4 Places to Hike in Europe that you’ve never heard of!

What would you say if I told you that there were places in Europe besides the Alps where you could find amazing views and wild landscapes? You’d want to know where, right? What other places could possibly have picturesque mountains but half the tourists? Well let me show you! From Albania to Spain here are 4 places to hike in Europe that you’ve never heard of!

1. Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Spain? Moorish architecture? Lazy days on the Mediterranean beach? Glacial carved mountains? Wait, what was that last one? You read that right! Spain is home to the Spanish Pyrenees. A wonderland of hiking without the crowds of the nearby Alps. One of the most unique places in the Spanish Pyrenees is Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. It includes three mountain canyons and its namesake Monte Perdido standing tall at 11,007 feet!

Cirque de Soaso and Monte Perdido

Where: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain

Why:

Dramatic Mountains

Hiking through the Ordesa Valley

Steep canyons

Views along the Faja de Pelay hike

Waterfalls

Cola de Caballo Waterfall

Medieval huts and bridges

The village of Torla just outside the park boundary

Highlights:

-Ordesa Valley

-Refugio Goriz

-Cola de Caballo

-Anisclo Valley

-Pineta Valley

How to get there: 

By Car:

From Zaragoza it is a 2 hour drive.

From Barcelona it is a 4 hour drive.

From Madrid it is a 5 hour drive.

By Bus:

From Zaragoza: 

Take a bus to Sabinanigo. From Sabinanigo take a bus to Torla. (4 hours)

From Barcelona:

Take a bus to Barbastro. From Barbastro take the bus to Torla (6 hours)

From Madrid:

Take bus to Zaragoza. From Zaragoza take bus to Sabinanigo. From Sabinanigo take bus to Torla. (6 hours)

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For a 5 day itinerary, and a video showcasing the park go here.

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  2. Albanian Alps (or Accursed Alps) 

Who would’ve guessed Albania as a hiking destination? Well if you like amazing, jagged mountain peaks, and dramatic valleys then head over to Albania!
The classic hike is to go from the village of Valbona over the mountain pass to Theth. It’ll take you two days. There are also plenty of day hikes near Theth as well as Valbona. If you want there is even a long distance hiking trail called the Peaks of the Balkans that goes through the Albanian Alps.
Hiking near the village of Theth

Where: Northern Albania (duh!)

Why: 

Jagged Mountains

Watching the clouds clear on the hike to Theth

High Mountain passes

Cloudy day in the Albanian Alps

Medieval Buildings

Evening rain by the church in Theth

Highlights: 

-Theth National Park

-Valbona Valley National Park

How to get there:

Way #1:
Starting in Shkoder. There are furgons (small buses) that leave Shkoder around 6:30/7 am. Inquire in your hostel/hotel and they can arrange for one to pick you up.
Around 9 am you will reach Lake Koman. From there you’ll then take the ferry to the other side of the lake.  It’ll take about 3-4 hours depending on if you’re lucky enough to go on the fast boat or not! Either way, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the views of the dramatic fiord like mountains. At the end of the boat ride you will arrive in Fierze. From here board one of the buses that will take you to Valbona. If you need to exchange money ask to stop along the way in Bajram Curri because there are no ATMs in Valbona.
Way #2:
Also starting from Shkoder. Instead of going to Lake Koman, you take a bus all the way to the village of Theth. This way is less common, as most people will start from the other side, and return to Shkoder this way as a loop trip.

Extra Resources:

-More info about Valbona area

 

Click here to see more about hiking in Albania

3. Durmitor National Park

High plateaus, rocky mountains and alpine lakes. Durmitor is about two hours away from Kotor, the main attraction in the small country of Montenegro. There are plenty of hikes to do in the national park. The most famous as well as most accessible is hiking to Crno Jezero Lake. There are also summit hikes to the impressive Bobotuv Kuk and a smaller, easier ascent of Planinica.

Looking towards Bobotuv Kuk on the way to summit Planinica

Where: Northern Montenegro

Why: 

Alpine lakes

One of many lakes in the park

Dramatic mountains

Looking towards Bobotuv Kuk on the way to summit Planinica

Picturesque Valleys

Peaceful, green mountains in Durmitor National Park

 

Highlights:

-Bobotuv Kuk (highest peak in the park at 8,278 feet)
-Crno Jezero (Black Lake)
-Planinica (Easier mountain summit)
-Nearby Tara River Canyon

How to get there: 

By Car:

From Kotor it is a 3 hour drive

From Podgorica it is a 2 hour drive

From Niksic it is a 1 hour drive

By Bus:

From Kotor: Bus to Zabljak (3 hours)

From Podgorica: Bus to Zabljak (2.5 hours)

From Niksic: Bus to Zabljak (1 hour)

Extra Resources:

-Official park website

-UNESCO Site for Durmitor National Park

-Bus Transport to Durmitor National Park

Also interested in seeing Kotor? Here’s 4 things you can’t miss in the Kotor area.

4. Madonie Mountains

Located off the tip of mainland Italy is the island of Sicily. It’s got just about everything.  From an unique culture to a variety of delicious food and to beautiful landscapes there’s a lot to see in Sicily. Not only are there relaxing warm beaches but there are even mountains and the largest volcano in Europe. You can even go skiing here in the winter. Yeah, this is still the same island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea! One of the best spots for hiking in Sicily is the Madonie mountains. It’s one of three mountain ranges in Sicily and it includes the second highest peak in Sicily (after Mt. Etna): Pizza Carbonara at 6493 feet tall.
Although you won’t find lots of wilderness here you’ll find plenty of villages tucked between the mountains. From Isnello to Petralia Sottana there’s plenty of towns and mountains to hike to and explore.
The village of Isnello

Where: Sicily, Italy

Why:

Forested, picturesque mountains

The green slopes of the Madonie mountains

Hidden Mountain Villages

The Village of Gangi with Mt. Etna in the distance

Proximity to the Sea

You’re never far from the sea in Sicily!

Highlights:

-Pizzo Carbonara (Highest non-volcanic peak in Sicily at 6,493 feet tall)

-Towns of Isnello, Castelbuono, Gangi, Petralia Sottana and many more!

-Piano Battaglia

How to get there:

The Madonie Mountains cover a small area and have many villages around the region. From Palermo, most villages are around 1.5 to 2 hours away. You can situate yourself in one of the main villages and just do day hikes from there. Some of the more popular towns are Castelbuono, Isnello, Petralie and Cefalu.

Extra Resources:

-Official park website

-Trail information