The World's 10 Best Hiking Cities
You don't have to venture far from downtown to find incredible hikes in these global cities featuring some of the best hiking trails on the planet.
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1: Cape Town, South Africa
Thanks to its location under the shadow of South Africa's iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town has long been a top destination for adventure travelers and hikers alike. Visitors here can spot penguins at Boulders Beach Penguin Colony, hike to dizzying heights at Lion's Head and delve into a hive of lesser-known trails that bring one of Africa's most dynamic landscapes to life.
Planning tips: Lion's Head is the most popular hike in Cape Town, but several others are worth scouting out. Tygerberg Nature Reserve delivers panoramic views of Table Mountain and the city. Kasteelport Hiking Trail places hikers along the coastline among craggy buttresses. Devil's Peak and Skeleton Gorge serve up scrambles to the summit of Table Mountain.
2: Cusco, Peru
Machu Picchu sits in an area filled with other ancient ruins begging to be explored. Though the trek to Peru's top attraction, Machu Picchu, finds its way to the top of many bucket lists, some of Cusco's lesser-known trails are astounding in their own right.
Planning tips: The Incan fortress of Pisac sits just 20 miles from Cusco near the eastern end of Peru's Sacred Valley. Its ruins offer an easy, two-mile hike to help acclimate your lungs to Andean altitudes. Once you're warmed up, make for other Sacred Valley sites like a towering waterfall at the ruins of Pelroyniyoc and Chacan Cave.
3: Tokyo, Japan
One of the world's most bustling cities is secretly one of its best launching pads for hikers. Thanks to Japan's ultra-reliable transportation networks, Tokyo offers up a perfect base camp for day hikes to dizzying views atop Mount Mitake and Mount Fuji, as well as forest bathing jaunts in the Koburi Pass—located in the heart of the city.
Planning tips: Climbing season runs from July to mid-September on Mount Fuji. Japan's most iconic mountain is accesible via bus (2.5 hours) or train (3.5 hours) from Tokyo for about $30 each way. Day hikers with less time should consider a visit to Mount Mitake, which lies just over an hour away by bus.
4: Hong Kong
The hiking in Hong Kong is often eclipsed by the city's unparalleled shopping and entertainment options; but this neon citadel has some of the most accessible hiking of any major city on the planet. Highlighted by the 30-mile Hong Kong Trail, which traces a line hundreds of feet above the skyline below, Hong Kong is an urban hiker's paradise.
Planning tips: The Dragon's Back is the unquestioned king of trails in Hong Kong. Located along section eight of the Hong Kong Trail, this winding path brings hikers to Shek O Peak. There, they can get a birds-eye view of the islands below. Don't skip on the three other major trails located in Hong Kong: the Lantau, Maclehose and Wilson Trails.
5: Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver checks all of the boxes for travelers looking for a laundry list of day hikes in one place. The city serves as a starting point for a host of epic hikes in the Pacific Northwest, and thanks to a thriving food scene, it's the perfect city to recharge after a full day on the trail.
Planning Tips: The trailhead for St. Mark's Summit sits about 30 minutes outside of town by car. This nearly seven mile trek along the Howe Sound Crest Trail harbors jaw-dropping vistas of the Howe Sound. The town of Squamish—just over an hour away by car—offers can't-miss hikes to Garibaldi Lake and Stawamus Chief.
6: Sydney, Australia
Sydney serves up more than a legendary opera house and world-famous surf. Australia's largest city is also home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails offering natural and cultural immersion into the country. Day hikers can easily make a week of the city's Great Coastal Walk. Meanwhile, adventurers bound for the bush will find Sydney an ideal access point for off-the-grid journeys.
Planning tips: The Great Coastal Walk meanders for more than 58 miles, beginning on Sydney's northern beaches and reaching to its southernmost ones. Blue Mountains National Park, Sydney Harbour National Park and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park are all within a two hour drive of Sydney.
7: Queenstown, New Zealand
With bungee jumping, white water rafting, parasailing and luging all within arm's reach, Queenstown is an adventure travel mecca. However, the city is also a hiker's haven featuring a vast array of trailheads just minutes from its urban core.
Planning tips: A trek up 5,700-foot Ben Lomond will deliver 360 degree views of Queenstown's surrounding mountains and lakes. The alpine waters of Lake Alta await atop the aptly-named Remarkables Mountain Range just 25 minutes from town. For iconic photos, make your way up Bob's Peak for its unmatched view of the city below.
8: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Seven percent of Rio de Janeiro is covered in jungle. It's no surprise, then, that this South American hotspot is one of the best urban destinations on the planet to hop on a trail. Get the most out of Rio by going beyond the prerequisite visits to Christ the Redeemer and the beach.
Planning tips: The "twin brothers," Dois Irmãos trail provides sweeping views of most of Rio—including Christ the Redeemer in the distance and several beaches below. The Morro Da Urca trail allows travelers to take a journey 700 feet above the city to Pão de Açuca, a destination most visitors reach via cable car.
9: Portland, Oregon
Visitors to Portland won't need to search far to take a hike. The city is rich with trailheads both inside of its city limits and on the slopes of Mount Hood, just under 80 miles away. An hour's drive in the opposite direction will place you on the sandy shores of Cannon Beach, where a dramatic seascape of fortress-like rock awaits.
Planning tips: Spend a day traversing Portland's Wildwood Trail. This 29-mile path weaves through the city's Forest Park neighborhood. While you're in the area, take a 5-mile detour to Pittock Mansion, a century old home perched above the city.
10: Bern, Switzerland
Switzerland's capital city has long been a portal for hikers seeking a base for exploration of the abundant natural beauty close-at-hand. Bern provides quick access to both easy and strenous trails, from the benign Valley of the 72 Waterfalls to skyscraping mountaintop adventures in the Alps.
Planning tips: In a nation brimming with beautiful trails, the Gantrisch Panoramaweg stands out as one of Switzerland's best. Located on the outskirts of Bern, this winding path cuts through some 30 miles of rural Switzerland under the snowy shadow of the Alps.