Trekking is one of life’s great joys – a chance to go outside and appreciate nature while getting lots of exercise and fresh air at the same time. If you enjoy trekking, why not think about a hiking holiday? Not only will this keep you fit while you’re away, but it will also allow you to explore a brave new world, admire magnificent views, and turn a mere break into a life-affirming expedition.
No matter where you are in the world, there are all kinds of routes to take, from breathless tracks up snow-capped mountains to steamy and meandering jungle trails, and winding paths through verdant valleys. Whether it’s about the journey or the destination, trekking is its own reward, and you’re sure to return home with cherished memories and dazzling photos.
To get you inspired, here are 12 of the best trekking destinations around the world. And, if you’re looking to book your next trip, you might want to check out our top travel deals page, suitable for a range of budgets.
1. Patagonia, Chile
Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is regularly voted one of the most beautiful places in the world, and once you catch sight of these blue-white glaciers, ancient forests, silent turquoise lakes, rugged granite towers and wide open grasslands, you’ll know why. There are dozens of spectacular hikes that twist through Chilean Patagonia, and the campsites and refugios are excellent too.
To experience the best of the best, however – and to get the most brilliant views of the iconic towers that give this park its name – you should follow either the O Trek or the W Trek. The O Trek is a nine-day circuit, while the W Trek takes four or five days to complete. Whichever trek you choose, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and breathtaking vistas that make every mile worth it.
Witness the dazzling beauty of Torres del Paine
2. Appalachia, USA
When it comes to long treks, there are few more famous than the Appalachian Trail, which winds its way down the eastern USA. Beginning in Mount Katahdin in Maine and ending in Springer Mountain in Georgia, the trail passes through a staggering 14 states and extends almost 2,200 miles. While two million walkers attempt to walk the entire trail every year, only one in four makes it all the way.
It usually takes five to seven months to hike the trail, so if you don’t have the time (or inclination!), you can hike segments of the route. One of the best sections weaves through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. Here you can hike through leafy forests, up misty peaks, and past cascading waterfalls, and marvel at the hazy blue ridgelines defined against the sky.
Discover the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains
3. The Slovenian Mountains
Slovenia may be small, but it’s absolutely one of the best countries for hiking on the continent. There are five majestic mountain ranges within these borders and 9,300 miles of trails – which is seriously impressive when you consider the entire nation is little over 12,000 square miles! A whopping 60% of the land here is forest, so if you like to walk among the trees, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Established in 1953 and spanning 383 miles, the Slovenian Mountain Trail is the country’s longest trek and takes most people just over a month to complete. You’ll pass glacial lakes, alpine summits, and emerald rivers, and you’ll conquer an impressive 23 peaks, including Mt Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain. The cosy huts dotted along the route will guarantee a good night’s sleep.
Marvel at the beauty of the Slovenian mountains
4. The Himalayas, Nepal
The Himalayas might seem like an obvious choice for a hiking destination, but the most famous mountain range in the world can’t be ignored. Home to the world’s highest peaks, including mighty Mt Everest itself, Nepal is split into three physiographic areas – mountain, hills, and plains – meaning wherever you are in the country, hiking opportunities abound.
The famous Annapurna Circuit is one of the most popular treks, and while actually scaling Annapurna is a serious challenge, the base camp trek is achievable if you have a decent level of fitness. Taking between 15–20 days to complete, you’ll trek through remote mountain villages and serene lowland pastures, past dense forests and gleaming glaciers, and you’ll be awed by the power of nature.
Marvel at the world’s tallest mountains
5. The Atlas Mountains, Morocco
The Atlas Mountains may only be a short drive from Marrakech, but they might as well be in another world; once you arrive in these hulking mountains, the hustle and bustle of this famously colourful and chaotic city will seem like a distant dream. Stretching for more than 1,200 miles across Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, the Atlas Mountain range offers exceptional hiking.
As the highest peak in North Africa, Mt Toubkal is the most popular hike but, to escape the crowds, there are other trails you can take. Many follow centuries-old shepherds’ paths between remote villages, passing through craggy massifs and panoramic passes, and along flowing streams and rocky ravines. Plus, as you trek, you’ll visit Berber villages, and get a glimpse into this unique culture.
Explore Morocco’s rugged Atlas Mountains
6. The South Island, New Zealand
New Zealand has a reputation for being paradise on earth for adventure lovers and thrillseekers…and it absolutely is. While the North Island boasts tropical coastlines, mysterious forests, and a rich Maori culture, it’s the South Island that’s more dramatically beautiful. Home to the Southern Alps, temperate rainforests, bubbling geysers, and gleaming glaciers, it’s astonishingly diverse.
Arguably the most spectacular region of the South Island is Fiordland, an area dominated by rugged snow-capped peaks, deep blue lakes, and ocean-flooded valleys. The best way to explore this pristine natural wonderland is on foot, and the three-day Routeburn Track is one of the most popular treks. Follow glacier-carved fjords, hike along steep ridges, and gaze up at wide-open skies.
Witness the astonishing beauty of New Zealand
7. California Coast, USA
The USA is vast, often wild, and boasts pretty much every landscape under the sun – so no wonder it makes two appearances on this list. If you thought the Appalachian Trail sounded long, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) spans almost 2,700 miles, stretching from Campo in Southern California all the way up to Canada’s British Columbia. And more people have climbed Everest than have walked the PCT!
So, for something more manageable, there’s the California Coastal Trail, which allows you to traverse the full length of the Golden State’s coast. Passing through national parks and beneath soaring redwood trees, there are many fabulous sections of the trail to choose from, although the segments around San Francisco, which offer stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, are especially popular.
Experience California’s coastal beauty on foot
8. The Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Switzerland is a country that’s made for hiking. Not only are the views of soaring mountains, alpine lakes and wildflower meadows utterly sensational, but there are also over 40,000 miles of trails to hike. The infrastructure here makes trekking even easier, as modern mountain railways transport hikers to key routes and vistas, and remote villages and hiking hotels, allowing you to easily explore.
Some of the best views can be observed on the Haute Route, a two-week trek which takes you from Zermatt in Switzerland to Chamonix in France – passing through picturesque Valais and looping past glacier-carved outcrops circled by looming mountains. But no matter where you are in Switzerland, you won’t be far from a trail, and there’s something for every ability.
Trek through the soaring Swiss Alps
9. Patagonia, Argentina
Covering an area of about 260,000 square miles, Patagonia – the rugged region at the bottom of South America – is vast, wild, and bleakly beautiful. We’ve already included Chilean Patagonia on this list, and now it’s Argentina’s turn. Boasting jagged peaks, crystalline rivers, mirror-like lakes, and frozen wildernesses, this part of the world offers some truly astounding trekking.
Ushuaia, the city located at the southernmost tip of Argentina, is known as the ‘End of the World’, and it’s the gateway to Tierra del Fuego National Park, where you’ll find some of the best trails in the country. With a diverse landscape that includes forests, lakes, lagoons, bogs, and beaches, there are gentle hikes of just a few miles and challenging multi-day treks across lofty mountain passes.
Be dazzled at the bleak beauty of Argentinian Patagonia
10. British Columbia, Canada
As the second largest country in the world, Canada is home to thousands of epic hiking trails, from well-trodden marked paths to rough tracts through the wilderness. There are several famous treks here, including the Great Divide Trail, which stretches through the Canadian Rockies, and the Trans Canada Trail, an incredible coast-to-coast trail that spans the width of the entire country.
But, for something a bit more achievable, head to British Columbia, where there are treks for every ability level – and seemingly every landscape too. The Sunshine Coast Trail is a 112-mile backcountry trek through shady forests, up panoramic mountains, and along shorelines, creeks, and lakes. Jasper and Banff national parks are also criss-crossed by trails that take you past truly sensational scenery.
Discover the diversity of British Columbia
11. Southern Iceland
It might be known as ‘the Land of Fire and Ice’, but only 11% of Iceland is actually frozen. The rest of the country is home to bubbling mud pools, smoking volcanoes, ice-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, green valleys, and sparkling glaciers, so if you’re looking to admire otherworldly landscapes while you trek, this is the destination for you.
There are fabulous trails all over the island, but the most popular are in the south – which is handy, as they’re only a few hours from the capital, Reykjavik. The most famous trail is Laugavegur – the ‘Hot Spring Route’ – a 34-mile trail that twists through geothermal valleys, black lava fields, rocky canyons, beautiful meadows, and colourful mountains. You’ll think you’ve fallen into a dream!
Uncover the otherworldly beauty of Iceland
12. West Norway
Then there’s Norway, which is undeniably one of the best countries in the world for hiking. It has a very low population density, meaning there’s plenty of quiet country to explore, as well as a fantastic hiking infrastructure, with clearly marked trails and well-kept refuges and campsites. Plus, it has excellent access-to-wilderness laws, meaning you can camp just about anywhere.
Wherever you go, the scenery is stunning, but if you have to pick just one region, we suggest West Norway, which is home to three of the country’s most popular hikes: Kjeragbolten, Pulpit Rock, and Trolltunga. This is a land of deep blue fjords carved by glaciers, precipitous cliffs, and thundering waterfalls, and a trek will take you past the most ethereally beautiful landscapes imaginable.
Trek through Norway’s breathtaking wilderness
So, if you enjoy hiking, we hope this article has inspired you. No matter where you want to go in the world, there are miles of winding paths and twisting trails to traverse.
If you’re thinking about a long-haul holiday, you might want to consider heading to Argentina or Chile, and visiting the very ends of the earth; or alternatively, you may be dreaming of exploring far-flung New Zealand.
But there are also dazzling trails just a few hours away. Why not trek through the pristine Swiss Alps, the gorgeous Slovenian mountains, the idyllic Norwegian fjords, or even the unearthly, dramatic landscape of Iceland?
Wherever you go, just make sure you do your research first, and pack the right provisions…including a sturdy and comfortable pair of walking boots!
For more inspiration for your next trip, head over to the travel section of our website.
Have you been on a trekking holiday, or have you hiked in any of these places? Perhaps you have your own recommendations for the best trekking destinations around the world? We’d love to hear about your hiking and trekking experiences in the comments below.