Europe's Most Scenic Walking Trails

Want to put your best foot forward and blow the cobwebs away? From the glittering Italian Riviera to Zermatt’s jagged peaks, these are Europe’s most breathtaking hiking trails – all skill levels welcome.

It's official: we've walked our favourite WFH route so many times that we're fairly certain we could do it blindfolded. If you, too, are fed up of grabbing your ugliest pair of trainers, chucking on a scruffy sweatshirt and setting off with your go-to soundtrack, or of giving more awkward nods to that same neighbour than the famous Churchill dog, then it's time to shake things up a bit.

From Sweden's craggy corners to Croatia's most picturesque National Park, these are our seven favourite European routes to take in 2022.

Europe's most scenic walking routes

snowy mountains of kings trail switzerland

King's Trail

Kungsleden, Sweden

We're the first to long for a hot summer's day in the cooler months, but there's also no better feeling than a crisp, frosty stroll - the sort that leaves you with rosy cheeks and a new spring in your step. Enter, King's Trail, located north of the Arctic Circle, amid the snowy landscape of Kungsleden. Despite its dramatic setting, the terrain doesn't require much expertise. We'd suggest starting at Abisko, from where it's around a 10-day hike (speed depending) to the Sami village of Nikkaluokta.

Distance: 105km

Duration: 10-12 days

GR34 Brittany France

GR34

Brittany, France

France's Grande Randonée (Long Trek) 34 is the only trail in the country that never fails to lose sight of the sea. Taking you from Mont Saint-Michel Bay to the Pont de Saint-Nazaire, with plenty of clear red and white markers along the way, it makes for a spectacular French escape. While the trail itself is relatively straightforward, some sections feature narrow, twisting paths along the hillside's edge. We'd suggest rounding up your gang for this one: a group effort will guarantee no slipping or sliding.

Distance: 2,000km

Duration: Up to six weeks

Blue Trail

Cinque Terre, Italy

Sitting pretty on Italy's Ligurian coast, Cinque Terre is just a two-hour drive north of Pisa. Famed for its pastel-coloured buildings, the area is made up of five different towns - Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia and Riomaggiore - and there's no better way to explore them all than with a good, old-fashioned ramble. Though you'll find plenty of different paths on offer, we'd recommend starting with one of the slightly easier routes, the Blue Trail. Set off from Riomaggiore, from where you'll climb the coast to Manarola - every step of incline rewarded with spectacular 360-degree vistas.

Distance: 11km

Duration: Five to six hours

matterhorn zermatt switzerland

The Gornergrat

Zermatt, Switzerland

Situated in the canton of Valais, Zermatt pulls in winter sports fans from around the world for its majestic Matterhorn and 28 other 4,000m-or-higher peaks. For a change, we're ditching the skis and strapping on our backpack. While we're always up for a challenge (and smashing our 10,000-daily-step count), this route is not for the faint-hearted. More experienced hikers should start at Riffelalp train station, then follow the signs west to join the trail. Insider tip: for much of this route, you'll be scaling rocky meadows and clambering sharp slopes - don't attempt it without a buddy on standby.

Distance: 6km

Duration: Two to three hours

plitvice lakes national park

Trail A

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Croatia's oldest and largest national park, and a Unesco World Heritage site since 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park delights visitors with its 16 thundering waterfalls and wild, dense forests. To wander the wooden walkways and gaze at its crystal-clear lakes, you'll want to start out at Entrance 1. Taking around two hours, the trail rewards walkers with views of the Great Waterfall and includes a beautiful bridged section over the Kozajka Lake. Fancy something a little more intensive? The 18km Trail K covers the entire park, taking around eight hours to complete.

Distance: 3.5km

Duration: Two hours

fisherman's trail portugal

Fisherman's Trail

Portugal

The undisturbed landscape of Portugal's south-western coastal paths has to be seen to be believed. Those who enjoy beach days as much as thrill-seeking adventures will love the Fisherman's Trail, which allows travellers to combine the two. Set off from Porto Covo, from where it's a four-day trek to Cabo de Sāo Vicente. Pitching a tent come nightfall is not permitted along this route, so do bear in mind that you'll need to plot out your pit stops before setting off.

Distance: 76km

Duration: Four days

the slovene mountain trail

The Slovene Mountain Trail

Maribor, Slovenia

The longest and most popular trail in Slovenia, and the longest connecting trail in the world, the Slovene Mountain Trail welcomed its first walkers in 1953. Today, it draws some of the world's toughest hikers, who see crossing its 23 peaks and five towns as something of a rite of passage. The much-storied route takes in the rolling plateaus of the Pohorje Hills, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, Karavanke Alps and Julian Alps, before finishing up on the sparkling Adriatic coast. Though it can take up to 40 days to complete, some ultra-competitive trekkers have completed it in as little as seven - we're assuming they're keen runners, too.

Distance: 617km

Duration: Up to 40 days

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