Exploring on foot is one of the best ways to experience our planet’s diverse beauty. Around the world, long-distance trails pass through ancient villages, dramatic mountain ranges, and lush valleys. Multi-day treks aren’t easy. Most of the best hikes will test your physical and mental limits – but they’re certainly rewarding. Here are 10 of the most famous multi-day walking treks in the world:
1. The Annapurna Circuit – Nepal
Regarded as one of the world’s best treks, the Annapurna Circuit is a 100 – 145-mile circuit route. It loops around Nepal’s impressive Annapurna mountain range and takes 15 – 25 days to complete. You can eat and sleep in simple teahouses along the route. October through November and mid-March to mid-April are the best times of year to tackle the trek.
2. Camino de Santiago – Spain
The Camino de Santiago is one of the world’s most famous pilgrimage routes. There are various route options but the scenic Camino Francés (the French Way) is the most popular. You’ll find cheap hostels and guesthouses along the way, but it’s best to book accommodation in advance. To receive the certificate of completion in Santiago, it’s necessary to complete at least 62 miles (100 km). Typically, the full Camino takes 30 – 35 days to walk and April, May, June, and September are the best times to go.
3. Tour du Mont Blanc – France, Italy, Switzerland
Stretching for 170 km over 10,000 m of ascent, Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a relatively short multi-day trek. It takes 8 – 11 days to hike, but crosses tough terrain at a high altitude. The route takes hikers from France to Italy to Switzerland, before looping back into France for a dramatic ascent of Lac Blanc. There are refuges to stay in along the route and hikers can opt to stay in hostels or B&Bs when the trail runs through villages and towns. The best time to go is June – September.
4. Pays Dogon – Mali
The Dogon Country is a region of Mali that’s inhabited by the Dogon people. Besides being rich in mythological, religious, and artistic heritage, Dogon Country is dramatically beautiful. The Bandiagara Escarpment (a cliff) stretches for 150 km through the heart of the region. Treks here typically last for 5 days and hiring a guide is recommended. Weather-wise, the end of November to the beginning of February is considered the best time to visit.
5. Inca Trail – Peru
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is an opportunity to see one of the famous archaeological sites in the world. The 26-mile trail winds over high mountain passes, through cloud forest, and sections of subtropical vegetation. It typically takes 4 days to complete, but it’s essential to book with an operator in advance as spots fill up quickly. Dry season is mid-April to October and the trail is closed by December.
6. Kilimanjaro – Tanzania
As the tallest mountain in Africa, climbing Kilimanjaro is a spectacular adventure. Trekking with a guide is essential and most operators offer a range of route options. But although popular, climbing Kilimanjaro is a tough feat, largely due to the possibility of altitude sickness. Typically, climbing Kilimanjaro takes 5 – 7 days and covers 19, 340 ft of elevation. January, February, September are considered the best times to go.
7. Snowman’s Trek – Tibet, Bhutan
The dramatically beautiful Snowman’s Trek is widely regarded as the best trail in Bhutan. This remote, high-altitude trek winds over 11 passes of over 15,000 ft. The difficult terrain makes this hike strenuous and only a small number of hikers attempt it each year. Mid-June to mid-October is the best time to tackle it and hikers must book a guide.
8. Pacific Crest Trail – US
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) has become one of the most talked-about long-distance trails in recent years. At 2,650 miles long, this rugged and remote trail typically takes four-six months to hike. Hiking northbound is common and northbound hikes typically start in mid-April or early May. Southbound hikes usually begin in late June or early July.
9. W Circuit, Torres del Paine – Chile
A very popular hike, the W Circuit in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, is known for its spectacular scenery. It requires advance reservations due to its popularity. Peak season is December to February and you’ll need to book lodging up to 6 months in advance. But early November is one of the best times to go, as prices are lower and the trail is quieter. You can camp or stay at refugios along the route, and most people hike the route in five days.
10. Appalachian Trail – US
The Appalachian Trail (AT) is almost 2,190 miles long and meanders through 14 US states, 8 national forests and 6 national parks. Multi-day treks can vary from an overnight backpacking trip to several weeks on the trail. Thru-hikers are hikers who walk the entire route, which often takes 5 – 7 months. If you intend to hike the full trail, position your hike between March and December to avoid the worst of the winter weather.