Ever wondered what the best adventure holiday destinations in the world are? It was an exceedingly difficult task but we’ve put together our top 10 list. Each of the countries selected can be visited comfortably within 2 weeks or less, the typical length of stay for a holiday. They span the globe and cover all different types of adventure, from daring rock climbs to epic scenic hikes, and are designed for adventurers of all interests.
Read on for our top 10 adventure holiday ideas and be inspired to book your next trip!
Visiting Iceland in the wintertime is an experience like no other! Snow storms, icy landscapes, glaciers and volcanoes all signal amazing adventure opportunities, and the country’s excellent infrastructure and safety records minimise any risks for even the most daring activities. Trek across a giant glacier, descend into a volcano with a rappel rope or go on a road trip to explore the waterfalls, jagged coastline and stunning landscapes.
Whilst we think Iceland looks the most impressive in the winter, you can visit in warmer months too, which is better for rock climbing and scuba diving between the continental plates in Thingvellir National Park. Although Iceland can be explored with various tours, we recommending only booking tours for the key adventure activities. You’ll have a lot more freedom renting a car and setting off on the open road with your trusty Google Maps.
Best for: Iceland has tours and activities to suit anyone that likes exploring the outdoors! From teenagers to older couples.
Our top Iceland adventure tours and activities recommendations:
- Volcano rappelling with Inside the Volcano
- Snaefellsjokull Glacier Summit Hike
- Iceland’s South Coast waterfalls and black sand beaches – self drive tour
- Snowmobile and Ice Cave Tour
If tropical islands, kayaking, cave diving and snorkelling alongside some quiet beach relaxation is your idea of an adventure holiday destination, the Philippines is calling your name. Start your adventure here exploring the islands (and there are over 7000 of them), swimming in the transparent ocean, scuba diving and catching a small motorboat to completely remote island beaches. Nature and wildlife are well protected in lots of areas and the country is much less touristic than neighbouring Indonesia and Thailand.
Once you’ve checked out the coastlines, return inland for rich jungle terrain, where mountain biking and canyoning tours are becoming increasingly popular. And did we mention the ziplines and tree-top adventure options? Travelling around the Philippines has an ‘off the beaten track’ feel to it and although moving around is slow paced and sometimes tedious, the adventures you’ll have along the way will make it a destination at the top of your list.
Best for: Active adventurers of all ages and beach lovers. Great for explorers on a budget!
Our top Philippines adventure tours and activities recommendations:
- Underwater cave exploration and kayaking in El Nido
- Countryside trekking and wildlife exploration
- Canyoning and waterfall hopping in Cebu
- Puerta Princesa Underground River Tour
Sitting just south of the Himalayas and the tallest mountain on earth, Everest, Nepal is a faraway adventure paradise that has long been the home of the mountain climber. Professional climbers and enthusiast backpackers alike, arrive in the capital Katmandu every day to embark on an adventure that starts in the sprawling city, and out to the tallest and most challenging mountains in the world.
As the climb to Mount Everest’s peak is too extreme for 99.99% of people, many opt for the Base Camp trek; the multi-week, challenging hike to the camp that climbers use just before their final ascent to the peak. You’ll experience all of the towering mountain scenery, death defying drops and snow hazards that you would if you climbed the full mountain, and the high altitude is a challenge in itself. Check out Base Camp trekking tours with the top-rated Intrepid Travel.
Whilst a base camp trek is the most adventurous thing to do in Nepal, you can also prepare yourself for some of the following wild and wonderful activities.
Best for: A challenging adventure destination for mountain lovers and budget travellers alike.
Our top Nepal adventure tours and activities recommendations:
- Paragliding between the mountains of Pokhara
- Mountain biking across narrow trails, mountains and valleys
- Rock climbing in an enchanted forest – we recommend Hattiban, just outside of Kathmandu
- Sightseeing the many grandeur Buddhist monasteries
- Taking a safari through Chitwan – a relaxing but thrilling experience
4. Costa Rica
Costa Rica may be known for its untouched white-sand beaches and being a go-to place for year-round sun in Central America, however it also has its fair share of adventure opportunities! Inland, there’s a vast rainforest of untouched wildlife and tree canopies. Embedded within that you have some excellently organised adventure parks where activities include zip-lining, canyoning down fierce waterfalls, wildlife excursions and epic group jungle treks that will have you feeling like Indiana Jones.
Of course, you always have the tropical beaches, and they’re what Costa Rica do very well. Split your time between relaxing on the beach and more active surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving and kayaking trips. The sea-life is vibrant here and the ocean has the perfect transparency to capture those once in a lifetime underwater camera snaps. We also recommend taking a boat trip to visit the nearby islands! Once a beach paradise, Costa Rica is a rising star of the adventure tour world and its perfectly suited to those that like sun, sea and plenty of action-packed excursions.
Best for: The perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. A great place for couples!
Our top Costa Rica adventure tours and activities recommendations:
- Explore the heights of the jungle at Sky Adventures Monteverde Park
- White water rafting with the top-rated Ticos River Adventures
- Scuba diving, snorkelling or surfing with Costa Rica Dive and Surf
- Jaco Jungle Adventure Day-trip – ATV ride, rappelling, horse riding and ziplines
All adventurers have the Machu Pichu trail on their bucket list and there’s good reason why. It remains one of the most breath-taking and challenging hikes across the Peruvian plains. You’ll get to climb deep valleys with panoramic views and visit local villages and markets; all before descending on the Inca Trail and its iconic array of ruins. In addition to being a high-altitude hiking challenge, the beautiful scenery and historic sights along the way makes it culturally appealing to anyone fit enough to embark upon the trail.
Other top adventures in Peru include a river trip through the Peruvian side of the Amazon Rainforest amongst over 1000 species of tropical birds, sightseeing in the capital of Lima and escaping the common tourist trail for a hike to the snowy peak of San Antonio Pass. And we can’t forget about the Nazca Lines! Soar above these ancient field markings in a private plane to get the best views of the lines.
Best for: Peru suits an active adventurer that loves long, challenging hikes amongst valleys and nature.
Our top Peru adventure tours and activities recommendations:
- 7-day Cusco and the Inca Trail trek with Intrepid Travel
- Nazca Lines mini-plane flight from Lima
- 4-day Peru adventure tour – ziplining, kayaking, biking and rafting
- 3-day Amazon rainforest tour with river boat ride
6. New Zealand
The ultimate contender for one of the best adventure holiday destinations is the remote island nation of New Zealand. The sole reason many people visit is for the amazing scenery and adventures on offer, and it’s a top contender on our list. The landscape ranges from snowy mountain ranges to vast grassy valleys, leafy forests and turquoise lakes. You then have a coastline of underwater tropical life to explore. There really isn’t much that you can’t do in New Zealand when it comes to adrenaline inducing activities and there’s so much to do in a 2-week holiday you’ll want to come back!
Start with slower paced excursions such as trekking, skiing or jet-boating and increase intensity with deep canyoning trips, bungee jumping, white water rapids courses and tandem skydiving. If you’re really looking for thrills, why not try heli-skiing? Ascend to the top of the mountains in a chopper, hop out and freestyle ski down the cliff to your desire! As the filming location for The Lord of the Rings, New Zealand’s entire mainland is waiting to be explored and it appeals to adventure seekers of all interests and levels of intensity. Families are well-suited here too!
Best for: Everyone, from families and couples to solo travellers. The trips and intensity of adventures varies.
Our top New Zealand adventure tours and activities recommendations:
- Auckland Lord of the Rings tour
- 12-day South Island exploration tour with Intrepid Travel
- Queenstown Skydiving with NZone Skydive
- Heli-copter aided trekking on Franz Josef Glacier
Switzerland is a European hotspot for excellent ski resorts, however its mountains are also the starting point for epic hikes amongst snow covered peaks, rock climbing and paragliding. The postcard-perfect scenery is what makes Switzerland one of the extra special adventure holiday destinations. Its central location makes it an easy place to travel to if you’re in the UK or other parts of Western Europe. The only sticking point is the cost – Switzerland can be an expensive place to visit, especially if extreme sports and adventures are on your radar!
Visiting in summer or spring can offer completely different activities to the snowy winter months. Spend the colder months skiing in the Swiss Alps, embarking on a challenging snow hike or paragliding from the mountain face. Summer welcomes activities such as kayaking, bungee jumping, picturesque mountain bike rides and epic valley ziplines. It’s completely up to you what you want your Swiss adventure to entail! For a weekend break, stick to one area and explore it to the fullest, or For a longer trip, you’ll want to plan an itinerary covering different key locations.
Best for: Hiking enthusiasts, skiers and active adventurers with a mid-upper end budget
Our top Switzerland adventure tours and activities recommendations:
- Tandem Paragliding Experience from Interlaken
- Hike the most beautiful mountains and valleys – See the top hiking trails here
- Take a guided E-Bike tour of the waterfalls and valleys
- Go skiing in a top Swiss ski resort such as Verbier or Zermatt
8. South Africa
When people think of South Africa, they picture Savannah safaris to see the wild animals, and the sprawling cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town. Whilst a safari should indeed be a part of your list, there are plenty more excursions and action-packed activities that await you here. Cape Town’s stunning national park, Table Top Mountain, will no doubt be on your itinerary. Why not tour the area and then rappel to the bottom and capture amazing views of Robben Island below? You can then go sightseeing in Cape Town and take in some rays before heading off on another adventure.
Other top things to do include bungee jumping from Bloukans Bridge, skydiving (which can be done almost anywhere in the country) and a safari through the enormous Kruger National Park. When you’re hot and sweaty from the arid adventures inland, retreat to the picturesque coastline for a spot of shark diving in a submerged cage. Too terrifying? Go snorkelling with colourful seahorses instead or relax on a beach. A trip to South Africa is recommended as a minimum of 2-weeks+. You have a lot of ground to cover and some great things to see so plan your trip well in advance!
Best for: Everyone. Families, couples and solo travellers all have activities they’ll like
Top tips for planning an adventure holiday in South Africa:
- Although you can rent your own jeep and have plenty of freedom within areas, book guided tours for the main sights and adventure attractions.
- South Africa is a large country! If you’re visiting for 2 weeks, plan out an itinerary and include no more than 3/4 different areas.
- Pack smart – you’ll need good walking shoes, a hat and plenty of sun screen. Try to pack lighter than a traditional holiday as you’ll be on the go a lot
- Make your time brief within the cities. You can see the top city attractions within a day or two and there’s so many more adventures awaiting you in the wilderness!
9. USA or Canada road trip
The US is big enough to have all types of terrain, from desserts to forests, cities to beaches and states that have completely different experiences to offer. Any road trip around the country is destined to be epic and it’s one of the best places to see completely contrasting landscapes in one trip! Planning the ultimate tour might be tough but give yourself enough time and freedom and you’ll thoroughly enjoy what you find. Further north, Canada is very similar for road trips. You have sprawling urban centres surrounded by impressive national parks, mountains and lakes.
Your trip to either of these countries (or both) always starts with a good plan and your destinations will all depend on what you want to see. Here are some of our recommendations on adventurous road trip itineraries to navigate. It’s one of the best adventure holiday destinations for those travelling with a group of friends or family!
Best for: Groups of friends and couples that want an epic road trip!
Sample USA/Canada road trip itineraries:
- Mid-west – Montana Wilderness, Yellowstone National Park, Utah Wild West Country, The Great Lakes
- West coast – Oregon wilderness, San Francisco, California coastline, Disneyland, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon
- Deep south – New Orleans, Alabama, Savannah Georgia, Florida beaches
- North-east – New York city/state, Boston Massachusetts, Maine wilderness, Washington DC
- Ontario and Quebec – Toronto city, Quebec towns and cities, Niagara Falls
- West Canada – Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, British Columbia, Canadian Rockies
If you’re an ancient history lover or just want a dessert safari with ancient relics and monuments that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime, an excursion around Egypt is not to disappoint. It’s a slower paced a tamer adventure experience compared to the other adrenaline inducing destinations on our list, however if true Indiana Jones style expeditions and some amazing sights are what you’re after, it ticks all the boxes.
Whilst you can do everything yourself in the form of separate organised tours, we recommend booking an all-in-one tour itinerary that takes you from Cairo to the pyramids of Giza and onwards to the colossal temples of Luxor. You may also be interested in a Nile Valley river cruise. It can be a more luxurious way to explore the country, with plenty of opportunity for camel rides and other adventure excursions. Tours typically take around 6 – 9 days so you can always end your trip with some relaxation too! Make one of the beach resorts of the Red Sea the last stop on your itinerary.
Best for: History lovers of all ages. Both budget and luxury tours are available and the pace of adventure varies.
Our top Egypt adventure tours and activities recommendations:
- Giza Pyramids, Sphinx, Memphis, and Saqqara guided tour from Cairo
- 8-day Egypt adventure tour with Intrepid Travel
- Nile River Cruise and sightseeing tours with Riveira Travel
- 2-week Egypt Explore tour including beaches, with Intrepid Travel
That concludes our list of epic adventure holiday destinations. In each of the countries we’ve listed, you have an endless amount of areas to visit and activities to embark on so spending some time planning it out is essential. Book an organised all-in-one tour or build an itinerary yourself for the extra freedom. It’s completely up to you! If you have any questions about the destinations we featured or want some planning advice, get in touch!