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Europe is one of the best places to go hiking in the world thanks to its abundance of beautiful mountains. Whether you’re a beginner or a serious hiker, there are mountains that offer trails of all difficulty levels. From well-trodden routes in the Alps, through to summiting the continent’s tallest mountain in Russia, here are the best mountains in Europe for climbing.
1. Matterhorn, Alps
Matterhorn in the Alps is best known as the perfectly-formed mountain that divides Italy and Switzerland. It’s a picture-perfect mountain, with steep faces, snow-caps, and incredible scenery. The mountain has trails of a medium-difficult level, with the easiest Hörnligrat route using a mixture of trails and a lift to bring you to just under 9,843 feet above sea level. It’s a challenging hike due to the large presence of snow and ice — so is only for those who are seriously prepared with the correct hiking equipment and sufficient experience.
2. Mount Elbrus, Russia
Mount Elbrus, which is part of the Caucasus Mountains in Eastern Europe, stands at an enormous 1,8510 feet tall. It’s the tallest mountain in Europe and an extinct volcano located in southern Russia close to the border with Georgia. It draws hundreds of mountain climbers each year, looking for more of a challenge than Western European mountains. There are two main routes, both of which are extremely difficult, and as with Matterhorn in the Alps, only climbers with substantial experience should try to ascend Mount Elbrus!
3. Vignemale, French Pyrenees
If you’re exploring the French Pyrenees and looking for a demanding hike, Vignemale is the mountain for you to tackle. It stands at just under 10,826 feet tall and is a relatively easy mountain to summit. The mountain has several different route options and paths that are clear to hike. It’s considered to be one of the best mountains in the Pyrenees as it’s less on the beaten-track, meaning you’ll have more peace and quiet.
4. Monte Perdido, Spain
If you’re in Spain and looking for a relatively simple climb, Monte Perdido is well worth a visit. The mountain is considered to be an ‘F grade’ and while there are still some challenging parts it can certainly be tackled by less-experienced climbers. The views are truly amazing!
And if you like the idea of traveling further afield, what about hiking in Nepal or Patagonia?
5. Mont Blanc, Alps
Mont Blanc is one of the mightiest mountains in Europe, standing at 15,777 feet high. It’s the highest peak in the Alps and the view at the top is something you’ll never forget. There are tons of routes with hikes for all difficulty levels, although even routes considered to be ‘easy’ can still be difficult. If you’re keen to get to the top you’ll need ice picks and crampons, as Mont Blanc is considered to be ‘Europe’s Deadliest Mountain’ with many climbers sadly losing their lives while attempting to summit.
6. Dolomites, Italy
The Dolomites, located in Southern Italy, form part of the Southern Limestone Alps. The mountain range is known to offer some of the best weather in all of the Alps as it receives less rain, which means there’s a wide window of opportunity for climbing. The Dolomites is an excellent place to mix climbing with a vacation and you can find a variety of hotels, mountain refuges, and restaurants along the ascent. There are also ski lifts and public transport.
7. Ben Nevis, Scotland
Ben Nevis in Scotland is the highest mountain in the UK. It’s a popular climb for novices and experts alike and stands at 4,409 feet tall and features a variety of trails. It takes between three and six hours to summit Ben Nevis, depending on your hiking capabilities.
8. Mount Olympus, Greece
If you want to mix climbing with ancient history, why not summit Mount Olympus in Greece? In Ancient Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was home to the Greek Pantheon of Gods. Mount Olympus stands at 9,576 feet and the views are truly spectacular here. It takes around seven hours to summit and is a seven-mile round trip.
9. Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy
Mount Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe, and its height constantly changes due to its frequent eruptions. At present Mount Etna stands at 10,990 feet tall. When hiking Mount Etna, you can take a cable car to around 8,202 feet high, and then a guided hike to the top to the peak craters.