December 11 is International Mountain Day. Since there’s nothing like feeling on top of the world, we explore the most awe-inspiring mountains on the planet. Here are our top 10, in no particular order.
1. Matterhorn, Switzerland
The soft-serve swirl stone peak known as the Matterhorn is one of the most recognizable mountains that make up the Swiss Alps. On the border between Italy and Switzerland, you can hike, climb, or train up its range. Fun fact: In 1871, Lucy Walker became the first woman to reach the top of the Matterhorn. She did it in a long flannel skirt!
Highest peak: 4,572 m
2. Mount Everest, Nepal
The tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest is revered by Sherpas as the home of the gods. Sherpas fulfill their purpose by guiding mountaineers to Everest’s summit as a selfless spiritual act of drawing closer to the Buddha gods. For a glimpse of this monolith, hike the Base Camp trail. (Talk to an Expert Traveller for tour recommendations.
Highest peak: 8,848 m
3. Mont Blanc
The tallest mountain in the French Alps, the glittering peaks of Mont Blanc are a magnificent sight to behold. On the French-Italian border, Mont Blanc can be seen from several places in eastern France, and even as far as Geneva, Switzerland. As one of the more developed mountaineering destinations, visitors have plenty of mountain viewing options. If you’re an experienced climber, you can crampon your way to the summit. Or, alternatively, there are railway tours, cable car rides and tramways available, for a more leisurely journey around Mont Blanc.
Highest peak: 4,808 m
4. Sete Cidades, Azores
Sete Cidades, or ‘seven cities’, is a small town on Sao Miguel Island in Portugal’s Azores. Surrounded by volcanic activity, some of the most scenic viewpoints can be found atop the peaks of dormant volcanos. Hike to the peak of Sete Cidades’ twin lakes for some of the best views of the island.
Expert Traveller Tip:
“This beautiful hiking trail is made for everyone and anyone. A parking lot close by offers quick entry to take a look around, or you can park the car and go exploring! A path lines the whole lake area, so go for a couple of hours or a full day – the options are endless! Feeling more adventurous and looking for a better view? Paragliding is offered all around this area for a birds-eye view of the twin lakes. Sore after your long hike? Take a quick jaunt down the hill to the volcanic hot springs for some rest and relaxation!” Naomi Richardson of Toronto
Highest peak: 264 m
5. The Andes
The longest mountain range in the world, the Andes span seven countries on the western edge of South America. From volcanic peaks to the lost civilization of the Incas, there’s nature and mystery to discover in the Peruvian Andes. Hidden on a peak at 2,350 m, is Machu Picchu, the most well-known site of the Inca Empire, and only discovered centuries later. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or take the train and discover the lost empire.
Highest peak: 6,961 m
6. Hang Múa, Vietnam
Translating to the “dancing cave,” Hang Múa was once a place where entertainers would sing and dance for King Tran. Next to Hang Múa, at the foot of the Múa mountain, is a Great Wall of China-inspired stone staircase. Walk up the limestone steps for a spectacular view of the lush surroundings.
Expert Traveller Tip:
“Visit the Coffee Egg Cafe in Hanoi, a small eatery located in a residential neighbourhood where a speeding train passes only inches away. Once you’ve got your adrenaline pumping, make the climb and enjoy the stunning views from Hang Múa.” Jennifer Cameron of Milton
Highest peak: 70 m
7. Arthur’s Seat, Scotland
Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano that last erupted 250 million years ago. It’s the highest peak in a group of hills located at the base of Holyrood Park, but a relatively easy, family-friendly hike and great for anyone staying in Edinburgh, recommends Expert Traveller Amanda McFarlane of London, Ontario. From the top of the hill, you’ll be able to take in sweeping 360-degree views of the Royal Mile and see as far as Edinburgh Castle.
Highest peak: 251 m
8. Pitons, St. Lucia
Jutting out of a vibrant blue Caribbean Sea and covered in lush green vegetation, the Pitons are a vision of perfection. St. Lucia’s volcanic twin peaks are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular site for mountain climbers. While they’re not the toughest peaks to scale, it’s the tropical weather that adds a challenging element.
Gros Piton: 798 m
Petit Piton: 750 m
9. Mount Fuji, Japan
Mount Fuji is a national symbol and UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, Mount Fuji’s snow-capped symmetrical cone has inspired many. Novice climbers, Mount Fuji is for you. Yoshidaguchi Trail is billed as the most novice-friendly, but all four trails on Mount Fuji can be done without a guide.
Highest peak: 3,776 m
10. Uluru, Australia
Uluru is one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks. Uluru is one of the few places in the world to earn dual listings as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one for its natural values and one for its cultural. Out of respect to its cultural history and the Anangu people, climbing Uluru was banned in October 2019. Travellers who wish to view Uluru can still do so with the restriction in place, from afar at the base, by helicopter, or from numerous lookouts. The best time to see Uluru is during sunrise and sunset when the surface of the formation changes hues from sandstone brown to striking hues of burnished orange and deep red.
Highest point: 348 m
For more inspirational mountain climbing expeditions and ideas, talk to an Expert Traveller and start planning your next adventure!