If you’re planning on going hiking in Europe, don’t pack your bags before you’ve read this article. I recently realised I actually know about a lot of underrated, but amazing hiking trails in Europe. Yet, I’ve never shared them with anyone! I decided all this insider info shouldn’t go to waste. I’ve briefly mentioned some of them before, but I never made a list of the best ones. Well, That’s about to change today.
I’ve walked (or cycled) parts of these trails myself, so you can trust me when I tell you they’re worth the trip. Check out my list to discover a few hidden gems for your hiking adventures in Europe (in random order). Here we go!
4 Amazing Trails to Check Out if You’re Going Hiking in Europe
1. South Tyrol: Keschtnweg (Chestnut Trail)
Are you into good food, but also need some fresh mountain air? Look no further: the Keschtnweg or Chestnut Trail is the one for you! You’ll find this trail in the green Eisacktal in South Tyrol, famous for its chestnut trees (hence the name of the trail). This thematic trail of about 60 km passes through the beautiful town of Bressanone (Brixen), continues to the historic Novacella (Neustift) abbey, and ends in Bolzano.
Depending on your schedule and capabilities, the entire route will take you 3-5 day trips. The trail was mapped out to include several great cafes and restaurants on purpose, so don’t forget to try the chestnut specialties in the Eisacktal. That includes special schnaps and irresistible chocolate-chestnut desserts.
Estimated days: 3-5
Recommended trail: Chesnut Trail Stage 4 (Chiusa to Bressanone)
2. Umbria: Monte Cucco
Monte Cucco is a special place in Umbria for any type of nature lover. Umbria is an underrated region in central Italy that not that many travelers manage to visit, mostly because it is often overshadowed by its famous neighbor Tuscany. The mesmerizing mountainous landscape and vistas of Monte Cucco are simply amazing to discover by foot (or bicycle), and the admirable story behind the regional park makes the experience even better.
All the way back in 1289, long before any serious climate discussions, 40 families decided to work together and buy the lands of Monte Cucco from a nobleman. They understood how important the mountain’s ecosystem (wood, water, animals) was for humans as well. This local organisation, “Università di Uomini Originari di Costacciaro”, still exists to this day.
Estimated days: 1-2
Recommended trail: Sentiero 24 (Costacciaro to Monte Cucco)
3. East Tyrol: Hohe Tauern National Park
Hohe Tauern is Austria’s largest national park, and also the largest nature reserve in the Alps. Another fun fact: Hohe Tauern is also the place to find the tallest mountains in Austria! Of course, the summer months are an amazing time to lace those walking shoes and go on a hike in the countryside. Yet, Hohe Tauern might be an even ‘cooler’ hiking destination in winter (pun very much intended).
Imagine walking through the snow under a clear blue sky (with your snow shoes on, mind you). The various trails in Hohe Tauern take you along impressive peaks, clattering waterfalls, frozen lakes, and open fields full of glittering ice crystals. The best thing about such a thick layer of snow is that tracking animals suddenly becomes much easier.
During the day or even at night, you can search for animals with a park ranger, like alpine ibexes, chamois, deer, and mountain hares. Hohe Tauern is also a fantastic location for bird spotters, since there are native species like the bearded vulture, golden eagle and griffon vulture.
Estimated days: 2-4
Recommended trail: Defereggental Valley (Snowshoeing)
4. Gelderland: Veluwezoom National Park
When I say the Netherlands, you say? No, not Amsterdam…or even Rotterdam, but Veluwezoom National Park! Fair enough, the pronunciation might be a bit difficult. Nevertheless, you absolutely have to put this overlooked region in the province of Gelderland on your hiking list. Almost nobody considers the Netherlands when they go hiking in Europe and, quite frankly, it’s a shame.
Veluwezoom is the oldest national park in the Netherlands, consisting of forests, meadows, heathland, and (smallish) hills. The paths go right through the wilderness, and you can easily spot wild horses. If you’re lucky enough, you might even see red deer, wild boars, badgers, or the rare pine marten.
Summer tip: The purple heath usually blooms in August, which makes Veluwezoom look simply enchanting. In fact, the purple summer fields are probably the most beautiful natural phenomenon in the whole of the country. Well, those tulips fields in the spring are also pretty cool, but it’s not technically ‘natural’. Curious about the most beautiful spot on the hiking trail? The hilly Posbank area near Rheden!
Estimated days: 1-2
Recommended trail: Veluwezoom-Posbank