Julie 10 Best 108 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.

The Best Day Hikes in the World

 

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: 25.7 km (16 miles) for the top-down route; 3 to 19 km (2 to 12 miles) for the bottom-up route
Length of Time:  up to 13 hours


Trolltunga, Norway

Trolltunga

Norway Hiking

Trolltunga is one of Norway’s most popular hikes for good reason. It is an incredibly scenic hike, ending at the Troll’s tongue, a thin sliver of rock perfect for creative photographs. This is definitely a hike to add to your bucket list.

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 the drive. It’s one of our absolute favorites. Posing on Trolltunga is a memorable moment, but the entire hike is stunning. 

Distance: 23 km (14.3 miles)
Length of Time: 8 to 10 hours


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:  9 km (5.4 miles)
Length of Time: 3 to 5 hours


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

Length of Time:  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!


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.

Puez Odle Altopiano

Best Day Hikes Italy

I had to pick just one of our hikes, a tough decision, but hiking the Puez-Odle Altopiano was our favorite in the Dolomites. 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 (12.4 miles)
Length of Time:  6 to 8 hours


Fimmvörðuháls Hike, Iceland

The Fimmvörðuháls hike is Iceland’s best day hike. 26 waterfalls, 1 volcano, 2 glaciers, and 3 unique landscapes all combine for one of the most extraordinary hiking experiences on the planet.

Hike Iceland

Fimmvorduhals Hike

Best Day Hikes Iceland

Thorsmork Hike

This is a massive hike. It’s 25 km (15.5 miles) in length and done as a point-to-point hike from Skogafoss to Thórsmörk. The logistics can be challenging, but we have a great guide to help you plan your hike.

If you have plans to visit Iceland during the summer months and love hiking, this should be #1 on your Iceland bucket list.

Distance:  25 km (15.5 miles)
Length of Time: 8 to 10 hours


The Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, USA

If you are a hiker, the Enchantments are a destination that belongs at the top of your list. Turquoise, emerald, and aquamarine alpine lakes are scattered through the jagged, snow-capped mountain peaks. Wildflowers bloom along the edges of the trail, mountain goats graze on the grasses, and the larches turn brilliantly yellow in the fall months.

On this hike, the landmarks make it sound like you are in a fairytale. It definitely looks like something from another world. You’ll climb over Aasgard Pass, gaze up at Dragontail Peak, and hike past Leprechaun Lake and Sprite Lake.

There are two ways to visit the Enchantments. You can either thru-hike the Enchantments as one massive day hike or you can backpack the Enchantments, spending several nights here. However, to camp in the Enchantments, you must have a permit. Getting a permit takes extremely good luck, which is why most people will visit the Enchantments on a day hike.

It is an absolutely gorgeous hike, but it is also extremely difficult, when done as a day hike. Over the course of almost 20 miles, you will ascend one mile and then drop down another 7,000 feet to finish the hike. It is a long, hard day but one that you will never forget.

Best Hikes in the World

Enchantments

Enchantments Hike

Distance:  31 km (19.25 miles)
Length of Time: 8 to 15 hours


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. 

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 (12 miles)
Length of Time:  6 to 8 hours


Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim

Awe-inspiring, challenging, exhausting, unforgettable…these are all words to describe the trek across the Grand Canyon. If you are up for a big adventure, hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim is one for the bucket list.

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

Colorado River Grand Canyon

Best Day Hikes Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Day Hike

This is the land of extremes. In the summer months, the temperature can fluctuate along the trail as much as 80 degrees in one day. You will descend nearly one mile to the Colorado River and then climb back up the other side.

Along the way, you will face heat, cold, fatigued legs, exhaustion, joy, and maybe even despair. You’ll rejoice at the jaw-dropping views, hike on steep, dusty trails, walk through narrow canyons and shady, lush oases, and thoroughly immerse yourself in one the United States most iconic landscapes.

Once you hike rim-to-rim, you will never look at the Grand Canyon the same way again.

Most people hike rim-to-rim on a two or three-day backpacking trip. If you are extremely fit and fast, it is possible to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in one day.

Distance: 38 km (23.5 miles)
Length of Time: One massive day hike or a 2 to 3-day backpacking trip


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.

Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
Length of Time: 1 to 1.5 hours


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.

Distance: 6.4 km (4 miles)
Length of Time: 5 to 7 hours


Schynige Platte to Faulhorn to First, Switzerland

Schynige Platte Hike

Best Day Hikes Switzerland

The hike from Schynige Platte to Faulhorn to First is a big day hike in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland, but what a spectacular day. A scenic ride on a cogwheel train, alpine lakes, rustic mountain huts, snow-covered trails, cows and their musical bells, and some of the best views of Swiss Alps…these are just a few highlights of this thrilling hike.

With views of the Jungfrau massif, Lake Brienz, and numerous alpine lakes, this is often labeled as one of the best day hikes to do in the Jungfrau region.

Distance:  16 km (10 miles)
Length of Time: 6 hours


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: 27 km (17 miles)
Length of time: 10 to 14 hours


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 (6.2 miles)
Time to Hike:  4 to 5 hours 


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 (3.7 miles)
Time to Hike:  2 to 4 hours


Kjeragbolten, Norway

Kjeragbolten

Hiking to Kjeragbolten, this giant boulder wedged between two cliffs, is one of our favorite hikes 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. That’s a long way down. And what a cool collection of photographs you will have at the end of the day.

Distance: 12 km (7.4 miles)
Time to hike: 6 to 8 hours


Queens Garden and Navajo Loop, Bryce Canyon National Park

Best Day Hikes Utah

Hike Bryce Canyon

Best Day Hikes Bryce Canyon

Combine two of Bryce Canyon’s most thrilling trails into a loop for an amazing hiking experience. On these two trails, get up close with the hoodoos, see Thor’s Hammer, and walk through canyons, arches, and forests of pine trees.

This short, easy hike has a big wow factor. It’s great for hikers of all ages and ability levels and lets you see the highlights of Bryce Canyon in a short period of time.

Distance: 4.4 km (2.75 miles)
Length of Time: 2 to 3 hours


Landmannaugar, Iceland

Landmannalaugar is an area in Iceland that is famous for its colorful rhyolite mountains and epic day hikes. Geothermal hot springs, lava fields, and unique hiking trails attract adventurous travelers all summer long.

Landmannalaugar

Best Hikes in the World

Best Day Hikes Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar is one of Iceland’s best areas for day hikes. Take your pick from short, easy trails or tougher climbs up ancient volcanos for panoramic views over the region.

Our favorite hike is the Blahnúkúr Brennisteinsalda Loop. Walk through the lava fields, past steaming fumaroles, and summit two peaks for unbelievable views over Landmannalaugar.


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.

Distance: 9.2 km (5.7 miles)
Length of Time: 4 to 5 hours


Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina

Aconcagua Hike

Hike to Aconcagua

Mount Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the world outside of Asia. Many people travel to Mendoza, Argentina, to go on mountaineering expeditions to summit Mt. Aconcagua (a journey that takes 18 to 20 days). For those who do not want to go mountaineering, there are shorter treks available to go hiking in the Andes mountains in Argentina. 

The shortest hike is the day hike to Confluencia, the first Aconcagua base camp. The hike out and back to Confluencia is gorgeous, with views of Aconcagua and the amazing Andes Mountains.

Distance:  16 km (10 miles)
Length of Time: 4 to 6 hours


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!

Check out our Hiking Page for more awesome hiking trails from around the world.

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Comments 108

  1. Wow, these are awesome places to be hiking, I love hiking but I have only hiked in the states. I would love to visit some of these places in the future and thank you very much for letting us know about these places.

  2. Meeting the great “chief” (Aoraki) was something extraordinary that I will never forget! I wish I had more time to spend in the national park and do the Kea Point Track as well! Great posts, thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh wow, this is truly inspiring. Possibly the most amazing list and set of pictures I’ve seen on a family travel blog.
    We love hiking but are only just setting out on our family adventures. We are booked in at the Black Sail YHA in the Ennerdale Valley in the Lake District over Easter, it is the most remote hostel in England and accessible only on foot, so looking forwards to that mini adventure. My father in law has walked all of the long distance paths in the UK, including Lands End to John O’Groats, the Coast to Coast and South West Coast Path. What is your favourite UK walk?

    1. Post
      Author

      I’m glad you like our list! As we hike more trails, I tend to modify the list, so it could look a little different next year. Our favorite UK walk is probably the Kintail Saddle in Scotland, although the walk out to Brothers Point in the Isle of Skye is also very nice. Cheers, Julie

      1. I loved Skye, will definitely check this walk out if we ever return.
        If you like precarious ridge walks you need to try Helvellyn via Striding Edge & Swirrel Edge in the Lake District – a classic. The Yorkshire Three Peaks is another great day hike in England, a great challenge.
        I’ll keep my eye on the list for updates!

        1. Post
          Author

          Thanks for the recommendations. We hope to explore more of the UK soon so this is perfect! And if you go to Skye/Scotland, put the Aonach Eagach hike on your list. It’s a ridge walk that was too intense for us to do with kids but it really looks amazing. Cheers, Julie

  4. Have you ever been to the Canadian Rockies? I feel like at least one them should have made the list as there are SO many gorgeous day hikes! Would love to host you some day if you haven’t been yet!
    Love all your hiking advice and had a spectacular Slovenia trip with your help! 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      No, we have not been to the Canadian Rockies yet, but it is high on our list. I also have a good feeling that a hike or two in this area would make this list (we do update this list all of the time). Patagonia would be another hiking destination that also probably deserves to be on this list…but haven’t been there yet, either. Thank you for the generous offer. I will save your email address…we will get to the Canadian Rockies someday. Happy hiking! Cheers, Julie

  5. Interesting list and 2-3 I hadn’t heard about so thankyou. I was just wondering why so many of these hikes are in the US where lets face it hiking tends to be trail fixated and so managed – NZ alone has 10+ hikes better than anything in the US, Scotland too and where you just need to walk and have a compass and map (remember those?) and wouldn’t see gangs of people trailing past all discussing the great pizza they had the previous night, but doesn’t even get a mention. Reviewers maybe need to travel a bit more before they try to compile lists like this. And think what makes a great day’s hike beyond standing on a boulder or being able to do it in shorts and a t shirt.

    1. Post
      Author

      Most of these hikes are outside of the US…in fact, they are located across 6 continents. New Zealand does have a lot of great hikes, and we did many of them, but this is a hiking post about day hikes, not multi-day treks, of which many of the best hikes in New Zealand fall into that category. We’ve hiked some great trails in Scotland, and in our opinion, the hikes on this list were better. If you have any trails to recommend, we would love to hear your suggestions. Cheers, Julie

  6. Well I know this is a very tough question, but just humor me: if I ask you what are the top 2 day hiking routes (the WOW factor) of all them all…which ones would you pick.

    Thanks

    PD> I am preparing my next trip and I want to be sure to have the best WOW factor for the next hike.

    1. Post
      Author

      That is a tough question. 🙂 These are all amazing. I guess if you had to pick just a few, it depends on what you are looking for. The Grand Canyon rim-to-rim, the Zion Narrows, Half Dome, and the Fimmvorduhals hikes are four of my favorite hiking experiences of all time. Not only are they incredibly beautiful but they are a test of your endurance, so they feel like a big accomplishment once you complete them. Trolltunga and Kjeragbolten were my favorites for awhile, until I did the four above. Both offer scenic views and the chance to stand on ledge/boulder for some very unique photos. Plus, you can combine them into one epic trip to Norway. Finally, the Dolomites is an awesome area to go hiking and you could spend 10 busy days here and never hike the same trail twice. Sorry I can’t narrow it down to 2, they are all amazing and you can’t go wrong by picking a hike off of this list if you want a big wow factor. Cheers, Julie

  7. These are some breathtaking hiking destinations. I would love to make it out to Zion National Park someday, every picture is just calling my name!

  8. Hiking is fun and exciting but I focus more on health benefits such as improving the health of the muscle. I will love to improve as one of my goal for 2020. Thanks for this post. you are Awesome and the line is Awesome too “Live to Travel. Travel to Live”

    1. Post
      Author

      Thank you for the recommendation. We also did the trek to Everest Base Camp, but since it is not a day hike, I couldn’t include it on this list. But we love Nepal! Cheers, Julie

  9. I’m gutted to see that I’ve only done one of these routes! But also excited that I have 19 more to go 😉

    Thanks for the great lists. This world has so many awesome places to hike in it, including a lot in Korea, Nepal, Hong Kong, Scotland and lots more, but I guess you can’t cover them all!

    Keep up the good writing.

    1. Post
      Author

      Nepal and Scotland are great for hiking! We did some wonderful day hikes in Scotland but thought the ones on this list were just a little bit better. And we have trekked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, but since it’s not a day hike, couldn’t include it on this list. Have fun checking off the other 19! 🙂 Cheers, Julie

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