Thru-hiking in Europe
Compared to other continents, like North America, thru-hiking is less established in Europe. In 2018, 7,313 licenses were allotted to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in the United States. However, this does not mean that you cannot find amazing thru-hikes in Europe. There are many adventurous and sometimes even surprising trails available here. Idyllic landscapes ranging from the fjords of Norway to the mountains of the Alps make hiking in Europe awe-inspiring. The length of thru-hikes varies a lot. Some trails are only two weeks, whereas others can take up to six months to complete. Europe has something for everyone!
A rich history
Europe is known for amazing cities with rich history and culture. You can hike the region of the Iron Curtain in Germany or take the Grand Italian Trail (Sentiero d’Italia) along the frontline of WWI in the Dolomites. But next to this rich history, Europe has more to offer: beautiful landscapes, perfect hiking trails, breathtaking views, and challenges that will make even the most experienced hikers sore after a long day. The nice thing is many of these hiking trails are near cities, making them easily accessible.
Despite the easy access and relatively high population in Europe, there are still pristine areas that will make you feel like you are the only person on the planet.
If you love nature, Europe is the place to be. Not only will you enjoy the many vista points, but many of the trails are also accessible year-round. Every season will have its own challenges. Hike the Haute Route in the French Alps in late autumn to enjoy snowy mountain tops and brightly colored leaves, or hike in summer and enjoy blooming fields and flowers.
Another nice thing about hiking in Europe is many of the long-distance hikes cross through multiple countries. And with multiple countries comes diverse cultures. Every country is different. Take, for instance, the Alpe Adria trail. This thru-hike starts on the highest mountain of Austria, de Grossglockner, and traverses alongside the blue lakes of Carinthia and the wild nature of Slovenia all the way to Muggia in Italy, located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. When hiking this trail, you will experience the nature and culture of these countries more intensely. And let’s be honest, what’s better than that?
The landscapes in Europe are very diverse. Because of this, it is possible to forge a thru-hike in almost every type of terrain, you only have to decide what you want! If you choose The Penny Way, England’s first National Trail, you will walk from the Peak District to the Scottish borders and encounter some of England’s most iconic landscapes. Endless views, green pastures, and hills that alternate with muddy terrain describes this trail the best. But this is not comparable to the terrain you will encounter when hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc or GR10: rough rocks, narrow mountain trails, and hard surfaces characterize these hikes.
Basically, Europe has some incredible thru-hikes to offer! Get inspired and choose the trail that fits you the best.