The summer may be over, but this is not an excuse to lock yourselves at home and hibernate…. at least not yet! Despite the days being shorter and temperatures noticeably lower than in summer time I think autumn is a fantastic time to go hiking! In fact, some hikes may offer even better experience in autumn than in summer.
When thinking about hiking in autumn, ‘quieter trails’ is probably the first thought which comes to mind, but there is much more than that! Beautiful autumnal colours of trees, berries foraging, amazing sunsets and chance to see Aurora Borealis are just a few examples of what awaits you when hiking in autumn.
At Stunning Outdoors, we are more and more passionate about longer hikes, as they allow us to indulge ourselves in nature without a hurry. And since autumn is already upon us, here it is – our selection of best multi-day hikes across Europe, perfect for autumn!
We asked other travel bloggers to help us compile the list; they shared their favourite autumn hikes and we also shared ours. So whether you seek for warmth or last sunrays before winter, quiet trails or an opportunity to take THAT dream picture of Aurora Borealis; we have several fantastic ideas to inspire you to go hiking in autumn!
Which one will you choose – do you prefer a warm Spain or would you rather visit Scandinavia? Do you like coastal walks or would you rather take a bigger challenge in the wild hills?
Lets get inspired!
Best multi day hikes for autumn in Europe:
1. Spain, Camino de Santiago
2. Bulgaria, Rila mountains traverse trail
3. Poland, Tatra mountains
4. Luxembourg, walking through the country
5. Germany, Rheinsteg Trail
6. Scotland, Old Man of Hoy circular hike
7. England, South West Coast Path
8. Sweden, The Jamtland Triangle
9. Finland, Hetta to Pallas
10. Norway, Rago National Park
Spain, The Camino de Santiago
by Meredith from The Longest Weekend
The Camino de Santiago is at the top of most hikers’ bucket lists, and autumn is the perfect time to make the 500-mile journey across Spain’s Iberian Peninsula. While there are many routes of the Camino, the traditional Camino Frances begins in the mountain town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and culminates in Santiago de Compostela in Spain – 45 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean.
To complete the medieval pilgrimage route in its entirety takes 35-40 days, but many hikers break it up into stages and tackle a few days or a week at a time. The hike ranges in difficulty from easy to moderate to challenging, depending on the stage and terrain. Overall the trails are well-marked and in good condition, so if you’re in decent shape and are up for logging some serious kilometres you’ll find the Camino de Santiago to be an enjoyable trek.
The Camino de Santiago takes you through both larger cities and small towns alike. You won’t find campsites along the way, but instead a well-established network of albergues – the Camino’s version of a hostel or guesthouse. Hiking the Camino de Santiago in the autumn shoulder season also means greater availability of albergues when you arrive to your destination each afternoon.
While pilgrims from all over the world hike the Camino year-round, the autumn is particularly enjoyable thanks to cooler temperatures and little to no rain, unlike the wetter winter and spring seasons and the relenting heat of the summer months. Autumn is also a fantastic time to hike the Camino if you’re looking to avoid the crowds of the more popular summer months.
Bonus – by hiking the Camino de Santiago in the autumn, you’ll catch the picturesque Rioja Valley wine region at harvest!
Bulgaria, Rila Traverse Trail
by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
Only 70 km from the capital of Bulgaria, the Rila mountains extend over 2400 square kms and are home to some of the Balkan’s highest peaks, including Mount Vihren (2914m) and Mount Musala (2,925m). The Rila Traverse is a hut-to-hut trek that takes 7 days to complete and covers 74 kilometres of landscape characterised by sunken valleys, alpine meadows, granite peaks and nearly 200 glacial lakes. Mountains are connected by hiking trails which are well marked with coloured strips and parallel iron posts on some routes.
Camping is forbidden in national park , but there are several seasonal mountain huts (summer/autumn only) on the route. These make the logistics of conquering the Rila summits much simpler. However, the steep ascents still require a good level of fitness, so the full trail is recommended for experienced hikers only.
Autumn, especially September is the best time for trekking in order to escape the crowds and still enjoy dry and sunny days.
The trail starts at Borovets where you take a gondola to Yastrebets Hut and finishes at Malyovitsa Hut.
The highlight of the trail is conquering the highest peak in the Balkans, Mount Musala (2,925m) and luckily for hikers (and non-hikers), there are numerous natural hot springs found throughout this region to soothe your wary legs after enjoying this picturesque trail.
Poland, hiking from hut to hut in Tatra mountains
by Stunning Outdoors
Autumn is the best time to hike in Tatra mountains. If you follow our blog, you certainly noticed that we keep saying this all the time. The main reasons are quieter trails and huts as well as beautiful colours, especially of Western Tatra range.
It’s pretty safe to say that if you set off for a multi day hike it will not be circular, as once up in the mountains you will be walking on the ridges, with some descents to the huts.
Mountain huts are the only options for accommodation, as camping in Tatra National Park is forbidden. There are 8 mountain huts of varied size and capacity. Each hut, however, offers homemade food and some snacks and beverages. All have electricity and running water.
You will find it easy to get to any trail head from Zakopane, wherever you decide to start your hike. The walking distance and number of days will vary, from 2 days to a week, depending on the route you pick. But staying in mountain huts allows hiking light, meeting other fellow hikers and enjoying the evenings in beautiful locations surrounded by mighty peaks, gazing at the stars at night. Sounds good? Find out more about hiking from hut to hut in Tatra National Park.
Whatever trail you choose you should definitely include Czerwone Wierchy – beautiful mountain ridge, which in autumn turns into a carpet of oranges, yellows and reds!
Luxembourg, hike through the country
by Sophie from Bitten By The Bug
If you’re looking for an impressive hike, how about one going through a whole country? One of the few countries where this is feasible without an insane amount of time or effort is Luxembourg, which is squeezed in between Belgium, Germany and France. With a total length of 82 kilometres, it is possible to cross the whole country by foot in about four days’ time! This hike can be done at any time of the year, although autumn is especially interesting because you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful foliage all around you.
Our 4-day itinerary through Luxembourg includes couple of detours to visit some interesting villages and to enjoy some of the most beautiful hiking trails this little country has to offer. In total, we covered a total distance of 120 km and camped along the trail.
Day 1: Start of the hike in Echternach, on the border with Germany. We followed the beautiful Mullerthal Trail which intersects the region known as Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland. Just before the sun went down, we reached the 12th century castle of Beaufort.
Day 2: After hiking through Luxembourg’s hilly countryside for most of the day, we made it another highlight- the beautiful hilltop Vianden castle.
Day 3: Having reached Diekirch, most of the hike followed the river Süre, which was quiet and offered some lovely picnic spots.
Day 4: The river finally led us to the beautiful village Esch-sur-Sûre, which was surrounded by a magical fog. The rest of the day was a very demanding hike all the way up to the Belgian border. Once we made it to Bastogne, we celebrated our homecoming the Belgian way – treating ourselves to some hard-earned fries and beer!
Germany, Rheinsteig trail
by Jennifer & Tim from Luxe Adventure Traveler
Germany’s Rheinsteig trail is a truly spectacular hike that combines the best of both worlds: luxury and adventure. Traversing some 320 kilometers from Bonn to Wiesbaden, the Rheinsteig trail takes hikers along Germany’s gorgeous castle-dotted Rhine river and through the heart of the vineyards that line it. While you don’t need to hike all 320 kilometers, Jennifer from Luxe Adventure Traveler recommends spending at least 3-4 days hiking the Rheinsteig. It’s relatively easy hiking with the trail weaving up and down between clifftop and riverbank, and you should plan to cover 15-20 kilometers each day of the trek. The Rheinsteig is not a circular trail, but ferry boats and trains stop in many of the towns along the Rheinsteig trail and are an excellent way to travel back to your starting point.
If you have just three days, Jennifer recommends the section of the Rheinsteig from St. Goar to Lorch am Rhein. You’ll hike past a number of castles, including one unique castle located on an island on the Rhine River. Plan time to visit and tour at least a few of the castles, like Burg Rheinfels and Pfalzgrafenstein Castle. Autumn is harvest time in the Rhine vineyards, and winemakers are often keen to welcome in hikers for a tasting of the freshly pressed grape juice. At night you can rest your weary feet in comfort at a variety of castle hotels and charming family-run inns while feasting on gourmet meals. Porter services are available to transfer luggage between accommodations daily so that you need only carry a day pack with essentials and a lunch to enjoy along the trail.
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Scotland, Old Man of Hoy circular hike
by Stunning Outdoors
Old Man of Hoy is a popular landmark visited by tourist travelling around Orkney Islands in Scotland. However, many just take a quick bus tour to Rackwick village and walk on a tourist path to the view point.
How about making it more adventurous? Are you up for it?
One important point to note is – you need good waterproof boots for that hike as the path running along the cliff can be very boggy.
The 20km circular route will start and end at Moaness harbour and after initial 2 km of walking along the road you will reach the bottom of Cuilags mountain, where the steep climb starts. You will be then rewarded with fantastic views across Hoy Sound towards Orkney mainland and view of tiny Graemsay island. Descending the peak you will reach boggy coastal path. Keep as close to the edge as possible to not miss breath-taking cliffs of St John’s Head – the highest vertical cliff in the UK. The remote location guarantees solitude and feeling closeness to nature as the only other species present are birds (gulls and fulmars) which chose the cliffs as their home. Once you pass the cliffs the path improves and very soon you will see the top of Old Man of Hoy. Continue till you reach a trail going down. You may choose to camp at the cliffs or continue down to Rackwick where you can stay in a bothy. Next day you can either walk along the paved road or take a path through the valley, along the stream. I definitely recommend the latter. Not only you will be closer to the mountains, but in autumn you can admire the heather blossoming all around you.
England, South West Coastal Path
by Danni from Live In 10 Countries
Little do the tourists flocking to the coast of Cornwall and Devon know, the South West Coastal Path along the bottom left hand bulge of England is actually even more stunning later in the year. It’s peaceful and crowd free, overlooking beaches and bays that aren’t swarmed with bathers and kids with buckets and spades. September is an ideal compromise – sun is still shining, hardly any rain and plenty of friendly locals to meet!
Where to start and end the trip: the path starts from Minehead in Somerset and finishes at Poole in Dorset, but you can also choose any section for a shorter hike. It’s not a marathon and you can take breaks, or try to enjoy towns or coastal landmarks of Cornwall.
The whole path is around 600 miles, so 30 days is the gold standard for power walkers, while those who like to stop and sniff the flowers often do it in 8 weeks or more.
Most people choose to camp along the way, with BnBs (‘Bed and Breakfast’ accommodation) being the second most popular option.
Level of difficulty: Although well looked after, the path has some serious rugged up and downhill points, hence it’s a moderately difficult one.
Sweden, The Jamtland Triangle
by Stunning Outdoors
The Jamtland Triangle is 3-day hike from hut to hut in Jamtland County. This part of Sweden surprised us greatly when we visited it this year. We were stunned by ‘the Lapland feel’ after only a few kilometres on the trail. The chances of spotting reindeer are very high as you’re literally walking in reindeer territory.
The hike starts and finishes at STF Storulvan mountain station. From there you can walk either clockwise or anticlockwise. If you opt for the latter, you start with a 12km hike to STF Blahammaren mountain station (the highest mountain station in Sweden!). Second day is the longest, with 19 km walk to STF Sylarna; and on third day you are left with 16 km hike back to your starting point at STF Stolurvan.
Two words about accommodation – if you prefer to hike light, you can stay overnight in mountain huts. There you can enjoy hot shower and local food prepared in the huts. Alternatively you can pitch your tent in close proximity to the huts, free of charge.
Why we think the hike is perfect for autumn? Distances between huts are not that great and are easily manageable during shorter autumn days. The wide open spaces can provide opportunity for beautiful sunrises and sunsets and if you’re lucky – for watching northern lights. This is a great hike for those who are just starting their hiking adventure – you will meet many other hikers and find a safe place at the end of each day, also there is a good mobile phone coverage in the area!
Finland, Hetta to Pallas
by Stunning Outdoors
This was our first multi day hike in Lapland, we did it at the end of September – right in the middle of autumn. Have you ever heard of ‘Ruska’? It is a Finnish word to describe the beautiful autumnal colours of Lapland before snow covers the landscape for many months. Most trees like birch, aspen and mountain ash turn their leaves into orange and red providing a true feast for the eyes! Once you experience this show, it will stay with you forever. Lapland at its best! I do not think I need to give any more arguments that autumn time is perfect for this hike. However, add also a chance of seeing Aurora Borealis and staying at conveniently located huts, where you can spend the night comfortably and warm, before the next day’s adventures. Further, along the route – around half way through the walk, you will have a chance to relax in a proper, wood-burn sauna! How about that?!
The hike is not circular and requires a bit of planning. We opted for leaving the car at Pallas. The best way of getting from Pallas to Hetta is arranging a car/taxi ride, and then a boat transfer across the lake, to the trail head. Once you cross the lake Ounasjarvi you will have 55 km of walk ahead of you. This hike requires to carry all your provisions and can be done within 3 or 4 days, with several huts to choose from along the way. Alternatively, you are free to pitch your tent for free anywhere, but I believe that the best option is pitching it near the huts. You can then use hut’s kitchen for cooking your meals or to warm up; the dry toilets are located near each hut.
Norway, 2 day hike in Rago National Park
by Stunning Outdoors
Rago National Park is located in Northern Norway, in Nordland county. It borders with Swedish Padjelanta, Sarek and Stora Sjofallet national parks, providing fantastic opportunity for long hikes in protected and wild environment. However, our proposition for an autumnal adventure is a two day hike during which you will experience the best Rago park has to offer!
The hike is circular and starts (and ends) just east of Nordfjord. There is a parking area with picnic tables, dry toilet and a wind shelter.
During the two days you will walk 25 km and explore beautiful and breath-taking scenery of lake Litlverivatnet and iconic Litlverivassforsen waterfall – one of the highest waterfalls in the north of Norway, with a total drop of 223 meters. But the views don’t just end there; further you will walk on the massive rock slabs of Solvskaret – the highest point along the hike. Later, the path winds thru alpine forests to the beautifully located lake Storskogvatnet.
You have two sleeping option – camping or staying in a hut located near Storskogvatnet. The first option gives you countless possibilities and chance for watching the Aurora Borealis. The second option, however, provides a warm shelter in case of bad weather, but has two disadvantages. The hut may be full on your arrival (only 4 free beds) and its location means that you’ll split the hike into 18 km + 7 km, which for us was a big NO.
This hike is suitable for those of you who are confident and feel comfortable on their own; you won’t meet many fellow hikers along the way and the phone reception is poor.