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Discover Europe's Best Walking Destinations

Discover Europe's Best Walking Destinations: Seven Routes for Your Next Adventure

, by FLOW Admin, 8 min reading time

Embark on a journey through some of Europe's most breathtaking landscapes and historical paths. Walking tours are an excellent way to experience the essence of a place, and Europe offers a plethora of scenic and culturally rich routes. Here are seven must-visit European destinations for your next walking trip.

1. Cinque Terre, Italy

Route: Monterosso to Vernazza

The Cinque Terre, a string of five picturesque villages along the Italian Riviera, offers stunning coastal views and charming, colourful buildings. The walk from Monterosso to Vernazza is part of the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail).

  • Distance:5 km
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • When: Spring (April to June) and Autumn (September to October) are perfect due to mild weather and fewer tourists.
  • Highlights: Start in Monterosso with its sandy beach and medieval tower, trek through vineyards and olive groves, and end in Vernazza with its quaint harbour and castle ruins.

2. West Highland Way, Scotland

 

Route: Milngavie to Fort William

Scotland's premier long-distance trail, the West Highland Way, showcases the country's rugged beauty and dramatic landscapes.

  • Distance: 154 km
  • Duration: 7-9 days
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • When: Late spring to early Autumn (May to September) to avoid the cold and wet conditions common in other months.
  • Highlights: Begin in Milngavie, traverse Loch Lomond's shores, cross Rannoch Moor's wilderness, and finish in Fort William at the base of Ben Nevis, the UK's highest peak.

3. Camino de Santiago, Spain

 

Route: The French Way (Camino Francés) from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela

The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage route ending at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

  • Distance: 114 km
  • Duration: 5-6 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • When: April to June and September to October, providing comfortable weather and manageable crowds.
  • Highlights: Starting in Sarria, you'll walk through Galicia's rolling countryside, encounter historic monasteries, and experience the spiritual culmination at Santiago de Compostela.

4. Laiterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland

Route: Lauterbrunnen to Mürren via Gimmelwald

The Lauterbrunnen Valley is renowned for its dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and alpine meadows.

  • Distance: 9 km
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • When: Summer (June to September) when the meadows are in full bloom and the weather is ideal for hiking.
  • Highlights: Walk from the village of Lauterbrunnen, pass by the Staubbach Falls, through the car-free village of Gimmelwald, and reach Mürren with its stunning views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks.

5. Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Route: Killarney National Park

The Ring of Kerry offers an unforgettable journey through Ireland's lush landscapes, rugged coastlines, and historical sites.

  • Distance: 200 km (circular route, various sections can be walked)
  • Duration: 8-9 days (full circuit)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • When: May to September offer the best weather and daylight hours.
  • Highlights: Start in Killarney National Park, explore Muckross House and Gardens, walk through the Gap of Dunloe, and enjoy views of the Atlantic coast and Skellig Michael from various points along the route.

6. Lycian Way, Turkey

Route: Fethiye to Antalya

The Lycian Way is Turkey's most famous long-distance trail, combining stunning coastal views with ancient ruins.

  • Distance: 540 km
  • Duration: 29 days (full route, shorter sections can be walked)
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • When: Apring (April to June) or Autumn (September to November) to avoid the intense summer heat.
  • Highlights: Start in Fethiye, hike through pine forests, encounter ancient Lycian tombs, enjoy the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, and finish in the historic city of Antalya.

7. Rota Vicentina, Portugal

Route: Fishermen’s Trail from Porto Covo to Odeceixe

The Rota Vicentina in Portugal offers two main trails: the Historical Way and the Fishermen’s Trail. The latter hugs the rugged coastline of the Alentejo and Algarve regions.

  • Distance: 120 km
  • Duration: 5-6 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • When: Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November) when the temperatures are mild and the scenery is lush.
  • Highlights: Start in Porto Covo, walk along wild beaches and steep cliffs, pass traditional fishing villages, and end in the charming town of Odeceixe.

Preparing for Your Walking Trip

Before heading out on these amazing trails, it's essential to prepare adequately. Incorporating regular walks into your daily routine can help build the stamina required for these longer journeys. If you find it challenging to fit outdoor walks into your busy schedule, consider using a walking pad. This convenient piece of equipment allows you to walk in the comfort of your home, ensuring you stay fit and ready for your European adventure.

Top Tips

  • Preparation: Research your route thoroughly, including the terrain, weather conditions, and accommodation options.
  • Gear: Invest in quality hiking boots, weather-appropriate clothing, and a comfortable backpack.
  • Navigation: Carry a map and a GPS device or app, and familiarise yourself with the trail markers specific to each route.
  • Fitness: Build up your walking stamina through regular walks or by using a walking pad at home.
  • Cultural Respect: Learn a few basic phrases in the local language and familiarise yourself with local customs and etiquette.

Conclusion

Walking through Europe’s diverse landscapes allows for an immersive experience that combines physical challenge with cultural enrichment. Whether you seek the serene coastlines of Portugal or the rugged highlands of Scotland, these routes promise unforgettable adventures.

Ready for more European hiking adventures? Click here for Part 2 of our exploration!

FAQs

What specific preparations or permits are required for each route?

For the West Highland Way in Scotland, booking accommodations in advance during peak season is recommended. On the Camino de Santiago, a Pilgrim's Passport is useful for staying in albergues and collecting stamps. In Switzerland's Lauterbrunnen Valley, no permits are required, but checking weather conditions and trail status is important. For the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, planning accommodations and transport ahead is wise. The Lycian Way in Turkey requires no permits, but thorough planning due to its length and remote sections is essential.

What are the accommodation options along these routes?

In the Cinque Terre, Italy, walkers can stay in bed and breakfasts, hotels, and guesthouses in Monterosso and Vernazza. Along Scotland's West Highland Way, options include campsites, hostels, inns, and bed and breakfasts in Milngavie and Fort William. The Camino de Santiago in Spain has albergues (pilgrims' hostels), hotels, and guesthouses. In Switzerland's Lauterbrunnen Valley, accommodations include hotels, chalets, and hostels in Lauterbrunnen, Gimmelwald, and Mürren. The Ring of Kerry in Ireland offers hotels, bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses, especially around Killarney National Park. On Turkey's Lycian Way, you can find pensions, boutique hotels, and campsites. The Rota Vicentina in Portugal has guesthouses, rural tourism farms, and small hotels in Porto Covo and Odeceixe.

What are the public transportation options to and from the starting and ending points of these routes?

To reach the Cinque Terre in Italy, trains frequently run from major cities like Genoa, Pisa, and La Spezia to Monterosso. Milngavie in Scotland is accessible by train from Glasgow, and Fort William has train and bus connections to Glasgow and Edinburgh. For the Camino de Santiago, Sarria is well-connected by bus and train from major Spanish cities, and Santiago de Compostela has a train station and an airport. Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland is accessible by train from major Swiss cities, and Mürren can be reached by cable car and train. Killarney, the starting point for the Ring of Kerry, is accessible by train and bus from Dublin and other Irish cities. The Lycian Way's start in Fethiye can be reached by bus from Istanbul or Antalya, and Antalya, the endpoint, has an international airport. For the Rota Vicentina in Portugal, Porto Covo is accessible by bus from Lisbon, and Odeceixe has bus connections to major cities.


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