Country Hiking Guides

25 of the Best Countries for Hiking

POSTED ON March 20, 2024 BY Ralph S.


Introduction

With almost 200 countries in the world, there are many great hiking adventures to be had. However, which are the best ones to go on a vacation if great hikes are an important consideration? For avid hikers and lovers of the great outdoors, this blog will highlight 25 of the best countries for hiking, each offering breathtaking scenery and trails that beckon with the promise of adventure.

We’ll equip you with insights on not just the routes but also the essential camping gear needed to tackle the climbs. Venture with us to New Zealand, famed for its varied landscapes and hiking trails, the world-renowned Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal, and also uncover gems in other countries across the other continents.

From backpacking in the wild terrains of South America to trekking the serene paths of the Pacific Crest Trail, get ready to lace up your boots and set out on journeys that will stay etched in your memory forever.

The Ultimate Hiking Checklist

Hiking checklist

When deciding on a hiking destination, it’s important to weigh various factors, such as terrain diversity, accessibility, climate, safety, and cultural experiences:

  • Terrain Diversity: Terrain can vary from deserts to jungles, and from mountains to plains. Consider the type of hike that best suits your fitness level and preferences.
  • Accessibility: Some hiking destinations are easier to reach than others. Check the ease of travel, as well as the availability of local guides and resources.
  • Climate: The weather can make or break a hiking trip. Know the best time to visit for optimal hiking conditions.
  • Safety: Always hike with a buddy or a guide, inform others of your plans, and be prepared for emergencies.
  • Cultural Experiences: Many hiking destinations offer unique cultural encounters. Explore local customs, cuisines, and traditions as part of your hiking adventure.

Join us as we unveil the ultimate hiker’s bucket list for the world’s finest hiking destinations.

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25. Japan

Mount Fuji

Japan is a land of varying landscapes, making it a venerable paradise for hikers and tourists. The serenity of ancient temples blends with bustling cities, offering a unique journey through time. National parks dot the country, boasting stunning views from mountain peaks to forested trails. Hikers can immerse themselves in the tranquility of these landscapes and then rejuvenate in the myriad of natural hot springs scattered across the nation.

Some of the most scenic trails include the iconic Mount Fuji, offering breathtaking views at the summit and a culturally rich experience. For those seeking a more remote adventure, the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trails in the Kii Mountains provide a trek through the spiritual heartland of Japan, passing by numerous hot springs and shrines. Meanwhile, the Shikoku Pilgrimage encompasses 88 temples and showcases the diverse topography of Shikoku Island within its national parks.

24. Iceland

Kirkjufell, Iceland

Iceland is a prime destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, famed for its starkly beautiful landscape that encompasses everything from volcanic fields to ice-capped peaks. For tourists, there’s hardly a place more suited to marrying adventure with natural splendor. The island’s compact size belies the diversity of its terrain, offering incredible hiking opportunities amidst phenomena like the ethereal northern lights and rejuvenating hot springs.

Among Iceland’s most treasured hiking destinations is the Laugavegur Trail, renowned for passing through a spectrum of extraordinary landscapes, including colorful rhyolite mountains and vibrant geothermal areas. Landmannalaugar, an oasis amidst this stark beauty, marks one of the trail’s highlights and serves as a haven for backpackers. Here, the raw power of Iceland’s geothermal activity can be witnessed first-hand, making it a must-visit for every hiking aficionado exploring the island.

23. Ecuador

hiking in Ecuador

Ecuador, straddling the equator, invites hikers to explore the Amazon rainforest, ascend the Andean peaks, stroll the beaches of the coast, and traverse the otherworldly Galápagos Islands, all within one nation. The dramatic topographical contrasts within its compact borders make Ecuador a microcosm of diverse landscapes, nurturing exceptional biodiversity.

Trails like the Quilotoa Loop wind through indigenous markets and breathtaking crater lakes, such as the emerald expanse of the Quilotoa caldera. For a challenging high-altitude trek, the Condor Trek weaves through the Andes, connecting volcanic glaciers, remote mountain passes, and a chance to spot the majestic Andean condor. These routes encapsulate the geological and cultural diversity that sets Ecuador apart as a hiking haven.

22. Argentina

Summit of Cerro López, Bariloche, Nahuel Huapi National Park, Patagonia, Argentina

Argentina’s diverse landscape, from the arid plains of the north to the rugged Andes in the west and the frozen expanses of Patagonia in the south, offers an exceptional variety of hiking experiences.

The country boasts dramatic natural scenery, which serves as the backdrop for its well-preserved cultural heritage and vibrant cities. Patagonia, in particular, is a highlight for adventure enthusiasts, featuring the breathtaking peaks of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. Here, hikers can embark on some of the world’s most challenging trails, set amidst towering spires and pristine glaciers.

In the enchanting Lake District near Bariloche, the landscape shifts to a fairy-tale setting, offering more accessible trails for hikers of all levels. This region is renowned for its crystal-clear lakes, dense forests, and snow-capped mountains, creating an environment ideal for leisurely strolls or more intensive treks. Hikers can soak in the picturesque views along the trails, connecting them to the untouched beauty of Patagonia.

For more information on these iconic trails, visit Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Trails and the Bariloche Lake District Hikes.

21. Italy

Verso il colle di Palasina, Val d'Aosta, Italy

Italy is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, renowned for its varied landscapes that are ideal for both hikes and sightseeing. UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the towering Dolomites provide a challenging and rewarding experience with their network of high routes, known as the Alta Via. The Dolomites offer an impressive array of mountain vistas intermingled with alpine meadows and crystalline lakes.

The scenic Greenway of Lake Como captivates walkers with its picturesque lakeside views and connecting old villages steeped in history. Meanwhile, the trails of the Amalfi Coast draw in hikers with the allure of Mediterranean landscapes and the historic Sentiero Degli Dei, or “Path of the Gods.”

20. United Kingdom

Amazing coastal hike in Wales, St. Davids, United Kingdom

The UK’s picturesque landscapes provide a serene backdrop for both beginner hikers and seasoned trail enthusiasts. The South West Coast Path, known as England’s longest waymarked long-distance footpath and a National Trail, presents hikers with over 630 miles (1,014 km) of stunning views along the coastline, making it a must-visit for any outdoor lover.

For those seeking iconic and popular trails, the Lake District and Peak District National Parks invite explorers to discover quintessentially English vistas and charming villages. Hiking in these areas not only provides visual delight but also an authentic experience of England’s natural grandeur.

The most adventurous hikers might conquer the Ben Nevis Summit Trail, leading to the top of UKs highest mountain. The West Highland Way and the trails in Cairngorms National Park beckon hikers across the globe to explore the highland fling to the fullest extent.

Lastly, the dense jungle of the Trossachs and the crystal-clear waters of the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in Scotland offer unparalleled natural beauty.

19. Hong Kong

Hong Kong mountains

While Hong Kong is mostly known for its bustling cities and towering skyscrapers, it also offers a surprising array of hiking experiences. With over 50% of the land designated as country parks, Hong Kong boasts networks of well-maintained trails that cater to hikers of all levels. From coastal walks with stunning ocean views to challenging climbs up steep mountain peaks, there is something for everyone.

One of the most popular hikes in Hong Kong is the Dragon’s Back Trail, offering panoramic views of the city and its surrounding islands. For those seeking a more challenging hike, the Lantau Peak Trail takes hikers to the highest point in Hong Kong, rewarding them with breathtaking vistas and a sense of accomplishment.

For a unique hiking experience, visitors can also explore the Wilson Trail, which stretches over 48 miles (78 kilometers) and connects the east and west sides of Hong Kong.

18. Austria

Berglisee, Austria

Austria, renowned for the majestic Alps, captivates hiking aficionados and tourists with its stunning topography. Austria’s Tyrol region and the Salzkammergut exemplify the quintessential Alpine experience, drawing visitors to its high peaks, deep valleys, and crystalline lakes. The landscape is ripe for outdoor pursuits, with well-marked trails like the iconic Eagle’s Walk covering 256 miles (413 kilometers) across Tyrol, offering hikers scenic vistas of emerald meadows and alpine pastures.

For a journey through Austria’s picturesque lake district, the Salzkammergut Lake District Trail meanders past tranquil waters surrounded by forested slopes. Other noteworthy hikes include the serene Lünersee Circuit Trail and the challenging ascent of Gamsjoch Peak, where adventurers are rewarded with panoramic views. Thrill-seekers can explore the Wolfsklamm Gorge or partake in a quest from Lake Formarinsee to Lake Spullersee, both promising a blend of natural beauty and Alpine charm.

17. Costa Rica

Rio celeste, Costa rica

Costa Rica, a small country teeming with exuberant rainforests and impressive volcanoes, stands as a beacon for eco-tourism. The country’s penchant for conservation has allowed its lush jungles and mountainous terrain to thrive, establishing itself as a premier destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts from around the world.

Costa Rica’s trails offer a mosaic of ecosystems to explore, from misty cloud forests to tropical beaches, making it one of the most biologically diverse countries for backpacking adventures.

The country’s scenic highlights include the iconic Arenal Volcano National Park, with trails winding past lava fields, and Corcovado National Park on the west coast. For those seeking natural beauty with a side of adventure, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve provides a surreal hiking experience high above the forest canopy.

16. Colombia

Amazing island formations in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia.

Colombia, with its diverse topography, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a rich blend of culture and natural beauty. The presence of the Andes mountain range ensures breathtaking hikes with varying degrees of difficulty, suited for both the casual walker and the seasoned trekker. Colombia’s trails also lead to remarkable archaeological sites, giving hikers a sense of exploration and discovery.

One of Colombia’s most iconic treks is the Cueva del Esplendor waterfall hike, a journey through coffee plantations that culminates in a cavernous cathedral where water cascades from an opening above. Equally famed is the hike to the lost city of Ciudad Perdida, challenging adventurers with its ancient stairways and offering unparalleled insight into Colombia’s indigenous heritage. These trails are more than routes; they are narratives of Colombia’s past and present, etched into its majestic landscapes.

15. Turkey

Cappadocia, Turkey

Turkey’s varied landscape of rugged mountains, serene coastlines, and rich history provides a unique setting for hiking adventures and tourist activities. The country’s Lycia region, in particular, is famous for its combination of breathtaking Mediterranean views, imposing mountain ranges, and the remnants of ancient Lycian civilization that infuse each step with a sense of the past. Hikers here are treated to a mix of natural splendor and archaeological intrigue.

Popular among the trails is the Lycian Way, a 320-mile (540-kilometer) route famed for winding along the coast and through mountainous terrain, offering views of sun-dappled shores and well-preserved ruins. Another must-visit is Turkey’s second-longest trail, the Saint Paul Trail, a path that takes adventurers through the Taurus Mountains, a region known for its wildflowers and Roman roads, giving travelers a glimpse of Turkey’s diverse environmental and historical tapestry.

14. Spain

A nice cabin by a lake high up in the Pyrenees.

Spain is a treasure trove for hikers and tourists, with its diverse landscapes ranging from the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the lush greenery of northwest Spain. The country’s natural beauty is a perfect canvas for outdoor activities, offering scenic hikes and cultural experiences like no other.

One of its most iconic treks is the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage that culminates at the stunning Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. Along the way, hikers are treated to some of Spain’s most scenic landscapes, imbued with historical significance and enduring beauty.

Ascending the summit of Mulhacén presents an unforgettable adventure, as it is the highest peak in mainland Spain, nestled in the Sierra Nevada range. For those seeking to explore the heights of Spanish hiking, Sierra Nevada National Park provides access to Mulhacén and many other trails.

13. Australia

Suspension bridge over the Snowy River in the Australian Alps.

Australia’s diverse natural beauty provides an idyllic backdrop for avid hikers and tourists seeking adventure across different landscapes.

The iconic Overland Track in Tasmania is celebrated as one of the best hikes, leading explorers through ancient forests and alpine moorlands, punctuated by the mirror-like waters of Cradle Mountain’s Dove Lake.

Meanwhile, the Larapinta Trail in the Red Centre presents a quintessentially Australian trek, where red desert sands meet a sapphire sky. The trail winds through the West MacDonnell Ranges, offering a challenging yet rewarding experience amidst the heart of the continent’s vast wilderness.

For hiking enthusiasts and tourists, these trails exemplify the spirit of the Australian outdoors, showcasing the sublime grandeur of its national parks and wild spaces.

12. Canada

Banff, Canada

Canada’s vast expanse offers a myriad of landscapes, making it a premier destination for hiking enthusiasts and tourists seeking the tranquility of nature. The entire country is dotted with towering mountain ranges in Banff National Park and pristine glacial lakes in Jasper National Park, presenting hikers with both challenging terrain and pathways to serenity. In the heart of the Canadian Rockies, adventurers encounter the unspoiled beauty of rugged peaks and turquoise waters, perfect for those yearning for an outdoor escape.

The Great Divide Trail weaves through some of the wildest parts of the Canadian Rockies, offering a remote and exhilarating hiking experience. Coastal lovers will find solace in the West Coast Trail, a 46-mile (75-kilometer) path on Vancouver Island known for offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and encounters with rich indigenous heritage sites. Both trails captivate with their distinct landscapes, challenging even seasoned hikers and rewarding them with Canada’s awe-inspiring panoramas.

11. Bhutan

Tiger's Nest, Bhutan

Bhutan, a Himalayan kingdom, is known for its majestic fortresses, intricate Buddhist monasteries, and timeless traditions that have been carefully protected by its isolation. The trekking experience in Bhutan is distinguished by its pristine landscapes, varied flora and fauna, and dramatic mountain terrains.

The country’s array of trekking trails includes the iconic Jomolhari Trek, which reveals the stunning Jomolhari Peak at sunrise, and the Druk Path Trek, connecting ancient dzongs and offering amazing views of the Himalayas.

For one of the world’s most challenging treks, the Snowman Trek traverses some of the highest and most remote mountain passes, providing an authentic encounter with Bhutan’s untouched wilderness.

10. Laos

Cataratas Kuang Si, Luangprabang, Laos

Laos, with its rugged paths and lush landscapes, offers an array of untouched natural beauty that is perfect for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers. The country’s appeal is heightened by its vast biodiversity and rich cultural heritage, with trails that wind through areas of dense jungle interspersed with traditional villages. Not only does it provide an escape into nature, but it also offers a chance to explore centuries-old traditions in a country that has remained relatively unscathed by mass tourism.

One of the most renowned hiking destinations in Laos is the Gibbon Experience in the Bokeo Nature Reserve, where visitors can explore the canopy via zip-lines and hike in search of the elusive gibbon. Equally compelling is the Nam Ha National Protected Area, a significant ASEAN Heritage Park, offering a variety of treks ranging from community-based eco-trails to multi-day hikes that give an insight into both the environmental and ethnic diversity of northern Laos.

9. Chile

Atacama Desert, Chile

Chile’s rugged landscape is a hiker’s canvas, offering an adventure across extreme contrasts. You can explore the world’s driest desert, the Atacama, and southern Chile’s pristine Patagonian wilderness. The country’s unique geography ensures an impressive variety of trails, suitable for both novice walkers and seasoned trekking enthusiasts. Hiking highlights include the ethereal moonscapes of Atacama and the enchanting forests and fjords in the Patagonia region.

One of Chile’s crowning jewels for trekkers is the Torres del Paine National Park, where the W or O circuit trails weave through a spectrum of landscapes encompassing majestic glaciers, azure lakes, and stark peaks. For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, adventurers ascend the summit of the active Villarrica Volcano or witness the rugged allure of the San Francisco Glacier within Cajón del Maipo. Meanwhile, Easter Island offers a cultural hike through a Pacific paradise steeped in the mystique of its ancient Moai statues.

8. Sweden

Ramsvikslandet

Sweden’s vast and varied landscape offers a plethora of hiking options, from coastal paths to mountainous landscapes. Its untouched wilderness, dotted with sparkling lakes and dense forests, is ideal for nature lovers seeking an escape.

One of the most iconic trails in Sweden is the Kungsleden, or King’s Trail, a 290-mile (467 km) route through the country’s northernmost regions. It offers hikers the chance to experience breathtaking views of Arctic landscapes and encounter wildlife such as reindeer and moose.

For another long-distance walking trail over the beautiful countryside of Skåne, the Skåneleden trail system provides a diverse range of landscapes, from coastal cliffs to rolling hills and ancient forests.

Another unique hiking experience in Sweden is Abisko National Park, which offers a chance to witness the natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights during certain times of the year. It also features multiple trails amidst stunning landscapes and opportunities for wildlife sightings.

7. France

Serre Chevalier, La Salle-les-Alpes, France

France is a hiker’s paradise, characterized by diverse landscapes and a multitude of national parks that cater to both the ambitious adventurer and the leisurely explorer. The country offers a range of hiking experiences, from the lofty heights of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, to the bucolic splendor of the wine trails in Alsace. Mont Blanc provides a dramatic, awe-inspiring challenge, attracting hikers who wish to traverse its snowy expanse that passes through three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland. For more information on hiking Mont Blanc, explorers can visit Chamonix Mont-Blanc Hiking.

In contrast, the rugged GR20 in Corsica presents one of the most demanding trails in Europe, with rocky paths that reveal the island’s wild beauty. Meanwhile, gentle walks through the vineyard-covered hills of Alsace offer a tranquil retreat.

The majestic Pyrenees stretch along the French-Spanish border, providing a playground for all levels of hikers seeking both scenic beauty and cultural immersion.

Adventurous travelers can find further details on the GR20 at Corsica Aventure’s GR20 Guide, while leisurely hikers can learn about Alsace trails on Alsace Wine Route Hikes.

It’s also home to the historical pilgrimage from France to Santiago, Spain, the Camino the Santiago.

6. Norway

Kongsberg, Norway

Norway is a hiker’s paradise, showcasing the dramatic Besseggen mountain ranges, lush forests of the Rondane National Park, and breathtaking views of expansive Norwegian fjords.

The iconic Trolltunga (which translates to the “troll’s tongue”) is an arduous trek with surreal vistas, and Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock, a steep cliff that rises 1,982 feet (604 meters), offers stunning views of the Lysefjord.

Each trail offers a blend of Norway’s natural beauty and heart-pumping excitement, perfect for those seeking thrilling landscapes and memorable adventures in the great outdoors.

5. Peru

Pastoruri Glacier, Peru

Peru is a treasure trove of archaeological wonders and natural beauty, making it a top destination for hiking aficionados and tourists alike.

The country’s varied landscape features the stunning Andes mountains, dense Amazon rainforests, and rich cultural heritage sites, including the lost city of Machu Picchu. Adventurers wielding trekking poles traverse the ancient Inca trails, uncovering the mysteries of bygone civilizations while being surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

The Inca Trail leads explorers on a four-day journey culminating at Machu Picchu, offering an immersive experience in both the natural and historical fabric of Peru.

For those seeking long-distance hiking, the Salkantay Trek presents a challenging yet scenic alternative, unveiling some of Peru’s most iconic and dramatic landscapes.

4. Nepal

Life in Himalayas

Nepal’s allure for adventure seekers lies in its towering mountain range, home to the grandest summits on earth, and lush forests teeming with biodiversity. The landscape, etched with ancient paths like the Great Himalaya Trail, stretches the expanse of the country, offering stunning views that escalate any hiker’s experience to the realms of the extraordinary. High-altitude mountaineering is also synonymous with Nepal’s revered peaks, beckoning hikers from around the globe.

Initiating their journey amidst the world’s most celebrated pathways, trekkers at the Everest Base Camp Trek or on the legendary circular path of the Annapurna Circuit Trek encounter a tapestry of cultural richness and natural splendor. Here, the Annapurna Range provides a compelling backdrop of diverse terrains, from arid cliffs to verdant valleys, ensuring that each step along these iconic trails is engraved with the essence of high-altitude charm.

3. New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand is a hiker’s dream with its majestic mountains, sprawling South Island terrains, and panoramic views that are nothing short of magical. Those with seasoned mountaineering skills can take on challenges like Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, home to the highest peaks and longest glaciers.

For awe-inspiring vistas, the Milford Track in Fiordland National Park offers an immersive experience through Fiordland’s rainforests and waterfalls. For a remarkable blend of coastal and forest scenery, hikers head to the famous Abel Tasman Coast Track.

In New Zealand, you can also hike the whole country from top to bottom along the famous Te Araroa trail.

2. Switzerland

Oeschinensee, Kandersteg, Switzerland

Switzerland captivates hikers with its alpine meadows, towering peaks, and the famous Swiss Alps. The Swiss National Park, a sanctuary of biodiversity, offers trails that wind through pristine landscapes. Adventure enthusiasts can embark on the Haute Route, a high mountain trail leading from Chamonix to Zermatt, basking in the glory of the Matterhorn, maybe the most iconic peak in the world.

The Eiger Trail at the foot of the infamous north face provides hikers with breathtaking vistas, making Switzerland an unforgettable destination for both its natural beauty and its challenging, scenic hikes.

1. United States

the beauty of Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe, CA.

The United States is renowned worldwide for its diverse landscapes and is a mecca for those seeking the best hikes across rugged terrain.

From long-distance hiking on the Appalachian Trail that spans the East Coast to the iconic and challenging Angels Landing in Zion National Park, the country offers an array of trails for all levels.

The Sierra Nevada features majestic peaks, while the Grand Canyon presents awe-inspiring chasms. The Cascade Range adds to the mix, showcasing volcanic landscapes and lush forests in the expansive panorama of American wilderness.

Conclusion

From the formidable cascade range of the American Pacific Northwest to the ancient paths of the Annapurna Circuit trek, every trip offers a chance to connect with nature and challenge oneself. These destinations underscore the appeal of hiking trails, not only as a means to explore stunning vistas but as pathways to personal discovery and adventure.

For those planning a multi-day excursion or seeking the best hikes this planet offers, the countries highlighted in our blog promise transformative experiences, ample adventure, and memories that will last a lifetime.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, the world’s trails beckon you to lace up your boots, embrace the wilderness, and leave no stone unturned on the path to exploration.

For more epic destinations like these, check out our National Park Guide or Hikes and Trails archive.


RALPH S.

Ralph S. is the founder of Silverlight, an avid hiker and trail runner he enjoys spending time outdoors, riding his motorcycle and swimming at the beach when he's not busy replying to customers or developing new Silverlight gear.

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3 comments

  1. You missed a hidden gem: Taiwan! With over 285 peaks above 3000m, offering breathtaking views, various terrain and unique fauna and flora.

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