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Home » Budget Travel » The 12 Best Places for Adventure Travel Holidays (TOP TRIPS in 2023)
The 12 Best Places for Adventure Travel Holidays (TOP TRIPS in 2023)
Adventure is good. Adventure says a lot about who we are as people. How we interact with it, the kind of adventure we seek, our reasons for doing it… these things woven together tell a story .
The adventure keeps us alive – without it, we stagnate . We work our 9 to 5 so we can come home afterwards, cook dinner, binge Netflix on the couch with our significant other, and then – if we’re lucky and not too tired – a banal quickie before we hit the sack.
Even writing that paragraph gave me an existential crisis .
So what’s the remedy to all that deep-seated nihilistic fear and loathing? Quite simply, an adventure! Nature, adrenaline, dicking around and almost falling off mountaintops: now you’re really living!
So, you’re considering some good ol’ travel adventures. Well, this is the list for you: the 12 best places for an adventure travel holiday . It’s also quite a good list if I do say so myself; at least one offering from every continent!
The activities vary, the environments vary, the budgets vary but the feeling of truly being alive remains the same among these adventure tourism destinations. These are the bucket list trips of a lifetime!
To, you know… distract you from the gnawing meaninglessness of existence.
The 12 Best Places for an Adventure Travel Holiday
What is adventure tourism, safety and ethics of adventure travel, it’s time to go to the best places for adventure travel holidays.
Alright, we’re jumping right into it… the good stuff! The best places for adventure travel across the seven continents!
After the mega-list we’ll get into some nitty-gritty stuff but today I want to give you your dessert before your broccoli. The 12 best places for adventure travel straight off the bat!
They may not necessarily be the most adventurous countries (depending on your perception of ‘adventurous’) but then some, I’d argue, are pretty far out. That’s what I’m saying: we got something for everyone! It’s like Baskin Robbins if Baskin Robbins only had 12 flavours.
Bah, enough loose metaphors – it’s time for the 12 best places for adventure travel – starting with the best!
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#1 Pakistan: The Best Place for Adventure Travel that Makes People Go, “You’re going where!?”
I bet you weren’t expecting this to make the list of the best places for adventure travel holidays!
Yep, let’s talk Pakistan. And before we do, you’re gonna have to leave all your stigmas at the door (along with your shoes, thank you very much)!
Pakistan is one of those places where you’re taking adventure tourism to the next level. It drops a lot of the ‘tourism’ in the process. If your idea of the best adventure holiday is a lot of beautiful nature with a lot of friendly, inquisitive people, it’s worth flying in the face of the status quo and travelling to Pakistan. I mean, that’s the whole point of a travel adventure, right?
You’ll find a lot of trekking in Pakistan with something for everyone. If you’re an avid trekker, the Karakoram range is magnificent and a true feat to experience. There are also more chill day hikes – and then there’s the 18-day trek to the K2 base camp (the second-highest mountain in the world).
You can try going it solo to discover one of the most adventurous countries in the world all by your lonesome. There is certainly some solitude and epic adventure waiting for you!
Even adventure travel is sometimes better shared though!
#2 New Zealand: Adventure Travel With a Bit of Everything!
Time for something a little more standard but no-less downright gorgeous! The good thing about adventure travel in New Zealand is that you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. It’s like seven countries in one neat little package.
Ice-capped mountains? Check. Petrified forests? Check. Prehistoric coastline? Check. Uninhabited fjords? Check.
And that’s just found while road tripping the South Island !
New Zealand’s adventure tourism options have a flavour for everyone!
The Great Walks offer multiple levels of trekking from the well-worn Abel Tasman to the near-undisturbed Stewart Island. Or, you know, you could just walk the entirety of New Zealand – I met a dude that did it without shoes. That’s pretty metal.
But where do you go in New Zealand for the best overall adventure holiday? Easy one, man. You backpack Queenstown : the go-to for adventure travel sports and activities in New Zealand.
You’ve got beautiful weather on the lake in the summer months. Then, come winter, all the snow bums roll in for the powder season. A year-long travel adventure backpacking epicentre!
So what other adventure activities are there? It’s mega-famous for bungy jumping, ziplining, or you can book a skydiving tour. Honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world to do it.
Oh, and if you get bored, beautiful, darling Wanaka is about an hour’s drive away… and it’s way better!
#3 Nepal: Holy Mountains and a Booming Adventure Tourism Industry
The past decade has seen near-consistent growth in tourist arrivals to Nepal.
How come? Hmm, I can’t be certain but it may have something to do with the Himalayas… Nepal is the ‘roof of the world’ after all.
So what type of adventure tourism can you expect from Nepal? Well, again, it’s the Himalayan Mountains… so… a lot of mountaineering. Mind you, this is the final-boss-level mountaineering I’m talking about. The proper hardcore deal.
However, Mount Everest is full of garbage and Nepal is struggling to keep up with its tourism. We’ll cover being a responsible tourist later on, but while we’re talking about Nepal, trek something other than Mt Everest.
You can disappear (safely) into the Annapurna range. This epic trekking loop strikes a nice balance between being both culturally authentic and tourist accessible. But pick your timing right: outside peak season but close to the cusp for the best of both worlds.
Alternatively, just pick a direction and start walking. The further out you get to where the whiteys don’t go, the more spectacular and strange Nepal becomes. The chaos of India slowed down by the pace of mountain life.
I’ve even heard whispers of a pristine ancient lake too; they say… Rara .
And then there is travelling Pokhara . Pokhara, in many ways, is like Queenstown. Only it’s slower, it’s more chill, and you smoke hash instead of greenery.
There’s a lot of adventure tourism activities around Pokhara now (as the industry has grown). You can learn to Paraglide , go trekking, and there’s some dope rafting around too.
#4 Costa Rica: Adventure Travel that’s Pura Vida
Costa Rica – the birthplace of the zipline. So, now you know number one on your list of adventure activities to do in Costa Rica.
Backpacking Costa Rica has got a lot to offer the adventure traveller: jungles, beaches, volcanoes. The nature in Costa Rica is one of the reasons that Costa Rica has remained one of the world’s best places for adventure travel for so long.
Its natural magnetism to travellers and ex-pats alike has made Costa Rica both a fantastic and varied place to travel. It’s also caused its prices to rise and become one of the more expensive choices for adventure holidays you can take while travelling Central America .
The trade-off? It’s the goddamn birthplace of the zipline, remember?
Picture this: you’re cruising along at a cool 70km/hr. Beneath you, the rippling greens of the jungle canopy blur together. At the end of the line, a crew of trained squirrel monkeys await your arrival, a chilled refresco and caramel flan in hand. Ok, I made that last bit up (but I’m a writer , don’t you know).
La Fortuna is your best destination for adventure tourism in Costa Rica. It’s a small town close to the piercing Arenal Volcano (which is an absolutely magnificent creature). In the area, you’ll find hiking, canyoning, rafting, and of course, the jungle zipline!
And, if you’re more of a beach person, head towards Costa Rica’s coast for snorkelling and scuba diving action.
#5 USA: The Adventure Travel MECCA
Heading north from Central America takes us to… North America. Yeah, that makes sense.
What will you find while exploring the USA?
A lot of flag-waving patriots who chase tornadoes and pull their own teeth out on account of the lack of medical insurance. Anyway, other than that, you’ll find SO MUCH epic, adventure travel!
The big, bold, and beautiful US of A is chock full of adventurous places to visit .
So, where to travel for adventures in the USA? God, what do you like? Canyons, mountains, coasts, great lakes, rivers, prairies… it’s all there.
- Moab (Utah) takes the top pick as one of the best places for an adventure vacation in the USA. It is the go-to for mountain biking with courses ranging from the beginner all the way up to the ‘holy shit, I might die’ . You’ll also find heaps of sweet rafting, ATV driving, horseback riding… it’s an adrenaline junkie’s desert playground!
- Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) has hiking and hot springs. That’s a no brainer! Anywhere that has hot springs is going to make for a top trip.
- Colorado: home of the Rocky Mountains! What do you get there? Mate, were you not listening; I just told you – the Rocky Mountains! Hikes, rock climbing, and legal bud; it may just be heaven-on-earth.
- Yosemite National Park, California : is the impossible-to-not-mention choice. The undisputed king of the USA’s national parks featuring the truly staggering peaks of free-soloing ‘What’s a rope?’ Alex Honnold fame.
The USA is blisteringly beautiful. It’s also blisteringly expensive! Visiting two national parks in day can run you $70+ in entry fees.
Orrrr… you kick those entry fees to the curb, buy an annual ‘America the Beautiful Pass’ for $79.99, and get unlimited access to ALL 2000+ federally managed sites in the States totally FREE!
You do the math. 😉
#6 Argentina: Adventure Travel at the End of the World
If you head in the other direction from Central America (by which I mean south) you get to travelling South America . That also makes sense.
There are a lot of kick-ass destinations for adventure trips in South America: Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador jump to mind. But Argentina has Patagonia. And I’m all about those harsh, sparsely populated wildernesses.
This idea for adventure travel is not for the faint of heart – you’re heading into challenging terrain. Look at a map of Argentina. You’re nearly at the bottom of the world. But challenging is the whole point, right?
And backpacking Patagonia is only one region of Argentina you need to explore. It’s a big damn country with a lot of cool places to see (the Ibera Wetlands come to mind).
Argentina is so big and so damn gorgeous that it’s picking up steam as one of the best places for adventure travel in a van. Van life is preferred by many scroungy vagabonds – because a van makes perfect sense for an adventure vacation on a budget.
The northernmost point to the southernmost point of the land at the end of the world… now that’s a journey idea!
#7 Canada: Adventure Travel With a Dash of Solitude
Since we’re talking about vast, harsh, sparsely populated wildernesses, we should talk about Canada. You’ve got a lot of chill places and cool cities in Canada ( like Vancouver )… and then you head into the great outdoors and oh wow!
It’s mega pretty .
What kind of extreme adventure vacations can you get up to in Canada? Well… that depends on how extreme you’re willing to go.
For something fun but with a low chance of death, there’s skiing and snowboarding at a resort such as Whistler. Hit the slopes and then get all the perks of a ski-town: loud parties and hordes of drunk Australians. Don’t worry, we’ve got awesome hostel suggestions for budget adventurers too!
Oh, you wanted something with a high chance of death? Sorry, I misheard you. How about ice-climbing UP A FROZEN WATERFALL! How’s that for an extreme adventure vacation? It’s your very own Tom Cruise movie!
Banff is one of your best adventure travel destinations in Canada. You’ll find the aforementioned ice-climbing there (yesssss) plus a bunch of other cool shit: national parks to adventure in , hot springs, and skiing.
North from Banff (and not too far by Canadian standards) is Jasper National Park with more wilderness and hikes. If it’s solitude that you’re seeking in your adventure travels, then travelling the Canadian wilderness has what you need.
Just watch out for bears. Although, they make a spray for that.
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#8 Mongolia: Adventure Travel With The OG Nomads
This is one of the best adventure holidays in Asia as far as I’m concerned. It’s a long-time dream of mine: to ride a horse on the plains of Mongolia. I haven’t done it yet – timing is important – so I’m recommending you to do it.
Why? Well, if you want to truly call yourself a nomad, then you gotta be a damn nomad! You need a horse on the plateaus of Mongolia. You need to search for water for your travelling companion and shoot at horse thieves with your bow.
I met a good dude in New Zealand. He’d never ridden a horse before and he was curious, so he went to Mongolia and made his very own horseback adventure tour. Now that is bad-ass!
Seriously though, Mongolia is a country of beautiful yet unforgiving terrain and the Mongolian people have unlocked its secrets, able to live nomadically and tend livestock amongst its deserts, plains, and hills. It’s also smack-bang between Russia and China so wherever you go, you’ll be off the beaten track .
If you’re interested in Mongolian culture, I’d recommend being there in October. Every year in the first week of October is the Golden Eagle Festival where you can see skill contests in archery, wrestling and eagle hunting. Not hunting eagles but hunting with eagles – they’re the OG nomads, man!
#9 China: The Other Best Place for Adventure Travel that Makes People Say, “You went where!?”
Good ol’ communist China: the antithesis to the American Dream. It’s like going to another planet so, if you can’t get ‘off the beaten track’ there, you’re probably doing something wrong. China is a hit with backpackers in search of adventure!
You’ll almost always be mildly-to-noticeably uncomfortable which makes for some of the most character-building adventure holidays for both single travellers and couples. It’s also a solid destination choice for a cheap adventure holiday. It’s not as cheap as, say, Nepal, but it’s cheaper than most people realise (especially if you’re camping in nature ).
So, what kind of adventure activities await in China? Well, trekking galore; I’ve heard the Great Wall is kind of long and, yup, you can camp on it! Or you can visit Tiger Leaping Gorge or Mount Huashan which is considered one of the most dangerous hiking trails in the world. Deadly hiking in China – now that’s an extreme adventure vacation!
I mean, hell, just buy a bicycle and see how far you can get across the supreme landscape. It’s China, you’re pretty much guaranteed an adventure no matter where you go!
#10 Zimbabwe: Adventure Travel With a Touch of Sun and Crocodiles
There’s three more entries on our list and three more continents to explore. Let’s make a shift over to Africa now… to Zimbabwe! Africa is one hell of a trip that will always make you laugh!
If we’re talking Zimbabwe adventures, we’re talking Victoria Falls. Oh, the falls? They’re drop-dead breathtakingly ‘life is beautiful’ gorgeous. Absolutely stunning.
Victoria Falls has built itself up as the best adventure holiday destination in Africa. You’ll find a huge scope of adventure activities in Victoria Falls including bungy-jumping, gorge-swinging, flying foxes, rapid rafting (I’m talking those infamous grade V and VI options), and cage diving with crocodiles. Diving with crocs… it’s an adrenaline junkie’s paradise!
It’s also warm – with swimming involved! It’s a nice change of pace from the freezing-cold murderous wildernesses I keep sending you to (just wait for the last two entries on this list, muahahaha)!
And since you’re in Zimbabwe (and how often do you end up over that way, realistically) maybe explore the rest of the country. Victoria Falls is surrounded by gorgeous national parks and there are plenty of adventure safari tours to partake in.
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#11 Scandinavia: Adventure Travel With Freedom to Roaaaaam
Right, let’s talk about adventure holidays you can have while backpacking Europe. Are we talking about the stunning (and warm) Amalfi Coast or the tranquil (and warm) beaches of Portugal? Hah, nope, it’s back to freezing your tits off. Apparently, adventure is best served cold.
I think the reasons to send you to Scandinavia should be relatively obvious: a massive and untamed wilderness of eclectic beauty that will bitchslap you upside the face if you don’t respect it. Just my type. 😉
But, there’s another reason: something called “freedom to roam” . Laws vary by location and discussions on environmental impact is important but it is, I feel, the way adventure travel should be.
Every human has the right to disappear into nature and just be. Just be without electricity, and goddamn Wi-Fi, and the white noise of the world. Time to just spend some time without your phone, and straight-up forest bathing.
So if you’re looking for the best places to escape alone, the Scandinavian/Nordic countries have got you covered. If you’re also looking for the best adventure holidays for couples, you should consider Scandinavia because everybody knows that disappearing into the wilderness for weeks at a time is better with someone that lets you touch their butt.
Where are you going? Wherever you damn well please, that’s my point. Take a compass. And if you don’t feel like walking then saddle up a reindeer – and go disappear… safely. Light a campfire (legally) and watch the stars and the lights in the northern sky which no man owns no matter how much they wish they did.
#12 Antarctica: The Final Boss of Your Adventure Travels
I said we were going to all seven continents, right? I also said adventure is best served cold.
Yes, you can do adventure travel in Antarctica. Yes, it is more expensive than anything else on this list and no you can’t go unguided unless you break away from your tour group ( NOT a good idea). This is about the most extreme adventure trip you can take until Elon Musk sorts out that whole space/moon tourism thing. But, let’s be real, do we really want him to?
Most Antarctica tours involve a cruise and will take you to and around parts of the continent – usually, the Antarctic peninsula which is pretty damn close to Argentina (hence the ‘land at the end of the world’ thing). Some of them will also take you to the Falkland Islands which are super damn pretty.
Now, you could always shore up your boat life skills and test the hell out of yourself and your crew by sailing there…
Either way, you can expect a lot of wildlife watching as well as some adventure activities alongside such as kayaking, scuba diving, and paddle-boarding. Notice how all those activities had some relation to the freezing-cold water…
Yep, that’s what to expect from Antarctica: desolation, magnificence, and feeling permanently cold all the time. But hot damn if she’s not gorgeous.
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Now I’m giving you your broccoli. You don’t have to eat it; you do you, man.
Depending on where you look, you’ll find several definitions of adventure tourism. Of course, as we all know, stuffy definitions created by stuffy people don’t often encapsulate the whole truth. But we need to talk about the consequences of these stuffy definitions.
In 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay were the first ever to summit Mount Everest. Now, just over 65 years later (less than the lifespan of a person) over 8000 people have summited the peak.
Now, there’s something to be said about the advantages and disadvantages of adventure tourism but it doesn’t help with our definition for the purpose of this article. Thus, I’ve decided on three criteria to define adventure travel by:
- There’s some level of an inherent risk involved i.e. injury or death is increased in likelihood by the activity.
- The activity revolves around interaction and interplay with nature and the outdoors.
- There is a market, sub-culture, and level of commercial gain behind the activity.
The adventure activity can be guided or unguided; paid for or free; and range anywhere from death is a slim possibility to ‘Dude, who gets your PlayStation when you die?’ .
But, generally speaking, your best places for adventure travel are going to be marketed as primo adventure tourism holiday destinations. With that comes all the perks and caveats of a place well-worn by tourists.
I’d also like to define the difference between adventure travel and a journey . Hitchhiking across China, walking through the Middle-East, or backpacking around South Africa are all great journeys (and some of my ultimate bucket list ideas), but they’re not adventure travel holidays since they’re not primarily driven by the purpose of tourism. That’s a personal journey, mate!
Types of Adventure Tourism: Hard Adventure Activities
Ok, so seriously, if you want to discuss types of adventure travel, there are lots of ways to break it down and a lot of different sub-categories. That’s the point of my criteria above and my separation of a ‘journey’ and ‘adventure travel’ .
One of my favourite types of journeying (which many would rightfully consider adventure travel) is overland travel (i.e. no planes). However, telling you to start in Japan and finish in Italy without using planes wouldn’t make for a very appealing article. It does, however, make for a seriously dope journey!
So, the first category of adventure tourism activities that we’re going to talk about are the ‘hard’ type. Generally, the activities defining this category pose a sizeable risk… of death.
When you’re partaking in these adventure travel ideas, generally it’s better to know what you’re doing to avoid that whole ‘dying young’ thing:
- Ice Climbing
- Base Jumping
- Bear Fighting
For the record, I made that last one up… I hope…
Types of Adventure Tourism: Soft Adventure Activities
These examples of adventure tourism tend to be less hazardous and generally less dangerous than fighting a bear on an ice mountain while wearing a wingsuit. They have lower overall death-related statistics and your mum isn’t going to complain as much when you tell her what you’ve been up to.
It’s worthy to note that most of these activities’ risks can be mitigated by having a professional guide or partaking in some sort of adventure holiday tour. Conversely, the risks can be heightened (i.e. made more fun) by pushing the limits of the activity, often upgrading it to a hard adventure activity. Try rafting some grade VI rapids and you’ll see what I mean:
- Bungee jumping
- Mountain biking
Obviously, this far from a complete list but it does give you an idea for what you’re in for when visiting some of the best places in the world for adventure travel… that being a whole lotta fun!
Why Visit the Best Places for Adventure Travel?
Well, I feel I sorta already addressed that with the whole ‘combatting the existential abyss inside your soul’ thing but, yeah, there are other reasons too.
It’s about the challenge. Sure, the advent of the adventure tourism industry mitigates the challenge somewhat (see the above example of Mount Everest) but it’s still an adventure – it’s in the name, after all!
And it’s your adventure! Take it as far and as dangerous as you like. You do you.
It’s about growth : growth through hardship. Learning to take things in stride. Learning that things, most of the time, will be ok. You just have to keep moving.
It’s about getting dirty. Because, everybody knows, being covered in dirt, and mud, and scratches, and leeches makes you appreciate a hot shower just a little more.
And, it’s about contentment. It’s about, one day, when you’re eighty years old and nestled in your rocking chair reminiscing on the life you’ve lived, you can say: “Yeah, that was pretty good. I’d say, overall, I did a good job – 7 out of 10… oh, maybe a 7.5.”
You could think of your travels as a way to create a lifetime reel of memories to spin into epic yarns to bother your grandkids with…
But adventure travel is also about connecting to life and our planet, which, in case you hadn’t heard, is pretty bloody gorgeous.
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Right, so that’s your dessert: 12 of the best places for adventure travel across the seven continents of our world. And some damn fine choices too, if I do say so myself!
And you ate your broccoli. Good, I’m proud of you. No, you can’t have a second dessert! But you can have some more broccoli. 😉
So, before you inevitably go and tear it up snowboarding, rafting, or bear fighting, I’d like to touch on a few more things to note. A few practical considerations of the environment, taking care of yourself, and just generally not being a knob-jockey while you’re engaging in your Evel Knievel ways.
Toursim: the Double Edged Sword
This topic is really deserving of (and has many) socio-ecological research papers, but it goes without saying that adventure tourism has an impact. Think about Pokhara in Nepal: what was once considered one of the most mystical places in Nepal is now a bustling city that is known as its ‘tourism capital’.
But, again, think about Pokhara: a city that was once only accessible by foot is now one of the most affluent cities in Nepal. It’s a huge metropolis that garners a large amount of revenue for a developing nation and supplies jobs and a better quality of life for many people. It’s here that you start to wonder: is budget travel ethical?
Tourism is a double-edged sword and adventure tourism only takes a whetstone to the blade. As per my original definition, it usually entails some form of interaction with the natural environment and, as you may have noticed, it also usually involves some form of interaction with cultures unaccustomed to the West. Which means they are unaccustomed to – let’s say – the ugly side of Western tourism.
So be a good dude; it’s just that simple. Nothing grandiose – just stay aware, be responsible, and be respectful. Be respectful of other cultures and the people there; their sole purpose in life is not to make sure our one-week-itinerary travel adventure trips blows up on the socials.
And be respectful of our environment. It was here long before we were carving it up with snowboards and mountain bikes and it’ll be here long after it’s wiped us all out for carving it up with snowboards and mountain bikes.
Past that, you do you. You know how to be a good human. And if you’re travelling and not being a good human… it’s only a matter of time until someone – local, traveller, or Mama Nature herself – sorts you out.
Travel Insurance for Best Places for Adventure Travel Holidays
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That’s it. The whole list. If you do one of these ultimate bucket list ideas , well done. If you do all 12… geez, dude, legend; you’re a braver human than me.
So, what are my final thoughts on the 12 best adventure holidays in the world? Honestly, I think I’ve touched on all of it already.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re after a cheap adventure holiday, an extreme vacation, or a journey away from where all tours can take you. Just remember, that it’s the adventure that connects us to travel and to life.
Just remember that adventure is awesome. And that it keeps us alive. And that it is these stories that you’ll be telling your grandkids one day. So make them grand and beautiful and dangerous and filled with plot twists.
Tell a good story.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
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28 Adventures to Travel For, From Glacier Chasing in Greenland to Sand Surfing in the Sahara
By Caitlin Morton
As much as we love lounging on a faraway beach or revisiting our favorite city for the tenth time, sometimes our passports need some adventure travel—we’re talking about those once-in-a-lifetime trips that push us way outside our comfort zones. Adventure travel is a great way to see more of the world, while also testing your physical limits, and coming home with a lifetime's worth of stories to tell at parties.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most incredible outdoor adventures for intrepid travelers, ranging from climbing Machu Picchu to skydiving in Dubai . Even if you don’t consider yourself a daredevil, you’ll still find activities that feel exciting (hello, camping under the northern lights) without too much physical—or emotional—exertion required. So fasten your seatbelts, grab your best pair of hiking boots , and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.
Boat under the Iguazú Falls
South America’s Iguazú Falls, located on the border of Brazil and Argentina, make all other waterfalls look like mere trickles in comparison. The system of more than 200 cascades (reaching heights of around 270 feet) can be viewed from surrounding walkways and catwalks, but we’re fans of the more adventurous vantage-point—hopping on an Iguazú Jungle inflatable raft and sailing directly under the exhilarating, high-pressure falls.
Climb to Machu Picchu
No adventurer’s must-visit list is complete without Machu Picchu , the famous Incan citadel located in the Andes. While the site can be accessed via train and bus, more active travelers can take the five-day trek along the entire 26-mile-long Inca Trail. Or, thanks to local tour operator Sam Travel Peru , you can get dropped at kilometer marker 104 and do the whole experience in 24 hours .
Sand surf in the Sahara
The dunes of the Sahara are colossal, untouched, and tailor-made for extreme sports. The desert’s rows of barchans (meaning “crescent-shaped dunes” in Turkic) have ideal shapes for sand surfing (descending the slopes on a surfboard) and sandboarding (descending the slopes on a snowboard)—and those views don’t hurt, either. Stay at Erg Chigaga Luxury Camp in Morocco, which offers sandboarding in addition to other desert activities like camel rides and quad biking.
Heli-hike in British Columbia
With CMH Heli + Skiing , you can helicopter to the steepest and deepest powder in Canada for backcountry skiing. However, come summer , the company’s guides take guests on multi-day hiking trips to terrain otherwise inaccessible, along ridgelines, through alpine meadows, and to stunning viewpoints. While these high-altitude adventures are not for the faint at heart, the accommodations are quite comfortable, with log-hewn lodges complete with full-service restaurants, spa treatments, and a rooftop hot tub to relax in before another day on the trail.
Hot air balloon over Cappadocia
A hot air balloon ride over central Turkey’s Cappadocia region provides 360-degree views of the famous limestone spires and “fairy chimneys”—something you can't get at the ground level. We recommend booking with Kapadokya Balloons , the first company that introduced hot air balloon tourism in Cappadocia. Services include transfers to and from your hotel, snacks, full insurance, and a champagne party after the flight.
Hunt for glaciers in Greenland
Greenland is relatively expensive and tricky to get to, but well worth the effort—especially since it’s one of the most untouched landscapes on the planet. Exhibit A: the hundreds-year-old icebergs and glaciers floating off the mainland, which you can get up close and personal with during a cruise excursion. ( Hurtigruten and Cruise Norway offer these sailings.)
Hop across Botswana on a mobile safari
While most safari camps stay in one place like a traditional hotel, the private canvas safaris by Barclay Stenner Safaris are totally mobile, meaning you can pick up and move locations based on weather conditions and wildlife movements. The outfitter’s Botswana itinerary moves across the country to fauna-rich areas like the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans—get ready to follow groups of lions, hippos, elephants, and more.
Paraglide over Turkey’s Blue Lagoon
Oludeniz has one of the most beautiful beaches in Turkey, with pebble shores and a “blue lagoon” of aquamarine hues. The beach also happens to be one of the world's best places to paraglide, thanks to stable weather and gorgeous panoramic views. The launch site for most companies is from Babadağ mountain, with jumping-off points reaching 6,000 feet above sea level.
Explore the Great Barrier Reef
Divers and snorkelers everywhere need to experience the Great Barrier Reef at least once in their lifetime. Not only does the site have more than 400 different types of coral and 1,500 species of fish, but the natural wonder has been rapidly eroding due to coral bleaching and global warming . That means it’s more urgent than ever to see this sight in all its glory—and to understand what we are losing.
Swim through Mexico’s cenotes
Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula features a wealth of unique natural beauty, particularly when it comes to its cavernous cenotes. Floating in one of these natural sinkholes is an incredible experience, as is diving through the underground cave systems . When in Tulum , visit Dos Ojos (“Two Eyes”) to view one of the planet’s most beautiful underwater sites or Gran Cenote for rock formations that resemble Gothic architecture.
Free-fall over Dubai at 120 miles per hour
Dubai is one of the most over-the-top cities in the world, so are you really surprised that skydiving is one of its most popular activities? Skydive Dubai is a company located near Jumeirah Beach, offering tandem skydiving for beginners and solo jumps for licensed divers. If you thought Dubai’s skyline was impressive already, just wait until you see it while falling from 13,000 feet in the air.
Scale Half Dome at Yosemite National Park
The Half Dome trail through Yosemite may be one of the most intense hikes you’ll ever take, stretching for 16 miles and ascending more than 5,500 feet. The final 400 feet are the trickiest—hikers must climb up the steep slope with two steel cables as their only support—but the breathtaking views from the top make the effort (and terror) worth it. Afterwards, stay at The Ahwahnee, one of the most beautiful national park hotels in the country.
Swim with great white sharks in South Africa
The fishing town of Gansbaai is often considered to be the birthplace of great white shark cage diving, an activity that would make most adrenaline junkies drool. Cage diving is totally safe (despite what some low-budget shark movies might lead you to believe), but we dare you to keep your heart rate in check as you come face-to-face with an apex predator. Marine Dynamics is one of the most popular cage diving operators in town, with a marine biologist and videographer joining every tour.
Bungee jump in New Zealand
New Zealand practically invented adventure sports when the Kawarau Bridge Bungy opened in 1988. Here you join around 38,000 annual visitors to take the 140-foot jump from the South Island's historic, steel-framed Kawarau Bridge—an activity in which the views are almost as thrilling as the fall itself.
Climb Mount Fuji
Solitary Mount Fuji is probably Japan’s most iconic natural wonder , rising 12,388 feet above villages and reflecting on lakes’ surfaces. You can get views of the landmark from many places, like Lake Kawaguchi in Fujikawaguchiko and even the Park Hyatt Tokyo , but it’s the views from the mountain that will give you the most bragging rights. Visit from early July to mid-September to take advantage of the official climbing season, when the designated trails and paved roads are free of snow.
Go volcano boarding on Cerro Negro in Nicaragua
If you’re looking for action sports and adventure, we recommend booking a flight to Nicaragua right now. There you can kayak, surf, zipline through the jungle, and even sled down the side of an active volcano. Intrepid travelers love to climb up the 2,388-foot Cerro Negro and then “volcano board” back down (an activity where you sit or stand on a piece of plywood and slide your way down the slopes). You'll want to go with a guided group tour with this one. Bigfoot Hostels is one of many operators for excursions—for $25, you get transportation to the volcano, boards, safety equipment, snacks, and your speed clocked by a radar gun.
Take a white-knuckle drive in Norway
Who says your adrenaline can’t pump from the comfort of your car? Trollstigen is one of the world’s most popular (and terrifying ) highways, known for its steep gradient and hairpin turns. The one-lane road passes such impressive wonders as the 1,050-foot Stigfossen waterfall, but be sure to pull over before you gawk and snap photos. There are several viewing platforms along the road that will let you take in the sites without risking a crash.
Dive Belize’s Great Blue Hole
Known for its circular shape and strikingly deep blue color , the Great Blue Hole is a 1,000-foot-wide sinkhole in the middle of Belize’s Lighthouse Reef. While an aerial shot is enough to convince anyone of its beauty, scuba divers are the ones who get to experience the wonders that lie beneath: massive, 40-foot limestone stalactites and stalagmites that formed during the last glacial period.
Go canyoning in the Azores
Portugal’s Azores Islands are equal parts adventurous and beautiful, inviting travelers to get up close and personal with nature while hiking, biking, and swimming. If you want to really push the envelope, try canyoning—an activity that has you rappel down a waterfall while navigating slippery rocks and fast-flowing water. Azores Getaways offers a comprehensive and easy-to-book experience. Training, equipment, on-site instructors, and snacks are all included in the excursion, which will no doubt become one of the most memorable of your life.
Kayak through Torres del Paine National Park
Chile’s Patagonia region is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, and there are plenty of ways to explore the area. But while most people experience the sights while hiking, you can get a slightly different view from the water via a kayaking trip. Kayak en Patagonia offers several tour options ranging in duration and difficulty levels, but all let you paddle past towering mountains, rugged glaciers, and other incredible vistas.
Sleep under the northern lights
Ah, the elusive northern lights . So many factors are at play when it comes to seeing the technicolor phenomenon—location, time of year, weather conditions—but it’s hard to lose with an excursion to Finnish Lapland. The Arctic area is one of the planet’s best for aurora viewing, especially if you get to sleep in an igloo hotel at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort or mobile Aurora Bubble Sled . Up your viewing chances by planning a trip between December and March.
Go heli-skiing in Alaska
If you’re a seasoned traveler who’s conquered every black diamond slope in North America, there’s still one snowy adventure left to vanquish: heli-skiing. There’s nothing quite like hopping in a helicopter and being dropped onto untouched snow at the top of a mountain—especially in a setting as formidable as Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. The experienced guides at Valdez Heli Ski Guides (VHSG) will help make this dream a reality, taking you to some of the best runs of your life and then letting you unwind (hot tub and massages included) at the cozy Tsaina Lodge .
Snorkel between continents in Iceland
Iceland is one of the best countries in the world for adventure travel , with opportunities for everything from glacier hiking to snorkeling and diving. For the latter, head straight to Thingvellir National Park along the country’s Golden Circle route , where two tectonic plates slowly pull apart at the rate of about two centimeters (0.8 inches) per year. The phenomenon results in the Silfra fissure, a stunning rift valley where travelers can snorkel or dive in impossibly clear (and cold) waters. Tour company DIVE.IS offers tours for divers and every level of snorkeler—including those with no prior experience—and will snap an underwater photo of you touching two continents at the same time.
Float along the Amazon
Some remote destinations are best seen from the deck of a boat, and that includes the upper Amazon River. Aqua Expeditions ’ luxury cruises through the Peruvian stretch of the river tour the area’s wildlife and culture at a delightful, leisurely pace. You'll even have chef-prepared gourmet meals and five-star suites with floor-to-ceiling windows. Looking for something a little less luxe? Amazon Adventures offers kayaking trips along some Amazon tributaries, where you can fish for piranhas and camp out in the rainforest.
Surf ‘The Pipeline’ in Oahu
Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline (commonly referred to as The Pipeline) is easily one of the most sought-after surfing spots in the world. Located off the coast of the island’s north shore in Ehukai Beach Park, the surf reef break averages waves measuring nine feet high. This activity is definitely not for beginners, but even non-surfers will get a thrill out of watching the many surf competitions that take place at The Pipeline—all from the safety of a sunny beach.
Spot elusive wildlife in the Great Bear Rainforest
Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world—and one of the most magical, with elusive species like sea wolves and Kermode bears roaming its 21 million acres. Outer Shores Expeditions will take you on a nine-day excursion aboard a schooner, departing from British Columbia’s First Nations community of Bella Bella and stopping for sea kayaking along the way.
Soak in the planet’s most extreme infinity pool
Located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls attracts thousands of tourists each year. One of the biggest draws here is the Devil’s Pool , a naturally formed eddy sitting at the very edge of the falls, where daring swimmers can splash around between August and January (depending on water levels, that is). Given that a slippery rock barrier is the only thing separating you from going over the edge, this site is easily the planet’s most extreme infinity pool .
Camp in Antarctica
Antarctica is truly the final frontier when it comes to adventure travel, providing untouched landscapes, unique wildlife, and more activities than you’ll know what to do with (like cruising, caving, and thermal spring soaking , to name a few). If you can get yourself to Punta Arenas, Chile, Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions will fly you to Antarctica for three days of skiing and hiking before setting you up for a South Pole sleepover.
The World Is Huge. Don't Miss Any Of It
14 of the most adventurous places to travel
written by Georgia Stephens
The world has never been more accessible than it is today, so your next big adventure is easily within reach. If you’re ready to climb craggy peaks, dodge polar bears or get deep into the jungle, these intrepid destinations should be at the top of your list.
Atacama Desert, Chile
Ciudad perdida (lost city), colombia, the gobi steppe, mongolia, tongariro national park, new zealand, longyearbyen, svalbard, norway, papua new guinea, mahale mountains national park, tanzania, myeik archipelago, myanmar, the galapágos islands, ecuador, the dolomites, italy, northern territory, australia, hemis national park, india, north korea.
For an out-of-this-world adventure, look no further than the Atacama Desert in western Chile . With jagged ravines, billowing geysers and arid salt flats, there’s an extra-terrestrial quality to its landscapes that NASA once harnessed to field test Martian rovers. As one of the driest places on the planet, there’s very little in the way of human development surrounding its barren plains. That said, the resulting lack of light pollution makes the sky perfect for stargazing.
Deep in the jungle-swathed mountains of Sierra Nevada lies La Ciudad Perdida, Colombia ’s fabled ruined city dubbed “the new Machu Picchu”. Built in 800AD by the indigenous Tayrona tribes, it was abandoned following a run-in with Spanish conquistadors and largely forgotten, until looters rediscovered it in the 1970s. You’ll need to make like Indiana Jones if you want to see it for yourself, as the high-altitude trek up involves a three-day trudge through humid cloudforest.
The Gobi Steppe was once home to some of the largest herds of horses the world has ever seen, and even today there’s barely a trace of human activity. Nomads live here in felt tents called gers , and you can channel your inner Genghis Khan with a ride on a Mongol horse and a hearty bowl of airag (fermented mare’s milk). Head to Ulaanbaatar in July for the Naadam festival, where locals compete in macho sports like wrestling and horseracing.
Set atop volcanic fields, the landscapes of the Tongariro National Park almost seem alive. Vents hiss with gas, scree slopes shift under tumbling rocks and geothermal springs emit thick wafts of sulphur – altogether, the effect is otherworldly. The park is home to New Zealand ’s top day-trek, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which makes for a great adventure. You can hike past emerald lakes and steaming craters before reaching Mount Ngauruhoe, which featured as Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings.
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Svalbard is one of Europe’s last great wildernesses, an untamed Norwegian archipelago 650 miles from the North Pole, where polar bears outnumber people and stocky reindeer regularly trundle into town. The primary settlement, Longyearbyen, sits high above the Arctic Circle amid rocky crags and ice-clogged fjords. It spends several months of the year in the eerie darkness of the polar night, which is perpetual during this time save for the ethereal glow of the northern lights.
Papua New Guinea has stunning snow-capped mountains and jungles teeming with birds of paradise, yet it’s still largely undiscovered. One of the highlights here is attending a sing-sing , when local tribes don colourful headdresses in a celebration. Travelling here is tricky due to the lack of infrastructure, so it’s best to take an experienced guide – many tribes speak their own languages and have only recently been in touch with the outside world.
© Michal Knitl/Shutterstock
Beside Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania, Mahale Mountains National Park is arguably the best place to track Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees. There are around a thousand living here in the lowland forests, including the habituated Mimikere or ‘M’ group. But reaching them is no easy task: the journey involves a steep and strenuous climb through dense vegetation. As Tanzania’s most remote national park, Mahale Mountains has no roads and is only reachable by boat or chartered flight.
For years, the jungle-clad Myeik Archipelago in southern Myanmar was completely off-limits to outsiders, and even today only tour boats are permitted. The unspoiled group of around 800 islands is home to the Moken sea gypsies, who cruise the tropical bay in kabang boats and free dive for pearl oysters and sea slugs. It’s unclear how long the islands will remain untouched, with investors lining up to kick-start development. For now, getting here is still very much an adventure.
While historic tales of polar exploration are fraught with shipwrecks and disasters, Antarctica is rapidly emerging as a popular adventure travel destination. The native wildlife is one of its principal draws – with seals and macaroni penguins living on land and killer whales patrolling the deep – as is the chance to do the Polar Plunge, where you dive into freezing waves amid gigantic, tabular icebergs. Naturally, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Once considered a forbidding archipelago, the Galapágos Islands only came to the fore when Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species . The unique wildlife here has evolved to be fearless, stemming from the lack of predators on the volcanic isles, so you can easily snorkel with marine iguanas or share the rocky outcrops with groups of giant tortoises. The islands have recently become more popular, but strict controls on tourists mean the human footprint is kept to a minimum.
© Discover Marco/Shutterstock
The Dolomites in the northern Italian Alps have one of the highest concentrations of via ferrata in the world, giving hikers access to the craggy peaks without the need for high-tech equipment. The steel cables, ladders and suspended bridges are free to use, though you’ll need a good head for heights – many will take you along exposed mountainsides past sheer drops. They vary in difficulty but, at the very least, you should expect a tough climb lasting several hours.
With stifling heat, sun-baked landscapes and crocodile-infested waterways, the Northern Territory is Australia at its rawest. The waterfront city of Darwin is the gateway to the Outback, and from here you can adventure deep into the Red Centre in search of one of the world’s most remote natural wonders – Uluru, the iconic six hundred-million-year-old monolith. You can hit the dusty russet trails in a 4x4 along the way, stopping to admire Aboriginal rock art or the odd passing cassowary.
Snow leopards may be notoriously tricky to spot in the wild, but Hemis National Park is rapidly establishing itself as a big cat hotspot. Join a guided tour and you can clamber across punishing terrain at dizzyingly high altitudes, pitching camp along the route and using binoculars to search for tracks in the snow. The best time to go is during winter, when the leopards roam lower to the ground – though bear in mind that temperatures hover around -10.
© Mogens Trolle/Shutterstock
Tetchy and unpredictable, the communist state of North Korea only recently opened its doors to visitors with its own unique brand of totalitarian tourism. Currently it’s only possible to travel by bus with two state-approved guides, who will lead a sugarcoated tour and do their best to prevent you from chatting to locals. Even so, some intrepid travellers can’t resist getting an insight into the world’s most secretive country – however bizarre and unsettling it may be.
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Best of the World: seven adventure destinations for 2022 and beyond
New Brunswick, Canada.
If you’re looking for inspiration, editors from National Geographic Traveller titles around the world have picked the planet’s 35 most exciting destinations for travel in 2022. Five categories — Adventure, Culture and History, Nature, Family and Sustainability — frame unforgettable experiences that reveal the beauty and diversity of the world around us. The pandemic may have changed when, where, and how we travel, but there’s no doubt that we’re excited to pack our bags and hit the road again.
1. New Brunswick, Canada
Tackle the longest backcountry trail in the Canadian Maritimes
A turtle-shaped rock near Nepisiguit Falls, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, carries with it a legend told by the Mi’gmaq people. When water levels drop, the ‘turtle’ — named Egomoqaseg (‘rock like a moving ship’) — appears to be climbing up out of the river, says trail master Jason Grant, whose father-in-law, Mi’gmaq elder Gilbert Sewell, was a keeper of the story.
“Legend goes, once the turtle is completely out of the water, it will be the end of the world for the Mi’gmaq people,” says Grant. Based on his annual visits to the rock, Grant adds, Egomoqaseg has a long way to go before reaching dry ground.
The falls are one of many stops along a millennia-old First Nations migration route, which has been developed into the longest backcountry hiking trail in the Canadian Maritimes. Running 93 miles along the Nepisiguit River, the rugged Sentier Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail follows ancient portage pathways used by the nomadic Mi’gmaq. The route begins at sea level at Daly Point Nature Reserve in Bathurst and ends at Bathurst Lake in Mount Carleton Provincial Park , home to 2,690ft Mount Carleton, the highest peak in the Maritimes. To promote respect for the relevance of the trail to the Mi’gmaq people, the route’s restoration, completed in 2018, included incorporating Mi’gmaq language and culture, such as tipi campsites and a turtle logo inspired by Egomoqaseg.
From National Geographic Travel US (Maryellen Kennedy Duckett)
Mural in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica.
2. Costa Rica
Go on a coast-to-coast trek
Stretching across Costa Rica from the Caribbean to the Pacific, El Camino de Costa Rica is a 174-mile window into life far off the well-trodden tourist path. The 16-stage hiking route primarily follows public roads as it passes through remote villages and towns, Indigenous Cabecar lands, and protected natural areas. It’s designed to spark economic activity in rural districts. Local families, nonprofits, and a network of micro-entrepreneurs, provide most of the lodging, food, tours and other hiker amenities available on the trail, such as Ecomiel honey and La Cabaña sustainable coffee.
Due to the remoteness and the patchwork of tourism services, Mar a Mar (‘sea to sea’) — the nonprofit partnership formed in 2016 to develop, promote, and help sustain El Camino — strongly recommends hiking the trail with a guide. Ticos a Pata , UrriTrek Costa Rica , and ViaLig Journeys are among the tour operators offering guided experiences — from single-day hikes to coast-to-coast treks that can last one or two weeks and feature multiple river crossings and rambles through ranch lands, rainforests, cloud forests, and sugarcane plantations. Multiday itineraries typically feature optional adventures, such as a whitewater rafting trip on the world-class Pacuare River rapids.
From National Geographic Traveler Korea (Maryellen Kennedy Duckett)
Go with Nat Geo: Ready to plan your trip? Nat Geo Expeditions has a 10-day expedition cruise to discover the secrets of Central America from Costa Rica to Panama.
Cycle path on the two-level Pont de Bir-Hakeim in Paris, France.
3. River Seine, France
Cycle a new scenic route from Paris to the English Channel
La Seine à Vélo is a new cycling trail picturesque enough for French painter Claude Monet, whose former house and famous water lilies in Giverny are on the route. But the 270-mile Paris-to-the-sea path, which opened in October 2020, offers lesser-known masterpieces too, such as the colourful street art that brightens the Canal Saint-Denis in Paris.
Along the trail’s 15 stages, bikers also pass through protected natural areas, including Normandy’s Grande Noé Bird Reserve, located along a major migratory flyway. While rolling across Normandy, they can visit the ruins of Jumièges Abbey , founded in 654, and take a Benedictine monk-led tour of Abbaye Saint-Wandrille , a centuries-old working abbey. The tearoom and gardens of Château de Bizy , a royal residence built in 1740 and inspired by Versailles, offer a moment's respite from the two-wheeled trek.
And, while Monet isn’t the only reason to ride the trail, pedal-pushers who love paintings should allow extra time for the Giverny Museum of Impressionism , which explores the revolutionary 19th-century art movement.
From National Geographic Traveler France (Gabriel Joseph-Dezaize)
Drone view of dramatic landscape in the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, US.
4. Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
Reach a Rocky Mountain high For unparalleled views of the Continental Divide, one must climb hand over foot up North America’s highest via ferrata . A climbing route comprised of metal rungs and cables, Arapahoe Basin’s Iron Way begins at the base of granite Rocky Mountain cliffs and ascends nearly 1,200ft to a 13,000ft summit. A glance below reveals a weathered Colorado landscape dotted with green moss and pink and purple flora, and rock gardens created by the cliffs themselves, their fallen chunks varying from pebble- to car-sized. The thin air is occasionally punctuated by the shrill peep of a marmot or pika.
Climbers scale the cliffs using the metal rungs while also gripping the rock or wedging a foot into a crack for leverage. To avoid what could be a 1,000ft plunge to certain death, climbers must clip their harnesses from one cable to the next as they go. The route is entirely exposed, and thunderstorms can roll in suddenly.
From the cliffs above, a herd of high alpine mountain goats are often stoic observers, but typically disappear as travellers reach the summit. This marks the halfway point. From here, climbers must also descend, which, for via ferrata first-timers like Michael Lytle, can be the most harrowing part of the journey. “You try not to look all the way down. The highway looks like a piece of thread from up there,” Lytle says. “The fear factor is real.”
From National Geographic Travel US (Shauna Farnell)
Scuba diver in Chandelier Cave, Palau.
Go shark diving in the Pacific
Step off the plane at Palau International Airport and the stamp in your passport will include the Palau Pledge , which all visitors must sign, promising that ‘the only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away’. The 59-word eco-pledge was drafted by and for the children of this remote western Pacific archipelago to help protect Palau’s culture and environment from the negative impacts of tourism.
Some 80% of Palau’s waters — recognised by National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project as one of the richest marine ecosystems on the planet — is preserved as the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. At 193,000sq miles, the sanctuary is one of the world’s largest protected marine areas, safeguarding more than 700 species of coral and 1,300 species of fish, including a dazzling array of sharks.
“From the air, Palau looks like paradise on Earth,” says Pristine Seas founder and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Enric Sala. “When you get underwater, you’re transported to a different world.”
During the 20th annual Shark Week Palau , from 27 February to 6 March 2022, divers can observe and participate in citizen science-assisted counts of numerous shark species, such as grey reef, blacktip, blue, tiger and hammerhead. Daily dive sites are chosen for their abundant sharks and other marine life, including large aggregations of manta rays and thousands of spawning fish. Snorkellers can join a February or November Oceanic Society tour of Palau’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, home to reef sharks, dugongs, giant clams and marine lakes teeming with thousands of golden jellyfish.
From National Geographic Traveler India (Maryellen Kennedy Duckett)
Go with Nat Geo: Ready to plan your trip? Snorkel and kayak Palau's pristine seas with Nat Geo Expeditions.
Locals enjoying a game of football on the beach, Taghazout, Morocco.
6. Taghazout, Morocco
Enjoy the ride in one of North Africa’s best surfing spots
With waves, dunes and ramps to ride and a traditional souk to explore, finding an active pursuit in Morocco’s surf capital, Taghazout, is no problem. A favourite of European backpackers and surfers, the former fishing village on the country’s southwestern Atlantic Coast isn’t under the radar anymore (there’s a Hyatt Place resort and the luxury Fairmont Taghazout Bay opened in July 2021), yet it remains charmingly laid-back and local. Surf season is October to April, when a consistent northwest swell creates quality waves at reef, point and beach breaks such as postcard pretty Panorama, a sheltered, sandy-bottom break ideal for beginners.
Rent surf gear in town, but plan to bring or buy skateboards to ride the concrete waves at SkatePark Taghazout, built in 2017 by the non-profit Make Life Skate Life . Before hitting the park, take a day trip to the seaside resort city of Agadir, just 12 miles south, to get boards at Tamara SkateShop and to wander the city-within-a-city Souk El Had, a sprawling traditional marketplace covering more than 32 acres. End the trip on a high note by surfing down the beachfront dunes in Tamri, 27 miles north of Taghazout, on a guided sandboarding excursion.
A new UNESCO listing for Chankillo
Six hours north of Lima, in Peru’s largely undiscovered north, stand 13 time-worn mounds spread across a hillside like the ridged backbone of a dinosaur. More than 2,300 years old, these towers form the oldest astronomical observatory in the Americas and in July 2021 were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Thor Heyerdahl mentions them in his classic travelogue Kon-Tiki , but hypotheses about their use weren’t formalised until 2007. Located in the already-archaeological-rich Casma-Sechín river basin, this pre-Incan 300-metre-long chain of towers allowed the sun-worshipping inhabitants to observe the sunrise and sunset and calculate the exact date to within one or two days — staggering for the time — to plan their planting and harvesting seasons, as well as religious festivals. Also on site is a temple with three layers of labyrinthine walls that have false entrances to deter attacks.
Other undiscovered attractions in the area include the UNESCO-listed sites of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America, and the Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) in the Moche Valley. Also worth a visit are the pre-Incan settlement of Chavín de Huántar in the Huayhuash mountain range and Kuélap, a mist-shrouded medieval citadel built by the ‘cloud warrior’ Chachapoya people and nicknamed the ‘Machu Picchu of the North.’
The World Monuments Fund has a new tour of Chankillo run by Dr Ivan Ghezzi, the former director of the National Museum of Peru, with a portion of the proceeds directed towards increased protection of the site, which has been eroded by strong coastal winds, earthquakes and temperature fluctuations.
From National Geographic Traveller UK (Emma Thomson)
Travel with Nat Geo: Discover these unique destinations and many more travelling with Nat Geo Expeditions. Check all our itineraries.
Read more from Best of the World: 35 incredible trips for 2022 and beyond
Published in the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
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Inspired By Insiders
The Top 15 Travel Destinations for Adventure Seekers
Posted: November 10, 2023 | Last updated: November 10, 2023
Adventure travel is more than just a holiday; it’s a chance to immerse oneself in nature’s beauty, push personal boundaries, and discover unknown facets of oneself. For those who crave adrenaline, seek the unknown, and love nature, we present the top 15 travel destinations for adventure seekers.
These locations offer various landscapes, from rugged mountains to pristine beaches and activities, from thrilling white-water rafting to serene hot-air ballooning, ensuring there’s something for every adventurer.
New Zealand offers a variety of adventures for thrill-seekers. From hiking the famous Milford Track to bungee jumping off the Kawarau Bridge, there is no shortage of adrenaline-pumping activities here. Try skydiving over stunning landscapes or white water rafting down the Shotover River for the ultimate rush.
Home to the famous Inca Trail, Peru is a dream for adventure travelers. The multi-day trek through the Andes Mountains leads you to the iconic Machu Picchu, but that’s not all this country offers. You can also go sandboarding in Huacachina, paragliding in Lima, and zip-lining through the Amazon rainforest.
Known for its lush jungles and beautiful beaches, Costa Rica is a playground for adventure seekers. Go on a canopy tour through the treetops, whitewater raft down the Pacuare River, or surf some of the best waves in Central America. You can even hike up active volcanoes or take a thrilling ATV tour through the terrain.
Iceland may be renowned for its natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, but it’s also a prime destination for adventure travel. Go glacier hiking, ice climbing, or even snorkel between two continents in the Silfra Fissure. And don’t miss out on the famous Golden Circle Tour, where you can witness geysers, waterfalls, and volcanic craters.
For those seeking a mix of adventure and wildlife, look no further than South Africa. Go on a safari to spot the “big five” in their natural habitat, or try cage diving with great white sharks in Cape Town. Hike up Table Mountain or bungee jump off the famous Bloukrans Bridge for an adrenaline rush.
Thailand is not only a popular destination for its beaches and temples but also for adventure activities. Go rock climbing in Railay, scuba diving in Koh Tao, or jungle trekking through Chiang Mai. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try your hand at Muay Thai, Thailand’s national sport.
Australia is a mecca for adventure seekers with its diverse landscapes and endless opportunities for thrill-seeking activities. You can surf on the Gold Coast, scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, or bungee jump off the AJ Hackett Tower in Cairns. And don’t miss out on hiking through the stunning Blue Mountains.
Home to the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, Nepal is a top destination for trekking and mountaineering enthusiasts. The Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks are popular among adventure seekers, but you can also go white water rafting or paragliding over the Himalayas.
With its vast wilderness and rugged terrain, Canada offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. Go skiing or snowboarding in Whistler, trek through the Rocky Mountains, or kayaking in Vancouver Island’s coastal waters. And if you’re feeling brave, try ice climbing on frozen waterfalls in Banff National Park.
Italy may be known for its art and history, but it also offers plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities. You can go rock climbing in the Dolomites, canyoning through gorges and waterfalls in the Apennines, or kitesurfing on Lake Garda. And don’t forget to indulge in some delicious Italian cuisine after a day of adventure.
Norway is a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts with its stunning fjords, mountains, and glaciers. You can hike through the famous Preikestolen or Trolltunga, ski in the winter wonderland of Lofoten, or go dog sledding in Tromso. You might be lucky to catch the Northern Lights.
Alaska is a must-visit destination for those seeking adventure in the great outdoors. From glacier trekking and ice climbing to dog sledding and snowmobiling, there is no shortage of thrilling activities here. You can also enjoy a scenic flight over the vast wilderness or whale-watching in the Kenai Fjords.
Home to the Amazon rainforest and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Brazil offers a wide range of adventures. You get to experience the exhilarating Iguazu Falls, go sandboarding in Jericoacoara, or explore the Pantanal wetlands on horseback. And, of course, learn the samba dancing in Rio de Janeiro.
Japan may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of adventure travel, but this country has plenty to offer. Go skiing or snowboarding in the famous powder snow of Hokkaido, hike up Mount Fuji, or try surfing in Okinawa. You can’t go wrong with immersing yourself in Japan’s unique culture and delicious food.
Tanzania is another top destination for wildlife and adventure enthusiasts. Go on a safari in Serengeti National Park to witness the annual wildebeest migration or climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. And don’t miss out on the exotic beaches of Zanzibar for some relaxation after your adventures.
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30 adventure trips around the world that you definitely should try
If you love adventure trips, in this article you will find 30 ideas to inspire you around the world.
Jessica Jessy Around The World
Sep 08, 2023
Not everyone dreams about relaxing when going on holiday. Some of us need adventure and adrenaline.
If you are one of those travelers, you are in the right place. In this article I will talk about 30 adventure trips that you should definitely try once in a lifetime .
Adventure trips: 30 experiences for your bucket list
If you have a bucket list (and you should have it, because you are a traveler!), take it and get ready to write down these 30 adventure trips experiences , because you will want to try them all once you finished reading this article.
Let me also tell you that you can try a lot of adventure trips without spending tons of money, even for free sometimes. How is it possible? Thanks to Worldpackers.
Worldpackers is a platform where volunteers can apply to positions all over the world. They just have to do some hours of work per day and in exchange they get free accommodation and sometimes free board.
In this way, traveling becomes so cheap. And of course, a lot of hosts listed on Worldpackers are close to perfect destinations for adventure trips.
Whether you are an ocean lover, a mountain lover, or have a fancy for extreme sports and national parks, there is a great adventure trip waiting for you out there.
Best adventure trips to do in the USA
Let’s have a look at the best adventure trips you can do in the USA, there is a lot to do in this big country, full of national parks, deserts, amazing islands and nature everywhere.
1. Explore the adventure island of Kauai, Hawaii
If you wish to live an adventure, Hawaii islands offer the perfect adventure trip for you. For example the island of Kauai, also known as the island of flowers , is a great destination if you are looking for adventure.
Full of canyons, beautiful beaches and forests to explore , you would need a month to live all the experiences it has to offer.
I know Hawaii can be expensive, but don’t worry. You can use Worldpackers, contact hosts and volunteer for them in exchange of free accommodation. In this way you won’t spend anything to sleep, which is great in a country like that!
For example, you can have a look at this host in Kauai , they are looking for help in their hotel. You will meet a lot of people from all over the world, just work few hours and enjoy the adventures of the island in your free time.
2. Have an adventure in the Arizona Desert
Arizona Desert is one of the most visited attractions in the South of the US. Everyone dreams about having a road trip there. It is one of the wildest adventures you can do in the US.
And if you find a volunteer position there, you don’t even have to worry about accommodation. You just have to plan the adventures you want to have in the desert, in your free time.
Have a look at this host , the position is about a handyman to help in the place. it is very close to the desert, in a very wild location. The perfect place for all the adventure travelers.
3. Visit the Niagara Falls
Usually all the adventure travelers love waterfalls. And visiting one of the most famous waterfalls in the world must be on your bucket list, if you love them. I am talking about Niagara Falls, in the North of the United States.
Visiting Niagara Falls is one of the best adventure trips you can have in the North of USA. Seeing them, getting wet, having a boat ride on the river. All of this is of course a bit pricey, but you can save in the accommodation cost if you use Worldpackers.
Check this position in hospitality , they need help with housekeeping and running the place in general, and they are so close to Niagara Falls that you can visit it a lot of times, until you get sick of it (if it is possible).
4. Live an adventure trip in California, near Los Angeles
For the travelers looking for adventure, a city like Los Angeles doesn’t seem so attractive, but in its surroundings you can have a lot of adventure trips, such as hiking in the mountains and visiting beautiful lakes.
And don’t be afraid of the cost of accommodations, because if you go volunteering there, it won’t be your problem.
Mountain Adventure Lodge (the name tells a lot about the place, doesn’t it?) is looking for helpers. The location is outside LA, next to a beautiful lake, in the mountains, with amazing views and a lot of adventures waiting for you.
Best adventure trips to do in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is the land of adventure par excellence. There is no other place on earth so full of waterfalls, volcanos, forests and national parks. Everything in Costa Rica is surrounded by nature.
If you are looking for an adventure trip, you have to pick this destination. And I know it is famous to be a bit expensive, but remember you can save a lot of money if you use Worldpackers while traveling.
Let’s see together the best adventure trips you can have in Costa Rica.
5. Explore Monteverde National Park
Monteverde is a famous national park in Costa Rica, and one of its best attractions are the amazing hanging bridges.
Monteverde is surrounded by a forest called Cloud Forest. Hiking there is such a great adventure and a lot of travelers dream about it.
Of course this place is completely natural and full of plants and animals. The best way to explore it is by helping a local activity .
6. Visit Corcovado National Park, one of the most biodiverse parks in the world
In terms of biodiversity, Corcovado National Park, in the extreme South of Costa Rica, is the best place to see.
Visiting this park is a real adventure trip. It is a very remote area, full of u nique animals such as tucans, jaguars, monkeys, and other special bird species.
If you want to have the perfect local adventure, you can volunteer in a lodge close to the park. Learn a lot about the local culture and have a great time both during work and during your free time.
7. Experience the best of Costa Rica’s nature at Arenal National Park
Arenal National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica. If you look for adventure, it’s the right place for you.
You can find everything there: waterfalls, hanging bridges, natural hot springs, local fauna, and the huge Arenal Volcano.
It’s a must for all the adventure travelers. And if you want to have a complete experience, volunteer in a hostel there , meet a lot of friends and enjoy nature everyday.
8. Surf and enjoy the ocean in Tamarindo
Ocean and surf are a perfect way to have an adventure trip in Costa Rica . And this country is one of the best places in the world to try this sport.
Tamarindo, on the Pacific Ocean, is the best spot you can find to surf. The beach is amazing and full of high waves.
It is quite pricey, but don’t worry, you can volunteer in a hostel in exchange of free accommodation , and surf the waves in your free time. You will become a professional surfer in a week!
Best adventure trips to do in Brazil
Brazil is such a huge country, full of beaches, colonial cities, and of course, touched by the unique Amazon rainforest. If you have a desire for adventure trips, this land has something for you.
9. Explore the wonderful Amazon rainforest from Manaus
If you want to explore the Amazon rainforest and live this great adventure, the best city to start is Manaus, just behind the corner of this amazing ecosystem.
And you can do it easily and for free, if you volunteer there. Check positions like this in Manaus, they are looking for help in their hostel.
Best adventure trips to do in Peru
Peru is the land of the Andes and the beautiful Inca ruins. If you like hiking adventures, you have to visit this country.
10. Go to Cusco and explore the real Peru
Cusco is the best spot to take base in and explore the surrounding areas. From there you can hike to Macchu Picchu , definitely one of the best experiences to have around the world , or hike to the Rainbow Mountain if you prefer nature views.
You won’t get bored, this is for sure. And you can stay a lot of time if you volunteer in a hostel and get in exchange free accommodation.
Best adventure trips to do in Canada
Canada is an amazing place full of forests, immense nature, national parks and mountains. If you love adventure trips, you should go there once in your life.
11. Go hiking in Canada
Nature in Canada is stunning, everywhere you can find a national park or a place to go hike, with unique views in the world.
Canada is huge and it can be very expensive, you could spend a lot of money and lose yourself in its immensity, but not if you let Worldpackers help you.
If you check volunteer positions in Canada, like this one , you could have a real local full experience and save a lot of money in accommodation, which is a great thing in a country like this.
Best adventure trips to do in Mexico
Mexico, a colorful land full of Maya ruins, amazing colonial cities and delicious food , is waiting for you to make you live your best adventure trip.
12. Stay in Merida and explore all the wonders around the area
Merida is one of the nicest cities in the Yucatan peninsula, and from there you can explore all the area and have a lot of adventures.
Yucatan peninsula is full of things to see and do , so the best thing to do is taking your time and travel slow, Try volunteering in a hostel for a while and exploring everything in your free time.
More adventure trips around the world: Europe
Europe, the old continent, must not be underestimated in terms of adventure trips. Let’s list together some of the best.
13. See the northern lights in Norway
One of the adventure trips of a lifetime is going to hunt the northern lights in Northern Europe. Norway is one of the best place you can go to see them, and you can volunteer in a hostel to avoid very high cost of accommodations there.
14. Explore the best beaches in Portugal and enjoy the ocean
Beaches in Portugal are amazing and you can spend weeks there to see them all. If you love surf , they are perfect for you. Find the best location like Albufeira and stay there to enjoy the ocean as much as you can.
15. Island hopping in Canary Islands
Canary Islands are so wild and are a place to visit if you are heading to Spain. If you want to have an adventure trip in their amazing beaches and do great hikings , visit them all and go island hopping.
There are a lot of hostels there looking for help and letting you stay longer than you expected.
Adventure trips in Africa
16. hike kilimangiaro.
If you love adventure and hiking, you can’t miss the chance to climb the high Kilimanfiaro Volcano, in Tanzania.
And in the meantime, try to teach a language to the local people in exchange of free accommodation.
17. Enjoy Cape Town amazing sceneries
Cape Town is unique in terms of views, like the Table Mountain, that you can also climb, and the surroundings along the coast.
Perfect place for adventure, and you can volunteer in a hostel to have free accommodation.
18. See the amazing Victoria Waterfalls
Victoria Waterfalls can be compared to Niagara for their beauty. They are located in Zambia, and you can’t miss them if you love adventure.
Try to volunteer there to meet a lot of locals and enjoy your trip even more.
19. Explore Sahara Desert
Africa is the land of Sahara Desert and Morocco is one of the best and easiest places to go for the visit.
You can even volunteer in the desert to better understand people’s culture and life there.
20. See the famous Pyramids
For all the adventurer out there, a visit to the Pyramids in Egypt is a must.
And as you can see, Worldpackers has a volunteer position in which you have pyramids as your view everyday!
21. Explore traditional Japan and Mount Fuji
Japan is on every traveler’s bucket list , and see the Fuji is a dream.
You can wake up every morning and try to spot it, if you volunteer in a hostel there. Helping just 4 hours per day there, you get free accommodation and get to see Mount Fuji and other cool places around.
22. Go deep into Thai culture in Bangkok
Have you ever considered Thailand for you next adventure trip?
You can start from its amazing capital Bangkok and find some gigs through Worldpackers there to live it like a local.
23. Enjoy beautiful sea adventures in the Philippines
The Philippines are some of the best islands for snorkeling and enjoying sea life.
Try with your own eyes and try to live it as a local volunteering there .
24. Get lost in Indonesia
Indonesia is full of things to see and do, full of islands ready to be explored , like classic Bali but also national parks and volcanos.
You can have a look to volunteer positions there , Worldpackers has a lot of them.
25. Go off the beaten path and visit South Korea
South Korea is still an off the beaten path destination. Take this chance and visit it, you will be surprised by how many adventurous things you can do there, like visiting ancient temples, volcanos and beaches.
Try to apply to one of the volunteer positions there to meet a lot of friends and have free accommodation.
26. Visit the greatest temples in China
China is not only famous for the Great Wall, but also for its amazing temples , like the ones located in Guilin.
Visit them and live them like a local volunteering in the rural area surrounding them .
27. Learn Laotian culture and try tubing
Laos is a small Asian country, famous for its great culture and for adventurers going to try tubing.
You can do both, and you can also make the difference as a traveler teaching English to the community .
28. India: the land you hate or love
They call India like that, and the reason is that it’s so stunning and overwhelming.
It is not easy to visit it, but it’s worth it. Full of nature, history, pieces of art, India is perfect for an adventure trip.
And let the locals help you, maybe if you volunteer there you can make a difference and learn a lot of things you didn’t know about this huge country.
29. Have an adventure in the land of kangaroos
Australia is the land of unique fauna in the world, Great Barrier Reef and Outback. You can live a lot of different adventures in a single travel.
Accommodations are expensive, but you can volunteer there and have a free bed.
30. Hike in amazing New Zealand mountains and nature
If you love nature and mountains view , there is no place like New Zealand.
It could seem a bit remote, and not easy to reach, but once you are there, you will want to stay forever.
Try to volunteer there to meet locals and learn more about Maori culture, and to have a free bed, which is not bed in such an expensive country.
I hope you liked this list about the best adventure trips to do all over the world. Subscribe to one of Worldpackers plans and start planning your next adventure!
Maybe you could find more inspiration in these other articles from Worldpackers community :
Overseas adventure travel 2022: top destinations
- 13 bucket list adventure ideas around the world
- Adventure planning: the best guide for your backpacking trip
- 13 best places to spend this New Year’s Eve
- 20 tropical islands to visit around the world
Your essential beach packing checklist: 12 things you can’t forget
Join the community!
Create a free Worldpackers account to discover volunteer experiences perfect for you and get access to exclusive travel discounts!
Jessy Around The World
an Italian full time traveler. After years planning my full time travel, I finally quit my 9 to 5 job to start exploring the world with a one way ticket. My goal is to visit as many countries as I can and to work as a digital nomad while I am traveling, but also to challenge myself doing travel jobs in the places I visit. I really want to live a lot of different experiences in a way only a real traveler can do.
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Active Travel Adventures
Love active travel adventures ?
Craving an adventurous trip that gets your heart pumping?
Then you’re in the right place!
This page features adventure trips and active vacations around the world, from completing the five-day Mohare Danda Trek in Nepal to downhill mountain biking in Colorado to whitewater rafting in Costa Rica and beyond.
You’ll also snag tips for adventure tours, solo hiking , trip insurance, and ethical adventure travel brands, as well as my recommendations for the best hiking trails in the world .
Now, let’s look at some unforgettable active vacation activities for your next trip.
Disclosure: This guide to active holidays worldwide contains affiliate links to trusted brands I think you’ll love!
More Adventure Trips In Europe
Hiking adventures in south america, costa rica travel adventures, cycling in new york, what would you add to this list of active travel adventures, adventure travel destinations in north america.
Snag adventure travel ideas in some of North America’s most thrilling destinations!
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9 New York Adventures For Active & Daring Travelers
12 Best Places To Hike Near Toronto For Amazing Scenery
14 Amazing Hotels In Banff With Private Hot Tubs
Hiking In Baja California Sur: 6 Epic Trails Not To Miss
15 Best Hikes In Utah Not To Be Missed (With Maps!)
Hiking Vacations USA
Looking for incredible hiking adventure trips in the USA? These guides can help!
Hiking & Mule Riding My Way Through Arionza’s Grand Canyon
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Visiting Maine ? Don’t miss these epic hiking trails!
Acadia National Park Sunrise Hike: Otter Cliff To Ocean Path
Hiking Travel In New York
If you’re looking to go hiking in New York , you’re in the right place.
Hiking Mount Marcy, The Highest Peak In New York
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Amazing Hikes In California
Looking for some California adventure guides ? The following articles will help you plan epic hikes around the state!
Sierra Nevada Hiking: Climbing Mount Whitney In One Day
Hiking The Lakes Trail In Sequoia National Park (Epic!)
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Hiking The Otherworldly Landscapes Of Joshua Tree National Park
How To Hike The James Irvine Trail To Fern Canyon For Amazing Scenery
How To Hike The Lost Horse Mine Trail In Joshua Tree National Park
How To Hike The Hidden Valley Nature Trail Joshua Tree (Epic!)
How To Hike Sentinel Dome To Glacier Point In Yosemite National Park
How To Hike The Columbia Rock Trail In Yosemite National Park
How To Hike Vernal And Nevada Falls In Yosemite National Park (Mist Trail)
An Unforgettable Itinerary For Yosemite National Park (1, 2 & 3 Days)
One Day In Sequoia National Park: The Perfect Itinerary (Epic!)
15 Best Hikes In Pismo Beach, CA
12 Stunning Waterfall Hikes In Los Angeles, California
Epic Hikes In Colorado
Looking for an active travel vacation that involves hiking in Colorado? Here are a few of my favorite trails:
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This Is What Happens When You Take A Paintbrush Hiking In Vail, Colorado
Hiking Mount Falcon Near Denver, Colorado
Hiking, Kayaking & Biking In Colorado’s Grand County
Hiking Colorado’s Black Canyon Of The Gunnison
European Travel Adventures
These guides share the best of adventure travel in Europe . Honestly, these are some of my favorite adventure holiday activities in the world!
Active Adventures In Italy
The Path Of The Gods In Italy: The Amalfi Coast’s Most Gorgeous Trek
Pesto, Hiking & Lots Of Sciacchetra In Cinque Terre, Italy
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Active Adventures In France
An Epic Kayaking Adventure In France’s Verdon Gorge
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Eastern Europe Adventures
Hiking My Way Through Slovenia
Biking Around Lake Bled & To The Vintgar Gorge In Slovenia
Going Back In Time On A Bike Tour Through Zagreb, Croatia
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Hiking The Camino: How This Spiritual Trek Helped One Woman Heal & Grow
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Reykjadalur: The Epic Hike Every Solo Traveler To Iceland Must Do
5 Stunning Hiking Trails In Scotland
South America Adventures
Enjoy active vacations and experiences in South America.
How To Visit Tayrona National Park In Colombia (& Have An Amazing Time)
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Colombia Adventures: Paragliding In Medellin
Everything You Need To Know About Hiking The Inca Trail In Peru
Patagonia Adventures: Hiking Martial Glacier In Ushuaia, Argentina
Valle de Lobos: A Budget-Friendly Hiking Alternative To Teirra del Fuego In Ushuaia, Argentina
Hiking To Bellavista In Banos, Ecuador
Hiking, Monkeys & The Devil’s Penis In Ecuador’s Amazon Jungle
Hiking Los Glaciares National Park in El Chalten, Argentina, Patagonia
Central America Adventures
There are so many ways to enjoy active travel adventures in Central America, like:
Volcanic Adventures Outside Of Granada, Nicaragua
Hiking In Central America
Nicaragua Adventures: Summitting The Active La Concepcion Volcano On Ometepe Island
Hiking In Panama: The Best Trails In Boquete
The Truth About Hiking Guatemala’s Pacaya Volcano
Hiking Indian’s Nose In Guatemala: The World’s Most Surreal Sunrise Experience
Going Back In Time On The Historic Inca Trail In Peru
White Water Rafting & Visiting An Organic Farm In La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Coffee & Hiking Through Cloud Forests In Monteverde, Costa Rice
Adventure Travel Asia
Check out these incredible Asia adventure tours and experiences. Active travel in Asia never looked so good!
Mohare Danda Trek In Nepal: A Stunning Annapurna Region Trekking Route
Active Exploring In Taiwan’s Taroko National Park
Jungle Trekking On Okinawa’s Remote Iriomote Island In Japan
Hiking The Longji Rice Terraces In China
India Hiking: Why Kerala’s Silent Valley Is One Of The World’s Best National Parks
Hiking High Peaks & The World’s Highest Organic Tea Garden In India
How To Hike Bhutan’s Breathtaking Tiger’s Nest
Hiking & Exploring Jakar, The Switzerland Of Bhutan
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Cycling Kerala’s Culturally-Immersive Canal Route (India)
Cycling The “Scotland Of Asia” In India To An Organic Farm
Biking India’s Cardamom Trail In Kerala
Rafting & Cycling In Yangshuo, China
Cycling Sun Moon Lake In Taiwan, One Of The World’s Most Beautiful Trails
Dzükou Valley Trek: Your Ultimate Guide To India’s Famous Hike
Mount Agung Trekking: The Ultimate Guide
Trekking Kalaw To Inle Lake In Myanmar (Super Detailed!)
Caribbean Travel Adventures
Explore the islands through these epic Caribbean adventures .
Hiking In Antigua: Take In Breathtaking Views Along The Pillars Of Hercules Trail
12 Antigua Adventures For An Unforgettable Caribbean Trip
Exploring Sustainable Adventure In Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Trinidad & Tobago Best Outdoor Experiences
Hiking In St. Thomas: 5 Amazing Trails Not To Miss
Dominican Republic Hiking: 12 Amazing Trails Not To Miss
Hiking To Charco Prieto Waterfall In Puerto Rico
Africa Travel Adventures
Get active with these African travel adventures .
Kilimanjaro Trekking: A Healing Experience On Africa’s Highest Mountains
Hiking Above The Trees via The Canopy Walk At Ghana’s Kakum National Park
5 Reasons To Hike Guinea’s Magnificent Fouta Djallon
Namibia Adventure: Sandboarding In The World’s Oldest Desert
Notes From A South African Safari
Essential South African Experiences For The Adventurous Traveler
7 Kilimanjaro Experiences (From Hiking & Beyond)
Middle East Adventures
Experience some of the Middle East’s most adventurous holidays , like:
Active Middle East: Amazing Desert Adventures In Israel
The Adventure Traveler’s Guide To Jordan
The Top Hikes In Jordan
10 Best Hikes In Israel You Shouldn’t Miss (Epic!)
Active Adventures In New Zealand
The following guides will help you enjoy adventure travel in New Zealand.
12 Best Hikes In New Zealand You Shouldn’t Miss
How To Hike New Zealand’s Copland Track To Welcome Flat Hut (Epic!)
16 Best South Island New Zealand Hiking Trails
Active Travel In Australia
Here is how to enjoy some of the best adventure holidays in Australia!
7 Reasons Why Wollongong Is The Ultimate Destination For Adrenaline Junkies
8 Best Hikes In Queensland You Shouldn’t Miss
10 Amazing Bruny Island Hikes Not To Be Missed
Extreme Adventure Holidays
Get your blood pumping with these extreme adventure vacations . Talk about an adventure travel bucket list!
What It Was Like To Walk Across The USA In 1896 (As A Woman)
This Is What Happens When You Snorkel Between Techtonic Plates In Iceland
Climbing An Active Volcano In Nicaragua
That Time I Hurled Myself Into Israel’s Largest Crater (Ramon Crater)
An Epic Paragliding Adventure In Medellin, Colombia
Trekking The 5-Day Mohare Danda Trail In Nepal’s Annapurna Himalayas
A 4,000-Mile Human-Powered Expedition From Alaska To The Arctic Coast
Love adventure bike travel? Then check out these great adventure travel cycling experiences, which are some of the best bike rides in the world !
Adventure Bike Travel In India
Adventure Bike Trips In Europe
Cycling Adventure Trips In The USA
How To Bike Idaho’s Route Of The Hiawatha Rail Trail
Facing Fears On A Colorado Downhill Mountain Biking Adventure
9 Alternative Bike Experiences In Portland, Oregon
Bike Ride Adventures In South America
Exploring Bogota (Colombia) By Bike Tour
Biking The Waterfalls Of Banos, Ecuador
How To Bike Bolivia’s Death Road (& Survive)
Cycling Adventure Travel In Asia
Enjoy adventure and travel through biking in New York via these fun trails!
How To Bike The Scenic Old Croton Aqueduct Near NYC
How To Bike NYC’s George Washington Bridge (& Why You Should)
Biking Around Governors Island, An Epic NYC Day Trip
Canyoning & Waterfall Rappelling
Here are some top places to travel for adventure — specifically for canyoning and rappelling!
Rappelling Into Israel’s Ramon Crater (The Largest In The Country!)
Conquering My Fear Of Heights Through Canyoning At Portland Creek Canyon, Colorado
Things To Do In Majorca, Spain (Besides Partying)
Here are some of the best adventure trips for those who love hitting the slopes!
5 Expert Tips For An Amazing Solo Ski Trip
Swiss Alps Retreat: Skiiers Guide To Morzine & The Portes Du Soleil
Utah Ski Guide: Where To Go For Your Next Powder Adventure
Rock Climbing Adventures
Looking for rock climbing trips ? Here you go!
Learning To Rock Climb In Split, Coatia
Road Trip Adventures
Love overland adventure travel ? These active road trips are for you!
This Is What Happens When You Road Trip Iceland In Winter (Solo)
A Fascinating Journey From Windhoek To Swakopmund In Namibia
Island Adventures: An Epic Road Trip Around Hawaii’s Big Island
An Epic 2-Week South Of France Road Trip
How To Have An Epic Dominican Republic Road Trip
An Epic Road Trip From NYC To The 1000 Islands
Camper Van Adventures
Get inspired to plan a few getaway adventures in a camper van or RV!
What Is Truck Living? Learn About This Offbeat Overland Adventure!
How One Woman’s Cancer Journey Led Her To Sell Everything & Travel In An RV
How One Couple Uses An RV To See The World Full-Time
Solo Adventure Travel
Looking for adventurous guides to solo female travel ? Here you go!
5 Tips For An Amazing Solo Ski Trip
13 Powerful Solo Hiking Tips For Women For A Safe & Enjoyable Trek
Adventure Travel Tips
Looking for adventure travel advice ? These guides can help!
11 Best Affordable Hiking Backpacks For Under $100
27 Best Gifts For Hikers & Outdoor Enthusiasts
28 Unique Gifts For Backpackers & Adventure Travelers
Pack These 11 Unique Items For A Fantastic Active Trip
Why You Should Go Deep Sea Diving This Summer
What To Wear When You Go Hiking: 19 Must-Haves + Essential Tips
Adventure Travel Stories
Love short travel stories ? These posts share epic and real adventure stories !
How Travel Helped Me Conquer My Fear Of Heights
How To Discover Yourself & Your Purpose Through Connecting With Nature
17 True Short Adventure Travel Stories That Will Inspire Your Next Trip
Adventurous Group Trips
Looking for small group travel companies offering adventurous itineraries? Here are my recommendations for ethical adventure tourism providers:
REI Active Travel & Adventure Vacations Worldwide
Intrepid Travel – Small Group Tours & Big Adventures
G Adventures – Adventure Travel & Tours
Active Adventure Tours
Looking for inspiration for adventure travel and tours ? A few unique experiences around the world include:
- Whitsundays Jet Ski Tour (Australia)
- Death Valley Sandboard Tour (Chile)
- Maligne Canyon Ice Walk (Canada)
- Aurora Ice Floating in Rovaniemi (Finland)
- Full-Day Waterfall Adventure (Costa Rica)
- Franz Josef 3-Hour Helicopter Hiking Guided Tour (New Zealand)
- Hell’s Revenge 4×4 Off-Roading Tour from Moab (USA)
Click here for a full list of active adventure trips and tours .
Adventure Travel Brands
As you compile your adventure travel bucket list , don’t forget your gear, particularly items from sustainable travel and outdoor brands like:
- Cool-jams Performance Sleepwear
- Cairn Adventure Travel Box
- Speakeasy Travel Supply Co
- Rheos Sunglasses
- Life Without Plastic
- Well Earth Goods
Active Travel Insurance
When embarking on active adventures abroad or domestic, make sure to get travel insurance.
In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country.
Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.
Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks .
Renting A Car For Your Travel Adventure
Need a rental car for your adventure tourism trip?
Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.
Active Travel Adventures FAQ
Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about the topic of the active adventure travel .
Q: What are some of the best adventure travel destinations?
Some of the best places for adventure travel include New Zealand, Costa Rica, Nepal, Switzerland, Australia, the USA, and Canada — especially if you’re interested in hiking near Toronto or hiking near Grand Marais in Minnesota. If you like trekking, these places also offer some of the best hiking adventure vacations worldwide!
Q: What are some ethical travel backpack companies?
Cotopaxi is one of the best brands for sustainably-made backpacks, while ABLE creates conscious bags that empower women.
There are also some great vegan backpacks for travelers .
Q: What are some great active trips for women?
There are many great women travel groups focused on active trips, like Intrepid Travel’s Women’s Expeditions . These trips are focused on helping local women and female travelers break barriers to create deeper connections.
Additionally, REI has a large array of active Women’s Trips that involve hiking, camping, backpacking, cycling, and more!
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The 36 Best Places to Visit in the U.S. for Adventure
We’re celebrating the grandeur of America, from beautiful rivers, beaches, and mountains to incredible glamping outposts and wild places. Our travel experts are constantly on the road finding new adventures, and their ideas will jump-start your next unforgettable journey.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the Outside app available now on iOS devices for members! >","name":"in-content-cta","type":"link"}}'>Download the app .
Creating our annual Travel Awards package takes months of work by a large team. This time out, our travel editors unanimously decided to celebrate trips in the United States, because the pandemic reinforced what we’ve long known: there is a bounty of spectacular American destinations to share.
Next we tapped our vast network of expert travel writers, many of whom have been working with Outside for 20-plus years. Our writers are constantly out there chasing adventure and collecting information on exciting lodging, trails, rivers, beaches, road trips, and other things to do. What they came back with was impressive—the research memo for this package was 117 pages long.
Then the really hard part began: whittling down an overwhelming number of choices into one winner and one runner-up in each category. This is when the heated debates arose, as we pored over research and advocated for favorites. The final decisions were based on many factors, including new travel options, improved-upon classics, accessibility, and sustainability, and we always strive to offer a variety of geographic locales, activities, and price points.
Our overriding goal? To inspire readers to get outside and explore the world, and provide them with great ideas for years to come. —Mary Turner, deputy editor and travel director
Beach Winner: Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Dry Tortugas is one of the most remote parks in the national park system, located approximately 70 miles beyond Key West. It’s also one of the smallest. Depending on the tide, only 143 acres of sand, coral rubble, and rock make up the archipelago’s seven islands. But those islands are blessed with great beaches, including South Beach on Garden Key, home to the park’s main tourist facilities. The best, however, is on the northwest side of Loggerhead Key, accessible only via private boat or by undertaking a three-mile paddle from Garden Key. The islet is encircled by gorgeous white sand, and just offshore is a stunning coral formation called Little Africa, because it looks like a map of the continent from above. That’s one of the best places to snorkel. Paddling between the islands can be challenging, though shoals break up larger waves. For tourists coming from Key West, the Yankee Freedom catamaran offers day trips to Garden Key at 7:30 A.M. and returns at roughly 5:15 P.M. (Round-trip tickets start at $200 and include a snack, box lunch, and snorkeling equipment.) Plan to bring your own safety gear and kayak—and be sure to reserve a spot for it on the catamaran in advance—or rent what you require in Key West. You’ll also need to stop at the Garden Key dock house to pick up a free boating permit. There’s first-come, first-served camping on Garden Key ($15 per night). Come prepared to be entirely self-sufficient. —Ryan Krogh
Runner-Up: York Beach Surf Club, York, Maine
This historic cottage colony has been reimagined as a hip year-round hotel that pays homage to the 1960s surf club started by local legend L. F. “Sonny” Perkins. He and his son updated the oceanfront property starting in 2020 with Scandi-style bungalows, a restaurant serving lobster breakfast sammies, and a collection of vintage surf photos. Summer camps and lessons are held on the gentle waves and sandy shores of York Beach. Experienced surfers pack five-millimeter wetsuits and come for the area’s storied winter swell. From $350 —Jen Murphy
Lodging Winner: Oculis Lodge, Glacier, Washington
Travelers will soon have a new way to admire the Cascade Range’s pines and peaks: the Oculis Lodge , 12 igloo-shaped domes tentatively scheduled to open before summer. The project set a record as Indiegogo’s most funded lodging campaign to date, with over $1.2 million raised. The domes, designed with a bedroom, kitchen, and sunken living room, are next-level glamping. Each sleeps up to six guests and features a private jacuzzi, sauna, and heated deck for yoga or other exercise. What’s more, all have a 15-foot-wide skylight and an en suite telescope, to give the glittery cosmos a starring role. Sustainability is a staple here; the domes consist of reclaimed and recycled materials, and they require up to 50 percent less energy to heat and cool than conventional cabin structures. With their minimal profile, the structures blend into the surrounding forest. The seven-acre property is located within 30 minutes of Mount Baker Ski Area and Mount Baker Scenic Byway, and two hours from North Cascades National Park—one of the lower 48’s least visited. But travelers staying at Oculis don’t have to go far for adventure; hiking, mountain biking, and paddling trails abound in the area. From $300 —Stephanie Vermillion
Runner-Up: Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu
Few adventure resorts can compare to Turtle Bay, a 1,300-acre North Shore property set on land previously owned by the Hawaiian royal family. To celebrate its 50th anniversary last year, it underwent a $250 million renovation and now offers a paniolo luau dinner series, an on-site farm that supplies its restaurants and spa treatments, a surf school led by native Banzai Pipeline champ Jamie O’Brien, 12 miles of biking and hiking trails, five miles of beaches, four swimming pools, a free daily fitness class, cruiser bikes, and sunset horseback rides through the banyan trees. When you finally find yourself indoors, you’ll have a room with a view of the sea. From $680 —Tasha Zemke
River Winner: Devils River, Texas
The rough-and-tumble landscape of southwest Texas doesn’t seem like the most fitting location for one of America’s best float trips. Yet here it is, the Devils’ pristine spring water flowing through a magical limestone canyon that’s home to black bears and mountain lions, cactus and yucca. Paddlers embarking on the 47-mile float from Baker’s Crossing to Amistad Reservoir are rewarded with the finest of the state’s overlooked outdoors: fly-fishing for native Guadalupe bass, swimming holes so clear they may as well be rock bathtubs, and nonstop Chihuahuan Desert scenery. The river alternates between long, deep pools; stretches of flat, braided water; and Class II–III rapids. Not long ago this trip, which takes most paddlers four days, was nearly unmanageable because of private land rights along the shore that made overnighting difficult. But the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which regulates access via a permitting system, opened a series of campsites to make the multiday adventure possible. A handful of outfitters offer shuttles, canoe rentals, and fully guided trips, including Amistad Expeditions , based in nearby Del Rio. In 2019, Devils River State Natural Area was designated the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in Texas, and camping beneath oak and wild pecan trees with the Milky Way in view is transcendent. —R.K.
To learn more about the Devil’s River float, check out this map from Gaia GPS.
Runner-Up: Great Falls Whitewater Project, South Carolina
Vitality is rushing through Great Falls, and its source is the Catawba River, one of the nation’s newest whitewater escapes, located an hour from Charlotte, North Carolina. Duke Energy, which spearheaded the project , modified two century-old dams to restore natural river patterns, creating recreational opportunities and encouraging ecotourism. Rafters and paddlers can run Class II–III rapids in one section and Class IV in another. The restoration is expected to foster biodiversity and provide an economic boost to Great Falls, a town struggling from the loss of a once booming textile industry. —S.V
Road Trip Winner: Highway 395, Eastern Sierra, California
While U.S. 395 goes through four states between the Mojave Desert and the Canadian border, it’s the roughly 200 miles that pass by the granite giants of California’s eastern Sierra that warrant top billing. Start in the town of Inyokern and point your wheels north toward Fossil Falls, where you can hike above a volcanic canyon carved by glacial melt. Forty-six miles away, in Lone Pine, the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center’s parking lot boasts epic views of 14,494-foot Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. Get cultured at the nearby Museum of Western Film History, packed with memorabilia from some of the hundreds of movies shot in the area. Afterward, meander (or rack up to climb in) the arch-studded Alabama Hills, mesmerizing at sunset when alpenglow drapes the bulbous formations. Refuel in Bishop at Great Basin Bakery, then venture north to view the burbling wonders of Hot Creek Geologic Site, which should inspire a soak at nearby Hilltop or Wild Willy’s hot springs. Pull yourself away and head to Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve to admire the whimsical shoreline spires, then sit down to brews and bites at Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining, quite possibly the best restaurant located inside a gas station in North America. Lone Pine, Bishop, and the Oh Ridge Campground at June Lake are good places to overnight, making this a perfect two- or three-day trip. —Shawnté Salabert
Runner-Up: Sunshine Route, Puerto Rico
A climatologist at the University of Puerto Rico calculated the average color of the sunbeams that shine across this popular Caribbean destination, and the result was a lovely red-orange hue, dubbed Puerto Rico Sunshine. This year that color inspired the creation of the new Puerto Rico Sunshine Route, which circumnavigates the island and links numerous sun-kissed spots. Start in San Juan, snorkel at places like La Parguera Natural Reserve, soak in Coamo Hot Springs, and surf in Rincón. —Tim Neville
Public Land Winner: The Colorado Plateau
Boasting 30 national parks, monuments, and recreation areas, the Colorado Plateau is arguably America’s greatest natural playground. Shaped by the Colorado River over millions of years, the landscape’s dramatic canyons, monoliths, and mesas form a 150,580-square-mile expanse of high desert straddling the region’s Four Corners and include the spectacular spires of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park . Now is the time to appreciate such magnificence: the river is one of the country’s most hotly contested water resources, and it’s threatened by drought. New weeklong, Navajo-led trips from the Grand Canyon Conservancy’s Field Institute provide the ultimate deep dive into the greater national-park area and its Indigenous connections (from $2,800). To explore on your own, base out of Grand Junction; this western Colorado adventure hub is a 30-minute drive from Colorado National Monument and surrounded by top-notch hiking and mountain-biking trails, campsites, and wineries. Riverfront accommodations ranging from RV sites and tiny homes to Airstreams can be found at Camp Eddy (from $50), just half a mile from Las Colonias Park, a 140-acre space along the river that’s popular with paddleboarders and kayakers. Stargazing nearly anywhere on the plateau is epic, but the Star Tower at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch ( from $475 ), scheduled to open this summer, is our choice for the annular eclipse, which this year falls on October 14. Located minutes from the namesake national monument in southwest Colorado—a designated International Dark Sky Park—the two-story building resembles Anasazi ruins, and its rock-exposed bedroom features a deck where you can watch the interstellar action. —J.M.
Runner-Up: Everglades National Park, Florida
This wild national treasure celebrated its 75th anniversary in December—all the more reason to plan a trip. Head down in the dry season, November through April, and book a room at the Ivey House Everglades Adventure Hotel in Everglades City ( from $179 ). The hotel has kayaks for rent, and staff provide expert area intel. Or sign up for an airboat tour with the guides at Gator Park to see the array of grassland wildlife. If you’d rather pitch a tent, Flamingo Adventures’ Long Pine Key Campground (from $30) is a convenient option near the Homestead park entrance. —Mary Turner
For more ideas on beautiful public lands to visit, read our story on the 18 Best State Parks in the U.S.
Wellness Winner: Castle Hot Springs, Arizona
The world starts to fade away on the dirt road to this resort an hour north of Phoenix. As you make your way down it, you’ll pass wild burros and saguaros and catch views of the jagged Bradshaw Mountains. Once you arrive at the 1,100-acre property , you’ve headed back in time. Native tribes sought out these springs for centuries. Since Castle’s inception in 1896, notable guests have included Theodore Roosevelt and JFK, who convalesced here with other veterans after World War II. The draws? Warm weather, a remote retreat from daily life, and three natural hot-spring pools of varying temperatures, whose mineral contents—magnesium, lithium, and bicarbonate, among others—are still popular with those eager to soak up health benefits. Parts of the original resort burned down in 1976, but Cindy and Mike Watts bought it in 2014 and began the process of restoring it. Today the main lodge, housing the Harvest restaurant and a small bar, is reminiscent of the past, while 30 new stand-alone bungalows and cabins, all of them with mountain views, welcome the future. There are activities by the hour, such as guided canyon hikes, e-bike rides, a via ferrata, and yoga. Or do what most guests do: chill out. (The Wi-Fi password, fittingly, is RUsureUwant2?.) A perfect day looks like this: Wake up and soak in the springs. Head to breakfast, and follow that with a hike up Salvation Peak. Return in time for lunch on the restaurant’s patio, then retreat to your room to nap or read on the porch. Late afternoon, soak in the springs again before a massage treatment. Soon enough it’s time for dinner. The food is delicious and healthy—as many of the ingredients as possible are grown on-site—but you can also get a bison burger and fries. You will leave nourished and refreshed. Recent additions include Sleep Retreats, with an expert to coach you on getting better rest. Castle is a splurge, but the price includes meals, gratuities, and many activities. From $1,575 for two people —M.T.
Runner-Up: Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, Warm Springs Reservation, Oregon
After an unexpected shutdown in 2018, Kah-Nee-Ta —a wellness-centered resort and spa 60 miles south of Mount Hood—is planning to welcome travelers back into its calming mineral waters before the end of the year. For 10,000 years, Indigenous communities have relied on the springs for healing. Now the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have partnered with Mount Hood Skibowl to open Kah-Nee-Ta’s doors to visitors who want to learn about Native traditions. —S.V.
Mountain Winner: Catskill Mountains, New York
The Catskills and their namesake park—comprising about 700,000 acres of forested peaks, narrow valleys, and countless streams just 100 miles from Manhattan—are steeped in history. They’re also undergoing a renaissance, thanks to a handful of new lodges, hotels, and restaurants. Those catching our eye include the 11-room Chatwal Lodge, a log-cabin-inspired chalet overlooking the 833-acre Toronto Reservoir, and the Eastwind Oliverea Valley, with 27 cabins and rooms, A-frame saunas that nail the Scandinavian hygge vibe, and a restaurant called Dandelion that uses seasonal vegetables in its cuisine. The DeBruce, a onetime hunting lodge that’s been transformed into a 12-room inn, has a dining room with tasting menus sourced from the 600-acre property; think venison in a wild-berry reduction. The husband-and-wife duo behind the inn were semifinalists this year for a James Beard Award. As for recreational opportunities in the Catskills, not much has changed since the Gilded Age, which is a good thing. There are thousands of miles of well-maintained hiking trails, excellent mountain-biking opportunities (check out 60 miles of lift-accessed tracks at Plattekill Mountain), and dozens of lakes and ponds to explore with a paddle in hand. The Catskills are also the birthplace of American dry-fly fishing. —R.K.
Runner-Up: Frog Lake Backcountry Huts, Truckee, California
In 2020, the Truckee Donner Land Trust bought property on the back side of 9,103-foot Castle Peak as part of a conservation deal, and 3,000 acres became available for recreation. Four stunning huts overlooking their eponymous lake followed in December 2021, with bunk beds, gas stoves, morning coffee brewed by a hutmaster, and down slippers in a range of sizes. The huts are accessible to backcountry skiers from December through April, or can be reached via a five-mile hiking path—a spur off the Pacific Crest Trail—July through October. They are easily the nicest huts in the Lake Tahoe area, so when the semiannual booking windows open in fall and spring, hop on it. From $65 per person —Megan Michelson
For more information on trails near Frog Lake Huts, check out this map from Gaia GPS.
Biking Winner: Monument Trails, Arkansas
Arkansas has pumped a lot of energy and money into its mountain-biking trails. As a result, the state transformed into a world-class destination almost overnight. One of its most robust initiatives is a public-private partnership that created Monument Trails , an array of singletrack in Arkansas’s state parks. Many routes were designed and built by Rogue Trails, a firm based in the town of Rogers made up of former racers who take land management and sustainability seriously. The first were unveiled in 2019, another 17 were introduced in the past year and a half, and today some 75 miles span Hobbs, Mount Nebo, Pinnacle Mountain, and Devil’s Den State Parks. The shared-use trails traverse iconic landscapes, including the Ozark Mountains, pristine hardwood forests on rugged plateaus, and limestone domes, and you’ll find yourself wheeling across flowy cross-country terrain and bombing technical downhills. Bentonville, with its dynamic craft breweries, and Eureka Springs, boasting a vibrant art scene, are top choices for places to stay while you play. Funding for the expanding trail system is supported by the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to developing local outdoor offerings, with patronage from the Walton Family Foundation. This year marks the centennial for Arkansas State Parks, so go celebrate. —R.K.
To learn more about Arkansas’s bounty of rides, check out these Trailforks maps for Hobbs , Mount Nebo , Pinnacle Mountain , and Devil’s Den state parks.
Runner-Up: Mulberry Gap, Ellijay, Georgia
Welcome to the mountain-biking capital of Georgia: a humble adventure base camp 90 miles north of Atlanta within Chattahoochee National Forest. This 15-acre property , formerly a private family retreat, was converted into a campground with cabins. Ride out the door to explore over 50 miles of the nearby Pinhoti Trail system. Breakfast and dinner are served family-style, and lunch is provided to stash in your daypack. On-site guides give clinics, host group rides, and organize shuttles, and a fleet of Specialized rigs are available to rent. Camping from $13; cabins from $55 —M.M.
Glamping Winner: Huttopia, New Hampshire
At this outpost in the White Mountains, fully furnished canvas tents are scattered throughout a 50-acre forest, complete with its own 68-acre lake and heated saltwater pool. Huttopia also offers a gathering area with fire pits, tables, chairs, and flatbread pizza served from a retro Airstream. Each tent has its own kitchen, bathroom, deck, fire pit, and electricity, or you can upgrade to a tiny home or chalet. Either way you’ll be able to swim, paddle, or fish Huttopia’s Iona Lake during the day and enjoy live performances by magicians and acoustic artists at night. The resort goes out of its way to welcome kids, with organized activities like treasure hunts and craft time. Venture off-site to hike 6,288-foot Mount Washington, tube the lazy Saco River, or pedal the 35-mile Kancamagus Scenic Byway, which curves through the heart of White Mountain National Forest. And it’s all just two and a half hours from Boston. From $88 —Graham Averill
Runners-Up: Glamping News Is Ridiculously Good This Year. Here Are Six More Places on Our Radar.
*You’ll forget that you’re camping at Open Sky , just west of Zion National Park, Utah, where spacious safari-style tents are tucked into the rocky surroundings, offering primo stargazing and quick access to park trails. From $599
* Ulum , outside Moab, Utah, is the latest venture from Under Canvas. Each tent has its own private deck and a rain shower, and is steps from hot and cool dipping pools. From $549. Under Canvas Yellowstone , located in Paradise Valley, Montana, opened in December along the Yellowstone River. From $329
*At Summit Big Bend , placed on 1,000 picturesque acres outside Big Bend National Park in West Texas, you can bed down inside a renovated mining cave tucked into a cliff. Caves $549, glamping from $198
*Book a tent at Kitfox , on 160 acres of conservation land outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, for one of the resort’s Dine in the Wild weekends, when a local chef prepares homegrown fare. Hiking and biking in Galisteo Basin Preserve are right outside your door. From $200
* Dunes Experiences’ Desert Camp is scheduled to launch in June next to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, featuring safari-style tents and guided excursions in the surrounding San Luis Valley. $250 —G.A.
Desert Winner: Joshua Tree, California
This dramatic desert landscape is having a moment, with plenty of new projects. The recently opened nine-mile Long Canyon Trail, for example, links Desert Hot Springs with Joshua Tree National Park, and a new stewardship agreement between the Park Service and the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians will involve the tribe in park management, interpretive services, cultural and historical training, and rescue and wildfire operations. Meanwhile, lodging options keep getting better. AutoCamp opened a property with decked-out Airstream trailers surrounding a modern clubhouse and a heated pool. You’ll find The Bungalows—newly refurbished mid-century modern cottages—at the 152-acre, wellness-focused Joshua Tree Retreat Center. While you’re in the area, knock out a through-hike of the California Hiking and Riding Trail, a 37-mile point-to-point path that forms a U through the northern section of the park and heads deep into the backcountry, with views of the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the west and Lost Horse and Hidden Valley to the north. The terrain ranges from rolling scrubland and valley floors thick with iconic Joshua trees to Jumbo Rocks, a field of massive boulders. Hit this trail in the early spring, when the terrain bursts with wildflowers. Hungry? The new Spaghetti Western Saloon in Morongo Valley is the brainchild of two Italian-born musicians; it offers live performances, locally and organically sourced ingredients, and Wild West–inspired cocktails. —G.A.
Runner-Up: Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, Alaska
Thirty-five miles north of the Arctic Circle in Kobuk Valley National Park , a curious sight rises 100 feet out of the forest—the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes. Spend two days hiking and camping in what seems like the Sahara, where summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees. The best way in and out is by bush plane via the town of Kotzebue or Bettles. The pilot will land right on the sand. —T.N.
Electric Travel Winner: Natchez Trace Parkway, Tennessee and Mississippi
The West Coast doesn’t have a monopoly on EV-charger density. The Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile highway through rural Tennessee and Mississippi that’s managed by the National Park Service, has more than 300 charging stations in surrounding communities. Most are free, and more than half are level three—the fastest available. The road itself is packed with cultural touchstones, tracing a route once used by Native Americans, European settlers, and, lately, roadsters looking for a slice of Americana. With no stoplights, no billboards, and little development outside of the occasional restored barn or farmhouse, the Natchez Trace rolls through hills blanketed with hardwood and pine forests. Start in Nashville and end at the Mississippi River in the town of Natchez, checking out highlights as varied as Elvis’s birthplace in Tupelo (milepost 260) and the dome-shaped mounds built by Indigenous people 2,000 years ago (milepost 286.7). It’s a bike-friendly route, with campsites for bikepackers; form a rolling 22-mile loop by combining Highway 553 with the Trace between mileposts 10 and 20. If you’re driving, stop at the Chickasaw Village Site (milepost 261.8), a 90-acre prairie with the preserved homes of a Native village, and explore the Yockanookany section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail (milepost 122) through the cypress swamp left behind when the Pearl River changed course thousands of years ago. —G.A.
Runner-Up: E-Biking in Maine
Cycling coastal Maine is beautiful, but add sailing, secluded beaches, and numerous chances to eat lobster, and you’ve got a winning combo. Ride with Summer Feet Cycling from Port Clyde to Acadia National Park—a six-day adventure—sleeping at inns along the way ($3,695). Your e-bike makes the climb up Cadillac Mountain all the more memorable. —T.N.
Hiking Winner: Arrigetch Peaks, Alaska
Think Mordor, but transported to Alaska. Set in the middle of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve , an area that welcomed fewer than 9,500 visitors last year, these 7,000-foot granite peaks are so remote that most trekkers opt for a guided tour in July or August, when the weather is best and wildlife abounds. Between the peaks are six incredibly clear aquamarine lakes in the Aquarius Valley, and the journey to get there is just as stunning. Alaska Alpine Adventures, which has led group tours around the state for 25 years, offers a rigorous ten-day backpacking expedition starting and ending in Fairbanks that takes in the Alatna River, glacial valleys, and burbling waterfalls over the course of some 40 miles (from $6,000). For a less time-intensive way to check out the Arrigetch, Brooks Range Aviation and Coyote Air, based in Bettles and Coldfoot, respectively, offer flightseeing trips (from $785) that put the scope of the area into better perspective, plus glimpses of herds of roaming wildlife. While you’re in the Land of the Midnight Sun, take advantage of your proximity to the Alaska Railroad, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. From May through early September, the line’s scenic 12-day Centennial Special runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks via Seward—a 470-mile historic route that lets you gawk at Denali, the Kenai Fjords, and several glaciers through your panoramic window (from $5,155). —Emily Pennington
To plan your route in the Arrigetch Peaks, check out this map from Gaia GPS. For more hiking inspiration, read Outside’s trail expert’s guide to the 10 best hikes in the world .
Runner-Up: Urban Hiking in Boston
The pandemic may have put city trails in the spotlight, but urban treks have long been a staple in Boston, one of the country’s most walkable burgs. There’s the lauded Freedom Trail, Boston’s signature colonial-history jaunt to churches, cemeteries, and other sites from the American Revolution. And last year, a Bostonian created the 27-mile Walking City Trail, linking green spaces in 17 neighborhoods. —S.V.
Family Trip Winner: New River Gorge, West Virginia
West Virginia has been getting the word out about all its spectacular nature of late—notably the churning whitewater, forested trails, and sandstone cliffs of America’s 63rd national park, New River Gorge . With so many recreational opportunities for every age and expertise level, this is our pick for families. Base out of Adventures on the Gorge, a 350-acre resort in Lansing, for all things outdoorsy. There are hiking trails, a disc-golf course, a zip line, and a swimming pool, plus multi-bedroom home rentals. Staff organize half-, full-, or multiday outings for your river crew. (Children from 6 to 11 raft free with an accompanying adult Sundays through Thursdays.) Plan your trip to coincide with Gauley Season, a six-week whitewater extravaganza—beginning this year on September 8—that draws thousands of people to test their skills on the Class III–V rapids let loose by scheduled releases of the Summersville Dam. Plenty of dryland activities beckon, too, including treks to historic mining communities, rock climbing for all skill grades, and horseback riding to the rim of the gorge. It’s easy to see why West Virginia’s slogan is Wild and Wonderful. —E.P.
Runner-Up: Philipsburg, Montana
In winter, families head to Philipsburg’s Discovery Ski Area—known as Disco to locals—for its easy frontside groomers. In town you’ll find a community ice rink, old-fashioned candy at the Sweet Palace, and cold craft beer at Philipsburg Brewing Company. Come summer, Philipsburg (population 847) is a quaint base camp for mellow hikes in the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, fishing for brook trout in Georgetown Lake, and downhill mountain biking at Discovery Bike Park. At nearby Gem Mountain, you can even pan for sapphires—the treasure that put this former mining town on the map. —Jacob Baynham
Cabins Winner: Getaway House
Jon Staff was a burned-out East Coaster when he and a partner at Harvard Business School came up with a plan that focused on doing what he needed most: getting into nature to reset his mood, with zero distractions. Getaway House was born from that impetus. What started as one small house in a New Hampshire forest has grown into more than 780 tiny homes, set in clusters called outposts, in at least 15 states, all of them within a couple of hours of a major city. The idea behind each stay is for guests to fully disconnect from day-to-day life so they can reconnect in a healthier way upon reentry. Each white pine home is no bigger than 200 square feet and designed with a small kitchen, a large window for taking in the trees, and a lockbox for your phone. TV? Wi-Fi? Don’t ask. Instead, you’ll find an outdoor fire pit, a mini library, and a landline for emergencies. More than two dozen popular outposts now dot the country. One of the newest, near Asheboro, North Carolina, has trails and fishing, and sits within day-tripping distance of Birkhead Mountain Wilderness; there’s also a 12-mile round-trip hike up 938-foot Coolers Knob Mountain in the Uwharries. From $109 —T.N.
Runner-Up: Jet Hospitality
Looking to hook a gorgeous Montana rainbow trout, dig razor clams in Washington, or pick wild huckleberries on a stroll in Idaho? Jet Hospitality has you covered throughout the western U.S., with cabins, bungalows, and inns, along with glamping, tent, and RV sites, in Fort Smith, Montana; Pacific Dunes, Washington; and Teton Peaks Resort, Idaho, where you can hike or ride along the 30-mile Ashton-Tetonia Rail Trail or enjoy a wolf-watching adventure in Yellowstone National Park. —T.N.
Lake Winner: Burntside Lodge, Minnesota
In January, the Department of the Interior announced withdrawal of more than 225,000 acres of public land from federal mine-leasing programs near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The 20-year hiatus allows campers to finally relax and reserve one of the 248 coveted permits allowed per day to enjoy paddling season, which starts May 1 and ends September 30. Not everyone who wants to explore the pristine north woods must sleep in a tent. Burntside Lodge on Burntside Lake—one of dozens of Boundary Waters entry points—has been owned by the LaMontagne family for more than 80 years. Its third-generation head chef, Nicole LaMontagne, serves up walleye as fresh and flaky as you could catch and fry yourself. With kayaks, canoes, and SUPs for rent, guests can paddle across the water to the Crab Lake Portage, then hike a mile overland for a taste of the wilderness. But most are happy to stay put. Reserve cabin 26. This one-bedroom shorefront log structure was built in the 1920s by Finnish craftsmen. The floors slope a bit, but with a cozy bed, a hot shower, a fireplace, and sunset views, who cares? —Stephanie Pearson
Runner-Up: Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan
The Keweenaw Peninsula, off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, juts into Lake Superior like a thumb ringed by thick forests, craggy shores, and a white-sand beach. You can see it all while paddling a sea kayak on the 100-mile-long Keweenaw Water Trail as it hops between wilderness campsites. If you’d prefer to be guided, go with the Keweenaw Adventure Company . —T.N.
Island Winner: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which offer five National Park Service sites and require no passport for American citizens. Sitting 40 miles south of the more popular Caribbean counterparts St. Thomas and St. John, St. Croix is often overlooked by island-hopping visitors. It’s newly in the spotlight, however, after Congress designated the entire island a national heritage area in December. This step helps protect its mix of history and culture. A stroll through the colonial structures of Christiansted National Historic Site transports you back to Alexander Hamilton’s day, when the downtown district was a Danish port. Wander the shores of Salt River Bay, a somber reminder of the centuries when migrants, colonizers, and enslaved people passed through the territory. The island is also covered with trails that deliver incredible sea views, and snorkelers of any skill level will relish a day trip to Buck Island to marvel at massive reef systems where elkhorn coral may reach 30 feet high. For accommodations, consider the recently renovated King Christian Hotel, right on the waterfront. From $229 —Theresa McKinney
Runner-Up: Dauphin Island, Alabama
Visiting Dauphin, a 35-mile drive from Mobile on the Gulf Coast, will be a revelation once you glimpse the six miles of sugar-soft white dunes at West End Beach. The island is also home to a 137-acre Audubon bird sanctuary, with a three-mile-long National Recreational Trail, as well as excellent kayaking and paddling. This sliver of land has just 1,800 residents, the restaurants tend toward the bar-and-grill variety, and most vacation rentals are on stilts to protect against hurricanes—all of which contributes to its relaxed charm. —R.K.
Ski Winner: Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
Operating a ski resort is an inherently resource-intensive business. Taos Ski Valley , however, has long taken a more conscientious approach, proving itself a maverick in the industry by committing to clean-energy initiatives. Taos was the first major ski resort to become a certified B Corp, which means that its operations meet the highest social and environmental standards. Late last year, it became carbon-neutral certified after reducing its footprint. It now uses renewable energy to power snowcats, snowmaking machines, and chairlifts; it has undergone green-building upgrades; and it invests in offset projects like reforestation and biofuels. Aside from its reputation for driving change, the main reason skiers flock to this resort in northern New Mexico is for the uncrowded, low-key vibe. That and the quick hike to steep chutes off the West Basin, bird’s-eye views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from atop 12,481-foot Kachina Peak, and the green-chile-stuffed breakfast burritos from Bumps Market in the village. Stay at the 80-room Blake Hotel (from $300) and you’re steps from Lift 1. (The historic Hotel St. Bernard, another favorite, is undergoing a renovation and is slated to reopen in 2025.) Start this off with Al’s Run for a leg-crushing warm-up, and at day’s end join those in the know for beer and soft pretzels on the deck of the Bavarian at the bottom of Lift 4. —M.M.
Runner-Up: Bluebird Backcountry, Kremmling, Colorado
When Bluebird Backcountry opened three years ago, it offered a unique way to get into ski touring—with trail maps, guides, and gear rentals. You won’t find chairlifts at this 1,200-acre ski-patrolled area 45 minutes southeast of Steamboat Springs; it’s all human-powered. Over the winter, Bluebird added lodging options, including van-camping sites, a hostel, rustic cabins, and ski-to domes (from $25 for camping, $59 for hostel rooms, and $109 for cabins and domes). There’s no fancy slopeside hotel, but that’s partly why Bluebird’s so awesome: it’s an affordable escape from crowded resorts. —M.M.
The Wildest Place Winner: Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota
The nation’s 17th largest state has a population of just under one million, about a fifth of whom live in Sioux Falls. The entire western third of the state is prairie grasslands, dense pine forests, geologically fascinating rock formations, and national parks filled with sacred caves and fossilized creatures from another era. See it all along the 111-mile Centennial Trail. Accessible to hikers, horseback riders, and, in some places, mountain bikers, the trail traverses state parks, federal wilderness, national forests, and a national park. It begins eight miles northeast of Sturgis in Bear Butte State Park, named for a plug of black igneous rock sacred to both the Lakota and Cheyenne. It then climbs into the wild geology of the Black Hills, home to pronghorn, bighorn sheep, elk, and turkey, winding around seven trout-filled lakes, crossing streams, and eventually topping out at 7,242-foot Black Elk Peak, before ending in Wind Cave National Park . Camping options vary from primitive tent sites to full campgrounds. Two-thirds in, the trail passes within a mile of Mount Rushmore, where hikers can peel off and sleep in a comfortable glamping tent at Under Canvas Mount Rushmore. To ensure no wrong turns, pick up the definitive guide, Hiking Centennial Trail, by Cheryl Whetham and Jukka Huhtiniemi. —S.P.
Runner-Up: Basin and Range National Monument, Nevada
Even in a state known for vast, empty landscapes, this 704,000-acre national monument two hours north of Las Vegas takes the prize. With no paved roads or designated hiking trails and unreliable cell service, you’re on your own to climb, roam, and suss out primitive camps in this desert terrain, where peaks rise to almost 9,000 feet. A lucky six people per day can visit City, a monumental sculpture of dirt, rock, and concrete mounds and depressions created over 50 years by artist Michael Heizer. Submissions to visit in 2023 are closed. Try again for 2024 at the Triple Aught Foundation’s website. —S.P.
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9 of the Best Adventure Destinations in the U.S. for an Action-packed Getaway
It’s all about outdoor thrills.
Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.
Draper White/Getty Images
The whole point of a vacation is to get away from the humdrum of daily life, right? Nothing supplies adrenaline-boosting thrills like an outdoor adventure . Whether you’re seeking downhill action at one of Colorado’s best ski resorts , thigh-burning hikes around the Grand Canyon , legendary surf breaks in Oahu , or seaplane flights high above Alaska’s final frontier , the domestic options are endless. Scroll on for nine rugged, outdoorsy destinations across the United States to scratch that adventure travel itch.
Colorado certainly doesn’t suffer from a lack of adventure. For the ultimate mix of snowy and summery recreation, look no further than Vail . Set within White River National Forest, this celebrated mountain town provides access to the largest ski resort in the Centennial State with over 5,000 acres of shreddable terrain, plus hiking and biking trails, fly fishing in Gore Creek, and the high-flying thrills of the seasonal Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster. Located just steps from Gondola One, the family-owned Sonnenalp Hotel is a long-time favorite that’s beloved for its Bavarian charm, cozy accommodations, and proximity to the slopes.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure
Wyoming’s most well-known adventure destination, Jackson Hole puts travelers in proximity to three winter resorts — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort, and Grand Targhee Resort — for epic skiing and snowboarding in the frosty months. Visitors can do a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the herds at the National Elk Refuge and drive to both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park for even more wildlife peeping and incredible hiking. It also has high-end hotels to retire to after all that exploration. Western heritage, warm hospitality, and 55 rooms designed to help guests recharge await at Hotel Jackson .
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
Bestriding the California/Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is the dazzling destination centered around the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas. Besides all the watersports — kayaking, paddle boarding, water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, and fishing — there’s ample recreation on dry land. The area boasts many challenging hiking trails with a payoff of unparalleled views. Don’t forget about the ski resorts to rip through powder in the winter. Perfect for full-throttle travelers who like to retire somewhere plush after adventuring, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is an ideal slope-side home base with direct access to Northstar California and a posh spa.
Homer has some stiff competition for the best adventure destination in Alaska. But what really sets this small bayfront city on the Kenai Peninsula apart is the show-stopping combination of old-growth forests, ocean, and wildlife. Its status as the halibut fishing capital of the world draws anglers from near and far. If you don’t feel like casting a line, consider a horseback, four-wheel vehicle, or boat tour. The best way to soak in all the rugged beauty? A thrilling helicopter ride. The ultimate basecamp, Tutka Bay sits at the edge of the Kachemak Bay State Park and delivers activities like kayaking as well as cozy corners to kick back in between expeditions.
Folks heading to Moab don’t have to choose between the dramatic scenery and outdoor odysseys in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park — because both pilgrimage-worthy destinations are just minutes away. That means trekking through thousands of natural sandstone arches, jaw-dropping geological formations, hectares of desert landscape, and buttes carved by the Colorado River. Under Canvas Moab offers tricked-out tents, s’mores, and next-level stargazing, while the new ULUM elevates things even further with suite-style glamping tents, sustainable Southwest-inspired cuisine, and a dedicated adventure concierge.
David Ziegler/Getty Images
A true surfers' paradise, the North Shore of Oahu boasts some of the most iconic breaks in the world. The enormous waves of Waimea Bay often reach 25 feet high in the winter months. Carving the huge barrels of the Banzai Pipeline is a must-try adventure for many hardcore surfers. Newbies can take lessons with a pro before paddling out solo. There’s also ziplining, skydiving, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, waterfall treks, and ATV excursions on the island. With everything from hiking through the tropical forest to horseback riding along the beach to SUP yoga sessions, Turtle Bay Resort very much caters to activity lovers.
Yosemite National Park, California
Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure
The opportunities for communing with nature in California never end. To experience an unparalleled range of outdoor adventures, head to Yosemite National Park . The sheer granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome lure rock climbers from around the world. Chasing the tallest waterfall in North America, biking the valley floor, summiting sharp peaks, watching the sunrise from Glacier Point, trekking through sky-grazing sequoia trees, and swimming in alpine Tenaya Lake also guarantee adrenaline rushes. Built in 1927, The Ahwahnee welcomes park goers with stone fireplaces, beamed ceilings, and hand-carved wood furniture.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Few places on the planet have the power to take the breath away of everyone who visits like the Grand Canyon . One of the seven natural wonders of the world, this awe-inspiring, 277-mile-long Arizona landmark showcases millions of years of red-rock scenery. In addition to countless hiking paths — including the popular Bright Angel Trail — thrill seekers have the choice of unforgettable helicopter flights, mule rides, scenic drives, and expert-level white-water rafting. El Tovar Hotel , long considered the crown jewel of historic national park lodges, puts intrepid travelers steps from all the action.
Heath Korvola/Getty Images
Tucked away in the northwest part of Big Sky Country, Whitefish — the gateway to dramatic peaks, valleys, sparkling lakes, and alpine meadows in Glacier National Park — is a cold-weather sports destination that also shines during the warmer months. Snow bunnies love skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. When the temps rise, hiking and biking take center stage. More thrilling things for adrenaline junkies to do in this Montana town include kayaking, hot air ballooning, and ziplining. Designed with adventurous travelers in mind, Après Whitefish blends the style of a modern boutique hotel with the soul of a nostalgic mountain lodge.
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Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana
- Travel Guide
Adventure Destinations: 30 Best Places To Travel For Adventure
Published: August 24, 2023
by Minda Messina
When it comes to seeking adventure, the world is a vast playground waiting to be explored. From the rugged mountains to the mesmerizing oceans, there are countless destinations that offer thrilling experiences for adventure enthusiasts. Whether you’re a nature lover, adrenaline junkie, or simply an explorer at heart, embarking on an adventure trip is a surefire way to create unforgettable memories.
Adventure travel allows you to step out of your comfort zone, push your limits, and immerse yourself in breathtaking landscapes and cultures. It presents opportunities for exhilarating activities such as hiking, rock climbing, white-water rafting, scuba diving, and so much more. Whether you’re seeking a thrilling experience in the wild or a cultural immersion in a vibrant city, there’s an adventure destination for everyone.
In this article, we’ve curated a list of 30 best adventure destinations around the globe. From Africa to Asia, Australia to Europe, and North America to South America, we’ll take you on a virtual journey to explore some of the most awe-inspiring places. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a first-time adventurer, these destinations will ignite your sense of wanderlust and leave you craving for more.
So, buckle up and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. Let’s dive into the depths of the oceans, conquer the highest peaks, and unearth hidden gems in the most remote corners of the world. Get ready to embark on a thrilling escapade that will leave you with stories to share and memories to cherish for years to come.
From the vast savannahs of Africa to the towering peaks of the Himalayas, the adventure awaits. Get inspired, start planning, and embark on an unforgettable journey to one of these 30 best adventure destinations.
Africa is a continent that beckons adventurers with its diverse landscapes, mesmerizing wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. From the vast deserts to lush rainforests, Africa offers a wide range of thrilling experiences for adventure seekers.
One of the must-visit destinations in Africa is Tanzania, home to the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro. Scaling the highest peak in Africa is a dream come true for many trekkers. The journey to the summit is challenging but rewarding, with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Tanzania also boasts the Serengeti National Park, where travelers can witness the incredible wildebeest migration and spot a variety of wildlife in their natural habitat.
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, South Africa is a haven for adventure activities. From cage diving with great white sharks in Gansbaai to bungee jumping from the famous Bloukrans Bridge, the opportunities for thrill-seekers are abundant. The country is also renowned for its vibrant cities like Cape Town, where you can hike up Table Mountain for panoramic views or explore the iconic Robben Island.
If you’re seeking a unique adventure, head to Namibia and explore the otherworldly landscapes of the Namib Desert. Ride a quad bike or embark on a thrilling duneboarding excursion, and witness the incredible red sand dunes stretching as far as the eye can see. Don’t forget to visit Etosha National Park for spectacular game drives and the chance to spot the Big Five.
Another African gem is Kenya, famous for its thrilling safari experiences. Witness the annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara Reserve or embark on a walking safari in Amboseli National Park. For the ultimate adventure, consider climbing Mount Kenya, the second-highest peak in Africa, or go white-water rafting on the Tana River.
These are just a few examples of the adventures that await in Africa. Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins in Egypt, trekking through the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda, or embarking on a wildlife safari in Botswana, Africa offers a never-ending array of exhilarating experiences for adventurers of all kinds.
Asia is a continent of contrasts, where ancient traditions meet modern innovation. It is a treasure trove of adventure destinations that offer diverse landscapes, vibrant cultures, and thrilling experiences.
One of the top adventure destinations in Asia is Nepal. Renowned for its majestic Himalayan peaks, Nepal offers unparalleled opportunities for trekking and mountaineering. The Everest Base Camp trek is a bucket-list adventure, allowing trekkers to witness the world’s highest peak up close. For an even more challenging adventure, consider climbing Nepal’s other famous peaks like Annapurna or Lhotse.
If you’re seeking a unique adventure in Asia, head to Indonesia and explore the stunning landscapes of Bali. Go white-water rafting down the Ayung River, hike through lush rice terraces in Ubud, or catch some waves in Kuta Beach. Bali also offers thrilling volcano treks, where you can witness breathtaking sunrise views from the top of Mount Batur.
Journey to the land of the Thunder Dragon and experience the adventure of a lifetime in Bhutan. Trek through the stunning landscapes of the Himalayas, visit ancient monasteries, and immerse yourself in the country’s rich cultural heritage. Bhutan’s commitment to sustainable tourism and preservation of its natural environment adds an extra layer of appeal to adventure enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping activities, head to New Zealand, often considered the adventure capital of the world. From bungee jumping in Queenstown to skydiving over stunning landscapes, New Zealand offers a wide range of thrilling experiences. The country’s diverse landscapes, including fjords, mountains, and geothermal areas, provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor adventures.
For a cultural and adventurous fusion, visit India and explore the pristine beauty of the Himalayas. Trek to the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand, embark on the challenging Markha Valley trek in Ladakh, or go on a thrilling white-water rafting expedition on the Ganges River. India also offers opportunities for wildlife safaris in national parks like Ranthambore and Kaziranga.
These are just a few examples of the amazing adventures that Asia has to offer. Whether you’re exploring the ancient temples of Cambodia, hiking the Great Wall of China, or diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Philippines, Asia’s diversity and natural beauty provide endless opportunities for unforgettable and adrenaline-filled experiences.
Australia, also known as the Land Down Under, is a vast continent that offers a multitude of adventure opportunities. From stunning coastlines to rugged outback landscapes, Australia is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
One of the top adventure destinations in Australia is the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkeling or diving in this UNESCO World Heritage site is an experience like no other. Explore the vibrant coral reefs, swim alongside colorful tropical fish, and marvel at the beauty of this natural wonder.
If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, head to Queenstown in New Zealand. Known as the adventure capital of Australia, Queenstown offers an array of thrilling activities, from bungee jumping to jet boating. For the ultimate adventure, take a leap of faith and skydive with stunning views of the Remarkables mountain range.
For those who enjoy hiking and wildlife encounters, Australia’s national parks are a must-visit. Explore the stunning landscapes of the Blue Mountains near Sydney, hike through the rugged terrain of the Grampians in Victoria, or spot unique wildlife on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
The Kimberley region in Western Australia offers an unspoiled wilderness with stunning gorges, waterfalls, and ancient Aboriginal rock art. Take a scenic helicopter ride over the Bungle Bungle Range, go fishing in the pristine rivers, or embark on a multi-day hike along the iconic Gibb River Road.
Adventure enthusiasts can also indulge in water sports along Australia’s coastline. Surf the world-famous breaks in Byron Bay, go kayaking in the Whitsunday Islands, or try your hand at kiteboarding in Perth. With over 35,000 kilometers of coastline, Australia provides endless opportunities for water-based adventures.
Australia is also home to some of the world’s most unique wildlife. Dive with great white sharks in Port Lincoln, go on a crocodile-spotting adventure in the Northern Territory, or witness the mesmerizing migration of humpback whales along the East Coast.
From thrilling adventures to stunning natural landscapes and unique wildlife encounters, Australia offers something for every adventure seeker. Whether you’re exploring the famous landmarks of Sydney, camping under the stars in the Outback, or diving into the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia promises unforgettable experiences at every turn.
Central America is a region of breathtaking landscapes, rich biodiversity, and vibrant cultures. From dense rainforests to pristine beaches, Central America offers a plethora of adventure opportunities for travelers seeking both adrenaline-pumping activities and cultural immersion.
Costa Rica is a crown jewel of adventure in Central America. With its lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and active volcanoes, this country is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Zip line through the treetops of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, white-water raft down the Pacuare River, or hike to the summit of Arenal Volcano for a spectacular view.
If you’re a diving or snorkeling enthusiast, Belize is a must-visit destination. Explore the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef system in the world, and swim alongside colorful marine life. Don’t miss the opportunity to dive the Great Blue Hole, a natural wonder and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For a truly unique adventure, head to Guatemala and explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal. Climb to the top of towering pyramids, immerse yourself in the rich Mayan history, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding jungle. Guatemala is also known for its stunning volcanic landscapes, offering opportunities for hiking and volcano treks.
In Nicaragua, adrenaline junkies can experience the thrill of volcano boarding down the slopes of Cerro Negro. Strap on a wooden board, slide down the volcanic ash, and let the adrenaline rush through your veins. Nicaragua also boasts beautiful beaches for surfing, kayaking in mangrove forests, and exploring stunning colonial architecture.
Honduras is a hidden gem for adventure seekers, with its diverse landscapes and adventurous activities. Explore the breathtaking wildlife of the Mosquito Coast, go white-water rafting in La Ceiba, or dive the magnificent coral reefs of the Bay Islands.
Central America’s unspoiled natural beauty and abundance of adventure opportunities make it a dream destination for those seeking thrill and cultural immersion. Whether you’re exploring the ancient Mayan ruins, diving into crystal-clear waters, or zip-lining through the rainforests, Central America guarantees a memorable adventure that will leave you wanting more.
Europe, a continent steeped in history and culture, also offers a myriad of adventure opportunities. From rugged mountains to pristine coastlines, Europe combines natural beauty with thrilling experiences, making it an ideal destination for adventure enthusiasts.
If you’re seeking a hiking adventure, head to the Swiss Alps. Explore the picturesque trails of the Matterhorn, trek the iconic Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt, or conquer the challenging peaks of the Bernese Oberland. The breathtaking landscapes of the Alps will leave you in awe at every step.
For those who enjoy water sports, Croatia offers a coastal paradise. Kayak along the stunning Dalmatian Coast, go paddleboarding in the crystal-clear waters of Hvar Island, or try your hand at windsurfing in Bol. Croatia’s turquoise waters and hidden coves provide the perfect backdrop for thrilling water adventures.
Those seeking an adrenaline rush can indulge in extreme sports in Interlaken, Switzerland. Go paragliding over the Swiss valleys, bungee jump from the iconic Stockhorn Bridge, or try canyoning in the breathtaking gorges. The stunning Swiss scenery combined with heart-pumping activities creates an unforgettable adventure.
Scotland is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a mix of rugged landscapes and historic sites. Hike the iconic West Highland Way, go mountain biking in the forests of the Cairngorms, or try your hand at rock climbing on the dramatic cliffs of the Isle of Skye. Scotland’s wild beauty is an adventurer’s paradise.
In Norway, explore the world-famous fjords and witness the Northern Lights. Hike to the famous Trolltunga or Preikestolen, go kayaking through the fjords, or chase the spectacular light show of the Aurora Borealis. Norway’s dramatic landscapes and natural wonders provide endless opportunities for adventure.
Europe offers a wide range of adventure activities in every corner of the continent. Whether you’re skiing in the French Alps, cycling through the vineyards of Tuscany, or exploring the volcanic landscapes of Iceland, Europe caters to all types of adventure seekers. Combine thrilling experiences with rich history, delicious cuisine, and vibrant cultures, and you have the perfect recipe for an unforgettable adventure in Europe.
The Middle East, with its rich history and awe-inspiring landscapes, presents a lesser-known but equally captivating adventure destination. From vast deserts to stunning coastlines, the Middle East offers a unique blend of culture, history, and adventure.
Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is a city renowned for its bold architecture and luxurious amenities. However, it also offers a range of thrilling activities. Go dune bashing in the desert, try your hand at indoor skydiving, or go skiing at Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort amidst the desert sands.
If you’re seeking a unique adventure, head to Jordan and explore the ancient city of Petra. Hike through the narrow Siq, a canyon that leads to the breathtaking Treasury. Join a desert safari in Wadi Rum, where you can ride a camel, go sandboarding, or stargaze in the vast desert wilderness.
For an underwater adventure, dive into the crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea in Egypt. Explore vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life, including colorful tropical fish, turtles, and even dolphins. Dahab, Sharm El Sheikh, and Hurghada are popular diving destinations in Egypt.
If you’re a fan of hiking, head to Oman and explore the stunning landscapes of the Hajar Mountains. Trek through the dramatic Wadi Ghul, also known as the Grand Canyon of Oman, or climb Jebel Shams, the country’s highest peak. Oman also offers opportunities for desert camping, dolphin watching, and turtle spotting on its pristine beaches.
Israel, with its diverse landscapes and rich history, also presents opportunities for adventure. Hike through the mesmerizing landscapes of the Negev Desert, go scuba diving in the Red Sea, or explore the ancient ruins of Masada. The country’s unique blend of adventure, culture, and history is sure to captivate any traveler.
The Middle East provides a wealth of adventure opportunities that might surprise you. From thrilling desert experiences to unique cultural encounters, it truly is a region that rewards the adventurous traveler. Embark on a journey to the Middle East, immerse yourself in its rich heritage, and discover the hidden gems that lie within.
North America is a vast continent that offers diverse landscapes and a wide range of adventure opportunities. From soaring mountains to stunning coastlines, the continent is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and thrill-seekers.
In the United States, the state of Alaska is a haven for adventurers. Explore the pristine wilderness of Denali National Park, kayak amongst glaciers in Kenai Fjord National Park, or go dog sledding across snow-covered landscapes. Alaska’s rugged beauty and untouched wilderness is a paradise for outdoor lovers.
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, head to Canada and experience the breathtaking landscapes of Banff National Park. Go hiking along the famous trails of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, try your hand at rock climbing on the rugged cliffs, or go whitewater rafting down the Kicking Horse River.
The beaches of Mexico’s Riviera Maya offer a mix of relaxation and adventure. Snorkel or dive in the colorful coral reefs of Cozumel, go cave diving in the cenotes, or explore ancient Mayan ruins such as Tulum and Chichen Itza. Mexico’s vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and natural wonders make it an alluring adventure destination.
If you’re seeking a unique adventure, head to Costa Rica in Central America. Zip line through the rainforests, go white-water rafting on the Pacuare River, or hike to the summit of volcanoes like Arenal and Poas. Costa Rica’s commitment to ecotourism and rich biodiversity make it an ideal destination for immersive adventures.
In the United States, the Grand Canyon is a natural wonder that offers a wide range of outdoor activities. Hike along the rim, go whitewater rafting in the Colorado River, or take a helicopter tour to witness the spectacular views from above. The immense size and stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon leave a lasting impression on all who visit.
North America is also home to some of the world’s most famous national parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion. These natural wonders provide endless opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, camping, and exploring dramatic landscapes.
From the snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies to the rugged canyons of the American Southwest, North America offers a wide range of adventure opportunities. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping activities, breathtaking natural beauty, or vibrant cultural experiences, this continent has it all.
South America is a continent of stunning natural beauty and incredible diversity, offering adventure seekers a wide range of thrilling experiences. From the Amazon rainforest to the Andes mountains, South America is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
One of the top adventure destinations in South America is Peru. Hike the iconic Inca Trail to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, traverse the high-altitude landscapes of the Cordillera Blanca, or go sandboarding in the Huacachina Desert. Peru’s rich history and breathtaking landscapes make it a must-visit destination for adventurers.
In Argentina, the massive Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park is a sight to behold. Take a boat ride to get up close to the glacier, or try ice trekking on the icy surface. Argentina also offers opportunities for hiking in Patagonia, horseback riding in the Andes, and wildlife spotting in the Valdes Peninsula.
For a unique adventure, head to Ecuador and explore the magnificent Galapagos Islands. Swim with sea lions, snorkel with turtles, and witness the unique wildlife that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Ecuador also offers opportunities for hiking the stunning Quilotoa Loop, climbing volcanoes like Cotopaxi, and exploring the Amazon rainforest.
Another South American gem is Chile, known for its diverse landscapes. Explore the otherworldly landscapes of the Atacama Desert, hike through the stunning Torres del Paine National Park, or go skiing in the Andes mountains. Chile’s natural wonders offer thrilling adventures for all types of travelers.
In Brazil, the mighty Amazon rainforest awaits. Embark on a river cruise, go wildlife spotting, and immerse yourself in the vibrant ecosystem of the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Brazil also offers world-class surfing in Florianopolis, awe-inspiring hikes in Chapada Diamantina National Park, and exhilarating boat rides to the majestic Iguazu Falls.
South America truly has something for everyone. Whether you’re exploring the breathtaking landscapes of Patagonia, challenging yourself with high-altitude trekking in the Andes, or immersing yourself in the vibrant culture of Rio de Janeiro, South America promises adventure and unforgettable experiences at every turn.
Oceania, a vast region consisting of Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations, is a dream destination for adventure seekers. From the stunning landscapes of Australia to the remote islands of the Pacific, Oceania offers a wealth of thrilling experiences.
Australia, known for its diverse landscapes, offers countless adventure opportunities. Dive into the Great Barrier Reef, hike through the rugged terrain of the Blue Mountains, or go sandboarding in the stunning sand dunes of the Outback. With its unique wildlife, vibrant cities, and vast wilderness, Australia is an adventurer’s paradise.
New Zealand, often referred to as the adventure capital of the world, provides a wide range of thrilling activities. Bungee jump off the Kawarau Bridge, go skydiving over stunning landscapes, or hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the world’s best day hikes. From hiking to water sports, New Zealand offers something for everyone.
If you’re seeking a unique adventure, head to the remote islands of the Pacific. Swim alongside majestic humpback whales in Tonga, explore the untouched rainforests of Papua New Guinea, or hike on the dramatic landscapes of Fiji’s Yasawa Islands. The islands of Oceania offer a glimpse into untouched natural beauty and rich local cultures.
The Polynesian paradise of Hawaii offers a mix of adventure and relaxation. Surf the legendary waves of the North Shore, hike to the top of Mauna Kea for a breathtaking sunset, or go snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of Hanauma Bay. The beauty and serenity of Hawaii make it an ideal destination for adventure and rejuvenation.
In Vanuatu, go volcano boarding down the ash slopes of Mount Yasur, go snorkeling in crystal-clear blue holes, or hike through lush jungles to spectacular waterfalls. Vanuatu’s untouched landscapes and vibrant culture create an immersive adventure experience.
Oceania’s vast and diverse landscapes, coupled with its rich cultures and unique wildlife, make it an incredible adventure destination. Whether you’re exploring the iconic landmarks of Australia, hiking through New Zealand’s stunning national parks, or island-hopping in the Pacific, Oceania offers unforgettable adventures that will leave you in awe.
The Polar Regions, including the Arctic and Antarctica, are among the most extreme and awe-inspiring adventure destinations on Earth. These remote and pristine landscapes offer unparalleled beauty and unique experiences for the intrepid traveler.
In the Arctic, embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Bundle up and explore the frozen landscapes, go dog sledding across the tundra, or join an expedition to spot polar bears in their natural habitat. The Arctic offers a glimpse into a world of ice and wildlife unlike anywhere else on the planet.
Antarctica, the southernmost continent, is a pristine wilderness of ice and snow. From cruising through towering icebergs to spotting colonies of penguins, Antarctica offers a truly immersive adventure experience. Kayak through icy waters, hike on frozen terrain, or take a polar plunge into the frigid waters. A visit to Antarctica is a humbling and exhilarating experience that leaves a lasting impression.
Both the Arctic and Antarctica present opportunities for ice trekking, where you can traverse frozen landscapes and witness stunning glaciers up close. Feel the crunch of ice beneath your feet as you explore these remote and untouched regions.
Expedition cruises are a popular way to explore the Polar Regions. Sail through icy waters, spotting wildlife such as seals, whales, and seabirds along the way. Expert guides provide insights into the history, geology, and wildlife of these extraordinary regions, making the journey both educational and adventurous.
While the Polar Regions are known for their extreme climates, the rewards far outweigh the challenges. The chance to witness incredible wildlife, explore untouched landscapes, and experience the ethereal beauty of the Polar Regions is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any adventurer willing to brave the elements.
Whether you choose the Arctic or Antarctic, a visit to the Polar Regions promises a unique and transformative adventure. Prepare to be awed by the grandeur of these frozen wildernesses and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Embarking on an adventure trip is an exhilarating experience that allows us to break free from our daily routines and explore the wonders of the world. From the rugged landscapes of Africa to the pristine beauty of Oceania, the Earth is teeming with adventure destinations that cater to every type of traveler.
Throughout this article, we have ventured into diverse regions, from the Arctic to Antarctica, and highlighted the top adventure destinations in each. We’ve discovered the breathtaking landscapes of the Swiss Alps, explored the cultural wonders of the Middle East, and marveled at the natural beauty of South America. Each destination offers its unique thrills and experiences, inviting us to push our limits and embrace the unknown.
Adventure travel not only provides us with thrilling activities but also offers opportunities for personal growth and cultural immersion. It allows us to connect with nature, gain a deeper understanding of different cultures, and create lasting memories with like-minded explorers. Whether you’re scaling mountains, diving into crystal-clear waters, or hiking through ancient ruins, adventure travel enriches our lives and broadens our perspective.
As we wrap up this journey through the best adventure destinations, remember that each destination has its own unique charm and appeal. It’s the blend of captivating landscapes, thrilling activities, and cultural encounters that make these places truly unforgettable.
So, whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or someone longing for new experiences, let the world be your playground. Seek out new destinations, challenge yourself with extraordinary activities, and embrace the spirit of adventure. There’s a world waiting to be explored, and the adventures that await are as vast and diverse as the planet itself.
So pack your bags, embark on a new adventure, and let the thrill of discovery guide you. Create memories that will last a lifetime and stories that will inspire others to venture out into the unknown. Adventure is out there, waiting for you to seize it.
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- US National Parks
Walk on the Great Wall of China, swim with sharks, chase the northern lights…what’s on your travel bucket list? We picked out 50 unforgettable adventures that we plan to have in our lifetime. We hope this list inspires you, as well.
Tim and I spent months, years even, brainstorming this list. We wanted to come up with 50 travel-related adventures that not only sounded exciting to us, but are also doable for many people.
We know what it is like to have limited time to travel. So we wanted to include a good mix of life-changing multi-day adventures with spine-tingling, adrenaline rushes that can be done in a few days or less.
There are hundreds of activities we could have added to this list. It was very difficult narrowing it down to just 50…but here they are. 50 adventures we plan to do in our lifetime…want to join us?
Our 50 Adventures
COMPLETED | IN THE WORKS
#1 Hike the Zion Narrows #2 Haute Route/Tour du Mont Blanc #3 Bolivia Salt Flats #4 Raft the Colorado River #5 Conquer the GR20 #6 Swim with Jellyfish in Palau #7 Svalbard #8 Gorilla Trekking #9 Hike Half Dome #10 Drive the Karakoram Highway #11 Hike the Dolomites #12 Stand on Kjeragbolten #13 Hike to Machu Picchu #14 Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro #15 Great Barrier Reef #16 Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan #17 Hot Air Balloon Flight
#18 Tongariro Alpine Crossing #19 Havasu Falls #20 Camel Safari #21 Galapagos Islands #22 Journey Down the Nile River #23 Annapurna Circuit #24 Zip-Lining #25 Dog Sledding #26 Torres del Paine #27 Aurora Borealis #28 Tramping in New Zealand #29 The Amazon #30 Angels Landing #31 Hike on a Glacier #32 Petra #33 Komodo Dragons in the Wild #34 Hike Grand Canyon Rim to Rim
#35 Blackwater Rafting #36 See the Wildebeest Migration #37 Huayhuash Circuit #38 Hike to Tiger's Nest #39 Antarctica #40 Rock Climbing #41 Swim with Sharks #42 Hike the Great Wall of China #43 Drive a Racecar #44 Everest Base Camp Trek #45 Bungy Jumping #46 Kalalau Trail #47 Trolltunga #48 Camino de Santiago #49 All-American Road Trip #50 Hike the Julian Alps
- Hike the Zion Narrows
- How To Do It
There are several different ways you can hike the Narrows. Most people hike from the bottom-up, an out-and-back journey that takes you several miles upriver through some of the most scenic sections of the canyon.
For the ultimate experience, you can hike from the top-down, a 16-mile adventure that can be done as an epic day hike or an overnight backpacking trip.
A permit is required to hike the Narrows top-down.
Read more: Zion Narrows: Hiking the Top-Down Route in One Day
Zion National Park
- Walker's Haute Route
- Tour du Mont Blanc
The Walker's Haute Route is a high alpine trail from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland. It makes 10 alpine passes over 200 km of hiking. Along the way you hike past Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. It is one of the most challenging multi-day treks in Europe.
We hiked the Walker's Haute Route in the summer of 2022.
Both of these are spectacular treks across the Alps. If you like the idea of lower crowds and more variety in terms of scenery, pick the Haute Route. If you want to hike one of the most popular trekking routes in the world, go with the Tour du Mont Blanc.
For more information on the Haute Route, check out our Guide to the Walker's Haute Route.
- Bolivia Salt Flats
The Bolivia Salt Flats, also called Salar de Uyuni, is the world’s largest salt flat. It’s also one of the most surreal landscapes in the world. In March and April, the salt flats are covered with a few inches of standing water, creating an extraordinary, reflective landscape. During the remaining months, you can witness a vast, white landscape as far as the eye can see.
- Raft the Colorado River
- Where To Go
- Conquer the GR20
Days: 12 to 15 days Where: Corsica, France When: June through September
- Snorkel with Jellyfish in Palau
Float in the emerald water of a lake in Palau, completely surrounded by millions of jellyfish. It sounds crazy, right? Palau’s Jellyfish Lake is home to a population of jellyfish with a sting so mild you barely feel it (so I have read). But wouldn’t that be wild, swimming among these soft, golden jellyfish in the tropical paradise of Palau?
- About Svalbard
Longyearbyen is where you will spend most of your time. This is the location of the Global Seed Vault, where seeds of every plant are stored just in case some apocalyptic even occurs on our planet. During the winter months, go dog sledding and go on multi-day snowmobile expeditions. During the summer months (it gets up to a balmy 43°F), the snow disappears, so things to do include kayaking, hiking, and seeing the midnight sun. You can even take multi-day cruises around the island, looking for polar bear.
We spent several days in Svalbard in June 2018. It was one of our favorite travel experiences yet. Svalbard is such a unique place, with the midnight sun, barren landscapes, glaciers, reindeer, and polar bears.
Learn more: Svalbard Travel Guide: Plan Your Perfect Visit
- Gorilla Trekking
Half Dome is one of Yosemite’s most challenging and most memorable hikes. The best part is the final climb on the Half Dome cables. Not only do you get the thrill of clinging to the side of Half Dome, you also get to enjoy one of the best views of Yosemite from the top of the dome.
Read more: Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite, a Step-By-Step Guide
17-mile hike with 5,500 feet of climbing. This is an extremely strenuous hike. The final 400 feet to the top involves climbing up the smooth granite surface of Half Dome. Avoid this hike if you have a fear of heights. Allow 10 to 14 hours to complete this hike.
- Drive the Karakoram Highway
- Hike the Dolomites
- Puez Odle Altopiano
- Croda da Lago Circuit
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop
- Lago di Braies
- Lago di Sorapis
- Cadini di Misurina
- Cinque Torri
Hiking to Kjeragbolten, this giant boulder wedged between two cliffs, is our favorite hike of all time. Why? It’s not just because you get the chance to do something absolutely crazy, stepping out onto the boulder, it’s also because this hike is just downright fun. Do you dare?
Read More: The Complete Guide to Kjeragbolten
- Hike to Machu Picchu
- One Day Inca Trail
- Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
- How to do it
Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. Getting to Uhuru Peak, the summit of Kilimanjaro (5,888 meters, 19,318 feet) is a popular bucket list item for many travelers and adventurers. This climb is popular since little technical experience is required and the experience is amazing. Do you want to stand on top of Mount Kilimanjaro?
- Snorkel/Scuba the Great Barrier Reef
- More Adventure
- Trekking in Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan
- Hot Air Balloon Flight
- Where to do it
Here are several of the best spots in the world to splurge on a hot air balloon ride:
- Cappadocia, Turkey
- Masai Mara, Kenya
- Bagan, Myanmar
- Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
- Sedona, Arizona
- Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Labeled as the best single day hike in New Zealand, some people even consider this hike to be the best single day hike in the world. Here is your chance to hike in the shadow of Mt. Doom, walk through an almost lunar landscape, and watch as semi-dormant volcanoes smoke just a short distance from the trail.
Read more: The Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand’s Best Single Day Hike
- Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls is a gorgeous oasis in the desert. The turquoise waters, roaring waterfalls, and orange and red sandstone cliffs are what make Havasu Falls simply fabulous. To get here, it’s a 10-mile hike one way, but your reward, and the whole reason for going on this adventure, is to spend a day, or two (or three!) exploring the waterfalls, swimming, and enjoying this awesome spot in the American southwest.
The first step, and the most challenging step, is being one of the lucky ones to get a permit. Permits become available for the year on February 1, and usually sell out almost immediately. Then reserve your campsite or lodging at Havasu Falls, strap on your backpack, and enjoy the journey.
- Camel Safari
- Where To Do It
- The Saharan Dunes in Morocco
- Along the Nile and at the Pyramids in Egypt
- The Australian Outback
- The Rajasthan Desert, India
- Along the ancient Silk Road in China
- Galapagos Islands
- How to get here
- Journey Down the Nile River
You can explore the sights along the Nile River by land or by cruise. Taking a cruise is the most popular way to visit the sites in Aswan and Luxor. But for those looking to escape the tour groups and to have more time in the tombs and temples, traveling by land is a great option.
Visit our Egypt Destination page for lots of useful information to help you plan your trip.
- Annapurna Circuit
Some of the best spots in the world to go zip-lining:
- Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
- Orocovis, Puerto Rico (the longest zip-line in the world)
- Flight of the Gibbon, Chiang Mai, Thailand
- The Dragon’s Breath, Labadee, Haiti (longest overwater zip-line)
- Dog Sledding
- Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, Minnesota
- Sweden with Nature Travels
- Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures, Montana
- Torres del Paine
- W or O Trek?
- Chase the Aurora Borealis
- Best Places To Go
- Northern Norway (Tromso)
- From your own glass igloo in Sweden a t Kakslauttanen
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- Fairbanks, Alaska
- Tramping in New Zealand
- Great Walks
You have a bunch to choose from, but here are a few that really stand out to us:
- Milford Track: See Fiordland National Park and the Milford Sound
- Routeburn Track: Traverse the Southern Alps in Fiordland NP
- Abel Tasman Coast Track: Hike along beaches and forests
- Kepler Track: Hike along Lake Te Anau and Fiordland NP
The Routeburn Track is often listed as one of the best Great Walks to do in New Zealand. It typically takes 2 to 3 days but can be done in one day if you are very fit and fast. Learn all about it in our Guide to the Routeburn Track.
Learn about the Great Walks on the official website.
- Amazon Rainforest
- Our Experience
- Angels Landing
Angels Landing is the most popular hike in Zion National Park. The final climb of the hike involves scaling a narrow ridge high above the valley floor. With chain-assisted rock scrambling sections, stunning views, and vertigo-inducing heights, this really is a thrilling hike.
Read more: Angels Landing Survival Guide: Things to Know Before You Go
5.4 mile hike with 1500 feet of climbing. This is a strenuous hike involving the use of chains. Portions of the trail are very narrow with 1000 foot drop-offs on either side. Avoid this hike if you have a fear of heights.
- Hike on a Glacier
Iceland, Alaska, Greenland, Switzerland, Norway, Argentina, and New Zealand are popular places to visit if you want to walk on a glacier.
For information about how to go glacier hiking in Iceland, click here.
- Komodo Dragons in the Wild
- Hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim
There are several different ways to hike from rim to rim. Most people do this in two or more days, breaking up the journey either by camping or staying in a lodge near the Colorado River. Those who are crazy or just like the idea of turning the experience into a test of endurance do the entire 24 mile journey as a day hike.
We hiked rim-to-rim in June 2019 as a day hike. To date, it's the longest, hardest hike we have done but one of our most epic hiking experiences yet. We have not one, but two articles about how to do this hike.
How to Hike the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim
Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Hike: Planning Guide and Checklist
- Blackwater Rafting
- New Zealand
What is blackwater rafting, you ask? It’s a bit of a misnomer, but blackwater rafting is tubing down underground rivers in the semi-darkness. Sometimes, rappelling, rock climbing, and zip-lining are combined into the experience. It’s very unique and there are only a few spots in the world where you can do this.
Learn More: Waitomo Caves: Glowworms, Blackwater Rafting & the Best Tours
Blackwater rafting was started by those crazy Kiwi’s in New Zealand at the Waitomo Caves (the same caves where you can see the famous and otherworldly glowworms). Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. offers a variety of experiences. Learn more about your options in our Guide to Blackwater Rafting.
Photo credit: Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.
Belize is a bit newer to the black water rafting experience, but there currently are several companies that offer a variety of experiences. Check out Ian Anderson’s Cave Branch , Belize Jungle Trek , and Explore Belize Caves.
- Wildebeest Migration
- About the Migration
- Cordillera Huayhuash
- Tiger's Nest Monastery
- Getting Here
- Rock Climbing
We have been rock climbing in Krabi, Thailand, Mendoza, Argentina , and the Lofoten Islands, Norway. This photo was taken on Svolvaergeita in the Lofoten Islands. These are all great spots for beginners and those with advanced skills. There are tons of options, but other cools spots include Costa Blanca, Spain, Boulder Canyon, Colorado, and Kalymnos Island, Greece.
- Swim with Sharks
- Hike the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China makes it onto many traveler’s bucket lists, but to add some adventure to the visit, hike or camp on an unrestored section of the wall. You can do this as a day trip from Beijing or you can spend several days camping and trekking along the Great Wall.
Read more: Hiking Jiankou to Mutianyu on the Great Wall of China
- Drive a Racecar
- Everest Base Camp Trek
- Bungy Jumping
- Kawarau Bridge, New Zealand: 43 meters (site of the first commercial bungy jump)
- Victoria Falls Bridge: 111 meters
- Bloukrans Bridge, South Africa: 216 meters
- Macau Tower, Macau: 233 meters
- Europabrucke Bridge, Innsbruck, Austria: 192 meters
- Nevis Highwire Bungee, Queenstown, New Zealand: 134 meters
- Kalalau Trail
- Hike to Trolltunga
- Camino de Santiago
Watch the Movie: The Way, starring Martin Sheen
- All-American Road Trip
- Hike the Julian Alps
- Julian Alps Day Hike
- Also in the Area
Triglav National Park, with it’s rugged, rocky mountain range, glacial lakes, and river gorges, is a playground for hikers and outdoor adventurers. Climbing to the top of Mt. Triglav, the centerpiece of the Julian Alps, takes two days and requires the use of rock climbing gear. For those with less time, take you pick from one of many stunning day hikes in the Julian Alps.
The hike from the Vršič Pass to Sleme and Slemenova Špica is a great day hike. This hike is short, relatively easy, and filled with breathtaking views, so it’s perfect for active families and adventurous travelers. It’s a great way to get a taste of hiking in Triglav National Park without needing special equipment or doing a full day hike.
Read More: Hiking the Vršič Pass to Sleme and Slemenova Špica
Visit beautiful Lake Bled , go white water rafting on the Soca River, take a walk along Lake Bohinj , or explore Vintgar Gorge . You could spend a week here and live a different adventure every day.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.
More From Forbes
5 amazing new travel adventures for 2024.
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Hiking on Cape Verde with Wilderness Travel.
Five of the best adventure travel companies around have just released a fresh crop of adventure trips for 2024. Some of them are staking out a claim to fairly untrammeled places—Cape Verde, for example. Others are rethinking wilderness trips in North America. As popular destinations continue seeing more visitors to the point of overcrowding, these trips promise a respite far from the madding crowd.
Wilderness Travel: Hiking Cape Verde
The Cape Verde Islands lie off the West Coast of Africa, and this trip island-hops between Santo Antão, São Vicente, Fogo and Santiago. It’s focused on hiking pristine trails in an Edenic volcanic landscape, exploring sleepy seaside villages and engaging with the folk music culture, such as morna, sung in Cape Verdean Creole. The organizers promise encounters with local storytelling, culture and artists.
Wilderness Travel is one of the most respected companies in the world and forges new itineraries when the opportunity arises. This 10-day trip is so new that dates and prices have yet to be released. Visit Wilderness Travel for more information.
MV Vikingfjord on Adventure Life's East Greenland Explorer
Adventure Life: East Greenland Explorer
There are fewer and fewer remote places around the globe, but Greenland still seems to qualify as one of them. Adventure Life has organized an eight-day cruise on the MV Vikingfjord in East Greenland's Scoresby Sund that promises a small-scale adventure.
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It starts with a private charter flight to Constable Point, where you’re transported to the ship via Zodiac. The MV Vikingfjord takes just 12 passengers and was rebuilt in 2022 as a modern expedition vessel with cruise ship comfort. She offers grand amenities on a small vessel with nine ensuite cabins, featuring an open-concept living area.
The MV Vikingfjord sails the wilderness coastline of Greenland, past icebergs and along the glacier-covered Volquart Boons Coast. There is a chance to explore the ancient Inuit settlement at Danmark, with its well-preserved archaeological sites, and hike to the glacier. From $10,885 per person: visit Adventure Life .
In Namibia with Geographic Expeditions
Geographic Expeditions: Namibia’s Wild Wonders
One of Geographic Expeditions’ Women of the World Collection trips, Namibia’s Wild Wonders provides a chance to go behind the scenes with veterinary staff at the female-founded AfriCat Foundation. It’s an opportunity to track endangered black rhino with a female ranger from Save the Rhino Trust, discover UNESCO-listed Twyfelfontein petroglyphs and the Great Namib Sand Sea, go on safari in Namibia’s wildlife-rich Etosha National Park and take a scenic flight over the Skeleton Coast. There’s also a visit with the women at Penduka Development Trust, who create illustrative embroidery, and the opportunity to learn about education initiatives near the Sossusvlei Dunes. From $14,325 per person: visit GeoEx for details.
Isle Royale National Park Kayaking & Hiking with REI Adventures
REI Adventures: Isle Royale National Park Kayaking And Hiking
Want to get away from it all in the Lower 48? Head to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and spend six days kayaking and hiking in Isle Royale National Park, an archipelago of 400 islands in Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake. REI Adventures has organized this trip, which starts with a ferry ride to Isle Royale, the largest island at 50 miles long and 9 miles wide, in the middle of Lake Superior. From there, you’ll find yourself kayaking along the rocky shoreline, paddling past lighthouses and then hiking through pine forests. Wildlife sightings can include moose, gray wolves and Sandhill Cranes.
This is a wilderness trip with overnights in lakeside campsites and a paddling trip, from $3,799, that's rated “moderate.” Visit REI Adventures for details.
Walking path leading to a view on the lakes of Sete Cidades, Azores, Portugal
Backroads: Azores Multi-Adventure
This trip explores the volcanic island of São Miguel, the largest and most diverse island in the Azores, a remote island chain in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.
As a multi-adventure trip, it includes biking from one village to another in a lush volcanic landscape and taking a wildlife cruise where spotting sperm whales and dolphins is a possibility, not to mention sea kayaking, swimming and morning yoga. There's also time for soaking in geothermal springs and enjoying the comfortable hotels and local cuisine. This six-day trip features activity levels one through four (out of five). From $4,299 per person; details at Backroads .
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12 Best Places for Adventure Seekers
by Farryl Last - Last updated on October 18, 2023
How would you design your dream travel itinerary ? Maybe you’re the type to check off every major monument and museum along the way. Maybe you’d prefer leisurely strolls along city streets, or you're eager to discover a beach or pool for some international lounging.
Or maybe it’s tons of activity, opportunities for cultural immersion , and a daily adrenaline rush (or two or three) you’re after. In that case, you might just be an adventure-seeker at your core.
Planning an adventure trip? Here are the top destinations to consider!
Adventure travel can cover a wide range of experiences, and the best places for adventure travel help you pack an array of heart-pounding, goosebump-raising possibilities into your trip. In fact, any time you push yourself to your limits, you’re embracing adventure travel .
For you, that could be hurtling from planes, scaling the world’s tallest peaks, or swimming hand-to-fin with sharks. Even immersing yourself in the local language or connecting with nature can offer meaningful adventure travel experiences.
And that means you’ll find opportunities for adventure just about everywhere. Picking the first place to visit might be your hardest task!
12 best places to travel for adventure seekers
You can’t go wrong with any of these action-packed destinations if you’re debating where to go for adventure travel:
Grab your backpack and do a little island hopping in Thailand!
Put Thailand on your personal map if you’re looking for one of the best adventure trips in the world. A wide range of adventure opportunities exist in the midst of a tourist-friendly country, making Thailand a great destination whether you’re just getting into adventure travel or you’re a seasoned expert.
Gorgeous beaches, stunning temples, and bustling cities are just the start. Thailand lures in backpackers who want to explore wildlife (and wild nightlife), taste delicious food, surf for the first time , and do so much more. You can’t beat the affordability factor, either, making Thailand ideal for short-term adventures and longer stays alike.
Recommended program: Grabatour Thailand: 8-Day Thailand Experience
2. New Zealand
There’s good reason why New Zealand is home to the adventure capital of the world (for the uninitiated, just google Queenstown). You’ll find opportunities to live out all your adventure-travel dreams across the country. With everything from glaciers to hot springs to snowy mountains, New Zealand’s breathtaking landscapes make it the go-to land of adventure for travelers worldwide.
Zorbing , bungee jumping, flying by wire, jet boating—yep, Kiwis invented it all. Whether you’re after a water-based adventure (think: class 5 rapids for white water rafting) or prefer your adventures high above the ground (skydiving anyone?), New Zealand has you covered.
Recommended program: 12 Weeks Adventure Guide Program in Queenstown, New Zealand
3. Costa Rica
Hike in Costa Rica and meet jungles bursting with wildlife!
The country known for pura vida , a.k.a. the pure, simple life, is also one of the best places for adventure travel. You’ll find adventure around every corner, whether that’s on a sandy beach, in a dense jungle, or even high above a cloud forest or deep down in a cave spelunking .
Pound the waves and then lounge on the beach, or zipline above cloud forests and take in the natural beauty while getting your adrenaline fix. You can even go more hardcore with bungee jumping and extreme hiking. Costa Ricans really know how to embrace that pura vida lifestyle, so if you’re looking to enjoy life and earn some adventure points along the way, this Central American country is the place to go.
Recommended program: GVI: Wildlife Expedition in Costa Rica
India draws in plenty of travelers thanks to its reputation for adventure and its vast land. You can sign up for camel rides or skydiving, mountain trekking or watersports. India is also one of the world’s best places to go white water rafting , and there’s no lack of foodie tours, photography opportunities, and an impressive assortment of landscapes to keep things interesting.
There’s something here for those seeking laid-back days and top-notch adrenaline rushes alike. You’ll find deserts in Rajasthan and beaches in Goa, not to mention bustling cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Prefer your adventures in the mountains? Head off to the Himalayas, or better yet, make time for all of it on an extended adventure trip.
Recommended program: Oyster Worldwide: Backpacking Tour of India
When it comes to adventure travel, Australia has it all!
Scuba diving? Check. Bush hiking? Check. Snowboarding? Yeah, you can do that in Australia, too. Boasting mountain ranges, rainforests, outback, and even the Great Barrier Reef, this continent truly has the landscapes and activities to please any adventure-seeker.
The species count in the hundreds of thousands (you read that right) will have wildlife enthusiasts ready to book a plane ticket. Australia is well-known as a home to kangaroos and koalas, but you might also catch a glimpse of a cassowary, kookaburra, or echidna. When it’s time to really get your adrenaline pumping, white water rafting, bungee jumping, or learning to surf at an iconic spot like Bondi Beach or the Gold Coast should do the trick.
Recommended program: Pacific Discovery: New Zealand & Australia Gap Year Semester
Morocco brings together cultural influences from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, making it a unique landscape for all travelers. That’s especially true for the adventurers among us. Colorful souks, camel rides, mountain hikes, and delicious foods kick off an itinerary essential for those who love trips off the beaten path.
Situate yourself in the Mediterranean or in the Sahara. Maybe settle in for a homestay experience perfect for honing your Arabic or French skills. Morocco offers an assortment of ways to up your adventure game.
Recommended program: Desert Discovery Tours: 4 Days Desert Trip – Marrakech to Fes
Treat yourself to some Swiss chocolate while skiing in the Alps.
If the thought of Alpine adventures gets your pulse racing, you’ll want Switzerland on your list of destinations. Sure, this crossroads country in central Europe is known for delicious chocolate and luxurious spas. It’s also the place to take in unbeatable views of the Alps—whether you’re hiking, skiing, or hurtling high above the mountains (no surprise, Switzerland is a top skydiving destination ).
From backpacking to snowboarding, paragliding to kayaking, there’s an adventure for anyone in Switzerland. Book a bike trip in the countryside, backpack through the Alps, and adventure on to your heart’s content.
Recommended program: Vivid Snowboarding: Snowboard Instructor Course
Peru lands squarely on adventure-seekers’ lists thanks to Machu Picchu. This Inca citadel is both the stuff of legends and the ideal setting for a heart-pumping trek. You’ll find a whole lot more to explore in Peru though. The diverse country features habits that range from the tropical Amazon basin rainforest to Andes mountain peaks to a Pacific coastal region complete with arid plains.
Whether it’s hiking, island hopping, Amazon rainforest tours , or a homestay experience you’re after, you’ll find it all in Peru. Check out the unique towns, learn about the area’s folklore, and take in the views from a canopy bridge. Machu Picchu is only the beginning of an amazing adventure.
Recommended program: Linguistic Horizons: Internship in the Sacred Valley, Peru
Greece is a go-to hub for adventure travel in the Mediterranean.
Stunning scenery and a plethora of adventurous activities make Greece a top choice when you’re wondering where to go for adventure travel. On land, you’ll have various chances to go hiking, biking, or mountaineering. By sea, try sailing or scuba diving.
Greece is even one of the top spots for snorkeling in the Mediterranean thanks to over 9,000 islands and islets and an underwater landscape chock full of species like the loggerhead turtle and Mediterranean parrotfish. Time to rest and recharge after a day of electrifying activity? Stroll along the cobblestone streets in a quaint village for a different kind of adventure.
Recommended program: GoEco: Greece – Sea Turtle Conservation
Adventure bragging rights are yours for the taking once you hop a flight to Nepal. The home of Mount Everest (you know, the world’s tallest mountain) is actually the place to find a whopping eight of the ten tallest mountains on the planet. In other words, extreme adventurers can find plenty of challenges here.
Adventures in Nepal go far beyond mountain climbing, too. White water rafting, biking, and paragliding, all against the backdrop of hospitable people and mouthwatering food, makes for a memorable adventure trip. Sign up to volunteer, go birdwatching, or set off for the hike of a lifetime in Nepal.
Recommended program: Glorious Himalaya Trekking: Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Between the northern lights and magnificent waterfalls, Iceland will take your breath away.
Iceland’s unique geography makes this island nation a dream for adventure travelers. Gorgeous glaciers, stunning waterfalls, and active volcanoes (the country is situated on the Mid-Atlantic ridge as well as over a hot spot, after all) mean an abundance of outdoor activities amidst the dramatic and diverse Icelandic landscape.
DIY-adventurers can’t go wrong by renting a car and road tripping along the Ring Road. You can also go for a soak in a natural hot spring, hike in a lava forest, or snorkel in the fissure where the American and European tectonic plates meet. When you’re not in full-on adrenaline mode, exploring the charming towns will keep you busy.
Recommended program: Travel For Teens: Iceland Adventure
12. United States
Hiking and kayaking in national parks like Yellowstone, dogsledding in Alaska, foodie tours in New York or LA. You don’t have to book a flight halfway across the globe to experience adventure travel at its finest. The United States is vast, it’s diverse, and it’s ready to deliver pretty much any adventure you can dream up.
Whether you visit Alaska, Hawaii, or any of a number of action-packed destinations in the continental U.S., you’re sure to find an adventure worthy of sending that postcard home…even if home is just a short drive rather than an hours-long flight away.
Recommended program: The High Desert Center: 3 Affordable Months of Adventure, Travel, Community & Growth
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Time to step out of your comfort zone!
No matter how you define adventure, the best places to travel for adventure seekers all have one thing in common: They offer the chance to get out of your comfort zone and embrace exploring the world around you. Start checking off destinations on your adventure bucket list and experience the power of transformative travel.
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THE 12 BEST Places For Adventure Travel Holidays
Are you an adventure enthusiast seeking the thrill of exploring breathtaking landscapes and challenging yourself in new ways? Look no further! In this article, we have compiled a list of the 12 best places for adventure travel holidays, where you can immerse yourself in nature’s wonders and embark on exhilarating experiences.
Whether you dream of trekking through rugged mountains, diving into vibrant coral reefs, or witnessing wildlife in their natural habitats, these destinations offer something for everyone. From the stunning Patagonia region in Argentina and Chile to the tranquil paradise of Bora Bora in French Polynesia, each place has its unique charm and adventure waiting to be discovered.
While adventure travel holidays provide an adrenaline rush, they also offer an opportunity to connect with nature, gain cultural insights, and create lifelong memories. It’s a chance to push your limits, step out of your comfort zone, and explore the unknown.
In the following sections, we will delve into each destination, highlighting their key features, activities, and why they stand out as adventure travel hotspots. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to embark on a thrilling journey through the 12 best places for adventure travel holidays!
Patagonia, Argentina and Chile
Patagonia, located at the southern tip of South America, is a vast and untamed region that spans across both Argentina and Chile. It is an adventurer’s paradise, offering a diverse range of activities and landscapes that will leave you in awe.
The highlight of Patagonia is undoubtedly the stunning Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Known for its towering granite peaks, expansive glaciers, and pristine lakes, this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve attracts hikers and nature enthusiasts from all over the world. The famous W Trek is a must-do, taking you through breathtaking valleys, past turquoise lakes, and up close to the majestic Torres del Paine mountains.
In Argentina, the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park is a sight to behold. Witness massive chunks of ice calving into the lake and feel the power of nature up close. For those seeking more adrenaline, explore the rugged mountains and fjords of Tierra del Fuego, where you can go hiking, kayaking, or even take a cruise through the Beagle Channel.
Patagonia also offers excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting. Keep an eye out for majestic Andean condors soaring in the sky, guanacos grazing on the grasslands, and elusive pumas lurking in the wilderness. The region is also home to a rich marine ecosystem, making it a popular destination for whale watching tours.
For the ultimate adventure, consider embarking on an expedition cruise to explore the remote corners of Patagonia. Sail through the pristine fjords, visit secluded islands, and witness the raw beauty of this untouched wilderness.
No matter how you choose to explore Patagonia, it promises to be an unforgettable adventure filled with jaw-dropping landscapes, abundant wildlife, and a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur. So lace up your boots, grab your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of Patagonia.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, nestled in the heart of New Zealand’s South Island, is often referred to as the adventure capital of the world. Surrounded by breathtaking mountains, crystal clear lakes, and stunning fjords, this picturesque town offers a wide range of adrenaline-pumping activities.
One of the most iconic adventures in Queenstown is bungee jumping. Take a leap of faith and freefall from the historic Kawarau Bridge, the birthplace of commercial bungee jumping, or from the towering Nevis Bungy, which stands at a staggering 134 meters high.
If flying is more your thing, don’t miss the opportunity to go skydiving over Queenstown. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet, experiencing breathtaking views of the Remarkables mountain range and the sparkling Lake Wakatipu.
For those who prefer to stay closer to the ground, Queenstown offers world-class hiking and mountain biking trails. Explore the nearby Fiordland National Park, home to the iconic Milford Sound, or challenge yourself with the demanding yet rewarding Routeburn Track.
In the winter months, Queenstown transforms into a winter wonderland, attracting skiers and snowboarders from around the globe. Hit the slopes at the nearby Remarkables or Coronet Peak ski resorts and enjoy the thrill of carving through fresh powder.
For water enthusiasts, Queenstown offers exciting water activities such as jet boating, white-water rafting, and kayaking. Experience the thrill of speeding through narrow canyons on a jet boat, navigate the exhilarating rapids of the Shotover River, or peacefully paddle along the calm waters of Lake Wakatipu.
After a day filled with adventure, Queenstown’s vibrant nightlife awaits. The town’s bustling bars and restaurants provide the perfect opportunity to unwind, share stories with fellow adventurers, and indulge in delicious food and locally produced wines.
Queenstown truly has it all, whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush or a chance to immerse yourself in breathtaking natural beauty. So, pack your bags, put on your adventurous spirit, and get ready to be captivated by the charm of Queenstown, New Zealand.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Torres del Paine National Park, located in the southernmost region of Chilean Patagonia, is a true gem for adventure seekers and nature lovers. Renowned for its awe-inspiring landscapes, towering granite peaks, and pristine lakes, it is a destination that should be on every adventurer’s bucket list.
The crown jewel of the park is the famous Torres del Paine, a set of three granite towers that rise dramatically above the surrounding landscape. Hiking to the base of the towers is a challenging but rewarding adventure, with stunning panoramic views as your ultimate reward.
The park offers a variety of hiking trails suitable for all levels of experience. The W Circuit is a popular choice, taking you on a multi-day trek that showcases the park’s most iconic sights, including the Grey Glacier, the French Valley, and the stunning Cuernos del Paine.
If you’re up for an even more challenging adventure, you can embark on the full Circuit Trek, which takes around 8 to 10 days to complete. This immersive experience will lead you through remote valleys, past glistening lakes, and up close to glaciers, offering an authentic and unforgettable wilderness experience.
For those who prefer a more relaxed pace, horseback riding is a fantastic way to explore the park. Join a guided tour and ride along the trails, immersing yourself in the breathtaking scenery while learning about the history and culture of the region.
Photography enthusiasts will find endless opportunities to capture stunning shots of the park’s diverse wildlife and natural beauty. Keep an eye out for guanacos, foxes, Andean condors, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a puma or an elusive South Andean deer.
Although Torres del Paine National Park is a remote and rugged wilderness, it still provides comfortable accommodation options. You can choose to camp at designated sites or opt for staying in one of the park’s luxury lodges, where you can enjoy cozy accommodations, delicious cuisine, and stunning views.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature enthusiast seeking an immersive adventure, Torres del Paine National Park has something to offer you. Its extraordinary beauty and unspoiled landscapes will leave you speechless and inspired, making it a must-visit destination for those who crave adventure and a connection with the natural world.
Nepal Himalayas, Nepal
For adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts, the Nepal Himalayas offer an unparalleled adventure playground. With its towering peaks, mystical landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, Nepal is a dream destination for those seeking a true Himalayan adventure.
The main highlight of Nepal is, of course, the majestic Mount Everest. Trekking to the base camp of the world’s highest peak is a challenge that attracts adventure seekers from around the globe. The trek takes you through picturesque Sherpa villages, lush rhododendron forests, and stunning glacial valleys, providing a unique cultural and natural experience.
But the adventure doesn’t stop at Mount Everest. Nepal offers countless other trekking routes that showcase the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas, such as the Annapurna Circuit, Langtang Valley, and the Mustang region. Each trail presents its own set of challenges and rewards, allowing you to immerse yourself in the mesmerizing landscapes and encounter the warmth of the Nepalese people along the way.
For those looking for an even greater adrenaline rush, Nepal offers thrilling activities like white-water rafting in the raging rivers, paragliding over the stunning Pokhara Valley, and canyoning through the wild gorges. If you’re an experienced climber, you can even attempt to conquer some of the challenging peaks in the region.
Nepal is also home to fascinating cultural heritage, with ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples scattered throughout the country. In Kathmandu, the capital city, you can explore the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Durbar Square, Boudhanath Stupa, and Pashupatinath Temple, immersing yourself in centuries-old traditions and religious practices.
After a long day of trekking or adventure activities, you can relax and rejuvenate in the peaceful surroundings of traditional teahouses or luxury mountain lodges. Enjoy delicious Nepali cuisine, sip on a cup of warm masala tea, and relish the breathtaking views of the Himalayas.
Nepal offers adventure, spirituality, and natural beauty all in one incredible package. Whether you’re seeking a challenging trek to the base camp of Mount Everest or a cultural exploration of ancient temples and monasteries, Nepal Himalayas will leave you inspired and in awe of its unparalleled majesty.
Banff National Park, Canada
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Sprawling over 2,500 square miles, it offers a breathtaking landscape of snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and dense forests, making it a paradise for adventure seekers.
The park is known for its extensive network of hiking trails, catering to all skill levels. From leisurely strolls to challenging multi-day treks, there’s something for everyone. Explore iconic trails like the Johnston Canyon, Sentinel Pass, and the stunning Plain of Six Glaciers, each offering unique vistas and a chance to encounter the park’s abundant wildlife.
For those looking for a thrill on the water, Banff National Park is home to stunning glacier-fed lakes. Rent a canoe or kayak and navigate the turquoise waters of Moraine Lake or Lake Louise, soaking in the breathtaking scenery surrounded by soaring peaks and glaciers.
During the winter months, Banff transforms into a winter wonderland, drawing skiers and snowboarders from around the globe. Hit the slopes at world-class ski resorts like Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Ski Resort, or venture into the backcountry for some thrilling powder runs.
For the adventurous at heart, Banff offers a range of other activities. Immerse yourself in the thrill of white-water rafting on the Kicking Horse River, go rock climbing on the majestic limestone cliffs, or try your hand at ice climbing on the frozen waterfalls.
If wildlife is your passion, Banff is home to a variety of animals, including grizzly bears, elk, and mountain goats. Take a guided wildlife tour and spot these incredible creatures in their natural habitat, or keep an eye out as you explore the park on your own.
After a day of adventure, the town of Banff itself offers a charming and welcoming atmosphere. Relax in hot springs, browse local shops and art galleries, and indulge in delicious cuisine at one of the many restaurants offering a range of global flavors.
Banff National Park is a true adventurer’s playground, offering a diverse range of activities that will satisfy even the most adventurous souls. With its stunning natural beauty and endless opportunities for exploration, Banff is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an unforgettable adventure in the Canadian Rockies.
Iceland, known as the Land of Fire and Ice, is a destination that offers a unique blend of natural wonders and thrilling adventures. From stunning glaciers and volcanic landscapes to geothermal hot springs and majestic waterfalls, Iceland is a true paradise for adventure seekers.
The country’s diverse terrain provides endless opportunities for outdoor activities. One of the most popular adventures in Iceland is glacier hiking. Strap on your crampons and explore the magnificent ice formations of glaciers like Vatnajökull and Sólheimajökull, guided by experienced glacier guides who will lead you through crevasses and ice caves.
For something truly extraordinary, try ice climbing on the glacial walls. Ascend frozen formations under the guidance of experienced instructors and experience the thrill of conquering the ice.
Iceland is also famous for its volcanic landscapes, offering opportunities for unique experiences. Descend into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano on a guided tour, where you can marvel at the colorful rock formations and gain insights into the geological history of the area.
Another must-do adventure in Iceland is exploring the famous Golden Circle. This popular tourist route takes you to the spectacular Thingvellir National Park, where you can witness the meeting point of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. You’ll also have the chance to visit the magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall and the geothermal wonders of the Geysir Geothermal Area.
No trip to Iceland would be complete without a visit to the stunning Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Take a boat tour and sail among the floating icebergs, marveling at their unique shapes and sizes. You may even spot seals lounging on the ice or swimming nearby.
For the adventurous souls seeking a thrill, Iceland offers thrilling activities like white-water rafting in glacial rivers, snorkeling or diving in the crystal-clear waters of Silfra fissure, and exploring lava caves that were formed during volcanic eruptions.
After a day of adventure, unwind in one of Iceland’s many geothermal hot springs. The Blue Lagoon is perhaps the most famous, with its milky blue waters rich in minerals, providing a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
Iceland’s raw beauty, dramatic landscapes, and adventurous spirit make it a truly exceptional destination for those seeking an unforgettable adventure. So pack your bags, strap on your hiking boots, and get ready to discover the natural wonders of Iceland.
Costa Rica, a small country in Central America, is a tropical paradise teeming with adventure and natural beauty. With its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and diverse wildlife, Costa Rica offers a wide range of thrilling outdoor activities for adventure enthusiasts.
One of the most popular adventures in Costa Rica is zip-lining through the canopy of the rainforest. Soar through the treetops, enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding jungle and getting a unique perspective on the abundant wildlife that calls this place home.
The country is also known for its world-class surfing spots, attracting surfers from around the world. Whether you’re a beginner catching your first wave or an experienced rider looking for a challenge, Costa Rica’s beaches offer waves for all levels. Head to the famous surf towns of Tamarindo or Santa Teresa and ride the waves along the Pacific coast.
If you prefer to explore the underwater world, Costa Rica offers excellent opportunities for scuba diving and snorkeling. Dive beneath the surface of the crystal-clear waters around Cocos Island or the Catalina Islands to discover vibrant coral reefs, tropical fish, and even encounter marine giants like sharks and rays.
For a unique adventure, head to the Arenal Volcano region, where you can hike to the volcano’s summit and witness the gently smoking crater. Afterward, unwind in the nearby hot springs, where you can soak in warm mineral-rich waters surrounded by lush vegetation.
Costa Rica is also a haven for eco-tourism, with numerous national parks and protected areas. Explore the diverse ecosystems of Manuel Antonio National Park, spotting monkeys, sloths, and exotic birds along the way. Take a boat tour through the wetlands of Tortuguero National Park, home to nesting sea turtles and a plethora of wildlife.
Embrace your adventurous side and go white-water rafting in Costa Rica’s thrilling rivers, navigate rapids of varying difficulty levels, and immerse yourself in the exhilarating rush of the water. Or embark on a thrilling canopy tour, combining zip-lining, aerial bridges, and rappelling to explore the fascinating forest from a different vantage point.
In Costa Rica, you’ll find adventure at every turn, whether it’s kayaking through mangroves, hiking to hidden waterfalls, or embarking on a nighttime tour to witness sea turtles nesting. This captivating country with its rich biodiversity and thrilling activities will leave you with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for nature’s wonders.
Safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Embarking on a safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa is an adventure like no other. Covering approximately 7,500 square miles, it is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and offers a truly immersive wildlife experience.
When you enter the park, you’ll enter the world of the Big Five – lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards, and rhinoceros – as well as a multitude of other fascinating animals and bird species. Join a guided safari tour or self-drive through the park, and prepare to witness the untamed beauty of the African savanna.
As you venture through Kruger National Park, keep your camera ready to capture incredible moments, from a lioness stalking her prey to a herd of elephants bathing in a waterhole. The park’s diverse ecosystems provide a variety of habitats, so you’ll have the opportunity to spot an array of wildlife, including giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, and hyenas.
Immerse yourself in nature by staying at one of the park’s many safari lodges or camps. Wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and embark on game drives at dawn, when animals are most active. Alternatively, experience a unique night safari, where you can witness nocturnal creatures in their element and listen to the captivating sounds of the bush under the starry African sky.
The park also offers guided walking safaris, allowing you to explore the African wilderness on foot and gain a deeper understanding of the flora and fauna. Led by experienced guides, you’ll learn about animal tracking, observe smaller creatures, and discover the intricacies of the ecosystem.
While the wildlife steals the show, don’t miss the chance to appreciate the stunning landscapes of Kruger National Park. From rolling grasslands to densely wooded areas, scenic viewpoints, and winding rivers, the park’s natural beauty is a sight to behold.
Kruger National Park is not just a safari destination; it’s a conservation success story. The park plays a crucial role in preserving the region’s biodiversity and protecting endangered species. Visiting the park allows you to contribute to these conservation efforts and support sustainable tourism practices.
A safari in Kruger National Park is a journey of discovery, where you’ll witness the raw beauty of the animal kingdom in its natural habitat. So grab your binoculars, set out on an incredible adventure, and let the magic of the African wilderness unfold before your eyes.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Perched high in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan citadel that has captivated the hearts of travelers for centuries. This UNESCO World Heritage site is not only a marvel of ancient engineering but also offers a thrilling adventure for those who visit.
To reach Machu Picchu, most adventurers embark on the classic Inca Trail trek. This multi-day hike takes you through stunning mountain scenery, cloud forests, and ancient Inca ruins, culminating in the awe-inspiring sight of Machu Picchu itself. The journey is physically demanding, but the reward of standing in the presence of this ancient wonder makes it all worthwhile.
If you prefer a shorter trek, there are alternative routes like the Salkantay Trek or the Lares Trek, which offer a different perspective of the surrounding landscapes and still lead you to Machu Picchu.
For those seeking a more luxurious experience, you can reach Machu Picchu by taking a scenic train ride from Cusco or other nearby towns. Enjoy the breathtaking views as the train winds through the valleys and mountains, delivering you to the doorstep of this legendary site.
Once you set foot in Machu Picchu, take your time to explore the intricacies of the site. Marvel at the impressive architecture, intricately carved stone walls, and the mystical energy that emanates from this sacred place.
For an even more unforgettable adventure, consider climbing Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Ascending these peaks provides breathtaking panoramic views of the citadel and the surrounding mountains, allowing you to truly appreciate the grandeur of this ancient Incan marvel.
While Machu Picchu is undeniably the highlight, there is more to discover in the surrounding areas. Explore the vibrant city of Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, and visit other nearby archaeological sites such as the Sacred Valley and the ruins of Ollantaytambo. Immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the region.
Visiting Machu Picchu is not just an adventure; it is a spiritual journey to connect with the rich heritage of the Inca civilization and the wonders of the natural world. Whether you choose to conquer the classic Inca Trail or opt for a different route, a visit to Machu Picchu is an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef, located off the northeastern coast of Australia, is a true natural wonder and a paradise for adventure seekers and marine enthusiasts. Stretching over 2,300 kilometers, it is the largest coral reef system in the world, offering an array of thrilling experiences both above and below the water’s surface.
Exploring the Great Barrier Reef is like stepping into a vibrant and mesmerizing underwater world. Snorkel or scuba dive among the coral gardens, encountering a kaleidoscope of colorful fish, graceful sea turtles, and even majestic manta rays. Swim alongside reef sharks and witness the intricate ecosystem that supports countless species of marine life.
If you’re not a certified diver, don’t worry! Many tour operators offer introductory dives and snorkeling trips, allowing you to witness the beauty of the reef up close. Experienced divers can embark on liveaboard trips, spending multiple days exploring different parts of the reef and diving some of its most renowned dive sites.
For a unique adventure, try a helicopter or seaplane tour over the Great Barrier Reef. From above, you can truly appreciate the vastness and intricate patterns of the reef formations, and maybe even spot some marine life swimming below.
Aside from diving and snorkeling, there are many other ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef. Take a sailing trip and explore the pristine islands and secluded coves that dot the area. Kayak or paddleboard over the crystal-clear waters, getting a unique perspective on the reef and its inhabitants.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, try your hand at deep-sea fishing. Cast your line into the deep waters, hoping to hook prized catches like marlin, tuna, and barramundi. Alternatively, embark on a thrilling jet boat ride, speeding through the waves and admiring the beauty of the reef from a different angle.
While enjoying your adventure, it’s important to be a responsible visitor to the Great Barrier Reef. Follow sustainable tourism practices, respect the fragile ecosystem, and remember to never touch or damage the coral or other marine life.
The breathtaking beauty and incredible biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef make it a must-visit destination for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Immerse yourself in this underwater wonderland and create unforgettable memories in one of nature’s most awe-inspiring creations.
Yosemite National Park, United States
Located in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, Yosemite National Park is a treasure trove of natural wonders and a playground for outdoor adventurers. Spanning over 1,200 square miles, the park offers a diverse range of activities and breathtaking landscapes that will leave you in awe.
One of the highlights of Yosemite is its iconic granite cliffs, with El Capitan and Half Dome being the most renowned. Rock climbers from around the world flock to the park to scale these towering monoliths. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a beginner, there are routes suited for all skill levels.
Hiking is another popular activity in Yosemite, with an extensive network of trails winding through valleys, meadows, and ancient sequoia forests. Take a leisurely stroll to admire the majestic Yosemite Falls or challenge yourself with a strenuous hike to reach the summit of Half Dome, rewarded by breathtaking panoramic views.
For the adventurous souls seeking a thrilling experience, whitewater rafting is a must-do in Yosemite. Embark on an adrenaline-pumping ride through the roaring rapids of the Merced River, surrounded by the stunning scenery of the park.
Camping in Yosemite allows you to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. Set up camp in one of the park’s designated campgrounds or find a backcountry spot for a more secluded experience. Fall asleep under a star-filled sky, and wake up to the sounds of nature.
During the winter months, Yosemite’s landscape transforms into a winter wonderland, offering opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Explore the park’s winter trails, marvel at frozen waterfalls, and experience the serene beauty of the snowy landscape.
Yosemite is also home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including black bears, deer, coyotes, and a variety of bird species. Keep your eyes peeled as you explore the park, and you might be lucky enough to spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
As one of the oldest national parks in the United States, Yosemite is not only a haven for adventure but also a place of incredible natural beauty that has inspired artists and nature enthusiasts for generations. From towering cliffs to pristine lakes and majestic waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is an adventure waiting to be explored.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Bora Bora, a jewel in the South Pacific, is a destination renowned for its idyllic white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoon, and luxurious overwater bungalows. This tropical paradise in French Polynesia beckons adventure seekers with its breathtaking beauty and a wide range of thrilling activities.
One of the top adventures in Bora Bora is exploring its vibrant underwater world. Grab a snorkel or don a scuba diving mask to discover the stunning coral reefs teeming with colorful fish, rays, and even reef sharks. The warm and crystal-clear waters offer unparalleled visibility, allowing you to immerse yourself in an underwater wonderland.
Bora Bora’s surrounding lagoon is perfect for exciting water activities like jet-skiing, kiteboarding, and parasailing. Soar high above the sparkling waters, feeling the wind rush through your hair as you take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the island and its lush surroundings.
For a unique adventure, hop on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore the tranquil lagoon at your own pace. Leisurely paddle along the shoreline, glide over the turquoise waters, and soak in the serenity of this tropical paradise.
Take a break from the water and embark on a 4×4 off-road safari on the island. Discover Bora Bora’s rugged interior, with its lush hills, tropical vegetation, and panoramic viewpoints that showcase the island’s stunning natural beauty. Learn about the island’s history, traditions, and local culture from your knowledgeable guide.
And, of course, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in relaxation and pampering. Bora Bora is famous for its luxury resorts and their iconic overwater bungalows. Unwind with a spa treatment overlooking the crystal-clear lagoon, or simply bask in the sun on your private deck, surrounded by the beauty of the turquoise waters.
As the sun sets in Bora Bora, be prepared for a romantic and unforgettable experience. Take a sunset cruise around the island, sipping on tropical cocktails as you watch the sky transform into a tapestry of vibrant colors. The magical ambiance of Bora Bora creates the perfect setting for romance and relaxation.
Bora Bora’s picturesque beauty and incredible outdoor adventures make it a dream destination for those seeking an unforgettable tropical escape. Whether you immerse yourself in the vibrant underwater world, engage in thrilling watersports, or simply relax and soak up the island’s natural beauty, Bora Bora will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Embarking on an adventure travel holiday is an exhilarating and fulfilling experience. From the rugged terrain of Patagonia to the pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef, each destination on our list offers its own unique blend of natural beauty and adrenaline-pumping activities.
Whether you’re seeking the challenge of hiking through breathtaking landscapes, the thrill of exploring underwater wonders, or the opportunity to immerse yourself in different cultures, these 12 destinations have something for everyone.
As you plan your adventure travel journey, remember to prioritize sustainability and responsible tourism. Respect the environment, support local communities, and leave a positive impact wherever you go. By doing so, you can help preserve these incredible destinations for future generations to enjoy.
So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of exploration, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in some of the world’s most captivating locations. Whether you choose to trek through the Nepal Himalayas or relax in the overwater bungalows of Bora Bora, adventure awaits at every turn.
It’s time to step out of your comfort zone, challenge your boundaries, and embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Whether you’re seeking thrilling experiences, jaw-dropping landscapes, or cultural immersion, these 12 best places for adventure travel holidays offer a world of possibilities.
Remember, adventure is not just about adrenaline; it’s about connecting with nature, pushing your limits, and gaining a deeper understanding of the world around you. So go forth, be brave, and create memories that will last a lifetime in these exhilarating destinations.
Whether you’re gazing at the towering peaks of Patagonia, diving into the vibrant coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, or hiking through the lush rainforests of Costa Rica, these adventure travel destinations will leave you inspired, awestruck, and craving for more.
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Best places to travel with credit card rewards in 2024
“Verified by an expert” means that this article has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated for accuracy.
Robin Saks Frankel
Updated 10:37 a.m. UTC Nov. 14, 2023
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With 2023 quickly winding down, now’s the time to ramp up your credit cards strategy to plan next year’s bucket-list trips. By giving yourself ample time to apply for cards and accrue points, you can make one of those dreamy destinations sitting on your bucket list come to life in the new year.
In this guide, we’ve rounded up the best places to travel with your credit card rewards in 2024.
Along with recommendations, we’ve provided concrete examples of how you can leverage credit card transfer partners to redeem your stash of points and miles for flights, accommodations and more.
There’s so much to love about Costa Rica, from its lush jungles to the natural wildlife. Plus, this Central American country is quite accessible from many states in the U.S. With two main international airports — Liberia (LIR) and San José (SJO), the toughest decision you’ll need to make is which part of Costa Rica to visit.
Many major U.S. airlines fly to Costa Rica, so redeeming your rewards for a flight shouldn’t be too difficult depending on where your loyalty lies.
For example, frequent United flyers may want to consider the United Club℠ Infinite Card * The information for the United Club℠ Infinite Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. to snag the welcome offer of 90,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
In addition to bonus miles, the card offers excellent perks like United Club lounge access, free checked bags and more that can make the $525 annual fee worthwhile.
Here’s an example of a flight from Raleigh-Durham (RDU) to Liberia (LIR) with a layover in Houston (IAH). You’ll pay just 20,000 miles one-way — even during the peak winter season.
From the welcome bonus alone, you’ll have enough miles to cover two round trip tickets and potentially even more if you continue to spend on everyday purchases with the card.
A popular resort for visitors is the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, located on the country’s North Pacific coast. With stunning beaches, world-renowned golf courses and an extensive list of daily resort activities, rates can reach nearly $700 per night.
Fortunately, the Andaz participates in the World of Hyatt program, with more affordable award rates ranging from 21,000 to 29,000 points per night, depending on the season. If you’re low on Hyatt points, your Bilt Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards® points transfer at a 1:1 ratio.
One of the best ways to fly the whole family to Hawaii is by setting your sights on the British Airways Avios program. Earning points is a breeze: You can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards®, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards®, Citi ThankYou® Points or Capital One Miles to this program at a simple 1:1 ratio.
Because British Airways is part of the Oneworld airline alliance, you can redeem your Avios for partner airlines like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Both of these carriers offer plenty of routes to the Aloha State.
Nonstop routes are priced favorably for just 13,000 Avios plus $5.60 in taxes and fees for a one way flight from the West Coast. Depending on when you’re traveling, you may also be able to find multiple award seats per flight. This is great news for big families.
If you’re not from the area, it’s worth booking a separate flight to overnight in these gateway cities, like Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO), as there are plenty of flights at these excellent rates.
Hotels can be a different story, as they’re notoriously expensive no matter which island you visit. One way to get around these prices is by leveraging the Hilton Honors loyalty program by redeeming points or free night certificates — or a combination of both.
Hilton Honors cards are a great way to boost your balances, like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card * The information for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. (terms apply). Despite its lofty $550 annual fee, the card comes with excellent loyalty perks like top Diamond elite status and an annual free night certificate, which you can redeem for nearly any hotel at the Standard Room Reward rate.
You can usually snag a bargain for inter-island flights thanks to Hawaiian Airlines or Southwest. This makes it simple to hop on a quick flight to Maui to stay at the Grand Wailea hotel for 110,000 points per night. If you’re short on points, you can also top off your balance by purchasing Hilton Honors points for just 0.5 cents each on sale.
Thinking about trekking to the other side of the globe? If so, it’s time to redeem those American Airlines AAdvantage miles. For roughly 70,000 to 80,000 miles one way, you’ll get the luxury of flying business or first class to Sydney. If you’d like to save your miles and fly economy instead, it’s still a great bargain at around 40,000 miles.
While award seats can be hard to find, American Airlines releases availability approximately 11 months ahead of schedule. That means it’s not too early to start thinking about fall or winter travel next year.
American’s co-branded cards are a great way to earn a chunk of miles for your next trip. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® * The information for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. offers a 70,000 miles after spending $7,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Once you’re in Australia, you can easily hop on flights to other cities further afield, like Melbourne or Perth.
For hotels, Marriott Bonvoy is one of the most prolific hotel loyalty programs worldwide, so it can often make sense to start earning with a Marriott credit card . Even cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth considering as both these programs transfer to Marriott Bonvoy.
For example, the Element Melbourne Richmond is just 55,000 Bonvoy points per night. When booking an award stay with Marriott, you’ll get your fifth consecutive night free. This drops the rate to 220,000 points for a five-night stay at this property.
While a European summer vacation never goes out of style, traveling during the shoulder season is the true winner. With fewer crowds, cheaper accommodations and pleasant weather, a spring break trip to Portugal next year should be on your list.
If you’ve got travel rewards cards from American Express, Bilt, Capital One, Chase or Citi, you can transfer your points or miles over to the Air Canada Aeroplan program.
You can book a nonstop, business class flight from Miami (MIA) to Lisbon (LIS) in March for just 70,000 miles one way. If you’re traveling with multiple people, it can often make sense to apply for cards from multiple card issuers . This allows you to diversify your earning potential and pool together rewards from various transfer programs.
Hotel rooms in Europe are notoriously small compared to American standards, so traveling with more than one other person can present a challenge. One of the best credit cards for flexible travel purchases is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card * The information for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. .
Capital One Miles can be redeemed at a rate of one cent each for any travel purchases, which means you can book this Airbnb in Lisbon for $767, then redeem 76,700 Capital One miles to cover the cost.
Although many travel rewards cards come with annual fees, they can help you subsidize the cost of your vacation in many ways. The welcome bonus, ongoing rewards rate and extra travel benefits can help you receive hundreds or thousands of dollars in value.
When it comes to perks, travel rewards cards are often the most robust offerings on the market, especially when you compare them to store cards or cash-back cards . You’ll earn points and miles with every purchase you make, which you can then redeem toward travel expenses like flights or hotels.
Some travel rewards cards also come with money-saving benefits like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement, an airport lounge membership, or complimentary travel insurance.
Yes! You’ll not only earn rewards on every purchase you make, but most importantly, many travel rewards cards waive foreign transaction fees. These fees typically cost 1% to 5% of each transaction, so you’re saving a good chunk of money when you use a no foreign transaction fee credit card .
Opening an airline credit card can offer many perks, including a free checked bag, lounge access or priority boarding. However, if you’re not loyal to one airline in particular, it might make more sense to open a general travel rewards card as it earns points redeemable on any airline as well as other travel costs like hotels or experiences.
Even though travel rewards cards can greatly reduce your out-of-pocket spending, there are still costs associated with booking award travel, including taxes and fees or any opportunity costs you may forfeit from redeeming your rewards. For the most part, you’ll get heavily discounted travel rather than totally “free” travel when using your travel rewards card.
*The information for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and United Club℠ Infinite Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy . The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.
Stella Shon is a freelance writer that connects the dots between personal finance and travel. Her work has appeared in The Points Guy, ValuePenguin and MoneyUnder30, and she's been interviewed by The New York Times, CNBC and more.
Carissa Rawson is a credit cards and award travel expert with nearly a decade of experience. You can find her work in a variety of publications, including Forbes Advisor, Business Insider, The Points Guy, Investopedia, and more. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her in your nearest airport lounge sipping a coffee before her next flight.
Robin Saks Frankel is a credit cards lead editor at USA TODAY Blueprint. Previously, she was a credit cards and personal finance deputy editor for Forbes Advisor. She has also covered credit cards and related content for other national web publications including NerdWallet, Bankrate and HerMoney. She's been featured as a personal finance expert in outlets including CNBC, Business Insider, CBS Marketplace, NASDAQ's Trade Talks and has appeared on or contributed to The New York Times, Fox News, CBS Radio, ABC Radio, NPR, International Business Times and NBC, ABC and CBS TV affiliates nationwide. She holds an M.S. in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University. Follow her on Twitter at @robinsaks.
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