first winter Olympics and the oldest ski resorts. Another reason that the region attracts a large crowd of serious trekking enthusiasts is that Chamonix is a renowned spot for the Tour Du Mont Blanc. This trail runs 165 kilometers and takes around 8-11 days to complete. The Tour Du Mont Blanc is arguably the most popular trekking and hiking trail in all Europe, crossing the borders of France, Italy, and Switzerland. You are sure to find plenty of budget-friendly lodgings and stunning views as you cross the alpine region.
The region is also famous for its fauna with eagles and exotic birds to packs of wolves hidden in the snow-covered scenery. If you wish to take smaller, day treks, you can also choose from the Grand Balcon Nord, Grand Balcon de Sud, or Le Tour to Col de Balme. The Grand Balcon Nord is 1000 feet (0.3 kilometers) descend that overlooks the Arve River to Brevent and Aiguilles Rouges. On the other hand, the Grand Balcon de Sud provides finer views while you walk through pine trees and overlook the grandest peaks in the region. Lastly, the Le Tour to Col de Balme trail leads you to the French-Swiss border with pastures and distant villages. Each of these trails come with their fair share of sightseeing and cable car or gondola rides that make the experience richer.
While many towns in Spain provide trails catering to all levels of difficulty, nobody has as diverse a collection as Galicia. The town is home to the famous Camino de Santiago trail and offers coastal views along with a cooler climate, ideal for a trek. The obvious choice in Galicia, the Camino de Santiago is an 800 kilometer stretch to the town of Santiago de Compostela. This trek is a pilgrimage route and takes about a month to complete. However, the most popular starting point is towards the end and is a 5-day trek from Sarria.
Another rather famous choice for trekking in Galicia is the way of the lighthouses. This trail will take you on a journey along the coast scattered with lighthouses, cliffs, forests, and more. You can choose to stop and take a dip in the ocean at the beaches or enjoy the view as you walk on. You can also take your pick from the Ruta de O Alto do Principe or the Senda del Agua, both of which are coastal, day treks in and off Galicia. The former trails up Mount Agudo and is 3 kilometers long. The latter is a slightly longer stretch (13 kilometers) and is ideal for cycling and trekking. For a unique forest atmosphere, you can walk along the Fraga River on the Sendero del Rio Fraga trail and cross many bridges, waterfalls, and mills along the way.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre, located north of Pisa, is a group of 5 towns in Italy. Each town has a personality of its own that you can soak in best and explore through the numerous treks offered. If you wish to explore the Cinque Terre thoroughly, the Blue Trail is your best choice. The longest trail that runs through all five towns, the Blue path takes you through all 5 towns from the most scenic routes. It also has trains that you can access should you get tired as you hike northward. Although the trail is temporarily shut, it is expected to return to its original splendor by 2021.
If you only wish for an easy stroll, the Riomaggiore Ring Trail that loops back to its starting point is the best for you. Being only 3.5 kilometers long, it is an easy trek that takes little effort while still exposing you to the full splendor of the coast of Italy.
For a more challenging hike, you can take up the Porchina or the Corniglia to Manarola trail. This steep trail is 5.5 kilometers long and riddled with ascending paths and narrow trails. However, you are greeted with the most stunning views at the end of the trail, with a panoramic sight of Manarola. You also cross the church of San Lorenzo and stone terraces growing wine, along with several Italian villages that you can cross of your sightseeing list.
The toughest trail in the Cinque Terre region is the 2-hour long Vernazza-Monterosso trail. This is only fit for strong trekking enthusiasts whereas the easiest and shortest trail for those on a time crunch is the 20 minute, Via dell ‘more or ‘the Way of Love’. When visiting Cinque Terre for trekking, do make sure that you have your spots booked as the towns can be packed throughout the year.