If you’ve got the hiking bug, then you’ve no doubt got that other bug that generally accompanies it – the need to experience awesome views! Hiking is not only good for your physical health, it’s also excellent for your mental well-being. You get a thrill and an adrenaline rush out of trekking up a challenging mountain or hill, and then at the top, you get a tremendous buzz and the feeling that all is well with the world. What’s not to like? OK – painful muscles and possibly blisters on your feet for a few days, but hell, it’s worth it.
With that being said, here are our ultimate BUCKiTDREAM recommendations for where to hike in Europe if you’re a fan of beautiful views.
Feast on the Beauty of La Belle, France The French countryside and coastal areas are simply beautiful. You don’t even need to hike up to any great height in order to feast on some breathtaking views; just get walking or cycling and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by impressive scenery. For experienced hikers though, a must is the Tour de Mont Blanc. The complete tour passes through seven valleys, crosses the highest peaks in the Alps and takes you through three countries (Italy, Switzerland, and France). Not for the fainthearted obviously, but if you’re up to it, you will be well-rewarded with beautiful mountain and sea views and delightful, picturesque little villages.
Follow the Cinque Terre Trail in Italy This should be on every hiker’s must-do list. You trek from village to village along the magnificent coastline of the Liguria region of Italy – a rugged section of the coast which belongs to the Italian Riviera. The five villages and surrounding countryside and coastline are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You get to stay a night in each of the pretty villages and indulge in some delicious, authentic Italian food. There’s also a train that runs between the villages if you prefer taking a day off. The route is prone to heavy rain and therefore erosion, so choose your time of year wisely and be safety-conscious at all times.
Climb Ireland’s Highest Mountain Carrauntoohil is the highest peak of the magnificent Macgillycuddy’s Reeks in County Kerry, which is in southwest Ireland. You need a whole day to climb it, as there’s a fair walk before you even begin any kind of ascent. Once you start to climb, you won’t even notice that you’re going uphill for a while. Then suddenly you do! There are different routes to choose from, and if you haven’t done it before, it’s worth engaging the assistance of a guide. Be ready for the aptly-named Devil’s Ladder – part of your ascent or descent, depending on your route. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views on the way up, overlooking the Killarney Lakes, and when you eventually reach the summit, the 360-degree panoramic view is simply awesome. Providing you’re not in a cloud… If you are, well then, you’ll just have to do it again another day.
Get Acquainted with Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands This is another must-see place. It’s located about 24 km west of the infamous Loch Ness and is reputed to be one of Scotland’s finest glens. (A Glen, by the way, is a deep, narrow valley). Trek the 48 km or so through a fabulous mix of wooded areas (featuring native Scots Pine trees) and haunting mountains and moorland, where you will be accompanied at all times by the beautiful Loch Affric. Woodland birds and assorted wildlife abound throughout this magnificent area, which will simply take your breath away.
Make the Masca Gorge Trek in Tenerife, Spain Although this is a lesser known hiking spot, it’s well worth the visit. Masca is a small mountain village that lies at an altitude of 650 meters. You begin your 8 km trek from the village and walk through the gorge, finishing up at Masca beach. Along the route, you will be treated to fabulous views of abundant tree forests and towering mountains. The trek will only take you about three hours, but it’s a tough one.
Hike the Helvellyn Located in the Lake District of England This is actually the third highest mountain to be found in the stunning Lake District area of northern England. It’s a very doable hike of around 21 km, but it will take you a good nine hours. There is a choice of routes; the Patterdale route is probably the easiest. Watch out for two ridges – Striding Edge and Swirral Edge – on your way up, as well as some deep glacial coves and then, once at the summit, prepare to be amazed as you will (hopefully) be able to see as far as Scotland to the north and the Irish Sea and Wales to the west.
Be Amazed by the Blue Danube Valley in Austria This is a fabulous area that’s big enough for a different walk each day for an entire week. Or you can just choose a part of it for a day or two’s hike. The mild climate makes it ideal territory for growing fruit and wine – and your walks will indeed take you through said vineyards and orchards, together with some charming wooded areas. As you make your way up you will notice attractive, curved, steep hills that are sprinkled with little historic towns and small hamlets – all worth exploring. Various viewing points allow you to drink in the fabulous vistas of the surrounding countryside and the ever-present, ever-changing beautiful Danube River.
These are just a few samples of the myriad places in Europe where you can walk or hike in the presence of the most awesome and inspiring views. So, choose your location and get planning! For some other amazing bucket list hiking suggestions, check out the Top 5 Hikes in Madeira.