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For many, one of the greatest incentives to traveling is spending time outdoors. Exploring new sites, meeting new people, and immersing oneself in a new environment offer rewarding experiences for travelers. Especially for those interested in physical activity and scenic photo opportunities, hiking offers an excellent way for travelers to intimately acquaint themselves with the landscape of another country. The following list contains recommendations for the best countries for hiking worldwide.

First, let’s begin in Europe, a continent known for backpacking and outdoor exploration. France, in particular, offers some of the best hiking trails for international travel enthusiasts. Once departing from the hustle and bustle of France’s better known urban attractions, the French Alps are globally recognized for offering some of the best hiking trails. Depending on the season, the hiking trails in the southeast alps offer diverse terrain and both mountainous and riverside trails. Depending on the season, the trails can display bright autumnal foliage, snow-coated mountain tops, or lush green countryside in the spring. Apart from the alpine trails, France’s sprawling countryside offers scenic walking routes that allow hikers to explore smaller villages that offer cost-effective dining experiences and inexpensive lodging for overnight stays.

Also in Europe, Andorra, a small, elevated country in the Pyrenees Mountains offers many unique hiking routes for outdoor enthusiasts. Because the country is so small, spanning only 180 square miles, it is actually possible to hike through the entire country. The hiking trails in Andorra offer caves, forests, and mountain paths to explore. Many of these trails traverse through untouched natural environments, offering incredible views and photo opportunities. What’s more, hiking aficionados can pass through Andorra en route to either France or Spain for further opportunities to explore the network of European hiking trails.

Outside of Europe, hiking trails in the Americas invite global audiences to experience the outdoors. The United States, in particular, is known for its hiking trails in both the eastern and western coasts. Both the Appalachian and Rocky Mountain trails allow for hikers to explore breathtaking views while traversing natural pathways, nature preserves, and even national parks within the continental United States. Nonetheless, both Alaska and the island state of Hawaii are also noteworthy for their tundra and tropical landscapes respectively. Because the country is so large and offers a range of climates, hiking routes can be planned to include deserts, coastlines, riversides, mountain ridges, and dense forests year round.

In South America, some of the best hiking follows the routes of the ancient Inca people in the Andes Mountains. Some hiking trails in the Andes region are still being discovered; in fact, it was not until roughly 100 years ago that the Inca city Machu Picchu in Peru was discovered by a North American archaeologist. Now, it is a known tourist attraction that contains some of the most popular hiking trails in the world. What makes the Peruvian hiking experience especially unique is its intimate connection with the Inca culture. As such, hikers can interact with descendants of this ancient civilization and learn to appreciate the architectural and cultural legacy that the Inca people have impressed upon this region. In this way, the cultural connection only enriches the hiking experience in the wilderness.