These Boots are Made for Walking: Europe's Top Hikes

The best places in the Old World to beat feet.
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Who says you can't discover something new in Europe? There are plenty of underappreciated corners of this continent, and there is no better way to enjoy them than on your own two feet.

The Dolomites, Italy Although adjoining the Alps, the Dolomites are a range apart. Instead of snow-capped movie-logo pyramids, you'll find towers and ramparts of pink limestone jutting out of green meadows. For the bold, some hiking routes ascend vertiginous faces with the help of steel footpegs, ladders, and cables—the famous via ferrata, or iron roads. Don't expect much pasta; the local culture is more Tyrolean than Italian—sauerbraten, lederhosen, and Swiss-style ski chalets.
Dordogne Valley, France
Winding through the scenic heart of France, the Dordogne is a small placid river of perfect scale, lined with clifftop castles and medieval towns like Sarlat, Beynac, and Rocamadour. Caves in the region have the world's oldest and best-preserved prehistoric rock paintings. Gourmands may feast on the local specialty, foie gras.

Sardinia, Italy
Here lies some of the wildest and most unexpectedly beautiful terrain in Europe, much of it covered by well-worn sheep paths leading to deep gorges, caves, and some of the most remote and unspoiled beaches in the Mediterranean. In spring finds Sardinia abounds with flowers, especially orchids.

The Greek Islands
Inn-to-inn island trekking in the Aegean has the pastoral and historic charm of a countryside walk through France or Italy—plus the allure of snorkling in turquoise seas before lunch every day. Time it right, and you may be invited to partake in a traditional all-night Easter feast at a village church.

Tuscany, Italy
Is there another place on earth where the works of man and nature co-exist in such harmony? Dirt roads, farm tracks and mule paths lace the Tuscan hills, leading from one medieval hilltop village or castle to the next. Tuscan food is viewed by many as the pinnacle of human achievement, and may be eaten guilt-free, thanks to recent research demonstrating the health benefits of olive oil and red wine.

David Noland is a full-time professional freelance writer specializing in adventure travel, sports, and science. His book, Travels Along the Edge , published in 1997 by Vintage Books, is now in its fourth printing.

Published: 25 Jul 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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