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13 of the best treks in the world

Covering mountains, nations, coastlines and more, these truly incredible treks are not for the faint-hearted

Edited by
John Bills

The dictionary definition of ‘trek’ is ‘a long arduous journey, especially one made on foot’, but the use of the word ‘arduous’ isn’t always entirely fair, especially here. Sure, these walks traverse multiple days, but our list of incredible treks around the world is all about stunning views, thrilling experiences and a sense of accomplishment that is difficult to match. Every drop of sweat is both earned and worth it.

In the name of fairness, we’ve tried to cover as much ground as possible with our selection. If you want to take that as a long walk pun, have at it. Featuring all of the continents (except Antarctica, although walking across it is possible), these treks traverse mountains, nations, coastlines and more. Are you ready for the walk of a lifetime? Be sure to wear the right shoes...

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Best treks in the world

Appalachian Trail

1. Appalachian Trail

Long treks don’t come much more famous than the Appalachian Trail. The trail between Springer Mountain (Georgia) and Mount Katahdin (Maine) passes through a whopping 14 states and covers around 3,500km, making it one of the longest walking-only trails on the planet. Undertaking the whole thing is one heck of a task, although more than two million walkers take in part of it annually. Immortalised in Bill Bryson’s ‘A Walk in the Wood’, the Appalachian Trail is the big daddy of American treks.

Via Dinarica

2. Via Dinarica

One day, someone will organise a Pan-Balkan walking route that follows the old Tito Youth Relay of Yugoslavia, but the various Via Dinarica hikes are more than enough for now. This network of long-distance hikes covers much of the Dinaric Alps and is split into numerous routes, with the 1,260km White Trail the most popular. The route starts in Slovenia and ends in Albania, taking in many of the region’s highest peaks in the process.

Mount Elgon
Photograph: Stephen Butler /

3. Mount Elgon

What a beautiful trek this is. There are longer treks in Africa, and there are definitely more famous ones, but there is something about the six-day mountain trek to the top of Mount Elgon, on the border of Uganda and Kenya, that really sparkles. The route is just about as lush as it gets, and the views from the top are spellbinding. It has the largest volcanic base in the world too, although Mt Elgon hasn’t erupted for about ten million years. 


4. Salkantay

Trekking to Machu Picchu is practically a rite of passage for visitors to South America, but the Salkantay trek allows hikers to visit the famous citadel via altogether-less-crowded circumstances. Salkantay is the highest peak in the Vilcabamba range and is a total stunner in its own right, and the five-day trek is a moderately difficult one that eschews famous sites in favour of gorgeous vistas. It is a win-win, really.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

5. Annapurna Circuit Trek

A whole host of routes await those looking to trek Nepal’s famous Annapurna Circuit. The Base Camp Trek usually takes somewhere between 15 and 20 days, taking you through tumbling terrain past charming villages and darling lodges. The views are endless and all-encompassing, and the circuit doubles up as a cultural trail of sorts. Pay your respects, pay attention and get trekking. 

Wales Coast Path

6. Wales Coast Path

In opening its coast path in 2012, Wales became the first nation on the planet to launch a dedicated route covering an entire country’s coastline. Wales isn’t a big nation by any stretch of the imagination, but the walk from Queensferry to Chepstow is a fair old amble: 870 miles of rugged hills and darling seaside towns. The path is divided into eight sections, so you don’t necessarily have to do it all, but there is something extremely tempting about being able to say you've walked around an entire country. If the 870 miles aren’t quite enough, consider tagging the Offa’s Dyke path on at the end, which traverses the border between Wales and England. 

Tour du Mont Blanc

7. Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a round-trip stroll that usually takes around 11 days, although that all depends on health and ability. This isn’t an easy trek by any stretch of the imagination, but the views on offer make it worth putting one step in front of the other. Most walkers start in the Chamonix Valley, dipping into Italy and Switzerland before returning to France for the second half. 

Tiger’s Nest
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Tiger’s Nest

The facts don’t really tell the whole tale when it comes to the Tiger’s Nest trek in Bhutan. A moderate-to-difficult trek, the whole thing should take between three and five hours, depending on your pace and skill level. The awe-inspiring sight at the end of this trek transcends technical preparation and time. Primarily known as Paro Taktsang, this seventeenth-century monastery started life as a meditation cave many centuries earlier and is the most important jewel in a crown.

Larapinta Trail

9. Larapinta Trail

Australia has several stunning treks on offer, from the wilds of the Heysen Trail to the lure of circumnavigating Fraser Island, but the extended Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory wins out. Covering 223km from east to west, the trail is a study in isolation from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder; a moderately difficult walk that takes in an incredible range of Aboriginal sacred sites. Don’t do this one in the Aussie summer, unless you happen to be a camel.

W Trek
Photograph: S-L Photography /

10. W Trek

The most famous hiking route in the Torres del Paine, the W Trek, affords hardy walkers an incredible view of the famous granite towers that provide its moniker. Hiking the trail is a one-way ticket to the best that Chilean Patagonia has to offer, a veritable conveyor belt of stunning views and vistas that make every kilometre worth it. The relatively low altitude of the route makes it an accessible trek, with only a minimum hiking experience required. 

Tiger Leaping Gorge

11. Tiger Leaping Gorge

Another tiger-themed trek in Asia, China’s Tiger Leaping Gorge trek is one of the most beautiful and challenging in the country. It’ll take a couple of days and requires a whole lot of strength, skill and mental fortitude. A stroll up and down the Wall this is not. There is plenty to love along the way, from a view of Shangri-La to a beautiful vista over the Jinsha River Canyon. The whole thing covers around 22km.

Pacific Crest Trail

12. Pacific Crest Trail

The Appalachian Trail takes care of the east, but what of America’s wild west? The Pacific Crest Trail covers 4,270km of immensely scenic ground, from Campo in California all the way up to Manning Park across the border in Canada’s British Columbia. It takes around six months to walk the whole thing, a mountainous task that hasn’t been completed by many. Fewer people have done the entire thing than have climbed Everest, for reference. 

Atlas Mountains

13. Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains are just around the corner from magical Marrakech, but they might as well be in another dimension. The chaos of the city is a world away from the serenity of these mountains, and there’s no better way to clear your head than by trekking high into the sky. Some of the remote villages here are incredible time machines that transport you even further from the hustle and bustle of the city, making an Atlas Mountains trek a must for any hiker in the area. Arrive in good shape and get ready for a three-day trek to the top of tranquillity. 

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