The 3 Best Walking Paths in Europe
For adventurous spirits seeking an active holiday that combines culture, history, and stunning natural beauty, long-distance walking trails in Europe are an unbeatable choice.
Europe offers diverse landscapes in a condensed area, and the following 3 trails some of the best the continent has to offer.
1. The French Way (Camino Frances)
The Camino Frances, or the French Way, forms the central spine of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage network. This 800-kilometer trail begins at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and ends at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain. Its steeped in history and covers a diverse range of landscapes.
But don’t fret! 800 kilometers is the historical route, nobody is expecting you to walk all of it. Camino de Santiago Tours generally hone in one certain parts of the trail, such as the 110-kilometer stretch from Sarria to Santiago.
Walking the Camino Frances, you'll traverse vineyard-clad hills, quaint medieval villages, bustling towns, and sunflower fields. The journey is punctuated by architectural marvels, including Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque churches, monasteries, and cathedrals. As the most popular and sociable of the Camino trails, it offers an enriching journey steeped in history, culture, and self-reflection.
2. The Painters’ Path (Malerweg)
The Malerweg or Painters' Path is a gem hidden in Germany’s Saxon Switzerland National Park.
This 112-kilometer circular trail that begins and ends in Pirna has inspired painters like Caspar David Friedrich with its breathtaking beauty. It's no wonder the path is known as the Painters' Way, as its scenery seems lifted straight out of a Romantic painting.
As you journey through the Malerweg, you'll be treated to a stunning towering sandstone cliffs, lush valleys, ancient fortresses, and views of the Elbe River. Germany is often underrated for its landscapes and hiking, so a walk through the Malerweg is perhaps the best way to get the most out of what the country has to offer.
Its rugged beauty is both inspiring and humbling, reminding one of the timeless connection between nature and art.
3. The King’s Trail (Kungsleden)
Last but not least is Kungsleden or The King’s Trail, Sweden's longest and most famous trail. This 440-kilometer path takes hikers through the heart of the Scandinavian wilderness, starting from Abisko in the north and ending in Hemavan in the south.
This is one for those looking for a huge challenge. It’s not just longer in distance, but things get a lot more remote. There is a genuine otherworldliness to the Arctic landscape. From snow-capped peaks and glacial valleys to crystal-clear rivers and verdant birch forests, its natural beauty is raw and captivating.
There's an ethereal quality to this trail, especially when the Northern Lights make an appearance. There’s a lot of darkness in winter, and a lot of light in the summer. Despite its remoteness, the trail is well-marked and dotted with comfortable mountain huts, making it accessible even to less experienced hikers. And, of course, you needn’t complete the entirety of it if you don’t want.
These three trails, each with its unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty, offer walking holidays that are far from ordinary. If you’re looking to take an active vacation, look no further than these iconic trails, as they provide solid, well-marked routes that traverse a diverse range of safe terrain.