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Outdoors + Adventure

9 Hiking Trails in Europe to Tackle This Spring

There’s no better time to hike than spring. After the dead of winter, there’s just something about taking in the sensory joys of landscapes coming back to life. In the spirit of the season, we’ve rounded up 9 hikes to try during your next European jaunt—from cliff-clinging paths in Malaga to vineyard-rife routes in France. Best of all, there’s a full range of levels, so whether you’re a solo trekker after a weeks-long adventure or a parent looking for an hour-long walk to help your little ones burn off some energy, we've got something for everyone.

See recent posts by Krystin Arneson

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Camino de Santiago, France and Spain

For those looking to walk (and walk some more), the Camino de Santiago trail—a network of various former pilgrimage routes that all culminate at the tomb of St. James (that’s Santo Santiago en español)—is one of Europe’s most famous. The most popular section of the trail is known as the Camino Francés, a 500-mile slice that starts near Biarritz, France and winds up in the tomb’s town of Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Spain’s northwestern community of Galicia. That being said, you can pick up the route wherever you want; a lot of walkers join the fun in Sarria, Spain, for the last 111-kilometer stretch, though routes extend as far as Porto and Seville. Although the Camino Francés stretch can get crowded, it’s a great route for anyone who loves walking as it’s mostly flat.

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Walk of the Gods, Amalfi Coast, Italy

If you’re headed to the Amalfi Coast, be sure to dedicate some time to the Walk of the Gods, or Sentiero degli Dei. The three-ish-hour hike is the coast’s most famous walkway, running along cliffs that overlook the turquoise waters below. Most people go for the section that connects the villages of Bomerano and Nocelle, located right outside of Positano. The views going east to west are the best—and the sun will be behind you in the mornings. Expect a ton of Instagram fodder from this trek, you'll find stunning town panoramas, blooming wildflowers, and picturesque abandoned stone houses, as well as the odd donkey or two accompanied by farmers who still use the path.

RELATED: 10 Drop-Dead Gorgeous Hotels on the Amalfi Coast

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Gorges du Verdon, Provence, France

Known as the “Grand Canyon of Europe,” there are few more jaw-dropping scenic spots than Gorges du Verdon, a transfixing canyon in the Provence region with plunging sides anchored by the turquoise-green river Verdon. You can whitewater-raft here, but hiking is the other (dare we say best?) way to get to the floor of the canyon—and the routes don’t disappoint. There’s something for every level of hiker, from the challenging Sentier de l’Imbut (it goes from the lip of the gorge to the floor and back up again), to longer routes that prove a bit easier.

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GR92, Costa Brava, Spain

Also referred to as the Camino de Ronda and Costa Brava Way, this extensive 136-mile trail can be broken up into sections if you’re not looking for a multi-day adventure. Running mainly from Portbou (on the French border) to Ulldecona (near Valencia, Spain), the Mediterranean route's terrain switches between flat patches and mountainous sections with unobstructed views of the sea. With close proximity to towns and villages along the way, it's an ideal trail for novice hikers.

RELATED: The 10 Most Charming Towns in Spain

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Lycian Way, Turkey

Turkey’s first long-distance hiking trail may be full of arresting Mediterranean coast views, but to do it true justice you'll have to devote 30 days to traversing the entire thing. While lots of the sections are flat and in close proximity to villages, you can also steer yourself toward adventure by opting for more remote sections and steeper climbs. Most facilities along the way open in early May—important to note if you plan to stay in village guesthouses rather than camps. Perhaps the best part? As you follow the path through town, you'll catch glimpses of the countryside as it existed through ages of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine rule.

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Alsace Wine Route, Alsace Region, France

What’s not to love about a route des vins—especially when it takes you through some of France’s most beautiful countryside? Walk for your wine—there’s lots of pinot noir and Riesling here—following routes that connect around 100 villages, and even stay overnight in B&Bs run by area winemakers. The total trail clocks in at just over 100 miles, connecting towns near Strasbourg to slightly more southern Mulhouse, but our advice is to pick your section of the route with a few vineyards in mind—there are more than 50 grand cru wines produced along the way—then let the trail surprise you.

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Pedroches Valley, Cordoba Province, Spain

Located in a remote part of Andalusia, Los Pedroches is among the most rural of routes on this list. Ten possible walks, varying in difficulty, weave between whitewashed villages (which take architectural cues from Castile and Extremadura), allowing hikers to bask in rolling country landscapes crisscrossed by stone walls. Don’t know where to start? The route from Arroyo de Santa María to Cava Queen bridge is about 4.5-miles long and family friendly. PS: spring—before the heat sets in—is the perfect time to go.

RELATED: The Most Underrated Places in Spain

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Caminito del Rey, Malaga, Spain

Malaga has a bit of a reputation for attracting hordes of young tourists on boozy mini breaks, but come before peak season to enjoy the beaches—as well as the Caminito del Rey. Once unofficially known as the “world’s most dangerous pathway” for its decrepit cliff-hanging paths, it closed for a time before the government decided to fix up its dangerous walkways. In 2015, it reopened after years of renovations, and though the three- to four-hour hike is much safer than it was, the vertigo-inducing pathways and quaking suspension bridge along the “Walkway of Death” still aren’t for the faint of heart.

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Pelion Peninsula, Greece

Sure, the crowds may head to Athens or the islands, but this overlooked corner of the Greek mainland also boasts some spectacular beaches and hiking. Not to mention, if it’s good enough for the Greek gods—Mount Pelion (at just over an hour) was said to be their summer holiday home—chances are it’s good enough for us mortals. Located on the Aegean and surrounded by a Mount Pelion backdrop, here, walking paths gift hikers stunning views into mountainous forests said to be home to centaurs. At just over an hour, the route from Zagora to Chorefto is a good one for families, though you can piece together the trails to make walks as long or challenging as the terrain allows.

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