The 19 Best Hikes in the World
The best long-distance hikes in the world, hand picked by our hiking experts
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” - T.S. Eliot
Hiking is about more than traveling. It is more than seeing beautiful scenery or getting from A to B. It is more than exercise or putting one foot in front of the other for hours or days. Hiking is all of that! It creates a special state of mind and a special sense of connection with a place and with the entire world.
Exploring our breathtaking planet as much as possible might be the greatest goal in our lives for us, adventurers. Most of us have a bucket list of hikes and travels that fuel our dreams. These lists are a source of inspiration. So are the people who make their dreams come true. Inspire yourself and others by bringing the faraway world closer to your daily life by starting to plan instead of just dreaming! Here is a little help to start out with. We have compiled the ultimate bucket list for all hikers and adventurers and carefully selected some amazing videos and photos about the epic treks. Here are the 19 best long-distance hikes in the world, hand picked by our hiking experts!
1. Tour du Mont Blanc
- Location: France, Italy, and Switzerland
- Distance: 170 kilometers (110 miles)
- Duration: 7-11 days
The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the most popular long-distance walks in Europe. The trek gives you the chance to hike through three of Europe’s most beautiful countries. It leads through distinctive mountain passes, idyllic alpine meadows, and glacial valleys which have some of Europe’s most impressive glaciers on display.
The trek circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif, composed of Mont Blanc, the rooftop of Western Europe (at 4810 meters, 15,781 feet high) and a few other stunning peaks. The trail covers a distance of roughly 170 kilometers (110 miles) with 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of ascent/descent.
2. GR 20
- Location: Corsica Island, France
- Distance: 180 kilometers (112 miles)
- Duration: 11-15 days
The GR20 is one of the most well-known multi-day treks in Europe and is famous for being one of the toughest treks. It traverses the Mediterranean island of Corsica horizontally from north to south. The path runs 180 kilometers (112 miles) along the jagged spine of the island’s mountainous center. The trail has two parts: a northern part and a southern part with a small village and the possible exit point of a train station in the middle.
In the northern part, the trail is mostly rocky with steep ups and downs, but the payoff is the spectacular scenery. Looking down over the turquoise lakes and granite moonscapes, catching glimpses of the dramatic coastline through the towering spires is just priceless! The southern part is packed with beautiful, vivid forests. For most hikers, the walk takes around 15 days.
- Location: Iceland
- Distance: 80 kilometers (50 miles)
- Duration: 6-8 days
Iceland’s Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails were introduced to the international hiking community by National Geographic not so long ago. Since then, the trails have become increasingly popular for a very good reason.
The paths lead among the multicolored rhyolite mountains passing by bubbling hot springs and taking you to fascinating viewpoints where you can look over the black lava fields and an incredibly diverse landscape.
After traversing the smokey lava fields, climbing a snowy peak and crossing unbridged rivers and a black desert, you'll arrive in a vibrantly green valley, where the second part of the trail starts. The path then leads up a spectacular mountain pass between three glaciers. It runs by the new craters and traverses the young ground that were freshly formed in the Eykafjallajökull eruption of 2010.
The ultimate Laugavegur-Fimmvörðuháls trail - or the Grand Laugavegur, as it is often called - stretches some 80 kilometers (50 miles) through the extremely varied landscapes of the Icelandic Highlands which hold some of the most exquisite parts of Icelandic nature. Most hikers complete the walk in 6 to 8 days.
4. Dolomite High Route (Alta Via Uno)
- Location: Italy
- Distance: 120 kilometers (75 miles)
- Duration: 8 days
Weaving through the dramatic Dolomite mountain range, the spectacular Alta Via Uno trek is deservedly listed as one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. This rugged trail will take you around some incredibly impressive cliffs; towering 3,000-meter (10,000 foot) peaks; past cyan blue alpine lakes; charming, shady forests; and vast, rolling pastures.
The Dolomites are widely considered to be the most charismatic natural beauties in Europe thanks to their unique geology and insanely photogenic rock formations.
The Alta Via Uno is an amazing 120-kilometer (75 miles) long trek lined with marked hiking paths and rustic mountain huts set in the most idyllic locations. Trekkers typically take 10 days to complete the hike.
5. 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 very heart of the Alaskan wilderness. The trek offers stunning panoramas of the Alaskan mountains including Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, is only a few hundred meters shorter than the tallest mountain on the whole American continent.
The view on the Kesugi Ridge trail with Denali in the background. Photo: Paxson Woelber
Its top is 6,190 meters (20,310 feet) high and is the third most isolated peak on Earth. The trail leads along the side of Kesugi Mountain with Denali as a constant backdrop. The path runs through taiga forests at the lowest elevations and across the endless tundra with amazing views over the gigantic mountains and the stunning glaciers. The trail length can vary depending on which trailhead you choose.
Watch this informative video guide about the Kesugi Ridge trail:
6. The John Muir Trail via Yosemite Valley
- Location: California, USA
- Distance: 327 kilometers (203 miles)
- Duration: Approx. 3 weeks
John Muir, the "Father of the National Parks,” spent his life advocating the preservation of nature and the wilderness in the USA. His activism has helped to preserve the beautiful Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park, and many other wilderness areas in America. The path that was named after him truly befits his memory.
The epic John Muir Trail is deservedly the most popular trail in America. The path runs from the south of Yosemite National Park through the High Sierras to the summit of Mount Whitney. It covers the beautiful Sequoia National Park where the largest trees on Earth grow along with the spectacular Ansel Adams Wilderness and Kings Canyon National Parks. Some of the most captivating and pristine hiking sites, as well as the most scenic views in the USA, are found on the John Muir Trail. The length of the trail can be varied as there are possible exit points along the way.
Here is a whole documentary about the epic trail:
Yosemite valley. Photo: Thomas Wolf
7. South Kaibab to North Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon
- Location: Arizona, USA
- Distance: 47-65 kilometers (29-40 miles)
- Duration: 2-3 days
The 446-kilometer (290 miles) long, up to 29-kilometer (18 miles) wide, and 1600-meter (5249 foot) deep Grand Canyon is America’s crown jewel. It is famous for being one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Its visually overwhelming size, the unique combination of incredible geological formations, vivid colors, and breathtakingly intricate landscape leave everyone absolutely speechless. It is no wonder that there is a viewpoint here named the “Ooh-Aah Point” providing perfect and unforgettable views of the canyon.
This trek is an amazing combination of three different trails: South Kaibab (11.4 kilometers, 7.1 miles), North Kaibab (23 kilometers, 14 miles), and Bright Angel Trail (12.9 kilometers, 8 miles). It can be completed in two or three days and the length can be varied by adding more trails in the area. Hiking is the most recommended way to explore the Grand Canyon.
Breathtaking view over the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Photo: Chensiyuan
8. Torres del Paine Circuit
- Location: Patagonia, Chile
- Distance: 100-130 kilometers (62,3 - 80,8 miles)
- Duration: 5-9 days
Patagonia has a fixed spot on the list of the most amazing hiking areas in the world. This sparsely populated region shared by Argentina and Chile displays some of the most thrilling natural sceneries on the planet. Of all of them, Chile’s Torres del Paine may be the most attractive.
The Torres del Paine are three distinctive granite peaks in the Cordillera Paine mountain range which reach up to 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level. The area also boasts dramatic valleys, powerful rivers, turquoise glacial lakes, and rugged glaciers.
Hikers can opt for an easy day trip to see the towers. It is recommended, however, to take the popular "W" route, which takes about five days or to trek the full circle in eight to nine days.
9. 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 been one of the most famous and most popular hiking routes in the world for many years. It leads to the mysterious and ancient site of Machu Picchu, a 15th century Inca citadel ruin. The extraordinary site is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, located on a 2,430-meter (7,970 foot) tall mountain ridge.
The Salkantay Trek is, however, less known making it a great alternative trek to Machu Picchu for those who prefer to choose the path less traveled. This ancient and remote footpath leads in the same region as the Inca Trail but is somewhat longer and more challenging as it rises higher. For this same reason, the Salkantay Trek is much less frequented than the Inca Trail.
The hike takes you through lush lowland jungles up to beautiful highland alpines and glaciated mountains. The panorama of the massive snowcapped mountains contrasting with the fertile tropical rainforests is simply priceless. The Salkantay Trek and the Inca Trail can be combined into an unforgettable 7-day adventure.
Watch this short film from National Geographic about the Salkantay trek:
10. The Santa Cruz Trek
- Location: Peru
- Distance: 50 kilometers (31 miles)
- Duration: 3-4 days
If you are looking for an adventurous high-latitude challenge that will not push you to your absolute limits, Peru’s Santa Cruz Trek might be the best option for you. This hike is considered one of the bests in Peru as well as one of the most beautiful treks in the world. The Santa Cruz Trek offers you the chance for an amazing high altitude hike against the backdrop of glorious mountain vistas. Some of the country’s tallest peaks tower in the distance while the terrain itself is not very challenging technically.
The highest point of the trail is at 4750 meters (15,583 feet) while most of the trail lies at 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). The view of snowcapped peaks like Huascarán, the highest mountain in Peru, will be the reward for your efforts. Spectacular turquoise lakes, stunning valleys, and some of the world’s most thrilling panoramas await you on this hike.
The classic trek generally takes 4 days to complete. It is also possible to cut the length to 3 days or to combine the hike with other trails or peaks to potentially increase the duration up to a week.
Peru’s Cordillera Blanca is one of the most concentrated collections of big peaks in the Western Hemisphere. Photo: Esmée Winnubst
11. La Ciudad Perdida - The Lost City Trek
- Location: Columbia
- Distance: 50 kilometers (31 miles)
- Duration: 3-4 days
Ciudad Perdida, or the "Lost City," is a stunning archaeological site that is home to the ruins of an ancient city in Colombia's Sierra Nevada. It is believed to have been founded some 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu and was discovered in 1972.
This absolutely extraordinary hike features breathtaking views of hand-carved stone terraces and plazas. 2,000 to 8,000 people are believed to have lived here, but it is now abandoned and surrounded by a thick and humid jungle, consumed by moss and plants. Sacrificial sites, engraved stones, tiled roads through the middle of the dense jungle, sweeping mountain views, sputtering waterfalls, and rustic rock pools are the scenery you will encounter en route to the Lost City. The hike usually takes 3 to 4 days but can be extended with a few shorter hikes in the area.
Hike to the ancient city in Colombia's Sierra Nevada. Photo: Liam King
12. 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 rises 4,900 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level. It is also the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. This means that is not part of a mountain range, making it especially scenic as it dominates the landscape all through the area.
There are plenty of hiking routes leading up to its summit but the Machame Route is the most popular among backpackers because it is the most scenic and steepest route. It is often called the "whiskey" route, referring to its toughness.
The trail is considered challenging, making it better suited for the more adventurous or those who are good with high altitudes and that have hiking or backpacking experience. The hike starts in a rich rainforest then rises up to leave the forested area behind and to offer breathtaking views over the surrounding savanna. Then the route climbs up to a volcanic plug and passes spectacular icefields before reaching the summit. Standing on the rooftop of Africa is probably something that you will never forget once you have done it.
13. 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 the world’s third largest canyon as well as the greenest, offering the most epic views. One of its viewpoints is called “God’s Window” for a very good reason. Looking down from there, you can soak up the vistas over the verdant gorge beneath you, the lush forests, the amazing rock formations, and the breathtakingly beautiful panorama of the whole canyon.
This 3 to 5-day hike takes you across the nature reserve through its dense forests and its diverse terrain. The trail passes by beautiful waterfalls leading up to spectacular viewpoints with the possibility of some amazing wildlife sightings.
14. The Annapurna Circuit Trek
- Location: Nepal
- Distance: 160–230 kilometers (100-145 miles)
- Duration: 15-20 days
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the world’s most well-known treks. It is, in fact, so well-known that it is almost cliché. But there is a very good reason behind the hikers’ amazement, for sure. The trek encircles the gigantic Annapurna Massif who reaches its highest point at 5,416 meters (17,769 feet). Incredibly, the world’s highest peaks surround hikers all day long, from every direction, including the Annapurnas, Manaslu, and numerous other peaks which measure 6,000-8,000 meters (19,000-26,500 feet).
The trail starts in a jungle, crosses subtropical forests, pine forests, and terraced rice fields carved out of the greenery. It crosses over deep, narrow canyons and passes by several waterfalls, gigantic cliffs, and various mountain villages. Depending on where you start, the hike can be completed in 15-20 days. Hiking Nepal's Annapurna Circuit can be one of the most stunningly beautiful, life-changing experiences you could possibly have on your travels.
Watch this short documentary about the Annapurna circuit trek:
15. 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 the mecca for climbing and mountain enthusiasts. This beautiful, famous trekking journey is also culturally enticing. It starts in the rural Lukla town and features many famous Sherpa villages and settlements along the way. The Everest Base Camp Trek is both visually and mentally very enchanting. It passes 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).
At an elevation of 5,545 meters (18,192) feet, reaching the Everest Base Camp has become the goal for thousands of passionate trekkers all over the world. What makes this hike is absolutely world-famous is the awe-inspiring mix of the extraordinary natural beauties, fascinating culture, and warm Nepalese hospitality.
Here is an awesome video about the world-famous Trekking route:
16. The Ganden to Samye Trek in Tibet
- Location: Tibet, China
- Distance: 80 kilometers (50 miles)
- Duration: 4-5 days
This rigorous trek starts and ends at two ancient monasteries, both of which have great significance in Tibetan Buddhism. The trek follows the footsteps of traditional herders and nomads while offering beautiful views of blue holy lakes, alpine forests, lush meadows, barren plateaus, snowy passes and mountains, tranquil villages, and time-honored sacred sites.
Among the high passes, you will find secluded valleys that are only inhabited by high-altitude nomads and their yaks. Eagles, bears, antelopes, and marmots live in this scenery while herds of sheep and yaks wander and graze freely across the pastures. This pilgrimage trip is not really about the dramatic scenery, but rather about the pureness of the Tibetan landscape, religious culture, and ancient lifestyle.
The trek starts at the Ganden Monastery at 4,180 meters (13,940 feet) and rises up to 5,250 meters (17,224 feet) while heading towards Samye, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. The hike usually takes 4-5 days.
17. The Great Ocean Walk
- Location: Victoria, Australia
- Distance: 80-100 kilometers (50-62 miles)
- Duration: 6-8 days
Australia’s Great Ocean Walk may be the most beautiful coastal hike in the world. Stretching over 100 kilometers (62.1 miles), the trail wanders through gum and eucalyptus forests and traverses sand dunes, green pastures, rocky beaches, and hair-raising cliffs. The hike features picturesque shipwrecks and crosses through an area rich in fossils that are more than one hundred million years old.
The area is home to an amazing variety of wildlife: koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas, reptiles, and many species of birds. Moreover, from June through September, whales can be spotted along the coastline. Aside from the constantly magnificent scenery, the main highlights of the trail are the shipwrecks and the thrilling view of the Twelve Apostles, which are probably the most photographed limestone sea stacks in the world. The Great Ocean Walk is surely a trip to remember!
Watch this unique documentary about the Great Walk in Australia:
18. The Milford Track
- Location: The South Island, New Zealand
- Distance: 54 kilometers (33.5 miles)
- Duration: 5 days
The famous Milford Track is one of the jewels in the crown of New Zealand’s extensive hiking network. It is the most popular of country's nine Great Walks and also one of the most famous treks in the world:
The hike crosses the pristine pure Fiordland National Park, traversing U-shaped valleys and ice-gouged ledges, featuring breathtaking hanging streams and the fifth highest waterfall in the world. The hike takes place in an awe-inspiring natural setting, a spectacular temperate rainforest where none of the living creatures can do any harm to the humans.
Silver, red, and mountain beech forests, fuchsia plants, broadleaf plants, ferns, mosses, and lichens are abundant along the track. Brown kiwis, kakas, wekas, falcons, and many other species that can only be found in New Zealand live in these rainforests. It is no wonder why this amazing trail is so popular.
The breathtaking panorama in Milford Sound. Photo: Johannes Vogel
19. The Overland Track
- Location: Tasmania, Australia
- Distance: 65-82 kilometers (40.3-51 miles)
- Duration: 6-8 days
This amazingly picturesque wooden boardwalk trail runs across the beautifully rugged and extremely varied terrain of the Tasmanian wilderness. Spectacular panoramas of sheer mountains, thick rainforests, alpine plains, stunning lakes, and waterfalls are the reward for the hikers that walk through this isolated wilderness.
The rugged and extremely varied terrain of the Tasmanian wilderness. Photo: JJ Harrison
Tasmania’s extremely unique flora and fauna will surely enchant you all along the way. The hike features giant grasses, eucalyptus trees, moss-covered forests, gum and leatherwood and other trees that are more than 2,000 years old. The area is also home for countless super-sized wombats and Tasmanian devils, to mention just a few of the natural highlights of the trek.
The original hike can be completed in 6 days, but it is also possible to extend the hike by adding another 2 days through a hike along a beautiful lake.
Follow the hiker's footsteps all along the trail in this road video: