Going on vacation is one thing but exploring some of the most stunning terrains in the whole of the world is another entirely. In an increasingly fast-paced environment, it’s important we make use of nature’s beauty, reveling in the tranquility of the outdoors.
Adventure vacations that involve hiking are the perfect opportunity to escape the bustle of everyday life and reconnect with the environment. It means you can visit new places in your own time and discover some off-the-beaten-track locations.
So, lace up your hiking boots and get ready to embark on a journey of adventure and personal growth, as we discuss the top destinations in the world for a hiking vacation.
The beauty behind the hikes in Spain lies in how perfectly sunny it is throughout the year. It’s therefore no surprise to see visitors from all over the globe make the annual summer pilgrimage in search of the ideal climate.
The variety of landscapes is also unbeaten, offering lush green forests, golden coastlines, and rugged mountain ranges. The most famous hiking trail in Spain is the Camino de Santiago. Supposedly where the martyr St. James is buried, the trail is more of a spiritual awakening than it is a hike.
This doesn’t mean it’s for the faint-hearted though. The most popular route, the Camino Francés, is 500 miles long and has a 4600-foot ascent. However, the views along the way are well worth the effort, taking you through historic towns, breathtaking cathedrals, and snow-capped mountains.
Altogether, the enormous trek can take between 30 to 35 days, passing through the cities of Pamplona, Burgos, and Leon.
The UK is a trove of natural beauty, with its trails inspiring generations of writers and artists. From the rugged beauty of the seaside in Bristol, to the mountains of Snowdonia, and the tranquility of the Yorkshire Dales, there is so much variety when it comes to hikes.
However, one location comes out on top for walking vacations, and that is the Lake District. Positioned in the north-west of England, the Lake District is a hiker’s paradise. It is home to some of the most famous walks in the whole of the country, like Cat Bells, Buttermere Haystacks Circular, and Scafell Pike – England’s highest peak.
One of the most beautiful countries in the world, Japan is well known for its delicious cuisine, variety of temples, and natural sights, such as Mount Fuji. It’s also renowned for its hiking routes, which immerse you in forests, rivers, and mountains, as well as Japan’s unique culture.
The majority of the walking paths in Japan are actually old pilgrimage route9s, so you’ll likely find shrines along the way. One popular trek is the Kumano Kodo, a well-marked route that is not only a physical challenge but also a chance to soak in Japanese spirituality and traditions.
There’s also the Mount Fuji Pilgrimage Trail, a 12-mile hike that sees you traverse the highest mountain in the country. Along the way, you’ll pass by sacred forests and Buddhist temples. It truly is a remarkable experience that avid hikers should not pass up.
Chile is home to some of the most diverse hiking trails in the world, with virtually every type of landscape packed into a small stretch of land. The backdrop oscillates between mountains, lakes, and volcanoes to tropical islands and arid desert.
In fact, a fifth of Chile’s territory is protected by law, which contains a wide range of endemic fauna that communities here strive to protect. The forests here are so impressive that they are capable of storing more carbon dioxide than the Amazon rainforest.
When discussing hiking in Chile, Patagonia and the toothy Three Towers of Paine come to mind. Located in the southernmost region of Chilean Patagonia, the 18-kilometer circuit is the most sought-after in the Torres del Pine National Park. The hike takes you along some of the most iconic landscapes in the whole of the park, including glaciers, lakes, and granite peaks.
While Torres del Paine and Patagonia are noteworthy for their leading multi-day treks, the hikes in Chile are relatively easygoing. You’ll struggle to find many high-altitude expeditions like other countries on this list. Instead, you’re met with gentle walks that offer stunning views of nature.
In stark contrast with Patagonia, the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on Earth, leading you to salt flats, geological formations, and otherworldly landscapes. While the heat is intense, the hike is mostly flat. The second half of the trail is unmarked, so be careful if traveling on your own; alternatively, you can book onto a guided tour.
While there are many fantastic hikes all across Africa, including Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Simien National Park in Ethiopia, the majority of these require permits or local guides. South Africa is an exception, offering some of the best multi-day hikes on the continent.
From Indian Ocean horizons to tall mountains and rugged coastlines, it deserves the title of one of the best locations in the world for hiking.
One of the most popular hikes is the climb to Lion’s Head, situated in Cape Town. The 5.5 km journey starts off fairly easy, winding around the mountain until the route gets steeper and splits into two. You’re then faced with a choice to progress – ladders or chains. The views from the top are breathtaking, particularly at sunset, and you’re able to observe some of the local animals, like the hyrax.
Another popular route is the Sentinel Peak Hike in Drakensberg, which ends atop the world’s second-highest waterfall. While not a particularly long hike, you’re met with impressive views of the nearby plateaus and canyons.
The journey is mainly flat but is quite high up, requiring a chain-link ladder to reach the top. From here, you can witness the surrounding Drakensberg Mountains, a massive amphitheater, and the Tugela Falls waterfall, which plunges 948 m down to the Tugela Valley below. The hike only comes in at around the 5 km mark but is reserved for experienced adventurers.