10 Best Day Hikes World

10 Best Day Hikes in the World

Julie 10 Best 37 Comments

Where can you go to find that perfect day hike? The hike that leaves you breathless as you climb the summit of the mountain. The hike with the awe-inspiring views. The hike that is so enjoyable because the terrain and its views are always changing. The hike that has you saying “Wow!” over and over again. The hike that looks great in photos but is even better once you are actually there. The hike that you hope to do again someday. Here is our list of the best day hikes in the world.

Some are short, some are long, all of them are amazing. And all of these hikes take just a single day of your time.

Best Hikes in the World

Since I first published this post, we have added more hikes to this list. Here are our ten favorite hikes in the world, plus two honorable mentions at the end of the post.

The 10 Best Day Hikes in the World

#10     Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan

Tiger's Nest

The Tiger’s Nest is an icon of Bhutan, like Paris’ Eiffel Tower and London’s Big Ben. Most people who make the journey to Bhutan also make the pilgrimage to the Tiger’s Nest.

The Tiger’s Nest is a Buddhist monastery perched on the side of a cliff, 900 meters off of the ground. It is a long climb to get here, but oh, what a view. Such a majestic building in a precarious position. Prayer flags are waving in the air and you can smell the incense and hear the Buddhist monks in prayer. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Distance:   roughly 3.25 km to the top,  6.5 km round trip

Time to hike:   It takes an average of 2 hours to reach the Tiger’s Nest, less to get back down. There is a cafeteria near the Tiger’s Nest which makes for a good pit stop. Allow at least 5 to 7 hours for the entire visit, including the time to visit the monastery.

For more on the hike, read our post The Ultimate Guide to Hiking to the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan.

#9    King’s Canyon Rim Walk, Australia

Kings Canyon Australia

At Kings Canyon

Hiking Kings Canyon

Hiking King’s Canyon is another hike that blew away our expectations. People travel to this area of Australia to visit Uluru. What most people are not aware of is that there is a great hike just a few hours away by car. Being a quick, relatively easy hike, King’s Canyon gives you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of scenery and fun.

Distance:  6 km

Time to Hike:  2 to 4 hours

For more on the hike, read our post Is Kings Canyon Worth It?

#8      Angels Landing, Zion National Park

Angels Landing Hike

Angels Landing draws thrill-seekers from all around the world. With chain-assisted rock scrambling sections, stunning views, and vertigo-inducing heights, this is an exhilarating hike.

Angels Landing

Tim Rivenbark

The final half-mile to the top of Angels Landing is along a narrow spine of rock, with 1000 foot drop-offs on either side. Not for the faint of heart, this is definitely a bucket list hike.

Distance: 5.4 miles (9 km)

Length of time: 3 to 5 hours

Read more: Angels Landing Survival Guide: Things to Know Before You Go

#7     Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

Tongariro

Labeled as the best single day hike in New Zealand, some people even consider this hike to be best single day hike in the world. It’s not our favorite (keep reading!) but it is amazing.

Mt Doom

End of Tongariro

Located on the North Island of New Zealand, the volcanic terrain of Tongariro breaks up the lush, green scenery that is so prevalent in this country. Here is your chance to hike in the shadow of Mt. Doom, walk through an almost lunar landscape, and watch as semi-dormant volcanoes smoke not too far off in the distance. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is uniquely beautiful and another one of those hikes where the scenery is constantly changing.

Distance:  19.4 km

Time to Hike:  6 to 8 hours

To learn more about this hike, read The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand’s Best Single Day Hike.

#6     Puez-Odle Altopiano, Dolomites, Italy

Dolomites

The Dolomites, Italy is one of our favorite spots in the world to go hiking. We did three hikes here and all of them were unforgettable experiences. Photos of the Dolomites, even the good ones, still don’t show you just how stunningly beautiful this area of the world is.

Hiking in the Dolomites

Puez Odle Altopiano

I had to pick just one of our hikes, a tough decision, but hiking the Puez-Odle Altopiano was our favorite. It’s long, it involves a lot of climbing, but it is worth the effort. This hike takes you to some of the highest peaks in the area, giving you a bird’s eye view of the amazing mountains of the Dolomites. It is worth the effort for these awesome 360° views.

Distance:  20 km

Time to Hike:  6 to 8 hours

For more information on this hike, read Hiking the Puez-Odle Altopiano.

#5    Jiankou to Mutianyu, Great Wall of China

Jiankou Great Wall

Hiking Great Wall

Walking on the Great Wall of China is an amazing experience. Sections of the wall are in perfect condition, having been restored, but there are sections of the wall, now crumbling and in disrepair, that still can be visited. The best part of the Great Wall are these decrepit, neglected sections, now overgrown with vegetation and even small trees, ancient sections of the wall not yet rebuilt or maintained.

Jiankou to Mutianyu

Walking on the Wall

Walking on the unrestored sections is a true adventure. Climb a rickety, wooden ladder to get on the wall, dodge huge potholes and sections crumbling down the mountainside, and look out over China from the watchtowers. The best part was sliding down the steep sections, laughing, falling, all the while being able to enjoy walking on this piece of ancient history.

Distance:  10 km

Time to Hike:  4 to 5 hours for the hike

To learn more about this hike, read Hiking Jiankou to Mutianyu with Kids on the Great Wall of China.

#4      Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Half Dome

Why is the hike to Half Dome so epic? For one thing, standing on top of Half Dome and looking out over Yosemite National Park is a breathtaking experience. But to get here, you first must climb the Half Dome cables. This thrilling journey involves climbing the steep, slippery granite rock of Half Dome, using the cables for support. It’s a long, challenging hike but it is an amazing journey from start to finish.

Half Dome Cables

Top of Half Dome

In order to do this hike, you must have a permit to climb the cables.

Distance: 17 miles (27 km)

Length of time: 10 to 14 hours

Read more: Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite, A Step-by-Step Guide and Climbing the Half Dome Cables: A Journey in 18 Photos

#3     Trolltunga, Norway

Trolltunga with Kids

Norway Hiking

This is a hike that is rapidly growing in popularity. You almost cannot look at a travel website without seeing the characteristic Trolltunga against a backdrop of beautiful Norwegian scenery, with somebody doing a handstand or something else crazy on this small sliver of rock.

When traveling through Norway, getting to Trolltunga is a little out of the way, but if you are looking for an epic hike, this is worth making the drive for. It’s one of our absolute favorites. Posing on Trolltunga is a very cool, memorable moment, but the entire hike is stunning. Try to get here if you can…it’s so worth it!

Distance: 23 km

Time to Hike: 8 to 10 hours

For more on this hike, read Trolltunga: A Fabulous Hike Packed with Incredible Scenery

#2     Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu

Inca Trail

On the Inca Trail

The one day hike to Machu Picchu is an awesome alternative to the very popular four day trek for those who do not have time in their schedule or for those with no desire to do a multi-day hike. A lot of people bash the one day hike, saying it’s just not worth it. We totally disagree.

The one day hike allows you to walk the last section of the famous Inca trail, ending at the Sun Gate in the afternoon, for your first views of Machu Picchu. It is so much more rewarding to arrive this way to Machu Picchu than to take the train and bus combo that shuttles you right up to Machu Picchu’s main entrance.

We loved this hike. We hiked through the Andes Mountains, visiting Inca ruins along the way, climbed ancient stone steps, walked through a rainforest, and viewed rainbows over the mountains. The hike culminates at the Sun Gate and its amazing view of Machu Picchu. Before heading down to Aguas Calientes for the night, you get to view Machu Picchu from its famous postcard point and still have the entire next day to explore Machu Picchu.

Don’t let other online reviews keep you from doing this hike. If you only have one day to spare, the one day Inca trail is an excellent alternative to its four day counterpart.

Distance: 15 km

Time to hike:  All day. A morning train will drop you off at km 104 of the Inca trail and it takes 4 to 5 hours to hike the trail, arriving at the Sun Gate in the afternoon. From the Sun Gate it is a 45 minute hike down to the Machu Picchu overlook. From here, you take a bus down to Aguas Calientes to spend the night.

The following morning, get up before dawn, take the bus back up to Machu Picchu and watch the sunrise. It’s spectacular!

To learn more about hiking to Machu Picchu, read Hiking to Machu Picchu Along the Inca Trail.

#1    Kjeragbolten, Norway

Kjeragbolten

Hiking to Kjeragbolten, this giant boulder wedged between two cliffs, is our favorite hike of all time. Why? It’s not just because you get the chance to do something absolutely crazy, stepping out onto the boulder, it’s also because this hike is just downright fun. From climbing sheer granite faces with the aids of chains, to descending down into valleys inhabited by sheep and their clanging bells, to views out over some of the most spectacular scenery in Norway, this hike is a pure joy.

Hiking Kjeragbolten

Tim Rivenbark

Once at the Kjeragbolten, do you dare step out onto it?

This boulder sits 1000 meters off of the ground. It’s a long way down. And what a cool collection of photographs you will have at the end of the day.

Distance: 12 km

Time to hike: 6 to 8 hours

For more on this hike, read our post Kjeragbolten: Our Favorite Hike in Norway and The Kjeragbolten Hike: A Complete Guide.


Honorable Mentions

Love Valley, Cappadocia

This is a very quick hike, ending at these uniquely shaped spires that gives Love Valley its name.

Love Valley

There is more to the Love Valley Hike than the phallic-shaped rock formations at the end. The hike takes you through a very scenic valley with small climbs, caves, and unique vegetation. It is a beautiful hike and will leave you with quite an interesting collection of photographs.

Read more: Best Hikes in Cappadocia with Kids

Robberg Peninsula, Garden Route, South Africa

Robberg Peninsula

For a hike with always changing terrain and views, this one is perfect. For us, this hike was unexpectedly awesome. Located in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, this is a round trip hike around the Robberg Peninsula. Along the way you will have views over the peninsula, watch (and smell) the seals playing by the water’s edge, hike along a rocky coastline, and then walk across a peninsula of sand. Your timing has to be right to walk out across the sand peninsula, since is gets swallowed up for a few hours by high tide.

Read more: Hiking Robberg Peninsula in South Africa

Post updated July 2017.


Do you have a favorite hike in the world that you did not see on this list? Leave a comment below and let us know about it!

10 Best Hikes in the World

Comments 37

  1. Awesome post! We need to try and hit some of these 🙂 I definitely want to go to Norway and do the 2 hikes — Trolltunga and Kjeragbolten.

    What hikes do you recommend in Ireland, besides the Cliffs of Moher ? Looking for some suggestions on hikes in Ireland… many thanks !

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      I wish I could give you more advice but the only hike we did in Ireland was the Cliffs of Moher and the walk, hike on Skellig Michael. There are probably some great hikes in Connemara Park. Cheers, Julie

  2. I just hiked Kjeragbolten, Trolltunga, and Priekstolen in Norway and we used your posts which helped us a lot! Thanks so much!! 🙂

    I have to suggest you add Alaska to your bucket list. Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Denali are all breathtakingly beautiful and the amazing wildlife adds to the experience.

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      Hello Claire. Yes, we have to get to Alaska!! It looks amazing, like our kind of place. I am glad you had a great time in Norway! Cheers, Julie

  3. Nice hikes. Thanks for wonderful pictures and info.
    I would think that you would like the Grand Canyon hike as well in Arizona.
    Rim to Rim hike can be done in one day. 24 miles.
    One of the best and hardist hike I’ve done.
    Another day hike to mentioned might be the day hike to the Whitney Peak (Highest peak in lower 48), 22 miles of beauty.

    thanks again.

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      Thanks for the suggestions!! Those sound great. We would definitely like to hike Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon some day. It sounds like a long day (but we like that kind of thing!!). Cheers, Julie

  4. Nice compilation and very nice pictures too. I think Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania also offers a great hiking adventure, over 35 miles of wonderful trails. Maybe you can consider it in future.

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      I absolutely agree, and we have been discussing Kilimanjaro as a destination for next year. It’s something we have always wanted to do…just waiting until Kara is old enough, and she is now at the “minimum age.” Hopefully next year!! Cheers, Julie

  5. I agree with you about Kjerag; I hiked it last week. However, I ended up doing it on my own as my other half thought it seemed to daunting at the outset. What I would like to know is, whilst Trolltunga is a lot longer, is it as challenging in terms of steepness and the sheer face of the rock, etc?

    Great site BTW and hope to do some of these other hikes. I think the Dolomites looks particularly appealing, and hoping to take the kids on one of these type of hikes!

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      Trolltunga starts with a long, steep climb that is quite strenuous. This climb is more strenuous, I think, than any climb on Kjeragbolten. But once you are at the top of that, it’s just several shorter climbs spaced out over a long distance. There are no steep climbs on the granite rock like Kjeragbolten. Overall, I’d say that Trolltunga is more difficult, because of the distance and that first climb. But it’s worth it…the views are amazing, and so is standing on Trolltunga. Once you get to the top of the first climb, most of the challenging climbing is over. Cheers, Julie

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      We have some more to add to the list!! Just spent a week in Arizona and Utah and Angel’s Landing in Zion NP should be on this list. – Julie

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      Yes, Pulpit Rock is a good one! Havasupai Falls looks amazing. We considered doing it this summer however permits sell out fast! For anyone looking to visit Havasupai Falls, permits for the year are available starting February 1 and sell out very quickly! This is something that you have to plan well in advance. Maybe we’ll try again 2018! Cheers, Julie

  6. Try Cradle mountain, Tasmania, Australia, it is by far the most scenic and beautiful hike i’ve done, though i’ve not travelled to many counties.

    I enjoy reading yr adventures by the way.

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  7. Fantastic! It really seems like the four have you have walked around this beautiful earth. I was fortunate enough to visit the Tongariro National Park and it was simply phenomenal, the landscape is so incredibly unique! I would love to experience all of these hikes, it really is special to explore an area on foot.

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      Yes, we are lucky to have seen so many places. Sometimes, when I look back at this post, I can’t believe we’ve done all of these hikes!! Funny thing is, since writing this post, we have one or two hikes we could add to this list. I may have to update it soon! Cheers, Julie

  8. Anything in the Berner Oberland in Switzerland. That area is breathtaking!! I am excited about trying some of these hikes that you have mentioned. If you have any other suggestions in the Italy/ Austria area, I’d love to hear what you have found there as well.

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  9. Have you hiked in Scotland yet? Fantastic hikes there with incredible scenery. Some for all levels also so you can bring the kids. I recently did a few in Skye and would love to hear what you think about them if you come over to my blog. Happy Roving!!!

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      Hello Joella. Yes, we just got home from Scotland last week!! Lovely place to hike and bag those Munros! Have been slowly posting about our hikes in Scotland. What were your favorites in the Isle of Skye? – Julie

      1. For Skye I think my favorites were Old Man Storr and the Quiraing. But for easier ones that also offer lots of beauty you can do Neist point and Fairy Pools. Need to go check out your Scotland Posts. I cant get enough of this country.

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          I totally agree. We loved Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing. I wrote this post before Scotland and before Zion National Park…it may need to be updated…but what do I eliminate?! There are so many great hikes to do in this lifetime. 🙂 Cheers, Julie

  10. Awesome list! In US, we love the Utah parks (Arches, Zion, Bryce) with options for kid hikes. Just did Pulpit Rock in Norway end of July w/ our kids. We wanted to do Kjeragbolten but were short on time. We did note the weather in that area is rainy (for the whole week even in July!) and that prolonged (and sometimes made us give up) the hike. Your pics show pretty good weather. What month did you go? Wanted to go back in the future.

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      Hello Margie. We have not been to Zion or Bryce yet, but from what I’ve seen and heard, one of those hikes may make our 10 best list! We were in Norway in early August. Yes, we got very lucky with the weather on our hikes to Kjeragbolten and Trolltunga. Then we had three straight days of rain as we headed north. From what I know, June and early July are your best bets for clear weather, but rain can come at any time. It’s always worth a second try. Norway seems to be one of those countries you could keep going back to. We can’t wait to go Norway again! Happy travels – Julie

      1. Hi,

        If you ever going to Norway again, I would highly recommend using The Norwegian Trekking Association’s (in short DNT) cabins and routes.
        They have 500 cabins (staffed or self-service cabins) and marked foot trails all over Norway.
        Here you can go for days and days between cabins and not just only the crowded tourist hikes.

        Check out their web site here: https://english.dnt.no/

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          Thank you, Kjell! We are considering visiting Norway again in the near future and this is on our wish list. Thanks for sharing! – Julie

  11. Wow! Awesome blog and pictures! I have no done any of these hikes yet, but would like to eventually. Have you guys ever done any of the day hikes in Zion National Park like “Angel’s Landing” or “the narrows”? Those are two of my favorites. Any plans on going to Alaska?

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      We have not been to Zion yet. I have heard awesome things about Angels Landing and the Narrows…they are at the top of our US bucket list. So is Alaska (haven’t been there yet, either). We contemplated going to Alaska this year but Scotland and Ireland won. There are just so many places in the world to see!! One day we will get to Zion. 🙂

  12. This is a fantastic list! I’m amazed you’ve done all do these and more!
    I did Pulpit Rock in Normway after reading about your hike on this blog and it was amazing – now I’ve got a few more to do 🙂

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