21 Best Day Hikes in Europe for Scenery, Adventure & Culture

21 of the very best short hikes in Europe (easy to challenging) that you can do in a day. Experience the best day hikes in Europe.

Some of the best European hikes are short but sweet. This round-up of 21 spectacular day hikes in Europe features some of the best scenery, culture and adventure experiences the continent has to offer. Best of all, you’ll be home in time for dinner.

Whether you’re looking to spend an easy afternoon ambling along a coastal path or you’re up for sumitting a volcanic creator, Europe has hikes for every fitness level and interest.

The 21 trails on this list range from some of the best easy hikes in Europe, all the way through to some of the most physically challenging. Many of Europe’s most spectacular national parks and nature spots are represented, from the Swiss Alps to the Accursed Mountains, Norway’s fjords to Bulgaria’s glacial lakes and Spain’s river canyons.

Some paths lead to spectacular churches; others deliver you to hidden coves or vineyards. One of these day hikes even crosses an international border! One thing each of these short trails has in common is magnificent views to savour.

Here are 21 of the very best day hikes in Europe, as recommended by frequent travellers.

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21 best day hikes in Europe for scenery, culture & adventure

A round stone church in Theth, Albania.
Theth, Albania.

Valbona to Theth | The Accursed Mountains, Albania

  • Closest Town: Valbona/Theth
  • Distance: 9.5km (from the trailhead)
  • Time Required: 5-8 hours
  • Difficulty level: Moderate

Albania‘s Accursed Mountains (AKA the Albanian Alps) offers visitors incredible scenery and cultural encounters without the crowds you usually get on the opposite end of the range. Set in the gorgeously rugged Valbona Valley National Park, the Valbona to Theth trek is quickly gaining popularity as one of the most beautiful hikes in Europe.

This is an A-to-B trek between two alpine villages. It can easily be completed in a full day. At the end of the walk, you overnight in the opposite village, meaning you have to carry everything you need with you (it pays to pack light!). Note that it’s only possible to do the trek in summer.

The route is fairly straight forward: Up dry river beds, across meadows, and through dense pine forests. The crescendo comes at the half-way point, when you cross through a dramatic mountain pass.

You can do the walk in either direction, but I recommend starting in Valbona and ending in Theth. There is more to do in Theth – including a range of other short day hikes – and the village itself has warm homestays and a lovely stone church. Make sure you set aside enough time in your Albania itinerary to linger in the area for a few days – it’s incredibly beautiful.

A fishing town perched on a rocky cliff in Montenegro.
Przno, Montenegro.

Seven Bay Trail | Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

  • Closest Town: Budva/Sveti Stefan
  • Distance: 9km
  • Time Required: 3-5 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy

From the craggy peaks of Durmitor National Park to the Bay of Kotor, puckered with an endless number of natural bays, Montenegro offers some of the best day hiking in Europe. Most tourists head for the mountains, but there are trails around the Adriatic Coast that are every bit as rewarding.

In the summer months, May through September, Kotor comes to life with tourists and cruise ships. A great way to beat the crowds is by spending a few hours on the Seven Bay Trail, an easy half-day walk that leads you to some of the area’s more secluded beaches and coves.

You can start the walk in either Budva or Sveti Stefan. If you’re driving around Montenegro, it’s easiest to park your car at the end point, take a bus or taxi back to the start of the trail, then walk to your car.

As you trace your way around the bay, you’ll see a nice mix of popular and lesser-visited local beaches. Przno, with its dramatic cliffs, is a particular highlight. The route leads through numerous small towns, and there are plenty of places to pause along the way for a swim or lunch at one of the seafood restaurants on the water. Try to time your hike so you round the final bay at sunset.

Iceland's velvety mountains.
Landmannalaugar, Iceland.

Landmannalaugar Trail | Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland

Recommended by Albi from Ginger Around The Globe

  • Closest town: Hella
  • Distance: 4km
  • Time required: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Landmannalaudar is one of the overlooked places in Iceland‘s highlands. With its little peaks and natural hot springs, it’s a hikers paradise.

There are several hiking circuits that you can choose from based on how long you want to hike and what difficulty level you prefer. The shortest circuit is very easy and can be completed in as little as 2 hours. On the opposite end of the spectrum, to hike the longest route, you will need 9 hours. This is a more difficult track, mostly because of the terrain and the steepness of the peak.

During the hike, you will have an opportunity to see glacier lakes, snowy but colorful mountains (even in the summer), and peaks of volcanoes. Enjoy the views – then relax in one of the natural hot springs located close to the local bus stop.

The easiest way to access the trailhead is by either taking a 4×4 vehicle or using a local mountain bus. The bus runs several times a day but only in summer. The best time to walk the Landmannalaudar Trail is in summer when the roads are clear of snow and mud.

Colourful buildings of Cinque Terre viewed from the hiking trail.
Cinque Terre, Italy. Photo: Our Escape Clause.

Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza | Cinque Terre, Italy

Recommended by Kate from Our Escape Clause

  • Closest Town: Monterosso al Mare
  • Distance: 3.7km
  • Time Required: 2 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy

Without a doubt, the stunning hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza is one of the best day hikes in Europe, and an excellent way to spend a day in Cinque Terre!

Between the gorgeous Ligurian coastline, sparkling azure water, picturesque vineyards, and, of course, colourful villages, a day spent hiking from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza is not one that you will forget anytime soon.

The trail is fairly easy and comfortable for most travellers without physical limitations. It takes about 2 hours (less for fast hikers or those in excellent shape) to travel between the villages. As one of the most popular day hikes in Italy, the trail can get crowded, especially during the height of summer. Consider starting early in the morning to take advantage of an emptier trail and a cool sea breeze.

The region surrounding Cinque Terre does struggle with landslides and dangerous conditions during rainy weather, so keep in mind that there is a small chance the trail will be closed. If so, a friendly local will generally be able to point you towards an alternative, equally beautiful, trail to explore.

While you can hike the route in either direction, hiking from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza is generally preferred, simply because the view of Vernazza’s harbour as you approach the village is so rewarding. You don’t necessarily need to stay in Monterosso al Mare to access the trail, though – staying in any of the villages in Cinque Terre, or even the nearby towns of Levanto or La Spezia, is fine if you want to do take advantage of this stunning European day hike.

Three people walk on a dusty trail under a mountain gorge in Spain.
Cares River Trail, Spain.

Cares River Trail | Picos de Europa National Park, Spain

Recommended by Talek from Travels with Talek

  • Closest town/city: Poncebos, Asturias
  • Distance: 11km
  • Time required: 5–8 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy/moderate

Hiking in Spain is a wonderful experience. There’s one day hike in particular that will get your heart pumping and amaze you with its natural beauty.

The spectacular Cares River Trail stretches 11km across the three northern Spain provinces of Asturias, Cantabria, and Castile and Leon. This trail is part of the Picos de Europa National Park, the first in Spain, established in 1918 and declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002. This mountainous park has soaring peaks that reach thousands of feet high. It’s crisscrossed by four rivers and, being so close to the Bay of Biscay, has a humid and rainy climate.

The Cares River Trail is a hiker’s dream and worth every step. The trail is very narrow in some parts high above the Cares river, which flows along the valley floor. Every once in a while, the trail winds through small tunnels carved out of the rock and across bridges hanging precariously over the gaping gorges.

The imposing mountains soar up on both sides of the trail, creating perfect photo opportunities. There is wildlife everywhere: Hawks, eagles, sturdy little mountain goats, and vultures circling and circling in the endless quiet sky.

A woman walks on a trail between vineyards, approaching the sea.
Lavaux, Switzerland.

Terrasses de Lavaux (Swiss Wine Trail) | Chexbres, Switzerland

Recommended by Nisha from And There She Goes Again

  • Closest town/city: Lausanne
  • Distance: 11km
  • Time required: 3.5 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy

Lavaux vineyards are a well-guarded Swiss secret. This steeply pitched wine area in the Vaud canton provides some of the best views in Switzerland.

The panoramic Swiss Wine Trail starts from St. Saphorin and follows the shore of Lake Geneva to Lutry. It runs parallel to the regional train tracks, so you can decide to cut it short and jump on a train whenever you want.

Along the way, there are several benches and picnic places where you can enjoy your lunch or a snack with remarkable views. You can also take breaks at the beautiful beaches in the lakeside villages.

The Terrasses de Lavaux hiking trail not only takes you through the area’s UNESCO Heritage Listed vineyards, but also via some of the most picturesque Swiss villages. Here, you’ll find local vine-growers’ caveaux (cellars) that offer their own wine for tasting, often paired with a degustation platter.

It is advisable to book your visits to the wine cellars in advance. The best time to walk the trail is in summer and autumn (June through October).

The Matterhorn above the city of Zermatt at night.
Zermatt, Switzerland.

Five Lakes Trail | Zermatt, Switzerland

Recommended by Rhonda from Travel Yes Please

  • Closest town/city: Zermatt
  • Distance: 10km
  • Time required: 2.5–4 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy/moderate

The Five Lakes Trail in Zermatt is an enjoyable way to experience breathtaking views of the Matterhorn mountain, an icon of Switzerland.

The trail links together five small lakes as it meanders along a mountain ridge then down into a valley, offering several different points from which to admire the Matterhorn. Some of the most photogenic views are of the mountain and its reflection in three of the five lakes along the route.

To do this hike, you have to take a funicular then a gondola to the mountain station. Then, it’s mostly a downhill hike back to the funicular station. Allow enough time to make several stops along the way, as the scenery deserves to be savoured. The lakes and alpine meadows are wonderful places to relax and enjoy a snack. Or if you prefer, there are some mountain restaurants along the trail you can stop at for lunch.

This easy hike in Europe is best done in summer when temperatures are warm, but late spring and early fall are pleasant as well. No matter the season, this trail will showcase some of the most stunning scenery in Zermatt!

Sunset over the mountains in Peak District, with a farmer's fence in the foreground.
Mam Tor, England.

Mam Tor | Peak District National Park, England

Recommended by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within

  • Closest town/city: Castleton
  • Distance: 10.5km
  • Time required: 2 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy

Mam Tor in Hope Valley is one of the most famous day hikes in England.

Also known as Shivering Mountain, Mam Tor is a 517m (1,696 ft) hill near Castleton in the Peak District National Park. Mam Tor means ‘Mother Hill’, a name it earned because frequent landslides on its eastern face have resulted in a multitude of other ‘mini-hills’.

The viewpoint at the top of Mam Tor offers dramatic views of the Peak District, stretching all the way over the Edale Valley to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors. On a clear day you can even see Manchester!

The hike to Mam Tor starts from the main car park in Castleton, and passes two famous show caverns, Treak Cliff and Blue John Cavern, both popular tourist attractions and worth visiting on your way up or back. The hikes follows a stone-surface footpath all the way up to Mam Tor and over the Great Ridge. It only 2 hours from the village centre, making it a popular choice for families (and dogs!) as well as seasoned trekkers.

Mam Tor can be hiked year-round, but you should be prepared for snow in the winter. For the best weather without the crowds, visit during autumn once the landscape has changed colours.

View of Edinburgh city from the hike to Arthur's Seat.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh.

Arthur’s Seat | Edinburgh, Scotland

Recommended by Gemma & Ronan from Everything Edinburgh

  • Closest town/city: Edinburgh
  • Distance: 5km
  • Time required: 1–2 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy

Hiking Arthur’s Seat is consistently deemed one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. Why? Several reasons, actually!

Firstly, it’s super central. The hike starts at the foot of the hill which is located in Holyrood Park. Holyrood Park itself is a busy tourist location with several attractions located close by, including Holyrood Palace, Dynamic Earth and the Scottish Parliament.

Wait? I thought Scotland was part of the UK? That’s true, however, we have a devolved parliament which means representatives pass laws on specified topics. Tourism is one of them. Holyrood Park is a flat piece of land with a loch at the bottom of the Royal Mile, so if you’re looking for a very easy walk, you could do that instead.

The second reason the Arthur’s Seat hike is loved is because of its history. Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano! Finally, free views. After the short hike up, you are rewarded with views as far as The Kingdom of Fife, so give me a little wave from the top!

The hike takes around 1 to 2 hours depending on your level of fitness, so you’ll have plenty of time leftover to grab a post-hike pint in the Old Town, which is where we recommend staying in Edinburgh.

A single boardwalk path winds through a landscape of rivers and waterfalls in Plitvice National Park, Croatia.
Plitvice National Park, Croatia.

Trail A | Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Recommended by Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear

  • Closest town/city: Plitvicka Jezera
  • Distance: 3.5km
  • Time required: 2–3 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy

The hiking trails inside Plitvice Lakes National Park offer some of the best day hiking in Europe – especially Trail A, our favourite route.

Trail A is one of the most popular hikes within Plitvice Lakes because it takes you through the most famous part, the Lower Lakes. This easy hike on a paved boardwalk takes approximately 2 to 3 hours and is 2.2 miles or 3.5 kilometers long.

The Lower Lakes are what you typically picture when you think of Plitvice. They are four beautifully coloured lakes: Milanovac, Gavanovac, Kaluderovac, and Novakovica Brod. Aside from the Lower Lakes, Trail A also takes you to a multitude of waterfalls such as Veliki Slap, Sastavci Waterfall, Milanovacki Slap, and Slapovi Milke Trnine.

Plitvice Lakes National Park can be easily visited from Zagreb or Split. The most popular time to go is typically in the summer; however, the park and the trail are both less crowded during the spring and fall. If you visit in the winter, be aware that it can and often does snow, so you’ll need to be prepared for the cold weather.

Mountains and wildflowers.
Triglav National Park, Slovenia. Photo: Travel Outlandish.

Valley of the Seven Lakes | Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Recommended by Taylor from Travel Outlandish

  • Closest town/city: Bohinj
  • Distance: 26km
  • Time Required: ~10 hours
  • Difficulty level: Moderate/difficult

The Alps are Europe’s largest mountain range, stretching some 800km from Monaco down the Balkan Peninsula. The most popular hiking trails (such as the Tour du Mont Blanc) are located in the Graian Alps, but there’s another part of the range that has a distinct culture and landscape also worth exploring.

The Julian Alps, the lesser-known part of the range shared between Slovenia and Italy, promises some of the best day hikes in Europe. You’ll find most of the trails in the Julian Alps are within Triglav National Park in Slovenia. There’s the long-distance Slovenia Mountain Trail that extends nearly 600km through a network of mountain huts in the park.

If you’re just visiting for the day, the Valley of the Seven Lakes is definitely the best day hike in the region. It’s roughly 26km through pastures, past mountain huts, and most remarkably, alongside the glacier lakes from which the hike takes its name.

A natural stone arch surrounded by autumn foliage.
Pravcicka Gate, Czechia.

Pravcicka Gate Hike | Bohemian Switzerland National Park, Czechia

Recommended by Veronika from Travel Geekery

  • Closest town/city: Hřensko
  • Distance: 10km
  • Time required: 4 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy/moderate

This day hike leads you through the beautiful landscape of Bohemian Switzerland National Park, located in the north of the Czech Republic. The area is famous for its karst formations created millions of years ago. Visually stunning creeks and gorges, deep forests dotted with rocks… Bohemian Switzerland truly is one of a kind.

The main draw of Bohemian Switzerland is the Pravcicka Gate. This extraordinary stone arch is the largest natural formation of its kind in Europe, and the second-largest in the world. It’s been featured in many films, including The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Pravcicka Gate half-day hike takes four hours and is 10km long. However, you should definitely take it easy and spend as much time as possible admiring the wonders of nature along the way.

Start in the town of Hrensko, which has quite a few accommodation facilities and good bus connections to the larger town of Decin, in turn connected to Prague by railway. Simply follow the red marked trail all the way to Pravcicka brana, passing through a crossroads called Tri prameny (three streams). This part of the route is 4km long and mostly uphill, but not steep at all.

After enjoying the stone arch to your heart’s content, start on the Gabrielina stezka (Gabriela’s path), a 4.5km long trail marked in red, which leads through easy, mostly forested, terrain to a cute village called Mezni Louka. There are a few charming places to stay here as well. To get back to Hrensko, you can simply catch a bus.

The hike can be enjoyed throughout the year, especially between April and September/October.

People gather on a rocky outcrop after completing a short hike in Europe in the mountains in Slovakia.
High Tatras, Slovakia. Photo: Groetjes uit Verweggistan.

Green Lake Hike | High Tatras, Slovakia

Recommended by Manouk from Groetjes uit Verweggistan

  • Closest town/city: Tatranska Lomnica
  • Distance: 16km
  • Time required: 5 hours
  • Difficulty level: Moderate

The High Tatras is a beautiful European mountain range. While the Polish side with Zakopane is well known, not many people visit the part in the north of Slovakia. It’s still relatively quiet, even in summer, but especially in shoulder season.

A beautiful day hike is the one going to Green Lake. Start from the town of Tatranska Lomnica, which offers plenty of accommodation. From here, you can take a cable car up to the start of the trail. Or, if you are very active, it’s possible to start by hiking up to Skalnate pleso. This takes an extra 3 hours.

From there, the Green Lake Hike is not that hard. It runs for 16km and takes around 5 hours round trip. After exiting the cable car, you hike a little over 200m up then over 1,000m down, which means you do not need to take the cable car back.

While walking, you will get wonderful views over the valley and the mountains. There is one challenging part of the hike where you have to go down a steep part of the mountain while holding onto chains. A fun adventure!

If you don’t fancy taking the cable car, another easy day hike starts from Strbske Pleso, where you can find the first lake. An 18km trail that takes about 6 hours round-trip, this alternative loop route takes you to the lakes of Popradske Pleso and Vel’ke Hincovo Pleso with stunning views along the way.

A beautiful stone bridge over a dam surrounded by autumn foliage.
Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia.

Vintgar Gorge Loop Trail | Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Recommended by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

  • Closest town/city: Bled
  • Distance: 5.5km
  • Time required: 2–3 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy

Just under 55km from Bled in Slovenia you’ll find the spectacular Vintgar Gorge, carved out by the Radovna River. If you are planning to visit Lake Bled or Ljubljana, add a day trip to Vintgar Gorge to your itinerary! If you enjoy nature and hiking, you will love walking this beautiful gorge.

Just under a mile from end to end, Vintgar Gorge is ideal for a day hike. Boardwalks or dirt paths run along the entire length of the gorge. Some of the boardwalks are actually built over the rushing river, so you can stand right above the water to feel and hear its power.

At the end of the trail, you’ll come to an old railway bridge and a beautiful waterfall. At that point, you can turn around and walk back through the gorge, or take the longer outside trail to return to the parking lot.

Any time of year between spring and fall is ideal for this day hike. We went in the late spring and saw lots of wildflowers! In the fall, the changing colours of the leaves create a beautiful landscape.

This is a popular hike, so plan on starting out early in the day to avoid the crowds. Since the paths are narrow, they can get congested during the high season.

A blue river runs through a gorge in Europe.
Leutaschklamm Gorge, Austria.

Leutaschklamm Gorge Hike | Rein Valley, Germany & Austria

Recommended by Elizabeth from The Fearless Foreigner

  • Closest town/city (where to stay): Mittenwald, Germany
  • Distance: 16.3km
  • Time required: 2-8 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy 

The Leutaschklamm Gorge Hike, also known as the Leutasch Ghost Gorge, is a family friendly hike that encompasses 3 different routes. Depending on which route you take, you can easily do the hike in a couple of hours or spend half the day taking all the trails, stopping for something to eat and enjoying the views.

You can access one entrance of the gorge from Mittenwald in Germany or towns in the Tyrol region of Austria, such as Seefeld, at the opposite end of the gorge.

The two main routes share a portion of the same trail and take you on metal walkways high up alongside the gorge. Crossing the impressive Panorama Bridge over the water is one of the highlights of the hike. The unique walkways and spectacular scenery make this very special. Another interesting aspect of this short hike is that you will be walking back and forth between Germany and Austria several times on each of the routes!

The third and final route is a shorter one that takes you up close to the waterfall that you can faintly hear when walking on the higher trails. While this route is the only one that charges an admission fee, it’s worth it to feel the mist of the roaring falls and hear them up close.

The gorge is typically open from the beginning of May until the end of October. For additional tips and directions on how to reach the start of the hike read, this full Leutaschklamm Gorge Hike guide.

Approaching the city of San Sebastian through the mountains on one of the best day hikes in Europe.
San Sebastian, Spain.

Ruta Donostia-Faro de la Plata | San Sebastian, Spain

Recommended by Campbell & Alya from Stingy Nomads

  • Closest town/city: San Sebastian/Pasaia
  • Distance: 7km one-way
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy/moderate

The northern coast of Spain is a stunning area for hiking and offers many day hikes and several multi-day treks. San Sebastian and its surrounds is one of the most popular tourist places in the region, and the walk along the coast from the city to the small town of Pasaia is a spectacular hiking route. Expect breathtaking scenery, rugged cliffs, dramatic drop-offs, and lush green forests.

The Pasaia to San Sebastian hike is a part of the Camino del Norte, the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The total distance of the hike is 7km one-way. To get back, hikers can walk the same way or take a bus. It can be done in either direction, starting or finishing in San Sebastian.

May to September is the best of year for hiking the route. In the warmer summer months of July and August, it’s better to do the hike in the morning.

The route follows a narrow footpath along the cliffs. There is nothing but beautiful scenery between the city and the village, so it’s highly recommended to take water and some snacks with you. Pasaia is a lovely small town with many cafes and restaurants, and a nice place to spend a couple of hours after finishing the hike.

A beautiful beach with waves on a sandy shore.
Rhossili Beach, Wales.

Port Eynon to Rhossili | Wales Coast Path, Wales

Recommended by David from Delve Into Europe

  • Closest town/city (where to stay): Port Eynon/Rhossili
  • Distance: 10km
  • Time required: 3.5 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy/moderate

Wales was the first country in the world to establish a path covering its entire coastline. The 870-mile Wales Coast Path includes many outstanding day hikes. One that has always stood out for me is the Port Eynon to Rhossili coast walk on the Gower Peninsula, west of Wales’ second city, Swansea.

The area is best-known for its many amazing Gower beaches, including three stand-outs which regularly appear on ‘best beaches in Europe’ or even ‘best beaches in the world’ lists.

This walk starts on the beach at Port Eynon, a small village with a great family-friendly beach that comes to life in the summer months. The trail is around 6 miles (10 km) long in all, with some short sections of moderately difficult terrain. After reaching the summit of Port Eynon Point, most of the walk ahead becomes visible, with the Worm’s Head tidal island off to the left.

Port Eynon to Rhossili is a real up-and-down hike, with many an ascent and descent throughout. The first half of the walk consists of predominantly rocky coastline, and the section around the Knave Iron Age hillfort and Horse Cliff is particularly dramatic.

After almost 4 miles (it feels like considerably more), the first beach you come to is Mewslade Bay, a gorgeous sandy beach backed by the high cliffs of Thurba Head and huge spires of rock pointing skyward. Soon afterwards, Fall Bay is a smaller beach with a sandy area and lots of low-level rocks to explore.

Eventually, the path passes the track down to the start of the Worm’s Head walk, which is only possible to complete if you get the tide times exactly right. The reward for the hike is a mile-long gentle amble along the top of the cliffs with Rhossili beach, one of the finest in the world, in view the whole time.

View of the clouds from the top of a rocky peak in Spain.
Mount Teide, Spain.

Montaña Blanca Trail | Canary Islands, Spain

Recommended by Miguel from Travelsauro

  • Closest town/city: Las Americas or La Laguna
  • Distance: 17km
  • Time required: 6–7 hours
  • Difficulty level: Moderate to challenging

Mount Teide, the highest peak in Spain at 3,817m above sea level, is one of the most scenic and popular trails you can attempt in Tenerife.

This conical-shaped volcano makes for a perfect one-day hike for visitors to the Canary Islands who are looking to add some adventure to their holidays. The hike takes you through moon-like landscapes, up to the active crater of the volcano, from where you’ll enjoy a magnificent view of the island.

There are several paths to reach the top of the mount. If you are a beginner hiker, I recommend you choose the Montaña Blanca Trail, which is the most popular option. Experienced hikers will enjoy the longer and more difficult path through Pico Viejo.

The Montaña Blanca Trail is 17km round-trip, can be completed in about 6 to 7 hours. It’s of moderate to challenging difficulty. Keep in mind that while it’s not technically difficult, the entire path is uphill, involving an elevation gain of 1,344m.

The volcano is located in the southwest part of Tenerife, but it’s easily reachable from any major city on the island. If you want to stay in a resort-like city, you should book your accommodation in Playa Las Americas. Otherwise, if you are looking for something more relaxed with a local flavour, check out the colonial city of La Laguna.

Thanks to the subtropical weather of Tenerife, you can hike to Mount Teide year round. If you have a choice, spring and autumn are the best hiking seasons in the island, when temperatures are mild and pleasant. Keep in mind that the peak can be covered with snow in winter.

There is rarely any rainfall in Teide National Park, and while temperatures can be hot at the base of the volcano, they drop dramatically as you get higher. Don’t forget to bring enough water, some snacks and warm clothes with you.

Snow-capped mountains and a frozen lake in Poland.
Morskie Oko, Poland.

Morskie Oko Hike | Tatra Mountains, Poland

Recommended by Diana from Travels in Poland

  • Closest town/city: Zakopane
  • Distance: 8km
  • Time required: 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty level: Moderate

The Tatra Mountains extend throughout Poland and into neighboring Slovakia. One of the most beautiful sites to visit in the Polish part of the range is Morskie Oko, a lake situated high up between the mountains.

Not far from the ski city of Zakopane, the hike draws nearly half-a-million visitors every year. The views of the surrounding mountains – as well as the chance to take a break at the hut/restaurant right at the top – makes this easily one of the best day hikes in Europe.

The hike itself is known as the Morskie Oko Hike and starts out 8km from the lake. It takes about 2.5 hours to hike up the mountain, less if you’re athletically inclined. The moderate hike is a constant uphill climb and is paved in most sections, with pathways through the forest and steps as well. You have the option of using the longer asphalt route the whole way or taking shortcuts through the forest.

The hike is best done in summer or fall, when it isn’t as cold or slippery. Leaving early in the morning before the crowds is a great way to get a head start.

The route is very scenic, with beautiful pine forests and even several small waterfalls about 1 hour into the walk. After reaching the lake, you have the option to hike around the lake’s edge, which takes about an hour (however, it’s a bit more strenuous).

A series of bright blue lakes in the mountain in Bulgaria.
Seven Rila Lakes, Bulgaria.

Seven Rila Lakes Loop | Rila National Park, Bulgaria

Recommended by Allison from Sofia Adventures

  • Closest town/city: Sofia
  • Distance: 10km
  • Time required: 4 hours
  • Difficulty level: Moderate

The Seven Rila Lakes are about a 2-hour drive from Sofia, making this a fantastic day trip from Bulgaria’s capital city.

Take the chairlift to skip straight to the most scenic part of the hike. If you’re a serious hiker and don’t mind adding some extra miles to your walk, it’s possible to hike to the Rila Lakes trail starting points from the chairlift.

Once you reach the chairlift, there is one main loop you can do, which takes about 4 hours in total and will show you five of the seven lakes. There is also the option to continue the hike higher to the main panoramic viewpoint, which will add about an hour each way but allow you to see all seven.

There’s a popular monastery and UNESCO site nearby called Rila Monastery. Be careful, as it is not easy to accomplish both in one day unless you’re on a guided tour. I learned that the hard way!

The Rila Mountains are gorgeous though, so if you want to experience both, you can easily spend a few days here or stay nearby in Sofia or Plovdiv and make it two day trips.

Two people stand on the edge of a flat rock overlooking a river gorge in Norway.
Preikestolen, Norway.

Preikestolen | Rogaland County, Norway

Recommended by Caitlin from The Country Jumper

  • Closest town/city: Stavanger (HI Stavanger St. Svithun)
  • Distance: 6km
  • Time required: 4 hours
  • Difficulty level: Moderate

Preikistolen, a day hike less than an hour’s drive from Stavanger in Norway, is an absolute treat.

You can drive to the base of the hike, or if you’re coming from Stavanger on public transport, you can take a bus, to a ferry, to a bus. From the base, you’re looking at about 2 hours of moderate hiking. It’s steep going, but is very doable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

You’ll be perfectly happy to take breaks all along the way to ogle at and snap photos of the landscape beneath you. There is a bit of scrambling, waiting for those coming down to clear off the pathways, and hopping across stones. Your feet might get wet, and it’s unlikely you’ll want to head up any time but summer, as even then the air above the fjords can be a bit nippy.

Though you could easily be up and back down in just 4 hours, you should plan to spend a good chunk of time at the top. It’s an absolutely stunning spot. The milky, cerulean water fills the Lyseford, which is protected by towering walls of gray and green, reaching out beyond the horizon in both directions.

21 of the very best short hikes in Europe (easy to challenging) that you can do in a day. Experience the best day hikes in Europe.

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