If you’re an avid hiker and keen to explore new destinations by foot, there’s nothing quite like a trekking holiday to stir the soul. It’s a great way to keep fit whilst abroad and you’ll discover places that few other tourists get to visit, simply because you’ve put in a bit of effort.
From the Scottish Highlands to the Himalayas, the opportunities for walking holidays are endless. Here, we’ve included some iconic destinations as well as a few locations that are a little more off-the-beaten-track. Walking adventures are a superb way to blend scenery, culture and food on an experience that will stay with you forever. The sense of achievement after your journey will be off the scale, and will give you serious bragging rights around the dinner table.
High Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Known for its bustling souks, towering minarets and vast deserts, Morocco offers cultural immersion like nowhere else. Yet if you venture beyond the hotspots, a whole new world awaits. The weather is exceptional all year round, which makes this alluring north African country a prime trekking destination.
The Atlas Mountain chain runs right across the continent, beginning in Tunisia and ending in Morocco. Home to world-class trails and far-reaching views, the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco stand proudly between Marrakech and the southern desert region. Most people drive over the passes on a quest for camels and camping down in the Saharan sands, but those who linger amongst the snow-capped peaks will be amply rewarded.
Networks of paths snake through the High Atlas Mountains, connecting remote Berber villages where you can meet local families and gossip over cups of sweet mint tea. Your accommodation is often in homestays, which adds a cultural layer to your expedition. This is the real Morocco, and it’s a privilege to experience.
Serious hikers looking for a more strenuous challenge can attempt the 2-day climb up Mount Toubkal, which at 4167 metres happens to be the tallest peak in North Africa. It’s best to tackle the ascent with a guide, which can be arranged on a group tour with reputed providers such as KE Adventure.
The Lares Trek, Peru
While the ruined Inca citadel is the main draw on any walking holiday in Peru, the Lares Trek is the perfect alternative to the usually overbooked Machu Picchu trail. This lesser-known route actually gives hikers a much better introduction to Incan culture and local history as it weaves through several Quechua communities along the way.
The best time to attempt the Lares Trek is between April and October, when clear skies perfectly frame the mountain peaks, and there’s less chance of rain to contend with on the trail.
Compared to the famous Inca Trail trek, this hike is a bit easier as it has fewer steps which makes for a gentler trekking experience. Moreover, with less people around it’s far quieter and provides a calmer way to visit Machu Picchu afterwards.
There are two ways to do the Lares Trek but the recommended one is via Cancha Cancha. The jumping off point of the hike is Cusco and it finishes at Machu Picchu on the fourth day. The route passes through scenic spots like Lares Hot Springs, Kuswardani Falls, Condor Pass, Cancha Cancha, Huran, Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Calientes before reaching Machu Picchu.
The Highlands, Scotland
The Scottish Highlands are an absolute dream to explore on foot, whether you’re talking a casual stroll in the Loch Lomond region or conquering epic peaks up in rugged Glencoe. The latter is famed for its hidden valley, where villagers sought refuge with their cattle during the infamous Glencoe massacre in 1692. Today, you can follow in their footsteps along the dramatic hiking trails for a true slice of Scottish wilderness.
Ben Nevis is an obvious contender for walking holidays in Scotland. Looming over the popular town of Fort William, this former volcano is the highest peak in the whole of the United Kingdom. For something a little easier on the knees but with equally impressive scenery, head to Loch Ness and enjoy the trails that meander around the lake. Feel free to enjoy a paddle at the end of a long day on your feet, but keep half and eye out for the Loch Ness Monster, you never know when it might appear!
There are hundreds of other hikes that take in the best Scottish lochs and mountains, with a variety of trail lengths to suit all ability levels. The wildlife here in the Scottish Highlands brings added appeal, and by exploring some of the more remote regions you’ll increase your chances of spotting everything from deer to eagles.
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
For something a bit off the tourist trial, this fantastic hiking holiday takes the avid walker on a spectacular trip across the Julian Alps in Slovenia. The highlight is summiting Mount Triglav, which stands tall at 2864 metres following an exhilarating trail that involves a bit of alpine scrambling and easy Via Ferrata.
The walk begins at the picturesque lake town of Bled and the hut-to-hut traverse offers some of the most impressive mountain scenery in the whole of Europe. On the way, you cross the beautiful Bohinj Valley to enjoy surreal views of the Bohinj glacier from the top of Crna Prst.
Other scenic points include the stunning views of Lake Bohinj on the road heading to Razor Planina, and the dramatic Skrbina Pass which you’ll see before staying overnight at the Dom na Komni Hut. Keep your camera handy for pretty Prehodavci which is nestled in the valley of the Triglav Lakes, and the epic Dolic Saddle on your way to the Kredarica Hut.
This Slovenian hiking holiday is a perfect choice for fit and experienced hill walkers as you’ll be exploring areas that are far from the crowds.
Everest Trek, Nepal
The popularity of walking in the Khumbu region of Nepal is easy to understand as it is surrounded by the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world, including the snow-capped Himalayas.
Hiking up to Everest Case Camp in company of the excellent Sherpa guides is high on the wish list of every intrepid explorer. Once you leave Namche Bazar you trek to the sacred lakes in the Gokyo Valley, before climbing up to Gokyo Ri, where you’ll be treated to one of the finest views of Mount Everest.
After crossing the challenging Cho La Pass (5420 metres) you will trek to the Everest Base Camp and spend the night at the highest lodge in the region at Gorak Shep. Ascend to Kala Pattar for more stunning views of Everest before descending via Thyangboche monastery to Kangjuma on the way back to Namche.
Trekking conditions in Nepal are good and should be within the capabilities of active hill-walkers. However, trekking above 5000 metres has its fair share of difficulties, including altitude sickness which should always be taken seriously.
Yosemite National Park, USA
Being of volcanic origin, the Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains is a haven for hikers. This is where you’ll will find lofty peaks, dramatic waterfalls and roaring rivers as a backdrop for your adventures.
From giant sequoia trees to the massive Half Dome Rock, a hiking trip to Yosemite ticks all the boxes when it comes to scenery. There’s everything from day hikes around the meadows and forests, to multi-day treks that take in several ascents along the way. Thanks to an excellent transport network, getting to the trailheads is easy, and the park is well set up to cater for point-to-point and round-trip hikers.
This walking holiday will offer much more than just exercise. Along the route you’ll get to learn about the Native American heritage of the area and the important work which is being carried out to preserve Yosemite National Park and its surroundings.
Hiking in Yosemite is ideal for all levels of walker as you can go at your own pace, and it’s easy to swap routes and schedules if you change your mind along the trail. Do factor in shuttle times to the trailheads when planning your trip.