The Mediterranean is a collective of countries spanning across the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe and has everything to offer in terms of scenery.
It varies so much in topography and can include ever-changing landscapes of rugged coastline, semi-arid steppes, coastal wetlands and enchanting mountain-scapes.
There is no better way to explore all that the Mediterranean has to offer than on foot and if you are a nature lover and a hiker, you will be very happy with this as a hiking destination- no matter which part of the Mediterranean you decide to visit.
A lot of countries offer walking tours and are especially popular in the spring and summer months in Europe specifically. The benefit to going in these months is that the weather is fair and warm, but not stiflingly hot.
Another benefit of going at that time of year, is that the landscape is dotted with vibrantly colored wildflowers, and it is also a great time of year to take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea.
No matter what level you are in terms of hiking expertise, be it gentle coastal paths that you are after or more intense rugged terrain, the Mediterranean has it all.
Hiking is a great form of exercise while allowing you to experience places off the beaten track and breathtaking landscapes.
Because of these above factors, choosing a hike or two to do next time you are in the Mediterranean can be challenging. This is why we have put together this guide, which is a list of the best hikes in the Mediterranean, in no particular order of preference or difficulty level.
Before embarking on your hiking journeys, always make sure to pack in the appropriate hiking equipment-paying special attention to having enough water and sun protection as these temperate climates can get quite hot, especially if you are not used to doing hikes in this kind of climate.
Corsica’s GR20 Trail, France
Corsica is an island off the coast of France and has a rich history with its landscape dotted with medieval constructions and buildings, old ports and one of the most breathtaking coastlines in all of the Mediterranean. Corsica is also home to one of the toughest long-distance hikes in all of Europe-the GR20. This hiking trail spans over 180 kilometers (that’s just shy of 112 miles) which is almost the entire length of the whole island.
The GR20 trail also has a colossal elevation of 12,000 meters- a whopping 39,370 feet. The routes along this trail are tough and consist of steep descents and jagged and rocky pathways, which are only really suitable for very experienced and fit hikers.
The entire trail takes around two weeks to complete and is usually only completed by really expert hikers. However, if you are more of a novice to the hiking world, the trail is divided into two sections-the South is flatter and so slightly easier to tackle and the North section of the trail is the tougher part that is more suitable for the experienced hikers.
It is also famous for its hut-to-hut experience along the trail, where hikers can overnight at any of the huts along the trail as part of a stopover or as a handy way to effectively plan your route.
The center point of this trail is the picturesque village of Vizzanova which is accessible by train and from this point, hikers can explore other, smaller villages with ease. There are tons of shorter walking trails that cut through the island from the East to the West side, such as the mare to mare trail, which when directly translated means from sea to sea.
Cinque Terre Trails, Italy
The Cinque Terre hiking route, in the Northern part of Italy, has paths that connect five fishing villages that combine to make up the Cinque Terre which means “five lands.” The trail has two directions in which you can follow it. The first is from Monterosso al Mare, and the second direction starts you off from the village of Riomaggiore.
The second direction accesses all the easy, paved parts of the trail before it gets more rugged and increasingly more challenging up the way to Monterosso. Between the villages of Vernazza and Monterosso, you will be greeted with views over the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea and finish off with a stunning viewpoint. The reverse obviously starts you off on strenuous paths across narrow passages and rough stone steps.
No matter the direction you take, you will have the scenic views of dramatic coastlines against steep terraced cliffs. This route takes place in the Cinque Terre National Park, which is there to protect the wilderness of the coastline.
The hike in totality takes about six hours to complete, which you can complete in a day if you are an experienced hiker. However, if you want to take it easy, it is possible to stopover at any of the villages along the route overnight and resume hiking the next day to soak up the surroundings and the culture all at once.
Another hiking experience to immerse yourself in the beauty Italy has to offer is to walk through the stunning Madonie mountains of Sicily, an island off the southern coast of Italy. These mountain ranges offer a wealth of flora and fauna to behold and boasts hundreds of different plant and bird species.
Through these trails you will come across sleepy, forgotten small towns and be accompanied by views of the impressive Mount Etna. This is a top spot for holidaying and hiking and is especially beautiful in the months of April and May, which is also the wildflower season. However, it is just as beautiful in the fall months.
Samaria Gorge, Greece
On Crete, the largest and most populous Greek islands, lies the Wooden Path through the Samaria Gorge. This top attraction is popular amongst hikers the world over and is end to end about 10 miles long with an elevation of 4035 feet which tapers off down to the shoreline of the Libyan Sea. The trail is packed with historical landmarks like the Byzantine ruins, which are paired with cliffside vistas as you descend down the slippery terrain.
The initial part of the hike is very steep and tricky, but once this 2-mile stretch is done, the trail flattens out completely at the bottom of the valley. There, you will find a dry riverbed to cross and make for a smooth walk after that. As you continue working, you will find a stream which is a great place for a rest and a drink.
The trail then goes through the ruins of villages from another time, as well as makeshift wooden bridges. The trail then guides you to the end of the route marked by the famous “the Gate ” which is a very narrow passageway between towering rocks. After you pass through “the Gate ” there is another mile or so of trail that gets you to the edge of the national park.
Once you have reached the outside of the park, you can continue with the path to visit the ancient city Tara, ruins, where the tiny town of Agia Roumeli is now located. The path then eventually takes you to the Libyan Sea, where you can soak up the sun and enjoy the warm sea.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
With it housing an abundance of wildlife, sparkling blue lakes and a lush forest, it is no wonder that the Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist attractions and one of the best hikes in the Mediterranean. For this reason, it is best to conduct any hiking activities in the fall or winter months, as the park is completely overcrowded in the warmer months. This is not really a loss, however, as the winter and fall bring a unique beauty to the trails in the park-think red and orange leaves paired with frozen-over lakes.
The hiking trails are well-marked and range from easy and short hikes of 2 miles to more challenging, winding trails of 11 miles that zigzag through waterfalls and over bridges. The shortest trail, Trail A, only takes two hours to complete and takes you past the four lower lakes as well as a number of waterfalls and the Kozjaka Bridge.
This means that even beginners can experience the beauty of the park without much effort or training.
Other than this route, Croatia boasts many hill-top towns and rolling vineyards which are interspersed between the rugged mountain ranges and bright blue seas which you can walk alongside. On the western side of Croatia, you will be amidst the Istrian Peninsula, which you can trek across on foot following country paths.
On this walk, you will start on the rolling hillside above the Adriatic Sea in the west. The trail passes through historic hill-top towns and medieval villages. The mountain ranges have steep drops through valleys and forests.
The trail follows the awesome coastline to the eastern seaboard, filled with lagoons and tranquil beaches. This hike takes a full week to complete, and you are able to make stops
Another noteworthy route is the Dalmatia Islands Walk, which takes you past the Adriatic Sea whilst you are in the Dalmatia archipelago.
El Camino del Rey, Spain
Spain’s rugged beauty is not one to be missed and there are many routes and trails that you could do, but El Camino del Rey had to be mentioned. This is because it has been described as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world and is definitely something suitable only for the very experienced or expert hiker.
The trail is famous for its 2-mile stretch that leads hikers through a steep and narrow walled gorge which is about 330 feet up in the air.
This section was closed for a while but reopened in 2015 after extensive renovations to make the route safer for all those who use it. It also now features glass floors in certain sections so that you can see what lies below… if you are brave enough to look!
The trail is nearly five miles and takes you through a variety of scenes including forested pathways and is a beautiful trail- whether you are there for the dopamine or the views after the steep ascend.
Other walks in Spain that are of note, are the ones along the Almeria Coastal Way, which combines coastal trails in the picturesque Cab ode Gata Natural Park.
Then along the GR7 in the Andalusian province of Spain, you can discover rural Andalusia in the veil of the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges which offers trails of varying degrees of difficulty. Lastly, if you are in the area, check out the hikes along the beautiful Catalan coast… you will not regret these.
Tramuntana Mountain Range, Mallorca
Sticking around Spain, the island of Mallorca boasts the Tramuntana Sierra Mountain Range that provides a dramatic background for hiking through. Amongst the mountain range are several idyllic villages and home to most of the island’s walking routes.
These routes consist of cobbled pilgrims’ paths which lead up the mountains and descend into breathtaking gorges which wind down through ancient olive trees to reach rocky coves perfect for swimming in the hot spring and summer months.
Some of these routes will take you through old villages such as Valldemossa which houses a monastery where the great composer, Chopin, once lived. It is definitely worth the visit and there are various hiking routes to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty.
Garden Of The Atlantic, Madeira Island
Off the north-west coast of Africa is Madeira, a subtropical island near Portugal. Madeira is well-known for its levadas or waterways which are carved into the slopes of the mountains in the region.
This area has an abundance of vibrant and colorful fauna species, including an array of wildflowers. Flowers such as the Nile lily have purposefully been planted along the waterways, making the view along these walks more enjoyable.
There are numerous walks that take hikers along the narrow waterways. These levadas cover over 1,200 miles, which links the wet north part of the island to the dry south (the side closer to north-west Africa. This path is quite shaded and can take up to a week to complete, depending on the pace of your hiking or walking. Navigation along the route is easy with the watercourse on one side and a drop on the other, you will need to not be afraid of heights to enjoy the spectacular views on offer.
Along the eastern side of the island is an ancient laurel forest that is paired with a high valley and majestic sea cliffs. Interspersed in the valley are quaint houses. It is definitely a place worth visiting.
The Enchanting Cyclades, Greece
Going back to Greece, the Cyclades are a group of islands south-east off the coast of Athens which are set in a circle around Delos. Delos is a sacred island which has an abundance of ancient ruins, temples and statues which you can walk amongst.
The island of Delos is uninhabited and so visiting here is very quiet and peaceful. The Cyclades are actually peaks of long submerged mountain ranges which include Santorini and Milos, as well as two extinct volcanoes.
Walking around these islands, you will really get a sense of connection to the ancient Grecian times as you bask in the abundance of temples and amphitheaters, all of which overlook ruins of a time long gone by.
The landscape is dotted with olive trees and while journeying through the ancient goat trails and rural coastal paths against the crystal clear blue sea you can find beaches and coves that aren’t on the map.
The best time to visit is in the month of May, where the warm evening air carries the aromas of wild thyme, honeysuckle and orange blossom. Visiting these islands is something you are not soon to forget, and they offer many trails along the way which are relatively easy, albeit rugged and rural to the inexperienced eye. However, sometimes the path less travelled reaps the most rewards.
Best Hikes in the Mediterranean – Honorable Mentions
There are many different walks throughout the Mediterranean that we just simply could not cover in this short guide. Here are some other noteworthy hikes or walks that you can enjoy:
The first is the Corfu Trail, which is a trail that takes about two days, which takes you through the rural countryside and coastline of this beautiful part of the Mediterranean. The next is making your way through the Lycian Way of Turkey all the way to Cape Gelidonia or to explore the regions of Myra and Aperlai- all these areas boast great hiking routes.
Where ever you decide to head in the Mediterranean, be rest assured that you will find a hike that is suited for you, and hopefully this guide has helped you in making an informed decision on where to head for your next trek. Happy hiking!