The 25 Best Long Distance Hikes in the World


, by Charlie Boscoe

Pumori, Everest and Nuptse as seen from Kala Patthar. Everest Base Camp is on the moraine in the foreground. Credit SIHASAKPRACHUM Shutterstock

We've recently published articles on Strava Stories about the finest hikes in the Himalayas, the European Alps, and the USA, but today, we're thinking even bigger with our list of the 25 best hikes on the planet. There should be something for everyone on this list - whether you're seeking an exceptional long weekend hike or a six-month hike that will consume your life and test you to your limits. 

We've selected the hikes on this list based not on specific criteria but on trying to cover as many areas as possible and provide something for everyone. Those who want a once-in-a-lifetime mission will find plenty to inspire them here, but there are also options for those for whom a week of hiking is a rare treat. Some of the hikes here are all about the views, others combine cultural interest with scenery, and a couple are real leftfield choices 0 if you've heard of all of these routes, you genuinely are a hiking connoisseur! Ultimately, it's all a bit of fun, so if you want inspiration and some realistic suggestions for longer hikes, then keep reading!  

1. The Everest Base Camp Trail

It might be a clichéd choice for number 1, but given that this trek leads you through the highest and most famous mountains on Earth and right up to the foot of its very highest, the Everest Base Camp trek is truly the world's greatest hike. Yes, it's busy, and yes, it's not exactly an original choice, but you can't find finer views than these, and you also can't get much more kudos than from visiting Everest Base Camp!

2. The Continental Divide Trail

Of the three classic American thru-hikes, the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is the longest, most challenging, and most spectacular. The other two trails - The Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails - are further down on this list, but the CDT is the king of US thru-hikes, and with good reason. The trip is over 3,000 miles long and takes hikers from the deserts of New Mexico to the high mountains of Colorado and the wilderness areas of Montana and Wyoming. One of the cruxes of the trip is hitting the weather right so that you arrive in Colorado as the snow disappears but not so late into summer that you run out of good weather before reaching Canada. Timing, luck, and tremendous determination are required to tick this most sought-after of hikes.

3. The Milford Track

Even the FATMAP Guidebook linked above lists the Milford Track as the "finest walk in the world," and if it weren't for the two hikes listed above, its place on top of the podium would be virtually undisputed. As it is, it's taking bronze in this list thanks to its jaw-dropping views, peaceful huts, and wild ambiance. There's always a catch, though, and on the Milford Track, it's the weather - finding a 4-day window of sunshine is rare, but the route is a world-class adventure even if you get a little damp on a couple of days!

4. The Tour du Mont Blanc

Three countries, 160 kilometers of trail, and over 10,000 meters of climbing make the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) one of the world's most famous multi-day hikes. Whether you stay in campsites, mountain huts, or comfortable hotels, this is an exceptional trip around the Alps' highest mountain and beneath some of its most famous peaks. Expect insane views, plenty of people to share the trail with, and exceptional culinary options, and you won't be disappointed!

5. The Torres del Paine O Circuit

The Alps are easier to access, the Himalayas are higher, and just about everywhere has better weather, but the peaks of Patagonia might just be the most spectacular on the planet. The more extended version of the classic loop around the Torres del Paine, this trip is an adventurous journey through mountains that sit right on the edge of the Earth. Getting continuous blue skies for the whole trip would be nothing short of miraculous, but those brutal Patagonia storms make the sunny days all the more special.

6. The Pacific Crest Trail

The second longest of the three classic American thru-hikes—behind the CDT (described above) and ahead of the Appalachian Trail, discussed below—the Pacific Crest Trail gets the best weather of them all and arguably follows the finest natural feature of all. Winding its way up the crest of America's westernmost mountain ranges, the PCT is 2,700 miles long and goes from the high and barren Sierra Nevada to the wet and wild Cascades, with Oregon's natural wonders in between. Most hikers start the PCT in mid-April and pull into Canada in early September, so this is certainly not a short trip!

7. The Overland Track

Depending on how you dice it up, this fabulous journey through Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (part of Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area) can be as short as 65 kilometers and as long as 100. There is also the option to detour up Mount Ossa - Tasmania's highest peak - for those who are really keen to milk the trip. Whether you hurry through the shortest possible route or take every detour possible, the Overland Track is a stunning journey through forests, moorlands and - on the sections where there's no boardwalk - some good old-fashioned mud! Luckily, the route is lined with excellent huts where you can dry off and reset ahead of the next day's hiking.

8. The Annapurna Sanctuary

The Annapurna Circuit is perhaps a more logical route than this, but the Sanctuary hike makes it onto this list because it leads you right into the heart of the Annapurnas and takes you beneath the staggering "Fish Tail mountain" - Machapuchare. The opportunity to stand beneath the towering south face of Annapurna is also reason enough to do this hike - as if the epic views and lovely villages en route weren't enough.

9. The Te Araroa Trail

Te Araroa means "long path" - and at over 3,000 kilometers, the name seems apt! Leading from Cape Reinga at the northern tip of New Zealand's Aupouri Peninsula all the way down to Bluff, on the southern tip of the south island, this mission takes most hikers around four months to complete. If you finish in Bluff and are still hungry for more, you could then get the ferry down to Stewart Island and do the Rakiura Track, but after months of jungle, plains, mountains, rivers, and wilderness, a beer might be in order!

10. The Alta Via 2

The most technically difficult trip in this list, the Alta Via 2 only qualifies as a hike because of the trails that separate its more challenging bits! The route winds through some of the best scenery in the Dolomites (and that's saying something). It leads you between welcoming Italian mountain huts via some of the area's legendary "Via Ferrata." These so-called "iron ways" are cables, rungs, ladders, and bridges that allow novice climbers to scale vertical faces safely, provided they have the appropriate equipment and training. Anything that combines the legendary Dolomitic vistas with hearty Italian hut food and climbing rock walls deserves a top 10 spot!

11. The Appalachian Trail

The third of the three great American thru-hikes is the only one that doesn't go from the country's southern border to its northern one, but it does traverse fourteen states over the course of 2,200 miles. The route is sometimes referred to as "The Green Tunnel," and while much of it does pass through dense forests, there are also countless summits (including the mighty Mount Washington) and miles of barren tundra. Allow 5 - 7 months to complete the hike, plan it well, and enjoy the journey.

12. The West Highland Way

Starting on the outskirts of Glasgow and finishing at the foot of Ben Nevis, this hike shows off the best of Scotland. If barren, atmospheric mountains, peaceful wild camping spots, and some Scotch distilleries sound like your thing - this is the hike for you! It takes around a week to complete the West Highland Way, and - as you'll know if you've been to Scotland - getting seven days of good weather is almost unheard of, so prepare for all conditions and embrace the Highlands hiking experience.

13. The K2 Base Camp Trek

Those lucky enough to have explored all the major Himalayan ranges testify that the Baltoro Glacier, with K2 at its head, is the most beautiful of all. Towering granite spires, impossibly steep and intimidating glaciated summits, and arguably the most feared mountain in the world make for a unique trek. There are countless ways of adding to the trip, whether by tagging on a peak or detouring up a side valley, but "just" doing the standard route to the foot of the mighty K2 is a spectacular journey.

14. The Via Alpina

The longest trail in the European Alps, the Via Alpina Red Route is a monster of a trip and leads from Monaco, through all eight Alpine countries, down to Trieste on Italy's Adriatic Coast. The high passes in the Alps are snow-free for less than half the year, so doing this 5,000-kilometer trip in one summer isn't possible. The best way of experiencing the hike is to take multiple years over it, enjoy the journey, and relish carrying a light bag as you go from hut to hotel across the Alpine chain.

15. The Toubkal Loop

Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas mountains, is a popular trekking objective. It allows you to experience Berber culture and some beautiful mountain scenery in less than a week from anywhere in Europe. The peak can be climbed at any time of year, but doing it in winter is the best and most adventurous option. If you want even more adventure from your Toubkal trip, consider doing the loop linked above, which will lead you away from the main trail and into some remote valleys to the east of Toubkal. The villages you pass through on the loop feel like they've barely changed in centuries and provide a much more authentic taste of the people who've inhabited the Moroccan mountains for millennia. 

16. El Camino de Santiago

Many of the trips in this list feel like pilgrimages, but el Camino de Santiago really is one! Joking aside, there isn't just one route - el Camino de Santiago refers to the nine treks leading to the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela from various surrounding points. The most popular option is the Camino Frances, with more than half of all "Caminoers" choosing this option. The route takes you over the Pyrenees (the quieter little sibling of the Alps) and then through the beautiful mountains of northern Spain via some of the most peaceful mountain refuges in Europe. Have a great hike, and get some good karma!

17. The Laugavegur Trail

The word "otherworldly" is overused when referring to hikes, but it's entirely appropriate for Iceland. Trekking through the rugged Icelandic wilds is unlike anything else and is the closest most of us will get to being on the moon, with vast, volcanic hills giving way to glaciers and rivers to create a unique landscape. The most famous multi-day hike on the island is the Laugavegur Trail, which is around 50 miles long (if you do the highly recommended extra section) and takes 3 - 5 days. There are a series of uncatered huts en route, so you can travel relatively light as you immerse yourself in some of the most remarkable views anywhere on this planet.

18. The Thames Path

Those who seek wilderness and solitude might be spitting their tea out at the sight of this hike in our Top 25 list, but hiking is a broad church, and this route is exceptional in every way apart from remoteness! The route goes from the source of the River Thames and on to the famous London skyline, which lines its lower reaches, via fields, forests, and villages. The trail provides history, varied scenery, and a remarkable amount of peace as it winds down through Oxford, Henley, London, and - if you carry on all the way to the coast - some lovely seaside villages, too. The hike is lined with pubs, bed and breakfasts, and country hotels, and there is virtually no elevation change on the entire route, so it's about as physically easy as long-distance hiking gets.

19. The Grand Divide Trail

Traversing the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia, the Great Divide Trail might feel a little hard done by to be down in 18th place! The only reason it's not a little higher is that it isn't truly a trail; much of it is a wilderness route where bushwhacking and micro-navigation are essential. Depending on your preferences, that might make it more or less appealing. For those with the requisite determination and adventurous spirit, the GDT is a wild journey through spectacular mountains full of hungry grizzly bears—be prepared for a trip into the unknown, and you won't be disappointed!

20. The Grampians Peaks Trail

Unlike the GDT, you won't encounter any bears on the Grampians Peaks Trail, but there's no shortage of other animals! Add in typical Australian bush, epic Grampian vistas, and beautiful flora, and you've got a winning combination. Despite their proximity to Melbourne, the Grampians are wild mountains, and hikers must be self-sufficient on this 2-week (ish) hike. There are basic campgrounds along the route, but not much in between them, so prepare for adventure, and you'll get it!

21. The Gozo Coastal Trail

Well, we did promise a couple of leftfield choices on this list! The smaller of the two main Maltese islands, Gozo feels like the land time forgot. Sleepy fishing villages, turquoise sea, towering limestone sea cliffs, barren, dry fields, and a refreshing lack of rowdy nightlife make it a wonderful place to chill out and enjoy world-class snorkeling. Hikers will also find a superb week's worth of entertainment by doing the Gozo Coastal Trail, which - as the name suggests - goes all the way around the island. There are plenty of options for accommodation, so you can travel pretty light as you take in the epic views - just don't forget your snorkel!

22. The Wonderland Trail

This is one of the finest multi-day hikes in America and circumnavigates one of the country's most famous natural wonders: Mount Rainier. There are several places from which the hike can be started and finished, but whichever option you choose, the trip is around 150 kilometers/93 miles long and takes most hikers about 10 - 14 days. You can rush it, but with scenery this good - why bother?! There are campgrounds lining the route, so you can break it up to take into account bad weather, fatigue, or any other factors, but backcountry camping is not permitted for conservation reasons. Get a permit, practice no-trace camping, and enjoy looping one of America's greatest mountains.

23. The Mount Kailash Circuit

The second pilgrimage in this list (after el Camino de Santiago at number 16), the Mount Kailash Circuit is more than "just" a hike for no fewer than four religions - Buddhism, Hinduism, Bon, and Jainism - believers in which all consider the mountain to be holy. The trip to and around it is a true high mountains adventure, taking around five days and never going below 4,500 meters altitude. With that kind of altitude involved, it's essential to get fully acclimated before starting the trip, and spending some time exploring the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, and then Everest base camp on the mountain's northern side is a fabulous way of doing it!

24. The Juan de Fuca Trail

The West Coast Trail gets most of the attention, but - whisper it quietly - the Juan de Fuca Trail might be Vancouver Island's finest multi-day hike. The trail is shorter than the West Coast Trail but equally scenic and far quieter. There are ample campgrounds en route, and on a clear night, you can enjoy spectacular sunsets. During the days, expect beaches, forests, mud, and - hopefully - some impressive maritime creatures swimming nearby!

25. The Adlerweg

One of the lesser-known Alpine trails, the Adlerweg should really be more popular. It traverses many of the finest sections of the Austrian Alps and mixes wilderness with cities and culture as few trips can. With no mountains over 4,000 meters, Austria passes under the radar of many hikers, and after three weeks of traveling through epic mountain scenery and staying at charming mountain huts, you'll be as mystified as we are about why this is!

Check out our guidebook of the best hikes in the world right here: