Why not take a trip through a few of them and see them for yourself? Whatever your preferences might be, you’ll find something to suit you. Here are some highly recommend areas of interest for travellers looking to explore Europe on foot and off the beaten track.
Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy
In 1922, Gran Paradiso was named Italy’s first national park. Originally, it was a royal hunting reserve but now it has become a large, sweeping area of deep valleys, rich forests, 13,000 foot mountains, flower meadows and more since it sits near the French border. It has become a major hotspot for many traveling hikers passing through the country. Each summer, an American guide living in northern Italy (Armin Fisher), leads expeditions through this 173,000 acre part. The group spends a week crossing high passes and going through alpine meadows, seeing all the unique flora and fauna of the parks. They begin at the park’s westernmost valley at the week’s start. Map
Corsica, France is known as a mountain within the sea. This Mediterranean island presents a solid challenge to the more adventurous hikers out there – its main trail is a beautiful 130 mile trek that is claimed by many to be Europe’s best backpacking trail. It’s true – there are self-guided trips lasting eight days that will give hikers a taste of that trail (known as the GR20) along with other hiking trails. Hikers begin at Calacuccia (a lakeside town) and then walk through the deep, lush woods and through golden countryside (with remote mountain villages, high country, etc.). Hikers can travel light and at their own pace, as a local tour company representative can transfer bags between inns.
Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
Dozens of huts surround the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland’s Alps Mountains. A small hiking company known as Swiss Guides takes hiking clients every summer on glacier-walking tours lasting five days through the centre of this jagged, beautiful terrain. Clients step onto the glaciers at 11,333 feet and spend most of the next five days trekking around the crevasses of massive, flat glaciers such as the fourteen-mile Great Aletsch Glacier (the longest in the Alps). Hot meals are ready each of the three nights at different huts. Hikers will wear ropes, crampons, and harnesses for safety while on their journey.
Hadrian’s Wall Path, Britain
In 2003, Hadrian’s Wall (which stretches from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway) was given the designation as an 84-mile trail and national treasure. Hikers walk for six days to keep the strong winds and rain at their backs. Lomond Walking Holidays start these expeditions through the salt marshes and boors of Solway Firth before moving through the Cumbria villages and pastures. Each afternoon, a shuttle carries the group to a small inn or guesthouse to spend the night at before returning them in the morning. The trail stretches through rolling uplands, moors, and eventually lowlands once more.
Julian Alps, Slovenia
If you love the outdoors, you need to discover the beauty that lies in the Julian Alps, which border both Slovenia and Northern Italy. The Alps are high and beautiful, and are an excellent option for hikers. The trip extends from the lake town of Bled into Triglav National Park, and hikers will spend the first few days graveling through a 6,000 foot ridgeline before dropping into flowery green valleys. It’s a beautiful, seven-day hiking expedition that climaxes at Mount Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia at 9,390 feet. More detail
Do I Need to be an Pro Climber?
No experience of climbing, rambling or serious enthusiast type mentality is required for any of these areas. Being fit helps as with all activities requiring prolonged movement but, with these areas, you can go as far as you can cope and still see, experience and enjoy a good portion of the great outdoors.
All you need to conquer these hikes is a good pair of walking boots, decent Arcteryx clothing and some determination – the experience is guaranteed to be more than worth it!
More on WeAreTraveller: Top 5 Adventure Destinations in Europe
Photo credits: ReverendMungo | aleph78 | Daquella manera | campana25 | 29cm