The 9 Best Walking Routes in Europe
We’ve been walking through Europe for decades and as you can imagine, we’ve learned a thing or two over the years. But knowledge, like life and a fine wine, is better shared. That’s why we’re happy to share our nine best walking routes in Europe (in no particular order).
1. Mallorca – Deia to Valldemossa
Mallorca boasts incredible undulating coastal walks, secluded coves, the smell of citrus everywhere, and remarkable hotels in unforgettable settings. Since our first foray, the island has become well-known as a hardcore cyclist’s paradise, but we encourage walkers to discover corners with even more cachet, far from the reach of wheels.
On this route, experience sweeping views of the Mediterranean on one side, and the towering Tramuntana mountain range on the other. Begin in the rugged and arid surroundings of Deia along the coast then experience a flattening and softening as you slip behind the Tramontana range where small fields and olive groves begin to appear.
Your final destination is the small town of Valldemossa, one of Mallorca’s most scenic. It’s cobble stone streets, courtyards and patios are lined with stone houses, boutiques and cafes. There’s no better place to reward yourself with a refreshing drink! Experience these spanish views on the Mallorca Walking trip which combines outstanding walks like this one with superb cuisine and wines to match.
2. Sicily – Necropoli di Pantalica
This walk delves deep into the quiet nature of the Anapo Valley and uncovers the history of interesting archaeological sites en route. Begin just below the town of Sortino on a gravel path headed to Anapo Valley and the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Necropolis di Pantalica. With more than 5,000 rock cut burial chambers, this site was created by the Sicel people in the 7th to 13th century B.C. These tombs are dug into the limestone rock throughout the valley and were later used as refuge during turbulent times in history.
The first 5 km (3 mi.) are on a path which passes by an ancient Byzantine village site and the Anaktron, a Mycanean princely palace. Continue past several panoramic spots with views up to the Necropolis, along the Anapo River with views of small lakes and waterfalls. From there the route then connects with the old railway path which is now a wide gravel road and continues for 8 km (5 mi.) to the Ferla entrance. Experience this walk on the first day of the Sicily Walking trip, where you’ll pass above waterfalls and through oak forest on your way to the Necropolis.
3. Douro Valley – Sabroso to Pinhao
Known as the ‘Duero’ to the Spanish, the Douro River flows westward from Spain into Portugal, where it has sculpted one of the most dramatically beautiful landscapes in all of Europe. Terraced vineyards tumble down to the water as it cuts its serpentine course to the Atlantic. Around every bend sits a graceful riverside village.
On this walk, featured on the Douro to Porto Walking trip, pass through Provosende where you’ll feel as though you’ve taken a step back in time as you meander past ancient stone mills and communal baking ovens. Finish at the Quinta do Bomfim for a rewarding picnic and a glass of authentic port wine.
4. Amalfi Coast – Path of the Gods
Everybody knows the famed Amalfi Coast but not everyone brings their hiking boots when they come to luxuriate along this coast. The Path of the Gods (Il Sentiero degli Dei) is a highlight walk that is perched high above the Amalfi Coast and we like starting in the town of Agerola – 2,000 ft above sea. In minutes you have left the town behind you and you immediately start enjoying spectacular views of terraced lands (vineyards, walnut trees, private vegetable gardens…).
The path is on a dirt and rocky trail that is proper hiking but not that difficult. The general tendency is downhill by walking in this direction but there are plenty of little ups and downs over rocky mountain steps to give you a nice workout. After a short while you round a corner and can see all the way to the island of Capri with the seaside town of Positano getting closer with every step.
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You may see (or at least hear) some nearby goats and you will certainly smell oregano, thyme and wild fennel. We recommend that you end your walk at the village of Nocelle (about 2 – 2 ½ hours), as you will have experienced the best of the trail and you get to avoid about 1,500 downhill steps to get to the sea! You can take either a bus or taxi and in 15 minutes you are in another world, where you exchange the rustic beauty of the Milky Mountains for the luxurious Amalfi Coast.
5. Austria – Wachau World Heritage Trail on the Danube
This gorgeous hike, one of Austria’s most beautiful both landscape-wise and culturally, does not – surprisingly – take place in the Alps but rather in the UNESCO World Heritage Wachau Valley wine district along the banks of the Danube.
It starts riverside in picturesque Dürnstein, “Pearl of the Wachau” with its landmark blue monastery tower. It then climbs up along the old mule path to Dürnstein’s other landmark, Austria’s most famous castle ruins where Richard the Lionheart was held for ransom in the 11th century. The Wachau, the 25 km (15 mi.) section upstream from here to Melk Monastery, is generally considered the most beautiful on the whole Danube. Towering over the village, the vineyards and the mighty Danube, the views down to the river as it curves upstream through the steep river valley with 1000 year-old terraced vineyards and medieval wine-making villages is one of Europe’s classic images.
After the ruins, the path passes through tranquil oak and pine forest to the Schlossberg peak, then follows the ridge through forest and meadow, parallel to the river, in the direction of Weissenkirchen, the next charming wine-making village upstream. Views periodically open up onto new perspectives over the river but also in the other direction over the thickly forested hills of the Waldviertel district. In the last third of the hike, the path passes down through the many-layered ancient wine terraces that are characteristic of the region and were a main reason for its UNESCO status. Passing through the narrow historic streets of the village, it ends at the Renaissance palace, Tesienhoferhof.
6. Iceland – Thorsmork
Walk in the wilderness area known as Thorsmork (Thor’s Forest) on the north side of Eyjafjallajokull volcano. It is here that the effects of the massive eruption of 2010 are most clearly visible: hills covered with ash, flood debris scattered across the valley floor, steam rising from tunnels in Gigjokull glacier. Take a hike across the otherworldly landscape leading to the site where floodwaters gushed out from under the glacier during the eruption of April and May, 2010. Hike up to view-points or explore one of the countless gullies and ravines that dissect the north face of the volcano.
This area, surrounded by mountain, glaciers, rivers and volcanoes is so beautiful, sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s real. There are beautiful walks for all activity levels, connect with one of B&R’s experience Trip Designers to create an Iceland Bespoke adventure perfect for your group.
7. Corsica – Into Bonifacio via Pertusato
As you walk past dry stone walls and thread on narrow stony paths through the maquis, catching the scent of lavender, wild arba barona thyme, everlasting and juniper, the wind brushes your cheek and the stunning white chalk of Capo Pertusato, Corsica’s southernmost tip, stands out against the impossibly turquoise waters beneath. Once passing the lighthouses, and some half-standing walls of ancient barracks, you make your away above the cliffs towards Bonifacio.
As Paul Valéry wrote, “as far as sheer beauty is concerned, Bonifacio is the unrivalled capital of Corsica” – and catching sight of it in the distance, it looks like a dream city! Each step brings you closer to this Italianate mirage atop sheer white cliffs.
8. Burgundy – The Rhône Valley
The Rhône Valley, otherwise known as “Burgundy’s little Switzerland”, offers incredible trails with wide open vistas perfect for uncovering the rich heritage and history of Burgundy. Walking in the heart of le Pays Beaunois, through the valley of Rhône, is spectacularly beautiful! Journey through lush woods before reaching impressive cliffs at les Roches du Chatelet which offers plunging views of the valley below and the village of Bouilland far in the distance. If you’re lucky, you might even see a peregrine falcon, which often choose this area to establish their nests.
Witness history as you pass front of the Abbaye Sainte Marguerite which was built at the end of the 11th century by monks of the order of Saint Augustine. Finally, you’ll reach the ancient village of Bouilland which took its name from the French word, bouillonnante, which describes the bubbling waters of the Rhône.
9. The Italian Lakes – Bellano to Varenna via Vezio
This stunning walk has it all from cozy caffès dotting the lake-shore to soaring Alps that beautifully rim the northern horizon. Following an ancient trading path, you’ll pass quaint villages, quiet forest paths and peaceful asphalt stretches. Your steps will eventually lead you to the perched town of Vezio. Stop here for a taste of mountain-fare that locals have been savouring for generations. After drinking in the gorgeous south facing views of the Bellagio’s proud peninsula splitting the Como into two legs, stroll down to Varenno for a taste of authentic gelato.
This walk, featured on the Italian Lakes Walking trip, is a favourite of ours because of its sheer contrasts; visit chic shops and snack on divine gelato by the lake, then, visit rustic houses and indulge in hearty mountain food, typical of the mountain valleys.