Epic European destinations for hikers, bikers, runners and skiers

·4-min read

Europe has many beautiful landscapes to discover. Often, the best way to truly experience them is to get active.

Here are seven of the continent’s top locations to hike, bike, ski or run wild.

Go trail running in Chamonix

Dominated by the spectacular snow-capped peaks of Mont Blanc, Chamonix is famous as a winter sports destination.

However, in the warmer months, the combination of picturesque Alpine views, endless mountain paths and a lively town centre makes it ideal for trail running trips.

Choose your route by length, elevation and difficulty, from beginner loops through flower-filled meadows and villages to more daunting treks into the mountains. For the ultimate challenge, try for a place in one of the legendary Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc races.

Hit the trails here.

Discover the Algarve by bike

The year-round warm weather and stunning terrain make Portugal’s Algarve region perfect for exploring on bike.

This balmy area is full of cycle paths to suit all ages and fitness levels. You can cruise along coastal paths in the sea breeze or tackle more challenging mountain trails.

To immerse yourself in the history of the place, you could even make your leisurely way through medieval towns and other cultural sights. Plus, you know there’s always going to be a table full of delicious local cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local produce waiting for you at the end of your ride.

Start pedalling here.

Hike glaciers Jostedalsbreen National Park

Norway has a proud history of explorers and when you’re there you can understand why. The unique hiking experience you can discover on the mighty glaciers promises to leave you with a deeper respect for nature.

There are 2,534 of these ever-shifting ice masses in the country, which have shaped the mountains and fjords of its landscape.

A good one to test your mettle on is Jostedalsbreen, which is the largest glacier in continental Europe and boasts ice up to 600 metres thick.

For safety, always go with a professional guide and proper equipment. As you hear the ice shift and creak beneath your feet, it’s hard not to be humbled.

Be inspired.

Run across volcanic landscapes in Iceland

Iceland is home to a wealth of striking scenery, and running is the perfect way to take it all in thanks to the clean air and well-maintained paths.

Follow routes that take you through plains of black sand and lava fields, past snow-capped volcanic peaks and across grassy meadows. In the summer you can even run at night thanks to the 24-hour daylight under the midnight sun.

Tests of running endurance are ingrained in the culture here, and if you’re feeling competitive there are plenty of official races you can participate in. The 250 kilometre-long Fire & Ice Ultra up in the north is a true challenge.

Lace up your trainers here.

Strap on some snowshoes in Finnish Lapland

Snowshoeing is the ideal way to experience the magic of Finland’s magnificent wilderness in the winter. This broad-based footwear spreads your body weight over a wider surface area, allowing you to trek across otherwise inaccessible snowy landscapes with relative ease.

Strap on a pair to explore silent forests and frozen waterfalls, breathe the crisp fresh air, or traverse swamps. Alternatively, head out at night to admire the ethereal Northern Lights. The country’s National Parks have plenty of well-marked trails for beginners.

Enter a winter wonderland.

Lose yourself hiking in Corsica

This rugged French island in the Mediterranean is one of the continent’s most beautiful hiking spots, with trails that lead you past idyllic beaches, rocky peaks and lush forests.

There are plenty of routes to choose from, but the one everyone hopes to conquer is the GR20. This runs about 180 kilometres all the way from the north to the south of the island and takes about 15 days to complete.

Accommodation is available in mountain refuges, and although the paths are steep, the views are unbeatable.

Challenge yourself.

Ski cross-country in the Dolomites

Italy may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of skiing, but the Dolomites mountain range in the northeast are ideal for it.

Great mountain passes in this UNESCO World Heritage site mean that horizontal skiing, rather than downhill, is the way to do it. It’s no walk in the park, but if you’ve the will, you’ll be rewarded with 1300 km worth of cross-country trails.

These vast snowy expanses offer opportunities for beginners and seasoned veterans looking for a technical challenge.

Anywhere in Italy, the food’s unlikely to disappoint, and it will taste all the sweeter when you’re warming up in a cosy mountain cabin after a long day.

Forge your path here.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting