The Ultimate Guide to the Best Hiking Destinations Around the World
Are you ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime? Get ready to lace up your hiking boots because we're about to take you on a thrilling journey through the world's best hiking destinations. From the towering peaks of the Himalayas to the rugged canyons of the Grand Canyon, we've handpicked the most breathtaking trails that will leave you breathless. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or new to the world of trekking, these awe-inspiring routes, including the Jiankou to Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China and Switzerland's Schynige Platte to Faulhorn to First trail, will challenge and amaze you at every turn. So, grab your backpack and join us on an unforgettable exploration of the finest hiking routes in the world.
Places to Hike in California
Although California is more famous for its movie sets than its national parks, the state's true beauty lies in its natural wonders. Get ready to discover the 15 best hikes in California.
Get your map of the best hikes in California here
Jiankou to Mutianyu, Great Wall of China
Distance: 10 km (6.2 miles) Difficulty: Moderate | Time: 4 to 6 hours
Walking on the Great Wall of China is an incredible experience. While some sections of the wall have been restored, it's the crumbling, neglected sections that offer the most charm. These ancient sections, overgrown with vegetation and even small trees, are a glimpse into the wall's history.
Walking on the unrestored sections of the wall is a true adventure. Climb rickety, wooden ladders, navigate potholes and crumbling sections, and enjoy the breathtaking views from the watchtowers. Sliding down the steep sections adds an extra element of fun to this ancient historical experience.
Schynige Platte to Faulhorn to First, Switzerland
Location: Jungfrau Region of Switzerland
Distance: 16 km (10 miles) | Difficulty: Strenuous | Time: 6 hours
The hike from Schynige Platte to Faulhorn to First is a challenging but incredibly rewarding journey in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. Along the way, you'll experience a scenic ride on a cogwheel train, encounter alpine lakes and rustic mountain huts, and witness snow-covered trails and stunning views of the Swiss Alps. This hike is often considered one of the best day hikes in the Jungfrau region.
THE WEST COAST TRAIL
- Location: The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Vancouver Island, Canada
- Distance: 46.7 mi. (75 km)
- Duration: 5–8 days
- Difficulty: Strenuous
British Columbia, Canada's Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a popular destination for backpackers, thanks to its temperate rainforests. The West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island is a standout in this area. The trail showcases diverse landscapes, including high alpine peaks, glacier-fed waterfalls, centuries-old rainforests, and a rugged coastline.
The West Coast Trail holds a significant cultural and historical value, as it passes through the traditional territories of the indigenous First Nations tribes. Orcas, gray whales, sea lions, black bears, cougars, and a variety of bird species can be spotted along the trail. A truly memorable adventure awaits those who decide to hike this challenging and diverse trail.
THE KESUGI RIDGE TRAIL
- Location: Alaska, USA
- Distance: 58 kilometers (36 miles)
- Duration: 3-4 days
The Kesugi Ridge Trail is a spectacular hike through the heart of the Alaskan wilderness. This trek offers stunning panoramas of the Alaskan mountains, including the iconic Denali, the tallest peak in North America. The trail takes you through taiga forests, across tundra, and provides incredible views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The length of the trail can vary depending on the chosen trailhead.
If you're seeking a high-latitude adventure without pushing yourself to your limits, the Kesugi Ridge Trail is an excellent option. Experience the breathtaking beauty of the Alaskan wilderness and enjoy the serenity and solitude that this hike has to offer.
THE SANTA CRUZ TREK
- Location: Peru
- Distance: 50 kilometers (31 miles)
- Duration: 3-4 days
Peru's Santa Cruz Trek is renowned for being one of the most beautiful and adventurous hikes in the world. This trek takes you through the heart of the Peruvian Andes, offering stunning high-altitude hiking against the backdrop of glorious mountain vistas. The trail is not overly challenging, making it accessible to a wide range of hikers.
The Santa Cruz Trek showcases snowcapped peaks, turquoise lakes, and incredible valleys. It allows hikers to immerse themselves in the stunning natural beauty of Peru while offering encounters with fascinating wildlife. Embark on this beautiful and unforgettable adventure.
THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT TREK
- Location: Nepal
- Distance: 160–230 kilometers (100-145 miles)
- Duration: 15-20 days
The Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal is one of the most well-known and captivating treks in the world. This trek encircles the mighty Annapurna Massif and showcases some of the highest peaks on Earth, including the iconic Mount Annapurna. The trail takes hikers through diverse landscapes, from dense jungles to terraced rice fields and deep canyons.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek offers breathtaking views, pristine valleys, and a chance to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Nepal. This iconic trek is a must-do for adventurers seeking a life-changing experience.
THE BLYDE RIVER CANYON
- Location: South Africa
- Distance: 60 kilometers (37.2 miles)
- Duration: 4-5 days
The Blyde River Canyon in South Africa is not only the world's third-largest canyon but also one of the greenest. It offers epic views and is home to the famous "God's Window" viewpoint, which provides a breathtaking panorama of the verdant gorge, lush forests, rock formations, and the entire canyon.
This 3 to 5-day hike takes you through dense forests and diverse terrain within the nature reserve. Along the way, you'll encounter beautiful waterfalls and enjoy stunning viewpoints, with the possibility of spotting unique wildlife.
Embark on this adventure and witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa.
TORRES DEL PAINE CIRCUIT
- Location: Patagonia, Chile
- Distance: 100-130 kilometers (62.3 - 80.8 miles)
- Duration: 5-9 days
Patagonia is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, and Chile's Torres del Paine is no exception. The Torres del Paine National Park offers some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the world.
The trek around the Torres del Paine Circuit showcases the three distinctive granite peaks of the Torres del Paine mountain range, as well as picturesque valleys, rivers, turquoise lakes, and glaciers.
This 5 to 9-day trek offers hikers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the breathtaking beauty of Patagonia and experience one of the most incredible natural landscapes on Earth.
- Location: Corsica Island, France
- Distance: 180 kilometers (112 miles)
- Duration: 11-15 days
- Difficulty: Strenuous
The GR20 is one of Europe's most famous and challenging multi-day treks. This trail traverses the stunning Corsica Island from north to south, covering 180 kilometers (112 miles) along the island's mountainous center. The GR20 has two parts, with the option to exit in the middle.
The GR20 offers rocky terrain, dramatic valleys, turquoise lakes, and breathtaking views. It is considered one of the most challenging treks in Europe but rewards hikers with stunning landscapes and unforgettable experiences.
THE JOHN MUIR TRAIL VIA YOSEMITE VALLEY
- Location: California, USA
- Distance: 327 kilometers (203 miles)
- Duration: Approx. 3 weeks
The John Muir Trail honors the legacy of John Muir, the "Father of the National Parks," and showcases some of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the USA. The trail begins in Yosemite Valley and stretches through the High Sierras, ultimately reaching the summit of Mount Whitney. Along the way, hikers will encounter stunning Sequoia National Park and the picturesque Ansel Adams Wilderness and Kings Canyon National Parks. The John Muir Trail offers captivating hiking sites and incredible scenic views.
Embark on this epic adventure and experience the incredible beauty, rich biodiversity, and preserved wilderness areas that John Muir fought to protect.
THE SALKANTAY & INCA TRAILS TO MACHU PICCHU
- Location: Peru
- Distance: 60-75 kilometers (37-46.7 miles)
- Duration: 5-7 days
The Inca Trail has long been renowned as one of the most popular and well-known hiking routes in the world. It leads to the ancient and enigmatic site of Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca ruin and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Perched atop a 2,430-meter (7,970-foot) mountain ridge, the site offers breathtaking views.
On the other hand, the Salkantay Trek is a lesser-known option for those who prefer to take the road less traveled. Located in the same region as the Inca Trail, this ancient and remote footpath is longer and more challenging, as it reaches higher altitudes. Due to its difficulty, the Salkantay Trek is far less crowded compared to the Inca Trail.
Trekking to Machu Picchu has been a popular and celebrated adventure for many years. The journey takes you through lush lowland jungles, up to beautiful highland alpines and snow-covered mountains. The combination of these massive, snow-capped peaks with the vibrant tropical rainforests is truly priceless. For an unforgettable experience, the Salkantay Trek and Inca Trail can be combined into one amazing 7-day adventure.
Watch this short film from National Geographic about the Salkantay Trek:
DOLOMITE HIGH ROUTE (ALTA VIA UNO)
- Location: Italy
- Distance: 120 kilometers (75 miles)
- Duration: 8 days
Winding through the breathtaking Dolomite mountain range, the Alta Via Uno trek is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. The rugged trail takes you past impressive cliffs, towering 3,000-meter (10,000-foot) peaks, crystal-clear alpine lakes, charming forests, and vast rolling pastures.
The Dolomites are widely appreciated for their unique geology and stunning rock formations, making them some of the most captivating natural wonders in Europe. The Alta Via Uno offers an incredible 120-kilometer (75-mile) journey, with marked hiking paths and charming mountain huts situated in idyllic locations. Most trekkers complete the hike in 10 days.
The awe-inspiring Dolomites provide the perfect playground for adventurers.
BANFF HIGHLINE TRAVERSE
Location: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Distance: 64 mi. (103 km)
Duration: 7–9 days
The Canadian Rockies are a dream destination for backpackers, attracting millions of visitors each year. With its turquoise glacial lakes, limestone peaks covered in glaciers, and wildlife-filled forests, Banff National Park in Alberta offers an unforgettable experience for backpackers and day hikers alike.
Banff, Canada's oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the Banff Highline Trail. This trail consists of a series of interconnected trails that span a large portion of the park. The trek offers some of the best views in Canada, taking you from alpine plains to dense pine forests, with jagged peaks dominating the scenery.
The trek begins with a crossing over the stunning Vista Lake and ascends the Arnica Ridge, providing a panoramic view of Mount Assiniboine, a pyramidal peak located nearly 63 mi (100 km) away. This is also where the trek concludes after about a week.
Encounters with wildlife in the backcountry are to be expected. Deer, elk, moose, sheep, mountain goats, grizzly bears, and black bears are abundant in the area.
Hiking the Banff Highline Trail is an incredible journey through the Canadian Rockies, guaranteed to satisfy the cravings of wilderness adventurers.
THE GREAT OCEAN WALK
- Location: Victoria, Australia
- Distance: 80-100 kilometers (50-62 miles)
- Duration: 6-8 days
Australia's Great Ocean Walk is renowned as one of the most stunning coastal hikes in the world. Spanning over 100 kilometers (62.1 miles), the trail takes you through gum and eucalyptus forests, across sand dunes, past lush pastures, along rocky beaches, and next to exhilarating cliffs. Along the way, you'll come across picturesque shipwrecks and be immersed in an area rich in fossils dating back over one hundred million years.
The region is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas, reptiles, and many species of birds. From June to September, you may even catch a glimpse of whales along the coastline. Apart from the breathtaking scenery, the highlights of the trail include the shipwrecks and the famous Twelve Apostles, limestone sea stacks that are among the most photographed in the world. The Great Ocean Walk is an unforgettable adventure.
Watch this unique documentary about the Great Walk in Australia:
EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK
- Location: Nepal
- Distance: 130 kilometers (80.7 miles)
- Duration: 12-14 days
The Himalayas and the Everest Base Camp Trek are a mecca for climbing and mountain enthusiasts. This famous and beautiful trek also offers a rich cultural experience. Starting in the rural town of Lukla, the trek takes you through famous Sherpa villages and settlements. The Everest Base Camp Trek is both visually captivating and mentally captivating, as it provides views of four of the world's six tallest peaks along the way: Everest (8,848 meters, 29,028 feet), Lhotse (8,516 meters, 27,939 feet), Makalu (8,470 meters, 27,788 feet), and Cho Oyu (8,201 meters, 26,315 feet).
Reaching an elevation of 5,545 meters (18,192 feet), the Everest Base Camp has become the ultimate goal for passionate trekkers worldwide. This hike is famous for its awe-inspiring blend of natural beauty, fascinating culture, and warm Nepalese hospitality.
Check out this awesome video about the world-famous trekking route:
MOUNT KILIMANJARO: THE MACHAME ROUTE
- Location: Tanzania
- Distance: 62 kilometers (37 miles)
- Duration: 6-7 days
Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, is a dormant volcano that soars 4,900 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level. It is also the world's tallest freestanding mountain, meaning it is not part of a mountain range, allowing it to dominate the surrounding landscape.
There are several hiking routes leading to the summit, but the Machame Route is the most popular among backpackers due to its scenic beauty and steep ascent. It is often referred to as the "whiskey" route, emphasizing its challenging nature.
Considered a challenging trail, the Machame Route is best suited for experienced hikers who are comfortable with high altitudes. The hike begins in a lush rainforest and ascends to leave the forest behind, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding savanna. The route then climbs past a volcanic plug and passes stunning icefields before reaching the summit. Standing on the roof of Africa is an unforgettable experience.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest mountain, is a dormant volcano.
LA CIUDAD PERDIDA - THE LOST CITY TREK
- Location: Colombia
- Distance: 50 kilometers (31 miles)
- Duration: 3-4 days
Ciudad Perdida, or the "Lost City," is an extraordinary archaeological site that houses the ruins of an ancient city in Colombia's Sierra Nevada. It is believed to have been founded approximately 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu and was discovered in 1972.
This remarkable hike offers breathtaking views of hand-carved stone terraces and plazas. The city, once home to 2,000 to 8,000 people, is now abandoned and enveloped by thick, humid jungle, overgrown with moss and vegetation. Along the trail to the Lost City, you'll encounter sacrificial sites, engraved stones, tiled paths through the dense jungle, stunning mountain vistas, cascading waterfalls, and natural rock pools. The trek typically takes 3 to 4 days, but it can be extended with shorter hikes in the area.
Embark on a hike to the ancient city in Colombia's Sierra Nevada.
Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim
Location: Grand Canyon National Park
Distance: 38 km (23.5 miles) | Difficulty: Very challenging | Time: One massive day hike or a 2 to 3-day backpacking trip
Awe-inspiring, challenging, exhausting, unforgettable...these are just a few words to describe the trek across the Grand Canyon. Hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim is an adventure that should be on everyone's bucket list.
This journey takes you through a landscape of extremes. In the summer months, temperatures along the trail can fluctuate by as much as 80 degrees in a single day. You will descend nearly a mile to the Colorado River and then climb back up the other side.
Throughout the hike, you'll experience heat, cold, fatigue, exhaustion, joy, and perhaps even moments of despair. You'll marvel at the breathtaking views, trek on steep and dusty trails, pass through narrow canyons and lush oases, and fully immerse yourself in one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States.
Once you've completed the rim-to-rim trek, you'll never look at the Grand Canyon the same way again.
Most people opt for a two or three-day backpacking trip for the rim-to-rim hike. It is possible to complete the hike in one day for those who are extremely fit and fast.
TOUR DU MONT BLANC
- Location: France, Italy, and Switzerland
- Distance: 170 kilometers (110 miles)
- Duration: 7-11 days
- Difficulty: Challenging
The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the most popular long-distance walks in Europe. This trek offers the opportunity to journey through three of Europe's most scenic countries. It takes you through picturesque mountain passes, idyllic alpine meadows, and glacial valleys, with some of the most impressive glaciers in Europe on display.
The trek encircles the Mont Blanc massif, which includes Mont Blanc, Western Europe's highest peak at 4,810 meters (15,781 feet), along with several other stunning peaks. Covering a distance of approximately 170 kilometers (110 miles) with 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of ascent/descent, the trail is challenging but rewarding.
The picturesque Mont Blanc du Tacul in the Mont Blanc massif.
As you dream of your next hiking adventure, consider these extraordinary destinations that will take your breath away and awaken your sense of wanderlust. From the majestic Great Wall of China to the enchanting Swiss Alps, and from the rugged landscapes of California to the awe-inspiring beauty of Torres del Paine, there is a trail out there waiting for you to conquer. Whether you seek a challenging expedition or a serene escape into nature, these best hiking destinations offer a myriad of experiences that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. So grab your hiking boots and let the trails guide you to new heights and adventures that await in these extraordinary corners of the world.
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