7 of the Best Long-Distance Hikes in Europe
Europe is home to some of the most breath-taking scenery on the planet, from the wild and wonderful mountain ranges and the depths of the wilderness to the spectacular, sparkling coastal scenes and every in between; there truly is something for everyone. As most long-distance walkers can attest, these hikes are so much easier when a fantastic and idyllic new scene awaits every turn and with no shortage of photograph opportunities, the long-distance nature of your holiday means you can truly take in the beauty that unfolds in front of you. Here at LOWA, we love exploring the plethora of walking trails in Europe and have picked out just seven of the best long-distance walks for you to browse ahead of your next hiking adventure.
Directly translating to King’s Trail in English, this mesmerising route stretches over 440 kilometres and encompasses the vast plains of Lapland in Sweden. When embarking upon this adventure, you’ll cross one of the biggest wildernesses that remain in Europe today, passing by glaciers, mountains, tundra and birch woods. This trail is not recommended for beginners, and the lack of facilities en route make it challenging for even the most seasoned of hiker’s, but is typically tackled in four one-week-long sections. Whether you’d like to complete the full trail, or you want to do some research and pick the best segment; you won’t regret taking on the Kungsleden Trail!
The Haute Trek
Beginning at the bottom of the highest massif in Western Europe, at the foot of Mont Blanc and ends at one of the most iconic mountains in the region, the Matterhorn. This hike in particular is renowned as a fantastic cross-country ski route, but the 200km summer alternative is no less exhilarating than when your whizzing through the fresh mountain air. This track covers over 12,000 metres in ascents, 11 passes and circles ten of the twelve highest peaks that this magnificent mountain range has to offer. The hike takes approximately 10-12 days to complete, based on an experienced hiker walking for 6-8 hours per day. It is rated as moderate, although some parts of the journey can be more challenging for novice hikers.
The Slovenian Mountain Trails
Taking approximately 30 days to complete and encompassing just short of 600km of hiking, these trails are not for the feint-hearted. Whilst taking on one or all of these trails, you are likely to come across the major mountain ranges within Slovenia, namely the Julian Alps, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, Karavanke and Pohorje, including Mount Triglav - the tallest peak in the country - as well as the delightful Adriatic coast. Beginning in the traditional town of Maribor, this trail is easy to follow and well-maintained, with over 50 huts and just shy of 80 checkpoints throughout the route. Remember, if your holiday allowance or budget will not allow for 30-days of walking, you can research the trail and choose a section that you wish to see the most so as to still experience the breath-taking beauty of this corner of the world.
Tour du Mont Blanc
No list of fantastic hiking trails in Europe is complete without mentioning the renowned Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). Trekkers will experience some of the most rugged, wild and jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery that this mountain range has to offer. At 170km long, you’ll see lots of incredible views throughout this fantastic hike which includes 10,000 metres of cumulative descent and ascent. The TMB crosses three different countries and is expected to take approximately 11 days, based on hikers walking for between 5-7 hours a day.
The Matterhorn Trek
Often described as the most beautiful trek in the world let alone Europe, the Matterhorn Trek encompasses a variety of ancient trails, some of which have linked the Swiss Alps with the Italian valleys for centuries. From charismatic, traditional cobbled streets that line the towns and villages of Switzerland to the slightly more chaotic and buzzing way of life chosen by vibrant communities in Italy, this route provides a brilliant taster of it all. The alpine meadows, icy lakes and glacial passes are a site to behold and make this 8-day trek one for the bucket list.
For those looking for an adventure slightly closer to home than some of those mentioned above, what used to be the northernmost border of the Roman Empire is full of both beauty and adventure. From one coast to the next, this historical trek passes by a large number of Roman ruins, including various sections of UNESCO World Heritage Listed Hadrian’s Wall. The wonderful hike takes just short of six days to complete and is well-established in the world of walkers, meaning that there’s no shortage of facilities along the way. For more on Scottish hiking, check out our recent blog post, The Best Countryside Winter Walks in Scotland.
Heading slightly further afield, this trek is also known as the Hot Sprint Route, and despite its relatively short length of 54 kilometres, it does demand that walkers spend a few nights out on the trail in order to complete. From volcanos and multi-coloured mountains to glaciers and steep valleys, it’s the diverse nature of this hike that makes it so popular with walkers from far and wide. There’s a great hut system for those that would rather leave heavy tents at home and whilst it takes just 3-4 days to complete, it can be combined with other trails nearby to make the perfect week of walking.
That concludes our pick of just seven of the best long-distance hikes for you to consider for your next walking holiday. At LOWA, we provide a range of lightweight walking boots suitable for every kind of trail, ensuring a comfortable experience that allows you to concentrate on enjoying the hike. Check out our website for the complete range and to find the perfect pair for your next adventure.