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Sun, sea and sand are all very well – but sometimes, the call of the mountains is just too strong to ignore. Read on for some of our favourite mountain ranges throughout Europe and some serious alpine inspiration.
Deep ravines and mysterious fjords carve the rugged landscape of Norway, and along the coast, you’ll also find a number of towering mountains piercing the sky. Stetind is one of the most famous, known universally in Norway as the national mountain. Its dramatic appearance is due to the angular, anvil shape and near-vertical sides, which also make it oh-so-appealing for climbers. The professor Arne Næss conquered the mountain in the late 1930s, effectively introducing the idea of bolt climbing to Norway.
Idyllic Kirkjufell (translating as Church Mountain) enjoys the status as being the most photographed mountain in Iceland. It may have something to do with its unique position jutting out into the sea, surrounded by wild beaches. This makes it the perfect choice for hikers of all abilities – the more ambitious can attempt the perfectly symmetrical, cone-shaped peak, while those looking for a leisurely walk can try any one of the trails around its base.
Forming a small subsection of the Alps, the Dolomites are found in the northeast of Italy. Carving a jagged trail from River Adige in the west to the Piave Valley in the east, they’re known for their pale rock formations and narrow valleys. The Dolomites comprise 18 peaks in total, their striking makeup resembling almost a gothic cityscape with reaching spires, etched ledges and formidable towers. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that the entire mountain range has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Onto another section of the Alps now: France’s celebrated Mont Blanc, the range’s highest peak. At an eye-watering 4,810m high, Mont Blanc is a firm favourite amongst climbers, mountaineers and skiers. It’s not hard to see why the name translates as “White Mountain” – its peak is perpetually snow-capped, and glaciers cover around 40 square miles of its surface. Once an isolated home to pastoral villages, the building of an improved road and aerial tramways has meant that Mont Blanc – and the surrounding area of Chamonix – has become one of the largest alpine hubs for winter sports.
The Scandinavian Mountains (also affectionately known as “the Scandes”) may not be as high as other ranges mentioned in this list, but what they lack in height, they more than make up for in drama. Stretching across the Scandinavian Peninsula, they’re crafted from rock over 400 million years old. Various shifts in the earth’s makeup have affected the mountains’ appearance over the years, and so the west side is much higher than the east. This has earned the Scandinavian Mountains the nickname of Kjølen, or “keel” – due to their resemblance to the keel of a capsized boat.
Zugspitze is part of the Wetterstein Mountains, and is the highest mountain peak in Germany. And one of the most inimitable, topped as it is by a golden crucifix. What makes Zugspitze so appealing, besides its fairy-tale alpine peaks, is the charm of its surrounding towns. Garmisch-Partenkirchen was the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics, and has since become a worthy holiday destination in its own right. Garmisch is the more modern part of town with its cosy cafes, while Partenkirchen retains a traditional Bavarian feel with nostalgic inns and eateries. Located just an hour from Munich, Garmisch-Partenkirchen also one of Germany’s most accessible ski resorts.
Discover some of Europe’s most impressive mountains for yourself on one of our Mediterranean or Northern Europe cruises.
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