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The 11 Best Seaside Walks in Europe

From rocky cliffs to pristine beaches, there is much to see when walking along Europe’s diverse coastlines. Get your hiking boots out and set foot on these great walks.

They still exist in Europe, the unspoiled coastlines. Anyone who walks along the European coasts may encounter an intensive sensory experience at every turn: the air tastes of salt, the wind caresses your hair, the waves rustle and if you can take your eyes off the deep blue horizon, then you will roam over rugged cliffs, dune landscapes, dreamy bays, pine forests, lonely beaches, and mountain villages with winding streets. We have found 11 breathtaking coastal walks, from easy to challenging, from day trips to 1242 miles of hiking trails along the Breton coast.

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Cinque Terre

WHERE: Italy

As the name suggests, Cinque Terre comprises five picturesque villages perched on steep cliffs above the Ligurian Sea. Climbing the narrow paths through vineyard terraces, olive groves, pine forests, and the winding streets of the villages, you may need to pause from time to time–on the one hand, because there are up to 2,788 feet in altitude to be mastered in the mountainous hinterland and you really get a breath of fresh air, and on the other hand, because the unspoiled coastal panorama is breathtaking. Vernazza is the prettiest village while a series of viewpoints up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Reggio are also not to be missed.

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Cami de Cavalls

WHERE: Menorca, Spain

Back in the Middle Ages when the Spanish island of Menorca had hardly any people living on it at all, a few landowners explored their large farms on horseback. Watchmen also patrolled up and down the coast to spot hostile ships in good time. A path of 114 miles in length led along the coast–once around the entire island. This Cami de Cavalls (horse trail) still exists today, linking old watchtowers, lighthouses, and trenches. Hikers pass gorges, caves, valleys, fishing spots, and hidden coves on the historic bridle path, where they can swap their hiking boots for a bikini or swimming trunks. Upon completion, fortify yourself with local tapas and freshly pressed orange juice.

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Baltic Sea Coastal Walk

WHERE: Germany

This seemingly endless trail between Stralsund and Usedom Island is a tribute to the unique expanses of Northern Germany. Red sails of Zeesboote (historic fishing vessels), the whistling seagulls in the wind, and the salty scent of the sea are constant companions. Selected country hotels are waiting on the way, but first, you walk along the coast. As soon as you have left the historic old town of Stralsund behind you, you can already see the outlines of brick buildings in the distance. The towering Greifswald Cathedral shows you that the Hanseatic city is not far away. Walk over the Peene Bridge to Usedom, known for its imperial baths and fishing villages. The crowning glory of your hiking trip is the seaside resort of Ahlbeck, which is enchanting with Art Nouveau villas and a white sandy beach.

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Lycian Way

WHERE: Turkey

Turkey’s most beautiful long-distance hiking trail stretches over 300 miles from Fethiye to Antalya and mostly along the coast. In the stage from Hoyran, you’ll experience flat highlands, green valleys, rocky coastlines, and lots of history, starting with the Lycian rocks in Hoyran. Continue to Kapakli, where local women prepare delicious gozleme (thin dumplings usually filled with spinach) for hungry hikers. A paved donkey trail zigzags through the lush countryside, offering uninterrupted views of the coast around Kekova. The final destination is reached in the ancient city of Simena. Here, visitors first marvel at a sarcophagus standing in the water, then at a theater carved into the rock.

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Vrmac Ridge

WHERE: Montenegro

The Bay of Kotor looks like something out of a picture book: Steep mountain flanks rise towards the sky on all sides, and in between lies a winding bay with four large pools. Some travelers are reminded of the lakes of Italy or the fjords of Norway but with little stone harbors where local calamari fishermen get their boats ready to go out. Kotor is famous for its medieval old town. Here the Vrmac Peninsula starts, passing through pine tree forests meandering steadily upwards. Once at the top, visit a ruined fort or simply let your gaze wander over the bay and enjoy the fantastic view.

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The Sheep’s Head Way

WHERE: Ireland

You’re not a professional hiker, but still fancy a longer route? Then head off to Ireland.

On the Sheep’s Head Way, the stages are not as long, and the climbs are not too steep. In a week you can master the circular route even without great previous training. The trail starts in the town of Bantry in County Cork and winds through spectacular rolling countryside along the cliff tops. Hikers will see lighthouses, a 17th-century fortress, ruined stone houses and, of course, sheep. It might be worth your while to take a break in the tranquil village of Kilcrohane: two pubs, a post office, and a shop selling everything from potatoes to paintings.

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Grande Randonnée 34

WHERE: France

The customs officer’s path, also known as Grande Randonnée 34 or GR34, is one of the longest hiking trails in France at around 1,242 miles. And arguably also one of the most beautiful, because it leads along the Breton coast with its own mild microclimate and wild swimming spots. The trail got its name centuries ago because smugglers and customs fraudsters could be caught on the hidden routes. There are countless options when choosing the stages, but one tip is to stop at Doëlan, one of the prettiest harbor towns in southern Brittany. From there the route continues to the wilder Finistère region. The final destination, the fishing village of Merrien, is swathed in forest, colorful bird life, and crystal-clear water.

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Channel Island Way

WHERE: Guernsey

At first glance, the south coast of the Channel Island of Guernsey almost looks like it could be in the Mediterranean Sea, and you can see why Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir found the area inspiring: the coast is a mix of flower-covered cliffs, secluded bays, and pebbly beaches. At the starting point of the route, a verdant valley plunges down to the sea at Petit Bot. Then hikers trek in steady ups and downs along the rugged coast. Toward the end of the route, head north, where Les Hanois lighthouse will soon appear. All around, the landscape is flatter and the sea is less rough.

INSIDER TIPLocals come here to collect ormers, a variety of abalone. With a bit of luck, you’ll find the snail species on one of the menus in the region.


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Fishermen’s Way

WHERE: Portugal

Untouched cliff and dune landscapes, wide beaches, and the turquoise sea which lashes against the rocks: the Fishermen’s Way Trilho dos Pescadores is part of the Rota Vicentina long-distance hiking trail and runs for around 46 miles along the west coast of Portugal. Hikers can usually discover nature undisturbed because the region relies on natural and gentle tourism–also because the path is part of a nature park. However, you are not completely alone: With luck, you can spot otters and watch white storks tending their nests.

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West Knoydart

WHERE: Scotland

A walk between heaven and hell–this is a tour of the Knoydart Peninsula in the truest sense of the word, as it is cut on one side by Loch Nevis (Gaelic: Heaven) and on the north by Loch Hourn (Hell) from the rest of the West Highlands. Knoydart can only be reached by boat. The natural spectacles offered on the peninsula are probably unique in Europe: rough mountain ranges, green valleys, whales and dolphins in the waters in between. One of the safest routes through this wilderness is from Inverie, the island’s main village, to Airor. On the way, follow the signs to Doune, where huge portions of prawns are served in a rustic lodge right by the sea.

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Ponta de São Lourenço

WHERE: Madeira, Portugal

This hike along the eastern peninsula of Madeira shows a different vegetation from the rest of the island as there is a lack of trees and low vegetation due to lack of rain. The Ponta de São Lourenço is a protected natural area and several protected seabirds nest in this place such as the Cory’s shearwater, the Madeiran petrel, the Bulwer’s petrel, and the common tern. Along the way, you’ll see fantastic landscapes such as the deserted islands to the south and the islands of Porto Santo to the north. At the end of the path, past the “Casa do Sardinha”, there are several viewpoints where it is worth taking a break to let the colors and the roaring sea of the cliffs cast a spell on you.