There are many parts of the world that are perfect for summer walking. Whether you intend to hide in the Alpine-peaked hills of Switzerland, the rain forests of Australia or the varied terrain of Japan, we rate our top ten destinations to enjoy a walking holiday this summer.
Switzerland is known for its stunning mountain landscapes, crystal-clear lakes, and picturesque villages. Walking through these landscapes is an unforgettable experience that offers stunning views and the opportunity to connect with nature.
With its breathtaking scenery and well-marked trails, Switzerland is a paradise for hikers. The country’s extensive network of walking paths includes the famous Alpine Pass Route, which crosses through stunning mountain landscapes and charming Swiss villages.
Among the most esteemed walking trails in Switzerland is the 35km Swiss Path, located along the shores of Lake Lucerne offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Easier trails include the 6km Eiger Trail, the 8km Matterhorn Glacier Trail, the 10 km Lauterbrunnen Valley Trail and the Aletsch Glacier Trail and the 1km Grindelwald First Cliff Walk are ideal for families and half-day treks.
If you want to get your feet into something more strenuous, why not tackle The Via Engiadina. This 130-kilometre trail takes you through the beautiful Engadine region, known for its stunning mountain scenery and picturesque villages where you can meet the friendly locals and sample the abundance of flavoursome cheeses and mouthwatering cakes.
Home to the rugged mountains of the Highlands, dramatic coastlines, enchanting lochs and historical landmarks, Scotland is a walker’s dream destination.
The extensive network of walking trails makes it easy to explore the country’s natural beauty and find routes that suit your skill level and interests. Walking through these landscapes is an unforgettable experience that gives you the opportunity to connect with nature.
Many of Scotland’s best walking trails are long gruelling hikes. Among the top-rated walking trails in Scotland are the West Highland Way, a 96-mile route that starts in Glasgow and finishes in Fort William and passes through some of Scotland’s most stunning landscapes, including Loch Lomond and Rannoch Moor.
Other recommend trails include the variety of treks in The Isle of Skye, the 117km Great Glen Way, the 45km West Island Way, the 127km Rob Roy Way and the 117km Fife Coastal Path, all of which pass through Scotland’s many historic towns and villages.
New Zealand’s varied landscapes, from snow-capped peaks, pristine beaches and native forests, offer plenty of opportunities for walking and hiking. The country has an extensive network of walking trails that are well-marked and maintained, making it easy to explore the country’s natural beauty of unique flora and fauna.
Walking holidays in New Zealand also give you the opportunity to emerge yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Maori. Guided walking tours introduce you to the country’s rich cultural heritage where you can learn about traditional customs and practices, taste traditional foods, and witness cultural performances.
The Milford Track is rated as one of the country’s best walks. It’s certainly the most famous walks and takes you through awe-inspiring valleys and past stunning waterfalls. Other walking trails in New Zealand that are more than worthy of a mention are the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Abel Tasman Coast Track, Routeburn Track, the Kepler Track and the Rakiura Track.
Japan’s mountainous terrain and well-preserved ancient trails make this network of islands a fascinating destination for walking holidays. The country’s diverse range of scenic landscapes, from snow-capped mountains to pristine beaches, offer stunning views and the opportunity to connect with nature.
If there’s any destination on this list that offers unique cultural experiences for most readers, it’s Japan. No matter where you go, there is no escaping the country’s unique culture, including its traditional customs, art, and cuisine. Visitors can explore ancient temples and shrines, witness traditional performances, and sample delicious local foods.
Among the most popular walking trails in Japan is undoubtedly the Nakasendo Trail, a historic route that connects Tokyo and Kyoto and takes walkers through charming villages and breathtaking landscapes.
Other noteworthy trails are the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage routes that connect three sacred shrines in the Kii Peninsula, Kamikochi, Yakishima Island, Mount Fuji, and the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
Japan’s cities are also great places to go walking. With pedestrian-friendly streets, parks, and gardens that offer a unique perspective on the country’s urban landscapes, street walking gives you the opportunity to indulge in the sumptuous smells of Japanese street food and observe the culture’s way of life.
Italy’s stunning landscapes, historic cities, charming villages and Renaissance masterpieces make it a popular destination for walkers in Europe.
But it is arguably the array of sumptuous wine and culinary experiences that make Italy a bastion of walking tours. With the abundance of opportunities to taste local wines, cheeses, gelato, tortes and other specialities, why wouldn’t you want to explore Bel Paese.
For a truly magical experience, the UNESCO World Heritage Cinque Terre is a must. The trail takes you through a handful of picturesque seaside villages where you can mingle with the friendly locals and sample some of the country’s finest cuisine.
The 100km Chianti Wine Trail winding through the Tuscan countryside is another exhilarating adventure together with the Piedmont Wine Trail, and the Umbria Food and Wine Trail.
Hiking in Norway brings you into contact with some of the world’s most awe-inspiring scenery; ice-cut fjords, rugged mountains, and glacial waterfalls provide some of Europe’s most dramatic scenery.
Norway is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers can expect to come across a wide variety of wildlife you may not ordinarily see in your own country, including elk, reindeer, lynx, wolves, eagles and owls.
The Trolltunga trail, which leads to a stunning rock formation overlooking a fjord, is a highlight of any walking holiday in Norway. Other trails that are well worth exploring are, Preikestolen, Kjerag, Fosseråsa and Besseggen.
Norway is also one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, and walking tours often include opportunities to view this natural wonder in the winter months.
Canada’s vast wilderness and scenic landscapes offer plenty of opportunities for walking and hiking. From the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rockies to the vast forests of the Great Lakes region, the extensive network of walking trails allows you to immerse yourself in these mesmerising landscapes and experience the country’s natural beauty up close and personal.
Canada is home to a diverse range of wildlife that are not common in other countries around the world. The most famous, of course, is the grizzly bear. Moose, wolves, and bald eagles can also be spotted in the wilderness of Canada.
Walking tours in Canada also give you the opportunity to visit historic sites and learn about Indigenous traditions and experience traditional food and music.
Regarded as “The Hike of Lifetime”, Canada’s West Coast Trail is right up there with the best hiking trails in the world. A challenging 47-mile route along the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island is a popular choice for experienced walkers with plenty of time on their hands.
Other trails worthy of note are the Bruce Trail, the Funny Footpath, Sunshine Coast Trail, East Coast Trail and La Maurice National Park which offers a range of walking trails, from short nature walks to longer hikes through forests and along lakeshores.
Spain is known for its beautiful landscapes, from the Pyrenees mountains in the north to the beaches and cliffs of the Mediterranean coast. Walking in Spain allows you to explore these landscapes up close and see the country’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage which includes ancient Roman, Moorish, and Christian influences.
The Mediterranean climate is ideal for hiking and with Spain’s delicious food and wine, from tapas and paella to Rioja and Cava, visiting the local wineries and charming villages in pure pleasure.
The Camino de Santiago is by far the most famous and popular walk through Spain. This ancient pilgrimage route starts in the breathtaking climes of the Pyrenees and finishes at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where it is said the bones of St James, the fourth apostle of Jesus are laid to rest.
In addition, the Picos de Europa is a mountain range in northern Spain that offers some of the country’s best hiking. Alternatively, the Costa Brava coastline offers many walking trails with stunning sea views, together with Rita del Cares, the Sierra de Grazalema and Las Medulas.
Australia is home to some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. From the Great Barrier Reef to the Australian Outback, walking in Australia allows you to experience the country’s otherworldly scenery together with its unique and diverse wildlife, including kangaroos, koalas, and a range of bird species.
Walking tours often include the opportunity to learn about the country’s rich Aboriginal culture. Guided walking tours introduce you to ancient traditions and customs that are still practised today.
Food and wine walking tours are also popular in regions such as Barossa Valley to Margaret River. Walking tours often include stops at local restaurants and wineries, allowing you to sample the local cuisine and learn about the country’s culinary traditions.
The Cradle Mountain Huts Walk on the Overland Track through Tasmania’s stunning wilderness is a popular choice for walkers. Other trails that are right up there are the Larapinta Trail ( one of our favourites), together with the Great Ocean Walk in Victoria, Blue Mountains in New South Wales, the Cape to Cape Track and the rugged mountains cape of the Flinders Ranges.
Austria’s stunning Alpine landscapes and charming villages make one of the hiker’s pearls of Europe a popular destination for walking holidays. With breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and crystal-clear lakes, walking holidays in Austria brings you into close contact with exceptional scenery.
But it is Austria’s rich cultural heritage, dating back thousands of years, that makes this part of the world such as a fascinating place to visit. You could spend hours walking through the historic towns and cities of Vienna, Salzburg and Tyrol as much as you could in the Austrian Alps.
Austrians also love their food and offer up a wide range of hearty dishes and fine wines to sample before, during and after your walk. Walking tours often include stops at local restaurants and wineries, allowing you to sample the delights of Austria’s culinary traditions.
Austria is also known for its wellness and relaxation offerings, with a range of spas and thermal baths throughout the country — and the ideal choice after your exertions crossing rugged terrain.
Ranked as Austrias best region for walking trails is the hiker’s paradise of the Salzkammergut Lakes. With its crystal-clear waters and mesmerising mountain vistas, this a by far the highlight of any walking holiday in Austria.
Close rivals include The Zillertal Alps, known for its stunning alpine scenery, with snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, and beautiful glaciers. The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is also a stunning drive that takes visitors through some of Austria’s most beautiful alpine scenery.
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