There is so many amazing day hikes in Europe that its hard to narrow the list down to the top 10.
That said, I thought it best to get the inside knowledge from travellers the world over.
And not just any travellers but Travel Bloggers! Those who make it their business to explore and write about the best locations, views & scenery Europe has to offer.
These hiking trails will thrill even the most avid wanderer.
- 1 Map – Day Trek Locations
- 2 Zirbenweg Trail, Austria
- 3 Vikos Gorge, Greece
- 4 Carrauntoohil, Ireland
- 5 Glendalough Valley, Ireland
- 6 Gap of Dunloe, Ireland
- 7 Czerwone Wierchy, Poland
- 8 Lago di Saoseo and Lagh di Val Viola, Switzerland
- 9 Faja de Las Flores, Spain
- 10 Montserrat, Spain
- 11 Krnsko Jezero, Slovenia
- 12 Besseggen, Norway
- 13 Fira to Oia – Santorini, Greece
- 14 Samaria Gorge – Crete, Greece
- 15 San Fruttuoso, Italy
- 16 Mount Snowdon, Wales
- 17 Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo -Madeira, Portugal
- 18 You may also like:
Map – Day Trek Locations
Looking for a shorter hike or have kids? Check out this guide to hiking in the Brecon Beacons
Zirbenweg Trail, Austria
By: Travel Tyrol
If ever there was a day hike that combines beautiful Alpine scenery with traditional local food and drink, it’s the Zirbenweg trail in Austria.
Visitors to Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, can look forward to a relatively easy 7km trail along the treeline between the Patscherkofel and Glungezer mountain peaks. Moreover, these aren’t just any trees – they’re the oldest and largest stone pine population in Europe.
The views of the Inn Valley from the biggest part of the Zirbenweg are incredible on a beautiful day. If you want to take some time to enjoy them, there are various wooden benches along the trail to sit down and take it all in.
Getting onto the Zirbenweg is easy via two cable cars – one on the Patscherkofel side and one on the Glungezer side. Most people start at Patscherkofel. The cable car station is an easy bus ride away from Innsbruck.
You won’t go hungry on the Zirbenweg either (even if you don’t bring your own food). There is a mountain restaurant at the start, another one about one-third of the way in, and one at the end.
Another reason to end on the Glungezer side is the great Tulfein Alm where you can sit outside and enjoy a rewarding beer with vistas of the Inn Valley.
The Zirbenweg is open from the beginning of summer (usually the end of May when all snow has cleared) to October.
While the hike itself can be done in 2 to 3 hours, leave enough time for enjoying the views and traditional food and drink on the way.
Vikos Gorge, Greece
By: The Nomadic Vegan
The Vikos Gorge is in a region called Zagorohoria in northwestern Greece. It’s quite off the beaten track and not that easy to reach, but for anyone who does make the effort, it is likely to be one of the most memorable things they do while traveling in Greece.
Whereas thousands of people hike Crete’s more famous Samaria Gorge every day in the high season, you are likely to have the Vikos Gorge almost completely to yourself.
As you walk along the bottom of the Gorge, you will be surrounded on all sides by breathtaking scenery.
Vikos is officially the deepest gorge in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
It’s really quite remarkable that more people haven’t discovered it yet. Go there now before the secret gets out!
The hike through the Gorge starts in the small mountain village of Monodendri and ends in another, even more picturesque village called Mikro Papingo.
It’s a linear rather than a circular hike, so public transport is probably the best way to get there.
Buses to Monodendri are not terribly frequent, though, so check the bus schedule carefully before you set out. And be sure that the bus driver knows where you want to get off, as it’s not a common stop.
Autumn is a great time to hike the Vikos Gorge, because the weather is a bit cooler than it is in summer.
By : Trip and Trail
The emerald isle as Ireland is known, can offer many thrills to hikers. The island is relative flat with few mountains but an abundance of gorgeous landscapes, some of which are pure green and others mixed with the blue of the sea.
Carrauntoohil is the highest peak of the country. Part of the Macgillycuddy Reeks range in Country Kerry and less than half an hour from the touristic Killarney, it is barely higher than 1000m (1038m to be exact).
There are many routes to the top. O’Sheas Gully, the Heavenly Gates, the Zig Zags, the Bone and Devil’s Ladder are some of them with the last one considered the easiest and most straight forward despite the terrifying name.
The starting point is at Cronin’s yard. From there you follow Gaddagh river up to loughs Gouragh and Callee. Not long after you pass them, you’ll be at the foot of Devil’s ladder—a steep gully that will lead you on a ridge just below Carrauntoohil.
Once you’re there, you turn north and climb the remaining 300 and something vertical meters to the top of Ireland. If the weather is clear you will be rewarded with some astonishing views.
It’s not a technical climb but it still has almost 900 meters elevation gain which means that hikers must be at least averagely fit. The weather is another factor that people have to be aware of.
The best time to climb is between April and September but even then, rainy or windy conditions can make this climb quite perilous.
A mountain can potentially be dangerous no matter how small it is, and Carrauntoohil has claimed lives before, so hikers should always be vigilant.
Glendalough Valley, Ireland
By: The Uprooted Traveller
Over 500 years again, Saint Kevin escaped to the Glendalough Valley in the Wicklow Mountains, seeking solace and self-reflection in the rolling emerald hills.
Other monks followed suit and soon, one of Ireland’s most important monastic sites was established, offering refuge to the monks and their precious religious texts from the invading Vikings.
Now operating as part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, conveniently located only an hour outside of Dublin, Glendalough offers a number of trails that allow visitors to explore its beauty.
There are routes of varying difficulty which allow an explorer to take in its towering mountains perfectly reflected back in the glassine lakes.
The best way to see the area, though, is the Spink Route, a well-maintained 9 km loop trail.
The trail starts at the Glendalough Visitor’s Center (where you can fuel up for your hike with some monastery beer) and continues along through wooded forests, pasts roaring waterfalls and ice-carved cliffs.
While the hike can include some moderately steep inclines (ascending 380 metres), this hike is suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities, who will be well-rewarded with breathtaking, expansive views of the Emerald Isle.
The hike itself will take a normal hiker between two to three hours to complete. Don’t worry, though- that leaves plenty of time to follow in the footsteps of St. Kevin, to stop and quietly reflect amidst the otherworldly beauty of Glendalough.
Gap of Dunloe, Ireland
By: An Adventure is Calling
The Gap of Dunloe in County Kerry, Ireland, is a beautiful destination for a day hike in Europe. The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain passageway that stretches from the Purple Mountain (in the east) to the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks (in the west) in southwest Ireland. The road through the Gap is 7 miles long, and outdoor adventure seekers will want to explore it on foot.
The hike is not strenuous, but hikers will want to prepare with good walking shoes, water, and snacks (especially if you plan to hike the entire 7 miles).
The entire Gap is stunning, so hikers can choose to make this hike as short or as long at they wish. At any point in the journey, hikers can enjoy a beautiful view from every angle.
Hikers should allow at least 4-5 hours to truly enjoy the Gap at their own pace. The views should not be rushed! Along the way, hikers will enjoy countless rolling green hills, five beautiful, relaxing lakes, and the company of cute, fluffy, friendly sheep.
The views should not be rushed! Along the way, hikers will enjoy countless rolling green hills, five beautiful, relaxing lakes, and the company of cute, fluffy, friendly sheep.
There are authentic cottages along the way, which can be explored. During the summer months, beautiful purple flowers are in bloom.
Czerwone Wierchy, Poland
By: Stunning Outdoors
Tatra mountains are the highest range in Poland, which offers many hiking opportunities from easy to difficult. The area is divided into High Tatra and Western Tatra mountains. Hiking in High Tatra requires some experience in rocky, often exposed terrain. However, Western Tatra offer amazing views without being too technical.
A hike, loved by many Poles, called Czerwone Wierchy (Red Peaks) in Western Tatra has everything a beautiful hike should have – an opportunity to visit mountain huts, well marked trails and breath taking views.
It is a beautiful ridge walk along the Polish-Slovak border, which takes about 8 hours to complete. It provides views to some well known Slovak and Polish peaks and takes you through four summits – Kopa Kondracka (2005 masl), Malolaczniak (2096 masl), Krzesanica (2122 masl) and Ciemniak (2096 masl).
The four peaks look beautiful every time of the year but nothing can beat the autumnal colours of Czerwone Wierchy. The ridge becomes redish in that time of the year. The reason is sit skucina plant, which covers the mountains. Its leaves change colour to red from late summer, making the hills look stunning in autumnal warm sunshine. For us, this is the best time for walking Czerwone Wierchy.
Czerwone Wierchy’s trail head is in Kuznice, Zakopane, but it finishes in Koscieliska Valley (Dolina Koscieliska). Mini buses from Zakopane provide the connection with Kuzinice na Kiry (end of Koscieliska Valley) and can be caught in Centrum of Zakopane.
Lago di Saoseo and Lagh di Val Viola, Switzerland
By: Arzo Travels
Switzerland has some amazing lakes that are hidden gems. And you will find one of those beautiful lakes, which is Switzerland´s best-kept secret, on the hike in Valposchiavo.
Start at bus station Sfazu/Fermata (a special bus service can take you) and hike up to Alp Camp – this is the easy and less scenic part, but it gets better. It should take about 90 minutes (an easy uphill/downhill hike), and hiking down later takes about one hour (hike up about 90 minutes).
From Alp Camp (either via bus or hike), you can continue to either Lagh da Saoseo (Lago di Saoseo) or Lagh di Val Viola (Lago di Val Viola).
The first one is one of the most stunning lakes in Europe, so either keep the best for last or start with it. The color is so unique and pretty that you will be wondering why it is still a hidden gem.
Tip: Start with Lago di Saoseo and then make sure to come back at the end to see it again.
Alp Camp it takes about 10-15 minutes (downhill hike) to the first lake – you will be surprised by its beauty. Take your time to enjoy it, before heading to Lagh da Val Viola. There are two routes – the longer one is a bit more challenging, takes about 60-120 minutes and is breathtaking.
Take a break at this lake before then heading back to Lago di Saoseo – depending on the time, you can either head back to Alp Camp and see if the restaurant is open to buy a snack or you can head back to the bus station Sfazu/Fermata.
This day of hiking will surely be one of the best day hikes to take in all of Europe.
Faja de Las Flores, Spain
By: Jack and Jill Travel
Faja de Las Flores is one of Spain’s best hiking trails and yet is one that sees relatively few hikers.
Located in Ordesa National Park in Spain Pyrenees, the trail is 17km long and takes all day to complete. The trail follows a natural in-cut on the cliff wall, thousands of feet above the valley floor, so narrow that it’s barely 2 feet wide in places.
In some sections you’re required to step on iron pegs hammered onto a cliff wall, with thousands of feet of air below you. Definitely not a hike to do for those afraid of heights.
The first part of the hike is a climb to access the in-cut, the elevation gain is about 1100m, so be prepared for tough climb.
Once you’ve reached this in-cut, it will stay flat as you traverse the whole length of the valley, getting a bird’s eye view of the valley floor and surrounding peaks. Some people feel more comfortable using a harness when tackling the via ferrata part. You can rent these at the sports store in Torla.
The trailhead starts in the main parking lot of Ordesa National Park, Spain. The nearest town is Torla, located at the base of the Pyrenees mountain range. There’s plenty of accommodation and food options at Torla and nearby villages.
By: Wandering Carol
Hiking in the Sierra de Montserrat of Spain, about 50 km (31 miles) northwest of Barcelona is an adventure where nature, spirituality and panoramic views all intertwine.
There are a number of hikes and walking paths leading out from Montserrat Mountain where the Benedictine monastery, the Santa Maria de Montserrat, is located.
Exploring this spectacular natural setting by foot is one of the best ways to connect with the landscape of Catalonia, a popular hike is the trek to Sant Jeroni.
The trail can be accessed from the top of the Funicular Sant Joan, which takes you from the monastery to the top of Santa Magdalena. From there, a trail leads to the Hermitage of St. Jeroni. Past the hermitage, there are steps and trails that lead to the peak of St Jeroni, the highest point of Montserrat Mountain at 1,236 metres (4,055 feet). The more ambitious can skip the funicular and ascend to the hermitage by foot.
Montserrat Mountain is one of the most sacred spots in Spain. Hiking, combined with a visit to the basilica to see the famous Black Madonna statue is one of the best ways to experience the mystical Serrated Mountain of Spain.
Krnsko Jezero, Slovenia
By: The Gone Goat
When you think of hiking in Europe, Slovenia might be overlooked. Most people would head for the Austrian Alps and the Dolomites in Italy, but very few pay heed to the 321 lakes, day-hikes and multi-day treks in Slovenia.
Not forgetting that Slovenia is the third most forested country in Europe and the top greenest country in the world. One such day hike that fits the bill as the most gorgeous and greenest day-hike in Slovenia is Krsnko Jezero.
The lake is surrounded by colourful poppies, including several endangered species such as the yellow Kerner Alpine poppy. The 2-3 hour hike to Krnsko Jezero lake (1350m) in the Lepana Valley brings you to an open mountain on the green trails where you will see a beautiful emerald-green lake.
No matter how often we saw the sights from higher ground, the stark contrast between the mountains and the green waters were a sight to behold. There are even baby frogs as you sit down to picnic on the grassy patches and sandy bottoms.
Swimming in the lake is prohibited for the preservation of the ecosystem of the lake, which is already very endangered due to artificially inhabited fish.
What’s interesting about the hike is that there is even a lovely wooden cottage at the side selling the creamiest blueberry pies and cottage cheese. Just the kind of sustenance you would need after hiking this serene valley in Slovenia.
By: Brainy Backpackers
Besseggen in Jotunheimen National Park is definitely one of the best day hikes in Europe. The hike is of medium difficulty, though it is necessary to do some free climbing on the steepest part of the ridge.
The trek is one way and can be started either from Gjendesheim or from Memurubu (with the ferry from Gjendesheim). The latter is the most popular route and also the less difficult for those with a little vertigo.
The trail from Memurubu starts off quite steep the first hour. After this, it levels off until the ridge itself. The views from the ridge are spectacular with 700 meters straight down to Gjende Lake on one side and 300 meters straight down to Bessvatnet Lake on the other side.
Besseggen is a hike for all ages as long as the physical state is good, and popular among Norwegian families. It is essential to bring enough food and water for the day, as there are no places to buy snacks on the way.
Further, it is important to be prepared for Norwegian weather conditions. In one day, there can be four seasons. Therefore, it is essential to wear layers of clothes, and enough space in the daypack to put the excess pieces of clothing. The trail is only open in the summer months between mid-June and late August.
The easiest way to get to Gjendesheim is by car, though there are daily buses from Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen, and Måløy. There are several hotels and campsites to stay in Jotunheimen National Park, near Gjendesheim. It is also possible to stay the night in Memurubu for those who want to start the hike in Gjendesheim.
Fira to Oia – Santorini, Greece
By: Dave’s Travel Pages
One of the best known hikes in Greece is the hike from Fira to Oia in Santorini. It’s a roughly 10 km (6 miles) hike, suitable for pretty much everyone who can walk this distance, as the terrain is fairly flat.
It’s entirely possible to do this hike independently, as the hiking trail is very well marked, and it follows the coastline. At the same time, there are also several paid tours available.
As summer temperatures in Santorini can be quite high, it’s best to do this hike early morning, or late afternoon. The hike can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours, depending on walking speed and number of stops for pictures and rest. As Santorini is very picturesque, it’s best to allow at least 3 hours for the hike.
The trail passes through the best known villages of Santorini, namely Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. It also passes nearby famous landmarks, such as Skaros rock, the Monastery of Saint Nicholas, the Church of Agios Antonios, and the Church of Prophet Elias.
The path begins close to the cable car in Fira, just beside hotel Atlantis, where there are signs indicating the walking trail.
All that is needed for the Santorini hike is a hat, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, water, a couple of snacks, a camera, and maybe a spare battery, as the views of the volcano and the cliffs are simply stunning.
At the end of the hike, lies the popular village of Oia, which is famous for its picturesque sunsets. Many people choose to time their hike in order to catch the sunset, and then take a bus or a taxi back to Fira.
Looking for more things to do in Santorini? Check out Dave’s itinerary for 3 days in Santorini.
Samaria Gorge – Crete, Greece
Samaria Gorge is the most famous hike in Crete. The hike starts at 1,250m and goes all the way down until Agia Roumeli village by the sea.
It offers a wide range of experiences – in the beginning, the trail is quite steep and offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains.
A few kilometers in, there are some old ruins, where hikers can catch their breath. And as you go further down the Gorge becomes increasingly more noticeable with high stone walls on both sides of the trail.
It takes around 5-7 hours to finish 16 kilometers of the Gorge. It is important to have a timely start because the last ferry from Agia Roumeli leaves at 17:00.
If you don’t catch it, you might not get back to your hotel.
The majority of hikers choose to go to the Samaria Gorge as a part of a guided tour. That’s because hikes in Gorges are tricky logistics-wise. The hike starts at one point in the Gorge and ends in another.
And in Samaria Gorge, it ends in Agia Roumeli, which is connected to the rest of Crete only by a ferry. And the ferry doesn’t connect with the hike starting point.
It is possible to do the Samaria Gorge hike with a rental car, but you need to have a plan for getting back to the car.
The entrance of the Samaria Gorge hike is open from May 1 through October 30. In the summer months, it is better to have an early start as the sun is quite hot during the day.
Remember to bring some water, sunscreen, and snacks with you.
San Fruttuoso, Italy
By: Travel Collecting
One of the best day hikes in Europe is on the Italian Riviera. The hike to San Fruttuoso starts and ends with a boat trip. Boats leave daily from Rapallo via Santa Margherita Ligure and arrive at Portofino half an hour after leaving Rappalo.
Portofino is a small village; little more than a cluster of brightly colored houses around a tiny boat-clogged bay. It is a popular vacation destination for the rich and famous, and worth a quick explore before the hike.
The hike starts with a series of steps heading straight up through town from the boat dock. Houses soon give way to tiny terraced fields of olive groves, lemon trees and vegetable patches. Before long, these too are left behind, and wildflowers and trees take their place. Portofino Bay is a tiny sapphire jewel far below.
The bulk of this two-hour hike is flat, high above the bright blue water. It is a pleasant hike past farms and through woods, with frequent views of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea far below.
Eventually the trail heads back downhill, along a series of steep switchbacks through the woods. Near the end, there are glimpses of a golden abbey, and eventually the trail ends in San Fruttuoso Bay.
There is a tenth century Benedictine abbey, a handful of restaurants, a tiny beach with deck chairs and little else. The only way to reach the cove is by this hike or by boat.
Cooling off in the crystal clear, icy cold water is the perfect end to a perfect hike. The boat back to Rapallo leaves in the late afternoon. It is possible to do this hike in reverse. Take the boat all the way to San Fruttuoso to start and then hike up the switchbacks and down the steps to Portofino. However, there but is no beach in Portofino and ending the hike with a dip in the sea is best.
Mount Snowdon, Wales
By: Not Brits Abroad
Standing at 1,085 metres high, Mount Snowdon is the second highest peak in the United Kingdom. Snowdon attracts millions of tourists every year and can be found in the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales.
Climbing Snowdon is one of the highlights of the British Isles. There are plenty of routes to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty.
Commonly regarded as the most difficult but most beautiful route is the Watkin Path.
This hike starts at the lowest point (of all the routes) and covers a total distance of 8 miles and an ascent of 1,015 metres. This also makes it one of the most demanding inclines.
You can expect to spend around eight hours walking if you decide to take the Watkin Path to the summit and back.
Although the path begins quite easily, it soon becomes a more difficult journey heading up steep inclines. The hardest but most scenic part of the path is the final few hundred metres to the summit.
Till now, the path will have been clearly laid out, but the final section requires you to scramble up the mountainside over the loose ground and around boulders. It’s the views on this final stretch that makes the Watkin Path so popular. It also makes reaching the summit even more rewarding.
The Watkin Path is not to be underestimated.
It is physically demanding and requires a fair amount of common sense due to its proximity to the mountain edge. Of course, the same applies to any of the set routes up Snowdon and caution is advised for all hikers.
Despite the demanding climb, the views from the top are some of the most beautiful you’ll ever get to see.
Got Kids? Find Top Tips for hiking Snowdon with Kids
Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo -Madeira, Portugal
By: Travel Hacker Girl
Madeira is a real paradise for outdoor lovers. Hiking in Madeira is the most popular activity. The island offers several levada walks, which were originally built as the irrigation system, but nowadays used as hiking trails. One of the most stunning hikes on Madeira is the path between the two highest peaks on the island.
The Pico do Arieiro – Pico Ruivo trail is an exhausting hike. Be prepared and have good hiking boots! The trail will lead through some dark tunnels as well, so make sure you have a torch with you. The weather is very changeable in the mountains, so have different layers with you including a rain jacket.
The path is beautiful throughout, however there are many narrow sections. Sometimes you will need to walk very close to the cliff edge, so if you have vertigo, this hike is not for you!
You will still be able to admire the gorgeous views as Pico Ariero and Pico Ruivo are both accessible by car.
There is plenty of parking on both ends of the hike, but sadly it is not possible to get here by public transport.
If you don’t drive you can book an organised hike. The return hike is 14 km and can take 6-8 hours depending on your fitness level.
Where is your favourite day hike in Europe? Let me know in the comments.
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