Europe’s 8 Most Breathtaking Day Hikes that will Leave You Speechless

Whether you’re looking to spend a leisurely afternoon strolling along a coastal path or you’re up for summiting a volcanic crater, Europe has day hikes for every fitness level and interest. Europe’s best day hikes offer something for everyone, from novice walkers to seasoned trekkers. Let’s look at a few of these awe-inspiring day hikes.

Exploring Albania’s Accursed Mountains: the Valbona to Theth Trek

Exploring Albania and #039;s Accursed Mountains: the Valbona to Theth Trek image

Albania’s Accursed Mountains, also known as the Albanian Alps, offer visitors incredible scenery and cultural encounters without the crowds you usually get on the opposite end of the range. Set in the gorgeously rugged Valbona Valley National Park, the Valbona to Theth trek is quickly gaining popularity as one of the most beautiful hikes in Europe.

This A-to-B trek between two alpine villages can be completed in a full day. Note that it’s only possible to go on a trek in summer. You can walk in either direction, but I recommend starting in Valbona and ending in Theth.

There is more to do in Theth, including a range of other short-day hikes, and the village has warm homestays and a lovely stone church. Imagine ending your day in a cozy homestay, enjoying a hearty meal, and reflecting on the day’s adventures.

Exploring Montenegro’s Scenic Day Hikes, Seven Bay Trail

Exploring Montenegro and #039;s Scenic Day Hikes, Seven Bay Trail image

From the craggy peaks of Durmitor National Park to the Bay of Kotor, puckered with endless natural bays, Montenegro offers some of the most beautiful landscapes and best day hiking in Europe. In the summer months, May through September, Kotor comes to life with tourists and cruise ships.

A great way to beat the crowds is by spending a few hours on the Seven Bay Trail. An easy half-day walk leading to some of the area’s more secluded beaches and coves. You can start the walk in either Budva or Sveti Stefan.

If you’re driving around Montenegro, it’s easiest to park your car at the endpoint, take a bus or taxi back to the start of the trail, and then walk to your vehicle. Imagine the sound of waves crashing as you walk through charming coastal towns, each offering its unique charm.

Landmannalaugar Trail, in Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland

Landmannalaugar Trail, in Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland image

The Landmannalaugar Trail is one of the overlooked gems in Iceland’s highlands. Its charming peaks and natural hot springs make it a hiker’s paradise. You can choose from several hiking circuits based on your preferred hike duration and difficulty level. This track is more demanding due to its rugged terrain and steep peaks.

You’ll encounter stunning glacier lakes during your hike on the Landmannalaugar Trail. The mountains, snowy and colorful even in summer, offer a breathtaking backdrop. After soaking in the incredible views, you can unwind in one of the natural hot springs. These hot springs are conveniently located near the local bus stop, making it easy to relax after your hike.

The bus service runs several times a day but only during the summer months. The best time to hike the Landmannalaugar Trail is in summer when the roads are clear of snow and mud. Imagine starting your hike with the morning sun lighting up the colorful mountains.

Monterosso Al Mare to Vernazza: Cinque Terre, Italy

Monterosso Al Mare to Vernazza: Cinque Terre, Italy image

Undoubtedly, the stunning hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza is one of the best day hikes in Europe and an excellent way to spend a day in Cinque Terre. A day spent hiking from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza is unforgettable between the gorgeous Ligurian coastline, sparkling azure water, picturesque vineyards, and colorful villages.

The trail is pretty straightforward and comfortable for most travelers without physical limitations. As one of Italy’s most popular day hikes, the trail can get crowded, especially during summer. Consider starting early in the morning to take advantage of an emptier trail and a cool sea breeze.

The region surrounding Cinque Terre does struggle with landslides and dangerous conditions during rainy weather. While you can hike the route in either direction, hiking from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza is generally preferred because the view of Vernazza’s harbor as you approach the village is so rewarding.

Cares River Trail in Picos De Europa National Park, Spain

Cares River Trail in Picos De Europa National Park, Spain image

Hiking in Spain is a beautiful experience, and the Cares River Trail in Picos de Europa National Park is a day hike that will get your heart pumping and amaze you with its natural beauty. The spectacular Cares River Trail stretches 11km across the three northern provinces of Asturias, Cantabria, Castile, and Leon.

This trail is part of the Picos de Europa National Park, Spain’s first national park, established in 1918 and declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002. The Cares River Trail is a hiker’s dream and worth every step. Parts of the trail are narrow and high above the Cares River, which flows along the valley floor.

Every once in a while, the trail winds through small tunnels carved out of the rock and across bridges hanging precariously over the gaping gorges. One real-life example of the trail’s allure is from hikers who have recounted the surreal experience of emerging from a tunnel to be greeted by a stunning vista of the river valley below.

Swiss Wine Trail, Chexbres, Switzerland

Swiss Wine Trail, Chexbres, Switzerland image

The Terrasses de Lavaux hiking trail offers some of the best views in Switzerland, making it a must-do for any hiking enthusiast. Lavaux vineyards are a well-guarded Swiss secret. This steeply pitched wine area in the Vaud canton provides a unique hiking experience through a UNESCO Heritage Listed landscape.

Saphorin, the panoramic Swiss Wine Trail, follows the shore of Lake Geneva to Lutry. The trail conveniently runs parallel to the regional train tracks, so you can easily shorten your hike and hop on a train whenever you want. This flexibility makes the Swiss Wine Trail accessible for hikers of all levels.

As you stroll along the trail, you’ll encounter several benches and picnic spots—the Terrasses de Lavaux hiking trail winds through some of the most picturesque Swiss villages. To make the most of your experience, it’s advisable to book your visits to the wine cellars in advance.

Explore the Five Lakes Trail in Zermatt, Switzerland

Explore the Five Lakes Trail in Zermatt, Switzerland image

The Five Lakes Trail in Zermatt is an enjoyable way to experience breathtaking views of the Matterhorn mountain, an icon of Switzerland. This scenic trail links five small lakes as it winds along a mountain ridge and descends into a picturesque valley. You’ll find several perfect spots to admire the majestic Matterhorn along the way.

Some of the most photogenic views are of the Matterhorn mirrored in three lakes dotted along the route. To embark on this adventure, take a funicular and a gondola ride to reach the mountain station. The lakes and alpine meadows along the trail offer serene settings to rest and enjoy a snack.

Alternatively, you can dine at one of the charming mountain restaurants conveniently located on the route. If you want to extend your day, Zermatt offers many other activities to explore, from scenic railways to exhilarating cable car rides.

Explore Mam Tor in the Peak District, England

Explore Mam Tor in the Peak District, England image

Mam Tor, nestled in the Hope Valley of England’s Peak District National Park, is a beacon for hikers seeking breathtaking views and a touch of geological marvel.

Known affectionately as ‘Shivering Mountain, ‘ Mam Tor’s 517m elevation offers more than just a physical challenge; it provides a historical journey through its nickname, ‘Mother Hill, ‘ stemming from the numerous landslides that have birthed smaller mounds nearby.

The summit of Mam Tor rewards climbers with sweeping panoramas of the Peak District, extending across the Edale Valley, Kinder Scout, and the Derwent Moors.