Top Hiking Trails with Incredible Views Around the World

Top Hiking Trails with Incredible Views Around the World

Whether you seek breathtaking natural scenery, cultural immersion, physical challenge or spiritual renewal, hiking some of the world’s most scenic trails can deliver transformative experiences. From alpine meadows and glacial valleys to tropical rainforests and desert canyons, Earth offers hiking routes with vistas to inspire even the most well-traveled souls.

West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, Canada

West Coast Trail Vancouver Island Canada

Winding 75km along Vancouver Island’s rugged Pacific coast, the West Coast Trail offers a multi-day immersion in temperate rainforest and shoreline scenery. Extended stretches pass through dense coastal forest dotted with giant Sitka spruce and western red cedar. Glimpses of the crashing surf appear through breaks in the trees. Side trails descend rocky headlands to secluded beaches, where tidal pools teem with sea stars and anemones.

Campsites spaced 2-3 hours apart provide basic amenities in a wilderness setting. Alongside forested ridges and sea-carved bluffs, hikers encounter gray whales, sea lions, black bears and myriad birdlife. Only available from May to September due to winter storms, the West Coast Trail demands preparation and resilience. However, its combination of natural beauty, outdoor challenge and cultural history make it a premier Pacific Northwest experience. With an advance reservation, you too can savor this special place.

Laugavegur Trail, Iceland

Laugavegur Trail Iceland

Traversing Iceland’s interior highlands, the Laugavegur trail offers varied and otherworldly scenery. Starting near Landmannalaugar, colorful rhyolite mountains give way to bubbling hot springs and steaming volcanic vents. The route then crosses a black sand desert before ascending into a verdant mountain pass between glaciers. Along the way, hikers gain glimpses of the Eyjafjallajökull and Tindfjallajökull volcanoes, which erupted violently in 2010.

At 55km over 5-7 days, the Laugavegur rewards those who slowly absorb the raw, rugged beauty of Iceland’s interior. Beyond the geothermal areas and glacial landscapes lies a sense of remoteness, with few signs of civilization aside from mountain huts spaced a day’s hike apart. These basic shelters provide meals, bunks and showers for a small fee. By traversing this diverse and dramatic route, hikers gain a visceral understanding of Iceland’s volcanic forces constantly at work beneath their feet.

Dolomites High Route, Italy

Dolomites High Route, Italy

Italy’s Dolomites boast bizarre, towering rock spires eroded into pinnacles and walls. The Alta Via 1, also called the “Dolomites High Route,” traverses this UNESCO World Heritage Site over 120km in 8-10 days. Starting in the town of Lienz, Austria, the route enters the heart of Italy’s northern Dolomite Mountains. It passes aquamarine lakes, rolling alpine pastures and sheer rock faces ablaze with fall color.

Camping refuges spaced a day’s hike apart provide basic accommodation with hot meals and showers. The route gains elevation gradually to accommodate acclimatization, reaching high points like 3,343m Piz Boè. Along the way, optional side trails descend into lush valleys or ascend rocky ridges for panoramic views of the heart-stopping scenery. By hiking the “High Route,” you can immerse yourself in the unique, otherworldly beauty of the Dolomites for over a week.

Torres del Paine Circuit, Chilean Patagonia

Located in southern Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park boasts otherworldly landscapes that seem torn from the pages of a Tolkien novel. Its centerpiece is the Cuernos del Paine, two sheer-sided granite towers jutting over 2,500m. But the “W” circuit trekking route encompasses much more over its 100km – azure lakes, roaring rivers and glacial valleys framed by the Andes.

Over 5-7 days, hikers wind through changing ecosystems like lenga forests, peat bogs and Patagonian steppe. Campsites spaced a few hours apart provide basic amenities in the wild backcountry. Alongside iconic panoramas, the route presents chances to spot guanacos, Andean condors and pumas. By hiking the “W,” trekkers gain a profound appreciation for Patagonia’s natural beauty and remoteness. With its combination of outdoor adventure and spellbinding scenery, Torres del Paine rewards those who overcome its challenges.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

Winding 43km through the Peruvian Andes to Machu Picchu, the classic Inca Trail hike presents ruins, cloud forest and mountain vistas over 4 days. Starting at 2,800m in the Urubamba Valley, the well-trodden route switchbacks through subtropical vegetation to waru waru ruins and Phuyupatamarca, the “Town Above the Clouds.” Campsites provide basic amenities, with meals available from local porters.

Climbing steadily, the Inca Trail reveals the magnificent Mount Veronica peak and Intipunku “Sun Gate” for sunrise views of Machu Picchu on the final day. The payoff of reaching this lost Inca city perched 2,400m above the Urubamba River is immensely rewarding. Limited entry permits make advanced booking essential for this premier South American trek. By hiking the Inca Trail, you gain insights into the engineering and mountaineering skills of the Inca Empire’s builders.

Great Ocean Walk, Australia

Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk traces along the rugged, coastal limestone cliffs and beaches of the Great Australian Bight. Spanning 104km over 6-8 days, the route connects historic lighthouses and seaside hamlets between Apollo Bay and the fishing village of Allansford. Campgrounds spaced 2-6 hours apart provide basic facilities in an otherwise remote natural setting.

Hikers experience dramatic ocean vistas, crashing surf, coastal heathlands and patches of temperate rainforest. Lookouts reveal colonies of Australian fur seals and seabirds like little penguins and shearwaters. Side trails descend to secluded beaches for swimming and tidepooling. By hiking this scenic coastal path, you gain an intimate understanding of Australia’s rugged Southern Ocean coastline and its cultural heritage. Advanced reservations are recommended during summer and holiday periods.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

At 5,895m, Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro presents a non-technical yet strenuous route to Africa’s highest summit. The standard Machame Route ascends over 5 days from dense rainforest at 2,700m to the twin summits of Kibo and Mawenzi. Campsites spaced a day’s hike apart provide meals and accommodation as elevation and conditions change dramatically.

Starting in lush vegetation, the route climbs through alpine desert to the frozen wastes atop Africa’s highest free-standing mountain. With proper acclimatization, hikers gain sweeping vistas of Mount Meru, Lake Victoria and the Great Rift Valley. Reaching Uhuru Peak rewards trekkers with a lifetime of memories atop Africa under the equatorial sun. While physically demanding, the Machame Route offers a profound high-altitude experience accessible to most dedicated hikers.

Overland Track, Tasmania

Tasmania’s iconic Overland Track treats hikers to temperate rainforest, alpine moorlands and glacial lakes over 65km. Most complete the circuitous route in 5 days, staying overnight at basic hut facilities spaced 4-8 hours apart. Starting from historic Cradle Mountain, the track traverses the Walls of Jerusalem national park and Kia Ora Glacier Valley.

Highlights include the iconic silhouette of Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake and views of Tasmania’s highest peak, Mount Ossa. Alongside panoramic vistas, hikers may spot wombats, wallabies and over 100 bird species in this biologically diverse area. By hiking the Overland Track, you gain a profound appreciation for Tasmania’s natural beauty and history in a well-supported wilderness environment. Advanced bookings through Parks & Wildlife are essential.

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Concluding Thoughts

From alpine Europe to equatorial Africa, each route offers a unique cultural and natural immersion experience. While certain multi-day trails require planning and backcountry skills, many offer options for shorter day hikes to sample the scenery.

No matter your fitness level or experience, highlighting these trails has inspired your own adventures on foot. Whether a casual day hike or thru-hike, moving through nature reconnects us to the Earth and our humanity. Wherever life’s journey guides you, may you find renewal, community and joy in the simple act of walking amid spectacular scenery.

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