10 Bucket List Hikes Around the World
Views like nowhere else, challenging terrain and remarkable sites you can only see from the trail have earned these top treks around the world legendary status. Not to mention, serious bragging rights if you complete them.
We’re not talking about the Pacific Crest Trail or Camino de Santiago pilgrimages of the world that require an extended leave from your life or career. These bucket list hikes are multi-day expeditions ranging from several days to a few weeks that anyone with good planning, proper training and a hunger for big adventure can tackle.
1) Mount Kilimanjaro | Tanzania
Distance: Varies by route
Time: 5 – 9 days
Best time to go: June to October
You don’t need any technical climbing skills to reach the 19,340-foot summit of Africa’s highest mountain, which is exactly why Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most popular mountain hikes in the world. Trekking to the top of this free-standing, dormant volcano will take you along one of six different routes, which vary in lengths and difficulties, through five different climate zones. You’ll pass through mossy jungle, volcanic formations and glaciers, before ultimately being rewarded with hundred-mile panoramic views.
2) Tour du Mont Blanc | France, Italy & Switzerland
Distance: 110 miles
Time: 6 – 14 days
Best time to go: July to September
What other trek in the world takes you through three different countries on foot? The Tour du Mont Blanc encircles Europe’s highest peak as it takes hikers through the famed Alps region of France, Italy and Switzerland. As you trek through lush forests, alpine meadows and glacial valleys, and over mountain passes, you’ll be challenged with extreme elevation changes. The payoffs are big on this classic European adventure and you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring scenery every step of the way.
3) Inca Trail | Peru
Distance: 26 miles
Time: 4 – 5 days
Best time to go: May to September
Going the long way always offers unexpected surprises and when it comes to the Inca Trail, an ancient route through the Andes that leads to Machu Picchu, this is certainly the case. On this high-altitude trek you’ll explore more than a dozen spectacular Incan ruins before passing through Machu Picchu’s “back door,” the Sun Gate. It’s a trail that’s filled with breathtaking beauty, mountaintop vista terraces, snowcapped peaks, and mind-boggling ancient history.
4) Routeburn Track | New Zealand
Distance: 20 miles
Time: 2 – 4 days
Best time to go: November to April
Milford Track may be New Zealand’s most famous trek, but the nearby Routeburn Track should not be overlooked. Linking Mount Aspiring National Park with Fiordland National Park, this stunning one-way trail is big on scenery. You’ll wander through lush valleys carved by glaciers, dense beech forests, past waterfalls and magnificent alpine lakes, and over mountain peaks as the trail winds through the South Island’s Southern Alps.
5) West Coast Trail | British Columbia, Canada
Distance: 47 miles
Time: 5 – 7 days
Best time to go: May to September
Hikers from all over the world make their way to British Columbia’s remote and rugged Vancouver Island to tackle the notorious and spectacular West Coast Trail. With fluctuating tide levels, endless ladders, river crossings and frequent rain showers this trek through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is hardly a walk in the park. Still, for hikers who are up for the challenge, it’s a unique opportunity to explore remote beaches and coves, wander through an ancient rain forest, and even whale watch along a spectacular stretch of the Pacific.
6) Torres del Paine W Trek | Chile
Distance: 37+ miles
Time: 3 – 5+ days
Best time to go: October to March
In Chilean Patagonia, a surreal place of beauty chock full of impressive sights and world-class treks, it’s hard to name favorites. Still, gorgeously transparent lakes, vibrant emerald forest, raging rivers, calving glaciers and granite spires will show you why Torres del Paine’s challenging W trek is the quintessential Patagonia hike. For a longer excursion, you can tackle the “The Circuit,” which is a nine day loop around the entire park and includes the “W” route.
7) GR20 | Corsica
Distance: 112 miles
Time: 15 days
Best time to go: June to mid-October
The famed GR20 trail, which traverses the jagged ridge of mountains on the Mediterranean Island of Corsica, is arguably one of Europe’s toughest mountain treks. On the Grand Randonnée, or Great Walk as it’s translated from French, you’ll tackle nearly 35,000 vertical feet of elevation as you hike by towering spires, crystalline lakes and snowcapped peaks, sometimes catching a glimpse of the dramatic coastline. It’s a relentlessly rugged but magnificent trek.
8) Overland Track | Australia
Distance: 40 miles
Time: 5 – 6 days
Best time to go: November to April
Situated in one of the Southern Hemisphere’s great wilderness regions—Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area—the Overland Track is Australia’s most renowned trek. On this remote hike you’ll wind through the heart of Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, passing through a variety of scenery from vast rainforests and glacier-carved valleys to moorlands and majestic mountain peaks. Many people also opt to summit Mt. Osso, Tasmania’s tallest peak, which is a common side trip from the trail and where even more magnificent views await.
9) Grand Canyon Rim to Rim | Arizona
Distance: 24 miles (one-way)
Time: 1 – 3 days
Best time to go: May to June, September to October
Prepare for sensory overload on this challenging hike into the heart of Grand Canyon, one of the world’s premiere national parks. From the North Kaibab trail on the North Rim, you’ll descend some 6,000 feet through two billion years of Earth’s history and mesmerizing scenery before connecting with the Bright Angel Trail and climbing 4,500 feet back out again to the South Rim. While the grueling rim-to-rim trek can be done in one day (and in various iterations via different trails), don’t miss the chance to spend a night at world-famous Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon.
10) The Annapurna Circuit | Nepal
Distance: 100 – 145 miles depending where you end
Time: 12 – 21 days
Best time to go: October, November, April and May
The Annapurna Circuit, an awe-inspiring trek through the heart of the Nepalese Himalaya, is often referred to as “the best long distance trek in the world.” And while the area’s natural beauty is no doubt spectacular—dramatic gorges, gushing waterfalls, and majestic peaks of the Annapurna range—it’s the trek’s cultural immersion that makes it so special. Following an ancient trade route that still functions as one today, the trail takes you through local villages where you can’t help but be immersed in the sights, sounds and hospitality of the Nepalese culture. It’s a trek where you’ll gladly trade solitude for the opportunity to soak up the sights and traditions of this wondrous region.
Photos: Kilimanjaro – Sergey Pesterev/Unsplash; Tour du Mont Blanc – Backroads; Inca Trail – James Kaiser; Routeburn Track – Megan Simpson/Flying Kiwi Tours on Flickr; West Coast Trail – ilya_ktsn/Flickr; W Trek – Cascada Expediciones; GR20 – akunamatata/Flickr; Overland Track – Tatters/Flickr; Grand Canyon – James Kaiser; Annapurna Circuit – Andrew Hyde/Flickr