11 Best Hikes in Eastern Europe → Listed by Country

This is your comprehensive guide to hiking in Eastern Europe! I’ve listed all the best hikes in the Balkans by country so you can easily find an adventure near you.

If you’re itching to get into the mountains in this beautiful part of Europe, it can be hard to find all the necessary information online (and in English). For many of these hikes I had to spend hours doing research and talking to locals in order to find out all the details I needed to complete them, so I decided to write this post to save you the hassle.

If you’re visiting in Spring, you’ll also be happy to know that all of these hikes can be done with a little determination as early as April (weather-dependent). I spent 3 spring months hiking in Eastern Europe and ran into all sorts of hurdles surrounding my hiking endeavours.

Early on, it was the rain, then came a lack of information, followed by a frustrating scarcity of transport and finally, late-season winter conditions.

After struggling with the reality of travelling in Eastern Europe, plus attempting to hike major Balkan Mountains in Spring, I learnt a lot, so let’s get into it.

Bags Always Packed is a reader-supported site which means some of the links on this page may be affiliates. I spend a lot of time researching these hotels, tours and products and only recommend those which I would use myself. Booking your trip through my links is a great way for you to support my work for free, as I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. ♡

Quick Summary 

If you don’t have time to read the whole post and just want to find out which is the best hike for you, check out the table below for a quick summary. You’ll find all the other details about each hike in this post including distances, difficulty and where to stay.

📷 Best Views:Paklenica national park
🥾 Best Hike for Beginners:7 Rila Lakes
⛰️ Most Challenging Hike:Theth-Valbone
🥾 Most Popular Hike: Plitvice Lakes
🚗 Rental Car: Discover Cars

Best Hikes in Serbia

1. Tara National Park

Location: Serbia

Difficulty: Moderate

Closest City: Uzice

Located across the border of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Serbia, Tara National Park is much more easily accessible from the Serbian side.

83.5% of the area is forested giving it its nickname “The lungs of Serbia” but there are plenty of viewpoints that peak out from the branches, offering you incredible views of the lakes and rivers that lie at the base of this national park.

Centred around a large gorge containing the river Drina, Tara National Park has an abundance of hiking trails, lakes, peaks and viewpoints. Its low elevation also makes it the perfect place to hike in spring!

Best Tours of Tara National Park

Where to Stay near Tara National Park

Luxury: Idila Zaovinskog Jezera – A luxury holiday home with amazing views, close to the main lake in Tara National Park.

Mid Range: Čarobni Breg – Stylish hotel inside the national park with reasonable rates and a great breakfast.

Budget: Vila Borovi – Cosy 2-bedroom apartment with everything you need for a comfortable stay.

Hostel: Rustic Home Tara – Fun hikers hostel nestled in the forest with plenty of outdoor living space.

Top Hiking Trails in Bulgaria

2. Seven Rila lakes

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 10 km / 6.2 mi

Elevation Gain: 350 m / 1,150 ft

Closest City: Sofia

Located in the Rila mountain range, North-West Bulgaria, The 7 Rila Lakes hike may be one of the most visited outdoor summer attractions in Bulgaria.

What many don’t realise though, is that 7 Rila Lakes are in fact also accessible in Spring! With fewer crowds and a dusting of snow, this is the best time to visit this iconic mountain.

The lakes are located at the top of a mountain, between 2,100 and 2,500 meters in elevation and the trailhead is accessible by chairlift which is open all year round. The best place to stay is Sofia but getting to the start can be challenging if you haven’t rented a car, but there are also many tours available.

Best Tours of 7 Rila Lakes

Where to Stay near Seven Rila Lakes

Luxury: Grand Hotel Millennium – Incredible 5 star hotel with a spa and panoramic city views.

Mid Range: Art ‘Otel – Regal mid range hotel with luxury amenities for an affordable price.

Budget: 5 Vintage – Modern B7B with a good location and plenty of room choices.

Hostel: Hostel Mostel – Quirky hostel where I stayed with an amazing breakfast.

Best Hikes in Croatia

3. Plitvice Lakes

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 22 km / 14.3 mi

Elevation Gain: 460 m / 1,509 ft

Closest Town: Korenica

One of the most famous tourist destinations in Croatia, photos of Plitvice Lakes have been plastered all over Instagram, attracting tourists in herds.

Although I can’t promise you it won’t be crowded, I can give you all the tips and tricks you need to get the most out of this little piece of paradise.

Make sure to stay nearby so you can get to the park early as most tour groups have to drive from Zagreb to get here. I stayed at Falling Lakes Hostel and can highly recommend it.

That’s not to say that tour groups won’t also be arriving when the gates open though. The groups all generally start with the lower lakes as these are the most famous, this means that there is practically no chance that you will get the lower lakes to yourself at any point throughout the day.

So to beat the crowds you should start with the upper lakes instead. This is what I did and had them all to myself for at least an hour!

Best Tours of Plitvice Lakes

Where to Stay near Plitvice Lakes

Luxury: Plitvice Luxury Etno Garden – Beautiful 4-star hotel with a large garden and lots of facilities.

Mid Range: Hotel Palcich Plitvice – Modern hotel with a fitness centre and spa centre for affordable prices.

Budget: House Tina – Large guesthouse with beautiful views and a pool onsite.

Hostel: Falling Lakes Hostel – Super fun hostel with great owners and a shuttle to Plitvice Lakes. This is where I stayed.

4. Plješevica

Difficulty: Hard

Length: 19.2 km / 11.9 mi

Elevation Gain: 1,129 m / 3,704 ft

Closest Town: Korenica

I had never even heard a whisper about this one before I arrived at Falling Lakes Hostel in Korenica, but it has to be one of the most unique hikes in Eastern Europe there is!

The ridgeline of this mountain is located exactly on the border of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. (In fact, you even need to bring your passport just in case).

At the top of this very steep and difficult hike, you will be rewarded with not only epic views and dramatic rocks, but an abandoned military airbase from former Yugoslavia!

I loved exploring the underground tunnels, strange structures and abandoned buildings! It’s an amazingly real step back in time that just adds something incredible to an already awesome hike!

Where to Stay near Plješevica

Luxury: Plitvice Luxury Etno Garden – Beautiful 4-star hotel with a large garden and lots of facilities.

Mid Range: Hotel Palcich Plitvice – Modern hotel with a fitness centre and spa centre for affordable prices.

Budget: House Tina – Large guesthouse with beautiful views and a pool onsite.

Hostel: Falling Lakes Hostel – Super fun hostel with great owners and a shuttle to Plitvice Lakes. This is where I stayed.

5. Paklenica National Park

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 12 km / 7.5 mi

Elevation Gain: 453m / 1,486 ft

Closest City: Zadar

Located under 1 drive from Zadar, in summer this hike seems extremely popular with many different transport options and its dramatic scenery instantly captures you.

However, out of season, we found that it was practically inaccessible without a car out of season. The major benefit to this was that the park was empty in Spring and my hostel hiker friends and I had it all to ourselves!

There are many trails inside the park but I hiked the route from Velika Paklenica to the Paklenica Mountain Lodge. This trail slowly gains elevation as you work your way up the valley surrounded by huge mountains on each side. Along the way, you get epic views, crystal clear rivers and fairly like waterfalls.

With possibly the best-kept trails I have seen in Eastern Europe, this is definitely a hike not to be missed!

Best Tours of Paklenica National Park

Where to Stay near Paklenica National Park

Luxury: Bastion Heritage Hotel – Beautiful 4-star hotel in the historic centre of Zadar. You’ll feel like royalty here.

Mid Range: Piazzetta Marina – Funky rooms and apartments close to both the city centre and beaches.

Budget: Portum – Modern, clean hotel rooms for great prices in a good location.

Hostel: Backpackers Home – A large comfy hostel with plenty of hang-out spaces and a relaxed atmosphere

6. Vosac, Biokovo National Park

Difficulty: Hard

Length: 10.6 km / 6.6 mi

Elevation Gain: 1,198m / 3,939 ft

Closest City: Makarska

If you love cute little Mediterranean coastal towns, then you will love Makarska. If you also love hiking (which you probably do if you’ve made it this far) then you can’t miss Biokovo National Park.

This park covers an extensive region and has a magnitude of trails. Because we were short on time we chose a day hike from the town of Makarska up to Vosac Peak, and the hike did not disappoint.

After climbing up a rocky path for what feels like forever, you will find yourself climbing over the top into a beautiful alpine meadow, before rejoining the ridge for a spectacular view of the beautiful village, as well as all the way out to sea!

While the Biokovo Skywalk didn’t exist when I visited, this hike gives you very similar views but for free!

Where to Stay near Biokovo National Park

Luxury: Aminess Khalani Beach Hotel – Amazing 5-star beach resort with everything you could possibly need onsite.

Mid Range: Heritage Hotel Porin – Elegant luxury hotel located in an old palace with mid-range prices.

Budget: Hotel Rosina – Clean, budget hotel within walking distance of the beach.

Hostel: Hostel Makarska – This is the only hostel in Makarska and is where I stayed. It doesn’t have great reviews but I think that is just because it is run a bit more like a small guest house than a more commercial hostel which isn’t a bad thing!

Hikes with Great Views in Bosnia and Herzegovina

7. Križ, Jablanica

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1.5 km / 0.9 mi

Elevation Gain: 100m / 328 ft

Closest City: Jablanica

Although this is more of a steep walk than a hike, I thought it should be included in case you happen to be in Bosnia and looking to hike in Spring.

Here’s where it pays to learn from my experience… After spending hours trying to research if it was possible to hike the Cvrsnica mountain (or anywhere close to it) in Spring, we came up short.

A local suggested it might be accessible on foot from the small town of Jablanica so determined to try, we headed there. Once we arrived we discovered they were wrong and it’s not possible to get anywhere near Cvrsnica from Jablanica.

Quite deflated, we decided to have a little walk around and found a little trail heading up a hill. We followed it all the way to the top and were surprised with an incredible view of the river, valley and surrounding mountains.

If you happen to be in the area It’s highly recommended but I wouldn’t go out of my way to come here otherwise.

I couldn’t find this trail on All Trails, but we crossed the bridge near the Museum of the Battle for the Wounded at Neretva River and found the path signposted fairly soon. The path is mostly in the forest and even has a few different pieces of exercise equipment scattered along the trail should you want a workout.

Where to Stay near Jablanica

Luxury: Motel Maksumić – While it’s not quite 5 stars, this hotel is the most luxurious you will find in the small town of Jablanica.

Mid Range: Jablanica villa – This beautiful rental house is just outside the town located right on the river with a beautiful pool.

Romania’s Best Hikes

8. Postavarul Peak – Mt Tampa, Brasov

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 10.6 km / 6.6 mi

Elevation Gain: 1,050 m / 3,445 ft

Closest City: Brasov

The moment you arrive in Brasov, it’s hard not to notice the “Hollywood” sign high up on the mountain overlooking the city.

Thankfully for those curious souls like myself, it is possible to hike to the Brasov Sign on Mt Tampa, and in fact, it is a very popular activity.

Most people simply hike one of the three trails that go straight up the mountain to the sign or take the gondola from the base. However, if you’re wanting an adventure, I recommend starting your hike from Postavarul Peak in the neighbouring Poiana Brasov ski resort.

You can easily take a bus and gondola to the trailhead for some epic views over the Carpathian Mountains before winding your way through a beautiful forest back to the top of Mt Tampa, overlooking Brasov.

After a nice sunset, it’s a simple (albeit steep) descent down a designated path and a lot of steps back to town.

Best Tours of Mt Tampa

Where to Stay near Mt Tampa

Luxury: Kronwell Brasov Hotel – Elegant luxury hotel with onsite spa, swimming pool and wellness centre.

Mid Range: Villa Katharina – Extremely regal hotel with classic decor and a palace-like feeling.

Budget: CezAri ApartHotel – Quirky hotel rooms decorated in an art-inspired theme with budget prices.

Hostel: JugendStube Hostel – Cosy, friendly hostel in a good location with even better prices.

9. Piatra Mare

Difficulty: Hard

Length: 6 km / 3.7 mi

Elevation Gain: 946 m / 3,104 ft

Closest City: Brasov

I’m a little bit weary of calling this one a spring hike. If you get desperate and you’re pretty adventurous, feel free to give this a try but heed my warning when I say, that if it’s not good weather, then don’t go!

After quite a bit of continuous rain, we tried to take advantage of the one day of “partial clouds” to get in a hike.

Piatra Mare is supposed to consist of a series of ladders and walkways through a little canyon however, after the initial hour hike in, we discovered that the entrance to the walkways was locked.

We chose not to waste our opportunity so we began heading up and around the canyon section of the walk on an alternative path. It got steep and slippery real quick. Pretty soon we were climbing up rocks and being unable to locate the official path.

Then the snow started, and as we gained elevation, both the snow got deeper and the fog got denser. Eventually, we made it to the top of the ridge and a refuge appeared. After heading inside to warm up, we decided that it was not a good idea to continue on to the peak. The visibility was so poor that we could barely see 3 metres in front of us.

However, on a clear day, this hike has some insane views and really fun hiking through the ladders section. Note that the ladders are very popular so there are often traffic jams here so be patient or take the alternative path like I did.

Best Tours of Piatra Mare

Where to Stay near Piatra Mare

Luxury: Kronwell Brasov Hotel – Elegant luxury hotel with onsite spa, swimming pool and wellness centre.

Mid Range: Villa Katharina – Extremely regal hotel with classic decor and a palace-like feeling.

Budget: CezAri ApartHotel – Quirky hotel rooms decorated in an art-inspired theme with budget prices.

Hostel: JugendStube Hostel – Cosy, friendly hostel in a good location with even better prices.

10. Turda Gorge (Cheile Turzii)

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

Length: 6.45 km / 4 mi

Elevation Gain: 432 m / 1,415 ft

Closest City: Cluj

This short gorge is a great option to get out of your car on a road trip! Parking is available at either end of Turda Gorge and the well-maintained path along the valley floor is relatively flat.

If you’re a climber, this is the spot to crag! We were extremely sad that we didn’t think to bring our gear but still thoroughly enjoyed the imposing nature of the jagged cliffs on foot.

If you are making it a round trip, try walking through the base of the gorge, then take one of the steep tracks towards the end, allowing you to return along the ridge line on either side and gain even more spectacular views!

Best Tours of Turda Gorge

Where to Stay near Turda Gorge

Luxury: Hotel Platinia – Funky, modern, 5-star luxury hotel with everything you could dream of for your stay.

Mid Range: Aparthotel NOX – Large bright suites in a modern building for affordable prices.

Budget: Brickyard Apartments – Clean, fully furnished apartments for great prices in Cluj.

Hostel: Retro Youth Hostel – This is the only hostel in Cluj Napoca but it’s fun and social, just a short walk from the historical centre.

Best Hiking Trails in Albania

11. Theth-Valbone (Peaks of the Balkans Segment)

Difficulty: Hard

Length: 16 km / 10 mi

Elevation Gain: 961 m / 3,153 ft

Closest City: Shkoder

The Peaks of the Balkans is possibly the most famous multi-day hike in Eastern Europe. Although spring permits are not often given out for the whole 10-day trek, you are allowed to hike sections of the famous trek any time of the year.

It’s definitely not recommended for winter but spring is fair game! If you lack snow hiking experience, local guides are recommended but if you have a little experience and a lot of confidence, go for it unassisted!

Getting here is half the adventure. Make sure not to miss the ferry ride across Lake Komani en route from Shkoder. From there you will get to stay in a cute local guest house and eat traditional home-cooked meals before tackling this incredible mountain pass.

Expect varied landscapes, super blue rivers, dramatic mountain peaks and friendly locals on this amazing adventure.

Best Tours of Valbone – Theth Hike

Where to Stay in Valbone

Luxury: Breezy Hotel – The most modern hotel in the area with bright, clean rooms and a-la-cart breakfast.

Mid Range: Bujtina Malaj – Large wooden guesthouse that will give you adult camp vibes without the discomfort of actually camping.

Budget: Guesthouse Arben Selimaj – Comfortable local guest house with the most welcoming hosts ever and home-cooked meals (this is where I stayed).

Hostel: Hostel Rilindja – Great place to meet other hikers with dorm rooms and super cheap prices.


The Best Time to Hike in Eastern Europe

Summer (June – August)

Summer is the best time to hike in Eastern Europe as the snow will have completely melted in the mountains, the weather is warm and sunny, plus there are the most options for accessing the hiking trails on tours or transfers.

That being said, this is also the peak period for tourism so the more popular trails will be full of people. However, unlike central Europe, Eastern Europe is still a bit of an off-the-beaten-path destination so aside from a handful of famous hikes, most of the hikes in the Balkans shouldn’t be too overwhelmed with people.

Fall/Autumn (September – November)

If you don’t want to worry about coming across snow on the hiking trails but also want to avoid the heat and busyness of peak summer, visiting Eastern Europe in the fall is a great alternative.

Early fall is your best option for the best conditions as the closer you get to winter, the more unpredictable the weather becomes.

Winter (December – March)

I wouldn’t recommend hiking in Eastern Europe in winter as their mountains are not as developed as the ones you may find in Western Europe.

Unlike in more popular destinations like the Alps, you will rarely find another person on the hiking trails in winter meaning they will not be packed down. This makes them nearly impossible to follow and quite dangerous to try.

The rescue services are also not as abundant as they are in other parts of Europe so if you get stuck, there is a lower chance of being helped.

Spring (April – May)

Hiking the Balkans in Spring definitely has its ups and downs (excuse the pun). On the one hand, there’s no one around, on the other, a lot of the big mountains are inaccessible and the weather is unpredictable.

I seem to have a curse with my love of the mountains. I headed straight for the hills when I arrived in the Balkans, but it turns out… April isn’t typically such a great time for hiking in Eastern Europe.

It seemed that any time we stepped out the door it poured with rain. While that wasn’t strictly true, there was a lot of waiting around for the right weather window in spring. However, it was well worth the wait when we did get pockets of sunshine as I always think that the mountains look better when covered in snow!

What to Pack for Hiking in Eastern Europe

Packing for hiking in Eastern Europe isn’t too different from packing for a hike anywhere else in the world.

The only exception that I would say is extra important here is a good GPS map as the trails are not all as well marked as we may hope. I use AllTrails for all my adventures as you can download the offline map for your hike to ensure you always know where you are.

FAQs about the Best Hikes in Eastern Europe

Is it safe to hike in Eastern Europe

Yes, it is absolutely safe to hike in Eastern Europe. The same as with anywhere else in the world you are hiking, you should do your research and be prepared. The only danger that is unique to this region is that certain parts of the Balkans may have unexploded mines. However, these areas are well marked and not on any of the popular hies.

Are Eastern Europe hikes suitable for beginners?

There are many hikes in Eastern Europe that are suitable for beginners such as Plitvice Lakes, Tudra Gorge, and Paklenica National Park.

What are the best places to hike in Europe in April?

Eastern Europe is one of the best places to hike in Europe in April as their climate is a little milder, meaning the snow melts earlier in the year when compared to Western Europe. All of the hikes in the post can be hiked in April.

Which are the best mountains in Eastern Europe?

The best mountains on which you can hike in Eastern Europe include the Tatra Mountains, the Carpathian Mountains and the Rila Mountains.


So there you have it. I’ve gone through the 11 best hikes in Eastern Europe and given you everything you need to know to start planning your trips.

Remember that this area is not super touristic yet, which means there are limited spots on tours for each of these hikes. You need to book in advance if you want to secure your place to enjoy these majestic mountains.

If you have any other questions or just want to share your experience, leave a comment below and I will reply as soon as possible.

Happy hiking,

Kate


Save this post for later or share it with your friends!

Helpful Resources

Booking.com - My favorite place to find the perfect hotel for any budget and location with lots of filters to easily narrow it down to a select few.
Hotels.com - Another great place to find a hotel with specific requirements for your trip.
Agoda - Best for booking hotels in Asia. Has options worldwide however in Asia it seems to have the most options of all the booking sites.
Hostelworld - Perfect for backpackers, Hostelworld is my go-to to find dorm rooms and cheap, social accommodation options.
Rental Cars - My preferred place to find rental cars at great prices around the world.
Discover Car Hire - Another option to compare rental car companies and providers worldwide.
Sixt - Previously “Thrifty” car rentals.
Europcar - Offers car and van hire around the world.
AutoEurope - Best place to find RV’s to rent for your trip.
Paul Camper - Rent campervans directly from their owners at reduced prices.
Get Your Guide - My preference for finding and comparing city tours, day trips and attractions around the world.
Viator - Preferred by US providers so sometimes has a bigger range of activities in select locations.
Klook - Most popular in Asia, you will find a bigger range of attractions and tours in the region of Asia on Klook.
Civitatis - Specializing in European Cities. Although it provides tours worldwide, always check here for additional options if visiting Europe.
HeadOut - Best place to find discounted attraction tickets.
Tiqets - Offers a lot of combo tickets. Make sure to visit if you are planning on visiting a few iconic attractions within a city.
Tripaneer - Where to go if you want to book retreats of any kind (yoga, cycling, outdoors etc).
Guru Walks - Book your spot on a free walking tour.
G Adventure - Lets you compare multi day tours around the world to pick the right itinerary for you.
Cruise Critic - Check out the different cruise options for long or short trips world wide.
Cruise Direct - Another option for comparing and booking cruises for your trip.
Backcountry - The best place to buy quality specialized gear that will last you for years of adventures.
Helly Hanson - Norwegian based clothing brand which produces durable outdoor clothing, particularly ski gear.
The North Face - High quality clothing for all your outdoor adventure needs.
Decathlon - Has a great range of cheap equipment and clothing for a huge range of sports and outdoor activities.
Sport Chek - Everything you need for general sports and outdoor adventures under one roof (or website).
Skyscanner - My preferred place to compare and find the cheapest flights to different destinations around the world.
Kiwi - Best platform for comparing different routes and dates.
Flixbus - Cheapest bus service mostly serving Europe but available in a few other destinations.
Greyhound - US long distance bus transport service.
Busbud - Compare and find all the bus times and providers for your chosen route.
Trainline - Find train times and tickets for long distance travel around the world.
Save a train - Another place to get train tickets and compare services for your destination.
Welcome Pickups - Pre book your airport transfer to your hotel.
Get Transfer - Another option to find airport transfers within your destination city.
Kiwi Taxi - Find and pre-book a taxi service in your location (including airport transfers).
World Nomads - Great comprehensive worldwide travel insurance for adventure travel.
SafetyWing - Best for digital nomads, offers ongoing monthly travel insurance plans.
Bonzah - Rental car insurance. Cheaper plans than those offered by the rental car companies themselves.

Kate is the outdoor loving, mountain obsessed creator behind Bags-Always-Packed.com. Since the age of 18 she has travelled to 50+ countries in search of the tallest peaks, new cultures, and the most off the track experiences possible. With over 10 years of adventures under her belt, Kate is dedicated to sharing all her experience through this website, helping you to plan your own trips and experience the world, no matter your budget!

3 Comments

  • Melanie

    Hey Kate, GREAT info!! I’ve not seen this amount of detail anywhere else on Eastern European hikes.

    As someone over 50 who has done some hikes at lower elevations (like the lower Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain), what kind of hikers/boots did you where specifically for these hikes? I’m planning on doing some of these hikes this summer or fall 2024 (hopefully the moderate level), but have a weak ankle and prefer trail/low hikers for breathability but ankle support for higher elevations or trickier footing on narrow paths.

    • Kate Fletcher

      Hi Melanie,
      Thanks for the feedback, I love hearing that I have helped other travelers! 🙂 It sounds like the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer boots would be perfect for you. I used them for years and loved them for moderate hikes in the heat. The mid high supports the ankles nicely but they’re also super comfortable, lightweight and quite breathable for a boot.
      Hope that helps!

  • Birgit Costen

    I blog quite often and I genuinely appreciate your information. This great article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *