Gran Paradiso, Valle d'Aosta 1:50.000. 4 in 1

The Alps, main mountain range of Europe, extending from France to Slovenia, including Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein. Highest summit is Mont Blanc (4.810), on the frontier of France, Switzerland and Italy, home of the popular Tour du Mont Blanc.

The Alps are, contrary to what most people think, not the largest mountain range in Europe. The Carpathians actually are more extensive, but not as high.

Often, hikers from outside Europe ask where to go in the Alps, which trail is best. Obviously, this is something every individual has to decide upon herself. The range of hiking opportunities in the Alps is huge. Beautiful country walks are within reach of snow capped mountains where someone else is sweating on a rope to get over a glacier. There are plenty of long distance trails combining different areas, although most people stick to one area. Some like to stay in a hotel and make day walks. Others fancy a hut-tour.

Let's be clear on another point: the facilities in the Alps are among the best in the world. Some would argue they are over the top. Thousands of huts – and very good ones too – lots of ski lifts, well marked trails.

Okay, we from Traildino do have some advice. First, take into account the local culture of an area. Many Alpine regions have a long and rich history which is there to enjoy. The different countries sharing the Alps are all very different, and the regional differences are equally astonishing. This is really a part of the fun here: enjoying nature, enjoying people and hospitality. Second tip: famous is not best. You will probably think of flying to the Matterhorn or Mont Blanc or something equally famous. Needless to say: these area's are very busy and by no means the most impressive or beautiful. Pretty as they are, also the different national parks draw many visitors and hikers are packed in large huts when aiming at the high peaks. If that's what you want: fine. If you prefer a small hut where a local warden makes you the best dinner you've ever had and where you can have a chat with the other three guests while inhaling the sounds and fumes of the end of the day, than virtually every region in the Alps has its charms.

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