10 Best Day Hikes World

10 Best Day Hikes in the World

Julie 10 Best 73 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 three honorable mentions at the end of the post.

The 10 Best Day Hikes in the World

#10    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

Read More: Is Kings Canyon Worth It?

#9      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

#8     Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand


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

Read More:  The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand’s Best Single Day Hike

#7     Puez-Odle Altopiano, Dolomites, Italy


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

Read More:  Hiking the Puez-Odle Altopiano

#6    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

Read More:  Hiking Jiankou to Mutianyu with Kids on the Great Wall of China

#5     The Zion Narrows, Zion National Park

Tim in Zion Narrows

The Narrows is one of Zion’s most popular hikes, for good reason. This is the quintessential slot canyon hike. For miles, you hike in the North Fork of the Virgin River, surrounded by sheer rock walls and amazing beauty. It’s challenging, it’s unique, and it makes for a very memorable experience.

There are two different ways you can hike the Narrows as a day hike. The most popular way to hike the Narrows is from the bottom-up since you do not need a permit and you simply hike as far as you want to go. For an epic hiking experience, you can hike the entire Narrows from the top-down, a 16 mile unforgettable journey.

Zion Narrows

Hiking Zion Narrows

Distance: 16 miles for the top-down route; 2 – 12 miles for the bottom-up route

Time to Hike:  up to 13 hours

Read More:  Zion Narrows: How to Hike the Top-Down Route in One Day

#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

Read More:  Hiking Trolltunga: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Best Experience

#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!

Read More:  Hiking to Machu Picchu Along the Inca Trail

#1    Kjeragbolten, Norway


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

Read More:  Kjeragbolten: Our Favorite Hike in Norway and The Kjeragbolten Hike: A Complete Guide.

Honorable Mentions

Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan

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.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Hiking to the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan

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

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

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10 Best Hikes in the World

Comments 73

  1. Dear Julie, Tim, Tyler & Kara,
    Good morning. I came across your site this morning, during breakfast, after getting back from sleeping at Portachuelo de Llanganuco at 4767m to acclimatise for the Misti Sky Race this coming weekend.
    Having spent my youth in the hills & countryside around Marlow-on-Thames, my city life of Chartered Accountant in London/UK didn´t feel quite right. So at the age of 29, looking for more adventure in life, I sold everything and got a one-way flight to Peru.
    I am now mountain lodge owner, father, husband, sherpa ( I still carry Jack) and Ultra runner (amongst other outdoor sports) living in the Cordillera Blanca, the second highest mountain range on earth, to the north of Lima, Peru.
    I enjoyed your article on the best day treks in the world, and look forward to doing some of those with our son Jack who is currently 3years 5months.
    I am not surprised to see that you do not have Lake 69, on your list of best day treks, which I believe would be right up there with your top selection, or even perhaps your favourite. The reason I am not surprised is that Lake 69 still holds its mystique as it is off the beaten track of Peru, the Inca trail does not even come close in terms of WOW factor.
    Lake 69 is in the backyard of our day trek lodge, and I hope that you and your family would one day find the time to come and enjoy our hospitality as our guests. You can see that our lodge “Llanganuco Mountain Lodge” is highly rated on TripAdvisor ( I website that I do not particularly like), nationally and in the region of Ancash, but almost impossible to find on the net as we are now listed outside of the nearest city, now listed in the Huascaran National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    We are on the same timeline as much of the States and are a very affordable option compared to trekking in the Himalaya, so a great option for North American adventurers. You would probably also be interested in the Santa Cruz or Cedros-Alpamayo Multi-Day treks, we can hook you up with providers.
    I have signed up to your newsletter under my personal email and look forward to hearing of your adventures.
    Many thanks for writing your blog/website full time and for being an inspiration to so many, I mean that for all of you.
    Keep up the good “work”!
    Kind regards

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      Thank you so much for this…we love getting these recommendations. The Huayhuash Circuit is on our bucket list. I have not heard of Lake 69 but it looks like it is in the same mountain range (and online photos look amazing). Thank you for the offer. Wow, you are an ultra runner…our kids would like to hear more about that. Both Tyler and Kara run cross country and they absolutely love it (and Tim and I occasionally race Ironman distance races). We love the idea of long day hikes and treks so thank you again for your recommendations and offers. This is an area that is high on our list! Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi guys, I came across your wonderful blog and it is useful for me. I was expecting one of the 10 hikes and it was there- Tongariro Alpine Crossing. I did the hike in winter and it is totally different landscape and scenery then. I wish to do in summer some day. I did the Kings Canyon Scenic Rim in Australia recently and I was breathless at the beauty of it. Though I didn’t do the Inca trail but Machu Pichu was an amazing experience that tops my list as of now. Hiking with kids and to travel the world with family must be fulfilling.

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  3. I can recommend Hornelen, Europe’s tallest sea cliff. (In Norway) 6-7 hour trip in total.

    You start going up steep green grassy hills looking at waterfalls above you, and the sea below. Then you reach a series of lakes which are tempting to swim in on the way back down. Ahead you have towering cliffs. A tiny bit of easy scrambling (ok for kids) is needed to navigate up on the side of them. Then you enter into a alien stone desert with just boulders everywhere. These all have some pretty interesting sandstone geology. You have to walk on some km’s in this landscape, mostly flat, until you reach the top.

    The top is huge and filled with different sights. The most impressive is looking straight down 860 meters into the sea from a cliff with overhang. Another is the tower-top which is shaped like a troll. Then you have a crevice that cuts the top in two, allowing similar views as in Kjerag with rocks lying across you can stand on, (and one lodged between, but not accessible). There is also a viewpoint where you can look up on the overhanging cliff wall.

    Check it out if you go to Norway again. For me it was a memory of a lifetime. 🙂

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  4. What a great website, love to read about all the hikes you guys did.

    Last year I did the Kjerag and Trolltunga with a friend, but we were not quite as fast as you, haha.
    The way back to the car from Kjerag was just terrifying for us, both girls with a huge fear of hights and then all those steep hills all the way down! But we did it and although we were not that fast, we are still so proud of ourselves! And those views… That’s why you do all those terrifying things, just unforgettable!

    That Great Wall of China looks incredible too!

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      Hello Yvonne! Kjerag and Trolltunga are amazing, right? I hope we inspired you to add a few more hikes to your list. 🙂 Happy hiking! – Julie

  5. Very nice collection, out of beautiful journeys I guess. Many times the treasures of nature are at your fingertips, you just have to reach out! I definitely have to see the Dolomites in Italy, I have to plan it in my next trip there. Do you have any recommendations in Germany? I’m gonna spend a longer period there and would like to take some day-hikes too.

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      Bavaria, Germany is gorgeous and not far from the Dolomites. You can hike around Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berchtesgaden and hike or take the cable car up to Zugspitze. Another cool spot to visit in Germany is Bastei Bridge, but this is farther away, near Berlin and Dresden. Cheers, Julie

  6. Your blog is one of the best, to say the least!
    I’ll be on my maiden trip to Norway on a Norwegian fjord cruise ship in June. Yet, because of the limited stop time at each port, I won’t be able to do any of the top 3 Norwegian hikes, Preikestolen, Kjeragbolton, and Trolltunga. However, I have planned to do those three plus Dolomites next year thanks to my stumbling upon your website!
    Grand Canyon is one of my favorite places to hike once a year. I hiked all three major trails there: North and South Kaibab trails and Bright Angel trail; I also did rim to rim in less than 9 hours. In my personal opinion, South Kaibab trail definitely belongs in the best ten day hikes in the world. One caveat though: don’t hike South Kaibab during the daytime in summer; way too hot in the canyon and no potable water along the way!

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      Hi Paul. This is great info!! Tim and I were talking about hiking the Grand Canyon later this year. We have interest in doing the rim to rim hike. I don’t have a lot of info yet, but I thought it was a 2 day hike. You did it in 2 days?! That sounds wonderful and right up our alley. Do you think the South Kaibab trail is better than the rim to rim hike?

      BTW, we love the Dolomites and Norway for hiking. You have a lot to look forward to!

      Cheers, Julie

      1. Hello, Julie:
        I did the rim to rim in one day; I’m a proud day-hiker. 🙂
        Geographically, rim to rim(r2r) hike has two route options: r2r= North Kaibab Trail(NKT) + South Kaibab Trail (SKT),
        or r2r= NKT + Bright Angel Trail (BAT). NKT begins from north rim; both SKT and BAT originate from south rim; three trails converge at Bright Angel camp site. NKT has the most elevation gain and longest distance, whereas SKT has the least elevation gain and shortest distance. Yet, SKT has the steepest incline; and there’s no water and shades along the trail. But the SKT is wide open almost all the way, on which you can fully savor the spectacular views and grandeur of the Grand Canyon. That’s why rim to rim hike usually starts from north rim; and NKT+SKT was the r2r route I chose. Many r2r hikers choose NKT+BAT as well.
        In addition to distance and elevation gain, some extra logistics has to be considered for an r2r hike. This is what I did: Got to north rim and stayed there the 1st night (north rim lodging closes mid October and needs to be booked way in advance; so the window for a relatively comfortable r2r hike for the latter part of the year is late September to Mid October); drove to the NKT trail head parking lot and left my vehicle there and started hiking down the next morning; finished the r2r hike and stayed in a hotel on south rim the second night; took a Trans-canyon shuttle the 3rd morning to get back to the north rim parking lot to pick up my vehicle (a drive of 4 hours and over 200 miles with $90 per person cost).
        If you can’t do r2r for some reason, BAT+SKT could be a great day hike as well; some people do that in reverse direction too, which I personally feel a bit anticlimactic. If your are really constrained with time, just do SKT, you will also be satisfied!

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            That’s awesome. This is on our list for this fall…I will look into hotel reservations and follow your advice. Thanks again for all of the info. Happy hiking!

  7. I’m a hiking novice from Ireland who has caught the bug big time and I’m trying to pass it on to my kids so I’m loving this site. After talking to more seasoned walkers the Irish hikes that they have recommended I should do are Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo which is a ancient pilgrimage walk and right of passage for all Irish hikers/hillwalkers and the Slieve League cliffs in Co. Donegal who are said to be the higher, wilder and crazier cousin of the Cliffs of Moher. But Ireland is dotted with walking routes and wherever you are in the country you are not far from a trail.

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      I would love to see the Slieve League Cliffs…we ran out of time on our first visit to Ireland but it’s our #1 thing to do on a return visit. I haven’t heard of Croagh Patrick but will look into it…thanks for sharing! Happy travels and maybe we’ll see you on a trail sometime! Cheers, Julie

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