Autumn Hikes from 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

Hiking around Edinburgh, Arthur's Seat
Edinburgh Old Town and the peak of Arthur’s Seat, 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.

Travel around the UK with a BritRail Pass. The fastest route from Glasgow to Edinburgh is about 50 mins on the fastest route, and from London, it’s 4h 18m.

Fontainebleau Forest, Paris, France

Hiking in Fontainebleau Forest, Paris, France in autumn
Fontainebleau Forest, France

The second largest national forest in France, Fontainebleau Forest is 40 mins by train from Paris, reachable using your Paris Pass.

There are more than 1000 km2 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.

Use your France Pass to get around France and Paris Pass to visit Fontainebleau, as well as other attractions in the capital.

Mount Rigi, Lucerne, Switzerland

Alps panorama from Mount Rigi, hiking in Switzerland
Alps panorama from Mount Rigi, 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 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. Travel to Mount Rigi by ferry from Lucerne to Vitznau (55 mins), followed by a cogwheel train ride to Rigi Kaltbad (20 mins). The hike to Rigi Klösterli and back is a flat easy trail along a former railway line, and takes approximately 40 mins.

Explore Switzerland with a Swiss Travel Pass, which gives holders unlimited access to public trains, buses and boats; up to 50% off mountain railways and cable cars; and free entry to more than 500 museums. 

Baden-Baden, Black Forest, Germany

Hiking during autumn in Germany, Baden-Baden and Black Forest
Baden-Baden view from the 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.

With your German Rail Pass, you can get to Baden-Baden in 1h 30m from Frankfurt or Stuttgart. Other gateway towns to the Black Forest include Freiburg, Karlsruhe, and Offenburg.  

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Autumn Hikes from European Cities with Rail Europe
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