7 of the best day hikes in the world

Author: Rob Slade

As much as we dream of heading away on month-long expeditions into the mountains, it’s not always possible for a lot of us. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t climb towering peaks or experience breathtaking mountain views. There are many amazing walks on offer all over the world that can be done in a day, so they represent a great option for people who have limited time. With that in mind, here are seven of the best day hikes in the world.

1. Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue), Norway

Photo: Visit Norway/Asgeir Helgestad

This is a tough hike with roughly 1,000m of altitude gain but the rewards are absolutely worth it. You’ll start from Skjeggedal, a small village just a few miles out of Tyssedal, and will hike for anywhere between 8-12 hours, depending on your fitness and how long you stop for.

It is important to prepare well for the 13.6-mile hike as you will very much be exposed to the elements and there is no mobile phone coverage in the area. Upon reaching the Troll’s Tongue it’s down to you to decide how far along the rock you shuffle. With iconic and jaw-dropping views, this was a no brainer to be included on a list of the best day hikes in the world.

2. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Located on the North Island of New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered to be the best one day hike in the country, and is widely renowned to be one of the best day hikes in the world.  At a length of 12 miles, the hike takes between 5-8 hours, though it takes longer if you decide to take on the side trip and climb Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings).

The hike takes you through a range of environments including volcanic landscapes, vast basins, to the rim of the Red Crater and eventually through forest. A section of the track actually travels through the Active Volcanic Hazard Zone, where you can see evidence of the last eruption in 2012 and steaming vents.

3. Torres del Paine lookout, Chile

Torres del Paine

If you’re not going to take on the famous Torres del Paine W trek, you at least need to make sure you head out on the one day hike to the lookout point. The Torres del Paine really is something to cross off the bucket list thanks to the amazing views over various peaks and lakes.

Essentially, the 11-mile hike takes you through the beautiful Ascencio Valley all the way up its slopes until you find yourself beside a lake lying at the base of the trio of towers that the massif is named after. Along the journey you’ll take in stunning scenery and by the end of it you probably won’t want to leave.

4. The Faulhornweg, Switzerland

Bachalpsee Switzerland
Photo: Martin Abegglen

One of the best one day walks in Europe, this 9-mile track takes in a section of the Grindelwald Valley and offers stunning panoramic views. First of all, you’ll have to take a cable car from Grindelwald to First (lying 1,100m above town) where you then step out to be greeted with a glorious alpine scene. A well-worn path will then lead you to Bachalpsee (pictured above), an infinity-pool style lake with a breathtaking backdrop of snow-clad alpine peaks.

Upon looking across the valley you’ll be treated to a spectacular view of the north face of the Eiger as it rises to a backdrop of glaciers. The walk concludes at Schynige Platte with gardens displaying hundreds of alpine species and some of Europe’s best panoramic views.

5. Sarangkot Pokhara, Nepal

Sarangkot, NepalPhoto: Aleksandr Zykov

A relatively easy trek compared to some of the others, this 9-mile return walk will take you to Sarangkot, a village that sits at 1,592m. Of course, the village isn’t the focal point, once there you’ll be able to take in panoramic views right across to the Annapurna range.

For those who want an extra special experience, you can actually stay in the village overnight to see dawn break over the mountains. From the village you should be able to spot the snow-capped peaks of Annapurna II (7,937m) and Machhapuchhare (6,997m), the ‘fishtail’ mountain. Adventurous souls can also dabble in a bit of paragliding.

6. The Half Dome day hike, USA

Half Dome, Yosemite

Taking in one of the most iconic rock formations in the USA, the hike to the top of Half Dome (2,694m) is roughly 14-16 miles long (round trip) and should take between 10-12 hours. Along the whole route you’ll be surrounded by incredible panoramic views.

While the trek isn’t technical, you will need to be relatively fit and you’ll need good, sturdy boots. To ascend the steep rock face, hikers follow cable pathways that have been installed all the way to the top meaning you don’t need any specialist climbing gear. Based in the heart of Yosemite National Park, this is bound to be one of the most visually stunning climbs you’ve ever done and it’s certainly one of the best day hikes in the world.

7. Climbing the Breithorn, Switzerland

The Breithorn in the Alps

Is it really possible to tick off an alpine peak over 4,000m in one day? You bet it is! The Breithorn (4,164m) is located on the Swiss/Italian border and represents possibly the easiest chance to get to the top of an alpine peak. This is thanks to the Klein Matterhorn cable car which takes climbers up to 3,800m.

From there you only (I say ‘only’ lightly, as it is still quite the effort) have the job of ascending the final 364m to the summit for breathtaking panoramic views. For this section you’ll be roping up and donning crampons to cover the ice and snow to the summit.

Intro photo: Dag Endre Opedal

Have you been on a hike that you think deserves to be on this list of the best day hikes in the world? Let us know in the comments!