12 Top Trekking Destinations in the World

Scenery on the O Circuit in Torres del Paine
Scenery on the O Circuit in Torres del Paine

Any serious trekker or backpacker is going to have their own version of the world’s best trekking destinations. My choices are based on experience, reading, chatting with fellow hikers and what’s still on my wish list. In my mind the treks have to offer great beauty and at least three days worth of walking. Here’s my version of 12 of the world’s top trekking destinations.

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Top trekking destinations in North America

West Coast Trail trek in British Columbia

The West Coast Trail is a physically demanding 75 km hike stretching from Port Renfrew in the south to Bamfield in the north along the west coast of Vancouver Island.

If you’re lucky enough to have sun for the entire hike then this is a glorious introduction to temperate rain forests and the stunning beaches of Canada’s west coast. In rain it’s a tough slog through mud. Ideally allow six – eight days.

The West Coast Trail is one of the top trekking destinations in the world
One of the beautiful beaches on the West Coast Trail
The Tsusiat Falls campsite from the water – it’s one of the busiest
The Tsusiat Falls campsite from the water – it’s one of the busiest

Chilkoot Trail trek in Alaska and British Columbia

The Chilkoot Trail begins on tidewater in Alaska and climbs up and over mountains in British Columbia. It presents a unique backpacking opportunity, as this is a trail rich with history. It was the main trail used in the famous Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800’s.

An international crowd of literally tens of thousands, fueled by dreams of riches, used the Chilkoot Trail to chase the gold in the Yukon. Most suffered incredible hardship, many never even made it and only a few got rich.

Today on the trail you’ll find plenty of reminders of their epic journey. You’ll also enjoy fantastic scenery, picturesque campsites and an international border at the top of the pass. Allow four – five days.

The Chilkoot Trail
Beauty on the Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail

South America top trekking destinations

Cordillera Blanca (Alpamayo Circuit) in Peru

The trek through Peru’s Cordillera Blanca takes you within walking distance of Alpamayo, a spectacular mountain called by some the most beautiful on earth. It’s a remote trek and all food must be taken with you.

Donkeys and a donkey driver can be engaged for nominal fee at the trailhead. You reach altitudes of over 15,000 feet and cross many passes so acclimatization is important. Hike in June, July and August when it’s consistently sunny but be prepared for bone chilling nights. Allow 8 – 10 days.

"The beginning of the trek - with Perferio our donkey driver/guide and 2 donkeys"
The beginning of the trek – with Perferio our donkey driver/guide and 2 donkeys

Paine Circuit trek in Chile – one of the incredible trekking destinations in the world

Torres del Paine down in southern Chile offers a 5-10 day hike (depending on which version you do) through an area of soaring granite peaks, lakes, glaciers and forests. UNESCO world heritage status has been conferred upon the park because of its unique landscape and ecosystem.

The area is known for its fierce winds (in excess of 100 mph) and uncertain weather. Hike between the months of October to April for long hours of daylight.

Read: What You Need to Know to do the Torres del Paine Trek

The view of the Grey Glacier from the John Gardner Pass
The view of the Grey Glacier from the John Gardner Pass
Scenery on the O Circuit in Torres del Paine
Scenery on the O Circuit in Torres del Paine

Europe’s top trekking destinations

Tour of Mont Blanc in France, Italy and Switzerland

The hiker’s Tour of Mont Blanc is a 168 km loop tour around the base of Mount Blanc which is the highest peak in western Europe at 4,810 m or 15,782 feet tall.

Hikers usually begin just outside of Chamonix, France if they’re hiking the traditional counter clockwise direction or they start in Champex, Switzerland if it’s the clockwise direction they’re doing.

No matter what, you hike through three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland over a 9-11 day period.

The Tour du Mont Blanc
The Tour du Mont Blanc in Italy
Gorgeous view from Alp Bovine on the tour du Mont Blanc - one of the top trekking destinations in the world
Gorgeous view from Alp Bovine on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Alta Via 2 trek in Italy

The Alta Via 2 takes you through the stunning scenery of the Italian Dolomites and begins just south of the Austrian border. It’s a 75 km trek that usually takes 6-8 days.

If you’re challenged by exposure then this hike might not be for you especially on the sections known as the Via Ferrata -the road with irons. You have the option of staying in mountain huts rather than camping and much of the food can be purchased along the way.

The Dolomites - one of the top trekking destinations in the world
Hiking in the Dolomites – Photo credit: Alex Krivec from Pixabay

West Highland Way trek in Scotland

The West Highland Way is Scotland’s first official and now famous long distance walk. It stretches 95 miles (152 km) from Milngavie in the south to Fort William in the north.

You can enjoy some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery on this walk – including the views from Conic Hill and Devil’s Staircase, desolate walking across Rannoch Moor and plenty of Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond views.

It’s a five to eight day trek and best done between May and early October.

The West Highland Way in Scotland
The West Highland Way in Scotland – Photo credit: Claire Gillan from Pixabay

Africa’s top trekking destinations

Toubkal Circuit in Morocco

The Toubkal Circuit is primarily a summer trek through the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Spectacular scenery is the order of the day – from the Tichka Plateau through to gorges, forest and remote Berber villages. Allow about two weeks, and a day or two more if you plan to climb Mount Toubkal.

The Atlas Mountains
Berber village in the Atlas Mountains

Australia and New Zealand’s top trekking destinations

Overland Track trek in Tasmania

I did this trek well before it was discovered by the mainstream backpacking crowd (30 years ago) and what a stunning trek it was complete with wallabies at nighttime at the huts. Go prepared for inclement weather and lots of hiking in mud.

You’ll pass by spectacular Cradle Mountain, numerous lakes and interesting vegetation. Allow 5-7 days to complete the 73 kilometres. 

One of the best trekking destinations is the stunning Overland Track in Tasmania
The stunning Overland Track in Tasmania – Photo credit: pen_ash from Pixabay

The Milford Track trek in New Zealand

I don’t think flying over the Milford Track counts but because I did do that I know that there is superlative mountain and fjord scenery on offer. It’s one of New Zealand’s most popular treks, taking on average four days to trek 53 kilometres.

Hike through temperate rain forests and through groves of beech trees. Book well in advance as the walk is highly regulated and the huts fill quickly.

The Milford Track in New Zealand is one of the top trekking destinations
The Milford Track in New Zealand – Photo credit: pieonane from Pixabay

Asia’s top trekking destinations

Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal

Although the trek to Everest Base Camp sees throngs of hikers you can’t help but be wowed at some of the highest mountains on the planet. Drop dead gorgeous mountain scenery and the Sherpa culture conspire to make this a winning two week trek.

It’s been cleaned up considerably in the last few years too. You’ll also get the chance to visit a Buddhist Monastery in the middle of the Himalayas.

Mt Everest basecamp prayer flags
Mt Everest basecamp prayer flags
One of the Himalayan peaks in full glory
One of the Himalayan peaks in full glory

Snowman Trek in Bhutan

You’re going to need a month to hike the Snowman Trek, one of the world’s top trekking destinations. You’ll also need a few days to acclimatize and to rest on the trail. Plus you’ll have to hike with a tour company.

What you get in return is a hike through a pristine landscape of rhododendron forests and big mountain scenery plus the chance to pass through small villages and Buddhist monasteries.

Mountain scenery on the Snowman trek in Bhutan - one of the top trekking destinations in the world
Mountain scenery on the Snowman trek in Bhutan one of the top trekking destinations in the world Photo credit: Andrew Purdam on Flickr Creative Commons

A few books you might enjoy about top trekking destinations in the world

More hiking posts you might enjoy

  1. All of these locations appear to be great! I’m hoping to see at least some of them, if not all of them, one of these days. Thank you for providing this information.
    Thank you for the listings of the best trekking spots throughout the world. The best trekking excursion is to Everest Base Camp.

  2. What a fascinating list you’ve compiled. It’s wonderful to see Everest base camp trekking included on the list. However, Nepal has a plethora of other popular trekking destinations.
    I enjoy reading your blog. Your article was enjoyable to read. It was incredible. Thank you very much.

  3. Hi, Leigh, thank you for the lists of the world’s top trekking destinations and Everest Base Camp Trekking is the top trekking trip. Similar to other treks, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Trek and Manaslu Trekking are also top treks.

  4. What a very interesting list. I think the most exciting and thrill part of the list is the Everest Base Camp. It is one of the hardest mountains to traverse and I am very proud there are already a lot of Filipinos who had successfully climbed on Mt. Everest.

  5. Morocco, mainly. The Atlas mountains stretch for 1,200 miles from the Atlantic port of Agadir to the Tunisian capital, Tunis. But Morocco is, arguably, where the Atlas range is at its most interesting. Within Morocco, the Atlas is divided into several parallel ranges – the Anti, Middle and High Atlas. Of these, the High Atlas attracts most visitors, many of whom come to climb Jbel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa at 4,167m.

    All the usual mountain activities are on offer in the Atlas but be prepared for them to be Moroccan-style. Don’t expect to find the sort of tourist infrastructure you find in the Alps, or even the Pyrenees.

    Trekking is the main draw, with thousands of French, Spanish and British walkers visiting each year. Weird geology, warm weather and a colourful local population make the Atlas one of the world’s great trekking environments. Guides and pack mules can be hired cheaply and easily at all major trail- heads. Finding maps and accommodation, however, can be a little more difficult.The four main trekking areas are Toubkal, M’goun, Sirwa and Sahro. Each is very different. Mount Toubkal is the highest and most easily reached from Marrakesh. M’goun is lush and densely populated. Sirwa and Saghro are lower, hotter and more isolated.
    more info please check our website – trekking-toubkal.com

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