Most difficult hikes in Europe

What are the most difficult hikes in Europe? To help you find the answers to this question, we’ve created this list of the most difficult hikes in Europe. Because we hope that all this long-suffering COVID-19 situation will improve and restrictions will be lifted. And we will be able to travel abroad again!

And what is one of the safest ways of travelling? Of course, it’s on foot, away from the crowds! Not only is hiking a great way of exploring the country you are visiting and building up your endurance, but it’s also a great way to distance yourself from others and enjoy nature.

We’ve listed the best hikes in Europe already, but what about more strenuous hikes that require more stamina?

Challenging yourself and building your stamina is very important for a healthy lifestyle. And one of the best ways to get stronger is to go on a challenging hike. Hiking is a superb way to build endurance and strength, trust me!

But while you are waiting for the summer to arrive and for restrictions to lift, check out our article about the most difficult hikes in Europe.

6 most difficult hikes in Europe

GR 20 – France

GR 20 - France

Nicknamed “Europe’s toughest long-distance trek”, the Grande Randonnée (GR) 20 route is a long-distance trail that diagonally crosses Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean Sea.

With a maximum altitude of 2134 m, the GR 20 trail follows the mountains which divide Corsica in two.

The trail is about 180 km long with 12 000 m of elevation gain, and it takes around 15 days to complete it.

The GR 20 route has several stages. So, if you don’t want to do the whole trek, it’s possible to do only a part of it. 

There are a number of mountain refuges (or “gîtes”) along the route. It is not permitted to pitch tents along the trail, but hikers are allowed to camp near the mountain huts.

Thanks to the magnificent views and difficulty level, the GR 20 is considered one of the top trails in the world. It’s undoubtedly one of the most difficult hikes in Europe.

GR 10 – France

GR 10 - France

The GR 10 is a long-distance hike that runs the length of the Pyrenees Mountains along with the French–Spanish border on the French side.

You can choose to walk the GR 10 from west to east (from Hendaye to Banyuls-sur-Mer) or east to west.

The trail is about 866 km long with 48 000 m of elevation gain, and it takes around 52 days to complete it.

The route boasts breathtaking scenery and landscapes: green rolling hills, mountains, lakes, rocky cliffs and ocean views.

There are many places to stay along the route such as hotels, hostels, and very basic mountain huts. Some remote places require hikers to be self-sufficient — there camping is necessary.

There are a number of sections of the GR 10. If you don’t have that much time or you don’t want to hike the whole trail, take one section of the trail at a time, completing the route over several visits.

Just like the other GR trails, the GR 10 is clearly marked by red and white symbols.

Eagle Walk – Austria

Eagle Walk - Austria

The Eagle Walk (Adlerweg) is a long-distance hike in high alpine terrain in the Austrian State of Tirol. 

The Eagle Walk has 33 stages, and the total length of the route is 420 km. The elevation gain is about 31 000 meters. It takes about a month to complete the entire route.

The Eagle Walk is divided into 2 routes, a 24-stage hike in North Tyrol and a 9-stage trek in East Tyrol. These two routes are not connected with each other.

Both Eagle Walk routes go through several mountain ranges. The second route takes you to some of Austria’s highest peaks.

This trek is known for its beautiful Alpine scenery — rugged mountains, waterfalls, ice caves and blooming meadows.

Just like the other hikes on this list, the Eagle Walk can be broken down into sections. The route offers both easy walks and strenuous treks.

The Eagle Walk route is easy to follow, as the trails are clearly marked.

Tour of Monte Rosa – Switzerland & Italy

Tour of Monte Rosa - Switzerland & Italy

The Tour of Monte Rosa (TMR) is a long-distance hike, one of the most scenic and most challenging hikes in the Alps. It’s also one of the most difficult hikes in Europe.

The TMR is a loop through high alpine terrain in Italy and Switzerland. It goes around Monte Rosa — the second highest mountain in the Alps and western Europe, after Mont Blanc.

The TMR is 164 km long, and it typically takes about 11 days to complete. The route boasts magnificent views of some of the most iconic 4 000 m peaks in Western Europe — Dufourspitze (the main summit of Monte Rosa), Breithorn and Matterhorn.

The trail offers beautiful scenery — green valleys, snow-capped mountains and glaciers dominate the landscape.

Tour du Mont Blanc – France, Italy & Switzerland

Tour du Mont Blanc - France, Italy & Switzerland

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a long-distance trail that stretches 170 kilometres through 3 countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. It is one of the best hikes in Europe and one of the most famous long-distance treks in the world as well.

At the height of 4808 m, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe. It is the second-highest and second most prominent mountain in Europe.

The TMB route encircles the Mont Blanc Massif and it passes through seven valleys around the massif. The route is circular, and it normally takes around 11 days to complete it.

The trail passes through mountains, forests, tiny villages, wildflower fields and pastures dotted with herds of grazing sheep.

There are hotels and mountain huts along the route. Or, you can do it self-sufficiently — you carry your own food and camping gear. 

The accommodation is open only from June until September. Book your stay in advance, especially if you are hiking during the high season — mid-July to mid-August. 

If you don’t want to hike the TMB which takes 11 days to complete, there are plenty of other, much shorter, hikes all around Mont Blanc massif.

Walker’s Haute Route – France & Switzerland

Walker's Haute Route - France & Switzerland

The Walker’s Haute Route is a popular multi-day hike in the French and Swiss Alps, one of the most beautiful trails in the region.

This strenuous high-altitude hike starts in Chamonix (France) and terminates in Zermatt (Switzerland). It takes about 14 days to complete.

The route goes below the multiple highest peaks of the Alps and crosses several mountain passes. It boasts breathtaking scenery of the Alps.

Most difficult hikes in Europe

Hiking tips for beginners

  1. Choose a long-distance trail according to your experience and fitness level. If you are not an experienced hiker, start small.
  2. Obtain a map of the trail or check the map online. Familiarise yourself with the trail. Take note of other intersecting trails, to prevent making a wrong turn.
  3. If you are planning to hike often, invest in quality gear as it would never let you down in terms of performance.
  4. No matter how long the hike is, you need to pack the essentials such as a paper map/smartphone offline map, water, sunglasses, sunscreen, headlamp, first-aid kit, snacks, extra pair of socks, hiking poles. The list of essentials depending on the length and difficulty of your hike. If you are going self-supported, you need to carry a tent, sleeping bag, food, plenty of water, matches, camping cooking gear and utensils and emergency shelter.
  5. Do not forget about blister dressings and sturdy band-aids. Compeed, Scholl, Band-Aid and Spenco 2nd Skin make great blister pads!
  6. Pack light. You don’t want to drag around all the unnecessary items you pack in your bag.
  7. Check the weather and pack accordingly. If there’s a chance of rain, pack a rain jacket and waterproof hiking shoes.
  8. Let your family and friends know about your hiking trip. Tell them where you are heading to and how long it is going to last.