Are you an avid hiker and fan of European trekking holidays? Then you’ve probably spent some time wondering which are the best treks in Europe.
Well, wonder no more. Without having tried them all yourself, it makes sense to get an expert opinion. And that’s exactly what we got for you.
Emma Jack is a qualified International Mountain Leader who runs Cloud 9 Adventure. With almost two decades of experience, organising hiking and snowshoe expeditions around the Chamonix Valley and beyond, she knows what makes the best treks in Europe.
Emma has led the Tour du Mont Blanc more than 60 times, the Everest Base Camp Trek almost 30 times and Kilimanjaro treks more than 10 times. She’s also trekked extensively in Peru, Nepal, Russia, The Alps, Pyrenees and many more destinations.
So, it’s fair to say that if anyone has a real understanding of what makes the best European trekking holidays it’s Emma. Her vast European trekking knowledge has formed the basis of the list below.
Emma has not only chosen her top 10 European treks. But also provided information as to why each trek made the cut.
Probably the most famous trek in Europe, and justifiably so. The Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB) starts and finishes in the famous mountain town of Chamonix, and visits France, Italy and Switzerland over the course of ten days.
This is one of the best treks in Europe especially if you’re looking for luxury accommodation and luggage delivery. It is also very well set-up for self-guided experiences and low cost accommodation options.
The Chamonix side of the trek is well-served with cable cars to make your days easier. Plus there are a range of transport available, so anyone looking to shorten their journey can do a ‘Highlights of the TMB’ over five to seven days, or a Mini TMB over three days.
There is even a Chamonix-based TMB. For this you stay in the same accommodation each night and simply hike the best sections, without having to worry about packing up each morning.
There are also some stunning variants to take you off the beaten path, and coupled with amazing scenery, this iconic trek really ought to feature on every hiker’s bucket list. Expect scintillating views, spectacular sunsets and great company along the way.
This is the logical next step up for anyone who has done the TMB and is looking for an even bigger challenge. It’s quieter, wilder, higher and more rugged.
The trek links the famous mountaineering Meccas of Chamonix and Zermatt. You have views of eight of the ten highest mountains in the Alps along the way.
If you thought the TMB scenery was stunning, then the Haute Route is out of this world. View vast glaciers and towering mountain peaks as the route meanders through green alpine valleys and flower-covered meadows.
You’ll also discover picture-perfect mountain villages on a trek that is full of contrasting experiences. It’s also possible to stay in some very nice hotels along the way, making this one of the best treks in Europe for those looking for a bit of comfort.
Most people do the trek in 11 days, but it’s possible to do seven-day highlights trips too. Luggage delivery is also available to make things that little bit easier and more enjoyable.
If you haven’t seen the Dolomites, then there’s no other thing for it – you simply have to go. And as soon as possible. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Dolomites are just stunning, and there’s no better way to see them than to trek through their heart.
The Alta Via 1 takes around nine to ten days to complete. The trek is around 125km long, stretching from Dobbacio in the North to Belluno in the south. The highest point you will reach on the trek is 2,752 metres.
The refuges are wonderful, a much better standard than their alpine counterparts. If you book early enough you can often have a private room with en-suite facilities. This is a truly stunning trek and well commended for European trekking holidays.
This virtually unknown trek as a great alternative to the Tour du Mont Blanc, as it is so quiet. If you don’t like sharing the trails with others, then this is one of the best treks in Europe.
The whole route (known as the Tor des Géants) is 333km and covers 24,000m of height gain. It does a beautiful loop travelling the length of the Aosta valley and back up the other side, starting and finishing in Courmayeur.
To trek the whole thing generally takes around a month, and for those short on time you can do two 12-14 day trips. Why not do the Alta Via 1 one year and the Alta Via 2 the next? It’s worth noting that these are separate treks from the Dolomites Alta Via.
Widely known as the hardest trek in Europe, the GR20 is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a stunning route travelling along the mountainous spine of Corsica from North to South and covers a distance of 180km over the course of two weeks.
The scenery is rugged, wild, beautiful and varied. There is a fair amount of scrambling (where you’ll need to use your hands), and a number of places where you really don’t want to fall.
The days are long (due to the distances between mountain huts), but it is entirely achievable and well worth the effort. But you will need a good level of fitness and mobility.
There are many inconveniences along the way, so you will need to be willing to tough it out. For example, it is hard to find any kind luxury, bed bugs are rife and it can be fairly basic accommodation. So, make sure you choose your overnight stops carefully, and research the best places to stay.
If you do all that, you will be rewarded with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, fantastic rock pools to swim in and all-in-all, a fantastic physical challenge.
There are many long-distance walking routes in the UK, but the Coast to Coast really stands out as one of the best treks in Europe. The route is 192 miles long and crosses three National Parks – the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
The route was devised by Alfred Wainwright in 1973. But as an unofficial hiking trail, it is largely un-signposted. You’ll pass through some beautiful scenery, but also some fantastic examples of British history.
Highlights of the route include the idyllic grassland valleys of Borrowdale, Grasmere and Patterdale. You can stop off in quaint tea shops and enjoy the views on the North York Moors in the same day.
It’s easy to do this trip either guided or self-guided, and there are many companies offering luggage delivery. Plus there are plenty of delightful B&Bs to stay in along the way.
As it is such a popular walk, you can expect to run into plenty of people and experience some great camaraderie. This might not be one of the more difficult treks on our list of the top European trekking holidays, but it is unforgettable.
The Tour of the Monte Rosa is another less-known trek in the Alps, passing through Switzerland and Italy. You stay mainly in mountain refuges. But it is possible to stay in hotels in Macugnaga, Gressoney, Zermatt, Grachen and Saas Grund.
It’s quite a hard trek, with some long, rugged days, and it takes you to a wilder part of the Alps. It’s also one of the highest treks on the list, with a high point of 3400 metres at the Theodul hut.
You get right up close to the Matterhorn. Plus enjoy amazing views of many other 4000m peaks including the Monte Rosa and the Weisshorn. There’s a glacier crossing which is fairly straightforward, so it is possible to do this independently. But it’s easy to organise a guide for just that section if you prefer.
This is a truly special trip, and one of the European trekking holidays that you’ll need to take soon as the ski areas of Champoluc and Cervinia are due to be linked in the next few years. This will impact one of the most beautiful parts of this trek.
Surprisingly few people do this trek, which is phenomenal considering that the Verdon Gorge is one of the most famous natural attractions in France. It’s the Grand Canyon of Europe and is a beautiful place to trek.
The trek from St André-Les-Alpes to Griez take a week. It includes a full day walking the length of the Gorge, along a series of ladders, walkways and a tunnel. The main section of the gorge is about 25 km long and makes for an incredibly exciting trek.
Elsewhere on the route, soak up the rich scents of lavender and thyme and take in the panoramic views from the Mourre Chanier. Staying in very attractive Provençal villages, it’s well worth a place on this list of the best treks in Europe.
An 18-day trek across the mountainous country of Switzerland. It is sometimes referred to as the Alpine Passes Route by some UK guide books. Although this can be confusing, as the Swiss have a separate route that they call the Swiss Alpine Passes route.
The hiking trail starts in Sargans and crosses 14 of the most beautiful alpine passes as it travels over six cantons. The route is lined with an array of flora and fauna, plus spectacular rock formations and geological highlights.
Expect wide roads leading to dizzying and breezy ridge trails and alpine herdsmen making cheese and traditional products. As European trekking holidays go, they don’t come much better than this.
This little-known trek across the island of Corsica has snuck in at number 10. It’s a charming route and the ideal choice if the more-famous GR20 is a little too much. But still a great way to trek Corisca’s Coast to Coast.
You get to see many of Corsica’s tiny, traditional villages and hamlets. Plus experience a way of life that has been preserved for generations. This is a side of the island that most tourists to Corsica don’t get to see.
You’ll enjoy a huge variety of scenery, and the trek culminates with one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, the Calanques of Piana. Definitely one of our favourites in this list of the best treks in Europe.
So, how many of Emma’s treks have you done? And how many of them have really captured your attention?
Thanks to Emma’s vast experience and knowledge of European trekking holidays, you can rest assured that every one of the above treks offers something different, exciting and worthwhile. From the serene British countryside to high Alpine passes and everything in between, you don’t need to travel beyond Europe to find some of the world’s best trekking.
Each will challenge you in a different way but ultimately leave you with an unforgettable experience. So, what are you waiting for? Start ticking them off your list now.
We hope you enjoyed Emma’s guide to the best treks in Europe. If you are planning European trekking holidays be sure to check out her trips at: www.cloud9adventure.com