Must-Visit Destinations Around The World For Avid Hikers

With so many incredible places to visit for a legendary walkabout and to explore, hiking enthusiasts have more than a few options when it comes to appreciating the great outdoors. From unbelievably picturesque coastlines, gorgeous valleys, and mountain tops to hidden gems, stunning canyons, and pristine landscapes, there is no shortage of hiking-approved terrain out there. So if you happen to be a wanderluster who believes every first-rate getaway should include reaching new heights and trekking the wonders of the world, planning your next trip just got a whole lot easier.

Whether you are interested in long-distance, extra scenic, or simply life-changing traipsing, there is definitely an adventure in the great wide somewhere that is sure to meet your requirements, experience level, and bucket list goals. Of course, with so many choices, knowing where to start can be somewhat difficult. So to help, here are the must-visit destinations worldwide for avid hikers.

Criteria for incredible hiking destinations

As suggested, countless destinations around the world offer hiking options as a fun day trip or activity. But for a hiking adventure, you will never forget, you definitely want to look at a few criteria, including overall scenery, walkability, available trails, length, possibility and advantages of guided tours, to name a few. These things can make a world of difference when embarking on your outdoorsy excursion.

Being able to enjoy phenomenal views along the way makes most hiking adventures even more rewarding. That said, you should never sacrifice walkable terrain or developed trails in order to get the best scenery. If the area is not hiker-friendly, then it makes sense to choose another path. For hikers that enjoy off-trail adventures, your destination should still be conducive to on-foot exploration without disrupting the surrounding landscape. In general, a longer scenic route that is expansive, hiking-approved, and offers different options (multi-day, half-day, guided, and self-guided) makes a particular destination a must.

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Hike, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is a spectacular spot to explore in Arizona. With great outdoorsy activities and unreal views of the vibrantly colored rock formations, towering cliffs, and an iconic gorge, this national park should be on every avid hiker's to-do list. Not only does this stunning wonder offer multiple hiking trails and routes, but it is also home to the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim hiking trail.

A perfect excursion for newer and experienced hikers, the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim (which you can hike from south to north or north to south) is a lovely 20-mile-plus journey with an elevation gain of over 5,000 feet. The entire hike itself is considered strenuous. And it is worth noting that the North Rim or section of this trail is only open from mid-May to mid-October. So if you plan to hike from rim to rim, make sure you plan accordingly and are prepared for the journey.

Due to the intense Arizona sun, this trail is best completed in the morning and can be done in one day. However, many visitors do opt for a multi-day experience with backpacking and camping (backcountry permits are required for below-rim camping). More than a few guided tours are also available for the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim hike. However, a guide is not necessary to embark on this glorious trail.

Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal

Known as one of the most popular hiking experiences in the world, the Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek in Nepal is beyond bucket list worthy. In addition to legendary vistas of Mount Everest, a chance to check out the Tengboche Monastery, and the opportunity to sip tea high up in the mountains at various teahouses along the way, there are even more reasons to head out on this adventure. With a moderate difficulty level, most experienced hikers complete this once-in-a-lifetime route in roughly two weeks.

Nevertheless, it is highly recommended that you train before setting out on the EBC Trek, especially due to the high elevation and overall altitude. This lengthy 80-mile trek from Lukla to EBC and back to Lukla is definitely no small feat, but with determination, a tour, and a well-pre-planned itinerary, it is more than possible to complete. Typically, this hike is guided, and as of April 2023, the Nepalese government has made that a requirement for all hikers to ensure everyone's safety. Here, prices start at $1,600 a person for a standard two-week trek, including round-trip flights, accommodations, permits, and meals.

Bay of Fires, Tasmania

For hikers looking for a once-in-a-lifetime off-the-grid type experience, the Bay of Fires in Tasmania, Australia awaits. The Bay of Fires in Tasmania offers explorers the chance to traverse multiple routes or trails, admire miles of the Tasmanian coastline, embark on a Goblin Forest Walk, appreciate mystical waterfalls, and more. Depending on your footpath of choice, you can hike a balanced mix of easy, moderate, and challenging terrain.

Of course, travelers in town solely for the Bay of Fires can trek as many footpaths as they desire, especially since most of the trails are less than five miles long, except the Binalong Bay Loop which is a little over eight miles long. From point to point, the entire Bay of Fires route is 37.9 miles long and takes most hikers four days to complete (tours start at $1,500 a person, including camping accommodations and meals). That said, you can do a self-guided exploration here. However, it is highly recommended that you join a tour or take a car since the general area is rather remote.

Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand

Located in Marlborough, New Zealand, the Queen Charlotte Track is a wonderful trek that allows hikers to experience even more of New Zealand's pristine beauty. This 43-plus mile footpath is considered moderately challenging, mainly due to the length rather than walkability, and can take anywhere from three to five days to complete. Though with views of historic bays, the Queen Charlotte Sounds, mountain-like ridges, untouched wilderness, and dreamy coastlines, one tends to forget about the long journey ahead.

Queen Charlotte Track is undoubtedly another must for avid hikers. Still, it is also itinerary-worthy for anyone who enjoys exploring coastal regions in a variety of ways — hiking, biking, kayaking, or walking. Since this multi-use route stretches across private lands, a permit is required and overnight accommodations should be made in advance. Self-guided exploration is allowed here — though there are several tours that cover sections of Queen Charlotte Track, as well as fully guided experiences that include lodgings, water transportation, equipment, meals, and more for $2,720 per person.

Tour du Mont Blanc, France

Long-distance hikers looking for a superb outing should head to France, specifically the charming village of Les Houches in Chamonix Valley (in the French Alps), to cross the Tour du Mont Blanc (TBM) off their bucket list. Starting in this lovely area of the French Alps, the TBM goes through France, Italy, and Switzerland. What's more, this lengthy hiking trail is broken up into 11 legs or stages, with several access points.

This incredibly scenic multiple-day walkabout requires expert hiking experience or pre-hike training with a reasonable level of fitness, as it is classified as a strenuous hike. A guided tour around the Mont Blac mountain range is not required, but it is often the best way to tackle this alpine adventure, especially if you plan to trek all 105 miles. However, if you are looking for the most cost-effective option and are, in fact, an avid hiker, then a self-guided tour is definitely possible. Either way you decide to go, most hikers complete this multi-country excursion in 11 days or so.

Isle of Skye, Scotland

A majestic destination in Scotland, the Isle of Skye is a haven for hikers and outdoorsy folks. With jaw-dropping scenery, lush landscape views, and several spectacular hiking spots, avid hikers can choose their own adventure here and enjoy rocky mountainscapes, captivating coastlines, and magical terrain. A bonus here is that the island has quite the folklore and ancient ruins littered about, so this hiking destination is truly everything and then some.

The Isle of Skye has countless half-day and day hikes that do not disappoint. Easy walkabouts like Neist Point, Fairy Glen, and Fairy Pools are enchanting, have iconic vantage points, and are all two miles or less. For more of a moderate excursion with hilly landscapes, castle ruins, gorgeous mountain ranges, and wild grassy cliffs, hikers can head to Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing Loop, and Coire Lagan for over a two-hour adventure ranging from three to five miles round-trip. And for a strenuous, 15-mile mountain trek with picturesque narrow valleys, Sgurr na Stri is an attractive option that takes roughly eight hours to complete.

The Great Ocean Walk, Australia

For hikers looking to experience even more of Australia, the Great Ocean Walk covers the Port Campbell National Park, Great Otway National Park, and two marine parks. Showcasing the stunning Victoria coastline of this island continent, the Great Ocean Walk is a long-distant trek of around 60 miles one-way. The Great Ocean Walks starts in Apollo Bay, near Melbourne, concludes at the Twelve Apostles, and typically takes eight days to traverse. Known as a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking, this hike should definitely be on every die-hard hiker's to-do list.

Besides having breathtakingly beautiful scenery, the Great Ocean Walk is brimming with wildlife, flora, forested land, sealife, and nearby attractions such as the Cape Otway Lighthouse. There are ample guided tours available for the entire trek or particular sections, though you can always do a self-guided excursion. With a plethora of accommodations, hiking-approved camping grounds, all experience-level short walks, moderate day hikes, full route itineraries, and more, the Great Ocean Walk is an outdoorsy alternative to the Great Ocean Road and is truly a must.

Banff, Alberta, Canada

Avid hikers looking to experience the Rockies like never before should absolutely head to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. With breathtaking peaks, shimmering blue lakes, flowing creeks, hot springs, pristine wilderness, and over 1,000 miles of phenomenal hiking trails, Banff National Park is definitely hiker-approved. Here, you can find every kind of trek imaginable ranging from easy to strenuous.

A few popular trails in Banff that one can embark on sans a guide include Cory Pass, the Casacade Amphitheatre, and Lake Agnes. Experienced hikers can work up quite the sweat as they traverse Cory Pass — a difficult eight-mile loop that takes roughly six hours to complete. However, many find that all the hard work is well worth it for the impeccable views. The Cascade Amphitheater is also eight miles long and takes about six hours or less to finish, though it is considered a moderate hike with stunning limestone cliffs and vibrant wildflowers. On the other hand, the hike to Lake Anges is much easier, half as long, and can be completed in under four hours. Plus, after marveling at waterfalls, turquoise waters, and rocky landscapes on your Lake Agnes hike, you can pop by the Lake Agnes Teahouse for a cupper and some pie.

Gunung Rinjani, Indonesia

Here, thrill-seekers will get the chance to climb, hike, and trek an active volcano in Indonesia. Situated on the island of Lombok, Mount Rinjani (Gunung Rinjani) is the second-highest mountain in the entire country, reaching a staggering 12,224 feet. Due to its overall elevation, one does not simply hike Rinjani. Instead, this UNESCO Global Geopark-appointed mountain/volcano is considered sacred, making a hiking adventure here more of a pilgrimage than anything else.

The Rinjani trek is typically a guided 15.6-mile moderately difficult excursion that can be completed in under 14 hours. However, most tours are multi-day hikes ranging from two to four days. Though you can attempt this trek without a guide and complete the route in one day, it is "actively discouraged" by all, including the government. That said, guided tours usually cost anywhere from $80 to $450, with some including meals, snacks, water, accommodations, transportation, trekking equipment, and various extras like winter coats plus other must-have essentials for this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Samaria Gorge, Greece

Located in Greece, on the island of Crete, hikers will find Samaria Gorge. Described as one of the most epic one-way hikes in the world, travelers who trek through Samaria Gorge National Park are in for a real treat. The gorge itself is nearly 10 miles long, making it one of the largest in all of Europe.

Reaching an altitude of 4,100 feet, Samaria Gorge is both intimidating and picture-perfect. Here, hikers can traverse through the rugged White Mountains of Crete, explore the only national park on the island and enjoy divine views of colorful wildflowers, towering rock formations, stunning far-off vistas of the Mediterranean, and of course, Samaria Gorge in all its glory. From point to point, Samaria Gorge is a nine-mile hike that takes just under 14 hours to finish. Hikers can opt to hike all or a portion of Samaria Gorge and can either join a guided tour or explore this jaw-dropping sight without one.

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Known as one of the world's most dangerous hikes, Kalalau Trail in Kauai, Hawaii requires expert experience, but if you are up to the challenge, then get ready to marvel at 11 miles (or 22 miles roundtrip) of remarkably picturesque ocean and beach vistas, make your way through lush vegetation, and witness one of the most glorious sunsets ever. The Kalalau Trail starts at Ke'e Beach and stretches across five valleys. However, this hiking adventure can be done in a single day, with an early start time.

The Kalalau Trail is considered a difficult, if not strenuous, endeavor and has an elevation gain of 800 feet. Nonetheless, with its open ridgeline and treacherous terrain around mile seven, hiking this route is definitely not for the timid or inexperienced. Still, a guided tour is not required to complete this trek, though a permit to proceed beyond mile six and to camp overnight are both required. Additionally, parking reservations and a day pass for Ke'e Beach to Hanakapi'ai (which covers the first two miles of the trek) are also mandatory.

Camino de Santiago, Spain

Yet another spiritual walk/hike combo that avid hikers need to experience at least once in their life is Camino de Santiago. Primarily located in Spain, Camino de Santiago is nothing to sneeze at, as it covers nearly 500 miles of terrain and typically takes a month (30 days) to complete. Beginning in Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, this footpath covers a total of four of Spain's 15 regions and comes to a close at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site will take you through fragrant eucalyptus forests and countless beautiful European landscapes, along lush vineyards, and on an in-depth journey through the Pyrenees Mountains. And despite the lengthy road that lies ahead here, hikers and walkers can set out on this semi-moderate adventure and spiritual quest without a guide or tour. Many previous Camino de Santiago pilgrims even recommend tackling this route solo, as it is the perfect walkabout to disconnect from it all, trust in yourself, and focus on your overall wellness.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

Last but not least, avid hikers and hardcore nature lovers heading to Costa Rica can combine their two passions in life at the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. A relatively easy self-guided hike in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is more than possible, as this renowned forest in the sky has nine walking/hiking trails, which total roughly eight miles of exploration through dense rainforest foliage, sun-kissed passageways, and misty clouds. With many routes to take, hikers can marvel at the various ecosystems here while appreciating all the animal, amphibian, bird, and plant life that calls this reserve home.

Of course, forest reserve goers that want to see almost every inch of this massive wilderness and wildlife preserve can book a guided tour for maximum enjoyment. But a guided tour is not a requirement. The two main trails/loops in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve — the longer Sendero Bosque Nuboso (Cloud Forest Trail) takes approximately half a day to complete, and the shorter Sendero Camino (Road Trail) can be completed in less than two hours. Ultimately, this is just one more undeniable spot on the map that reveals itself to those who travel on foot.