Looking for a new travel experience? Ever considered going on a walking holiday? Walking is for everyone and no matter what level of fitness you are there are walks and routes that will be suitable for you. Want to walk 12 miles plus each day on a challenging route? Or want a leisurely 5-mile route? The choice is yours.
A hiking vacation is great for many reasons, including the fact that it gives you the chance to explore your destination at a slow pace.
It is a wonderful way to experience the scenery and landscape. You can enjoy the surroundings without being rushed from A to B on the back of a bus.
Hiking you can also either go alone, with family and friends or join a walking group and meet new and interesting like-minded people.
Here is our list of the ten best walking holidays in Europe.
1. Crete – Coast to Coast
The famous island of Crete may be famous for its buzzing cities, picturesque beaches, and ancient ruins, but there’s much more to the island than its glitzy tourist side.
One of the best walks in Europe, and a great way to escape the noise, is to walk the length of the beautiful island.
Over the course of 7 to 10 days, you can hike from Crete’s northern tip all the way to the bottom.
Along the way, you’ll discover a walker’s paradise, a place of deep valleys and impressive peaks, flanked by Greek’s famous turquoise waters.
Also discover villages, old monasteries, and the narrow streets of Chania.
Experience the real Mediterranean on foot!
This trek can be completed as a self-guided walk, but why not have it all planned from the start?
Here’s our top self-guided itinerary for walking Crete Coast to Coast.
2. Tour du Mont Blanc
Tour du Mont Blanc is an over-mountain epic that offers hikers an unforgettable walking holiday experience.
As one of the top hiking routes on the European continent, Tour du Mont Blanc traverses 170km through three different countries.
The entire circuit can take up to two weeks to complete, although you’ll have the option of shorter seven-day treks.
Depending on how you like to travel on foot, hikers will have the option of completing a self-guided or guided, camping-based hike.
Another option is to be shuttled to and from the trail each day and enjoy a comfy bed in the evening.
Either way, the trail’s scenery, carved over millennia, is jaw-dropping from start to finish.
3. The Lycian Way, Turkey
The US has the Appalachian Trail and New Zealand has its Te Araroa, but Turkey has its very own long-distance trek.
In a country full of amazing walking holiday opportunities, you can tick all the boxes on a single, 540km trail.
The Lycian Way shows off Turkey’s gorgeous scenery, guiding you along the picturesque coast and through old-time villages and ancient ruins.
As you immerse yourself in a thru-hiking experience, you’ll inevitably come to know more about local culture and experience Turkey’s traditional hospitality.
The trek usually takes around 30 days to complete.
There are, however, many short 8-day tours along the Lycian Way. Explore your options here.
4. The Fjords, Norway
Explore the iconic scenery of Norway’s Fjords, one of the best walking holiday experiences in Europe.
Offering moderate to difficult treks, the Fjords bring an immersive landscape that soars above you in every direction.
There are multiple well-marked trails that will guide you through the impressive scenery, providing views of epic waterfalls, glacial-fed lakes, and enormous peaks.
Top points of interest include glacial hiking on the blue ice of Hardangerjokulen and a trek to Flam.
From the town, you can journey to the largest Fjord in Norway, Sognefjord, which surges over 200km inland from the ocean. Explore ancient buildings which have stood since the Medieval era!
5. Madeira Island, Portugal
Hovering off the western coast of Morocco is Portugal’s Madeira, home to some of the most unique hiking in Europe.
The fast-rising mountains shoot out of the Atlantic, presenting a rugged yet equally beautiful terrain to explore.
The towering peaks provide trekkers with a challenge, as the narrow paths slowly creep higher and higher.
But you’re constantly rewarded, not just with stunning views but with high-alpine waterfalls, and hikes above the cloud line.
The ancient volcanic rocks provide sturdy footing, but they’re colored by an expansive blanket of wildflowers that bloom year-round.
There are many incredible trails, including treks to the island’s highest point at Pico Ruivo.
This 8-day self-guided walking holiday shows off the best of Madeira.
6. The Lake District, UK
The peaks of the Lake District may not match the imposing summits of the Alps, but the gorgeous scenery makes it one of the top walking holiday destinations in Europe.
The mountains provide the perfect backdrop beyond the peaceful lakes.
Later, those same mountains grant walkers of all skill levels the chance to trek over high mountain passes and capture views of the pristine valley below.
Add in traditional villages, with cozy and welcoming Olde English inns and you’ll have a recipe for a classic experience in the UK countryside.
Popular treks include the Lake District Trail or stop by the district on England’s 300km Coast to Coast trek.
Enjoy Inn to Inn trekking on this 7-day self-guided hike.
7. Path of the Gods, Italy (II Sentiero Degli Dei)
Although only a short 7km journey, the Path of the Gods on Italy’s Amalfi Coast belongs on this list.
Rated easy, the trek is a top hike for families and those seeking day hikes along the incredible Italian coast.
As you hug the cliff-face, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the sea below, the yachts sailing by, and the mountains that rise out of the ocean.
Beginning in Nocelle, the trail is mostly flat after an initial ascent.
Quickly you’ll have vistas back to the fresco-style homes in the town before the hamlet of Bomerano and Praiano come into view.
For a complete trek, turn around for an inspiring 14km hike.
8. Lake Bled and the Julian Alps
With some of Europe’s most known walking holiday destinations covered, let’s turn our eye towards Eastern Europe.
For an experience that will set you apart from other hikers, make your way to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana.
From the well-placed city, you’ll be able to complete several local treks, including a walk around the amazing Lake Bled.
The short day hike leads you to a stunning waterfall, before guiding you through meadows of wildflowers.
After your warm-up hike, tackle something more challenging.
Trek through dense forests that quickly disappear to open meadows flanked by limestone peaks. From the summits, enjoy views down to glacial lakes.
9. High Peaks and Lakes, Bulgaria
Continuing with the Balkan region, the High Peaks and Lakes of Bulgaria offer a top walking holiday experience.
With some of the highest mountains in the Balkans, including the tallest peak, Musala (2925m), you can experience an expansive mountain range and vast valley lakes along with historic towns.
The rugged and rocky peaks of Bulgaria’s mountains tell a tale as old as time and allow you to feel on top of the world.
Avoid the crowds that flock to the Pyrenees and the Alps, while discovering the UNESCO listed Rila Monastery along the way.
10. Camino de Santiago
No list of the best walking holidays in Europe would be complete without the Camino de Santiago.
One of the most famous and popular long-distance hikes in the world, the Camino combines hiking with culture, history, religion, and delectable Spanish cuisine.
The most common way to complete the Camino de Santiago is from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French border to Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish town of Galicia.
The hike is roughly an 800km journey, which can take anywhere from 25 to 50 days to complete.
Camino de Santiago is rated as moderate, but the sheer length will make it a difficult yet rewarding journey.
The end result is an experience unlike any other, as you sit in the impeccable cathedral with an incense pendulum swinging above.
It’s enough to bring even the most stubborn man to tears.
As the Camino de Santiago is a traditional pilgrimage, there is no exact trail.
However, there are a dozen well-marked trails to the cathedral and in order to complete the pilgrimage, hikers will need to walk at least 100km.
Along the way, you can stamp your ‘passport’ at various albergues (hostels), churches, and even some restaurants. Before getting certified at the Pilgrim’s Office in Galicia.