Hut-to-Hut Hiking Adventures: 5 Amazing Trips in Europe

Daniel DawsonSeptember 05, 2019

In spite of its small size, Europe is composed of a diverse array of different terrains and natural features. The second smallest continent boasts 10 different mountain ranges and at least 100 subranges.

While budget airlines and interrail make travel among the continent’s numerous cities cheaper and easier than ever before, there is no replacement to heading out and exploring on foot.

Hut-to-hut hiking trips are the best way to become intimately acquainted with some of Europe’s most unique and beautiful landscapes.

Lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks in length, hut-to-hut treks involve long days of hiking from one mountain refuge to the next. These types of trips are perfect for in-depth explorations of one specific area.

 

 

Hiking from hut to hut with a local guide is the perfect way to learn a bit more about the small part of the continent you are exploring. Nothing adds to the experience like a more thorough understanding of an area’s rich natural and cultural history.

While there are hundreds of incredible hut-to-hut hiking options across the continent – from the wilderness of western Iceland to the slopes of Greece’s iconic Mount Olympus – not all hiking tours are created equal.

Below we’ve included a list of five of Europe’s epic hut-to-hut treks and trekking hotspots.

 

1. Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (France, Italy, Switzerland)

 

Perhaps the most famous hut-to-hut hiking tour in Europe, the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) takes hikers on a 170-kilometer odyssey around the base of the Mont Blanc massif.

 

The Tour du Mont Blanc offers some of the most stunning alpine views in the French Alps. Photo courtesy of Marco Tamponi.

Trekkers generally spend five to 10 days heading from one mountain hut to the next, enjoying phenomenal views of Western Europe’s highest peak from every angle and exploring the diverse array of scenery found all around its base.

While there are many variations to this iconic trek, the vast majority of options begin as well as end in Chamonix, passing through Trient, Courmayeur, Vallee des Glaciers and Val Veny along the way.

For more advanced hikers, many guides offer the option of climbing Mont Blanc, Gran Paradiso or Monte Rosa along the way.


Read more: 9 Girlfriends Take on one of the World’s Great Hikes


Regardless of the variation, the TMB takes hikers through thick evergreen forests, past some of Europe’s largest glaciers, over scenic mountain passes and through sublime alpine meadows.

It is little wonder that many experienced hut-to-hut trekkers consider the TMB the ultimate mountain hike. You may too once you’ve experienced it for yourself!


In brief:

Duration: 5 to 10 days
Best time to go there: June to September
Difficulty level: Intermediate

 

Check out all the options available and trek the Tour du Mont Blanc with a local mountain guide!

 


2. Hut-to-Hut Hiking in the Dolomites (Italy)

 

Tucked into the northeastern corner of the Italian Alps, the Dolomites are a unique and impressive alpine subrange that have long captivated adventurous souls.

The Dolomites are home to another one of Europe’s highest-rated hut-to-hut hiking destinations and combine the exploration of the region’s storied history and culture with immaculate alpine scenery for a truly immersive experience.


Don’t miss our guide of the best hikes in the Dolomites!


 

You won’t come by scenery as dynamic as the Dolomite’s too often. Photo courtesy of Claudio Vecellio.

Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 are the two most popular hut-to-hut treks in the subrange. Both routes take trekkers past the iconic Tre Cime di Lavaredo and present the option to climb to the summit of Mount Civetta on a via ferrata.

Heading over numerous mountain passes, through alpine meadows and stunning glacially-carved valleys, both routes provide some of the best available views of the Dolomites and present ample opportunities to learn about the area’s history, especially its significance during the First World War when many of the oldest via ferratas in the region were built.

The main difference between Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 is length. The former is shorter, passing over roughly 120 kilometers and taking 10 days to complete.

Meanwhile, Alta Via 2 lasts for about 150-kilometers and takes a much higher route. Hiking Alta Via 2 takes about 15 days and is more physically demanding.

Regardless of which route is taken, the journey along Alta Via 1 or Alta Via 2 is unforgettable. Be sure to experience it for yourself on your next hut-to-hut hiking adventure!


In brief:

Duration: 10 to 15 days
Best time to go there: July to September
Difficulty level: Intermediate to sustained

 

Pick a guided trip and set out on an exciting hut-to-hut adventure in the Dolomites!


3. Hut-to-Hut Hiking in Switzerland

 

Switzerland is practically synonymous with incredible mountain adventures! When it comes to hiking from hut to hut, the small alpine country is no exception.

 

Making a three-day circuit around the Matterhorn is one of the most popular hut-to-hut treks in Switzerland. Photo courtesy of Happy Tracks.

There are plenty of different routes to choose from. Each of these boasts an incredible opportunity to see the verdant valleys, imposing glacier-capped mountains and thick woodlands that draw in millions of tourists each year.

Among the most popular hut-to-hut tours available in Switzerland is heading on a three-day tour around the Matterhorn. Starting from Zermatt, hikers head up the Europa Trail, walking around the iconic Swiss peak and enjoying the incredible scenery of the Matterhorn Valley.

Along the way, hikers will pass by the famous Stellisee, the iconic lake beneath the Matterhorn; cross the 500-meter long Charles Kuonen suspension bridge – the longest in the world; and climb up to the summit of Pfulwe peak (3,313 meters), from which incredible views of Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn await.

Another popular option is heading on the Monte Rosa route. This classic six-day hut-to-hut trekking adventure takes participants from Zermatt up to the summit of Monte Rosa, the second-highest peak in the Alps. While the walking may be a bit arduous, the views are second to none!


In brief:

Duration: 3 to 6 days
Best time to go there: July to September
Difficulty level: Intermediate to sustained

 

See all the different itineraries and book your next hut-to-hut trek in Switzerland!


4. Hut-to-Hiking in Austria

 

Heading farther east in the Alps, Austria is yet another incredible hut-to-hut hiking destination that offers plenty of incredible mountain scenery to explore.

Like just about every other destination in the Alps, Austria offers a wide variety of different hut-to-hut trekking opportunities, each of which is slightly different from the next, but no less spectacular than the last.

Among the top options for hiking hut-to-hut is heading around the Dachstein massif. This 6-day trip circumnavigates the massif and includes summiting Hohe Dachstein at 2,995 meters and climbing the via ferrata up the iconic north face of the Dachstein.

 

There’s nothing quite like hiking through the heart fo the Stubai Valley. Photo courtesy of Andreas Helmer.

Spending each night in a cozy mountain hut with an incredible view of these impressive limestone peaks, there is no better way to see this beautiful section of the Austrian Alps!

A little bit more than 200 kilometers west of the Dachstein is the Stubai Valley. Making the 6-day trek from one end of the valley to the next is yet another incredible way to see Austria.

Passing through alpine meadows, glacial valleys and in the shadow of impressive peaks, the tour is incredibly scenic. Summiting Maier Spitze and the Zuckerhütl provide great views back into the valleys and will leave you yearning for more time in Austria.

For hut-to-hut trekkers looking for more of a challenge, then the 6-day hut-to-hut traverse through the Allgäu Alps is the perfect option.

Situated along the German border, this more intensive hut-to-hut hike starts with an ascent of Fellhorn peak (2,038 meters) before hiking on through the limestone subrange south into Tyrol, Austria.

Along the way expect unparalleled great views of the surrounding valleys and glaciated mountain peaks. The hut-to-hut expedition generally involves heading up to the summit of Walser Gaishorn (2,283 meters), one of the most beautiful mountains of the Allgäu; the Haldenwanger Eck (1,931 meters); and visiting the Schwarzmilzferner, the last glacier of the Allgäu.

Regardless of what type of hut-to-hut hiking you are looking for in Austria, you are bound to find it!


In brief:

Duration: 6 days
Best time to go there: June to September
Difficulty level: Intermediate to strenuous

 

Explore all the options for hut-to-hut hiking in Austria and get ready for an amazing mountain experience! 


5. Hut-to-Hut Hiking in the Pyrenees

Away from the Alps, the nearby Pyrenees boasts many of their own incredible hut-to-hut hiking opportunities.

 

Spend a week hiking from one idyllic mountain village to the next in the stunning scenery of the Pyrenees. Photo courtesy of Hugo Cózar.

Stretching along the border between Spain and France, as well as through the entirety of Andorra, the Pyrenees are a lower and more arid range than the Alps, but no less spectacularly scenic.

Among the best ways to see them is the head out on the week-long Senda de Camille trek. Starting from the Refugio Lizara, on the Spanish side of the border, the trek takes hikers through the Valles Occidentales Natural Park, in Huesca, Spain and the Pyrenees National Park in Aspe, France.

The 100-kilometre loop also takes hikers through the Valle de los Sarrios, Collado de Petrechema, Collado de Lenito Bajo and to the summit of Mount Bisaurín. None of the hiking is very strenuous, either, making the loop perfect for more casual trekkers.

Along the way, hikers will spend each night in a different and unique part of the region. Part of the incredible experience is trying some of the delicious local cuisine each evening. The locally-made cheeses on the French side of the border are especially good.


In brief:

Duration: 7 days
Best time to go there: May to October
Difficulty level: Intermediate

 

Join a certified mountain guide on a hut-to-hut trek in the Pyrenees!


From fairly level traverses of magnificent mountain peaks to more intense hiking, Europe has the perfect hut-to-hut hiking opportunity for you.  Photo courtesy of Michael Schott.

Europe abounds with incredible hut-to-hut treks and hiking opportunities. Take some time off on your next summer holiday to lace up your boots and head out to explore one!

 

Want to know more
about Hiking in France?

Share this article on your network:

Other users viewed:

Join our Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on the best adventures!