15 Best destinations for epic outdoor adventures
While adventures can be found in every part of the world, certain destinations offer more outdoor adventures than others. From natural landscapes, tourist attractions and a wide range of offerings, these famous and lesser-known places have got you covered. So, if you like your adventures outdoors, here are 15 destinations to get your adrenaline pumping.
If you like your vacations filled with activity, adventure and adrenaline, there are many places to choose from for your next trip. Some of the destinations on this list are well-known for their outdoor adventure offerings, while others might surprise you.
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what is adventure tourism?
While the term adventure travel might be subjective, the United Nations World Tourism Organization defines it based on three categories: physical activity, cultural exchange and interaction with the environment. These activities are further away, and individuals must travel to participate. It’s a popular segment of the travel industry and one of the fastest-growing. After being in lockdowns for most of 2020, it’s not surprising that we all want to get out there and feel alive.
How you choose your adventure will vary based on your travel style. Adventures outdoors can be defined as soft or hard, based on the level of experience and fitness required and the risk exposure. Activities like moderate hiking, birding, whale watching or kayaking fall under soft adventure travel, while mountain trekking, ziplining, sandboarding, scuba diving, bungee jumping, snowboarding and the like fall under hard adventure travel.
No matter which style of outdoor adventures you choose, these 15 destinations offer everything from historical treks and wildlife encounters to extreme sports. Planning your next adventure has never been this much fun.
15 Destinations for outdoor adventures
Whether you’re looking for inspiration or already have an adventure in mind, this list of 15 destinations for epic outdoor adventures will help you plan your next trip.
Antarctica is the ultimate destination for outdoor adventures. Visiting this desolate continent is an expedition that will let you channel your inner explorer. While the land might be covered in ice, Antarctica offers incredible wildlife encounters, including penguins, seals and whales.
Here you can admire the massive icebergs, glaciers and snow-covered landscape as far as the eye can see. There are many adventures to be had here, including camping on ice, snowshoeing, hiking and mountaineering. If you prefer water adventures, you can enjoy kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, scuba diving and snorkelling. The question is, which one will you choose?
Argentina’s rugged beauty offers diverse landscapes, from dry deserts, sub-tropical jungles and Antarctic-like Patagonia. Here you’ll find turquoise lakes, glaciers, ice fields, snow-capped Andes Mountain peaks and lush forests. There is something here for every outdoor enthusiast, from fly-fishing, whale-watching and horseback riding to paragliding, skiing, rock climbing, hiking and ice trekking.
Explore Argentina’s 33 national parks, including the stunning Tierra del Fuego, Iguazu, Nahuel Huapi and Los Glaciares, hike the Perito Moreno Glacier, and visit the Iguazu Jungle or unwind in the Lahuan Co hot springs. Whether you’re into snowboarding, hiking, rafting or camping, Argentina has got you covered.
Australia was made for adventure seekers. With more than 30,000 miles of stunning coastline, the world’s largest coral reef, rugged Outback and some of the most biodiverse terrains in the world, this is an outdoor adventure lover’s paradise. Hiking, diving, bungee jumping, surfing and snowboarding are just some of the adventures awaiting you here.
Drenched in sunshine and dotted with stunning beaches, Australia is a perfect destination for water lovers. Whether you’re into surfing, snorkelling, water rafting or swimming under a waterfall, you can do it here. If terra firma is more your style, there are many options in the Outback. Don’t miss hiking in the lush Daintree Rainforest, four-wheeling and boating through Kakadu National Park, bushwalking in Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Red Center and learning about Australia’s aboriginal peoples at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
Are you looking to explore more of Australia? You might enjoy Driving the Great Ocean Road.
Botswana offers visitors an unforgettable adventure set against diverse landscapes. It’s a world like no other, from the stunning Kalahari Desert, the lush Okavango Delta, and the Chobe River ecosystem to the Kubu Island and the Makgadikgadi salt pans.
While Botswana is known for game reserves, safaris and incredible wildlife encounters, it’s also a paradise for outdoor lovers. Here you can camp under the stars, skydive, hike and go on a hot air balloon ride, quad bike or river cruise. This is also where zebras, cheetahs, rhinos and buffalo roam free. Why not experience being one with nature in this real-life Eden?
As the largest country in South America, Brazil offers a wide range of activities for outdoor lovers. It is home to the Amazon rainforest, Iguazú Falls, the world’s most extensive waterfall system, the Pantanal Wetlands, one of the largest wetland regions in the world, and the sanctuary of Mucugezinho, to name a few.
Stunning beaches, crystal-clear lakes, waterfalls, underground cavern pools, giant gardens filled with wild orchids and other exotic plants are just some of the gems you’ll find here. Whether you’re into surfing, diving, riding dune buggies, hand gliding, hiking, or learning more about the local fauna and flora, Brazil has it all. Add in diverse cultural offerings, and you have a perfect destination for your next adventure.
As the second-largest country in the world, Canada is a perfect destination for outdoor adventures. With 48 national parks, three coasts and rugged landscapes, Canada is your ideal adventure destination. Here you’ll find pristine wilderness, stunning lakes, forests, valleys, snow-covered mountains, fjords and glaciers.
Whether you’re into hiking, biking, snowboarding, heli-skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing, kayaking, alpine climbing, white water rafting, surfing or mountaineering, you’ll find it here. Canada is also an excellent place for chasing the Northern Lights and wildlife encounters. The Great White North is waiting for you.
Iceland’s incredible landscapes guarantee its place on the outdoor adventures list. The land of fire and ice attracts outdoor enthusiasts with its snow-capped volcanos, glaciers, underground caves, hot springs and geysers. It’s a place where you can indulge all your adventure fantasies as you hike, trek, snorkel, dive and bathe across the island.
From snorkelling in a crack between two tectonic plates in Thingvellir National Park, snowmobiling across the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, hiking behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, exploring underground ice caved of the Vatnajökull glacier or puffin, and whale watching, Iceland will grab your heart from the start.
While Kyrgyzstan might not be on everyone’s radar for outdoor adventures, the country is steadily attracting adventurers seeking new and unique travel destinations. As mountains cover 93 per cent of the nation’s terrain, the opportunities for all types of outdoorsy adventures are endless. Kyrgyzstan’s spectacular landscape is filled with rugged mountains, valleys, meadows, rolling grasslands and stunning blue lakes that will awe you.
You will never lack anything to do here with abundant trekking, horseback riding, rafting, camping, skiing, and mountain biking offerings. Visit the celestial Tien Shan and Pamir mountain ranges, heli-bike in the lush Karkara Valley, camp at Karkara Base Camp, and bathe in the Altyn-Arashan valley hot springs. Follow in the footsteps of the Silk Road trading route, learn about the nomadic culture of the Kyrgyz and stay in traditional yurts. You will want to return again and again.
Mongolia is known as the Land of Blue Sky with its vast mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes, golden sands, and dinosaur fossils of the Gobi Desert. Whether you want to channel your inner Genghis Khan as you travel on horseback or immerse yourself in a culture that hasn’t changed much over centuries, Mongolia is the place for you.
As you hike, bike, raft and kayak across the beautiful gorges, sandstone mountains, deserts and valleys, you’ll also experience local customs, sleep in traditional ger tents and visit historic temples and monasteries. Marco Polo wrote about his adventures here, igniting curiosity about this wild and untamed place in future travellers. It’s not suspiring that Mongolia is a siren call for adventurers.
With a commitment to conservation management, stunning scenery and incredible wildlife encounters, Namibia is an attractive outdoor adventures destination. Here you can explore pink-granite mountains, dramatic dunes, valleys and canyons as you skydive, sand-board, quad-bike and power-kite to your heart’s content.
Enjoy endless starry nights and visit the Etosha National Park, the largest free-roaming population of black rhinos, cheetahs, lions and elephants. Visit the stunning red sand dunes of Sossusvlei, hike the surreal formations at Spitzkoppe, visit the wrecks along the treacherous Skeleton Coast and get ready for a journey unlike any other.
New Zealand might be small, but it packs a punch when it comes to outdoor adventures. With spectacular landscapes made up of majestic mountains, volcanos, forests, rivers, lakes and beaches, it’s a destination made for every adventure lover. For heart-pounding adventures and more laid-back activities, this is the place for you.
Here you can kayak, surf, snorkel, scuba dive, wakeboard, white water raft and surf. If you prefer to stay out of the water, New Zealand’s national parks are ready to blow your mind with forests, lakes, mountains and gorges. Try caving in Waitomo, hike the Abel Tasman Great Walk, bungee jump in Queenstown or head to Kaikoura for some whale watching.
Norway’s natural and unspoiled beauty is an adventure lover’s dream filled with stunning mountains, fjords and waterways. Norway is the place to travel for any outdoor enthusiast, from hiking, cycling, skiing, dog-sledding, numerous water activities, and encounters with nature during all seasons.
Travel to Tromso in the Arctic Circle to view the Northern Lights, find your glacier adventure at the Jostedalsbreen, Folgefonna and Svartisen glaciers, explore scenic waterfalls, caves and caverns as you follow the footsteps of ancient Vikings. No matter what outdoor adventure you have in mind, you’ll likely find it here in Norway.
There is more to Peru than the iconic Machu Picchu. Outdoor adventure enthusiasts will fall in love with the country’s versatile landscape and unmatched wildlife exploration opportunities. Peru’s national parks, lakes, deserts and mountains offer some of the most challenging trekking routes through historic lands.
The Peruvian Andes offer climbing, camping, paragliding and mountain biking options. Visitors can go sandboarding in Huacachina Oasis, boating on Lake Titicaca, white water rafting on the Urubamba River, hiking in the Colca Canyon and volcano climbing near Arequipa or surfing on the coast. The possibilities are endless.
Switzerland is the ultimate location for outdoor lovers. With unparalleled skiing opportunities in winters and incredible hiking in summers, it’s a popular adventure destination. The Swiss Alps, dotted with highlands, lakes and meadows, make Switzerland one of the top adventure destinations in the world.
This is the place for epic alpine adventures, including backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, skiing, paragliding, kayaking, mountain climbing, tobogganing and spelunking. Take a break from exploring the national parks and soak at a Swiss spa or explore one of the country’s spectacular castles.
When it comes to adventure, the US is a massive playground filled with the great outdoors. With such a diverse landscape, there are opportunities for winter and summer adventures on land and water. There is plenty to choose between the majestic mountains, stunning lakes, canyons, salt flats, forests, beaches, and lush jungles.
From dog sledding in Alaska, surfing in California and skiing in Colorado to kayaking through Yellowstone National Park, hiking in Hawaii and exploring the Grand Canyon. The US has it all for every adventure style out there.
Best places for adventures outdoors
These 15 destinations are just some of the places where adventure awaits. Their natural assets and wide range of activities continuously attract different types of travellers. It’s not to say that there aren’t other countries with plenty of offerings for adventure seekers. Arguably, each country in the world offers a variety of adventure options, but listing them all would be an endless task.
So, what is the best place for outdoor adventures? That depends on your interests, your physical condition, fitness level, budget and time. While many of these destinations can be explored on your own, others might offer better value if done with a tour. Remote locations, in particular, might be safer with guides who know the terrain and the potential pitfalls that can arise.
“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”– Amelia Earhart
Seeking out adventures is a great way to practice self-awareness, learn confidence and decisiveness. Pushing your limits can be a great adrenaline rush and a great way to break from routine. Keep in mind that being adventurous doesn’t mean being careless. Respect the nature you’re exploring, the people you meet and know your limitations. The best adventures, after all, are those we live to talk about.
What other outdoor adventure location would you add to this list?