Long-distance trails for your backpacking bucket list
Lace up your hiking boots for five of the world's most epic long-distance walks. These are trails that’ll challenge your fitness and organization skills, and – most importantly – take you to some truly stunning places. Stay in a cheap hostel before, after or during your trek to keep costs down, give you somewhere comfy to rest your legs and help you connect with other travellers on the same route.
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Nepal
Also known as the ABC route, this seven to 10-day hike is one of the most popular treks in Nepal’s jaw-droppingly beautiful Annapurna region. Overlooked by the huge peaks of Annapurna and Machapuchare, trekkers pass through pretty villages, jungle, woodland and waterfalls. If this takes your fancy (and it should, if you’re fit enough) look for a hostel in popular backpacker town Pokhara – treks usually start from there.
Lycian Way, Turkey
Snaking its way around the coast of ancient Lycia, the 509km (318 mile) Lycian Way takes four or five weeks to complete, but most walkers choose to hike shorter sections. One of the most popular is the section that runs from the pretty seaside town of Fethiye to Patara, one of the south coast's best beaches. Along the way, stop to paraglide over Turkey's most pictured beach resort, Olu Deniz.
Camino de Santiago, Spain
Millions of hikers have undertaken this epic pilgrimage to the tomb of St James in the medieval city of Santiago de Compostela. Time-poor travellers can walk the final 110km of the route over five days by starting in the Galician town of Sarria. The route is dotted with pine forests, meadows, small villages and medieval castles. It's worth spending a few days exploring Santiago at the end of your trek for its cathedral, museums and atmospheric taverns.
The Great Wall of China
Trek one of the seven wonders of the world at the Great Wall, which is within easy reach of Beijing. The entire length of the wall is an eye-popping 13,000 miles, but most people tackle sections of the route over a few days or weeks. Trek for longer if you want to escape the tourist crowds and enjoy a fascinating insight into rural China. Afterwards, book some time in a Beijing hostel to visit Tian'an Men Square, the world's biggest public space, and the famous Forbidden City.
Ciudad Perdida trek, Colombia
Explore the dense, steamy jungle of Colombia's Caribbean coast on this Indiana Jones-style five-day trek. The Ciudad Perdida (“Lost City”) dates back to 500 years BC, and it takes three days of uphill trekking to reach it – including a final climb up 1,500 moss-covered steps. The tough trek means there’s a relative lack of tourists, which makes wandering through the terraces and staircases of the Lost City a bit like exploring a secret garden. All Lost City treks set off from Santa Marta, so grab a cheap hostel there for your prep and post-trek R&R.