Rupert Parker offers his selection of his favourite multi-day hikes in many countries.

One of the many joys of travelling is exploring a new country on foot, adapting to the local daily rhythms. As you slow your pace, you’re better able to take in novel sights and sounds, appreciate the vastness of the landscape and adapt to the changes in the weather.

Best of all, it’s those chance encounters with people along the way, locals and fellow travellers alike, that you’re never going to forget. Over many years of hiking in different continents and other hemispheres, these are some of my fondest memories.

Lost City

A hike to the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) should be at the top of every intrepid travellers’ bucket list. It’s a four-day trek, there and back, and although the distance covered is only around 52km, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Santa Marta, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, lies at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is the starting point for the trek.


Tateyama, in the Japanese Northern Alps, makes a great base to explore the mountains. A 4 day circular walk climbs the holy Mount Tateyama, passes the Shomyo Falls, the tallest waterfall in Japan, before ending back in Jigokudani, or Hell Valley. Pilgrims, arriving here, imagined the hot springs were the gateway to the underworld and of course the stink of sulphur helped.

Camino Primitivo

Everybody wants to do the Camino and there are many routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. The French Way is the most popular but gets very congested and some sections are boring slogs. Instead take the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo to Santiago through remote areas of Asturias. It’s more strenuous but delightfully tranquil.

Gran Canaria

The GR131 is an island-hopping trail that runs east to west and coast to coast across each of the Canary Islands. This section crosses the mountainous centre of Gran Canaria, starting and ending at the sea. What’s remarkable is that there are no package tourists in sight and you’ll have the trail to yourself

La Gomera

La Gomera is a circular lump of volcanic rock that sticks out of the sea, rising to a height of almost 1500m. It’s one of the most unspoilt of the Canaries and the GR132, follows the coast all the way around the island. Many steep-sided barrancos, or canyons, bisect the path so there are a lot of ups and downs.

Eagle Walk

This 413km trail crosses Austria in 33 stages from east to west with a total height gain of 31,000m. It’s strenuous but the reward is stunning alpine scenery – mountainsides covered in forest, tumbling torrents and impressive waterfalls. It starts in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains, in North Tyrol, rising up to over 2,300m in lofty jagged rock formations

Although one of the smallest countries in Europe, Luxembourg has hundreds of kilometres of signed walking trails, including a section of the GR5 which runs from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. The hills of the Ardennes can be challenging but, further south, the trail runs through riverside vineyards all the way to the border.


Most people experience Norwegian fjords from the decks of their cruise ship, but it’s more rewarding to set out on foot and explore. Fortunately, they’ve devised a series of Iconic Hikes, between Stavanger and Bergen. Each one involves climbing up from the water’s edge, up the steep sides of the fjords for marvellous views. It’s exhilarating walking and not for the fainthearted.


Following the fierce Atlantic coastline, the trail starts in Porto Covo, south of Lisbon, and ends in Cape St Vincent, the most south-westerly point of Portugal and mainland Europe. It takes nine days but the seascape is spectacular, with huge waves battering sheer cliffs and long sandy beaches below. Local fishermen have used these paths for centuries to find the best fishing spots along the coast.

10. Alpe-Adria Trail, Austria, Slovenia and Italy

River Soca

The Alpe-Adria Trail runs for 750km from the foot of the Grossglockner (at 3,798m Austria’s highest mountain), into Slovenia and ends in Italy, near Trieste on the Adriatic coast. To do it all, you’ll need at least a month, but it’s easy walking, more like a leisurely stroll after you leave Austria. The highlight is the section following the River Soča through Slovenia.

11. Crown of Gardena, Italy

Crown of Gardena

In the north eastern corner of Italy, next to the border with Austria, the Dolomite Mountains are a paradise for walkers. A four day circuit, starting and ending in Ortisei, in Val Gardena, is a great taster for the Alta Via long distance trails that straddle the region. These are my favourite mountains in Europe with glimpses of their thrusting pale spires changing at every turn.


Cornwall is justly famous for its coastal paths but the rugged interior is also worth exploring. This 6 day circular walk starts and ends in St Ives exploring pristine nature before it reaches the sea again at Penzance. From here it leads to Land’s End before turning north along the wild rugged cliffs of Poldark County. This is tin mine country with ruined engine houses perched precariously next to the sea.


Mention Essex and the first thing that comes to mind wouldn’t be hiking. Sure there are no mountains, and it’s mainly flat, yet it’s one of the most unspoilt counties in England. The Essex Way starts in Epping, and passes through Constable country, before reaching the sea at Harwich. It can be done in either direction and covering the distance of 81 miles takes around ten days.

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