These Incredible Hiking Destinations Should Inspire Your Next Vacation
There's no better way to experience a new place than by hiking through its countryside and wilderness. Whether you're an experienced hiker or more of a long-distance walker, some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world take you through the wildest scenery and quaintest villages, giving you access to areas of the globe you never thought possible.
If you're looking for your next vacation and want something a little more adventurous than relaxing on a beach for a week, these destinations will satisfy your wanderlust. Including mountain and cross-country treks from one coast to another, these are the best hikes in the world.
Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to 300 BC, and the iconic Treasury building is accessible only by foot. While it's a short hike, only about a mile long, it's truly a unique hike.
Pacific Crest Trail, US
The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,653 miles long, stretching from California through Oregon and Washington and finishing in British Columbia, Canada. With varying elevations passing through 10 different mountain ranges, it's one of the longest and most scenic trails in North America.
Big Bend National Park, US
If you want to see one of the most ecologically diverse locations in the world, head to Big Bend National Park in West Texas. At over 1,251 square miles, the park includes areas of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Rio Grande, vast mountains, and fertile valleys with more than 1,200 species of plants. Despite being one of the least-visited parks in the United States, it offers some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country.
West Highland Way, Scotland
This 96-mile long walking path through the Scottish Highlands will have you living out your Outlander dreams. The West Highland Way trail includes notable locations like the Devil's Staircase and is full of wildlife like golden eagles and red deer.
Bay of Fires, Tasmania
The Bay of Fires in Tasmania, off the coast of Australia, is one of the most otherworldly hiking locations you could find. Its name comes from the stunning red boulders that line the coast and walking the entire length of the trail can take up to four days making it a must-do hiking vacation.
Croagh Patrick, Ireland
Hiking to Croagh Patrick is a religious pilgrimage for many Irish Catholics, as it's named after the patron saint of Ireland. Considered the holiest mountain in the country, the hike up to the top of the mountain is about two hours long. Croagh Patrick is located nearby to plenty of beautiful Irish towns for you to explore as well.
Inca Trail, Peru
Perhaps one of the most well-known hikes on this list is the Inca Trail, which ends at Machu Picchu. There are three trail routes in varying difficulties that wind through mountain passes, cloud forests and alpine tundras. The longest trail into Machu Picchu takes four days, while the shortest is two days.
Tour du Mont Blanc, France, Italy, and Switzerland
One way to check three countries off your bucket list would be to do the Tour du Mont Blanc. It's one of the most popular hiking trails in the world and can take 11 days to complete the whole route. But the payoff is incredible, winding its way through the mountains of Switzerland, Italy, and France, giving you spectacular views you can't get anywhere else.
Appalachian Trail, US
At over 2,200 miles long, the Appalachian Trail is the longest trail for hiking only in the world. The whole trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, but there are dozens of opportunities for partial hikes along the route.
Camino de Santiago, Europe
The Camino de Santiago is another pilgrimage route, this time honoring Saint James and ending at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Composed of dozens of routes starting in various cities in France, Italy, England, and more, the most popular modern route is the French Way, which begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Whether you're Catholic or not, the hike is a beautiful way to experience the European countryside.
The Dolomites, Italy
The Dolomites are a mountain range in Italy, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rugged mountains are surrounded by green fields and quaint towns with dozens of hikes in varying difficulties to fill your days.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Many tourists visit Cinque Terre to see the gorgeous multicolored homes built into the edge of the cliffs, but it's actually one of the best destinations for hiking in the world. The most popular trail takes about six hours, but you can split it up over a few days and stop in some of the five towns along the way to recharge and get a glass of the region's famous wine.
Hadrian's Wall Path, UK
Hadrian's Wall essentially marks the boundary between England and Scotland and, as a result, is in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK. You can walk the 84-mile path from one coast to the other, stopping at pubs and market towns along the way. The path is relatively easy yet still gives you incredible views of the English and Scottish countrysides.
Ciudad Perdida, Colombia
Ciudad Perdida, or the Lost City, is older than Machu Picchu, and the hike to the ruins is not for the faint of heart. It takes four to six days and is over 27 miles of hilly hikes through hot, humid jungles and mountains. The path even contains several river crossings — but if you're up to it, the Lost City Trek is one of the most spectacular hikes in the world.
The Kungsleden trail is one of the most famous, passing through Sweden's Lapland region between Abisko and Hemavan. At almost 250 miles long, with both lowland and mountain hiking trails, the scenery is absolutely stunning.
Otter Trail, South Africa
The Otter Trail is so difficult that there are age restrictions in place (12 to 65), and you'll need to give yourself five days and four nights to complete the South African hike. The scenery is absolutely stunning, ranging from white sand beaches to dramatic cliffs, and you'll spend your nights in huts overlooking the ocean.
Chilkoot Trail, US and Canada
The Chilkoot Trail is a National Historic Site, which winds through Alaska and British Columbia. The route through the mountain pass is rocky, difficult, and sometimes covered in snow, so it's important to be prepared. But the Chilkoot Trail is also wild and beautiful, and totally worth it.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal
While Mount Everest itself should only be attempted by the most experienced climbers, the Everest Base Camp trek is suitable for almost anyone. The hike is gentle but takes up to two weeks to complete, with plenty of stops on the way. As its name suggests, the trek will take you to the foot of Mount Everest through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the world.
Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
If you're looking for a warmer hike, the Kalalau Trail is a great way to see the rugged coast of Hawaii's Kauai island. It's an 11-mile hike through five mountain valleys that ends on Kalalau Beach. It's so popular that many tourists don't know they need to prepare for the hike, and all hikers need a permit to access the trail.
Banff National Park, Canada
You could spend a week hiking in Alberta's Banff National Park and still not complete all of the trails. With over 994 miles of trails through valleys, mountain passes, glaciers, and lakes, there is so much to see. The park becomes Kootenay National Park when you cross over into British Columbia with even more hikes and stunning vistas to see.
Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand
New Zealand is known for having some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and Te Araroa Trail is the best way to see it. Along the way, you can see beaches, volcanoes, forests, and cities. With over 1,800 miles of trails from the North of the island to the South, you'll want to pick and choose your routes.
Long Range Traverse, Canada
The Long Range Traverse in Newfoundland and Labrador's Gros Morne National Park is rugged and spectacular. It's an unmarked trail about 15 miles long and takes the typical hiker three to four nights to complete. It's ideal for those looking for a real backcountry experience, off the beaten path.
Fitz Roy Trek, Argentina
No list of hikes would be complete without a trek in Patagonia. Argentina's Fitz Roy Trek in El Chalten is composed of several routes, some manageable in a day and others that can take up to two days to complete. Either way, you'll find yourself with spectacular views of Monte Fitz Roy, glaciers, meadows, and lakes.