The variety of Mountain ranges in Europe from islands to inlands running in almost every possible direction is something we continue to discover in over a decade of travel. Here are some favorite spots, old and new where hiking is more than an exercise, but jumping right into the canvas of wanderlust beauty.
Canary Islands Spain
Most people think of the islas canarias as beach style resort destinations and indeed they have that side. The true beauty of the island lies in its skyward trails. Tenerife, Gran Canaria and La Gomera are all set up for walking, and each has its own characteristics. Tenerife boasts the world’s 3rd highest volcano, the highest peak in spain, pine forests, ravines and petrified lava fields that look like another planet to hike through. Some trails stretch 45km.
Mont Blanc France
When it comes to hiking in Europe, Mont Blanc is mother of all treks. Its hills and glaciers and those surrounding it boast some of the most dramatic and versatile scenery in the world. Hikes can last from hours to days and span every range of difficulty. Descending any side might mean you end up in a different country. The culture around the slopes remains the same no matter where you’re at, nature infused and adventure driven.
Mount Triglav Slovenia
Every true Slovenian and lover of Slovenia will be amazed at the range of natural experiences this country has to offer. It is authentically inviting. The confluence of Mediterranean, Slavic and German cultures is evident in the food, customs and yes even the landscapes. Safire Blue beaches soon lead to verdant pastures and awesome alpine peaks.
High Tatras Slovakia
Slovakia is home to the Tatras Mountains Eastern Europe’s homage to alpine living. In this small but spectacularly adventerous country, there are over 100 lakes, plus waterfalls and valleys to trek through. There are all sorts of hut to hut hikes to choose from. This is a Biosphere reserve area of the Tatra National Park, so you can spot local wildlife like marmots and chamois. Winter sports are incredibly affordable and hotels are pristine.
The Dolomites, Italy
Nicknamed the rooftop of Europe: these spiky peaks, crags and pinnacles are a UNESCO World Heritage site for multiple reasons. Around every alpine meadow, mountain pass and crystal clear brook seems to lurk another more beautiful place. The dolomites look like another planet in places and have a strong German-Italian influence in their cuisine and history.
Picos de Europa, Spain
All across the top of Spain, vast tracts of solitude make up the frontier before the sea. The Picos are truly scenic and surreal. Many towns have not changed for centuries and it can take hours to traverse mountain passes. The views are incredibly rewarding as they soar above the clouds and have ice capped peaks even in the height of summer. We really loved Asturias and Cantabria as the places to engage the mountainous culture.
This little known gem in South Eastern Europe, which is classified as the Balkans, has seashores and snowcapped peaks within an hour’s drive of each other. Much of the hiking and wilderness infrastructure is still in its native state, but Montenegro has huge tracks of national parks and wild beauty. If you want to experience a place that is authentically unknown, this is the destination.
Sandwiched between France and Spain in the Pyrenees, this tiny nation is a combination of haute culture and haute living. The hiking trails criss cross the country in every imaginable direction. The high quality of life matches the high quality wilderness and sustainable living the region holds. Andorra has many wonderful boutique hotels, cycling, hiking, trekking and winter sports spots. In short it is a wellness and outdoorsman’s paradise.