Top 5 Easy Hikes in Europe: Hadrian’s Wall to Cinque Terre

June 26, 2012 by

Best of the Viator Blog, Europe, List Mania: Viator's Top Picks, Suggested Itineraries, Things to Do

Not every hiker can master the entire 2,175-mile (3,500 km) Appalachian Trail! Not every hiker likes to struggle for months, climbing challenging peaks or carrying dehydrated food along the way. That’s why Europe is a paradise for lazy (or almost lazy) walkers – there are many easy one-week hikes with plenty to see, great food along the way and often a comfortable bed at the end of the day.

Because trekking doesn’t have to be a struggle, I have picked out five special but easy hikes in Europe for next summer.

1. Hadrian’s Wall Path, UK

Wondering how to celebrate the 1,600th anniversary of the end of Roman Britain? Why not hike the entire 84-mile length of Hadrian’s Wall? It takes 6 to 9 days starting from the Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend to ending at the Cumbrian coast (at Bowness). No peaks, no high passes – just lots of sheep and farmlands in Tynedale, the occasional rainy day and the best of England’s countryside.

Hiking the stunning Hadrian's Wall Path

Hiking the stunning Hadrian’s Wall Path

Many barns, B&Bs, campsites and hostels are available along the entire path and you don’t need previous experience of long-distance hiking. Feasible all year round but strongly suggested between May and October (to avoid harming the ancient paths during the winter months). Check as well the tide predictions for the Cumbrian coast before you start. For more info visit nationaltrail.co.uk.

Read more: Roman Ruins in England

2. Mare e Monti, France

The GR20 in Corsica, France is a tough trek, and it’s the ultimate trail for many European hikers. However it comes with drawbacks: basic accommodations, strenuous trails and few options to buy food (let alone, enjoy a fine Corsican meal). It’s also crowded, especially in July and August.

Any better options here on Europe’s most mountainous island?

Corsica does offer less demanding and beautiful trail options: two Mare e Monti (from sea to mountain) and three Mare a Mare (from sea to sea) trails. And mixing the GR20 with the less popular Tra Mare e Monti and Da Mare Mare trails gives you a few benefits: in Calvi, a frozen Pietra, an amber beer brewed from a mix of malt and chestnut flour; the independence museum in the old city of Corte; and most of the maquis for yourself (even in August).

Renato, hiking on Corsica

Renato, hiking on Corsica

Allow some extra time for the beautiful, quiet and remote towns of Galeria and Girolata. No fellow hikers for hours and no need to book an expensive cab to reach the path, just board the Trinighellu train that runs from Corte – Calvi – Ajaccio – Bastia (where you can catch a ferry or a flight back to the continent). May, June and September are the best choices for a hike in Corsica. Plan at least 10 days. For more info visit parc-corse.org.

Read more about things to do in France

3. Cinque Terre, Italy

Hiking in Italy, in the rugged portion of coast in the Italian Riviera between Riomaggiore and Monterosso, is breathtaking. No cars are allowed here, and an amazing trail connects the five famous towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

The beauty of the trails in Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre is that they are ideal for novice hikers, or even for non-hikers who have a free weekend to spare. You can choose different hikes, including the very famous Via Dell’Amore, a semi-strenuous hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola; or the easier stretch from Manarola to Corniglia.

For a longer or more challenging hike, try the high road or Sentiero Rosso. You don’t have to hike between all five villages at one time (many B&B and hotels are available in the area) and, best of all, you can hike here all year round. (If you want to do book a Cinque Terre day hike from Florence, visit the Viator site.)

4. Estérel, France

Hiking in the French Riviera

Hiking in the French Riviera – photo credit: akunamatata via Flickr

Nice, St. Raphael, Cannes, Antibes: when you think about the French Riviera, hiking is not probably the first activity that comes to mind. But there’s more to the French Riviera than sunny beaches and a film festival. A spectacular network of footpaths allows you to hike the entire region, including a challenging hike above the seaside into the Estérel mountains, with superb views of the islands of Lérins and Cannes.

If you stay close to the coast and avoid the highest peaks, you can hike from March until November. There are also plenty of easier options – you can always put together your own combination of trails in the French Riviera. If you are looking for longer distances, you can choose between the Sentier du littoral, the GR49 or GR51.

Read more about things to do in the French Riviera

5. North Downs Way, UK

North Downs Way

Path through North Downs Way – photo credit: shirokazan via Flickr

Want to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims without hiking the long (and frankly boring) Camino de Santiago de Compostela? Then the 153-mile North Downs Way is for you. It offers a peaceful Southern England landscape with spectacular views of Surrey and Kent.

From Farnham to Dover, the path is never far from a train or a bus to London or a flight to the Continent, while still offering plenty of honest-to-goodness wilderness and pure, glorious nature. The pilgrimage? That comes at the cathedral city of Canterbury along the way (just two days before reaching the White Cliffs of Dover). April to July and September to November are the best times here, though it can be managed year round. Give yourself 10 to 14 days to complete the entire circuit.

- This post is by Renato Losio, editor of RunAbroad.com.

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3 Responses to “Top 5 Easy Hikes in Europe: Hadrian’s Wall to Cinque Terre”

  1. Quentin Says:

    I’ve acutally done the Hadrian Wall, Cinque Terre and l’Estérel… Gorgeous places really, i would recommend them to anyone who fancies travelling though Europe! I’ve still haven’t done the Mare e Monti and North Downs way ^^ Next on the list, Merci pour l’info!

  2. Just One Boomer (Suzanne) Says:

    This is a really helpful post. These all sound like eminently manageable for dedicated walkers. I’ll recommend one other, the Milford Track on the South Island of New Zealand. This 35.5 mile “tramp” can be done either with a group of guided walkers or independently. The NZ Department of Conservation maintains “huts”—more like dorm hostels for independent walkers and Ultimate Hikes maintains lodge-like accommodations for guided walkers. I’ve reviewed the guided walk on my blog. The walk goes through several micro-climates and ends at the ethereal Milford Sound.

  3. Joydavid Says:

    I would also like to add one more walking trail of Europe in the above list, which is Sheep’s Head Way, Ireland. The Sheep’s Head Way is a fully way marked route with many loop walk activities for those who wish to vary their activity. Amongst all the spectacular natural scenery of mountains and coastline, there are also a number of historical and archaeological monuments to be found as you follow some of the old country roads and farm tracks. For more information on the sheep’s head way, visit http://www.hillwalkireland.com/blog/sheeps-head-way-the-most-beautiful-walk-in-ireland

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