Happy Take A Hike Day! To celebrate, we’ve chosen some of the world’s most beautiful natural trails for you to consider when booking your next vacation:
- Inca Trail, Peru
Not for the faint-hearted - being a 42-kilometer trek that goes over two 13,000-feet-high passes - but certainly one of the most incredible experiences - especially at an atmospherically misty sunrise.
Following the route the ancient Incas took over 700 years ago, much of the original stonework is still in place, and you’ll pass through two tunnels, lush greenery and many waterfalls as you walk in their footsteps before reaching Machu Picchu - a 15th century Inca citadel ruin.
This is, undoubtedly, one of South America’s greatest - and more popular - hikes.
2. Pennine Way, United Kingdom
Stretching almost 270 miles from the Derbyshire Peak District to the Scottish Borders, this is the UK’s most famous long-distance hike, taking around three weeks and passing through the picturesque Yorkshire Dales and Hadrian’s Wall. Definitely one for outdoor enthusiasts who can handle the uncertain British weather!
3. The Great Ocean Walk, Australia
This 68-mile premier walk - possibly the most beautiful coastal hike in the world - passes through national parks, eucalyptus forests, deserted beaches and shipwrecks and ticks off only-in-Australia-sights such as koalas, kangaroos and wallabies, concluding with the most photographed limestone sea stacks known as The Twelve Apostles.
4. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
A 16-day, 205-kilometer, 5,396-meter-high journey through some of the tallest peaks on the planet and surrounded by beautiful mountains starts in a steamy jungle and is a popular hike that demands a high level of fitness.
If you like the sound of this but not sure you can handle the whole thing, the Annapurna Panorama Trek is a three-to-five-day trail that includes some of the highlights of the main circuit.
5. Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
You can choose from a series of different paths, which all end at the shrine of the apostle of St. James in this pilgrimage tour that’s been embarked on since the ninth century (!) The most popular option follows a line across northern Spain from the French Pyrenees, and you can either stay at monasteries along the way or choose from a range of hotels instead. Expect killer views of towering mountains and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lugo - the only city still surrounded by a fully intact Roman wall. Whether you see this as a spiritual or physical challenge, you’re sure to have the experience of a lifetime.
6. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Hiking to the top of one of the most iconic spots in the whole of Africa is on many a bucket list, with some 35,000 attempting it each year. As you might expect, the view from the desolate, snow-capped top - the tallest freestanding mountain in the world at almost 6000 meters! - is simply sensational - especially at sunrise.
There are several different routes to get to the top - varying in different levels of expertise - but no matter how you get there, you can be sure that it will serve as one of the most unforgettable moments of your life.
7. Everest Base Camp, Nepal
You’ll need to set aside 15-16 days to embark on this iconic 65-kilometer hike - a one-way trail that climbs a mountain, drops down to a river and then climbs another mountain. Highlights along the winding river valleys - which will reach over 18,000 feet at its highest point - include Namchee Bazaar, the Everest View Hotel and ancient monasteries.
The hiking infrastructure on this mecca for mountain enthusiasts is unrivaled, with cozy tea houses offering nourishing food and warm beds along the way. What’s more, starting in the rural Lukla town and passing many Sherpa villages and settlements, it’s more than just a world-famous trek - it’s also culturally enticing and enveloped by warm Nepalese hospitality.
Since being named one of the world’s top 20 hikes by National Geographic in 2013, this 80-kilometer Icelandic trail has gone from strength to strength in terms of popularity. Passing multicolored mountains, bubbling hot springs, snow-capped peaks, incredible views of black lava fields, a vibrantly green valley, glittering rivers and glaciers, it encompasses all of life’s natural wonders in one and is truly a sight to behold.
9. Torres Del Paine, Chile
Known for its jagged rocks and glacial lakes, this rough and ready region - made up of three granite peaks - attracts hikers from everywhere. Brave the elements (weather here is unpredictable) for some of the most magnificent vistas the world has to offer: crystal-clear turquoise rivers, dramatic valleys, sculpted mountains, the incredible hulk that is the Grey Glacier and a spectacular ice field. Truly unforgettable.
10. Banff Highline Traverse, Canada
The wanderlust of many a backpacker, millions seek adventure in Canada’s oldest national park every year. A series of trails linked together, its glacial lakes, limestone mountains, alpine plains, jagged peaks and pine forests filled with wildlife helps deliver the most spectacular views of the country.
11. Samaria Gorge, Greece
One of Crete’s top experiences, you’ll start in pine forests and descend through a narrow valley until reaching the Libyan Sea. The hike ends in the small town of Agia Roumeli, where you can relax on the black-sand beach and treat yourself to a refreshing swim in the sea.
12. Mount Toubkal, Morocco
North Africa’s highest peak is over 4,000 meters high and not for the faint of heart! However, once you’ve braved it, you will be rewarded with remarkable scenery of an unparalleled nature and endless hospitality from the Berber communities dotted along the route.
13. Cinque Terre Hike, Italy
Not only is this one of Italy’s most beautiful hikes, it’s also not particularly difficult, meaning you can stroll along the ancient route between villages perched on rocky mountains with the glistening blue of the Mediterranean below you without breaking a sweat. What’s more, you can break it up as many times as you like with a coffee and lunch break. That’s what we’d call winning at life.
14. Great Wall of China
Taking you straight to the heart of some of China’s most enduring symbols, you can choose a section to hike for the ultimate history lesson.
15. Milford Track, New Zealand
This epic 53-kilometer trek delivers some of the finest scenery the country has to offer. Crystal-clear alpine lakes, picture-perfect meadows, towering mountain peaks and waterfalls await. Are you coming?
16. Bay of Fires, Tasmania
White beaches, blue water and orange granite: It can only be the Bay of Fires in Australia.
Boasting a pristine environment with clean air like you’ve never breathed before, lush vegetation and incredible wildlife, you’ll love exploring the hidden coves and jumping in a kayak as you leisurely make your way through the hike.
17. Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon, USA
World-famous, this 25-kilometer trail delivers spectacular views and is easy to follow. Yet, of the almost six million (!) people who visit America’s crown jewel - the Grand Canyon - each year, a tiny proportion choose to do this hike, which is a massive travesty as they are missing out on 11 layers of vividly colored rock, two billion years of geological history and an intricately breathtaking landscape that will render them speechless. #justsaying
Put simply, there is no better way of experiencing one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. So, are you up to the challenge?
18. The Dingle Way, Ireland
Traversing this circular path - made up of narrow roads - is probably the best way to get intimate with Ireland’s wild County Kerry, culminating in the edge of Mount Brandon, which is the highest peak on the Dingle Peninsula.
19. Tahoe Rim Trail, USA
This iconic trail was established in 1981 and is still regarded as one of the best hikes in America. On it, you will pass through six counties and four national forests - one of the best ways to see California and Nevada, if you ask us!
20. Simien Mountains Traverse, Ethiopia
These UNESCO World Heritage-listed highlands seem to be untouched, which is a testament to the relatively few trekkers who embark on this hike. Book yourself a slot on this incredible 13-day tour to catch a glimpse of rare wildlife, climb Ras Dashen - the country’s highest mountain - and drink coffee with the locals at various village mud huts along the way.
21. Yosemite National Park, USA
True, this is not the name of a hike per se, but we couldn’t choose just one of the trails to highlight in this phenomenal slice of sequoia-filled beauty that’s known for some of the best routes in the world, so we’re including it all!
Some particular highlights include:
- Half Dome. A 23-kilometer day hike that will take you almost 1,500 meters high and reward you with breathtaking 360-degree views from the top.
- Yosemite Grand Traverse. This classic trail will take you through waterfalls, meadows and mountaintops.
- The John Muir Trail. Running from the south of Yosemite to Mount Whitney, this deservedly popular trail covers the sensational Sequoia National Park, boasting some seriously captivating views.
22. Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania
Second mention for Tanzania on our list, and for good reason! Meaning ‘Mountain of God’, this active volcano is famous for its captivating views and earthy rumbles. If you’re looking to get out of your comfort zone, this just might be for you.
23. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
It doesn’t get more thrilling than this - an up-close and personal hiking encounter with mountain gorillas! ‘Nuff said.
24. The Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Some of the world’s highest peaks surround hikers here from every direction, and this - coupled with the jungles, subtropical forests, rice fields, waterfalls, hot springs, spectacular cliffs and mountain villages - make this one of the most sought-after and life-changing trails you could possibly hope to experience.
25. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica
Get intimate with the richly diverse biodiversity in Costa Rica on this epic hike - made attainable by its well-marked paths - and expect to see a striking glimpse of birds and flora up close.
26. Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand
There’s a little bit of everything on this dramatic landscape-imbued day hike, including lava fields, sulfurous pools, crater lakes, glacial valleys and an actual active smoking volcano. Oh, and if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you’ll love this because it acts as Mordor and contains Mount Doom!
27. Ihlara Valley, Turkey
Visit 7th century brightly decorated cave churches, walk past farmers in their fields and meet shepherds tending to their flocks.
28. Laguna de Los Tres, Argentina
Ice-blue waters and imposing icebergs await, once you’ve passed through the steep forests and breathtaking vistas of the Río de las Vueltas riverbed.
29. Arctic Circle Trail, Greenland
Want to be at one with nature? Snow problem! This backcountry hike is everything you think it is - and more - and a dead-cert if you’d prefer foxes and reindeer for company than other hikers.
30. Caminito Del Rey, Spain
Acclaimed as one of the country’s best short hikes, the impressive cliff faces, canyon and hanging bridge are truly magical.
31. Adam’s Peak Trek, Sri Lanka
A popular mountain climb for both tourists and locals, thanks to its religious significance for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and anyone, really, who believes in a greater being; you’ll see what we mean when you’ve witnessed the sunrise from the top for yourself.
32. Grindelwald, Switzerland
Traverse part of the Alps and enjoy sensational views, stopping off for a well-deserved hot chocolate or beer in one of the chalet-style eateries along the way.
33. West Highland Way, Scotland
The Scots are incredibly proud of their first long-distance trail through the Scottish Highlands, and you’ll soon see why. Utilizing old pathways and disused railway lines, it crosses pastoral lowlands, Loch Lomond and Rannoch Moor, before finishing below the UK’s highest summit, Ben Nevis.
34. Kjeragbolten Hike, Norway
A precarious-looking boulder wedged between two sides of a narrow aperture - what could possibly go wrong?
If it wasn’t already obvious, this is a difficult (yet also breathtaking) trek and includes a slippery rock climb using chains, but if you can make it to the top, you’ll win Instagram. A green fjord and snowy mountain-backed picture awaits.
35. Trolltunga Trek, Norway
Yep, another Norway mention (we’re big fans here). The ‘troll’s tongue’ is a sliver of rock that sticks out some 700+-meters over a fjord (gulp), but if you think the only highlight is the final destination, you’ll need to embark on the undeniably beautiful hike to get there to learn otherwise.
36. Mount Sinai Trail, Egypt
Another culturally and religiously significant walk, St. Catherine’s Monastery - located at the base - is supposedly the site of the burning bush where God spoke to Moses.
There are several different route options to the top of the mountain - all culminating in the final 750 steps - and, like so many of the other world’s best hikes, it is best viewed at sunrise.
Grab those walking shoes - it’s time to go!