Most tourists to Europe travel on a tight schedule and base their travel itinerary on visiting as many of the continent’s most iconic and glamorous cities as they can cram into their time. While the urban centers of Europe are certainly well worth a visit, Europe also offers a wealth of hiking opportunities that are not to be missed for those for whom the call of the wild is constantly echoing in the ears. If you are planning to embark on a hiking trip to Europe any time soon but are worried about the cost and effort associated with gaining a European Tourist Visa – don’t be! Things are about to get a whole lot easier with the imminent introduction of the new ETIAS visa waiver scheme for U.S. citizens. Once you have negotiated this first hurdle, the following list of top hiking destinations should help you to begin planning for the adventure of a lifetime.
Picos de Europa
Nestling in Asturias, close to the coast of northern Spain, is one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in Europe. The jagged limestone peaks of the Picos de Europa National Park, dotted with crystal clear lakes, freezing fast-flowing mountain rivers and lush pine forests, were formed by the movement of glaciers over 300 million years ago. The area offers some challenging hiking routes for all ages and abilities. One of the most picturesque these is the jaw-dropping Ruta del Cares, which passes through a ravine known as the “Divine Gorge”. Its trails are carved into bare rock faces, ford numerous rivers and streams, and at 12 kilometers in length, make a suitable day-trip for the intermediate level hiker.
Black Forest Mountains
The Black Forest has long held a certain mystique for those that have had the pleasure traversing it on foot. Commonly known as the setting for many of Grimms’ Fairy Tales, within the boundaries of the forest lies the snow-capped peak of Mount Feldberg, the highest mountain in Germany outside the Alps region. The forest is crisscrossed with scenic trails, some of whose routes pass through several European countries. Quaint villages line the route, offering the perfect opportunity for hikers to put their feet up after a long day’s walking and enjoy some of the region’s famed traditional food and beer.
The High Tatras of the Carpathian Mountain Range are some of the tallest peaks in Eastern Europe. The region is a designated national park and with good reason. Its majestic peaks carpeted with pine forests and surrounded by ultramarine mountain lakes will give you some indication as to why the range is sometimes referred to as the “smallest alpine mountains in Europe”. Come rain, come shine, the mountains attract people of all kinds looking to enjoy the serenity and reconnection with nature that its hiking trails provide.
Tour du Mont Blanc
One of the most popular long-distance hikes in Europe, the Tour du Mont Blanc follows a network of well-maintained trails that trace around the foot of Mont Blanc. At 4,810 meters, the stunning mountain is the tallest in Europe and offers anyone who is willing to tackle the multi-day hike a wide variation of landscapes of unparalleled natural beauty. The hike requires a degree of preparation in terms of bringing your own food and water, although there are huts at different checkpoints along the way in which the weary traveler can lay their head and drift off into well-earned sleep.
The French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean is the location of one of the most challenging hiking routes in Europe. The trail runs for 112 miles through the arid terrain of the rugged mountains that characterize the central regions of the island. Replete with sharp inclines and steep descents, this hike is only recommendable to the most seasoned and well-prepared. However, those who manage to scale the length of the route report marvelous vistas and untouched wilderness that live long in the memory.
With a modicum of planning and preparation, the more intrepid travelers among you will find it easier to access the incredible natural features hiding in the corners of many European countries. The destinations in this guide are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding an adventure holiday that is perfect for you. If you are interested in checking out the fantastic possibilities of a walking holiday to Europe, you should consult a reputable ETIAS guide to help smooth the process of obtaining a European Tourist Visa.