63 Best off-the-beaten path Hikes in the Planet
If you are always searching for less crowded places to visit, love to discover hidden gems on our Planet, are a nature lover, and like to combine your vacation with a fitness challenge, you are in the right place.
I invited travel bloggers from all over the world to help me put together this ultimate list of the best off-the-beaten-path hikes in the world, and the result is this extensive list of 63 amazing destinations.
It includes hikes for all tastes, fitness levels, and styles. Hikes from a few hours, to several days. A family day-hike with your kids, to the most extreme conditions. Or even, hikes that include wine tasting.
Enjoy this ultimate guide and get some inspiration from these hiking quotes for your next adventure. Let me know at the end which is the next hike that you have chosen from these 63 amazing choices.
NOTE: I have organized the hikes by continent to make it easier for you to navigate. Also, make sure to click on the name of each travel expert to visit their website, they are awesome!
1- Stairway to Heaven
The Stairway to Heaven also known as the Haiku Stairs on Oahu, Hawaii, is arguably the most epic attraction on the entire island. Hidden in the center of the island, you will find 3,922 stairs leading up the imposing mountain ridge, often at a vertical incline, with only a hand-rail to catch you. There are many sections that truly do seem like a ladder although with common sense and in fair weather conditions it isn’t as dangerous as it sounds. The stairs were originally constructed in 1942 by the U.S. Navy as a top-secret facility for transmitting radio signals to ships that were sailing throughout the Pacific Ocean. The stairs were then opened to the public for hiking until 1987 when they were unfortunately deemed unsafe because of disrepair.
2- O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park
Patagonia is destination that has rapidly joined most hikers’ bucket lists, thanks to its glorious mountain scenery and its reputation as a place of pristine wilderness, as yet untouched by human hands (or feet). The O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park is Patagonia’s finest hike. This nine- to eleven-day trek covers the wildest parts of the national park: you’ll pass through sun-scorched grasslands inhabited by guanaco, climb past glaciers hanging perilously from cliff faces and summit the park’s highest pass for spectacular panoramas of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Everything about this hike is wild, magical and truly unforgettable.
3- Bright Angel Trail
Grand Canyon is a spectacular sight, but seeing the walls of the canyon from below the rim is the best way to truly appreciate its incredible size. The main trail from the south rim of the canyon to the Colorado River far below is the Bright Angel Trail. It can be done as an overnight trip, with a night spent at the bottom of the canyon, or half of the trail can be completed down and up in one day, turning back at Indian Garden. The trail consists of four series of switchbacks, so it is a difficult trail, but well worth the effort. This is truly one of the most epic hikes in the world.
4- Choquequirao to Machu Picchu
Hands down, I believe the best hiking on the planet is found in the Cusco region of Peru. Where else can you find stunning alpine scenery, people living an undisturbed way of life high in the mountains, and Inca ruins at every turn. The combination of beautiful mountains and chance for cultural interaction make the Cusco part of the Andes unparalleled and therefore a worthy contender for Best hiking on the Planet. My personal favourite trek is the 9 day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek which is one of the most interesting and stunning ways to trek to Machu Picchu. If getting beautiful photos is more your thing, you can head south of Cusco and trek the Ausangate Vinicunca Rainbow mountain trek which takes in some truly unique Peruvian scenery.
5- Rucu Pichincha Volcano
The Rucu Pichincha hike in Quito, Ecuador is a difficult but incredible trek that takes hikers to the top of an active volcano. The peak sits at 4,700-meter peak, or over 15,000 feet, making an extremely high-altitude hike. That means two things: Difficulty breathing and a whole lot of stunning views. The adventure starts before you even hit the trail-head: To reach the start of the trail, you must first ride up one of the highest aerial lifts in the world, Quito’s TeleferiQo. Aside from the spectacular views you get from the summit, the hike’s popularity is also due to its easily accessible location on the outskirts of Quito.
6- Ice Hiking the Ricketts Glenn Falls
Ice hiking the Ricketts Glen Falls Trail is such a unique experience. Waterfalls are always beautiful, but when the trail is draped in icicles, it becomes even more spectacular. At the base of the 94′ Ganoga Falls, look up all around. The world is draped in ice. There’s good news for this hike. The upward climb back to base is actually easier than the downward hike in winter. Climbing ice is easier than descending it. The Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park winds past 21 waterfalls that range in height from 11 to 94 feet. Because the trail offers so many varied challenges, it’s a great day hike for adventurers who want a challenge. The views make the effort worthwhile. Whether hiking in winter or summer, the Ricketts Glen Falls Trail rewards adventurers with beautiful scenery year round.
7- Capim Açu Trail
In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, there is a gem which is really worth a visit: Fernando de Noronha. The authorities put in place strict policies on the number of people that can fly there. This has been beneficial for the nature of the island. Despite being famous for its beaches, do not forget to have some good hikes there. My favourite? The Capim Açu trail, to the wildest part of the island. Follow the coast to reach a natural pool and then up into the wild forest, for a total of four to six hours of mouth open walk.
8- Cerro Castilho
Patagonia is an incredible place for hiking with several world renowned trails and many off the beaten path routes. Cerro Castillo trek inside the Cerro Castillo National Reserve is one of the lesser-known hikes in Patagonia. Here you get to enjoy the beautiful Patagonian landscape without tourist crowds. The scenery along the trail is truly spectacular; mountain peaks, indigenous forest, crystal-clear rivers, turquoise lakes and hanging glaciers. Walking the route hikers have great chances of spotting wild animals. Hikers have to carry camping gear and food. There are no shops or restaurants inside the park, it’s a totally wild experience.
9- Montaña Machu Picchu
Just amazing and challenging, this is how I describe this experience. This hike is the most spectacular and yet, one of the most overlooked option for hike at Machu Picchu. You follow a stone Inca Trail up ascending to the summit of the mountain, and in some points it is pretty strenuous, hot and humid, and some fitness level is required for this hiking. The trail is not very difficult, but the high altitudes makes is arduous, and I had to take several breaks to catch my breath on my way up. Only 400 people can get permit to hike per day, and I got my tickets a few weeks in advance. The top is around 10,000 feet above sea level, and the panoramic views of Machu Picchu, Urubanba River and the surrounding mountains are stunning!
10- Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park in California, USA is one of the most unique landscapes I’ve visited, anywhere in the world. I am a frequent desert hiker of the American Southwest, and what I love about this park is how distinctly alien it feels. My most memorable hiking moment in the park was on the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail, which is a moderate in-and-out 3 mile hike over rocky peaks filled with barrel cacti, featuring a hidden natural oasis in the desert. This national park is spectacular and anyone who enjoys the desert should experience Joshua Tree National Park at least once in their life!
11- Santa Cruz Trek
The Santa Cruz trek is a trek through the Cordilleras Blancas mountain range, located in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. The trek is a 4-day trek that takes you through some amazing sceneries at higher altitudes. The altitude ranges from 2900 meters above the ocean to 4760 meters. The mountains and altitude make for some amazing and varying nature and views. Expect turquoise lakes, snow-capped mountaintops, rivers, and incredible starry skies. The unique experience of hiking in altitude, with beautiful views and a little off-the-beaten-path trail, is some of the reasons the Santa Cruz trek is one of the best hiking experiences you can ask for!
12- Big Bend National Park
The best hiking experience I’ve ever had is in Big Bend National Park. This small national park is home to 150 miles of trails. There are three unique areas of the park, the mountain, river, and desert, and all three are home to their own iconic hikes. Some of the most popular and the best hikes in Big Bend are in the mountains, such as the shorter Lost Mine Trail or strenuous but rewarding South Rim Trail. Both offer stunning panoramic views from the mountains. For epic desert hikes trek to Mule Ears or into Elena Canyon.
13- Reef Bay Trail
One of the best and most rewarding hikes in the Virgin Islands is the Reef Bay Trail on St. John. The strenuous 6 mile out and back hike takes you through the lush tropical forest and past ancient petroglyphs, a waterfall, and ruins of a sugar mill before ending at the ocean. To avoid the more difficult return hike back up the mountain, there are options for a 3 mile hike down or a short 1 mile hike from the ocean. However, both of these will require a tour or a boat charter.
14- Angel's Landing
Hiking in Zion National Park is one of the best ways to explore the park but it can be hard to decide which are the best hikes. There are so many stunning hikes to choose from but the most popular is Angel’s Landing, a difficult hike that includes using chains to pull yourself up to the top, but reaching the top is exhilarating, and the views are magnificent. the views from the top are stunning. No matter which hike you go on in Zion you will enjoy the beauty and nature that can be found. The scenery is magnificent and there are so many hikes where you can really be out in nature and get some exercise.
Shop the best hiking backpack
15- Drakensberg Royal Natal National
As the home of South’s Africa’s highest mountain ranges, Drakensberg Royal Natal National Park offers some of the most incredible hiking opportunities in the world. It’s craggy peaks and deep valleys are unlike any other landscape in South Africa and live up to their name “Drakensberg” which roughly translates to the “mountains of dragons”. The most stunning features of the UNESCO world heritage site is Tugela Falls, the second highest waterfall in the world. There are a couple of ways to reach the falls but the most popular is via the 13 kilometre Sentinel Trail. The challenging hike passes by landscapes of exquisite beauty, cheeky monkeys, chain ladders, and more. For avid hikers it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
16- Sabyinyo Volcano
Mount Sabyinyo is an extinct volcano located on the border of three countries – Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in East Africa. What is special about it is that when you get to the top, you can stand on the borders of these three countries at the same time. The peak is only accessible for tourists from the Ugandan side. The volcano is a part of the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, which is famous for the rare mountain gorillas. Many people travel to Uganda to see these apes. Hiking in the same area where they live creates a special atmosphere. Mt. Sabyinyo has three peaks, and thanks to that it looks like a tooth. This is what its name translates to. The first peak is at 3421 meters, and the summit is at 3,669 meters.
17- Otter Trail
Otter Trail hike on the Garden Route in South Africa is considered to be one of the most beautiful trekking routes on the continent. The scenery on this trek is truly breathtaking; evergreen indigenous forest, unspoiled sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, waterfalls, deep canyons, and diverse wildlife. The route is well-marked with yellow paw prints painted on rocks and trees. For the entire 5 days, the trail follows the coast of the Indian Ocean offering stunning views of the rugged coastline. Otter Trail is a great hike for nature lovers every day on the trail hikers can see different animals such as sea otters, monkeys, whales, dolphins, genets, crabs, birds, etc. Along the route, there are many rivers, small bays, and hidden beaches that are great for swimming and chilling in the sun.
18- Cape Verde
One of the best places to go hiking is Cape Verde! You might never have considered or even heard of this travel destination, however, the archipelago boasts a myriad of gorgeous hiking trails, a real gem. Whilst you can go hiking on almost any island, the most spectacular hikes can be found in Santo Antao, Brava and Fogo. Some of the best trails are climbing Mount Fogo on Fogo island and hiking from Ponta do Sol to Cha d’Igreja in Santo Antao. Indeed, Cape Verdean islands is so much more than only beach holidays, since there are plenty of things to do in Cape Verde particularly for hiking lovers.
19- Tsingy de Bemaraha
Not many tourists get to the African island of Madagascar and even fewer tourists get to the secluded Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in the western part of the country. However, here lies one of the most spectacular geographical areas and the most fun hike you can do in Madagascar! It’s actually two different hiking routes, the Small Tsingy and the Big Tsingy. The small Tsingy is the easiest of the two with small bridges and wooden paths connecting the razor sharp rock formations. On the other hand, the Big Tsingy, requires harness for climbing the Ferrata which winds through narrow tunnels at the far bottom of the landscape and climbs 100 meters up to the top of the deadly sharp landscape.
20- Amatola Trail
Amatola Trail is probably one of the most amazing treks we’ve ever done. The whole area that the trek goes through looks like a fairyland. The trail goes over the beautiful Amathole Mountain range offering stunning views of the area. The indigenous forest covering the big part of the mountain range looks like the perfect decoration for a Lord of the Rings kind of movie. Massive yellowwood, white stinkwood, and chestnut trees look impressive. The scenery on the Amatola Trail is fantastic; rocky mountains, lush green forest, crystal-clear rivers, stunning waterfalls, massive boulders, natural pools, and breathtaking lookout points. There are many beautiful places to see along the route.
21- Mount Toubkal
Mount Toubkal is the highest point of Morocco. It’s situated in the High Atlas Mountains at an impressive altitude of 4,167 m (13,667 ft). It’s a pretty challenging and tough trek but it was worth it for the spectacular views. At the beginning, you can admire the incredible views of rural Morocco. As you move up you walk along waterfalls, gentle brooks, lush green river banks, and walnut groves. The best part is meeting up cute mules on the way. The trails become very rocky after 3,207 m (10,522 ft). There are parts with gigantic rocks you need to climb over. If you want to conquer Mount Toubkal, you need to travel to Imlil first and stay there one day to organize your hike for the next day. Imlil is a lovely small village at the foot of Mount Toubkal.
22- Manchewe Falls
Livingstonia is a small and very peaceful town in Malawi that sits high up on the Rift Valley Escarpment. Just a few kilometers outside of the town are the 125-meter tall Manchewe Falls, which make the perfect destination for a short day hike. I recommend hiring a local guide from the nearby Mushroom Farm Eco-Lodge, as they can show you the path to walk down to the bottom of the falls for some spectacular views, and also guide you to some natural pools where you can cool down in the water. The Mushroom Farm is a great place to base yourself in Livingstonia, as it’s very eco-friendly and serves up some of the best food in Malawi.
23- Ngare Nadare
Ngare Nadare forest is only a few hours from Nairobi and it is a great weekend getaway in Kenya. The park is a corridor vital to various wildlife, such as elephants, that use the forest to move between Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Mount Kenya. The park is also home to seven stunning waterfalls and the longest canopy walk in East Africa, with 450 meters long and 10 meters high, giving you an amazing birds-eye view over the forest and its animals. Go for a 7km hike, swim in the waterfall’s pools, and watch elephants drink from the stream below you. The walk ends on the platform on the other side where the ranger will bring you safely back to your starting point.
24- Fish River
Namibia is famous for its stunning desert and massive sand dunes but not many people know that it’s home to the second largest canyon in the world, Fish River Canyon. Hiking along the canyon is the best way to discover its beauty. The trek starts at Hobas campsite and finishes at Ai Ais Hot Springs.The terrain is quite challenging; sand, small rocks and boulders. Due to the extreme heat the hike can be done only in winter between May and September. Even in winter it’s extremely hot in the canyon and there is no shade to hide. There are no designated campsites, hikers can camp anywhere next to the river. Most people don’t carry a tent, only a sleeping mat and a light sleeping bag. It’s warm enough at night to sleep outside.
25- Ngong Hills
The Ngong Hills were made famous in Meryl Streep and Robert Redford’s film Out of Africa, which told the true story of Karen Blixen and her fight to keep her farm alive during British rule in Kenya. The Ngong Hills are 25 miles out of Kenya’s busy and chaotic capital city, Nairobi. Stand atop the hills and to the north you gaze at the impressive sight of the Nairobi skyline. Turn around and you are staring at wild, unencumbered Africa. East of the Ngong Hills lies the Great Rift Valley, that rent in the face of the earth that is so vast that it can be seen from space. Within the Rift are rumbling volcanoes, great lakes, volcanic geysers. Far to the south is Maasai land, a shimmering heat haze of barren desert reaching to Tanzania. And to the west the relatively civilized views over Nairobi National Park and its safari of wild animals.
26- Rwenzori Mountains
The trek to the Rwenzori Mountains, the legendary Mountains of the Moon, in Uganda is one of the most incredible – and most rarely done – multi-day treks in the world. The hike takes you through forests hung with Spanish moss, across muddy bogs, down into mist-shrouded valleys and across high mountains covered in alien-like vegetation unique to the area, to hidden lakes and equatorial glaciers. This is a truly magical place. There are primitive mountain huts along the way. Porters and a guide are mandatory and can be arranged through a local company. Kasese is the main access town.
27- Outeniqua Trail
Outeniqua Trail is one of the lesser-known hiking trails in South Africa, a real hidden gem of the Garden Route. It’s a great hike to do to get away from the bustling city life. A 7-day trek takes hikers through the indigenous Knysna forest, one of the most beautiful forests in the country. Walking for days through the fantastic Knysna Forest is an incredible experience. The vegetation here is so dense that some parts of the trail look like a tunnel. Huge tree trunks covered in moss, long lianas hanging from tree branches, massive ferns, rivers with big boulders, all these give you a feeling of hiking through a Jurassic forest.
Shop the best hiking shoes
28- Ak-Suu Transverse
The Ak-Suu Transverse Hike in Kyrgyzstan remains one of my favourite multi-day treks even in a region as spoiled for choice as Central Asia. It visits some of the best landscapes Eastern Kyrgyzstan has to offer, from still as glass alpine lakes to exposed and rugged mountain passes, and all along the views just get progressively more amazing. It passes through the highlight of the entire Issyk-Kol region: Ala-Kol lake, but does so while minimizing time spent on crowded trails and opts instead for out of the way routing and extra helpings of amazing mountain views.
29- Kokoda Track
The Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea is known as one of the toughest multi-day treks in the world. It also has an immense historical significance as it was the epicenter of the Kokoda Battle between the Japanese and the Australian Forces in WWII. Today, trekkers from around the world reflect on the four pillars of Kokoda, which are mate-ship, endurance, sacrifice and courage as they push themselves physically and mentally to complete the arduous journey across the Kokoda Track. This hiking is a challenging single-file trail, which runs right through the Owen Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea. Each night you will camp in a designated site or stay in a thatch hut at one of the local villages along the route.
30- Chadar Trek
One of the most toughest treks in India, in the Himalayas, and yet one of a kind is the famed Chadar Trek. Chadar means a blanket, and as the Chadar Trek in the Himalayas basically involves walking on the river Zanskar, that freezes in the winter, and becomes a thick layer of snow and ice over the flowing river, it appears to be a snow blanket. Hence the name Chadar Trek. Its a 65 km long trek, spread over 5 days of walking over snow and ice in freezing cold temperatures, and at times on the slippery rocks by the river side.
31- Phadaeng Peak
Laos is often overlooked by hikers in favour of its more well-known neighbours Thailand and Vietnam, but this is a huge mistake. This small landlocked country has something for everyone, from fairly easy well-marked trails with stunning views to challenging multi-day jungle and hill-tribe trekking experiences. Pha Daeng Peak in Nong Khiaw is a great hike in Northern Laos. The steep 1.5-hour climb at either sunrise or sunset rewards you with fantastic 360-degree views of the karst limestone mountains carpeted in trees, the lush surrounding valleys and the Nam Ou River snaking into the distance below. Simply gorgeous!
32- Adam's Peak
Climbing Adam’s Peak, a Sri Lankan pilgrimage site, is an incredible experience both physically and spiritually. Climbing 5000 steps will challenge your body, while the interaction with the local pilgrims, of all ages and physical condition, is a truly humbling experience. The ideal time to climb is at night, to reach the summit for a sunrise that is definitely worth your effort! The walk back is just as amazing, as you finally discover the lush landscape surrounding Adam’s Peak. It takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach the summit, and there are plenty of shacks along the route to take a break. 150 km from Colombo, climbing Adam’s Peak is a great addition to any Sri Lanka itinerary.
33- The Pha Dok Siew Trail Hike of Doi Inthanon
One of the most unique off-the-beaten-path hike experiences that I’d experienced was in Chiang Mai, Thailand , while hiking the Doi Inthanon National Park. Located in the Chom Thong district, the Doi Inthanon National Park surrounds the highest mountain in Thailand – Doi Inthanon (2,565 m). The hike has you exploring the rain forest – encountering rare species of flora (including a Chrysanthemum flower plantation), chasing spectacular waterfalls, crossing a river on a cute rickety bamboo bridge, and walking along beautiful terraced rice fields leading to the Mae Klang Luang village. My advice is to hire a local Karen tribe expert to guide you through the rain forest. That’s because they add so much context to the entire experience by enlightening you about the forest.
34- Sandkphu Trek
Sandakphu is the highest peak in West Bengal which means “Height of the Poison Pants”. Poisonous trees grow near the summit of Sandakanfu and hence the name. The peak is 3638 meters (11941 feet high), and it is on the West Bengal-Nepal border along the Singalila National Park in Darjeeling, the highest point of the Singalila Hills. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lotse and Makalu – all four of the five highest peaks in the world can be seen from here.
Sandakafu is a paradise for those who may not be a very good trekker but love mountains. This is probably why Sandakanfu is called Trekkers Paradise.
35- Bottle Beach Hike
Hiking in the tropics doesn’t get any better than this. Imagine passing through a lush jungle, with wonderful views, and ending up on a beautiful secluded beach! That’s what the most famous hike of Koh Phangan, the Bottle Beach hike, is all about. You can choose from two different routes, but the destination is the same – the pristine Bottle Beach, a hard-to-access beach in the Northeast of the island. You can expect a peaceful experience both on the hike and on the beach, even at the peak of the tourist season. What’s more – tired hikers can take a boat back to civilization.
36- Tiger's Nest
The Tiger’s Nest is a Buddhist monastery perched precariously on a mountainside overlooking the city of Paro in Bhutan. The hike from the base of the mountain up to the monastery is the most popular journey in the country, and it is possible for anyone with any level of hiking expertise to do comfortably, though beginners will find it tough due to the altitude. Because of the path travellers must take to reach the Tiger’s Nest, the monastery first reveals itself dramatically once you crest the first ridge, before heading down the mountain in order to climb up again on the other side. However, this just means that you get two rewards for hiking this trail: the majesty of the monastery, and the ability to go inside!
37- Kumano Kodo
If you’d like to learn more about Japanese culture and religion while enjoying some of the country’s most beautiful scenery, then walking the Kumano Kodo is definitely for you. This ancient pilgrimage trail leads to and connects the three most important shrines in Japan’s native Shinto religion. It has been walked by emperors, samurai warriors and countless common people of Japan over the centuries. The Kumano Kodo is actually not a single trail but a series of connected trails, so you could choose a route that lasts anywhere from one day to nine days. I recommend the 2-day Nakahechi Route, which runs from the Takijiri-oji to the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine.
38- Bouma National Heritage
While Fiji is often associated with sandy beaches and incredible scuba diving, it is one of the best places in the world if you love to hike. The islands of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, and Taveuni are all mountainous with hiking trails weaving throughout their interiors. Each trek is lush with tropical foliage and the trails are rarely crowded. Because treks through Fiji almost always pass through a settlement, it is customary to visit the town community center and present a bundle of kava, a root of a pepper tree that makes for a relaxing drink, before continuing your journey—a cultural and adventure experience in one!
39- Mount Halgurd
Mount Halgurd is considered to be the highest mountain of Iraq. The peak of the mountain is at an altitude of 3,607 meters and located very close to the Iranian border. One of the most fascinating things about the Halgurd Mountain is that it has absolutely no tourism infrastructure, and that makes it a perfect off-the-beaten travel destination. To climb to the highest summit of the country, you need to go with people who know the exact route due to the fact that some of the routes on the way are off-limit. The best way is to get to know locals on Couchsurfing or social media and organize the hike together.
Kyrgyzstan is truly one of the best places in the world for hiking lovers. The majority of the country is covered in mountains, including peaks over 7000 meters, with countless trails and hiking opportunities. Jyrgalan is a small village and a great place in to arrange hiking expeditions to the nearby Tien Shen mountains. There are literally hundreds of hikes possible in the surroundings of Jyrgalan, ranging from a few hours to a few days, some of which can also be done on horseback. However, it’s important to go with a local guide, as hiking in the Tien Shan mountains is completely different from hiking in the Alps or Rockies – there are no signs, and it’s very easy to get lost.
41- Kalaw Trek
Kalaw is a small hill town known for its natural beauty, relatively cold climate and lots of floral and wild species. Most people first visit Inle Lake, one of the top destinations in Myanmar and hike all the way further to Kalaw. Hikers will pass through many remote settlements in the mountains, where they can experience the Burmese ways of life in the countryside, staying at homestays run by these locals, and trying the delicious Burmese food. It is an experience to get to the heart of rugged Burma, away from the chaotic cities and the crowds. The hiking can range from easy to slightly moderate depending on your fitness level.
42- Paekakariki Escarpment Track
The Paekakariki Escarpment Track, often dubbed NZ’s Stairway to Heaven is a 10 km end-to-end walk near Wellington.
Between the track and the coastline is a highway and train track. That might put you off, but you really don’t notice either as you’re well above sea level the majority of the time and the noise pollution is minimal.
Along the way you’ll navigate a lot of stairs, kohekohe forest, two swing bridges, and on a clear day the views are incredible. You’ll see Kapiti Island (as seen in the photo), the South Island, the coastline north and south, and on a super clear day you’ll see Mount Taranaki.
Although the trail is less than a 40-minute drive from Wellington, you might want to catch the train as the trailheads begin close to Pakakariki and Pukerua Bay train stations.
If you’re driving, I recommend parking and starting the walk from Paekakariki. At 10km each way, walking one way might be more than enough for you in which case you can easily train back to your car from the other end of the trailhead and enjoy some post-hike food at one of the cafes in Paekakariki before driving home.
If you catch the train, get off at the Pukerua Bay station and walk the track from south to north, that way you can enjoy the cafes at the end of the walk, or you can eat and then walk the trail back to the Pukerua Bay end (20km total) before catching the train back.
The walk isn’t easy with hundreds of stairs around the halfway mark, but the views just get better and better. I’ve seen people of all ages take on this walk, but if you’re worried about your fitness levels, just be prepared to turn around and go back the way you came.
43- Pinnacles in the Coromandel
One of our favorite hiking in New Zealand is the Pinnacles Track. The stunning Kauaeranga Valley, located upriver from Thames is one of New Zealand’s true hidden treasures. Climbing around 550 metres through classic New Zealand bush on well maintained and clearly marked track, up until you reach the 80 bed Department of Conservation hut, and from there, Pinnacles can clearly be seen away up a scrambling, twisting track, up endless steps with rocky outcrops and fixed ladders, There’s a viewing platform at the end of the track, and you will be rewarded with the stunning first sun rays rising over the Pacific Ocean in the distance.
44- Mount Koscisuzko
Mount Kosciuszko is the tallest mountain in Australia, with 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level, and it is an amazing experience I recommend any hiker, fitness adventurer or nature lover to undertake. It is a popular mountain with hikers and mountain bikers in the warmer months, and with skiers and snowboarders in the colder months, and the only opportunity for hiking is from October to April when there’s no or little snow around. Depending on your fitness level and motivation you can choose to hike the entire way up, or use the chair lift for part of the way.
45- Taung Wine Mountain
Hiking the Taung Wine Mountain in Hpa-An Myanmar is a must do. It’s one of the most beautiful hikes and viewpoints of the country. The hike up to the top of the 180 meter high mountain is very steep and strenuous, but doable in about 45 minutes – an hour. It is recommended to do this hike before sunrise or sunset. Firstly because with sunrise or sunset the light reflects beautifully on the mountains and creates a beautiful orange golden glow. Secondly because you avoid the midday heat when hiking early or later in the afternoon.
46- Cradle Mountains Summit
The hike to Cradle Mountain Summit in the north-west of Tasmania is a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience and one of the must do activities in Tasmania. The views of Dove Lake and the Frenchman’s Cap are stunning and are guaranteed to keep you inspired. You should expect the 12.8 km hike to take around 8 hours to compete and includes a considerable portion of rock scrambling over smaller rocks then large boulders. The hike to Cradle Mountain Summit has the ability to demoralise you due to the large number of false summits. You have been hiking for hours and think you have finally arrived only to find that there is another hill to climb!
Shop the best hiking gear
47- Pico Ruivo
One of the best hikes around the world is for sure the hike to Pico Ruivo in Madeira. The hiking trail is notable for its breathtaking views over the Atlantic Ocean and perilous paths going to the top of Madeira. The hiking trail to Pico Ruivo starts off at the top of Pico Areeiro in Madeira, which can be easily reached by car. Then, it passed by some of the most picturesque vistas until it reaches the dangerous Pico das Torres. Right there, it is advisable to be extremely cautious, as there might be some rocks falling over the path. Eventually, after around 4 hours of hiking you will reach the top of Madeira at Pico Ruivo. The view from the top is breathtaking and will make you fall in love with the Atlantic Ocean and the rocky island of Madeira!
48- Valbona to Theth
The most popular trek in Albania is located in Valbona Valley National Park in the country’s north. The single-day walk between the alpine villages of Valbona and Theth is nothing short of spectacular. It’s mildly challenging, and I do recommend to have a basic level of fitness to make the mountain pass, but the views are well worth the effort. This is really a off-the-beaten track and if you get an early start, you probably won’t meet another person on the track until you reach the halfway point. Note that the trail is only accessible in the summer months – from late May through September.
49- Maderanertal Valley
The Maderanertal Valley is a particularly rewarding Swiss hike for families. The Valley is located near the Gotthard Pass in southern Switzerland close to the border with Italy. The hiking can be done on your own pace, as there are some inviting lakes along the way, which may slow down your progress on your hiking. This hiking is a off the beaten path options, as it is very popular with the locals, but there are not too many travelers from outside who take this route. taking this route. The walk begins at Bristen where there’s a cable car up to Golzern with its wonderful lake, and there are a couple of simple guesthouses for an overnight stay near the lake.
50- GR 221
Dry Stone Route GR 221 is a beautiful long-distance trail in Mallorca – the largest Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. The trail is nice especially because it leads through the Tramuntana mountain range as well as through picturesque Mallorca’s villages with beautiful views of bays and the sea. Trail GR 221 has about 120 km. It can walked in 4-7 days, depending on the walking pace. It starts in Arrac town and goes all the way to Port de Pollença. On the way, there are hiker’s huts called refuges. Drinking water can be found in every village and there are marked water sources even in the mountains as well.
51- Cele Valley GR 651
GR is the abbreviation of Grand Randonnée, and it has a very diverse collection of hiking paths. The most incredible is the GR 651 which travels along the Cele Valley located in southwestern France. A variation of the Via Podiensis path, part of the Camino de Santiago (‘Chemin de St Jacques’ in France) the GR 651 path splits off the main GR 65 route in Beduer and follows the isolated Cele River along ridge tops, carved mountain paths, and the valley floor. During this hike, you will pass many small villages, either along the river’s edge or carved into the cliff face. This hike starts in Beduer and runs to Bouzies, and you have the options to camp or stay at any of the French bed & breakfasts.
52- Trek to Tobavarchkhili Lakes
This group of glacial lakes lies in mountains of western Georgia that belong to the Caucasus mountain range. Despite the superb scenery, the area is still only a little visited , mainly because of its inaccessibility and zero tourist infrastructure. To visit the main lakes, you will need to trek for at least four days but to explore all of them, reserve at least a week. There is a way to somewhat shorten it if you hire large jeep or Kamaz but thats quite expensive. You will ford rivers, cross lush forests and 3000m high mountain passes , wild camp by several lakes (each one more beautiful that the other), admire massive waterfalls and gorges and drink with local shepherds. An unforgettable adventure!
53- Teesdale Way
Starting on the high fells of Cumbria and running 147 kilometers to the North Sea the Teesdale Way follows the route of the River Tees from start to finish. This 7 day hike covers a variety of terrains and passes through small villages, market towns such as Barnard Castle and industrialized areas near Middleborough. Stay overnight in campsites, bed and breakfasts and local pubs. While part of the route follows the more famous Pennine Way, this is not a highly trafficked route and you’ll have a great deal of solitude to enjoy this glorious area of Northern England.
54- Samariá Gorge
The Samariá Gorge is quite possibly the most incredible natural wonder on the Greek island of Crete and should not be missed. If you walk all the way through the gorge to the coast, the Samariá Gorge hike is about a 16 km trail in total and takes between five to seven hours. This hiking starts with a pretty steep descent but then becomes pretty flat as you walk alongside the crystal clear waters of the river that runs through the gorge. The scenery keeps getting better and better as you go along, culminating in what’s known as the “Iron Gates”. Here at the narrowest point of the gorge, you walk through an opening that’s just four meters across, while the rock walls towering on either side of you are 300 meters high.
Wales is home to 3 stunning national parks. Located in the centre, the Brecon Beacons National Park is particularly famous for having some of the best hikes in the UK! If you are looking for incredible views, head to Pen-y-Fan. It’s the highest peak in the Beacons and from far, one of the best walks in Europe! There are many routes that go up to the summit. I particularly recommend the horseshoe ridge walk. It’s a bit challenging but well worth it! This 10 miles long loop will take you through the mountains, all the way to top! From the summit of Pen-Y-Fan, you will get to admire beautiful 360 degrees views over the Beacons and the Cwm Llwch valley. You can then make your way back down on the other side and enjoy even more beautifully green landscapes!
56- Lavaux Vineyard
Terrasses de Lavaux is my favorite hike in the world. It is easy and involves wine tasting! Doesn’t it sound perfect? Wait till I add the old swiss villages and stunning views of the Lake Geneva and Alps to the mix. And If the vineyards appear to be melting right into the lake, don’t worry! It is not the wine talking. These beautiful vineyards are indeed sloped. The hike is quite easy and the path is well paved. The path follows through small swiss villages, which welcome the visitors for their ‘open days’ when different vine tasting events are organized by the locals. I highly recommend doing this hike in the harvest season, both for the views and the wine!
57- Pulpit Rock
The famous Norwegian hike to Pulpit Rock is spectacular and rather easy. It is located a couple of hours away from Stavanger. You can approach the trailhead by car or bus (and ferry to cross the fjords). General fitness is enough to walk the 7 km long trek. Last time we hiked the trail with our then-two-year-old, who walked almost half of the way himself — what a unique memory itself, not to mention the fantastic landscape around. The trail leads up to the Pulpit Rock, a rectangularly shaped rock above the stunning blue Lysefjord.
58- Birtvisi Canyon
Birtvisi Canyon in Georgia is known for its rocky terrain created millions of years ago as a result of an eruption of an active volcano. This less-traveled hike is an ideal option to escape the traffic-heavy capital, Tbilisi, as the proximity to the city enables you to make a hiking day trip.
Apart from hillocks, the canyon features centuries-old Birtvisi Fortress known as the invincible and least accessible citadel in the whole country. The trail passes through forests, rocks, and ruins of several walls and towers of the fortress hidden under the green foliage.
Hiking Birtvici Canyon is doable all year round. It’s especially beautiful in spring and autumn, as summer months tend to be quite hot here.
59- El Saltillo Trail
Also known as “the other Caminito del Rey”, El Saltillo trail showcases the best of the Andalusian countryside from the rim of the steep mountainside in Sierras de Tejada, Almijara, y Alhama Natural Park in the Malaga Province. One of Spain’s truly hidden gems that is not for the fearful of heights. Despite not being a hike with much elevation, with its two suspension bridges hanging on the vertical cliffside and several parts of the narrow path looking straight down several hundred meters below it’s a truly memorable experience. Passing through olive groves and ending at a refreshing water hole formed by a small waterfall, this is truly a hidden treasure!
60- Vienna Woods
Austria’s capital is known worldwide as the capital of classical music, delicious pastries, and insanely high living standards, but a stay in Vienna should also be mandatory for outdoor lovers. Vienna is the world’s only metropolis that is partially situated in a Unesco-designated Biosphere Reserve – the Vienna Woods. This literally means the Viennese can go hiking within the city limits and many hiking locations can be reached using the city’s public transport system. Hiking trails punctuated with local wine-producing taverns and beautiful panoramic viewpoints over the city and the entire Danube basin are bound to leave you spellbound and in love with Vienna forever.
61- Seven Rila Lakes Hike
Located only about two hours from Sofia, it is the gem of Seven Rila Lakes Hike. You want to get high enough so you can see the beautiful glacial lakes known as the Seven Rila Lakes, though there are actually hundreds of lakes located in the Rila mountains. The hike to the top starts from the bottom and lasts all day, or you can cut your hiking time in half by taking the chair lift to a higher starting point. While the hike isn’t only for expert hikers, expect to spend four hours to a full day on the hike, depending on where you choose to start and where you choose to finish.
62- Grutshchalp to Murren-Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps are magnificent and provide for spectacular views for hikers who decide to hike at higher altitudes. One spectacular hike is from Grutschalp to Murren, a carless town high in the Alps. Located above the Jungfrau Valley in the middle of Switzerland, Grutschap can be reached by cable car from Lauterbrunnen. From there, the hike to Murren is about 3 hours, stroller and family friendly. The hike passes through a forest, through meadows with beautiful views of the peaks of the Alps all around. The return back down to the valley is via cable cars down from Murren.
63- Skaftafell Glacier Hike
Skaftafellsjökull is a glacier tongue of the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull National Park. This glacier hiking was the highlight of my trip to Iceland. You will have the chance of scaling up and down naturally formed and see incredible ice formations and to ice climbing tall ice walls. Depends on the time of the year, it is also possible to explore the amazing blue natural ice caves. But note that for this adventure you will need to hire a professional guides, and rent all the gear for ice hiking and climbing. This tour is suitable for the whole family and everyone with a relatively good fitness level.