The 10 Highest Mountains in Europe

December 23, 2023

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Peak of Mount Elbrus rising above the clouds

Europe may be the second-smallest continent in the world after Oceania, but its landscape is still rich and diverse enough to rival the continents of Asia, North America and South America. 

From Iceland in the west to Russia’s Ural mountains in the east, the Svalbard archipelago of Norway in the north to Greece and Malta in the south, Europe consists of multiple navigable rivers and lakes, woodlands and marshlands, and high, rugged cliffs, active volcanoes and soaring mountains.

While the continent’s mountains are nowhere near the scale of Asia or North America, they still reach heights of up to 5,650 meters, with Mount Elbrus in the Russian Caucasus Mountains widely regarded as Europe’s tallest mountain. That accolade, however, is open to debate, as some consider the Caucasus Mountain Range to belong to Asia rather than Europe. For this article, though, we are classifying the Caucasus Mountain range in Russia and Georgia as belonging geographically to Europe.

Continue reading to find out which other mountains made it onto our list of Europe’s 10 highest peaks.

1. Mount Elbrus

View of Mount Elbrus on a clear day
Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe
Height: 5,642 m (18,510 ft)
Mountain range: Caucasus Mountains
Country: Russia

Measuring 5,642 meters, Mount Elbrus, in Russia’s Caucasus Mountain Range, has the highest peak in Europe. Interestingly, though, Elbrus has two main peaks, the other measuring 5,621 meters. Its status as the highest mountain in Europe also means it is one of the Seven Summits, which is a list of the highest mountains on each continent.

Technically a dormant volcano with the last eruption occurring in 50 CE, Elbrus’ highest summit in the west was first climbed in 1874 by a British expedition party, while the smaller summit in the east was climbed 45 years previously by Russian army guide Khillar Khachirov.

Today, the mountain is climbed by thousands of people each year, however, its glacial terrain makes it one of the most dangerous mountains in Europe, so it is only suitable for experienced mountaineers. 

2. Mount Dykh-Tau

View of Mount Dykh-Tau in Russia
Snow-capped peak of Mount Dykh-Tau
Height: 5,205 m (17,077 ft)
Mountain range: Caucasus Mountains
Country: Russia

Located about three miles north of the Russian-Georgian border, Mount Dykh-Tau has a high point of 5,205 meters, making it one of the Seven Second Summits. Although the Seven Second Summits is a list of each continent’s second-highest mountains, this group of mountains is thought to be a harder challenge than climbing the Seven Summits.

The aptly named Dykh-Tau — which is Turkic for “Jagged Mount” —  is known for its jagged terrain and frequent avalanches, meaning it is much more difficult to climb than Mount Elbrus. It usually takes more than ten days to climb to the peak and there is no easy route, at any time of year. In the summer, the rocks are at their roughest, and during winter, it is bitterly cold. Those who do make it, though, are rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. 

3. Mount Shkhara

Snow-covered Mount Shkhara at sunrise
Mount Shkhara at sunrise
Height: 5,201 m (17,060 ft)
Mountain range: Caucasus Mountains
Country: Georgia

Located close to the Russian-Georgian border, Mount Shkhara is the highest point in Georgia and the third-highest peak on the continent, with an elevation of 5,201 meters. The mountain’s highest point forms part of a 7.5-mile-long ridge called the “Bezengi Wall”, which is almost vertical and covered in glaciers.

Mount Shkhara was first climbed in 1888 by British and Swiss mountaineers who navigated the North East Ridge, but it wasn’t until 1938 that the Bezengi Wall was braved by a group of Russian climbers. One of Europe’s most difficult climbs, Mount Shkhara has a terrain that’s steep and rocky, and it receives a high amount of snowfall all year round.

4. Mount Koshtan-Tau

Mount Koshtan-Tau in Russia
Mount Koshtan-Tau in Russia
Height: 5,151 m (16,900 ft)
Mountain range: Caucasus Mountains
Country: Russia

Russia’s Koshtan-Tau is the fourth-tallest mountain in Europe, with its highest peak measuring 5,151 meters. This mountain is also located in the Caucasus Mountain range but in the Russian section. 

Together with Dykh-Tau, the two peaks are known as the “Brothers of Bezengi”, but Koshtan-Tau offers routes to suit various levels of ability, from gradual inclines to treacherous treks. Plus, year-round snow makes for stunning winter views. It is surprising, then, that the mountain hasn’t been climbed all that much since the first ascent was made in 1888.

5. Mount Kazbek

View of a Mount Kazbek just before sunset, with a silhouette of the Gergeti Trinity Church
Mount Kazbek in the rays of the setting sun
Height: 5,033 m (16,512 ft)
Mountain range: Caucasus Mountains
Country: Georgia

In fifth place on this list is the dormant volcano Mount Kazbek, which has an elevation of 5,033 meters. Again, forming part of the Caucasus Mountain Range, Kazbek can be found right on the Russian-Georgian border. This location means there are frequent small earthquakes in the region, and, although the climb to its peak is more accessible than the previous four mountains, climbers should be wary of falling glaciers and prepare themselves for a tough route — especially when approaching the summit.

Nature lovers who don’t fancy the climb can enjoy the beech tree forests and alpine meadows in the Kazbegi National Park, where Mount Kazbek is situated, or simply admire the views of the mountain from the nearby village of Stepantsminda.

6. Mount Tetnuldi

Snowy landscape of Mount Tetnuldi in Georgia
Ski tracks on Mount Tetnuldi
Height: 4,858 m (15,938 feet)
Mountain range: Caucasus Mountains
Country: Georgia

Another mountain that’s located in the Caucasus Mountain Range, Tetnuldi offers impressive views of its neighbors, including Europe’s tallest mountain, Elbrus. 

Like some of the other mountains on this list, Tetnuldi receives year-round snow, and this has led to the construction of a number of new ski resorts. Those wanting to climb to the summit, though, will have to sleep in tents after reaching base camp, but it is well worth it for the wild and remote hiking trails and spectacular views.

7. Mont Blanc

Mountaineers trekking through the snow on Mont Blanc
Mountaineers climbing Mont Blanc
Height: 4,808 m (15,774 ft)
Mountain range: The Alps
Country: France

Located in the Alps in France, Mont Blanc is 4,808 meters tall, making it the highest mountain in Western Europe. 

Arguably the most famous mountain on this list, Mont Blanc attracts visitors from all over the world, who come to ski, snowboard and climb its snowy terrain.

The first ascent of Mont Blanc in 1786 by Jacque Balmat and Michel Paccard marked the start of the Golden Age of Mountaineering, with Europeans flocking to the Alps to climb its many peaks.

Today, around 20,000 people make it to Mont Blanc’s summit each year, with the most popular route via Dome de Goûte and the Bosses Ridge taking between 11 and 14 hours to complete. In 2013, however, runner Kilian Jornet ascended and descended Mont Blanc in just under five hours.

8. Mount Dzhimara

View of Mount Dzhimara through the clouds
Mount Dzhimara on a cloudy day
Height: 4,780 m (15,682 ft)
Mountain range: Caucasus Mountains
Country: Russia

With an elevation of 4,780 meters, Mount Dzhimara in Russia is Europe’s eighth-highest mountain. Again, it forms part of the Caucasus and it is the second-highest peak in the Kokh Range, after Mount Kazbek, which is located just 5.5 miles away.

However, unlike Kazbek, there aren’t any guided expeditions to the summit and information regarding the mountain’s conditions is limited.

9. Mount Ushba

Mountain top turned pink and orange by the sunset
Mount Ushba at sunset
Height: 4,710 m | 15,453 ft
Mountain range: Caucasus Mountains
Country: Georgia

The ninth-highest mountain in Europe is Ushba in Georgia, which has two summits measuring similar heights. The mountain’s highest point is 4,710 meters on its south summit, closely followed by its north summit, which measures 4,690 meters high.

Often referred to as the Matterhorn of the Caucasus Mountains, it is a particularly beautiful mountain, but it is also notorious for its bad weather. Unfortunately, gale-force winds, heavy snowfall and year-round storms, combined with steep slopes and icy terrain, cause the deaths of around half a dozen mountaineers each year. 

The north summit is the easier of the two summits and was first climbed in 1888, with the tougher south summit only ascended in 1903. On average, it takes 12 days to climb Ushba, and it is regarded as the most challenging climb in the Caucasus Mountain Range.

10. Monte Rosa

Person paragliding in front of Monte Rosa on a clear day
Paragliding in the Alps
Height: 4,634 m | 15,203 ft
Mountain range: The Pennine Alps
Country: Switzerland

With the highest of its four peaks measuring 4,634 meters, Monte Rosa is the tenth-highest mountain in Europe.

Another spectacular mountain, its scenery has inspired photographers, writers and artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, and many people also visit it for its skiing and snowboarding opportunities as well as to climb it.

There are several routes up Monte Rosa, but reaching the summit involves crossing a large glacier and navigating a rocky ridge. Climbers must also be fit, well-acclimatized and able to endure sub-zero temperatures.

Overview: Highest Mountains in Europe

RankMountainHeight (m)Height (feet)Mountain RangeCountry
1Mount Elbrus5,46218,510Caucasus MountainsRussia
2Mount Dykh-Tau5,20517,077Caucasus MountainsRussia
3Mount Shkhara5,20117,060Caucasus MountainsGeorgia
4Mount Koshtan-Tau5,15116,900Caucasus MountainsRussia
5Mount Kazbek5,03316,512Caucasus MountainsGeorgia
6Mount Tetnuldi4,85815,938Caucasus MountainsGeorgia
7Mont Blanc4,80815,774The AlpsFrance
8Mount Dzhimara4,78015,682Caucasus MountainsRussia
9Mount Ushba4,71015,453Caucasus MountainsGeorgia
10Monte Rosa4,63415,203Pennine AlpsSwitzerland

The ten highest mountains in Europe are Mount Elbrus, Mount Dykh-Tau, Mount Shkhara, Mount Koshtan-Tau, Mount Kazbek, Mount Tetnuldi, Mont Blanc, Mount Dzhimara, Mount Ushba and Monte Rosa. The majority of these mountains form part of the Caucasus Mountain Range, with just Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa located in the European Alps.

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