Hiking is the best way to get to know a new area or country. This is a list of the best day hikes in the world.
The best day hikes in the world
All over the world, you can find beautiful hiking trails. From hikes with spectacular views to hiking through extraordinary landscapes. Through nature and through picturesque villages and cool cities. In this bucket list, you will read about the most beautiful areas for hiking and the most beautiful day hikes in the world.
Best hikes in Europe
What are the most beautiful places for hiking in Europe?
Antrim Glens (Ireland)
One of the best places to hike in Europe is the area around Antrim Glens in Ireland. You can find some long-distance trails in this area, but you can also choose to do day hikes. For me, I’d love to hike to Giant’s Causeway (a really weird and beautiful rock formation), but I would also like to cross one of these cool rope bridges. It looks like an amazing place to hike and discover the coast of Ireland.
Photo: Jessica Knowlden | Unsplash
Puez-Geisler Nature Park, Dolomites (Italy)
Another great place for hiking in Europe is the Dolomites in Italy. I haven’t been here myself (yet!), but every time when I see pictures on Instagram or Pinterest, I tell myself that I really need to go there! Granite rock formations, breathtaking mountains, valleys with cute villages, it looks like a fairytale! In Puez-Geisler Nature Park you can choose from several day hikes, from 5 to 15 kilometers. This is perfect if you’re not that experienced with hiking.
Tip! You can also go hiking here during the winter months. Go snowshoeing in the Dolomites.
Photo: G-R Mottez | Unsplash
The hike to Trolltunga has perhaps the most spectacular view on this list of the best day hikes in the world. The hike to Trolltunga in Norway ends on this iconic cliff, which is about 700 meters above the Ringedalsvatnet-lake. It sure is one of the must-sees in Norway!
There are two itineraries to go to Trolltunga, there’s a 20-kilometer and a 28-kilometer hike to choose from. Make sure the weather is good because it can get really dangerous! It’s recommended to only hike this trail between June and September. You can go on a self-guided hiking trip, but if you’re not sure about hiking here, I would recommend going on a guided tour.
Unique experience: During this night hike you will see Trolltunga both at sunset and sunrise.
Photo: Benjamin Davies | Unsplash
Cinque Terre (Italy)
Another hike in Italy! Cinque Terre is one of the prettiest places in Italy. And yes, it attracts a lot of tourists! But you can avoid the crowds when you go hiking! Along the coastline of Cinque Terre, you’ll find several hiking trails. Some are only 3 kilometers, but you can also hike for 11 kilometers or more. The views are incredible!
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail (Portugal)
In recent years I have spent a lot of time in Portugal and especially in the southern Algarve. The coast is so incredibly beautiful there! The best way to discover the golden cliffs and hidden beaches is to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, one of the best one-day hikes in the world.
The trail has a length of 11.4 kilometers (it’s a one-way trail, so you hike the same trail twice) and follows the coastline of the Algarve between the beaches Praia do Vale de Centeanes and Praia da Marinha. Along the way, you’ll pass several beaches and have one beautiful view after another.
Heidewandeling near Radio Kootwijk (The Netherlands)
You can also find some beautiful hiking trails in the Netherlands. One of my personal favorites is the Heidewandeling near Radio Kootwijk in the middle of the country. The walk is 12 kilometers and you walk through the forest and over the heath. Regularly you have a beautiful view of the old radio station and sometimes the landscape is suddenly very hilly. A fun and varied hike!
Would you like to go on a hiking trip in Europe? Then Switzerland is a great destination and should be on your hiking bucket list! The Jungfrau region in particular is a must, full of blue mountain lakes, high mountains, and waterfalls. The village of Lauterbrunnen is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. It is located in a valley with dozens of waterfalls.
A great place for hiking, all the trails are very well marked with yellow signs. If there is a white-red line, it is a more difficult trail. The hikes can be shortened if necessary by taking one of the many cable cars and trains. Ask at the tourist office for the best hiking trails.
Most beautiful hikes in North America
I myself am a big fan of hiking in North America and have explored many of the most beautiful hikes in the United States of America. What are the most beautiful hikes in North America?
Observation Point, Zion National Park (Utah, USA)
The first time I visited Zion National Park I was a little unsure, should I go for Angels Landing or the Observation Point trail? I chose Angels Landing, which is one of the most popular hikes in the park. This is also one of the scariest hikes in the world, because of the high cliffs.
Luckily, a few years later, I went back to Zion National Park and hiked to Observation Point. And it was amazing! It’s a 13-kilometer hike (roundtrip) and there’s quite a climb. The landscape changes every time and the view from the top is amazing! Do you see that large rock on the right? That’s Angels Landing. For me, the hike Observation Point is surely one of the best day hikes in the world.
Unfortunately, the hike to Observation Point has been closed for several years due to fallen rocks on the trail.
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (Californië, USA)
Half Dome is one of the most well-known rock formations in Yosemite National Park. Hiking to the top of Half Dome is also one of the most popular day hikes in Yosemite. It certainly is a challenge, during the last part of the hike you have to use cables to climb all the way to the top. But the view is absolutely rewarding!
The hike is about 25 kilometers long and will take about 10 to 12 hours. To go to the top with the cables, you have to have a permit. You can find more information about this hike on the official website of Yosemite.
Photo: Denys Nevozhai | Unsplash
Rim to Rim, Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona, USA)
In the spring of 2022, I hike the Arizona Trail, an 800-mile long-distance hike right through the U.S. state of Arizona. One of the coolest parts of that trail is the hike right through the Grand Canyon, from the South Rim to the North Rim. This hike is also known as Rim to Rim. This is definitely one of those bucket list hiking trails. It’s incredible!
It is definitely a tough hike, as you descend almost 2000 meters and you also have to go all the way up again. But the views are truly phenomenal! Read my trail journal of the hike right through the Grand Canyon.
Most beautiful hikes in South America
What are the best hikes in South America?
Inca Trail (Peru)
Ok, I have to admit, hiking the Inca Trail is not a day hike. But if you like hiking as much as I do, it’s probably on your list as well since it’s one of the best hikes in the world. The famous Inca trail to Machu Picchu is one of the main reasons for people to visit Peru. It’s a gorgeous trail, that leads you over mountains (the highest point is 4200 meters), through the jungle, and you will see multiple hidden Inca ruins.
It’s only 42 kilometers long and on the last day, you only have to hike 2 kilometers. That moment when you arrive at the Sun Gate at dawn and see Machu Picchu for the first time is truly magical. .
Although everything on the Inca Trail is organized (it’s only possible to hike it when you book a tour), you’re still able to be by yourself at some parts of the trail. And thanks to the guides, you’ll also learn a lot about the Inca culture and history.
Tip! You can only hike the Inca Trail with an organized tour. Since there are only a limited number of places per day, it’s sold out really fast. So it is wise to book it as early as possible. Book your 4-day adventure on the Inca Trail.
Most beautiful hikes in Oceania
What are the best day hikes in Oceania?
Hooker Valley Track, Mount Cook National Park (New Zealand)
New Zealand is one of the countries that are on top of my bucket list at the moment. Nature must be overwhelmingly beautiful and there are so many awesome hiking trails! One of the main attractions in New Zealand is Mount Cook National Park. A landscape you might recognize from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. There are several great hiking trails in the park, and the 5-kilometer-long Hooker Valley Track looks absolutely stunning. It’s one of the best short hikes in the world, and I can’t wait to go and hike it someday!
Photo: Nik Shuliahin | Unsplash
Most beautiful hikes in Asia
What are the most beautiful hikes in Asia?
Mount Bromo (Indonesia)
One of the most famous hikes in Indonesia is the night hike to Mount Bromo, where you arrive during sunrise. The view of the volcanic landscape is fantastic! In addition, it is also a very active volcano, which erupts regularly. How awesome would it be to witness that?
Tip: Book a 2-day hike to the Bromo from Surabaya for the best experience.
Photo: Kevin Zhang | Unsplash
This is my list of the best day hikes in the world and no, this list is obviously far from complete! The more I hike, the more beautiful trails I discover. This article will therefore be expanded considerably in the future. Do you also like to go hiking while you’re traveling? If so, what are your favorites and what hikes would you like to do again?
Want to read more about beautiful hikes?
These books are full of hiking inspiration:
Wanderlust: A Hiker’s Companion
"Whether it is the fabled King's Pathway in Spain or the mythical hiking path in Norway, Wanderlust: Hiking on Legendary Trails, published by Gestalten, captures the diversity of the world’s landscapes. Explore picturesque hiking trails in enchanting corners of the planet and discover the world one step at a time with these photographs from the book." - MSN
100 Hikes of a Lifetime – The World’s Ultimate Scenic Trails
This ultimate hiker's bucket list, from the celebrated Appalachian Trail to Micronesia's off-the-beaten-path Six Waterfalls Hike, treks through 100 energizing experiences for all levels.
In addition, you can find a lot about beautiful hikes and helpful hiking tips on this website. You might like to read one of these articles:
- What’s in my pack? Day hike packing list
- 25 Fun things to do while hiking
- 24 fun & interesting facts about hiking
And in my monthly newsletter, I’ll share stories about hiking adventures and travel tips. Subscribe here.
This article was originally published in 2017. Last update with even more great hikes: June 2022.
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