Top Ten Hikes That Don't Require a Tent

Hiking doesn't always have to mean roughing it; especially if you're looking to bring a significant other or friend along who isn't down sleeping on the ground. Here is a list (in no particular order) of some of our favorite hikes that can be done without ever having to spend a single night in a tent.

1) West Highland Way - Scotland



The West Highland Way is a 96 mile (154 km) hiking route in Scotland that extends from Milngavie, just north of Glasglow, to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. The path follows many ancient military and coach roads as it makes its way north, passing through multiple towns and villages.

Walkers can enjoy a true wilderness experience while being able to avoid sleeping in a tent by taking advantage of the numerous hotels, eating delicious home-cooked meals at B&Bs, or enjoying a cozy room in a tiny inn.

Camping is an option too, if you’re into that. True adventure seekers can try to summit Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak, once they reach Fort William. In optimal weather, the hike to the peak can be done as an out-and-back in a single day.

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2) Tour du Mont Blanc - France, Italy, & Switzerland



One of the most popular hikes in the world, the Tour Du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a roughly 110 mile (170 km) trail that crosses through France, Italy, and Switzerland as it circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps.

Typically walked in a counter-clockwise direction, it passes through seven different valleys providing some of the most scenic views in the world. Usually, most people start their trip in Les Houches (France), but Les Contamines (France), Courmayeur (Italy), and Champex (Switzerland) are also popular starting destinations. The majority of hikers complete the entire route in approximately 11 days.

Like most trails, the TMB’s official route has changed over the years, creating multiple alternates, or “variants” for hikers to choose from. Some of the alternative routes require greater fitness and skill while providing a greater sense of adventure. Other alternatives are shorter, less demanding, and easier to complete but can come at the cost of having fewer viewpoints.

One of the most alluring aspects of the TMB is the plentiful options for accommodations along the route. Each day you will usually pass multiple options for food and lodging allowing hikers to break their trips up into manageable sections that suit the fitness level and pace.

Walkers can take advantage of refuges (called rifugios in Italy) along the entire route. Refuges are essentially rustic mountain hostels along the route which, most of which, still have their supplies brought in by pack mules each day. Each one is unique unto itself and they present themselves in various forms from separate bedrooms, to large mixed-sex dormitories, to super cozy alpine bunkhouses.

Refuges typically include some kind of meal (half-board/full-board) and you can even stop for lunch at some of the ones along your route. You’ll also have the chance to take a shower before dinner but be forewarned that hot water availability may be limited.

Limited camping, or bivouacking as it’s called in much of Europe, is also available for those looking to rough it a bit. Mixing tent camping with the refuges is a great option for hikers used to sleeping in their tents.

Even though there are a ton of available lodging options along the trail, its popularity can make it hard to book an entire tour, even if you book it in advance. It is recommended that you start trying to book as early as you can; especially if you have a large group.

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3) "W" Circuit - Patagonia / Chile



One of the most spectacular hikes in the world, the W Circuit in Chilean Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park is an awe inspiring 43 mile (69 km) trek that takes you through Los Cuernos Mountains, past the stunning Grey Glacier, through the wild Francés valley, dense forests, and climbs to breathtaking viewpoints like Las Torres themselves.

The W Circuit is certainly a choose your own adventure affair, with multiple options for accommodations. From shared mountain refugios (hostels) to private rooms, the W Circuit lets hikers pamper themselves at day's end with the luxury of a comfy bed, a hot shower, and warm meals.

Limited camping options are available for the more adventurous but look out for that wind.

4) Hadrian's Wall Path - United Kingdom



Hadrian's Wall Path is a 84 mile (135 km) designated English National Trail closely following along the remains of Hadrian's Wall, a defensive wall which was built by the Romans to protect the border along the northern edge of their empire. The wall is recognised as a collective part of the UNESCO "Frontiers of the Roman Empire" World Heritage Site.

Beginning in Wallsend on the east coast and ending in Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast, Hadrian’s Wall Path is typically broken into six, reasonably staggered, walking stages that are routinely hiked from east to west to help protect against the prevailing wind.

The close proximity to cities and villages allows many walkers to book BnB accommodations in each city allowing to make the journey without needing to ever sleep in a tent. Multiple services exist which will handle all the logistics for such a hike, including door to door delivery of your luggage.

Walkers can stamp their National Trail's Walkers' Passport at the Roman fort and Museum of Segedunum which sets the perfect historical stage for a trail that will wind them past multiple Roman forts, the impressive earthwork of the Vallum, and the ancient wall itself.

The trail is well signposted and the difficulty is relatively easy with some occasional mud and very little elevation gain. The path is fairly mellow and, more or less, flat of much of its length with a high point of only 1130 ft (345 m.)

While the path does run through sections of remote countryside, there are areas that venture through suburbs and cities like Newcastle and Carlisle. As such, you’ll never be too far from civilization or other walkers, particularly in the summer months when traffic along the trail is at its highest.

The close proximity to cities and villages allows many walkers to book BnB accommodations in each city allowing to make the journey without needing to ever sleep in a tent. Multiple services exist which will handle all the logistics for such a hike, including door to door delivery of your luggage.

The short distance and relative ease of the trail coupled with ample lodging opportunities makes Hadrian’s Wall Path a great option for people looking for a long distance hike that doesn’t require bringing a lot of gear or a high level of physical exertion.

5) GR 20 - Corsica / France



The GR 20 is a 112 mile (180 km) footpath that runs north to south along the spine of the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean sea. Widely considered the most difficult of the official GR footpaths, it is also routinely considered one of top trails in the world due to its challenging terrain and beautiful scenery.

While clearly waymarked throughout and easy to follow, the route features almost 40,000 ft (12,000 m) of elevation gain, classifying the GR20 as an advanced trail and one that most certainly is not for the faint of heart. A high level of physical fitness is encouraged for those looking to take on this challenging trek.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 hikers take on the GR20 each year with an average completion time of around 15 days. Most walkers begin in the north which, due to its steep and rocky terrain, is considered a difficult stretch; particularly when they have yet to get their trail legs under them.

The southern section is less strenuous and is generally thought to be easier but the lower altitude of the trail makes it susceptible to higher summer temperatures in summer which can result in more challenging hiking conditions due to the heat.

A train station in Vizzavona helps divide the trail in half making it an easily accessible access point for hikers looking to divide the route in half.

Along the entirety of the trail hikers will find gîtes and "refuges," that equate to rustic mountain hostels, which allow walkers to break up their days and help eliminate the need to sleep in a tent.

For those looking to tent camp, it is permitted near the refuges but pitching tents along the trail is not permitted.

6) Camino de Santiago - Spain / France / Portugal



The Camino de Santiago (known in English as the Way of St James) is an ancient network of paths and routes used for over a thousand years to lead pilgrims to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain; where tradition suggests that the remains of the apostle St James are buried.

Pilgrims visiting the shrine at Santiago de Compostela date back to the 9th century with early pilgrims from nearby villages and cities traveling several days, primarily by foot, to reach Santiago. By the Middle Ages, the route was experiencing heavy traffic, however, the plague, religious turmoil, and political unrest led to a decline in pilgrims by the end of the 16th century.

While the common belief is that pilgrimages continued uninterrupted, by the 1980’s only a few hundred pilgrims registered in the pilgrims office in Santiago leading to the Spanish government to begin promoting the pilgrimage as both a religious and sport based activity.

Since then, popularity has soared and now each year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and hikers set out from their homes, or some of the more popular starting locations and slowly make their way to Santiago de Compostela.

Some travel by bike, others, in true medieval fashion, by horseback or donkey, but most pilgrims still travel the old fashioned way; by foot. While many are seeking to gain a spiritual experience, others are simply enjoying the community aspect and physical activity.

There has never been an “official” route as a traditional pilgrimage begins at one’s home and ends when they arrive at the pilgrimage site. However, there are some main routes, like the Camino Frances (the most popular), Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo, and that can be traced back to the first Camino “guide book” called the Codex Calixtinus which was published in 1140.

Most common itineraries follow an ancient Roman trade route, which continues past Santiago and ends on the Atlantic coast at Cape Finisterre which was thought to be the end of the world. Many pilgrims hike to this location after reaching Santiago where they traditionally would burn their pilgrims clothes.

The main routes are readily marked by a yellow scalloped shell on a blue square. The shell is a nod to the variety often found on the shores of Galicia and has become synonymous with the Camino and they are often worn by the pilgrims themselves.

Pilgrims carry a “pilgrim’s passport” called the credencial. It is customary to have your credencial stamped with the official St James stamp for each refugio, restaurant, etc. The passport is then provided to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago as proof that you completed the pilgrimage. Pilgrims who have hiked a minimum of 62 miles (100 km) are eligible to receive a completion certificate called a Compostela.

The major routes pass through many small towns and villages and provide ample opportunity for accommodations. Pilgrims can even stay in monasteries along the route. Hotels and refugios are abundant but can become tough to book during the busy season. Multiple services exist which will handle all the logistics for the Camino, including door to door delivery of your luggage.

The very nature of the trail lends itself to never having to sleep in a shelter which is logistically much harder to do considering the lack of campgrounds and public wild space along the routes.

7) Alta Via 1 - Italy



The Alta Via 1 is a renowned hiking trail in the Italian Dolomites. This hike takes you through the breathtaking scenery of the Italian Alps, offering stunning views of snow-capped peaks, verdant valleys, and crystal-clear lakes. The trail spans approximately 75 mile (120 km) and takes around 10-12 days to complete, depending on your pace.

The difficulty level of the Alta Via 1 hike varies depending on the section you're on, but overall, it is considered a challenging hike. The trail has a lot of elevation gain and loss, and some sections require scrambling and boulder-hopping. However, the effort is worth it for the stunning views and unique alpine experience.

One of the highlights of the Alta Via 1 hike is the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems you'll encounter along the way. The trail takes you through rocky alpine terrain, lush forests, and picturesque meadows, and you'll have the chance to see a variety of wildlife, including chamois, marmots, and eagles. You'll also pass through charming mountain villages and have the opportunity to try delicious local cuisine and the opportunity to sleep in refugios on a nightly basis

Another highlight of the Alta Via 1 hike is the iconic scenery of the Dolomites. The trail takes you past several of the most famous peaks, including the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Marmolada, and the Civetta. You'll have the chance to see the rugged, dramatic peaks up close and witness the unique pink and orange hues that the Dolomites are famous for.

One interesting fact about the Alta Via 1 hike is that it was first established in the 1930s as a way to promote tourism in the Dolomites. The trail was designed to showcase the best of the region's natural and cultural attractions, and it has since become one of the most famous and popular hiking trails in Europe.

Overall, the Alta Via 1 hike is an unforgettable experience for anyone who loves hiking and adventure. With stunning views, diverse landscapes, and a challenging but rewarding trail, it is a bucket-list item for many outdoor enthusiasts. If you're up for the challenge, be sure to add the Alta Via 1 to your hiking itinerary.

8) Milford Track - New Zealand



The Milford Track is a world-renowned hiking trail located in New Zealand's Fiordland National Park. This 33 mile (54 km) trail is considered one of the most beautiful hikes in the world, offering stunning views of waterfalls, mountains, and lush forests.

The Milford Track is a challenging hike, but it's suitable for most people with a moderate level of fitness. The trail has some steep sections and requires crossing rivers and streams, but the effort is worth it for the incredible scenery and unique experience.

One of the highlights of the Milford Track is the stunning natural scenery. The trail takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in New Zealand, including the Clinton Valley, Mackinnon Pass, and the Arthur Valley. You'll see towering mountains, crystal-clear rivers, and lush, green forests that are home to a variety of native bird species.

Another highlight of the Milford Track is the chance to stay in cozy backcountry huts along the way. These huts are equipped with basic facilities, such as bunk beds, cooking facilities, and running water. They offer a comfortable and unique way to experience the natural beauty of Fiordland National Park.

One interesting fact about the Milford Track is that it was initially used as a route for Maori people traveling to the coast for seasonal food gathering. The trail was later discovered by European explorers and was used as a trading route. Today, it is one of New Zealand's most popular hiking trails and attracts visitors from all over the world.

The Milford Track is also famous for its unique and diverse flora and fauna. The trail is home to a variety of endemic plant species, including the Fiordland toatoa, mountain daisies, and the South Island edelweiss. You'll also have the chance to see native birds, such as kea, kaka, and tui.

Overall, the Milford Track is an unforgettable experience for anyone who loves hiking and nature. With stunning views, cozy backcountry huts, and unique flora and fauna, it's a must-do for anyone traveling to New Zealand. If you're looking for a challenging but rewarding hike in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Milford Track is the perfect choice.

9) Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trail — Iceland



The Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trails hike is one of Iceland's most famous and picturesque hikes, located in the southern part of the country. It is approximately 48 miles (77 km) long and connects the thermal area of Landmannalaugar to the nature reserve of Thórsmörk. This hike is usually completed over 4-5 days with nights spent in huts and showcases the stunning natural beauty of Iceland.

The Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trails hike is considered to be of moderate to difficult level, making it suitable for experienced hikers or those with a good level of physical fitness. The hike can be challenging due to the ever-changing weather conditions and the rough terrain, which includes steep inclines, rocky sections, and river crossings. The hike is best attempted during the summer months, between June and September, when the weather is mild and daylight hours are longer.

The terrain on the Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trails hike is incredibly diverse and ever-changing, with scenery ranging from vast, open expanses of volcanic desert to snow-capped mountains and glaciers. Hikers will pass by geothermal hot springs, roaring rivers, and stunning waterfalls, such as Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. The trail also passes through the rugged Fimmvörðuháls mountain pass, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

One interesting fact about the Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trails hike is that it passes through the newly formed lava field from the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. The eruption caused widespread disruption to air travel and had a significant impact on the local economy. The lava field is still relatively untouched and provides a unique opportunity for hikers to witness the natural regeneration process of the landscape.

Another interesting fact is that the Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trails hike is not just a favorite amongst hikers, but also amongst runners. Each year, the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon is held, with participants running the entire 48 mile trail in a single day. The race has gained popularity in recent years and is now one of the most popular ultra-marathons in the world.

In conclusion, the Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Trails hike is an unforgettable experience for any hiker or nature lover. It offers stunning scenery, challenging terrain, and a unique opportunity to witness the natural wonders of Iceland up close. With its diverse landscape, ever-changing weather conditions, and rich history, this hike is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime for those who are up for the challenge.

10) Salkantay Trail — Peru



The Salkantay Trail hike is a popular and challenging trek located in the Cusco region of Peru. It is an alternative route to the more famous Inca Trail and is approximately 46 mile (74 km) long, taking hikers through stunning mountain landscapes, dense forests, and historic ruins. The trail culminates with a visit to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu, making it a popular choice for adventurers and history enthusiasts alike.

The Salkantay Trail hike is considered to be of moderate to difficult level, making it suitable for experienced hikers or those with a good level of physical fitness. The hike can be challenging due to the high altitude, which reaches a maximum of 15,000ft (4,600 m), and the rugged terrain, which includes steep inclines and rocky paths. The best time to attempt the hike is during the dry season, from April to October.

The terrain on the Salkantay Trail hike is incredibly diverse and offers a range of stunning vistas, from snow-capped peaks to lush forests and high-altitude lakes. The trail also passes by a number of historic Incan ruins, including Llactapata, which offers panoramic views of Machu Picchu. Along the way, hikers can stay in lodges, and experience the unique culture of the region, including the traditional lifestyle of the Quechua people who inhabit the area.

One interesting fact about the Salkantay Trail hike is that it takes its name from the mountain that dominates the landscape, Salkantay. The mountain is considered to be one of the most sacred in Incan mythology and is believed to have been worshipped as a deity. The summit of Salkantay is also an important pilgrimage site for the Quechua people, who believe that the mountain is the source of all life.

Another interesting fact is that the Salkantay Trail hike is part of a larger network of Incan trails that span the Andes Mountains. These trails were used by the Incas as a means of communication and transportation between their different cities and settlements. The trail system covers over 30,000 kilometers and is considered to be one of the greatest engineering feats of the ancient world.

In conclusion, the Salkantay Trail hike is a challenging and rewarding experience for any hiker or adventurer. It offers stunning scenery, a glimpse into the unique culture and history of the region, and a chance to visit one of the world's most famous ancient sites, Machu Picchu. With its diverse terrain, fascinating history, and breathtaking views, the Salkantay Trail hike is an adventure that should not be missed.