No European vacation is complete without a true backpacking experience through destinations such as Tour du Mont Blanc and Alta Via Uno. From the breathtaking views to the many amenities and accommodations along the way, hiking is a popular activity for tourists and locals alike. Not only is hiking a less expensive alternative to traveling by bus or train, but the experience itself is so much greater. Whether you are visiting Europe for a full summer or only a week or two, there are several can’t-miss hiking trails you need to experience during your stay. To help you prepare for your next European vacation, the team at GlobalEntryServices.org has put together a list of seven must-experience hiking trails in Europe.
#1 Tour du Mont Blanc – There are many reasons why hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is at the top of many travelers’ to-do lists. The highest mountain in the European Union passes through countries such as France, Italy and Switzerland, requiring travelers to traverse 170km over a course of 11 days. Since wild camping is illegal in France, the team at GlobalEntryServices.org recommends taking advantage of the trail’s many accommodations along the way, including huts, cooked meals, bathrooms and beds.
#2 Alta Via Uno – Covering 120km, Italy’s Alta Via Uno is a spectacular hiking trail that usually takes 10 days to complete by foot. The trail reaches its highest point at 9,029ft, taking travelers through the Dolomites mountain range and historic World War I battlefields. For the greatest experience, the team at GlobalEntryServices.org recommends completing the hike during July or September.
#3 West Highland Way – The 96-mile hike through Scotland’s West Highland Way leads hikers through 18th century military roads, rugged highlands and pastoral landscapes. Scotland’s most popular hiking trail generally takes between six and eight days to complete and attracts more than 80,000 visitors each year. During the hike, travelers may camp or stay in any of the trail’s available inns or hostels.
#4 Kungsleden – Sweden’s Kungsleden – or the King’s Trail – takes travelers through Europe’s Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in the continent. The 270-mile trail acts as a cross-country ski trail in the winter and hiking path in the summer, featuring 21 sleeping huts along the way. However, the team at GlobalEntryServices.org suggests pitching a tent and camping alongside the provided huts for a smaller fee and an even greater experience.
#5 El Camino del Rey – Spain’s El Camino del Rey – or St. James’s Way – serves as a 472-mile hiking journey for many travelers, while other hikers view the trail as a spiritual path. The pilgrimage route begins in various areas, but always ends at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. The trail’s most popular route begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (in France) or in Roncesvalles (in Spain). Additionally, the trail features an abundance of hostels along the way.
#6 Retezat Mountains – As part of the Southern Carpathians, Romania’s Retezat Mountains offer hikers two main areas for exploration: the Central Retezat and the Limestone Retezat. For higher peaks and valleys, the group at GlobalEntryServices.org recommends exploring the area of the Central Retezat. In contrast, the Limestone Retezat provides hikers with lower altitudes but no shortage of gorges and caves. Additionally, travelers can complete both trails in just one day if they wish.
#7 Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls – At 34 miles long, requiring two to four days of traveling, Iceland’s Laugavegur – or the Hot Springs Route – gives hikers the opportunity to experience active volcanoes, technicolor mountains and massive glaciers (with camping huts along the way). However, the experience is made even greater when combined with the hot springs of Fimmvörðuháls, a 16-mile trail which adds on an extra two days of trekking. However, the trails are only available during the middle of June and through the end of August, so it’s important to plan ahead.