It's a known fantasy: an eager traveler embarks on a European trip with little more than a backpack and a yearning to see the world, then proceeds to find their true self through love, food, nature, and new friends. Not your fantasy? Well, that's okay—Europe has more than enough breathtaking destinations to inspire your inner wanderer. From the snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps to the balmy islands of the Mediterranean, there's a European hiking adventure for every kind of traveler. Awaken the dreamer inside of you with one of these European hiking vacations.
Prepare for the best European hiking trip ever
There are so many types of hiking experiences. Do you want to brave 30 miles of alpine wilderness and retreat to a cozy, insulated getaway cabin amid a pine-laden forest? Or would you rather stroll a few miles down the coast, stopping when you please, and then resign to a bohemian cottage overlooking the sea? Whichever environment or vacation home type you choose, there's bound to be more than one route there, so get ready to get your hike on! We've highlighted five different hiking destinations for all types of hikers, from the bravest trekkers to the most casual roamers.
Hike in sight of the Matterhorn
Yodel-ay-he-hoo! If cold weather and snowy trails are your thing, pack your hiking gear and winter jacket and head on down to Zermatt. This alpine region in Swizerland's Valais canton has over 250 miles of hiking and cycling trails, several of which offer views of the famous Matterhorn peak. When you've finished hiking for the day, you can hit the town's bustling après ski scene—which features after-ski must-haves like bars and live music—or withdraw to your cabin rental and hold a lovely après hike party of your own. Weary hikers may even be able to celebrate their achievement with a bottle of champagne in a vacation home with a private hot tub.
Hill walk among the Wicklow Mountains
The Wicklow Mountains are located just south of Dublin, making this a great destination for hikers who want to spend their days out in nature and their nights out on the town. From your urban vacation rental in the city center, you can catch a ride south to the mountain foothills and begin one of numerous, well-maintained hiking paths that weave past forests, lakes, and occasionally even waterfalls. Want to stay closer to the trails? Try a cabin rental in County Wicklow, a diverse region home to green mountains, a rocky coastline, and an 80-mile, county-wide walking trail.
Trek through the Scottish Highlands
Who needs a runner's high when you're already in the highlands? Glencoe is a quaint village located within the steep-sided Glen Coe valley, a volcano-formed glen in the Scottish Highlands. While the area offers strenuous trails among the surrounding mountains, the Glencoe Lochan Trail is a serene trail suitable for beginners, or anyone who doesn't want to get their heart rate pounding. In addition to easy accessibility, the trail offers stunning lake views, and you may even see some forest critters along the way. When you've reached the trail's end, the village has plenty of options to rest and refuel before your next walk.
Explore the Black Forest on foot
When many people think of the Black Forest, they think of the chocolate cherry cake. Hard core hikers, on the other hand, think of the 14,000 miles of trails in the Black Forest region. From casual routes near villages to long-distance journeys through mountains and trees, the Black Forest has lots to offer, and we're not just talking about nature. Because people have been living in the Black Forest for centuries, you're never very far from a town. The largest municipality in the area is Freiburg im Breisgau, where you can find trendy apartment vacation rentals right next to Gothic landmarks.
Conquer the trails in Corsica
If you want your hiking trip to double as an island getaway, book a villa rental in Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean offering seaside shops, thick forests, and rugged cliffs. Hikers flock here to for the renowned GR 20, a 112-mile trail which runs almost all the way across the island. Other popular hiking spots include Cap Course, a 25-mile peninsula on the north side of the island, and the Scandola Nature Reserve, a coastal reserve with iconic red rock formations. When you've ended your hike, head on down to the shore for some local cuisine, but don't let the island's French association fool you. Corsica is much more culturally similar to Italy in food and architecture.