When you think about hiking in Europe, destinations such as Switzerland, France, Italy and Norway probably come to mind. While these countries are absolutely stunning and are home to incredible hiking trails, there are numerous other lesser known spots which I think are worthy of your attention. Countries like Slovenia and Slovakia have towering mountains, crystal blue lakes and rugged landscapes – yet with much fewer crowds, an outdoor lover’s dream! So if you’re looking for a new destination to explore on foot, hit up these five spots.
Slovenia is one of my favourite countries in the world and it is only just becoming more widely known as a hiking destination. Admittedly, a lot of tourists flock to the famous Lake Bled but once you get further into the mountains of Triglav National Park you lose the majority of the crowds. Lakes, peaks and a network of incredible mountain huts – it has it all! I recommend hiking through the stunning Seven Lakes Valley, taking a drive along the iconic Vrsic Pass and canyoning in the turquoise waters of Soca Valley. Slovenia really is heaven for adventure lovers.
The north of Slovakia is home to the rugged High Tatras mountains, which are jam-packed with dramatic peaks, remote lakes, lush green valleys and untouched nature. The hiking industry is well established with clear paths and an abundance of mountain huts, but the region is mostly explored by local adventurers and very few international tourists which makes it a real treat. If you are looking for raw natural beauty, this is the destination for you. Some of my favourite hikes included Vel’ká Svišt’ovka and Zelene Pleso, Koprovsky Stit and Skok Waterfall.
Check out my Slovakia travel guide here.
The Canary Islands
Now I know what you’re thinking – the Canary Islands are hugely popular holiday destinations, but the truth is that most people go there for a bit of winter sun or a beachside escape, when the real highlight of these islands is their stunning mountainous landscapes. In particular Tenerife, Gran Canaria and La Palma are incredible hiking destinations with dramatic coastlines, lush green rainforests, expansive lava fields and rugged volcanic peaks. And the best bit? They can be visited year round, meaning you can go hiking in the middle of winter and get pretty stable weather conditions without the issue of snow closing the trails.
Montenegro is a small country which packs a serious punch. Most tourists just pop in to visit the famous bay of Kotor but once you journey further into the country there is so much more to see. Towering mountains, crystal clear lakes and tumbling waterfalls. Not to mention the second longest canyon in the world and the largest lake in Southern Europe. It is heaven for hikers, with the Durmitor mountains and Prokletije National Park being particular highlights. My favourite thing about Montenegro though is how hugely underrated it is, with tourism slowly starting to develop across the country and most areas still feeling raw and untouched. Bliss!
Mallorca is an island I wrongly exclusively associated with sunbathing, partying and very little else. The reality? Mallorca is home to the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, a UNESCO world heritage site with dramatic peaks, a network of trails and remote coastal coves. You can spend your mornings exploring the peaks and afternoon relaxing on sandy shores – the dream. Plus Mallorca is another year round hiking destination which can be explored in the cooler winter months, without the risk of snow closing the trails.
Check out my Mallorca travel guide here.