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Europe’s Best Hikes For First-timers


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Ebonee Mcloughlin



Embarking on your first hiking adventure is an exciting and invigorating experience. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in nature, challenge your physical limits, and discover stunning landscapes and hidden treasures. While there are countless hiking destinations around the world, Europe boasts some of the most diverse and breathtaking trails, making it an ideal choice for first-time hikers.


Europe offers a wide range of hiking options, catering to various skill levels and preferences. From coastal paths to mountain hikes, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking adventure, Europe’s hiking trails have it all.


Before you embark on your first hike, it’s essential to be well-prepared. Research and plan your route, pack the necessary equipment, and familiarize yourself with the local weather conditions. Additionally, consider your fitness level and choose a trail that matches your capabilities. Remember, hiking is not a race – take your time, enjoy the journey, and appreciate the beauty around you.


In this article, we’ll explore some of Europe’s best hikes for first-timers. These trails offer a perfect blend of awe-inspiring scenery, rich cultural heritage, and manageable terrain, ensuring an unforgettable hiking experience for beginners. So, tie your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and let’s dive into the world of European hiking adventures!


Preparing for your first hike

Before setting out on your first hiking adventure, it’s crucial to make sure you are well-prepared. Here are some essential tips to help you get ready:

  1. Choose the right trail: Select a trail suitable for beginners, taking into account the distance, elevation gain, and difficulty level. It’s important to start with a trail that matches your fitness level and hiking experience.
  2. Research the trail: Gather as much information as possible about the trail you’ve chosen. Look for maps, trail descriptions, and online forums to learn about the route, landmarks, and potential challenges you may encounter along the way.
  3. Check the weather: Stay updated on the weather forecast for the duration of your hike. This will help you pack appropriate clothing and gear, and make any necessary adjustments to your plans if inclement weather is expected.
  4. Get the right gear: Invest in a good pair of hiking boots that provide ankle support and ensure a comfortable fit. Carry a well-fitted backpack with essentials such as a map, compass, first aid kit, extra clothing layers, food, water, and a headlamp. Don’t forget to pack a rain jacket, hat, and sunscreen, regardless of the weather forecast.
  5. Start with short hikes and gradually increase: If you’re new to hiking, it’s important to build up your stamina and endurance gradually. Begin with shorter hikes and gradually increase the distance and elevation as you become more comfortable and confident.
  6. Inform someone about your plans: Before you set off, let someone know about your hiking plans. Share your itinerary, expected duration, and any emergency contact numbers. This ensures that someone is aware of your whereabouts and can assist if needed.
  7. Stay hydrated and fueled: Carry enough water and snacks to keep you energized throughout the hike. Drink frequently to stay hydrated, and eat small, frequent meals or snacks to maintain your energy levels.
  8. Be mindful of nature: Respect the environment and leave no trace. Follow designated trails, avoid disturbing wildlife, and properly dispose of any waste. Remember, we all have a responsibility to preserve these natural wonders for future generations.

By following these tips and adequately preparing for your first hike, you’ll have a safer and more enjoyable experience. Now that you’re equipped with the necessary knowledge, it’s time to explore some of Europe’s best hiking trails for beginners!


The Camino de Santiago, Spain

The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in the world. This historic trail stretches across Spain, leading to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia. It offers a unique blend of stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a supportive community of fellow hikers.


The most popular route, the Camino Francés, starts in the French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and covers over 800 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. However, there are several alternative routes available, catering to different preferences and fitness levels.


What makes the Camino de Santiago ideal for first-time hikers is the well-marked trail, abundant accommodations, and a strong support network. You’ll find a range of budget-friendly hostels, called albergues, and charming villages along the route, making it easy to plan your daily stops.


While the Camino de Santiago is a physically demanding trail, the gradual inclines and descents make it accessible to beginners. With proper preparation and a moderate pace, you can complete the journey in around 4-6 weeks. Along the way, you’ll pass through breathtaking landscapes, picturesque villages, and historic sites, including the iconic Cruz de Ferro and the beautiful vineyards of La Rioja region.


What sets the Camino de Santiago apart from other hikes is the profound sense of camaraderie among fellow pilgrims. Walking the trail gives you the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world, sharing stories, laughter, and support. This sense of community adds a special dimension to the hiking experience and makes it a journey of personal growth and self-discovery.


Before embarking on the Camino de Santiago, it’s essential to plan your route, secure the necessary pilgrim passport, and pack lightweight yet durable equipment. Ensure you have comfortable walking shoes, breathable clothing, a lightweight sleeping bag, and a reliable backpack. Don’t forget to carry a guidebook or use a mobile app to navigate the trail and make the most of your pilgrimage.


The Camino de Santiago is not just a hike; it’s a transformative journey that challenges you physically, mentally, and spiritually. Whether you choose to walk the entire route or a portion of it, the Camino de Santiago promises memories, friendships, and a deep connection to the centuries-old pilgrim tradition.


The West Highland Way, Scotland

The West Highland Way is a spectacular hiking trail that spans 96 miles (154 kilometers) through the stunning Scottish Highlands. It starts in Milngavie, just outside of Glasgow, and concludes in Fort William, situated at the base of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK.


This iconic trail offers diverse landscapes, including lush forests, rolling hills, picturesque lochs, and rugged mountains. The terrain is varied, providing a mix of challenging sections and more leisurely stretches, making it suitable for beginners and experienced hikers alike.


The West Highland Way can be completed in around 7-8 days, depending on your pace and fitness level. The trail has well-marked paths and a range of accommodations, including campsites, hostels, and guesthouses, providing options for all budgets.


One of the highlights of the West Highland Way is the captivating scenery it passes through. From the tranquil shores of Loch Lomond to the dramatic landscapes of Rannoch Moor, every step of the journey offers breathtaking vistas. The Devil’s Staircase, a steep ascent near the town of Kinlochleven, provides a challenging but rewarding climb with stunning panoramic views at the top.


Aside from the natural beauty, the West Highland Way also offers a glimpse into Scotland’s rich history and culture. Along the trail, you’ll come across historic sites, such as the ruins of Rob Roy’s Cave and the iconic Black Mount. You’ll also have the opportunity to interact with friendly locals and experience the warm Scottish hospitality.


To prepare for your hike on the West Highland Way, it’s crucial to pack appropriate gear for the ever-changing Scottish weather. Be sure to bring waterproof clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and warm layers, as the conditions can vary throughout the day. In addition, plan your daily mileage carefully, considering the availability of accommodations and facilities along the route.


Walking the West Highland Way is an unforgettable experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands. Whether you choose to hike the entire trail or opt for a shorter section, the West Highland Way promises stunning vistas, a glimpse into history, and a taste of Scottish hospitality.


The Tour du Mont Blanc, France, Italy, and Switzerland

The Tour du Mont Blanc is an epic hiking adventure that takes you through the spectacular landscapes of France, Italy, and Switzerland. This iconic trail encircles the towering Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe, and covers a distance of approximately 170 kilometers.


Embarking on the Tour du Mont Blanc allows you to experience the beauty of the Alps while immersing yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the three countries it traverses. The trail offers breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, majestic glaciers, alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers, and charming mountain villages.


Completing the entire circuit typically takes around 10-12 days, with options to customize the route based on your preferences and fitness level. The trail is well-marked, ensuring that you stay on track as you navigate through high mountain passes and traverse challenging terrain.


One of the highlights of the Tour du Mont Blanc is the opportunity to explore the distinct cultures and cuisines of the region. Along the trail, you’ll encounter cozy mountain huts, called refuges, where you can rest and refuel with traditional Alpine delicacies, such as fondue and hearty mountain soups.


The Tour du Mont Blanc offers a range of accommodations, including campsites, dormitory-style huts, and comfortable hotels. Planning your daily mileage and securing accommodations in advance is essential, especially during the peak summer hiking season.


While the Tour du Mont Blanc is considered a challenging hike, it is manageable for beginners with proper preparation and a moderate pace. It’s essential to have sturdy hiking boots, layered clothing for varying weather conditions, and trekking poles to assist with stability on steep descents.


Throughout your journey on the Tour du Mont Blanc, you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the magnificent Mont Blanc massif and the surrounding peaks. You’ll also have the chance to interact with fellow hikers from around the world, creating lasting memories and forging new friendships.


Whether you seek adventure, natural beauty, or cultural immersion, the Tour du Mont Blanc offers an unforgettable hiking experience that showcases the best of the Alps. Prepare yourself for an incredible journey through three countries, each with its own distinct charm and allure.


The Cinque Terre, Italy

The Cinque Terre, meaning “Five Lands,” is a stunning coastal hiking destination located in the Liguria region of Italy. This UNESCO World Heritage Site encompasses five charming villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Each village is perched on rugged cliffs and surrounded by terraced vineyards and breathtaking views of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.


The hiking trails that connect the Cinque Terre villages offer a unique combination of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and delicious Italian cuisine. The most famous trail is the Sentiero Azzurro, also known as the Blue Trail, which runs along the coast and provides stunning panoramas of the colorful villages and the azure sea.


The Cinque Terre is suitable for hikers of all levels, with trails ranging from easy to moderate difficulty. The well-maintained paths are adorned with vibrant wildflowers, olive groves, and vineyards, creating a picturesque backdrop for your adventure.


One of the highlights of hiking in the Cinque Terre is the opportunity to explore the charming villages, each with its own unique character. Wander through the narrow streets, sample the local cuisine, and soak up the lively atmosphere of these coastal gems. Don’t miss the chance to try the famous pesto sauce, made from locally grown basil and served with fresh pasta.


To fully experience the beauty of the Cinque Terre, consider taking breaks along the way to swim in the crystal-clear waters or relax on one of the picturesque beaches. The villages also offer plenty of accommodations, ranging from cozy bed and breakfasts to boutique hotels, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local culture and hospitality.


When preparing for your hike in the Cinque Terre, make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, carry plenty of water, and protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunscreen. It’s also essential to check the trail conditions and any closures or restrictions before setting out.


Exploring the Cinque Terre by foot offers a unique perspective, allowing you to fully appreciate the beauty and charm of this coastal paradise. Whether you choose to hike the entire coastal trail or focus on one or two villages, the Cinque Terre promises a memorable experience filled with breathtaking views, delicious food, and the warmth of Italian hospitality.


The Kungsleden, Sweden

The Kungsleden, or “King’s Trail,” is a world-renowned hiking route that stretches for approximately 440 kilometers through the magnificent Swedish Lapland. This trail offers a unique opportunity to explore the pristine wilderness of northern Sweden, passing through breathtaking landscapes of mountains, glaciers, and vast expanses of untouched forests.


The Kungsleden is divided into several sections, allowing hikers to choose their desired distance and difficulty level. The most popular section is the northernmost stretch, running from Abisko to Nikkaluokta, which showcases some of the most breathtaking scenery along the trail.


The trail is well-marked with red-painted markers and boardwalks in some areas to navigate through marshy terrain. It’s recommended to hike the Kungsleden during the summer months when the trail is free from snow and the weather is more favorable.


One of the highlights of the Kungsleden is the chance to witness the awe-inspiring Midnight Sun during the summer months. As you hike through the remote wilderness, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the unique phenomenon of the sun never setting, casting a golden glow over the stunning landscapes.


Along the trail, hikers have the option to stay in the well-equipped mountain huts, known as STF cabins, which provide basic amenities such as beds, kitchens, and shared facilities. These huts offer a cozy and comfortable resting place for hikers, allowing you to recharge before continuing your journey.


While the Kungsleden can be challenging at times, particularly in more remote sections and with unpredictable weather conditions, it offers a truly unforgettable adventure for experienced hikers looking to immerse themselves in the wild beauty of Swedish Lapland.


Before setting off on the Kungsleden, it’s important to come prepared with appropriate gear, including sturdy hiking boots, warm and waterproof clothing, a map and compass, and sufficient food supplies. Additionally, ensure you are physically prepared for long-distance hiking and are aware of the potential risks and difficulties associated with the trail.


The Kungsleden provides a unique opportunity to disconnect from the modern world and immerse yourself in the raw and untouched beauty of Swedish Lapland. Whether you’re drawn to the awe-inspiring landscapes, seeking a wilderness adventure, or simply looking for a break from civilization, the Kungsleden offers an unforgettable hiking experience that will leave you with lasting memories.


The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is a breathtaking hiking trail that stretches approximately 186 miles (299 kilometers) along the stunning coastline of Pembrokeshire, Wales. This national trail offers a diverse range of landscapes, including golden sandy beaches, towering cliffs, and charming seaside villages.


The Pembrokeshire Coast Path provides an excellent option for hikers of all levels, with various sections offering different levels of difficulty. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely coastal stroll or a more challenging hike, there’s something for everyone along this magnificent trail.


One of the highlights of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is the opportunity to witness an abundance of wildlife. Throughout your journey, you may encounter seals, dolphins, and seabirds, as well as rare coastal flowers and plants. The path also passes through several nature reserves, including the renowned Skomer Island, known for its puffin colonies.


The trail is well-maintained and clearly signposted, ensuring that you can navigate easily as you explore the stunning coastal scenery. Along the way, you’ll come across numerous charming towns and villages, where you can rest, enjoy a meal, and immerse yourself in the local culture and history.


The Pembrokeshire Coast Path can be completed in its entirety, which takes around 10-15 days, or you can choose to hike shorter sections based on your time and preference. There are a variety of accommodations available along the trail, from campsites and guesthouses to bed and breakfasts, providing options for every kind of traveler.


Packing appropriate gear is essential when hiking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. As the weather can be changeable, it’s important to have waterproof clothing, sturdy hiking boots, a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water and snacks to keep you fueled throughout the day.


Exploring the Pembrokeshire Coast Path offers not only stunning coastal views but also a chance to immerse yourself in Welsh culture and hospitality. Take your time, breathe in the fresh sea air, and embrace the natural beauty that surrounds you as you discover the charms of this captivating coastal trail.


The Cinque Torri, Italy

Nestled in the stunning Dolomite Mountains of Italy, the Cinque Torri is a visually striking and thrilling hiking destination. Translating to “Five Towers,” this area captivates hikers with its awe-inspiring rock formations, breathtaking views, and access to some of the best climbing routes in the world.


The Cinque Torri region offers a range of hiking options suitable for all levels of experience. From gentle walks along well-marked trails to challenging ascents, there’s a hiking route for everyone to enjoy. The trails wind through beautiful alpine meadows, enchanting forests, and rocky terrain, showcasing the unique natural beauty of the Dolomites.


One of the main attractions in the Cinque Torri area is the cluster of towering rock formations that resemble ancient medieval castles. These dramatic formations create a stunning backdrop for hikers, who can marvel at their grandeur and explore their nooks and crannies.


The Cinque Torri region is also a paradise for climbers, with numerous climbing routes available for all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a beginner looking to learn the ropes, the vertical walls and impressive crags offer endless opportunities to challenge yourself and enjoy the thrill of scaling the rock faces.


When hiking in the Cinque Torri, it’s important to pack appropriate gear, including sturdy hiking boots, a backpack with essentials like water and snacks, and clothing suitable for changing weather conditions. It’s also advisable to bring a map or a guidebook to navigate the trails with ease.


One of the advantages of exploring the Cinque Torri is the availability of accommodation options. The area has a range of hotels, mountain huts, and campsites, providing hikers with opportunities to rest and enjoy the tranquility of the mountains.


As you hike through the Cinque Torri, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding mountain peaks, including the iconic Marmolada, the highest peak in the Dolomites. You’ll also have the chance to witness stunning sunsets and sunrises that paint the sky with a kaleidoscope of colors over the breathtaking mountain landscape.


For nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and climbers alike, the Cinque Torri is a must-visit destination. Immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the Dolomites and experience the thrill of hiking amidst towering rock formations and majestic alpine scenery.


The Wicklow Way, Ireland

The Wicklow Way is Ireland’s oldest long-distance hiking trail and offers a picturesque journey through the stunning landscapes of County Wicklow. This 131-kilometer trail takes you through lush valleys, pristine lakes, rolling hills, and enchanting forests, showcasing the natural beauty of the “Garden of Ireland.”


The Wicklow Way is a perfect choice for both beginners and experienced hikers, as it provides a variety of terrains and trail sections to suit different skill levels. The well-marked paths and clear signposts ensure you can navigate with ease, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the delightful scenery.


The trail starts in the Dublin suburb of Marlay Park and culminates in the village of Clonegal. Along the way, you’ll encounter breathtaking vistas, historic sites, and charming villages. Highlights of the route include the mesmerizing Powerscourt Waterfall, the monastic ruins of Glendalough, and the 360-degree panoramic views from the summit of Djouce Mountain.


One of the advantages of hiking the Wicklow Way is the accessibility to accommodations and services along the trail. You can choose to stay in cozy bed and breakfasts, guesthouses, or budget-friendly hostels, ensuring you have a comfortable place to rest after a day of hiking.


Weather in the Wicklow Mountains can be changeable, so it’s important to pack appropriate gear. Be prepared for rain showers and pack waterproof clothing, along with layers to accommodate varying temperatures. Sturdy hiking boots are essential for navigating the sometimes muddy and uneven terrain.


As you hike through the Wicklow Way, you’ll be treated to magnificent vistas of rolling hills, serene lakes, and verdant valleys. The trail also offers a chance to encounter local wildlife, including deer, birds of prey, and elusive foxes.


Immersing yourself in the beauty of the Wicklow Way not only allows you to experience Ireland’s stunning landscapes but also offers a sense of tranquility and a connection to nature. Whether you’re seeking a challenging adventure or a leisurely stroll, the Wicklow Way will leave you with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for Ireland’s natural wonders.


The Rota Vicentina, Portugal

The Rota Vicentina is a hidden gem of a hiking trail that winds its way along the stunning coastline of southwest Portugal. This 450-kilometer network of paths offers a unique opportunity to explore the raw natural beauty and cultural heritage of the Alentejo and Algarve regions.


The Rota Vicentina is divided into two main sections: the Historical Way (Caminho Historico) and the Fisherman’s Trail (Trilho dos Pescadores). The Historical Way takes you through rural landscapes, charming villages, and rolling hills, showcasing the traditional rural way of life in this region. The Fisherman’s Trail hugs the rugged coastline, offering breathtaking ocean views, dramatic cliffs, and pristine sandy beaches.


For beginners, the Fisherman’s Trail provides a more accessible option, with well-marked paths and moderate terrain. The route takes you along stunning coastal cliffs and sandy beaches, providing ample opportunities for refreshing swims in the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean.


The Rota Vicentina is known for its diverse flora and fauna, including colorful wildflowers, aromatic herbs, and rare bird species. Nature enthusiasts will marvel at the pristine landscapes and the chance to spot unique wildlife in their natural habitat.


One of the highlights of hiking the Rota Vicentina is the chance to experience the warm Portuguese hospitality. Along the trail, you’ll find comfortable accommodations, ranging from guesthouses and rural retreats to campgrounds, allowing you to rest and rejuvenate after a day of hiking.


When hiking the Rota Vicentina, it’s advisable to plan your journey in advance and pack appropriate gear. Wear sturdy walking shoes, carry plenty of water and snacks, and protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and a hat. Take note of the distance between accommodations and plan accordingly to make the most of your hiking experience.


As you hike along the Rota Vicentina, you’ll be enchanted by the stunning coastal scenery, the charming rural landscapes, and the cultural richness of the area. Be sure to immerse yourself in the local gastronomy, savoring fresh seafood dishes and regional delicacies that showcase the flavors of Alentejo and Algarve.


Exploring the Rota Vicentina offers an opportunity to disconnect from the bustling world and reconnect with nature. This hidden gem of a trail allows you to experience the unspoiled beauty of Portugal’s southwest coast and immerse yourself in the serene and tranquil atmosphere of the region.



Embarking on your first hiking adventure in Europe opens up a world of breathtaking landscapes, diverse cultures, and unforgettable experiences. Whether you choose the spiritual journey of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the coastal beauty of the Cinque Terre in Italy, or the rugged wilderness of the Kungsleden in Sweden, there is a trail to suit every taste and level of experience.


Before setting out on your hike, be sure to adequately prepare. Research your chosen trail, understand its level of difficulty, and pack the necessary gear and supplies. It’s essential to prioritize safety, comfort, and respect for nature and local cultures as you venture into the great outdoors.


Each European hiking trail offers its own unique charm. From the historical significance of the Camino de Santiago to the dramatic coastal landscapes of the Cinque Terre, each destination provides an opportunity to connect with nature, challenge yourself, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


While hiking, take the time to appreciate the beauty around you. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of nature. Engage in conversation with fellow hikers, locals, and fellow pilgrims. Embrace the exhilaration of reaching a summit, the tranquility of a peaceful forest, and the joy of discovering hidden gems along the way.


As you embark on your first hiking adventure in Europe, remember that it’s not just about reaching a destination but also about the journey itself. Embrace the challenges, relish the rewards, and allow yourself to be inspired by the awe-inspiring landscapes and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a trail.


So, lace up your boots, pack your backpack, and set off on your European hiking adventure. From the rugged mountains to the picturesque coastlines, the enchanting trails of Europe await your exploration. Take that first step and let the journey begin.