Take a Hike: Europe’s Five Best Long-Distance Trails

From the Midnight Sun to the top of the Alps

By Diane Rommel

These Are Europe’s Five Best Long-Distance Trails
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23 June 2016

Read enough inspirational American non-fiction and you’ll begin to get the impression that we’ve got the cathartic foot journey trademarked.

But we’re not the only ones who know something about long-distance trails.

If you’re looking for a new adventure that’s not the Appalachian or Pacific Coast Trail, Europe can deliver. To wit: five of the Old World’s finest walks in the woods.

The Coast to Coast Walk
England
192 miles
Cutting right across England’s neck, the storied Coast to Coast trail is, in fact, not one of the country’s many official long-distance trails. In fact, in some spots, it’s barely even marked. Nonetheless, it’s a rite of passage for many British hikers, and it travels through some of the country’s best scenery (see: the Lake District).

Kungsleden (“King’s Trail”)
Sweden
270 miles
This north-south trail up Sweden’s spine takes in its highest peak and rolling terrain, as well as a tour through Lappland. A series of huts make it possible to rest in comfort — with saunas! — and the northern terminus is well within the Arctic Circle.

E2
Northern Ireland to France
385 miles
If you’re looking for a legit adventure, consider the E2, which crosses the whole of the Alps, starting on the shore of Lake Geneva and ending on the Mediterranean several weeks later. In between, you’ll cross spectacular Alpine peaks. Note: this is actually only the final section of the E2 — to do the whole thing, you’ll need to start your trip … in Scotland.

Camino de Santiago
Spain
Varies
This is the classic European pilgrimage, stretching from, well, your front door, pilgrim, to the shrine of St. James in Galicia. A pilgrim’s path starts wherever said pilgrim is — but the closer you get, the more the routes coalesce, into a community of soul-seekers traveling together. It’s either right up your alley … or really not.

Clockmaker’s Trail
Germany
199 miles
Once this was the circuit for clockmakers offering their wares to villagers — the German tourism board promises that you “will be greeted by one interesting museum after another.” Non-clock attractions include castles, waterfalls and the Black Forest’s dramatic mountain scenery.

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