When it comes to the best hikes in Europe, casual and more devoted outdoor enthusiasts alike will find that this corner of the world offers up a cornucopia of striking, varied terrain to discover.
Whether you’re into meandering along at a more leisurely pace, or up for some more rigorous tramping, walking or climbing, you’ll discover plenty of nature trails for all ages and endurance levels across Europe.
From the cool mist pouring off a cascading waterfall in western Iceland to rugged coastal walks along the westernmost edge of continental Europe in Portugal, or a trek across Italy’s striking Amalfi coast, hiking in Europe seldom disappoints.
To help motivate you to lace up your boots and hit the trails, here’s a selection of some of the best hikes in Europe—which can be covered in a few hours or a day or less—offering you splendid vistas and impressive natural and manmade features to soak up along the way.
Sintra Coast, Lisbon, Portugal
Cabo da Roca, just to the north and slightly west of Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, is officially the westernmost edge of continental Europe. From a European perspective, this spot was once considered the “edge of the world”, with fierce sea monsters reputedly living beyond the cape, out in the wild Atlantic Ocean.
While bus tours to Cabo da Roca will let you snap a photo for Instagram, along with a peek over the jagged precipices down toward the crashing waves, the magnificent walk from Cabo da Roca to the cliffside village of Azenhas do Mar should definitely be added to any list highlighting the best hikes in Europe.
The Cabo da Roca to Azenhas do Mar coastal trail will likely take you three to four hours to hike. The path passes by beaches including Praia da Ursa and Praia das Maçãs, shrubby steep ridges, plus different clifftop viewpoints.
The vistas above Praia da Ursa offer particularly inspiring panoramas of the Atlantic, making it one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.
This Sintra path sticks close to the coast, and you can start from either Cabo da Roca or Azenhas do Mar. A good portion of the path is fairly easy to navigate, but you will come across a few sheer sections here and there—especially when hiking down to one of the beaches from the ridgeline.
Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path), Cinque Terre, Italy
On Italy’s northwestern coast, you’ll find the five villages of Cinque Terre, along with the Blue Path, or the “Sentiero Azzurro”. Cinque Terre is famed for its steep hillside orchards, vineyards, and delightful cliffside hamlets butting up against the Ligurian Sea.
If hiking in Europe appeals, you might want to set your sights on the Blue Path. This trail, a little under eight miles long, comes with incredible views of the turquoise Mediterranean shoreline, terraced vineyards, enchanting coastal architecture, as well as lemon and olive groves close to the path.
While you’ll likely stumble across a few rougher spots on the trail and its stony steps, this easy-to-navigate footpath has been used by locals of all ages for centuries, connecting Monterosso in the west to the eastern village of Riomaggiore.
Gobbins Guided Coastal Path, Northern Ireland
The Gobbins Coastal Path, on a sliver of land known as the Islandmagee peninsula, just to the northeast of Belfast, Northern Ireland, offers intrepid voyagers yet another craggy and awe-inspiring—although extremely well-maintained—salty oceanside trek, which stands out as one of the best hikes in Europe.
This extremely narrow Edwardian-engineered path, next to the turbulent Irish Sea, was first set up in the early 1900s, then reopened (and modernized) in 2015.
You have to book a guided tour here, complete with a hard hat, to explore the caves, coves, footbridges, tunnels and rugged coastal features that hug the stony shoreline. It’s a good idea to stop now and then to listen to the reverberating waves breaking against the rocks.
Cormorants, dolphins, gannets, and seals are just some of the marine species you might spot if you decide to swing by this stretch of the Irish coast while visiting the Belfast region.
Read: Best Hikes in the UK
Gorges du Prunelli, Ajaccio, France
Gorges du Prunelli, on the island of Corsica, part of France, is an exquisite little gorge rich with lush foliage and sweeping vistas. The gorge is close to the Rivière d’Ese riverlet and overlooks the Lac de Tolla reservoir.
A simple stroll around the stone streets of Tolla village, carved into a steep hillside, with its picturesque views of the reservoir, makes for an enjoyable afternoon walk. You can hop onto various pine forest trails, accessible from the village, to explore the local hillside terrain nearby.
Not far from the gorge itself, slightly to the southeast, you’ll come across several enjoyable forest hikes near the Carnevale waterfall and the Pont Génois de Zipitoli, or the Genoese arched stone bridge.
Ramble through the pine woods here, near the waterfall, and if visiting on a hot summer’s day, take a dip in the water below the cascade to cool off, before continuing on your way.
Dynjandi Waterfall & Troll Seat, Isafjordur, Iceland
A trek up to the top of the Dynjandi waterfall, near Isafjordur, Iceland, along with the adjacent Naustahvilft “Troll Seat” scramble, will offer you some of the starkest and most scenically dramatic short hiking trips in Europe you may ever encounter.
It’s not actually that tough a climb up to the top of this gorgeous, tiered Westfjords waterfall, which gushes down mossy stone like a woven tapestry or splayed-out bridal train. You can actually reach the summit in 20 minutes or so and even swing by smaller Icelandic waterfalls along the way.
If you’re up for a more rugged hike in Iceland, check out the Naustahvilft “Troll Seat,” which will get you up above the town of Isafjordur in half an hour or so.
One of the most beautiful places in Iceland, Naustahvilft comes with magnificent views over the village and fjord below. Legend has it a giant troll once sat down here for rest, hence the flattened indent or “seat” in the landscape you’ll be hiking up to.
Krka National Park, Skradinski Buk & Roški Slap Trails, Split, Croatia
Some of the best hikes in Europe await avid walkers at the waterfall-laden Krka National Park, lying slightly to the northwest of Croatia’s second-largest city, Split.
Krka National Park is chock-full of the aforementioned waterfalls, like the karstic Skradinski Buk (where you can swim), as well as verdant woodlands, Roman ruins, old monasteries and watermills.
The Skradinski Buk loop, which is just over a mile long, is perfect for families heading toward the cascades. The path will lead you over wooden footbridges, past watermills and along the scenic Krka River.
If you’re looking for a fun side trip while roaming around the park, hike over to the broad, lace-like Roški Slap waterfalls, which are in the middle of the river, then trek up to the Krka River viewpoint—one of the most beautiful places in Croatia.
If you still have some energy left over, you can trudge up the 517 wooden steps to the Oziđana cave, which comes complete with an illuminated interior cave walkway.
Valle de Ferriere, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Italy’s Amalfi Coast, south of Naples, is renowned for its limoncello liqueur, sheer terraced vineyards, scenic olive groves, and steep shoreline that seemingly plummets straight into the sea.
You’ll also encounter a wealth of the rich and famous here, who come for the luxurious Mediterranean lifestyle.
The exceeding pleasant Valle de Ferriere (Ferriere valley) trek, which should take you four hours or less if you’re in decent shape, begins with a bit of elevation in the Monti Lattari Mountains, starting near the village of Pontone, then drops down toward the iconic seaside town of Amalfi.
Along the route, you’ll pass by lemon groves, chestnut trees, vineyards, and over a plummeting stream. Massive wild ferns, just off the trail at the Riserva Integrale habitat, are kept alive by the subtropical microclimate here.
The Valle de Ferriere hike offers you a delightful journey down toward the water. At the end of your descent, you can relax with a chilled glass of limoncello in your hand at a café in Amalfi while you gaze out over the shimmering Tyrrhenian Sea—and catch your breath from your rigorous exercise session.
Read: Best Beaches in Italy
White Cliffs of Dover, England
One of the best hikes in Europe, and one of the most famous, is along the chalky White Cliffs of Dover, overlooking the English Channel. From Dover town and the National Trust’s White Cliffs of Dover car park, you can opt for a shorter jaunt along the paved Coast Path loop trail for some stunning views of the docks below, with France visible across the Channel on a clear day.
If you’re the hearty sort, up for a more challenging coastal walk, you could also take on the longer White Cliffs of Dover to Deal Castle trek, 10 miles or so, which you can start from Dover Castle—one of the best medieval castles in Europe—or the Coast Path.
This hike offers vantages across the English Channel from both high and low as you pass over cliffs, down to the seaside, and walk by old defensive forts.
On the way to Deal and its Tudor artillery fort, you’ll stroll past the stark white South Foreland Lighthouse and the village of St. Margaret’s Bay.
Pebble-strewn Kingsdown beach is also on the walking menu, as is the lovely manicured Walmer Castle and Gardens before you finally make it to Deal Castle and the end of this very pretty coastal hike.
Mount Olympus, Thessaloniki, Greece
If visiting Thessaloniki, Greece, next to the Aegean Sea, you’ll quickly discover that there’s no shortage of forested walks in the surrounding hills.
And naturally, if a strenuous-but-not-impossible day hike appeals to your inner mountaineer, you may want to consider heading up to Mount Olympus—the tallest mountain in Greece.
Who wouldn’t want to summit Mount Olympus, home to the Greek pantheon (Athena, Apollo, Demeter, Zeus, and other gods) and one of the most beautiful mountains in the world?
The drive to Olympus National Park from Thessaloniki takes a little more than an hour. Once inside the park, you’ll be surrounded by towering mountain crests, and some of the best hiking Europe and Greece have to offer.
From the town of Litochoro, which is a gateway into the park, you can hike out to the fertile Enipeas Gorge, with its handsome waterfall and refreshing springs, located on the lower eastern slope of Mount Olympus.
If you’re in fairly decent physical shape and have some mountain scrambling experience, you can tackle the steep and stony ascent to the summit.
From Enipeas, hop onto the Prionia trail, then get those lungs pumping as you work your way up to Mount Olympus’ Mytikas peak. On a clear day, from the summit, you can see across a good slice of Greece, and even into Albania and Bulgaria to the north.
Agaete Valley & Tamadaba Natural Park, Gran Canaria, Spain
Agaete Valley and Tamadaba Natural Park, located in the northwestern corner of Gran Canaria, Spain, offer serious trekkers some challenging climbing routes, with some of the best hikes in Europe you’ll ever come across, hands (and feet strapped into sturdy hiking boots) down.
This chunk of Gran Canaria features green valley walks guarded by pyramid-shaped hills, Tamadaba’s lovely sloped pine forest trails, plus the strenuous huffing-and-puffing inducing slog up to the Era de Berbique plateau, with its outstanding vistas across the lush Agaete Valley below.
If working your way up from the town of Lomo de San Pedro to the plateau, or coming from another direction, the Mirador Vuelta de Paloma viewpoint is the spot you should be aiming for if you want the best views.
After you’ve taken in all of this impressive scenery, take a deep breath, then prepare for a steep descent back down to San Pedro, or the town of Agaete, next to the mighty Pacific Ocean.
If one or more of these treks—numbering among the best hikes in Europe—have caught your fancy, why not combine your love for wild nature with one of Celebrity Cruises’ European cruises? Work up a sweat hiking during the day, then enjoy the comfort of your luxurious ship as you head to your next thrilling destination.