Exploring the world on foot is one of the purest ways to connect with nature. Across the globe, there are trails that stand out as the world’s best hikes. Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a casual walker looking to step up your game, these trails showcase the best of what the planet has to offer.


Inca Trail, Peru

The Inca Trail is one of the most famous trekking routes in the world, leading to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. This 26-mile (42-kilometer) trail is steeped in history and winds through stunning Andean scenery, including cloud forests and alpine tundra. It takes typically four days to complete, culminating in the arrival at the Sun Gate overlooking the famed ruins at sunrise. The trail passes lesser-known Incan sites like Runkuracay and Sayacmarca. Due to its popularity, access to the Inca Trail is limited to protect the site, requiring hikers to book with authorized guides well in advance.

Camino de Santiago, Spain

The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is a historic pilgrimage route. It ends at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where the apostle Saint James is said to be buried. The network of routes spans across Europe, but the most popular is the French Way, which stretches about 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the French Pyrenees to Santiago. The trek can take about 30 to 35 days to complete. It’s a physical journey and also a spiritual one, with many hikers experiencing a personal or spiritual awakening along the way. The path takes trekkers through small villages, medieval towns, and major cities. Facilities and accommodations along the way cater to pilgrims’ needs, making it accessible for anyone.

Appalachian Trail, USA

The Appalachian Trail is an iconic trek stretching approximately 2,190 miles (3,500 km) across the Eastern United States, from Georgia to Maine. It traverses 14 states, showcasing a variety of American landscapes, from dense forests to rugged mountains. This trail is a test of physical endurance, taking five to seven months to complete. Hikers can explore portions of the trail for shorter trips or undertake the challenging feat of a thru-hike. The Appalachian Trail is also known for its vibrant community that provides support and camaraderie. Along the way, shelters and hostels are strategically placed, enabling trekkers to plan manageable daily distances.

Tour du Mont Blanc, Europe

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a comprehensive trek that circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif. It covers a distance of approximately 110 miles (177 kilometers) and treks through three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland. This trail has stunning alpine scenery, featuring glaciers, valleys, and expansive mountain vistas. It typically takes 11 to 14 days to complete. Hikers can enjoy the rich cultural diversity and sample French, Italian, and Swiss hospitality and cuisine. The route is well marked and popular, offering numerous refuges and small inns for overnight stays. The physical challenge is significant, with considerable elevation gains and losses. But, the paths are well-trodden and accessible to anyone with good fitness.

Milford Track, New Zealand

The Milford Track is one of the finest walks in the world, spanning 33 miles (53 kilometers) through the heart of New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. This point-to-point trek takes four days and passes through lush rainforests, peaceful lakes, and vast valleys. It culminates in the spectacular Sutherland Falls, among the tallest waterfalls in the world with a total drop of 1,904 ft (580 m). The track is well-maintained and only allows a limited number of hikers per season. Accommodation along the track is in the form of comfortable huts which must be booked well in advance due to the trail’s popularity.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak at 19,341 feet (5,895 meters) and is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. It attracts thousands of climbers annually, who undertake the challenge to reach its summit, Uhuru Peak. The mountain can be climbed via several routes, with the Marangu and Machame routes being the most popular. These trails pass through various climate zones, from rainforests and moorlands to alpine deserts. The climb, which typically takes about five to nine days, does not require technical mountaineering skills, but altitude sickness is a risk due to the high elevation.

Everest Base Camp, Nepal

The trek to Everest Base Camp is a bucket-list item for many. It offers views of the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, at 29,029 feet (8,848 meters). This 130-mile (210-kilometer) round trip hike takes approximately 12 to 14 days to complete, starting from Lukla. This trek is a journey through the culture of the Sherpa people, with visits to monasteries and homes in the Khumbu region. The trail offers dramatic landscapes with rough terrain, glaciers, and towering peaks. Although it’s a demanding hike due to the altitude, it is well-trodden and can be undertaken by anyone in good health with proper preparation and acclimatization. The base camp itself is situated at the foot of the dangerous Khumbu Icefall.

John Muir Trail, USA

The John Muir Trail runs through California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range and covers some of the finest mountain scenery in the United States. Stretching over 211 miles (340 kilometers) from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney, it passes through Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks. The trail, which takes about three weeks to complete, is named after the naturalist John Muir, an early advocate of wilderness preservation in the United States. The path traverses alpine and high-mountain scenery with clear lakes, granite cliffs, and lush meadows. Although challenging due to its length and elevation gains, the trail is well-marked and offers numerous resupply points.

West Coast Trail, Canada

Located on Vancouver Island, the West Coast Trail is an immersive 47-mile (75-kilometer) trek along the island’s southwestern coastline. Originally established to rescue shipwreck survivors, the trail now serves as a challenging adventure that takes about six to eight days to complete. It offers a variety of landscapes, from forests and sandy beaches to cliffs and waterfalls. Hikers need to be well-prepared as the trail includes crossing rivers, scaling ladders, and navigating muddy sections. This hike is highly rewarding, with great views of the Pacific Ocean and opportunities to see wildlife such as whales, sea lions, and eagles.

Larapinta Trail, Australia

The Larapinta Trail is one of Australia’s most spectacular bushwalking and trekking experiences. The hike extends over 139 miles (223 kilometers) through the West MacDonnell Ranges around Alice Springs. This trail can be completed in sections or as a whole, taking up to 14 days for the entire route. The trail includes rugged ridgelines, gorges, and arid landscapes, offering nice views of the outback. It is well-marked and has established campgrounds with basic facilities along the way. It’s an excellent way to explore the Australian desert landscape and its Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Pacific Crest Trail, USA

The Pacific Crest Trail extends over 2,650 miles (4,265 kilometers) from the southern border of Mexico to the northern border of Canada. It cuts through California, Oregon, and Washington, showcasing the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. The trail offers hikers beautiful vistas, remote wilderness, and varied climates, from arid desert landscapes in the south to lush rainforests in the north. Completing the PCT is a significant challenge, typically requiring five to six months. It’s not just a physical challenge but also a mental one, as the long days and isolation can be as demanding as the terrain. Along the trail, hikers have opportunities to visit popular national parks like Yosemite and Crater Lake.

Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

The Annapurna Circuit is a famous trek in the heart of the Nepalese Himalayas, encircling the Annapurna massif. This hike spans approximately 100 to 145 miles (160 to 233 kilometers), depending on the exact route and side trips chosen. Typically, it takes around 15 to 20 days to complete, offering a deeply immersive experience in the landscapes and cultures of Nepal. The circuit passes through subtropical forests, paddy fields, and alpine environments, offering views of some of the world’s highest peaks. Trekkers encounter a mix of cultures, including Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist communities. The Thorong La Pass, at 17,769 feet (5,416 meters), is the highest point and a highlight of the route. The Annapurna Circuit is challenging due to its length and altitude but is a worthy goal for well-prepared hikers with a good fitness level.

Laugavegur Trail, Iceland

The Laugavegur Trail is Iceland’s most famous trek and is renowned for its otherworldly landscapes. With a distance of approximately 34 miles (55 kilometers) from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk, the trail can be completed in 4 to 5 days. It passes through the colorful rhyolite mountains, expansive lava fields, and geothermal hot springs. The trail is well-marked and offers several hut accommodations along the way, although they need to be booked well in advance due to their popularity. The best time to hike the Laugavegur Trail is from late June to early September when the weather conditions are most favorable.

Great Ocean Walk, Australia

Stretching 62 miles (100 kilometers) along the spectacular coastline of Victoria, the Great Ocean Walk runs from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles. This walk has stunning views of Australia’s southern ocean and offers access to its lovely beaches. It provides numerous vantage points for observing marine life and the coastal landscape. The Great Ocean Walk can be completed in sections or as a whole in approximately eight days, with several campsites and more comfortable accommodation options available along the route. The path is a relatively easier walking experience, making it accessible to hikers of varying fitness levels.

GR20, Corsica

The GR20 in Corsica is reputed as one of the toughest long-distance trails in Europe. Stretching across Corsica from north to south, the trail covers around 112 miles (180 kilometers) and typically takes 15 days to complete. The route traverses a landscape of peaks and forests, with significant changes in elevation. The GR20 is divided into two sections: the northern part, which is more mountainous and challenging, and the slightly easier southern part. Despite its difficulty, the trail is well-marked and has a range of accommodation options from simple refuges to tents.

W Trek, Chile

The W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most popular hikes in Patagonia, Chile. The route, named for the W-shape it forms on a map, spans around 50 miles (80 kilometers) and typically takes four to five days to complete. The trail showcases glacial lakes, high mountains, and the famous granite towers of Torres del Paine. It’s a manageable trek for hikers of moderate fitness, with well-marked trails and refugios along the way for accommodation.

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, USA

The Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike offers a unique look on one of the world’s most famous natural wonders. The trek spans approximately 24 miles (39 kilometers), crossing the canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim or vice versa. It’s a strenuous hike, involving significant elevation changes, but rewards hikers with unparalleled views of the canyon’s layered geology. The hike can be completed in one or two days, depending on fitness and stamina, and it’s best to undertake it in cooler seasons to avoid extreme heat.

Banff Highline Traverse, Canada

The Banff Highline Traverse in Canada is a scenic journey through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. This 35-mile (56-kilometer) trail connects Lake Louise and Banff, taking hikers through stunning alpine terrain and past turquoise lakes. The hike typically takes four to six days and offers a blend of backcountry camping and lodge accommodations. The Banff Highline Traverse is known for its spectacular mountain vistas and the opportunity to spot wildlife like elk and mountain goats.

Snowman Trek, Bhutan

The Snowman Trek is one of the most challenging and remote hikes in the world, crossing 13 mountain passes over its 200-mile (320-kilometer) length. Located in Bhutan, this trek typically takes about 24 days to complete and reaches altitudes of up to 18,000 feet (5,486 meters). The trail offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas and passes through remote villages. Due to its difficulty, this trek is suitable only for experienced hikers with high altitude experience.

Kungsleden, Sweden

The Kungsleden, or King’s Trail, is one of Sweden’s most famous hiking routes, stretching approximately 270 miles (440 kilometers) through the country’s Lapland region. The trail passes through pristine wilderness, including mountains, forests, and river valleys. The northern section, between Abisko and Nikkaluokta, is the most popular and covers about 65 miles (105 kilometers). The Kungsleden offers a mix of mountain huts and wild camping. Hikers have the change to experience Sweden’s natural beauty and the Midnight Sun during summer months.