Our planet is the gift that keeps on giving. From stunning vistas to deep canyons, windswept coasts to ancient ruins, some of the most spectacular views this earth has to offer can only be accessed by foot.
Indeed, it’s called ‘hiking’ for a reason—because it guarantees the most natural highs and will have you feeling like the king of the world each time. So we’ve put together a list of the world’s best hikes to inspire you, whether you’re a novice hiker, advanced explorer, or somewhere in between.
Ak-Suu Region, Kyrgyzstan
109 km | Advanced
The Ak-Suu Transverse is a challenging but rewarding trail in Kyrgyzstan that’s rapidly gaining popularity among hikers. It starts at Jyrgalan, a small eco-tourism village, and crosses the whole Ak-Suu Valley, taking hikers through high mountain passes, pristine meadows and brilliant glacial lakes. Breathtaking views of the Tien Shan Mountains are undoubtedly a big draw.
The Ak-Suu Transverse provides a unique opportunity to experience the raw beauty of the Kyrgyz backcountry, where vast expanses of untouched nature unfold at every turn. It’s a challenging trek with steep ascents and rugged terrain, but the spectacular scenery and unique cultural experiences make it a worthwhile adventure. Hikers can stay in yurts along the way and interact with friendly Kyrgyz nomads.
ALTA VIA 1
The Dolomites, Italy
120 km | Intermediate
The Alta Via 1 is a remarkable hiking route that weaves through the famed Dolomites Mountain range in Northern Italy for 120 kilometres and takes approximately 10 days to complete.
However, it is a fairly approachable hike for those looking to get acquainted with multi-day trekking, with marked hiking paths and quaint mountain huts set in the route’s more idyllic spots, so hikers can enjoy a cozy retreat and a taste of the local cuisine.
The Alta Via 1 showcases the Dolomites’ iconic jagged peaks, vertical rock faces, and picturesque valleys, providing hikers with breathtaking panoramic views at every turn. The physical challenge is rewarding, and the hike also allows hikers to connect with nature and soak in the raw beauty of the Dolomites.
BANFF HIGHLINE TRAIL
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
103 km | Advanced
A UNESCO World Heritage site and Canada’s oldest national park, Banff lays claim to the Canadian Rockies in Alberta. Adventurers come from all around the world to experience the Banff Highline Trail, which is made up of a series of trails that will have hikers traversing a large portion of the national park.
Trekkers can expect to hike through dense forests, walk through vibrant wildflower meadows, conquer jagged mountain peaks, take in glacial plains and high alpine lakes, while never running out of great views.
This advanced trail will take about a week to complete, starting at Vista Lake and terminating at Shark Mountain. All the while, Mount Assiniboine, the Matterhorn of the Rockies, looms watchful of your progress.
THE BLYDE RIVER CANYON
Mpumalanga, South Africa
Various | Beginner to Advanced
Stretching approximately 26 kilometres in length and 800 metres deep, the Blyde River Canyon is the world’s third-largest canyon. The Blyde River Canyon has multiple trails available, offering some of the greenest, most awe-inspiring views. This geological masterpiece is carved by the Blyde River, which winds its way through the canyon, creating dramatic rock formations, towering cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. There’s a reason why its most famed viewpoint is called God’s Window.
The trails within the canyon vary in difficulty and length, catering to hikers of different fitness levels. Whether embarking on a shorter walk or a longer trek, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the verdant valleys, meandering rivers, and sheer cliffs that make the Blyde River Canyon a natural wonder.
BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL
20 km | Intermediate
The Grand Canyon is America’s crown jewel, but surprisingly a very small percentage of its visitors actually make it past the rim. If you want a different kind of Grand Canyon experience, taking on the Bright Angel Trail is the way to go.
The trailhead is on the edge of the South Rim in Grand Canyon Village. The trail takes you down the canyon, past primitive campsites and toward the Phantom Ranch campgrounds—around four to five hours. Heading back up to the village is about a 1.33-kilometre elevation gain, so physical fitness is definitely required here. However, you can tackle just a small portion of it and still have the distinction of being in the Grand Canyon instead of looking down at it.
DECEPTION ISLAND WALK
2.5 km | Beginner
The Deception Island Walk takes visitors to one of the most intriguing destinations in the Antarctic Peninsula. Located in the South Shetland Islands, the Deception Island Walk offers a unique opportunity to explore the volcanic island and its stunning natural beauty.
The walk begins with a Zodiac boat ride to the island’s entrance, known as Neptune’s Bellows, where visitors can step onto the black volcanic sand. It then takes hikers through Whalers Bay and also allows them to bathe in the thermal waters of Pendulum Cove. Trekkers can observe geothermal activity along the way, including hot springs and bubbling mud pools, as well as the continent’s unique wildlife (think: penguins).
It’s a short hike with steep ascents and descents, but it can be done by anyone in reasonably good physical health.
THE DRAGON’S BACK
8.5 km | Beginner
Hong Kong’s concrete jungle may seem like the last place on earth where a great hike can be had, but the Dragon’s Back begs to differ. This popular day hike offers a unique escape from the bustling city and provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and city. The trail starts at Shek-O Road and follows the undulating ridgeline of the Dragon’s Back Mountain, with breathtaking views of the South China Sea. The hike ends at Tai Long Wan Beach, where hikers can cool off with a well-deserved swim.
The trail offers a perfect balance of challenging sections and leisurely paths, making it suitable for hikers of various fitness levels. Along the way, walkers can pause at picturesque lookout points.
EAST COAST TRAIL
Cape Broyle, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
336 km | Beginner
The East Coast Trail stretches 336 kilometres along North America’s easternmost coastline. If you’ve never been to the spectacular province of Newfoundland, this is the perfect way to experience it. The trail offers a unique opportunity for hikers to revel in Newfoundland’s rugged and picturesque coast while traversing deep fjords, dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and towering sea stacks while taking in the panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Along the way, hikers can discover charming coastal communities, historical sites and diverse wildlife. Keep your eyes on the ocean for whales and icebergs! Whether exploring a short section of the trail or embarking on a multi-day trek, the East Coast Trail promises unforgettable encounters with nature’s beauty and the chance to connect to the wild wonders of the Atlantic coastline.
EVEREST BASE CAMP
130 km | Advanced
Few hikes are as famous and as challenging as the Everest Base Camp hike, with thousands of people from around the world flocking to Nepal to have their own Himalayan adventure. The trek to Everest Base Camp is both challenging and rewarding, taking hikers through remote Sherpa villages, lush valleys and towering glaciers. Along the route, trekkers pass through vibrant prayer-flag adorned monasteries, encounter friendly locals, and gain insights into the rich Sherpa culture.
Hikers can expect to spend up to two weeks on this physically demanding trail. As most of the trek is at high altitudes with a maximum elevation of almost 5,500 metres, hikers should be properly acclimatized before beginning their trek.
FISH RIVER CANYON HIKE
86 km | Advanced
Fish River Canyon is the second-largest canyon in the world. The trail exposes hikers to Namibia’s rugged landscape, winding through terrain made up of sand, rocks and small boulders. Enjoy the journey through the dramatic desert environment, with towering cliffs, deep gorges, and the meandering path of the Fish River itself.
Prepare for extreme heat in the canyon as there is little shade, so it’s a hike best done in the winter, between May and September. Even then, it’s warm enough to sleep outside at night.
The trail starts at the campsite in Hobas and ends at the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort. It takes around five days to complete, and you need to be able to present a medical certificate no older than 40 days to do the hike.
GANDEN TO SAMYE TREK
80 km | Advanced
Known as much for the stunning mountain scenery as its cultural significance, the Ganden to Samye Trek is one for the books. The trek is a spiritually significant journey in Tibet, offering a profound experience for adventurous hikers and those seeking a deeper connection with Tibetan Buddhism.
This rigorous trek starts at the Ganden Monastery, some 4,180 metres above sea level, weaves through mountain passes and remote villages and rises up to 5,250 metres as it heads toward the Samye Monastery, the oldest in Tibet. The trail winds through rugged mountain passes, vast valleys, and remote villages, immersing trekkers in the captivating landscapes of the Himalayas. It takes about four to five days to complete and is more of a pilgrimage to Tibet’s culture than a sightseeing trip.
Corsica Island, France
180 km | Advanced
Hands down one of the world’s best hikes and known as Europe’s most demanding long-distance trail, the GR20 runs 180 kilometres from north to south and takes approximately 15 days to complete. The trail comprises two parts, both of which promise spectacular scenery and exhilarating and challenging adventure.
The southern part of the trail will take hikers through dense, vivid forests, while the northern part is more demanding with mostly rocky terrain. Bask in the scenery of gorgeous lakes and a dramatic coastline bordered by towering granite peaks.
With its steep ascents, technical terrain, and unpredictable weather conditions, the GR20 demands physical fitness, mental resilience, and a spirit of adventure. It’s a beast of a hike, but one that dedicated hikers simply cannot miss.
THE GREAT OCEAN WALK
104 km | Beginner
A spectacular hiking trail that hugs the stunning southern coastline of Victoria, the Great Ocean Walk takes hikers along hair-raising cliffs, secluded beaches and through eucalyptus forests. The trail typically takes between seven and nine days to complete, but hikers can stay in comfortable lodges and campsites along the way.
Starting in Apollo Bay and passing through Great Otway National Park and Port Campbell National Park, the trail ends at the world-famous Twelve Apostles rock formation. Other highlights include the Otway Rainforest, shipwrecks and picturesque seaside towns. From June to September, whales can also be spotted along the coastline.
The trail is well-signposted and offers various sections suitable for both day walks and multi-day hikes, accommodating hikers of different fitness levels and time constraints.
JOHN MUIR TRAIL VIA YOSEMITE VALLEY
327 km | Advanced
John Muir spent his life advocating for the preservation of America’s wilderness, making him the Father of National Parks. It’s only fitting that one of the country’s most challenging and popular trails is named after him.
The John Muir Trail covers what is arguably the most beautiful mountain landscape of the continental United States. It cuts through the historic Yosemite Valley, then heads up through the High Sierras and ultimately summits Mount Whitney’s 4.5-kilometre peak. It also traverses the famed Sequoia National Park where the largest trees on the planet can be found.
It takes approximately three weeks to cover all these. But with multiple exit points along the way, hikers have the option to take in as much as they are able.
THE K’ESUGI RIDGE TRAIL
58 km | Intermediate
The K’esugi Ridge Trail is a breathtaking hiking experience that takes you through the Alaskan wilderness. Denali, the tallest peak in America and the third most isolated peak on earth, serves as a backdrop throughout this hike. Wind through diverse landscapes offering awe-inspiring views of snow-capped mountains, lush meadows and pristine lakes.
It’s 58 kilometres of ups and downs, but don’t be deterred as it’s a pretty well-established trail and is, therefore, not as daunting as it seems on paper. And besides, the challenge is worth the reward. There’s also more than one way to tackle the trail. For those looking to do the trail with less elevation gain and stress, start from the Little Coal Creek Trailhead and end at Byers Lake.
55 km | Intermediate
The Laugavegur Trail is one of the most popular and challenging trails in Iceland due to its mesmerizing route that takes hikers through the country’s most extraordinary and diverse landscapes.
Starting at Landmannalaugar, you will pass through Iceland’s volcanic wilderness, seeing rhyolite mountains, steaming hot springs, lava fields and glaciers along the way. The trail’s challenging terrain, ranging from steep ascents to river crossings, requires physical stamina and careful navigation. However, the effort is richly rewarded with natural beauty and untamed terrain.
This route is a well-loved area for backpacking and camping, so expect to meet other adventurers along the way. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, continue onto the Fimmvörðuháls Trail, which offers dramatic scenery and panoramic views of the surrounding glaciers.
LOST CITY TREK (LA CIUDAD PERDIDA)
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia
44 km | Intermediate
A hike in La Ciudad Perdida—the Lost City—is a journey back in time. The 44-kilometre trail takes hikers into the heart of the lost city of Teyuna, said to be founded a good 650 years before Machu Picchu.
It’s a hot and humid trek through muddy jungle trails, so it’s best done between December and March when the region is dry and cooler. This challenging trek follows an ancient stone path known as the Camino de la Cienaga, leading to the enigmatic Ciudad Perdida, or “Lost City.”
The active archaeological site features 169 terraces carved into the mountainside and ancient tiled roads and plazas. Hikers also trek through indigenous villages. Visitors are guests in sacred tribal land, making it a culturally sensitive tour.
THE MACHAME ROUTE
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
62 km | Advanced
It’s a summit that lands on many bucket lists. As the highest peak in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro plays host to several trails. The Machame Route stands out for hikers as it’s the most scenic way to reach the rooftop of Africa. It’s also the steepest, so it’s geared more toward experienced and adventurous hikers who are used to the challenges of high altitude.
The hike takes around a week to complete. It starts in a richly forested area, rising up and up to offer spectacular views of the surrounding savanna. Before summiting, expect to climb up a volcanic area and pass through several ice fields. Receive a certificate if you successfully summit Mount Kilimanjaro.
South Island, New Zealand
53.5 km | Intermediate
The Milford Track is an iconic multi-day hike located in New Zealand’s stunning Fiordland National Park. It is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest hikes because the trail winds through some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet.
The hike begins at Glade Wharf and meanders along the shores of lakes, through lush beach forests, dense rainforests, gorgeous waterfalls and dramatic mountain ranges, including the iconic Mitre Peak. Plus, hikers must be prepared to cross suspension bridges over glacial rivers.
The trail is well-maintained, and walkers are accommodated in comfortable huts and lodges, making the experience even more enjoyable. Be aware that the Milford Track is limited to 40 independent hikers daily, so advanced planning is a must.
THE OVERLAND TRACK
65-82 km | Advanced
The Overland Track is a multi-day hike that takes hikers through the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, crossing mountains, valleys and alpine plateaus. Starting at Cradle Mountain, the trail presents hikers with a diverse range of terrains, including rugged mountain ranges, ancient rainforests, alpine plateaus, and tranquil lakes. Along the way, walkers can marvel at the breathtaking vistas of Cradle Mountain, navigate through rocky paths, and witness the serenity of Mirror Lake.
The area is home to some of Australia’s most unique wildlife, including wombats and Tasmanian devils, so be prepared for unforgettable encounters. The trail typically takes six days to complete, but many visitors choose to extend their adventure to hike along the stunning Lake St Clair.
PALMER STATION TO POINT EIGHT
8 km | Intermediate
Antarctica’s Palmer Station to Point Eight trail treats visitors to stunning views of the frozen landscape and the wildlife that call it home. The trail starts at Palmer Station, a research facility run by the United States Antarctic Program. As hikers set off, they are greeted by towering glaciers, icy fjords, and majestic mountains that create a dramatic backdrop. The route winds its way along the rugged coastline, passing through rocky beaches and snow-covered terrain. Hikers meander along the Anvers Island coastline, encountering colonies of penguins, seabirds and seals.
The hike features predominantly rocky terrain and steep climbs. Still, it’s a one-of-a-kind chance to be up close and personal with wildlife and experience the continent known to be the last frontier.
THE SALKANTAY TRAIL
74 km | Advanced
For hikers looking for the road less travelled to Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Trail is a must. It meanders through the same region of the Peruvian Andes and has the same conditions as the more famous Inca Trail, weaving through lush jungles, cloud forests, high-altitude alpine meadows, snow-capped mountains and remote villages along the way.
However, the Salkantay Trail rises higher, and is, therefore, longer and more challenging than its more famous counterpart. It also passes through the Salkantay Pass, which is a whopping 6,271-metre altitude gain.
The challenge is worth it, as the Salkantay Trail provides a truly immersive experience, allowing hikers to connect with nature, delve into the rich local culture, and witness the magnificence of the Peruvian Andes in all its glory.
TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING
North Island, New Zealand
19.4 km | Intermediate
One of the world’s most renowned hiking trails, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is located on New Zealand’s North Island. And if you find yourself nearby, it can’t be missed. Book a shuttle to the trail head from Whakapapa, National Park Village, Turangi, Taupo or Ohakune to begin this wondrous hike.
The trail takes hikers through an otherworldly terrain of active volcanoes and ancient lava flows. Pass through the vibrant Red Crater, an otherworldly expanse offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Then climb to the highest point of the trek before being rewarded with the view of the emerald lakes below.
This one-day hike isn’t for the faint of heart. Weather conditions can be unpredictable in the area, so adequate preparation is a must.
TORRES DEL PAINE W CIRCUIT
80 km | Intermediate
This is one of the most iconic hikes in the world, and you might be happy to hear that it is not overly strenuous or challenging. If not for the sheer length and the commitment of it—approximately 80 kilometres, which is about a three- or four-day hike—it can even be considered beginner-friendly. Improvements to the trail have made it more accessible—you won’t even have to carry your own gear as there are now services for that.
The main draw is having the jagged towers of the Torres in view throughout the trek. Hikers will also encounter glacial lakes, rivers of ice, and meadows. Of course, being deep in one of the world’s most remote places is also a great sell.
TOUR DU MONT BLANC
France, Italy, and Switzerland
180 km | Intermediate
The Tour du Mont Blanc is not only one of Europe’s most famous long-distance hikes, but it’s also one of the oldest and most established trails in the world. It takes hikers on a legendary journey across Italy, France and Switzerland, several mountain passes, valleys and alpine meadows. Trekkers also get a front-row seat to some of Europe’s most impressive glaciers.
The trail circumnavigates Mont Blanc itself, the highest peak in the alps, starting and ending at Chamonix. Peaking at a whopping 4,810 metres, this hike is not only a physical challenge but also a cultural and scenic immersion, as hikers have the opportunity to interact with fellow trekkers from around the world and encounter the rich traditions and customs of the alpine communities.
WEST COAST TRAIL
Vancouver Island, Canada
75 km | Advanced
Promising crashing waves, stunning rock formation and old-growth forests, the West Coast Trail is not your run-of-the-mill walk on the beach. It’s a full immersion into nature and natural history.
The trail, which is for advanced hikers experienced in multi-day backcountry hiking and camping, meanders within traditional First Nations territories, twisting through sandy white beaches one moment and cutting through rainforests rich in biodiversity the next.
Hikers can choose to do the trek north to south or the other way around, with the latter offering a more challenging terrain. For those looking for a shorter route, opt to do half of the trail starting at the Nitinaht Trailhead entrance at Nitinaht Village.
The trail is open May 1 to September 30 and reservations are required.
Want to take this list with you? Download the full bucket list ebook and cross off the hikes as you go!
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