Europe boasts of 10 high alpine peaks and over 100 subranges. And, although you can explore its beauty by interrail and small aircraft, the reward of a hut-to-hut hike is incomparable. You immerse in striking natural landscapes and enjoy the finest high trails without the need to carry a tent, food, and sleeping bags.
Most countries in Europe have well-stocked appointed huts along fantastic trails, which provide adventures of all kinds. It will satisfy your hiking appetite and give you an in-depth exploration of a unique itinerary. From challenging terrains to easy trails, and a family-friendly route, you’re sure to find an adventure that suits your skill level.
Below we highlight the 5 best hut-to-hut hikes in Europe that expose you to the continent’s rich natural and colorful history.
This is a guest post by Ally Mashaura, blogger at Adventures Pursuit.
Julian Alps, Slovenia
Adventure in Slovenia, the Julian Alps during winter offers an exceptional experience of snow-blanketed forests and plateau. The scenic mountain peaks and ridges await you as you take the off-beaten path through Triglav National Park.
No need to worry about extreme temperatures at night since Slovenia mountain huts are cozy and warm. There is also plenty of home-cooked food, bountiful hot tea, and local schnapps.
One of the huts that sum up the beautiful journey is the Prehodovici hut. It is located in the valley of seven lakes and nestled between waters. Here you can treat yourself to a glass of Golden Horn (Zlatarog) beer, named after the country’s popular legend.
The peaks of the Julian Alps reach up to 2500 and more, and the highest of all is Triglav. You can attempt to reach its peak and experience its symbolic importance to the country. After your hike, consider exploring the city and learn the diverse and rich culture of the locals.
Tour du Mont Blanc, France, Italy, and Switzerland
This is the most famous hut-to-hut long-distance hiking trip in Europe, which takes you 170 km around Mont Blanc massif base. You cross Italy, France, and Switzerland borders as you experience glacial valleys, lush forests, verdant meadows, and mountain passes.
Real talk, the trail is one of the top 10 hikes around the world! The length and beauty within the three countries’ trail require you to spend about 10 days to experience it fully.
You begin the tour at Chamonix, a busy mountain town that boasts of adventurous sports. Here you can go skiing and snowboarding in the winter, but in this case, hiking in the summer. The next day take a cable car to Bellevue, where you enjoy a spectacular view of Mont Blanc, Chaine des Aravis, Aiguilles Rouges, and Chamonix Aiguilles. From there, you continue hiking, where you pass a famous suspension bridge before getting to your first mountain hut.
Enjoy the wild experience in Alpine mountains huts. The delicious meals and cozy sleeping arrangements make every evening worthwhile. This is high traffic area, so ensure you book accommodation well in advance. Use the guides as the trail is somewhat challenging, and you can easily get lost if you do it by yourself.
Grande Randonnée (GR) 20, CORSICA
If you have done many treks, it is time to stretch your limit and hike GR 2O, Corsica. It is the hardest long-distance hut-to-hut hike in Europe but rewarding in equal measure. You trek around 180 km with ascends and descends of about 12 775 m.
Here you walk along Corsica’s granite backbone, with each day presenting a different challenge. Today you hike through forested slopes and the next day through alpine valleys, high pastures, across rocky outcrops or airy ridges.
The mountain huts along the trail are well-equipped. They offer good food with generous serving to re-energize you. Besides that, you can also buy snacks to carry along at affordable prices.
Keep in mind that you will need to do the prior booking as the normal tour seasons are always full. Also, carry earplugs for sound sleep as the huts can get noisy.
Though it is the toughest trek, using a tour guide helps a lot, though the trails are also well-marked to ease your hike. End your expedition by taking time in the villages and beaches to learn the country’s colorful history and rich culture. For historians, Corsican is the home of prominent political leader and French military, Napoleon.
Jotunheimen, famously known as ‘the home of giants“, features over 250 mountains that you can explore on foot. As you trek along various routes, some challenging and others easier, you experience the beautiful untamed peaks with wildlife. The trails also take you through ice-blue glaciers, carved open rivers, and the mightiest waterfalls that make every moment memorable.
Apart from hiking, the place offers an opportunity for other outdoor activities such as skiing, kayaking, and biking. And though you can pitch a tent and spend the night freely outside, the well-established mountain huts are tempting. So, avoid carrying the bulky items and enjoy hut-to-hut hikes in Norway’s fully staffed lodges with bars, restaurants, showers, and drying rooms.
If possible plan to spend one night at grass-roof Skogadasboen hut, one of the oldest lodges established in 1988. This place hosted Cecil Slingsby, a British mountaineer famously known as ‘the father of Norwegian mountaineering.’
The list cannot be complete without the Dolomites, the home of the best hut-to-hut hiking trails with rich culture and colorful history. It provides an immersive experience of immaculate alpine scenery, ethereal limestone cliffs, and vast meadows.
The popular treks are Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 that take you through the iconic subrange, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, with the option to climb via Ferrata, the summit of Mount Civetta.
Using either route grants you a perfect sight of the Dolomites. The only difference is the distance where Ata Via 1 lets you cover 120 km and Alta Via 2 150km. Choose one, depending on your hiking experience, and learn the significance of the ranges during the 1st world war, where the oldest via Ferratas were built. What other better way than to trek the route?
You cannot call yourself the hut-to-hut hiker of all time if you have not had the opportunity to explore the iconic ranges in Europe. There is a lot to learn and see, and the best way is to hike without the need to carry bulky tents and sleeping bags. Though it is possible to pack your own tent to sleep in, especially if you like to be independent like me. Just be sure to choose a tent that is suitable for backpacking long distances.
The continent has some great and well-equipped huts for a warm and cozy experience. So choose a destination, book well in advance and witness the beauty of nature in Europe.
About the author
Ally Mash is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty