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

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Camino de Santiago, Spain
A footpath of the soul and spirit, this trail across the rugged rural north of Spain to the Galician town of Santiago de Compostela has been trodden by tens of millions of religious pilgrims since the Dark Ages. Their goal is the Tomb of St. James, son of a disciple of Jesus. If possible, plan your trip for the Feast of Santiago, which typically falls in mid-July.

The Azores, Portugal
This subtropical Portuguese colony a thousand miles offshore from Lisbon is a verdant, mountainous volcanic island of flowers, crater lakes, fishing villages, and thermal hot springs. The island has 40 varieties of mineral water to cure 40 specific ailments, including (fortunately for hikers) such maladies as sore feet and tired legs.
Tour du Mont Blanc, France/Switzerland/Italy
This classic two-week trek around Europe's highest mountain is a standby of both independent walkers and group outfitters. The route includes seven valleys of varying cultures and languages; accommodations range from village hotels to remote huts.

The Coast-to-Coast Route, England
Popularized by the legendary British hiker/writer Alfred Wainwright, this 190-mile walk from the Irish Sea to the North Sea has become a modern classic. Winding through the heart of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors, the route hits the high points of English scenery, history, and hospitality.

The Haute Route, Switzerland
The historic 100-mile footpath through the heart of the Alps, from Chamonix to Zermatt, has become a pilgrim route for the mountaineering faithful. The alpine scenery, which includes Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, is unsurpassed in Europe. In the European tradition, trekkers stay in remote "huts" along the route with all the comforts of home and an atmosphere of international camaraderie.

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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