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Autumn hikes from European cities

Autumn hikes from European cities

With the seasonal change, make the most of beautiful breathing spaces on the doorsteps of many European cities.

Autumn is a great time of year to enjoy the great outdoors. Not only is the weather milder, the scenery is also more colourful with the seasonal leaf changes. So if you enjoy hiking and the convenience of starting your trek in or near a popular European city centre, check out these four stunning day trails in or near Edinburgh, Paris, Lucerne and Baden-Baden.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland’s wild, open landscapes and Highlands are world renowned and you don’t have to venture too far from its cities to embark on some magnificent hikes. In Scotland’s capital itself, Edinburgh, take an adventurous hike up to Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano at 251m right at the end of the Royal Mile. Located in Holyrood Park, clamber over Salisbury Crags en route for one of Europe’s most exciting, and possibly most windswept, city hikes. Read more on other outdoorsy day trips from Edinburgh

Fontainebleau Forest, Paris, France

The second largest national forest in France, Fontainebleau Forest is 40 mins by train from Paris and one of many stunning day trips from the capital.

There are more than 1000km2 of hiking trails, one of the most popular being the Massif des Trois Pignons circuit on the Forest’s edge. This walk takes three to four hours, with a dramatic mix of terrain of boulders interspersed with sandy stretches. Fontainebleau is, in fact, France’s bouldering capital, so pack your climbing shoes and crashmat or sign up for a guided trail.

Mount Rigi, Lucerne, Switzerland 

Switzerland is a hiker’s paradise, where the foothills of the Alps are still open to hikers in early autumn. An added bonus is that many walking trails are within easy reach of its cities and towns

Lucerne is one such Swiss town, a gateway to the massif known as Mount Rigi. Trails abound on Mount Rigi, one of the most spectacular being from Rigi Kaltbad to Rigi Klösterli, with superb views over Lake Lucerne as you hike. Although it’s 1 hr 15 mins journey from Lucerne, the journey is worth it, taking the ferry from Lucerne to Vitznau, followed by a cogwheel train ride to Rigi Kaltbad. The hike to Rigi Klösterli and back is a flat easy trail along a former railway line, and takes approximately 40 mins each way. Read about other great scenic Alpine train journeys in Switzerland.

Black Forest, Germany

Germany’s Black Forest is a mountainous region bordering France and Switzerland and one of the country’s finest national parks.

There are several gateway towns to the Black Forest, one of the most popular being the historic spa town of Baden-Baden in the north-west of the Forest. Hikes vary in difficulty from the challenging 45km Panoramaweg, which can be spread over a few days, to shorter circular trails such as the Wildgehege around a wildlife reserve. The other main station to access the Black Forest is Freiburg.


South Downs National Park, UK

The closest national park to London is the South Downs National Park and, if you haven’t been here before, you will be amazed by the 140km of open, natural space that stretches from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne on the south coast. This is a landscape of smooth, rolling hills dotted with ancient woodland, rivers and extraordinary cliffs. Other train stations where you can start your journey include Winchester and Lewes with more regional starting points at Amberley in the Arun Valley, Southease in the Ouse Valley or Liss in Hampshire. Read more about hiking trails in the UK

You may also enjoy our blog on Hiking routes in France, Exploring the Rhine Valley by train  and European National Parks by train.

Photo credits top to bottom: Fontainebleau Forest iStock ©Razvan, Landscape of Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi in the fog,  iStock ©sjhaytov, Baden Baden iStock ©RomanBabakin, Downs National Park iStock ©Matt_Gibson

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