As far as hiking terrain goes, Europe has some of the most challenging and scenic trails in the world. There are the curling vines and sun-bathed vineyards of France and Tuscany, the glassy, sky-reflecting lakes of Switzerland, Sweden and Austria, the jagged peaks of the Alps and the Pyrenees at sunrise. So grab your hiking gear, roll up the Go Outdoors tents and break in your walking boots. It’s time to map your next hiking horizon.
For a taste of Alpine bliss: The Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
Channel Heidi, limber up and spring into action like an Alpine goat: the fresh air and Technicolor of the Swiss Alps are enough to make a girl giddy. Make base camp in one of the pretty villages of the Bernese Oberland (chocolate box doesn’t do them justice) and brace yourself for mountain peaks, Europe’s highest railroad, and Peak Walk, a bridge suspended in the clouds at 9,800 feet between two mountain summits. Bring lots of bravado, if you can find room in your rucksack.
For determined Pilgrims: El Camino Santiago, Spain
If you have boundless energy, shed loads of determination and a valiant pair of feet, get used to putting one in front of each other on Spain’s famed long-distance pilgrimage. Expect to wind your way through verdant hillscapes, scrubby plain and idyllic vineyards, while taking plenty of tapas-and-wine-oriented pit stops. If you wish to hike the Camino you don’t need to have any religious motivation, today the route to Santiago de Compostela is attempted by people from all walks of life.
For a swig of wine country: the Alsace, France
If you want to fuel your forays into the wilderness with well-balanced quaffs of French wine, consider hiking the Alsace. Gentle, undulating trails allow plenty of opportunity for photography or sketching, and the famous Route du Vin incorporates over 100 wine-making villages in which to dawdle and nurse a hangover.
To trip the merchant trail: Liguria, Italy
Make like Italy’s old merchants and traverse the beautiful foothills of the Apennine Peninsula down to the Mediterranean Riviera on the ancient Salt Road through dramatic woodland and vineyard. You’ll need a little experience and a lot of stamina to conquer the trail, but if you prevail, the rewards are profound: lush local cuisine, wild nature, and then the drifting sailing boats docked in the pretty port of Camogli, Italy.
If you’re visiting these sights and exploring them on foot, be sure to have the right hiking gear for an optimum experience. The comfort will make your great outdoors adventure all the more enjoyable.
Do you have any other suggestions for the best places to go hiking in Europe?