Top 10 challenging walks in Europe

Top 10 Challenging Walks in Europe


stretch your endurance, & your calves

Long ascents, rough terrain and exposed paths – challenging walks test stamina and sure-footedness, but reward with amazing scenery and spectacular summits. The Himalayas may be a bucket list trekking destination, but Nepal doesn’t have the monopoly on demanding, exhilarating walking. Europe’s mountains and national parks are criss-crossed by properly challenging routes. So there’s no excuse – get your boots on and go!

1. Two Moors Way, Devon


This 165km walk stretches from the southern edge of Dartmoor to the north Devon coast. Hike through some of the most remote parts of Dartmoor, cross the unspoilt rural countryside that lies between the county’s two national parks, then trek across Exmoor to finish in Lynmouth on the north coast of Devon.

When to go: March to October
Our top selling trip: Dartmoor and Exmoor self guided walking vacation
See all our trips: Walking vacations in Europe
Read more: Walking vacations in England guide and Self guided walking travel guide

2. Dinaric Alps, Montenegro


The Dinaric Alps stretch from Italy to Albania. In Montenegro, the spectacular peaks within Prokletije National Park, aka the ‘accursed mountains’, offer strenuous hikes with elevations of almost 1,000m. Epic views into Albania await anyone tough enough to walk here, with the highest peak measuring 2,694m. Find further difficult walks in the nearby Komovi range.

When to go: May to October
Our top selling trip: Montenegro hiking vacation, mountain expedition
See all our trips: Montenegro walking vacations
Read more: Montenegro travel guide and Small group walking travel guide

3. Mont Blanc Circuit




Cross Swiss, French and Italian borders as you loop around Mont Blanc. It can be done in eight days; 10 is easier. Start in Switzerland or France, tackling six mountain passes and climbs to 2,500m. Great food and the option to stay in hotels each night take the edge off the effort!

When to go: June, July, August and early September
Our top selling trip: Mont Blanc circuit walking vacation
See all our trips: Walking vacations in France
Read more: Mont Blanc travel guide and Small group walking travel guide

4. Pyrénées


One of Europe’s classic hiking trails, the GR10, runs the length of the Pyrénées from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, following lower routes and passes. Want an even bigger challenge? Try the higher version, the Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne, a tough hut-to-hut trek through the wildest parts of the Pyrénées, with long days of walking on and off paths.

When to go: Late May to mid October (the HRP is only possible July and August)
Our top selling trip: Pyrénées guided walking vacation
See all our trips: Walking vacations in France
Read more: Walking vacations in France guide and Small group walking travel guide

5. Julian Alps, Slovenia


Although massive and dramatic, the Julian Alps are something of a Slovenian best-kept secret. Giant limestone peaks rise up from lush valleys with the summit of the highest, Mount Triglav, reached via a non-technical ‘via ferrata’ and scramble, with some exposed sections. From the top, gaze out over Austria, Italy and Croatia. Hut-to-hut hikes help you see the most, but be prepared to carry your own pack.

When to go: July and August
Our top selling trip: Julian Alps walking vacation in Slovenia
See all our trips: Slovenia vacations
Read more: Small group walking travel guide and Walking vacations in Europe travel guide

6. Mercantour National Park, France


With over 100 high altitude lakes and a rich, varied landscape, the Mercantour National Park in France rivals anywhere in the Alpine chain. Rugged peaks and ridges rising to over 3,000m on the Italian border make for some steep walks, with ascents of 800m. In spring, Alpine flowers cloak the valleys; in autumn, golden leaved larches create a mini New England.

When to go: June to October
Our top selling trip: Walking vacation in France, Mercantour reflections
See all our trips: Walking vacations in France
Read more: Mercantour vacations travel guide and Walking vacations in Europe travel guide

7. High Tatras, Poland




Among Europe’s most rugged and spectacular mountains, the High Tatras belong to the granite Carpathian Range. There’s a comprehensive network of trails, with walking hard but satisfying, and the terrain tough but really beautiful. The ascent and scramble to the summit of Poland’s highest peak, Mount Rysy (2,499m), gives 360-degree views over more than 100 peaks.

When to go: June to September
Our top selling trip: Poland walking vacation in the High Tatras
See all our trips: Poland vacations
Read more: Small group walking travel guide and Walking vacations in Europe travel guide

8. GR20, Corsica


One of Europe’s most challenging long distance routes, the GR20 traverses tough terrain, which ranges from precipitous cliff-top paths to verdant meadows. You need to be really fit, with plenty of mountain walking experience to tackle it – sure-footedness and a head for heights are also invaluable!

When to go: June to September
Our top selling trip: GR20 walking vacation in Corsica, France
See all our trips: Walking vacations in France
Read more: Walking vacations in France guide and Small group walking travel guide

9. Via Ferrata, Italy


Clamber along ridges and up rock faces using the Via Ferrata, or Iron Way, in the Italian Dolomites. A system of cables gives you access to mountains that could normally only be tackled by rock climbers. You’ll climb around 800m per day, with walking days of six to nine hours, so you’ll need to be super fit for this one, with experience of high level mountain walking and a good head for heights!

When to go: July to September
Our top selling trip: Via Ferrata walking vacation in the Dolomites, Italy
See all our trips: Walking vacations in Italy
Read more: Walking vacations in Italy travel guide and Centre based walking travel guide

10. The Matterhorn, Switzerland




Approach the mighty Matterhorn from beautiful Mont Blanc, following a 100km route which connects the valleys of the Haute Savoie in France to the Swiss Valais. Pack plenty of fitness and stamina to handle hard trekking on often steep, rough terrain for two weeks, tackling ascents of up to 1,600m, camping and sleeping in huts along the way.

When to go: July and August
Our top selling trip: Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn trekking vacation
See all our trips: Walking vacations in Switzerland
Read more: Switzerland travel guide and Small group walking travel guide
Photo credits: [Intro: Heather Cowper] [Poland: Traveltipy] [France: Cristian Bortes www.eyeem] [Switzerland: Zak Greant]

Written by: Joanna Simmons

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Montenegro hiking vacation, mountain expedition

Most exciting and beautiful hikes in one unique expedition

From 999 9 Days ex flights
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