The Best Hiking Trails in the World

Summit mighty mountains, make your way through lust forests, follow flowing rivers, marvel at wildlife and much more on the world's best hiking trails
Travel+Leisure World's Best Awards 2023 logo in white
Black and white illustration of Charles Kronsten's headshot
Written by
Charles Kronsten

Published on: May 14th, 2024

Last modified: May 14th, 2024

Among all the infinite ways to explore the world, hiking may be the simplest. After all, travelling on foot is the most basic form of transport and the best way to fully immerse yourself in the environment – whether you’re climbing jagged peaks, crossing rushing rivers, navigating leafy forests, following the meandering coastline or passing through tranquil towns and villages.

Although embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime trek might seem intimidating, many of the world’s most beautiful hiking trails are highly accessible. And with the right input from our team of travel designers, the experience can even be luxurious. We can create a customised hiking trip that combines comfort, challenge, adventure and achievement – plus views that you’ll never forget.

With that in mind, we’ve selected 17 of the best hiking trails in the world to help you get inspired for your next intrepid trek.

Mustang Nepal Hiking

1. Jomsom Valley, Nepal

Located at the heart of Nepal’s Mustang district, Jomsom is a high-altitude town surrounded by the Annapurna mountains and bisected by the Kali Gandaki River. You can see it for yourself on a bespoke trek from Shinta Mani Mustang: undoubtedly the finest hotel in the region.

Shinta Mani Mustang is a true sanctuary and a tribute to local culture. Its expert team will create a personalised hiking route through the Jomsom Valley according to your skill and fitness level, complete with a delicious picnic lunch.

Need to know: The best time to hike here is from September to November, when the skies are usually clear and daytime temperatures are warmer.

Haa Valley Bhutan

2. Haa Valley, Bhutan

The Haa Valley is part of the Paro region, which boasts some of the most striking scenery in Bhutan. Also known as the ‘Hidden-Land Rice Valley’, it’s the ideal place for a scenic hike including both spectacular views and authentic cultural immersion. 

There are multiple routes, each passing through verdant forests, peaceful meadows and small villages. The sumptuous Six Senses Paro provides the perfect home base – not to mention spa – where you can relax after a long day of hiking.

Need to know: Visit from September to November for pleasant temperatures and less chance of rain, or from March to May for wildflowers and quieter trails (though skies may be cloudier). 

3. Everest Base Camp, Nepal

Although you might not be summiting the world’s tallest mountain yourself, you can trek to the place where some of the world’s bravest mountaineers spend months preparing for their own daring climbs: Everest Base Camp.

You’ll be accompanied by expert guides and well taken care of at luxury tents and lodges throughout your 10-day expedition to Everest. It takes eight to nine hours to reach the camp on foot from Gorakshep (the original base camp) on the eighth day of the journey.

Need to know: Although the final ascent doesn’t have direct views of Mount Everest, you’ll see the Khumbu Glacier, icebergs and enormous seracs (ice formations) along the way.

Poon hill, Annapurna

4. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

It should come as no surprise that Nepal is one of the world’s best countries for hiking, and the Annapurna region is among its crown jewels. Here there are plenty of options to suit every hiker, including both shorter and longer routes.

The Annapurna Foothills Trek is a two- to three-hour walk through the foothills and the Modi River Valley, with views of the mystical Fishtail Mountain (which has never been climbed) and the option to visit a nearby village.

Need to know: We offer two itineraries for trekking through Annapurna – one that lasts four days and one that lasts six – but shorter trips are also possible.

Thiksey Monastery, ladakh

5. Shakti Ladakh Village Experience, India

The Ladakh region of India is remarkably remote, with the Himalayas on one side and the Karakoram on the other. And the best way to appreciate its serene landscapes and lovely communities is unquestionably the Shakti Ladakh Village Experience

This multi-day adventure will take you through the Indus Valley with visits to markets, monasteries and more. You’ll sleep in comfortable traditional houses and luxurious dome tents each night. 

Need to know: The best time to visit Ladakh is May to September, when temperatures are highest. Even in summer, you’re likely to have the trails nearly all to yourself.

Flinders Ranges mountains in South Australia

6. Arkaba Walk, Australia

Set out on one of the ‘Great Walks of Australia’: the Arkaba Walk, which traverses the rugged terrain of the Outback. This three-day hike is moderate in difficulty and well worth the effort, providing an up-close look at the region’s geology, wildlife and conservation programmes.

Each night you’ll settle into a well-equipped bush camp with spacious tents, showers and delectable meals to fuel your journey. We suggest staying at Arkaba before or after the hike.

Need to know: You’ll get the best hiking conditions in this part of South Australia from mid-March to mid-October.

Al Hajar Mountains

7. Three Village Walk, Oman

For the perfect blend of outdoor adventure and cultural experiences, embark on the Three Village Walk from Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar: the most renowned luxury resort in the Hajar Mountains

You’ll visit some of Oman’s most fascinating archaeological sites, as well as cultural landmarks and homes where you’ll learn about local life. Look out for Damask roses and fresh produce from the region’s cliff-hanging terrace farms.

Need to know: If you want to see the beautiful Damask roses in bloom, the best month to go hiking in the Hajar Mountains is April.

hiker on amalfi coastal trail Salerno, italy, europe

8. Path of the Gods, Italy

The Amalfi Coast is so unbelievably picturesque that you’ve almost certainly spotted it on a postcard somewhere – but nothing beats seeing these views in real life. Set out on the Path of the Gods, a moderately difficult hike that will lead you straight to the best lookout points. 

Southern Italy is at its most beautiful – and warmest – from March to November. Spring or early autumn offers the best combination of nice weather and smaller crowds.

Need to know: Beyond the endless azure sea and rainbow-hued houses stuck to the hillsides, this path also includes several ancient Roman temples.

West Highland Way, Scotland

9. West Highland Way, Scotland

The West Highland Way is a truly iconic trek through the Scottish Highlands, spanning a total of 154 kilometres (96 miles). Most of it is accessible for hikers of any level, and all of it includes extraordinary views of lochs, mountains, moors and villages.

We suggest choosing a smaller section of the path to tackle, as the entire thing takes about a week. You’ll get the best weather conditions from April to October.

Need to know: Our travel designers suggest the sections of the West Highland Way between Milngavie, Balmaha, Inverarnan, Bridge of Orchy, Kinlochleven and Fort William.

Prekestolen rock. Lysefjord, Rogaland, Norway.

10. Pulpit Rock, Norway

The Pulpit Rock, or Preikestolen, is an enormous stone column jutting out over Norway’s Lysefjord. You can climb up to its flat, square summit – towering 604 metres above the fjord – on this moderately difficult four-hour hike.

The best (and most popular) time to visit is from May to October, though our guides can help you avoid the busiest times. It can also be incorporated into a luxurious Norwegian cruise.

Need to know: If you want to ascend Preikestolen during the off season (November to April) you’ll need an expert guide and specific equipment.

The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu

11. The Inca Trail, Peru

The Inca Trail is among the most scenic hikes in the world, as well as the most famous. The four-day journey will take you through southern Peru’s mountain passes, cloud forests and archaeological ruins before reaching its awe-inspiring conclusion: Machu Picchu at sunrise.

We can help design an epic and exclusive experience away from the crowds, with options for private treks and luxury camping. Plan for April to October for ideal weather and clear skies.

Need to know: If you prefer a shorter (but still immensely rewarding) journey, the Short Inca Trail lasts just two days and one night.

Choquequirao Inca ruins in Peru

12. Choquequirao, Peru

Although not as well known as Machu Picchu, the nearby site of Choquequirao is enchanting in its own way. It’s more remote, larger and less crowded, featuring the partially-excavated ruins of an ancient Incan city and lofty views over the Apurímac river canyon. 

Get off the beaten track with a four- to five-day private trek to Choquequirao, including your own guide and everything needed to make the journey completely comfortable.

Need to know: The best time to hike to Choquequirao is April to October – same as Machu Picchu – but it’s far less popular than the Inca Trail during the high season.

Torres Del Paine

13. The W Trek, Chile

Patagonia is one of the best places to hike in the world, and Torres del Paine is an especially essential destination. Set in Chile’s southernmost region, this national park is home to the W Trek: a four- to five-day hike including the French Valley, Grey Glacier and Base of the Towers.

The W Trek can be split into shorter day hikes from lodges like Awasi Patagonia and Tierra Patagonia, or made into a multi-day luxury experience like the one from EcoCamp Patagonia

Need to know: Visit outside of the Patagonian summer (December to February) to avoid crowds and windy conditions; the shoulder seasons in April and October are ideal.

Laguna De Los Trek and and Fitz Roy Mountain

14. Laguna de los Tres, Argentina

For a less popular – but no less spectacular – hike through Patagonia, head to El Chaltén, Argentina. Here you’ll find the thrilling trek of Laguna de los Tres, which promises gorgeous views of the lagoon it’s named after, Mount Fitz Roy and the surrounding peaks and valleys.

The route covers 24 kilometres (15 miles) and is fairly challenging, so be prepared. Like other Patagonian hiking routes, this trek is best enjoyed in the shoulder months of April and October.  

Need to know: Stay at the nearby Explora El Chaltén or El Puma to complement your hiking adventure with world-class luxury and personalised service.

panoramic view of quilotoa lagoon, ecuador

15. Quilotoa Crater, Ecuador

Located in Cotopaxi, Ecuador, Quilotoa is a massive volcanic crater filled with a sparkling turquoise lake. Embark on a day hike along the crater’s rim for unparalleled views, and stop for a gourmet picnic at the Shalalá overlook, which boasts an incredible overhanging platform. 

Our travel designers recommend staying at Hacienda San Agustín de Callo in Cotopaxi. This former monastery was built atop ancient Incan ruins, and is now a warm and inviting hotel.

Need to know: To avoid the rain and get the best views of the landscape, we recommend visiting the Quilotoa Crater from June to September.

kilimanjaro sunrise

16. Kilimanjaro Trek, Tanzania

If you’re looking for a true challenge and a life-changing achievement, Mount Kilimanjaro is calling your name. This seven- to nine-day climb will lead you through lush rainforests, across alpine deserts and eventually to the mountain’s stunning summit, known as ‘the roof of Africa.’

You’ll be accompanied by experienced guides and porters who will help ensure safety, comfort, acclimatisation and ultimately a successful climb. The journey is difficult, but definitely worth it.

Need to know: Tack a Kilimanjaro trek onto your luxury Tanzanian safari itinerary to check off two bucket-list experiences in one trip.

Gorilla trekking Rwanda

17. Gorilla Trekking, Rwanda

Although the scenery is picturesque, the highlight of this hike is undoubtedly the wildlife. Track critically endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park to encounter these majestic creatures in the wild – always in a safe, ethical and respectful way.

You’ll be led by expert trackers who constantly monitor the park’s mountain gorillas, and will get to spend up to an hour watching them in their natural habitat. The number of permits is limited, making this experience highly exclusive and intimate. Bisate Lodge is the ideal home base.

Need to know: The full-day trek is moderately difficult and restricted to travellers aged 15 and up. The exact duration can vary depending on how long it takes to track the gorillas.

Trip Inspiration

Get inspired with our active example trips and then get in touch to plan your own adventure

Whatever you want from your active adventure, our expert travel designers are ready to help