Best Late Spring Hikes In Central (Or Eastern?) Europe
As the weather warms up, days get longer, snow melts and late spring comes, we can hike higher and higher. And we do hike a lot, enjoy the wildflowers that start to bloom at higher elevations and the waterfalls that are roaring. The second piece of our seasonal hiking guide to Central Europe is about the best hikes to do in late spring.
Not that we can tell all about them. We explore new trails each year. But we share our favorite places to go hiking in late spring in Austria, Czechia, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Hungary – well, in Central Europe where we live.
What’s late spring like in Central Europe in general?
Firstly, late spring is from mid-April to the end of May. While weather in the mountains is very unpredictable and can be harsh any time of the year, late spring is often quite pleasant. Trees bloom and seasonal forests start to grow leaves in April, and they become lush green by the end of May. You can even see blossoming cherry and magnolia trees while walking in the cities.
Where to go hiking?
Trees in the seasonal forests blossom, their yellow, white, red, purple or pink flowers make these forests look magical. High mountain trails are often still closed, but mountains up to about 1500 meters are great to go hiking this time of the year when they’re full of blooming wildflowers. Exploring gorge trails is also great, especially if they have some waterfalls, too – which they usually do -, because melting snow feeds their water and makes them look gorgeous in late spring.
Now let’s see some of our favorite places to hike.
Little Fatra National Park, Slovakia
With its highest peak, Veľký Kriváň, being 1709 meters, and lots of others ranging between 1300-1600 meters, Little Fatra awakens from its winter dream in late spring. It’s a barely known and very pretty hiking destination!
Its waterfalls, dramatic peaks and gorges, fabulous ridge trails and romantic Vrátna Valley make it one of our favorite hiking getaways in Central Europe. Hiking Jánošíkové Gorges (or Jánošíkové Diery in Slovak) with lots of small waterfalls is truly spectacular in late spring. You can also hike to Šútovo Waterfall (Šútovský vodopád in Slovak), the highest one in Little Fatra with a vertical drop of 38 meters.
Read our detailed hiking guide about Little Fatra here!
Great Fatra National Park, Slovakia
The big brother of Little Fatra is actually lower. But Great Fatra is Slovakia’s largest, most untouched wilderness, about 90% percent of it is covered by continuous forests. Its trails are of medium difficulty, but quite long. The best thing about them? They run on the saddles and ridges of Great Fatra, so they offer incredible views all the way.
The highest peak of Great Fatra is Ostredok at 1592 metres, but it has countless more peaks at 1300-1500 meters. We really enjoyed the loop that took us to Ostredok, then nearby Krížna peak, it’s a beautiful full day hike.
Read our detailed hiking guide about Great Fatra here!
Slovak Paradise National Park, Slovakia
Here’s a real paradise for you to explore: this national park is the land of charming glen hikes, wild creeks, ravines and waterfalls. Ladders, iron stairs and chains help us on most trails. Dry White Gorge is one of the shortest and easiest glens to access, and it rewards with four lovely waterfalls. However, our favorite trails are the more challenging route in Hornád River Canyon and Veľký Sokol, the longest glen.
Read our detailed hiking guide about Slovak Paradise National Park here!
Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park, Romania
Here’s another waterfall wonderland from the southwestern part of Romania. Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park is home to unique karst phenomena, caves, tunnels and waterfalls. It’s one of those few destinations in Europe that’s truly off the beaten track. The most challenging part was actually getting to the more remote areas of the park, because some of the minor roads are in a terrible condition. But we survived it with our small Suzuki, so I guess anyone else would, too. 😉
Bigăr Falls is the most well-known treasure of the park, and it’s right by the road – a well maintained road. The two unique karst lakes, Ochiul Beiului and Lacul Dracului are harder to access, they require a more challenging drive and some hiking. However small it is, Ochiul Beiului with its milky turquoise color is one of the most special lakes we’ve ever seen! We liked the pleasant forest trails leading to several other waterfalls, too: Beuşniţa, Văioaga or Şuşara Falls.
Read our detailed hiking guide about Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park here!
Crocus blooming in Apuseni Mountains, Romania
Apuseni Mountains are part of the Romanian Carpathians. They offer those wild, undeveloped landscapes that are rare to find in Europe. Though the highest peaks at 1700-1800 metres are better to conquer in the summer, crocus blooming in the lower regions happen at the end of April – and it’s spectacular! We hiked on Padiș Plateau last April and experienced the most beautiful wildflower blooming in our lives. Hunting for waterfalls is also fun in late spring.
Read about our favorite hikes in the Apuseni Mountains here!
Bärenschütz Gorge and other pretty gorges in the Alps, Austria
Picturesque gorge trails in the Austrian Alps are also great to explore in late spring. One of our favorites is Bärenschütz Gorge (Bärenschützklamm in German) with about twenty waterfalls and impressive rock walls rising up to 300 metres. Like most of the glen trails, it has an entrance fee to access. Don’t forget to check opening times, too, most of the glens are open from May to October only.
Read our hiking guide to Bärenschütz Gorge here!
Gosau Valley, Salzkammergut, Austria
Lower regions of the Austrian Alps are suitable for hiking, too. We liked hiking in Gosau Valley where meadows are covered with millions of wildflowers in May, and the Trail of Gosau Lakes rewards with amazing views. Even some peaks around 1500-2000 meters can be conquered depending on weather conditions. Like 1953 meters high Plassen peak not far from Hallstatt.
Read our hiking guide to Gosau Valley here!
Šumava National Park, Czechia
Šumava National Park with its deep, primaeval forests, peat bogs and clear alpine lakes gave us a sense of remoteness, tranquility and majesty. With its highest peak, Plechý Hill, rising to 1378 metres, Šumava is ideal for late spring hikes. We liked the easy trails to Black and Devil’s Lakes, Prášilské Lake and Plesné Lake. The route in the valley of River Vydra is also nice, with rapids and small waterfalls.
Read our hiking guide about Šumava National Park here!
Mountains in Hungary
Hungary’s mountains are all below 1000 metres. Okay, there’s one peak, Kékes, with 1014 metres. They’re covered with seasonal forests that blossom in the beginning of May and turn lush green by the end of it. Pilis and Börzsöny Mountains in Danube-Ipoly National Park are very close to Budapest. You can conquer Kékes, the highest peak of Hungary in the Mátra Mountains. But you can hike in Bükk Mountains near Eger or Mecsek Mountains near Pécs. The forest trails are shaded and pleasant even if the weather gets hot.
More seasonal hikes in Central Europe
You can find more hiking ideas for early spring in our previous post, and we’re working on the next piece for summer!
Anything we missed? Where do you go hiking in late spring?