Hiking

The Top 20 Mountain Travel Destinations in the World

If you are like me, the thought of spending time in the mountains gets your adrenaline flowing and you just can’t stop thinking about the breathtaking vistas, exhilarating hikes, and the unforgettable adventures exploring amazing slopes, valleys, and peaks.  That’s why mountain landscapes are my favorite landscapes in the world.  Not only are they amongst the prettiest landscapes you will find on this planet, but they are also some of the most exciting landscapes to explore.  In addition to having some of the most epic hiking trails and climbing routes in the world, mountain destinations also have some of the most amazing wildlife to view.

Mountain Climber 1

As a travel enthusiast and mountain lover, I have spent quite a bit of time researching and visiting some of this world’s most amazing mountain landscapes.  There are some truly spectacular mountain destinations all over the world that are just waiting for you to get out and explore them.  Whether you are looking to conquer the slopes of Denali in Alaska’s Denali National Park, trek to the top of Africa’s highest peak at Mount Kilimanjaro, or explore some of the highest mountains in the world in the Himalayas, there is a seemingly endless supply of mountain adventures out there waiting to be had.

In this article, I am going to lay out what I think are the Top 20 Mountain Travel Destinations in the World.  As you can see on the map below, these destinations are spread out far and wide over the globe.  If you are looking for your next big adventure in the mountains, I would suggest starting with this list.

The World's Top Mountain Travel Destinations Map

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Mount Everest Base Camp, Nepal
Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia
Queenstown, New Zealand
Zermatt, Switzerland
Banff\Jasper National Parks
El Chalten, Argentinian Patagonia
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Jotunheimen Mountains, Norway
Mount Fuji, Japan
Denali National Park, United States
Kirkjufell, Iceland
Manali, India
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand
The Dolomites, Italy
Grindelwald, Switzerland
Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
Grand Teton National Park, United States
Vinicunca, Peru
The Pyrenees, France\Spain
Table Mountain, South Africa

20. Table Mountain

South Africa

Table Mountain

Widely considered to be one of the top tourist attractions near Cape Town, South Africa,  Table Mountain is also one of the most unique looking mountains that you will find at any destination on this list.  Its flat top is very distinct, which is why it was given the name “Table Mountain”.  While the highest point of the mountain is only a meager 3,564 feet (1,086 meters), it can be a fun and challenging climb.  If you are interested in climbing to the top, there are various routes that you can choose from and each takes roughly 3 hours of hiking to get to the top.  If you aren’t up for the challenge of getting to the top on your own, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway can bring you to the top for just a small fee.  One of the most unique animals that you will see near the top of Table Mountain is the Dassie.  It’s a very unique creature whose closest relative is the elephant, though it looks a lot more like a large rat.

19. The Pyrenees

France\Spain

The Pyrenees

Stretching roughly 305 miles (491 kilometers) on the border between France and Spain, the Pyrenees mountain range is characterized by an absence of the great lakes that you often see in the lateral valleys of the Alps in North and Central Europe.  Despite not having the large, alpine lakes and the large ski resorts, the Pyrenees are incredibly beautiful and very culturally diverse.  In the Western Pyrenees, you will find the Basque culture and its amazing cuisine to explore in the evenings after a long day of exploration and hiking in the mountains.  Not to be outdone, in the Eastern Pyrenees, the Catalan culture and its amazing seafood and cultural traditions are unique.  While the highest peak in the Pyrenees, Aneto Peak in Spain, isn’t as high as the tallest peaks you will find in the Alps, it’s 11,169-feet high (3,404 meters) peak is still a challenge to reach.  If you are an experienced backpacker, it is possible to hike the length of the Pyrenees along the GR10 from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.  Along the way, you will enjoy seeing beautiful 10,000-plus feet (3,000 plus meters) high peaks, dense forests, and amazing wildlife.

18. Vinicunca

Peru

Vinicunca

The first mountain destination in South America on my list may also be one of the most unique and beautiful destinations on my list as well.  While the area around Cusco is most famous for being the gateway to spectacular Incan ruins at Machu Picchu, the city is also the gateway to other destinations further up into the Andes Mountains.  One of the more popular destinations at higher altitudes in the Andes is Vinicunca, which is otherwise known as the Rainbow Mountain.

The name Vinicunca, in the local Quechua language of the Peruvian Andes, means “colorful necklace”.  However, it is also referred to locally as “Montaña de Siete Colores”, which means “mountain of seven colors”.  The pink dirt is created by red clay, the whitish dirt from quartz, the yellowish dirt is actually sandstone and limestone-rich sulfurous minerals, and the turquoise color comes from phyllite compounds and clays rich in iron-magnesium.  Together, these differing soils create one of the most unique and beautiful mountaintops you will find anywhere in the world.  The best time to view the mountain is between April and October, which is the dry season in Peru and the weather is most predictable.  If you decide to visit, make sure you are prepared for the altitude as the mountaintop sits at 17,060 feet (or 5,199 meters).

17.  Grand Teton National Park

United States

Grand Teton-2175

There are some stunningly beautiful spots in the American Rocky Mountains to visit, but my favorite of these spots in the continental United States is undoubtedly Grand Teton National Park.  Established in 1929 and then again in 1950, the 96,000-acre Grand Teton National Park encompasses almost the entire Teton Mountain Range and six large glacial lakes.  There are eight peaks within the park that rise to over 12,000-feet (3,656 meters), with the highest peak being the Grand Teton (13,770 feet or 4,197 meters).  In addition to having some of the best hiking trails in the US National Park System, the Grand Teton National Park is also a great place to spot wildlife.  Along with its neighboring sister park, Yellowstone, the Grand Teton National Park is a great place to spot the likes of moose, American bison, pronghorn antelope, Roosevelt elk, grizzly bear, black bear, grey wolves, and even bighorn sheep.  For more information on how to visit the Grand Teton National Park, please refer to my Yellowstone and Grand Teton Visitor Guide linked below.

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Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone and Grand Teton Visitor Guide

16. Tiger’s Nest

Bhutan

Tiger's Nest

According to legend, Guru Rinpoche arrived in Bhutan on the back of a flying tigress.  While he visited a number of caves and cliff sides to meditate, he spent the majority of his time on the mountainside above the Paro Valley.  A monastery was eventually built on this spot and is now known as Paro Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest.  The monastery sits roughly 3,000 feet (915 meters) above the valley floor and 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) above sea level.  If you want to hike up to the monastery you can, but the hike is very steep.  There are several different paths that you can take when you hike and the most popular of which takes you through a pine forest and past a collection of prayer flags.    No matter which path you choose, it is guaranteed to be an adventure you will remember.  If you visit in April, the Tsechu festival is held in the Paro Valley below.  The festival honors and remembers Guru Rinpoche and is marked by festive dancing all throughout the valley.  Visiting during the festival is a great way to see ancient Buddhist traditions performed in one of this world’s most beautiful and iconic settings.

15. Grindelwald

Switzerland

Grindelwald-1417

The city of Grindelwald, or the “glacier village” as it is known locally, is one of the oldest resort towns in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland and one of the best places to visit to see the Swiss Alps in all of their glory.  The area is home to many 13,000+ feet (or 4,000+ meter) peaks, including the Eiger and Jungfrau mountains.  Being in the middle of so many large peaks means that Grindelwald is one of the best places in the Swiss Alps to do some alpine skiing and\or hiking.  It is also one of the most popular places in all of Europe for mountaineering, which is why alpine climbers flock to Grindelwald each year to test their mettle on the area’s mountains.  Even if you aren’t an alpine climber or skier, the area’s beautiful mountain scenery, traditional cog railways, and fantastic food make Grindelwald a great tourist destination for mountain lovers of all kinds.  Not to mention, because it is in such close proximity to the cities of Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen, you can spend weeks touring and eating your way thru these beautiful valleys.

14. The Dolomites

Italy

The Dolomites

Although the makeup just a small portion of the Alps mountain range in Europe, the Dolomites of Northern Italy are some of the most beautiful and spectacular mountains you will find there.  They aren’t the tallest mountains you will find on the continent, as the tallest peak in the Dolomites is only about 11,000-feet (or 3.350-meters) tall, but their craggy look and rich landscape make them some of the best mountains in Europe to explore.  Whether you are looking to hike, climb, ski, or participate in one of the area’s many adventure activities (such as base jumping, paragliding, hang gliding, and heli-skiing), there is something to entertain every type of outdoor enthusiast.  Even if you aren’t interested in any wild adventures, there are plenty of cross-country ski and hiking trails to keep even the most laid back of travelers busy.

If you are looking for recommendations on where to go and what to do, I would strongly recommend looking into the Via Ferrata Routes.  These old WWI routes that used to have wooden steps and ropes to guide you along the mountain routes have been updated to include steel rungs and ladders.  If you have hiked in Acadia National Park in the United States, they are a lot like what you see on the Precipice and Beehive Trails in that park.  If you aren’t interested in a challenging hike\climb, but still want to see some amazing scenery, I would recommend checking out the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.  Here you will find an easy 2-hour loop hike that offers some of the most spectacular views of the Dolomites.

13. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

New Zealand

Mount Cook National Park-3590

When it comes to acclaimed mountain climbers, there are few climbers who are as renowned or as revered as Sir Edmund Hillary.  Most people are aware of Hillary’s exploits on Mount Everest, but what many people are unaware of is that Hillary sharpened his climbing skills on Mount Cook before ever attempting to climb Everest.  As the tallest mountain in New Zealand and the centerpiece of the breathtaking Southern Alps that dominate much of the landscape on New Zealand’s Southern Island, Mount Cook is a breathtaking sight to behold.  The area also has a rich and important native history.  According to Ngāi Tahu legend, Aoraki and his three brothers, sons of the Sky Father Rakinui, were on a sea voyage when their canoe overturned.  When they climbed to the top of their canoe to escape the water, the freezing south wind turned them into stone.  Their canoe became the South Island while the three brothers became the peaks of the Southern Alps.

For travelers visiting Aoraki\Mount Cook National Park, climbing isn’t the only activity that you can enjoy.  There are a number of amazing hiking tracks within the park and a lookout where you can see the gigantic Tasman Glacier, which is the largest glacier in New Zealand.  If you would like to get a better view of the landscape, you can always get a bird’s eye view from a helicopter or airplane tour.  Speaking of airplanes, New Zealand is considered by many travelers to be the adventure capital of the world and one of the most popular adventures is skydiving.  To learn more about Aoraki\Mount Cook National Park and how to visit, please reference my Aoraki Mount Cook National Park Visitor Guide linked below.

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Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park Visitor Guide

12. Manali

India

Manali

Not too long ago, Manali used to be the backpacking capital of India.  There was an incredibly popular “hippie trail” that ran from Manali to Kullu and was a magnet for travelers looking to explore the beautiful Himalaya region on a budget.  Fast forward to today, and the Manali region has blossomed into one of the most popular and developed tourist spots in the Indian Himalayas.  No longer is this spot the hidden gem that it used to be.  That may be a disappointment to the most ardent backpackers out there, but it also means that the beauty of this region is accessible to more travelers.

Located high in the Indian Himalayas, Manali offers spellbinding views of the gorgeous mountain range.  If you get up early and look over the fog-covered slopes and the tiny cottages that are dotted over the landscape, you will swear you are dreaming.  Really, it is that beautiful.  For the hiking enthusiasts out there, hiking the Rohtang Pass is a hiking adventure that is popular with die-hard hiking enthusiasts.  Among the other adventure activities, the area is known for include skiing and river rafting.  For those looking for a more laid-back adventure, getting some rest and relaxation in one of the region’s Himalayan spas is an experience you will never forget.  No matter what brings you to Manali, exploring a beautiful region of this world’s tallest mountains would be an amazing adventure.

11. Kirkjufell

Iceland

Kirkjufell

When it comes to breathtaking landscapes, few other countries in Europe can compete with the jaw-dropping views that you see on the island nation of Iceland.  From the giant glaciers like Vatnajökull and Skaftafell to the beautiful waterfalls like Godafoss and Seljalandsfoss, Iceland is chock-full of mind-blowingly gorgeous landscapes.  In fact, the landscapes you see on Iceland are so unique that you will be hard-pressed to find others like them elsewhere in the world.  One of these unique and beautiful landscapes I am referring to is the Kirkjufell mountain, which sits on the Snæfellsnesnes peninsula in the Western part of Iceland.

Rising 1,519-feet (or 463-meters) above sea level on the outskirts of the small fishing town of Grundarfjörður, Kirkjufell may be the most photographed mountain in all of Europe.  It is certainly the most photographed mountain in Iceland.  If you would like to get a little more up-close-and-personal with the mountain, you can hike to the top.  However, you should not attempt the hike unless weather conditions are optimal because it is a difficult hike and can be hazardous.  If you aren’t an experienced hiker, you can arrange to do the hike as part of a guided expedition with a guide that is very familiar with the area.  For those who aren’t into hiking, you can opt for taking a guided horseback ride instead.  No matter how you choose to explore the area, it will certainly be an adventure you won’t soon forget.

10.  Denali National Park

United States

Denali National Park

If you’re looking for a pure wilderness experience, it is really tough to compete with the experience you will have when you visit Denali National Park in the state of Alaska in the United States.  World-renown for its phenomenal wildlife, breathtaking mountain peaks, and beautiful glacially-fed rivers, Denali National Park has earned every bit of its reputation as an outdoor enthusiast’s dreamland.  Because of its isolated location in the middle of the vast Alaska wilderness, Denali National Park isn’t one of the easiest of America’s national parks to get to.  However, this is part of the park’s appeal. Combined with its sheer beauty, the remoteness and isolation of the park give it the last frontier kind of feel.

It also doesn’t hurt that the park is home to Mount Denali (or formerly known as Mount McKinley), which at 20,308-feet (or 6,189-meters) is the tallest mountain in North America.  It may not be as tall as some of the tallest mountains in the Himalayas, but when it comes to alpine climbs, it can be every bit as difficult.  While climbing the mountain should be reserved for only the most experienced, trained, and guided climbers, that doesn’t mean there aren’t hiking adventures for less experienced hikers and climbers to be enjoyed in the park.  In fact, there are plenty of great hiking trails and lookout points with breathtaking views for all travelers to enjoy in the park.  All you need to do is get there to enjoy them!

9. Mount Fuji

Japan

Mount Fuji 2

Of all the mountains found at all of the destinations on my list of the Top 20 Mountain Destinations for Travelers, few are as perfectly shaped or as beautiful as Mount Fuji in Japan.  At 12,388-feet (or 3,776-meters) tall, not only is it Japan’s highest mountain, but it is also the country’s most climbed one as well.  What most people don’t realize is that Mount Fuji isn’t a single mountain, but actually three volcanoes stacked on top of each other.  The bottom mountain, and the oldest, is the Komitake volcano, then the Kufuji volcano, and finally the youngest of the volcanoes, Mount Fuji.  Located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which is less than 65-miles from Tokyo, Mount Fuji is one of the more accessible mountains found at any of the locations on my list.  In fact, many visitors choose to visit Mount Fuji on a day trip from the capital.

However, just because it is easy to get to, that doesn’t mean it is an easy mountain to see.  In fact, Mount Fuji is notoriously shy and is usually only visible thru the cloud-cover roughly 80 days a year.  So if you are planning a visit to see or photograph the mountain, I would suggest building some flexibility into your schedule and monitoring the weather forecast when you are in-country.  For those with ambitions to climb Mount Fuji, there are several trails that take you to the top.  Which trail you choose will ultimately depend on your fitness level, hiking experience, and the time you would like to take to complete the hike.  For instance, the Yoshida trail climbs an estimated 7,545-feet (or 2,300-meters) on its way to the top, while the Gotemba Trail only ascends roughly 4,757-feet (or 1,450-meters) on its way to the top.  If you are up for the challenge, climbing the mountain is one of the ultimate travel adventures.  And with sunrises and sunsets as legendary as are typical at Mount Fuji, the pictures you get from the top will likely be epic as well.

8. Jotunheimen Mountains

Norway

Jotunheimen Mountains

According to ancient Norse mythology, Jotunheimen was the place where the jotner, or the trolls, once lived.  When you visit this jaw-droppingly beautiful landscape, you won’t have much trouble understanding why.  In addition to being the home of Northern Europe’s highest mountains, this section of Eastern Norway is also packed with gigantic glaciers, beautiful glacial rivers and lakes, and a seemingly never-ending supply of waterfalls.  There are more than 50 marked trails that criss-cross their way throughout the 1,351-square miles (or 3,500-square kilometers) of this breathtaking park.  Depending on your fitness and comfort level, you can choose between short day hikes or multi-day adventures to explore the area.

Two of the most popular hikes in the park are the hike to the summit of the Galdhøpiggen mountain and the Besseggen trail.  If you are up for the challenge, the Galdhøpiggen summit hike takes you to the top of the 8,100-feet (or 2,469-meter) Galdhøpiggen mountain, which is a strenuous hike for even experienced hikers.  If that doesn’t sound like your pace, the Besseggen trail is equally as beautiful, but not quite as stressful.  This six-hour hike is difficult, but as Norway’s most hiked route, it is also achievable by less experienced hikers.  If you invest the time to complete the hike, it will take you across the narrow Besseggen Ridge where you will be spellbound by the breathtaking views of the Gjende and Bessvatn lakes on your sides.  This hike alone is worth traveling to Jotunheimen, the rest is just gravy.

7. Mount Kilimanjaro

Tanzania

Killy-2

If you have ever listened to the band Toto’s hit 1982 hit song “Africa”, you probably recognize the lyrics, “As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti”.  While it isn’t true that Mount Kilimanjaro can be seen from the plains of the Serengeti, it can be seen from nearby Amboseli National Park in Kenya.  This is notable because when most people think of Africa, they typically think about going on safari and seeing wild animals like lions, elephants, and rhinoceros.  What they don’t typically think about are large mountains and snow-capped peaks.  It may surprise you then to learn that one of the world’s most enchanting mountains, with its beautiful snow-capped peak, sits in the heart of one of Africa’s most infamous wildlife zones.

At 19,341-feet (or 5,895-meters) high, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and arguably the most mysterious mountain found at any of the destinations on my list.  While it isn’t the tallest peak in the world, it isn’t a part of a mountain range so it is considered to be the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.  While all of this is interesting, what attracts most travelers to Kilimanjaro each year is the fact that it is arguably the easiest of the highest summits on each continent to climb.  This makes it a challenging, but achievable goal for adventure travelers of all skill levels to attempt.  While it’s achievable for most travelers, you will have to put in some considerable effort to reach the top.  If you are interested in climbing the mountain, there are six main routes to the top and the average hike will take you 5 to 9 days to ascend and get back down.  If climbing the mountain doesn’t sound like something you are up for or have time for, there are also bike tours that take you around Mount Kilimanjaro that you can explore as well.  Oh, and don’t forget to make some life-long memories on a safari adventure or two while you are there.  In case you are interested, I have linked to my Serengeti National Park Safari Guide below for you to review.

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Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park Safari Guide

6.  El Chalten

Argentinian Patagonia

El Chalten

Snuggled at the base of the towering Cerro Torreis and Mount Fitz Roy, the small town of El Chaltén is widely considered among hiking enthusiasts to be the hiking capital of the Argentinian Andes.  The beautiful, jagged peaks and many world-class hiking trails attract thousands of adventurers a year.  Because of its location at the base of the mountains, there are dozens of world-class trails that are accessible just a short distance from the center of town.  Depending on your skill level and the time you have available, you can choose between short, easy routes that will take just a few hours to difficult multi-day adventures that will test your hiking and climbing skills.  Some of the most popular hiking trails in the area include Eagle Miradors, Laguna de Los Tres, Laguna Torre, and Condor Mirador.

The town sits in the middle of the beautiful Los Glaciares National Park, so no trip to El Chaltén can be complete without taking a trip up to see a glacier.  Argentina’s largest glacier, Viedma Glacier, is located within the park on Lake Viedma and is renowned for its massive ice wall that rises up from the lake like the Wall in the HBO series Game of thrones.  If you would like to explore the glacier, there are a variety of tours that you can book based on your experience and comfort level.  For those who may not be interested in doing a lot of hiking or glacier trekking, the area is also well known for its horseback tours that allow you to explore the stunning beauty of the area at a more leisurely pace.  Better yet, just throw down a blanket next to one of the area’s picturesque glacial lakes and enjoy the fact that you’re visiting heaven on Earth.

5.  Banff\Jasper National Parks

Canada

Banff-6630

Out of all the destinations on my list of the Top 20 Mountain Travel Destinations in the World, and there are some great destinations on this list, the most special place for me is undoubtedly the Banff and Jasper National Parks area in Alberta, Canada.  Growing up, my grandfather and father were larger-than-life figures and huge influences on my life and my budding love for travel.  One of my grandfather’s favorite places to talk about, and a place he always meant to take my father, was the beautiful Lake Louise near Banff National Park.  “Unparalleled beauty”, “out-of-this-world gorgeous”, “jaw-droppingly beautiful”, and nearly every other superlative that you can think of was used by my grandfather when he told us of this magical place he dreamed of sharing with us.

Sadly, my grandfather never got to take my father to see Lake Louise.  Life, as it often does, got in the way and they never got to make the trip.  Years after he passed, my father, mother, aunt, and I took a special road trip out through the Northwest, up thru Glacier National Park in Montana, and into Banff National Park.  With my grandfather always on our minds, we explored the region to our utter delight.  I always thought my grandfather had to be exaggerating about the beauty of the area, but I never knew just how wrong I was until I set eyes on not only the stunning Lake Louise but the even more beautiful Lake Morraine.

The city of Banff looks and feels as though it was lifted out of some scraggly mountainside in Switzerland, and the whole area has a European Alps kind of feel.  Even if you aren’t up for hiking one of the area’s many amazing hiking paths, you will be content just to soak in the beautiful views and explore the shops and restaurants in Banff.  While you’re in town, taking the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain to enjoy the breathtaking views from the top is an absolute must.  If you have the time, you will want to drive the Icefields Parkway that stretches into Jasper National Park and up thru some of the most beautiful scenery in the area.  There are multiple waterfalls and an ice bridge that you can pull over and enjoy along the way.  No matter what you do when you visit, if your trip is half as memorable as mine, it will be one that you will never forget.  If you would like more information on when and how to visit Banff National Park, please check out my Banff National Park Visitor’s Guide referenced below.

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Morraine Lake
Banff National Park Visitor’s Guide

4. Zermatt

Switzerland

Zermatt-2250

There are so many amazing and beautiful alpine destinations in the country of Switzerland that I could easily do a Top 20 list of my recommendations for just that country alone.  However, one place stands above all else in my heart when I think about all the wonderful adventures I have had exploring the Swiss Alps.  As the home of the most photographed mountain in the world, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Zermatt is ranked high on any list that talks about the top mountain destinations in the world.  The Matterhorn, with its iconic scraggly peak, rises 14,692-feet (or 4,478-meters) high and towers above the town of Zermatt.  It is only the tenth tallest mountain in Switzerland, but its shape and location make it one of the most mesmerizing and charismatic mountains in the whole world.

If you are an outdoor adventurer, you will absolutely love Zermatt.  Between miles of outstanding hiking trails, to world-class climbing routes, to some of the best alpine and cross-country skiing in Europe, there is a seemingly endless amount of activities available to keep even the most eager outdoor adventurer entertained.  If you are looking for a unique experience to have in the Swiss Alps, then I would suggest taking the world’s first fully electrified cog railway and Europe’s highest open-air railway up to Gornergrat, where at 10,134-feet (or 3,089-meters) you can look over the Alps from the roof of Europe in complete and total awe.  In addition to getting some excellent close-up views of the Matterhorn, you will get to see the Gornergrat up-close, which will blow your mind.  At just shy of 8 miles (or 12.4 km) long and roughly 1 mile (or 1.5 km) wide, it is an incredible sight to behold.  If you are planning a trip to Zermatt and would like more information on what to see or when and how to visit, please refer to my Visitor’s Guide to Zermatt, Switzerland referenced below.

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Zermatt, Switzerland
Visitor’s Guide to Zermatt, Switzerland

3.  Queenstown

New Zealand

Queenstown-4213

If you are an outdoor enthusiast or an adventure traveler, and chances are that you are both if you are reading this article, then I probably don’t need to sell you too hard on visiting Queenstown, New Zealand.  Widely considered to be the outdoor adventure capital of the world, the number of amazing outdoor adventure activities available to travelers in the area is simply mind-boggling.  Because Queenstown is located right in the middle of the breathtaking Southern Alps, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that many of these activities center around the mountains.  The sheer beauty and awe-inspiring magnitude of the epicness of this area is one of the reasons Peter Jackson decided to film much of his Lord of the Ring trilogy in the Queenstown and Glenorchy area.

If you love to hike, I personally consider New Zealand’s South Island to be the hiking capital of the entire world.  Seriously, there are more amazing hiking tracks on the South Island of New Zealand than my mind can comprehend.  Not really, but you get the point.  This place is chock-full of amazing hiking trails.  In the Queenstown area, one of the most prominent hikes that you can tackle is the Ben Lomond Track.  This roughly 8-mile (or roughly 13-kilometer) hike ascends over 4,300-feet (or 1,310-meters) to the Ben Lomond summit where you are treated with some of the most amazing views of Queenstown, the Southern Alps, and Lake Wakatipu.  If you aren’t up for doing the whole hike, you can cut a portion of the beginning off by taking the Skyline Gondola up to the Stratosphere Restaurant and then hiking from there.

In addition to having a lot of impressive hiking trails, the Queenstown area is also known for its wide variety of adventure activities.  If you have ever wanted to skydive, go bungy jumping, canyon swinging, jet boat riding, or any other extreme sport that you can think of, then Queenstown is a great place to check that activity off your bucket list.  I went skydiving for my first time on the South Island and it is an experience I will never forget.  I cannot think of more stunning scenery to look at while plunging towards the Earth than the beautiful Southern Alps.  If you are interested in planning a trip to Queenstown and would like more information on what to see and do, I have linked to my Essential Queenstown, New Zealand Travel Guide for you to review below.

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Queenstown, New Zealand
The Essential Queenstown, New Zealand Travel Guide

2. Torres del Paine

Chilean Patagonia

Mirador Las Torres

If you ask most travel enthusiasts, they will tell you that there is a specific travel destination that they have wanted to go to above all others.  Most often, this is a destination that they have dreamed about for years but seemed to have never found a way to make it there.  For me, that destination is the Patagonia region of South America.  For me, no other location on this Earth is as beautiful, as pristine, or as raw as the breathtaking landscapes at the Southern edge of South America.  When it comes to great spots in Patagonia to visit, I am not sure there are many spots that compete with the iconic Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.  You might not know this park by name, but I am sure you have seen images of the three scraggly granite towers of Torres del Paine that have made this park an iconic travel hotspot for mountain enthusiasts.  But the beauty of the park extends beyond these beautiful peaks.  If you explore the park, you will find seemingly endless pine forests, emerald blue glacial lakes, gigantic glaciers that dwarf what your mind can imagine, and golden grasslands that seem like they can go on forever.  Add all of this up and you get one of the most beautiful and breathtaking landscapes you will find on this planet.  Yes, I am being dramatic with my descriptions, but at the same time, I am not.  This destination is worthy of the drama.

Because of its beauty, the Torres del Paine National Park is a hugely popular travel destination for outdoor enthusiasts.  There are many iconic hikes that you can take in the park, with the iconic “W” hike being the most notable.  This four-day hike takes you thru some of the most beautiful of the park’s landscapes and is achievable for most people who are in decent shape and have a fair amount of hiking experience.  It’s not overly technical, but the distance can be a factor if you aren’t used to long multi-day hikes.  If you aren’t up for a multi-day hike, there are also many day hikes that you can enjoy in the park.  The Laguna Azul, Mirador Las Torres, Mirador Ferrier, and Mirador Lago Skottsberg are just some of the examples.  If you are lucky enough to go on an adventure to see Torres del Paine National Park, you are certain to be in for an experience you’ll remember the rest of your life.

1.  Mount Everest Base Camp

Nepal

Everest Base Camp

The last destination on my list of the Top 20 Mountain Travel Destinations in the World is certainly not the least, and especially not when it comes to the mountains at that destination.  There are fourteen mountains on this planet that are higher than 26,247-feet (or 8,000-meters) and ten of those mountains are within the Himalayas.  At 29,029-feet (or 8,848-meters) high, Mount Everest stands above all others as the tallest mountain in the world.  For some of this world’s most dedicated and ambitious outdoor adventurers, reaching the summit of Mount Everest is the ultimate goal.  If you are lucky enough to make it to the roof of the world, the views and the feeling of accomplishment must be amazing.  However, even if you don’t push for the summit of Everest, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience its magnificence or that you have to miss out on the complete adventure.

Tourist hikes to the Everest Base Camp, which alone sits at 17,600-feet (or 5,364-meters) high, are becoming increasingly popular in recent years.  With the out-of-this-world views that you see along the way and the challenge of getting to the base camp of the world’s tallest mountain as motivation, I can certainly see why.  However, just because you aren’t climbing the mountain, don’t be fooled into thinking it won’t be a challenge to get to base camp.  The trek to base camp itself covers 75-miles (or 12-kilometers) and ascends an altitude of 17,600-feet (or 5,364-meters), so the hike is no joke.  The hike does require a permit, so you will need to plan ahead if you are thinking about hiking to base camp.  Most hikers will hire a guide, but they are not required.  Whether you decide to hire one for your trek will ultimately depend on your experience and comfort level.  Either way, you are going to have the most amazing alpine hiking experience that this world has to offer.  Enjoy it, and take lots of pictures!

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9 replies »

    • Awesome!!!! Kili was so surreal to see in person. Wish I had more time there to climb it. I am going to definitely have to go back. Everest would be amazing!!!

  1. What a wonderful post. I love mountains. Reading about the Pyrenees was especially poignant, given the cancelled trip, but we have all committed (verbally, at least) to giving it a try again next summer (especially since the Pyrenees accommodation would only give an 18-month voucher, not an actual refund of the deposit). Considering climbing another 14er this summer. We’ll see what happens. Thanks for a very picturesque start to my day!

  2. Sooo many of these are on my bucket list!! My favourites have got to be Banff National Park and Mount Cook (just the entirety of the south island of New Zealand to be honest!). South America really looks incredible too, I always forget just how stunning it is until I get reminders like this.

    • My bucket list keeps growing too!! The South Island of New Zealand and Banff are EPIC!! 😀👍

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