For the fitness junkie, adventure vacations full of hiking and running destinations can be the perfect holiday. You get to see amazing sights while being active, meet new people who are also looking for exciting activities and leave with some incredible stories to share with your people back home.
Plus, combining activity with a holiday can be quite doable, especially if there’s good weather. Depending on the running or hiking destination, you can pack relatively light with minimal gear— some running or hiking shoes, good socks, a backpack, and a water bladder should set you up ready to go.
There’s no doubt that getting outdoors and into nature can be reinvigorating, but choosing where to go for the best running and hiking trails in the world can be overwhelming.
That’s why we are listing our top running and hiking destinations around the world to inspire you to book your next adventurous vacation full of beautiful hikes and the best running trails.
1. TOUR DU MONT BLANC
Switzerland, Italy, and France
We’ve mentioned this one before in our list of world-record marathons, but we couldn’t leave it off our list of top running and hiking destinations. This world-renowned trail circles peaks in Switzerland, Italy, and France and is 110 miles (170 km) and can typically be walked over the course of 11 days. Runners and hikers stay in mountain huts along the way, with gorgeous views of the alps.
There are variations in the trail route, and some offer more challenges and viewpoints than the alternative. If you lack time, some circuits can take you on sections of the trail, like the Eastern half that still takes you through parts of the three countries, starting in Italy and ending in France.
No matter how long you can commit to it, this is an incredible running and hiking destination that’s sure to leave you with visions of beautiful sceneries and sounds to last a lifetime.
2. MOUNT OLOLOKWE
In a less-touristed area of the Samburu country in northern Kenya, Mount Ololokwe is sure to tick the boxes for an adventure vacation destination. With its mesa shape and shear cliffs, this mountain surrounded by the Samburu plains is a sight.
The sacred mountain in the desert is considered holy, and its caves are still used for Samburu ritual ceremonies. The 3,280 feet (1,000 m) climb to the top is steep, and the landscape is full of unique flora and fauna like cycads and water springs that feed into rivers.
Most of the trails were made by wild elephant herds in search of water on the mountain in the dry season, and many hear elephants trumpeting in the distance as they hike.
3. PLAIN OF SIX GLACIERS
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Take in the breathtaking glacier views, vibrant turquoise-colored waters, and tall pine forests with this 9-mile (14.6 km) hiker’s paradise. The 1,929 feet (588 m) elevation gain will surely raise your heart rate, but the average hiker can complete the route in about 4.5 hours.
Starting at Lake Louise, the trail slowly becomes a rugged oasis full of glacial rivers, waterfalls, massive cliffs, and front-row seats to gorgeous glacial-topped peaks. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might hear the sound of the glacier ice cracking.
Enjoy a reprieve from the trek at the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse before continuing on your journey through the rocky trails and glacier views — clearly one of the many reasons this is one of the best places to go hiking.
4. COSTA BRAVA TRAILS
There are plenty of options for year-round running trails in the Costa Brava area. The area encompasses rough terrain and cliffs along parts of the Mediterranean Sea, natural parks, botanical gardens, and ancient Roman, Greek, and Medieval towns.
This running destination is perfect for those looking for culture, beauty, and activity. Visitors can easily spend a week running various trails, moving from the seaside to the hillside, stopping at museums along the way, and indulging in delicious local cuisine.
Guided running tours are available for runners who want to wind their way from town to town and have accommodation and luggage transfer.
5. EAST RIVER GREENWAY
New York City, NY
If running destinations with cityscapes are more your thing, then the movie-like scenes from this 9.4 mile (15 km) East River Greenway could be perfect for you. The paved route gives runners views of the city skyline and iconic bridges that connect Queens and Brooklyn to Manhattan.
The southern end of the route is the most popular, with the main parts of the path running alongside the East River waterfront and East River Park. You’ll want to take some pics of iconic landmarks you’re sure to come across — like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Freedom Tower.
6. MOUNT BATUR
Bali is well-known as an adventure vacation spot around the world, and the reasons for its popularity are endless. Jungles, beaches, snorkeling, diving destinations, nightlife, culture, wildlife, it’s got just about everything.
If you’re planning a visit to Bali, be sure to add hiking Mount Batur to the list. With a 5,577-foot (1,700 m) climb to the summit crater and incredibly phenomenal views at sunrise, this active volcano is sure to thrill and delight.
Along the way, you’ll encounter the random temple and Balinese monkeys, take in stunning views of the rice fields below and have a view of Lake Batur and the nearby volcano Gunung Abang. On a clear day, you can see the sea in the distance and the outline of the Mount Rinjani volcanic peaks on Lombok island.
7. PLITVICE LAKES
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979, the Plitvice Lakes are one of the most visited places in Croatia. The Plitvice Lakes National Park has 16 interconnecting lakes full of colors ranging from turquoise to emerald green to deep blue, where the waterfalls are the star.
Said to be one of the most beautiful hikes in the world, Plitvice Lakes offers four hiking trails that are mostly maneuvered via boardwalks that cross and line the lakes. Trails wind throughout the lakes and climb into the surrounding cliffs leading you to incredible views and caves.
It’s possible to trek 11.6 miles (18.6 km) of the entire park in one day, but it’s easy to shorten your trek to either the upper lakes or lower lakes if you’re short on time. The hike is not difficult, but be sure to wear good hiking shoes since the walkways can be slippery from the mist.
8. MOUNT HAGURO
This is a hiking destination that includes an element of mysticism and wonder. The most important site for the Shugendo religion and one of the three Dewa Sanzan mountains representing the cycle of life, Mount Haguro represents birth.
With 2,446 steps to get you to the top, hikers will pass along dense forests, waterfalls, shrines, and the Goju-to pagoda — the five-story wooden pagoda dating back to 937. You’re likely to pass Yamabushi mountain priests dressed in white robes as they embark on their pilgrimage.
Hikers often feel the tranquility of the mountain atmosphere here and have the option to stay at a Shukubu — lodging that includes all the modern amenities plus altars for worship and public baths. The perfect place for anyone in search of unique vacation activities and sites.
9. TALL TREES GROVE LOOP TRAIL
Redwood National Park, California
For those looking for one of the best running destinations in the world, Redwood National Park is always at the top of the list. With numerous trails and pathways, you’re sure to find something for every fitness level.
The Tall Trees Grove Loop Trail is 3.6 miles (5.8 km) and requires a permit which can be applied for shortly in advance (1). If permitted, tourists will be given a gate code to access the road that takes you to the trailhead, about 6 miles away. But all the effort is said to be worth it!
Runners and hikers will venture through groves of enormous trees and unique flora down to the Redwood River. There you’ll enjoy a 1 mile (1.6 km) mostly flat loop that makes you feel as though you’re basking in the presence of ancient giants.
Since there are numerous trails in the Redwood National Park, you’re sure to find one of the best runs in the world here.
10. BLAHNÚKÚR AND MT. BRENNISTEINSALDA LOOP
Getting out of the trees and lush forests, this volcanic hike is sure to stir the adventure vacation seeker’s heart. Two routes can be combined into one for the hiker or runner in search of a challenge. But you’ll want to be sure to pause for some epic photos!
The whole route is 6 miles (9.7 km) with a strenuous climb of 2000 feet (610 meters), and you’ll reach the summit of both Mt. Blahnúkúr and Mt. Brennisteinsalda. Views are exceptionally unique because of the rhyolite rock and volcanic ash that provides eerie colors in addition to lava fields and geothermal hot springs. It’s no wonder that this route is one of the best hiking trails in the world.
Once the trek is complete, relax your muscles in the hot springs of People’s Pool, located next to the Laugahraun lava field.
11. FOUR PASS LOOP
If you’re feeling up for a real fitness challenge, the 28-mile (41.4 km) Four Pass Loop could be your match! This scenic route is usually taken over a four-day hike, but many will take on the ambitious one-day run, typically completed in about 15.5 hours. Now that’s a run!
In addition to the thrill of the challenge, the breathtaking scenery makes this hiking and running destination extraordinary. Explorers will pass through meadows, wander along alpine lakes, and climb into lush forests.
Late summertime is said to be the ideal time to trek the loop since the snow will likely be melted, and the warmer weather is most enjoyable.
12. WADI SHAB
Southeast of Muscat, Oman
Definitely not the most challenging on the list, but unique to many. This hiking destination in a desert paradise takes you through a stunning oasis, with palm-lined trails through narrow cliffs and turquoise waters taking you up and over rocky desert terrain.
Short and easy to navigate, this 3.5 mile (5.6 km) out-and-back trail can be enjoyed by most, but be mindful of the season as the summer heat can get as high as 100° F (37° C). The best part is that the trail ends at a cave with a waterfall that requires a short swim through the refreshing water. So be sure to pack your swimsuit and water shoes!
Fun fact: Wadi Shab hosted the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in 2012.
13. TAGGART LAKE TRAIL
The best running vacation destinations don’t all have to be super challenging. For those looking for a flatter run, the stunning Taggart Lake Trail loop won’t disappoint. This easy-to-run pathway loops through the aspen forest, taking runners across mountain streams and meadows.
Located by one of the many glacier lakes at the foot of the Teton Range, the trail gives access to lakeside views, campsites, and more challenging trails. Fall is said to be especially lovely due to the aspen colors, but any time of year is beautiful at this hiking and running destination.
14. TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
Considered host to some of the best hiking trails in the world, New Zealand offers many options for adventure vacation seekers. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes you to an active volcano and is a challenging one-day hike, 12.7 miles (20.4 km) point-to-point, and usually takes little more than seven hours to complete.
You’ll hike to three craters with views of emerald lakes, steam vents, and vibrant rock colors from the impact of the volcanic eruptions. Depending on the season, it’s not uncommon to encounter loose rocks, fog, snow, and ice.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing may look familiar to some as the barren terrain, and volcanic rock formations were viewed in the Lord of the Rings films, referred to as ‘Mt. Doom’. Rapid weather changes are known to impact treks, so it’s important to prepare by bringing layers of clothing and plenty of water.