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Sprawling across Western Europe and known throughout the world, the Alps are the stuff of hiking legend. A vast mountain range spread across culture-rich nations, enjoying walks in the Alps is as easy as taking the first step.
Starting in southeastern France, the Alps jut upwards to incredible peaks, running into Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and Slovenia. The way of life you’ll discover on hikes in the Alps changes from country to country but equally, the Alpine valleys each have a culture of their own that transcends the individual nations.
With peaks like the Eiger, Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, the Alps is also home to world-famous mountains and their incredible routes. From long distance treks and alpine starts to blissful valley walks and mountain meadows, hiking anywhere in the Alps is a wonderful adventure.
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You can enjoy hikes in the Alps all year round, with low valleys in winter often remaining snow-free. Exploring the beautiful trails on the slopes is magical when snow is heaped up by the side and waterfalls flow past icicles. With sensible footwear, a careful step and hiking poles, winter walking is stunning.
From late spring onwards, the Alps transform from a winter wonderland to the most spectacular, vibrant countryside imaginable. The true hiking season begins in May once the spring flowers have burst through the melting snow. Check ahead, as not all trails and huts will be open yet.
June and July see all walks in the Alps fully open and high season begins. With glorious sunny days, stunning mountain flowers and plenty of wildlife, summer in this phenomenal mountain range is unbelievably beautiful. Huts and villages get busy in August but the mammoth number of trails makes for peaceful walks.
September and October offer wonderful hiking weather with still-verdant routes and mostly stable weather.
One of the reasons why the best hiking trails in the Alps are so dearly loved is because they offer perfect conditions for hiking on every level. The Alps are well served by villages, towns and mountain huts in the valleys with plenty of huts open at altitude too. This means that you never need to carry a tent or sleeping bag if you don’t want to. Instead, get cosy in a mountain hut with a splendid view.
Similarly, it’s never hard to find a decent meal while trekking in the Alps thanks to the vast amount of historic villages, inns and alpine cafes awaiting hungry hikers. Hiking hut-to-hut is common and it’s wise to book ahead if you’re walking in a popular area or during high season. Inns tend to be more comfortable and akin to B&Bs.
Hiking in the Alps doesn’t take you to nature so much as places you right in the midst of it. This huge mountain range is home to a wide array of amazing animals, from the sure-footed chamois goat to the elusive brown bear.
Keep an eye out for the long horns of ibex and an ear out for the barks of fluffy marmots. Vultures and eagles can be seen in the skies while wagtails and redstarts hop about on rocks and bushes. Late spring and summer bring an abundance of butterflies and bees to alpine meadows, filling the range with life.
Explore more of Italy: Browse the best Hikes in other regions.