Hiking is about more than getting from A to B or putting one foot in front of the other for hours or days. Hiking creates a special state of mind and a special sense of connection with a place and with the entire world. For adventure seekers and nature lovers, hiking is an exhilarating way to explore new places and discover hidden gems.
From traversing rainforests and climbing mountains, meandering coastal paths, and exploring ancient ruins, hiking offers a unique opportunity to witness the breathtaking landscapes and diverse cultures of our planet. Some of the most beautiful scenery in the world can only be reached on foot. And while many of the best treks in the world are multi-day journeys, some are hikes that can be tackled by anyone in decent physical condition.
So, dust off those hiking boots and get ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime! Here’s my list of some of my all-time favorite hikes. I hope you’ll add at least one or two of them to your bucket list.
1. Overland Track
Distance: 40 miles (65 km)
Time: 5–6 days
The amazingly picturesque Overland Track runs through the beautifully rugged and extremely varied terrain of the Tasmanian wilderness and was my very first proper long-distance hike. Fresh out of school, the spectacular panoramas of mountains, rainforests, alpine meadows, stunning lakes, waterfalls, and coastline instilled the love of hiking in me forever.
The popular hike takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in Australia, and Tasmania’s unique flora and fauna will enchant you all along the route — giant grasses, eucalyptus trees, moss-covered forests, gum and leatherwood trees that are more than 2,000 years old, not to forget the super-sized wombats and Tasmanian devils.
More than 9,000 walkers enjoy the Overland Track each year, with the best time to hike being during the summer months — December to February. However, be aware that this is also the busiest time of year, so you may want to look at visiting anytime between October and May, or alternatively starting your hike early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Pro Tip: The original hike can be completed in 6 days, but it is also possible to extend the hike by adding another 2 days, with a hike alongside a beautiful lake.
2. Torres del Paine W Circuit
Distance: 43.1 miles
Time: 5–6 days
The W Circuit Trek in Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most popular hikes in the world, with hikers coming from all over to appreciate the striking views of the southernmost region of Chile. The park’s stunning natural beauty — with picture-perfect glacial lakes surrounded by jagged, snow-covered peaks — makes this national park a photographer’s dream. Torres del Paine National Park is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including pumas, guanacos, deer, rheas, and flamingos.
Improvements in the trail and services over the past few years have made the trail more accessible, and you no longer need to carry your own gear. The hike generally takes between 4 and 6 days, and the peak season is October and March. The weather in Patagonia is erratic and changeable, so be prepared for rain, snow, sun, and especially wind.
With its stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife, the W Circuit Trek is a must-do for any outdoor enthusiast.
3. Annapurna Circuit
Distance: 100–140 miles (depending on the route)
Duration: 12–20 days
The Annapurna Circuit was one of my first serious treks, and it had me hooked on trekking for life. The trail is a journey through some of the tallest peaks on the planet and you are surrounded on all sides by a dazzling panorama of mountains, all over 20,000 feet. This is a popular hike and it demands a high level of fitness.
The days are long and the distances can be challenging, and coupled with the high elevation, it can be tough going for some. Accommodation along the trail is basic, as is the food, but with a huge diversity of people from around the world on the trail, you are bound to meet some interesting fellow hikers.
Another highlight of the route is the climb to Poon Hill. Most people try to make it to the top for sunrise, and from this vantage point, you’ll be able to see eight of the 14 highest mountain peaks in the world. You may want to consider hiring porters for your backpack to make your trip much more enjoyable.
Pro Tip: Another shorter and easier trail that allows you to see some of the highlights is the Annapurna Panorama Trek. This 3- to 5-day trek starts from Pokhara and heads up to Ghorepani. Accommodation and food along this stretch are both very good.
4. Inca Trail
Distance: 26 miles
Time: 4–6 days
The Inca Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in South America and takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in Peru, including the jungle, mountains, and ancient ruins of the Inca civilization. The trail’s final destination is the amazing Machu Picchu, known as the “lost city of the Inca.” On paper, the Inca Trail may not seem like a particularly strenuous hike, but the endless ups and downs combined with the high altitude make this trek a difficult one — but totally worth it.
The trail follows the route the ancient Incas took over 650 years ago, and much of the original stonework is still in place. Along the way, you’ll pass through two tunnels created by the Incas, the ancient ruins of Winay Wayna, and many waterfalls. Descending from the Inca Trail into Machu Pichu at sunrise is one of life’s great experiences.
Not for the faint of heart, this is a 26-mile trek that takes you up and over two 13,000-foot passes, in what can be very changeable weather — it can be hot and steamy one minute and pouring rain the next, blazing sun at times and cold at others, so be prepared for every eventuality.
Pro Tip: The best time to hike the Inca Trail is from May to September. The weather is usually dry during this time of year, making for more pleasant hiking conditions. However, be aware that the trail can be crowded during peak season. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, try visiting during the shoulder months of April and October.
5. Everest Base Camp Trek
Distance: 80 miles (130 km)
Time: 12+ days
Renowned as one of the best treks in the world, Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek gives you glimpses of the highest mountain on earth. The route takes you over the highest pass in the world, the Khumbu Icefall, and through the most famous glacier in the world, the Khumbu Glacier. You will walk alongside the Sagarmatha National Park, home to the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest. Not only that, but you’ll also get to know the Sherpa people, and highlights along the way will include Namchee Bazaar, the Everest View Hotel (the highest hotel in the world), and the Tengboche and Thami monasteries.
Up and down are probably the two best words to describe the EBC hike. The 80-mile trail literally climbs a mountain ridge, then drops down to a river, then climbs another mountain ridge as it makes its way to base camp. The hike takes 12 to 14 days on average and is high — you’ll max out at 18,044 feet. That being said, most of the walking is done in the 11,482 to 14,763ft range, though as the air up here is thin, and any exertion seems twice as hard.
EBC is best done between either March and May or September and December, when temperatures are moderate and the skies are clear.
Pro Tip: Be aware that you cannot see the peak of Mount Everest from Base Camp. You will, however, see it from various points on the trail, when other massive mountains are not in the way.
6. Mount Kilimanjaro
Distance: 45 miles (Rongai Route)
Time: 5–9 days
Kilimanjaro is one of the most iconic sites in all of Africa, and the hike to the top is on many people’s bucket list. Around 35,000 people attempt this hike each year, though only about 65 percent of them succeed in getting to the very top. It’s almost 15 years since I first climbed Kilimanjaro, and in the intervening years, I’ve probably climbed it another 40 times. In fact, just before I sat down to compile this list for you, I was having a Zoom call with the next group of trekkers I’ll be taking to the top.
At 19,300 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. This dormant volcano is definitely one of the best mountain hikes in the world, and the views from the top across the surrounding landscape are spectacular, especially at sunrise, which is when most hikers aim to reach the top.
While the hike is challenging and is better suited to the more adventurous and those with some hiking experience, most avid hikers can reach the top if they prepare themselves both mentally and physically. I can guarantee that standing on the roof of Africa is something you’ll never forget once you’ve done it.
Pro Tip: my recommended route up Kilimanjaro is the Rongai Route, and the best time to climb is between June and October, with September being my preferred month.
So, there you have it, my favorite hiking spots from around the world. I hope I’ve inspired you to head for the great outdoors sometime soon. Remember, as Werner Herzog once said, “The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.”