The world's best hiking destinations

Get active after a long winter by visiting the planet's finest rambling regions


We're all tired of winter - the rain, the dark evenings and the occasional flurry of snow offers little incentive to get out from under the blankets and explore the natural world.

So as spring fast approaches and our legs long to be stretched, what better time to book a luxury hiking holiday? Here is Portfolio's guide to some of the world's greatest destinations for taking a long walk.

Umbria, Italy

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To say Italy's hiking regions are well-trodden would be an understatement. From the Cinque Terre to the Amalfi Coast, the coastal breezes and grand cliffs are the perfect complement to lengthy walks along Italy's most famed hiking paths.

That's why we're turning our back on these excessively busy regions and looking inland to Italy's heart.

Gifted with an abundance of quality wines, black truffles and dramatic rolling hills, Umbria is perfect for those wishing to hike in style and peace, away from the flip-flops and tourist traps of the west coast.

At the base of the monumental Monte Subasio, which dominates the landscape, sits the historic city of Assisi, where crowds of Franciscan monks and nuns can be seen in their iconic brown habits. For a five-star stay between days of conquering the lush, green landscape, try the Nun Assisi Relais hotel, where the spa facilities are so spectacular that they double as a museum.

Avon, Colorado, United States

Famed for its ample skiing opportunities in the winter, Avon morphs into one of the world's most elegant hiking resorts in the summer - the Ritz-Carlton even has a five-star hotel here.

Guests can plan out their hiking routes through the beautiful yellow-green of Avon's pine forests while overlooking the mountains from the hotel's Japanese-style outdoor baths.

But that's not all.

"Many people don't know about the best year-round perk: resident dog Bachelor, a Yellow Labrador Retriever, can join you on a hike so long as you book it ahead of time," says Fodors.

Those who don't want to get bogged down in planning can partake in the hotel's Mountain Spa Mornings; a 90-minute morning hike followed by outdoor yoga and a 60-minute outdoor massage.

Stepantsminda, Georgia

Remote, rugged and challenging, Stepantsminda is for the most intrepid globetrotters, but those who do make their way to this extraordinary town will be rewarded with one of the world's most unforgettable hiking experiences.

Nestled in the Terek River Valley near the border with Russia's disputed Chechnya and Ingushetia regions, but at a safe distance from both, Stepantsminda is an austere yet welcoming town, surrounded on all sides by some of the Caucasus Mountains' most breathtaking vistas.

The town is a three-hour drive from the capital Tbilisi, but luxury private cars can be hired on site for a comfortable, smooth journey. Intermediate hikers can then make the ascent to the Gergeti Trinity Church, a stone monastery perched on top of a mountain, while more advanced walkers can continue to the dormant strato-volcano Mount Kazbek, one of the region's most formidable peaks.

Facilities in most of Stepantsminda are primitive, but that is certainly not true of the fabulously equipped Hotel Kazbegi, which offers unforgettable views across the valley and an excellent spa to go with its first-class restaurant.

Guilin & Yangshuo, China

Some of the world's oddest rock formations can be found in southern-most China - giant angular karst mountains that now flank the Li River between the towns of Guilin and Yangshuo and provide a wonderful, if somewhat surreal, backdrop for winding wild hikes.

This enormous and varied region is packed with peaks of all shapes and sizes. Highlights include the Longji Rice Terraces, Moon Hill and the wonderfully named Assembling Dragon Cave, all of which offer ideal hiking experiences, especially in spring, when a thin, refreshing mist often descends and lends a mysterious quality to the landscape.

Hikers can access Guilin or Yangshuo via bus, a newly opened train line or the region's extensive private helicopter network. If you find yourself hotel-hopping along the Li River, be sure to stop at Yangshuo's Li River Resort, where the chic, elegant decor more than matches the fabulous views.

Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The Atlas Mountains are an intimidating, unforgiving range in the brutally hot Moroccan summers, but spring brings seemingly endless days of warm hiking weather followed by cool, breezy nights.

Although there are very few functional settlements in this arid, remote region, Morocco's most luxurious mountain retreat, Kasbah Tamadot, can be found at the base of Mount Toubkal, the range's highest peak. An oasis rising out of the dust, this Virgin-owned hotel doesn't skimp on anything. Portfolio recommends trying one of the opulent Berber Tented Suites - luxury tents decorated with vibrant North African panache, complete with a private jacuzzi.

Down the road sits the tiny village of Imlil, its small size disguising its significance as the main gateway into some of the higher reaches of the Atlas Mountains. Mount Toubkal itself can be climbed from here, although we would recommend only attempting this with an experienced guide and extensive safety precautions.

For those less enamoured with adrenaline rushes, the foothills elsewhere in the valley are perfect for a day's hiking, particularly up near the N'Fiss River.

Fiordland, New Zealand

Fiordland National Park contains some of the southern Alps' most impossibly steep peaks, along with the stark Darran Mountains and their surrounding hills. The hiking opportunities are varied enough in length and difficulty to please anyone who ventures into this astonishing hidden corner of the globe.

Fiordland can seem remarkably intimidating. This is not a typical Alpine landscape of wide rolling valleys and green, sloped foothills; this is difficult, uninvitingly angular terrain where giant granite cliffs and piles of jagged rocks separate glacier-capped peaks. Large sections of this wild wonderland, which includes the world-famous Milford Sound, were mostly inaccessible until the 1950s, when an ambitious tunnel was constructed through the Homer Saddle.

Despite their relative youth, the hiking trails here are among the best on the planet, traversing canyons, crossing rivers and cresting waterfalls. For a hotel experience considerably less intense than the mountains that surround it, try Fiordland Lodge, a contemporary five-star lodge with views across Lake Te Anau to the spiked peaks in the distance.


Yes, you can go hiking in Antarctica, although it goes without saying this is a rather time-consuming way of getting your hill-climbing fix. However, few voyages are as rewarding as one to the frozen continent.

Hop on Quark Expeditions Island Sky ship in Ushuaia, Argentina, and make yourself comfortable in the owner's balcony deluxe cabin as you have a five-day ocean crossing ahead of you.

Carefully planned guided walks are available on the Antarctic Peninsula, giving visitors one of the most memorable hiking experiences money can buy. What's more, you don't need to worry about roughing it in a tent - guests get to return to the fully catered comfort of your luxury cabin at night before sailing down the coast for more hiking. Truly the pinnacle of adventure travel.

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