Train going up a mountsain - Hiking in Europe Without a Car

Hiking In Europe Without A Car (The Ultimate Guide)

Do you want to embark on a unique European escapade? Well, how about we spice things up and ditch the gas guzzler? Yep, that’s right! We’re diving into the world of hiking in Europe without a car.

No need to worry about your seatbelt, let´s drive right in… (excuse the pun, I´m tyred…)

Why Go Hiking in Europe Without a Car

There are lots of reasons for this, here are a few of the most common

  • No driving license 
  • Sustainable travel: Reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to eco-friendly practices.
  • Immersive experience: Immerse yourself in nature and local culture by exploring on foot.
  • Cost-effective: Gas (petrol) and road tolls in Europe are really expensive, not to mention car rental and parking.
  • End To End Hiking: Thru-hike for several days without worrying about how to get back to where you parked the car
  • Up-close and personal: Get a closer look at Europe’s breathtaking landscapes and natural beauty.
  • Europe has an amazing public transport system
  • Slow travel: Embrace a relaxed pace, allowing for deeper connections with nature and local communities.
  • Flexibility and freedom: Create your adventure, taking detours and exploring off-the-beaten-path trails.
  • Discover hidden gems: Find charming villages, scenic viewpoints, and unique cultural experiences. Freeways often take you right past some special places.
  • Authentic interactions: Engage with friendly locals, learn about their traditions, and exchange stories.
  • Create lasting memories: Unforgettable moments await as you navigate Europe’s hiking trails without a car.

How To Hike In Europe Without A Car

Follow our quick guide to hiking in Europe without a car and navigate everywhere from Scotland to Greece like the hiking boss that you know you are!

Research Hiking Destinations And Routes

Begin by researching and selecting the hiking destinations that interest you in Europe.

Consider factors such as:

  1. Trail difficulty: Assess your hiking abilities and choose a route that matches your fitness level and experience. Look for trails with varied difficulty options, ranging from easy to challenging, to suit your preferences.
  2. Scenic beauty: Europe is brimming with stunning landscapes. Decide whether you prefer coastal trails, mountainous regions, rolling countryside, or a mix of different terrains. Consider the scenery that resonates with you the most and aligns with your desired hiking experience.
  3. Trail duration: Determine the length of time you’re willing to spend on the trail. Some routes can be completed in a few days, while others may take weeks. Choose a duration that fits your schedule and the time you want to allocate for hiking.
  4. Accessibility by public transportation: Ensure the hiking route you select is easily accessible without a car. Look for trails that have nearby train or bus stations, or consider routes that can be reached by ferry. This way, you can seamlessly connect your journey via public transportation.
  5. Trail popularity: Consider the popularity of the hiking route. Highly popular trails may be crowded, especially during peak seasons, while lesser-known routes offer a more tranquil and off-the-beaten-path experience. Decide whether you prefer a more secluded adventure or enjoy the camaraderie of fellow hikers.
  6. Cultural experiences: Research the cultural highlights along the trail. Some routes pass through historical sites, and picturesque villages, or offer glimpses into local traditions. If cultural immersion is important to you, choose a route that offers these enriching experiences.
  7. Safety considerations: Take into account any safety concerns associated with the route. Consider factors such as elevation, weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any potential hazards along the trail. Ensure you have the necessary skills and equipment to tackle the challenges of your chosen route.
  8. Personal interests: Think about any personal interests or themes that you’d like to incorporate into your hiking experience. It could be wildlife spotting, birdwatching, visiting specific landmarks, or exploring the local cuisine. Tailor your route selection to accommodate these interests.

Choose hiker-friendly regions:

Select regions in Europe are known for their hiking infrastructure and accessibility. Countries like Switzerland, Austria, France, and Germany, for example, have well-developed networks of hiking trails and public transportation options.

Consider guided hikes

If navigating public transportation and finding trails seems overwhelming, consider joining guided hiking tours. These tours often arrange transportation and provide knowledgeable guides who can enhance your hiking experience.

For some inspiration check out our blog on Europe’s biggest hiking trails by clicking here 

sunset chairlift - hiking without a car

Understand public transportation

Familiarize yourself with the public transportation system in the countries you plan to visit. Research train schedules, bus routes, and ferry services to get an idea of how to reach your hiking trailheads or desired destinations.

Check out these European apps and websites to help you get around:

  • Omnio: A search and booking platform that allows you to buy tickets for trains, buses, flights, ferries, and airport transfers.
  • Blah Blah Car: BlaBlaCar is a handy carpool app, and it has become one of our favorite ways to travel! In foreign countries
  • Uber: Uber is a transportation company with an app that allows passengers to hail a ride and drivers to charge fares and get paid
  • Flix bus: FlixBus is a German brand that offers intercity bus service in Europe
  • Donkey Republic: Donkey Republic is a global bike-sharing service. Find a bike near you in more than 71 cities around the world and unlock it with our app.
  • Boats Tour Mallorca: A great site offering shared and charter boats to some amazing hikes in the Balearic Islands

Plan Accommodations

When planning accommodations for your car-free hiking adventure in Europe, consider the following tips to ensure a comfortable and convenient stay:

Research accommodation options

Look for accommodations along your chosen hiking route that are accessible without a car. Consider a range of options such as mountain huts, guesthouses, hostels, campsites, or even farm stays. Explore online booking platforms, travel forums, and local tourism websites to find suitable places to stay.

Check availability and make reservations

Once you’ve identified potential accommodations, check their availability during your desired travel dates. Especially during peak seasons, it’s advisable to make reservations in advance to secure your accommodation.

Contact the accommodations directly or use online booking platforms to book your stay.

Consider proximity to trailheads

Opt for accommodations that are located close to trailheads or have easy access to public transportation routes that lead to your hiking routes. This way, you can minimize travel time and start your hikes conveniently from your accommodation.

Facilities and amenities

Assess the facilities and amenities offered by the accommodations. Depending on your preferences and needs, consider factors such as cleanliness, availability of showers and toilets, laundry facilities, communal kitchen areas, Wi-Fi access, and dining options nearby.

Budget considerations

Determine your budget for accommodations and search for options that align with your financial plan. Keep in mind that certain accommodations, such as mountain huts, may have different pricing structures and may require advanced reservations.

Local recommendations

Seek recommendations from local hikers, travel forums, or online hiking communities. They can provide valuable insights into unique and authentic accommodations that may not be as well-known or easily discoverable through typical booking platforms.

italian scooter on street - hiking in europe without a car

Be prepared for language barriers

Keep in mind that language barriers may arise during your travels. Europe is home to 24 official languages, while as many as 200 languages are spoken across the continent! Although you can’t learn them all, it’s very much appreciated by locals if you at least learn hello, and thank you.

Carry a pocket dictionary or use translation apps to help with basic communication. Locals are often friendly and willing to assist, so don’t hesitate to ask for directions or advice.

Pack light

Since you won’t have the convenience of a car, it’s important to pack light and only carry essential items. Invest in lightweight, compact hiking gear and clothing to minimize the weight of your pack.

Embrace local culture and cuisine

Immerse yourself in the local culture by trying traditional dishes, engaging with locals, and participating in cultural activities along the hiking routes. This adds depth and richness to your overall experience.

If you’re hiking in the mountains you have to try a fondue or a raclette. It´s always a highlight of our adventures.

Practice safety measures

Generally, public transport in Europe is very safe. If you are in major cities be wary of pickpockets who target hikers knowing they are carrying valuables with them. Our advice, if you are hiking in Europe without a car, is to go with a friend.

Prioritize your safety while hiking. Inform someone about your hiking plans, stick to designated trails, stay updated on weather forecasts, and be prepared for emergencies. Carry a fully charged phone, and a map or GPS device.

Embrace flexibility and spontaneity

It is important to have a plan in place, but it is equally crucial to remain flexible during a hiking trip. Unforeseen circumstances such as inclement weather, trail closures, or chance discoveries may necessitate a change in your schedule.

Keep an open mind and be willing to modify your plans accordingly to take advantage of new opportunities.

Enjoy the journey

Remember that hiking in Europe without a car is not just about reaching your destination—it’s about savoring the entire experience. Take your time, appreciate the stunning landscapes, and embrace the freedom and flexibility of hiking on foot.

Other Helpful Articles

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The Tour Du Mont Blanc – Common Questions (Answered)

What Is Hiking Etiquette? (9 Simple Examples)

How To Plan The Perfect Hiking Route

Written with help from

Visit Europe

Outdoor Active

Sustainable travel