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Image By: Jeff Pang

Our take on ten of the world’s best towns for getting on (and occasionally off) the trail.

CITING ACCESS TO LOCAL TRAILS, excellent amentities catering to hikers, and great places to celebrate a good day of hiking, BestHike recently announced their picks for the Top 10 Hiking Towns Worldwide. Not factored into the selections are cost, duration of hiking season, accessibility, and degrees of difficulty.

With both the Fitz Roy and Materhorn listed on the World’s Most Dangerous Climbs, taking on any of these challenges commands the respect of a seasoned hiker and a great deal of preparation and planning.

Here we’ve added some additional information regarding these top 10 hiking destinations selected by BestHike.

Moab, Utah

Moab, also in the top 15 adventure towns worldwide, offers easy access to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Unless you plan to hike overnight, permits are not required. Arches National Park includes many easy to moderate hikes that take in some of Moab’s most prominent symbols, such as Delicate Arch. Take a hike on Syncline Loop in Cayonlands for a more strenous hiking experience.

Be prepared to have plenty of water as dehydration is the most common ailment in this dry, arid town. For safety and comfort purposes, it’s recommended to avoid hiking during the months of June to August as temperatures in the desert average 104 degrees Fahrenheit. After mountain biking there in August a few years ago, I can attest to the need for more water than you think and afternoon siestas to avoid the hottest parts of the day.

Image By: Alaskan Dude

Zermatt, Switzerland

Located at the base of the Matterhorn, you have to work extremely hard to take a bad picture in this tourist town. The town even banned combustion engine cars, with few exceptions, to preserve the air quality. With easy access to the Monte Rosa and Matterhorn, the town is known for mountaineering, mountain biking, and skiing. It is also one of the most expensive places in the Alps for accommodations. Camping is a cost-effective way to enjoy the scenery without forking over too many francs.

El Calafate, Argentina

Whether trekking the glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park or hiking Fitz Roy, this tourist town in the Patagonia region of Argentina is near some of the most beautiful sites in South America. It’s also a more economical option to Chilean destinations like Puerto Natales.

Also note that the trailheads are not quite out the backdoor of El Calafate, but may be several hours away by bus. Planning is essential to ensure optimal conditions for hiking and preparation.

Perhaps one of the more challenging but not impossible destinations on the list, El Calafate’s ground transportation system is in high demand during the peak tourist seasons. Purchasing bus tickets in advance may help avoid travel delays.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

Grindelwald was on the shortlist for a recent ski trip I made. Although I finally selected Arosa, Grindelwald made the list for its list of year-round activities, and partially for the fact that it was responsible for inspiring the name of JK Rowling’s character Gellert Gridelwald.

Most commonly known for the start of the Eiger and the Wetterhorn climbs, Grindelwald is also accessible via train and has reasonable accommodations, though some might consider it a little too touristy.

Zermatt — Image by: Andrew Bossi

Banff, Canada

Banff, with one of the shorter hiking seasons on the list, is one of the richest National Parks in Canada. Since the town’s growth is strictly limited, its surrounding vistas are also protected, including Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and Cascade Mountain. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and extremely popular tourist destination, travel to Banff National Park is quite simple via car, bus, and van connections from the Calgary airport.

For an enjoyable all-day hike, the Lake Agnes Teahouse trail peaks with a tea house overlooking Lake Agnes in the Canadian Rockies. More athletic hikers can manage the Stanley Glacier trail in a half-day.

Chamonix, France

Located an hour by car from Geneva, Chamonix is also accessible via train and bus. As an epicenter of hiking trails, Chamonix has a number of trekking options, and is also the starting point for the Walker’s Haute Route, which includes some 400 alpine peaks en route to Zermatt.

Cortina, Italy

Easily accessible from the Venice airport, Cortina is a place where novice hikers can enjoy great views around town without ever stepping foot on a trail. For the more daring, several multi-day hikes are available, guided or not. Hikes in the Cortina Dolomites include views of unusual limestone spires and other odd formations.

During the peak season, the trails can be quite busy, especially since being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Namche Bazaar, Nepal

The only selection from Nepal, Namche Bazaar, was likely chosen for its location near Everest, as well as reasonable accommodations and hospitality. One of the several great trekking choices in the Himalayas, Namche Bazaar is part of the Everest circuit and includes many difficult if not outright treacherous climbs.

Huaraz, Peru

At a staggering 3100m, anyone venturing to Huaraz should be wary of altitude sickness. Climbing to Huaraz pays off magestic views, available while hiking the Cordillera Blanca and biking the Cordillera Negra. Although more populous than other towns on this list, arrival in Huaraz should be by bus, as the nearest airport is Cusco.

Matadorians did explore some secret spots in Huaraz.

Queenstown, New Zealand

This last town has been on my dream list for many years. One arguable candidate for adventure capital of the world, Queenstown has reasonable accommodations for hikers and access to some of the Great Walks of New Zealand.

Feature image bylaszlo-photo’s

Community Connection

What are your picks for the world’s top hiking towns? Tell us in the comments.

Some of these trails will take you near the world’s most recognizable mountain peaks.

About The Author

Lindi Horton

Hailing from Austin, Lindi Horton is an intern at Matador Sports. Check out more of her writing on her website.

  • http://www.photojbartlett.com Jeff Bartlett

    Awesome list. I love some of these destinations but have to disagree with El Calafate. The Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy hikes are awesome but they are a couple hours away in El Chalten. I’d have stuck Bariloche or El Bolson in for Argentina. Both offer better close-to-town hikes.
    Huaraz, Peru and Banff, Canada are both so beautiful!

  • Cyrus

    Closest airport to Huaraz is Cusco? That makes no sense. Lima is much closer to Huaraz.

    • http://itinerantlondoner.wordpress.com Geoff

      Yeah, Cusco is not the ideal airport for Huaraz, Lima is – and is then a very comfortable overnight bus ride away – it’s lovely waking up in the morning, stepping off the bus and seeing those incredible views.

      It’s a fantastic town, one of the friendliest I came across in the whole of South America

  • Eoin

    A surprisingly weak article for Matador. Exactly what valuable additional information are you adding about #1 Queenstown, other than it being a dream destination for you, and having cheap accommodation? My take: head to Wanaka, a little gem only an hour away that has an even prettier lake, friendlier denizens, and access to the Matukituki Valley and Mount Aspiring – one of my favourite trekking spots on the planet. And, btw, it’s spent “amenities”.

  • http://bonyoyage.ning.com Mark

    I am surprised that Cape Town South Africa does not make your list.
    Table Mountain and the Table Mountain National Park provide some of the best hikes in the world and it is surrounded by a city which provides a great tourist experience for travellers here. here are some of the hikes http://blog.sa-venues.com/provinces/western-cape/table-mountain-hikes/

  • http://www.ertzgaard.net/geir Geir

    What? You forgot to mention almost any town in Norway, the best hiking country in the world with trails over the place. I’d suggest Lillehammer as a starting point for trekis in the Jotunheimen, Rondane, Dovre, Hardangervidda and almost anywhere else. Or Bergen. Or Oslo, or Ålesund…and on and on.

  • Daniyal Ahmed

    How is it even possible to come up with such a list and leave out Skardu in Pakistan. It should definitely be in the top 5. The hikes range from easy to extreme difficulty and include some of the best hikes in the world for example the Base Camp Trek for K-2. This list just lost its validity.

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  • http://www.farawayeyes.org darmabum

    Great list! Got another one for you, at #11 – Escalante, Utah . . . like Moab, without the Starbucks :)

  • ralph shoemaker

    Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Cascade, Green Mountain Falls and Pike National Forest (Colorado) have more great hiking than any other one place. I think most people take Colorado for granted.

  • http://easyhiker.co.uk Michael

    Let us not forget, however, that there are many hiking options for people who prefer to take it easy, too. The German city of Cologne, for example, provides easy access to the Eifelsteig and the Rheinsteig, two of Germany’s Top Trails, and if you have seen enough castles and vineyards to last you a lifetime, you can hop on one of the Eurostar trains and be in Paris in a cool three hours – beat that, Banff!

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  • http://www.greeneadventures.com Colleen @ Greene Adventures

    My husband and I honeymooned in Banff 2 years ago and loved the gorgeous wide range of hiking options. Since we were up there in August, we benefited from Canada’s extended summer daylight hours — able to hike up until 9 or 10pm.

  • http://www.survivalfoodreviews.com Frank Foodie

    Moab is a great place to do some hiking. The sand is fun to play in and the sun is always shining of the pretty rocks.

  • Powercreative

    Bishop California should be on this list!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jeremy

    Many great trails in Southern Cal.  Check out my blog at http://www.calihike.blogspot.com
    I am on a mission to hike 1000 trails in 1000 days…

  • Anonymous

    Namche Bazaar is part of the Everest circuit and includes many difficult if not outright treacherous climbs. For trekking to Namche Bazaar please visit http://www.dreamhimalayan.com.

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