The 10 Best Day Hikes on the Planet


, by Charlie Boscoe

Photography by: Christian B.

From Yosemite Half Dome to Tongariro National Park, there are spectacular day hikes all over the world. But which are the ones you should have on your bucket list? Charlie Boscoe shares ten of his favorites around the world.

The sheer volume of great hikes out there can make creating a bucket list of the best day hikes on the planet a tough task. If you're anything like me, reaching a dream summit and then seeing yet more peaks in the distance leads to the list growing rather than shortening. There might be a particular peak you want to summit, a line you want to ski or a ridge you want to climb, but I guarantee that once you've ticked it off, you'll find yourself a few days later pouring over a map in search of that great route you spotted.

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As such, bucket lists tend to get longer, not shorter, but that doesn't mean that you can't at least tick off the top few routes. A trip to Yosemite might reveal summits and trails you'd never previously considered, but ticking off the trip up Half Dome is still a non-negotiable. With that in mind, here are ten routes which, regardless of your ambitions, belong on the to-do list of every hiker.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is primarily the domain of rock climbers, who dream of and sometimes manage to climb the legendary granite walls to which the valley is home. Hikers will also find some exceptional trips in Yosemite, and the journey to the top of Half Dome is the prime example.

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The challenging trip spans around 16 miles (round trip) and includes a nerve-wracking ascent up the famous cable route. The reward at the summit is a panoramic view of Yosemite Valley that will likely leave you utterly in awe of the park's renowned grandeur.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

On the other side of the globe, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand offers a unique volcanic landscape in a single-day hike. The 12-mile (one-way) hike traverses Tongariro National Park's dramatic scenery, including emerald lakes, hot springs, and the imposing Mount Ngauruhoe, famously known as Mount Doom from "The Lord of the Rings." If epic, unique scenery and a bit of cinematic history sound like your thing - this is the hike for you.

The first kilometers of the famous Tongariro crossing hike at the end of winter. Photography by: Jan Jerman Shutterstock.

TrollTunga, Norway

In a strong field, Norway might—on a per square-mile basis—be the most beautiful country on the planet. It's a relatively small landmass but somehow contains everything from deep, eerie fjords to towering glaciated summits. Parts of the country are barren, others bursting with life. It's a land of contrasts and has a blue arctic hue you won't find anywhere else.

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The 17-mile round trip to Trolltunga is perhaps the country's single most famous hike and takes you to the famous Troll's Tongue rock formation, which juts out 2,300 feet above Lake Ringedalsvatnet. The view from Trolltunga is nothing short of spectacular, offering a dramatic perspective of the Norwegian wilderness and a glimpse of Norway's beauty.

The Narrows, Zion National Park

In the heart of Zion National Park, one of America's most legendary natural sites, sits a hike that is as refreshing as it is stunning. The 9.4-mile round-trip Narrows trail involves wading through the Virgin River while towering canyon walls rise dramatically on either side, creating a truly immersive experience. Describing this as a hike is to do it a disservice - this is a trip unlike any other on this list!

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Table Mountain, South Africa

Hiking Table Mountain is a must for those visiting Cape Town. The various routes range from 2 to 5 miles one way, each offering spectacular views of the city, the Atlantic Ocean, and unique flora. The Platteklip Gorge line is particularly popular for its direct and rewarding climb, but making your way to the top of this famous peak is spectacular by any route.

Table Mountain at sunset. Photography by: Alexcpt_photography

Mount Fitz Roy (Laguna de los Tres), Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

In Patagonia, Argentina, the Mount Fitz Roy hike to Laguna de los Tres is an unforgettable adventure through some of the most spectacular mountains on the planet. Spanning 13 miles, this hike offers breathtaking views of the jagged peaks of Mount Fitz Roy and the pristine Patagonian landscape. The final ascent to Laguna de los Tres is steep but provides a dramatic climax to the journey.

The big crux of all Patagonian adventures is waiting for good weather, so you'll need luck on your side if you're to get the classic view from the lake!

Laguna de los Tres, Patagonia. Photography by: Javarman

Cinque Terre, Italy

The Cinque Terre National Park in Italy offers a picturesque coastal hike through five charming and colorful villages. The 7.5-mile Sentiero Azzurro, or Blue Path, provides stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and a glimpse into the region's vibrant culture and history.

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Each village has a slightly different look and feel, but one constant between them is wonderful food - this isn't a hike where you'll be operating on a calorie deficit!

Laugavegur Trail, Iceland

The Laugavegur Trail is renowned for its diverse and unique geological features, but hiking anywhere in Iceland is about as close to experiencing the lunar surface as most of us will get. The route linked above covers the whole Laugavegur hike, but a popular day option is the 10-mile round trip from Landmannalaugar to Brennisteinsalda. The trek leads you through geothermal hot springs, colorful rhyolite mountains, and vast lava fields, showcasing Iceland's unique and otherworldly landscape.

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Preikestolen, Norway

Having earlier described Norway as pound-for-pound the most scenic country on Earth, it's only fitting to have a second Norwegian hike on this list! The 5-mile round trip on Preikestolen is steep and scenic, culminating at a flat-topped cliff with a sheer 2,000-foot drop into the Lysefjord. The breathtaking view from the top makes every step worth it and opens up a vista across seemingly endless fjords and mountains.

Devil's Thumb, Alberta

Of all of Canada's natural wonders, none are as photographed as Lake Louise. Watching turquoise water reflecting the jagged, snow-covered peaks above it is spectacular enough, but sipping a drink at a world-famous hotel whilst doing so is even better. The Fairmont Chateau hotel is world-renowned, and gives this hike comfortably the best start and end point of any route on this list!

The hike itself is spectacular and challenging in equal measure, with some tricky and exposed scrambling towards the top. The reward for your efforts is a view across Lake Louise, its surrounding peaks, and all the way to the desolate high peaks of the Columbia and Wapta icefields.