Backpacking is a fun, authentic way of experiencing new environments and cultures, but choosing just where to explore is no easy feat. Take a look at our top picks for a backpacking break that will generate lasting memories you’ll treasure.
An eco-hotspot, Costa Rica prides itself on sustaining its beautiful environment, which comprises cascading waterfalls, lush tropical forests, white-sand beaches and towering volcanoes. Explore the varied landscapes and take in the rich culture, which combines Native American, Spanish and African influences.
Take a trip to the famous Manuel Antonio National Park to look out for monkeys and sloths, experience the beauty of the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, and explore the nation’s rich biodiversity in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, where hundreds of bird species reside. Explore it with TrekAmerica,
For backpackers in the USA, Alaska abounds in unspoilt beauty and varied nature. Characterised by snowy slopes and stunning glaciers, the most northerly of all the states is ideal for an active backpacking tour through awe-inspiring landscapes.
View the spectacular scenery of Denali National Park and admire the tallest peak in North America, Mount McKinley, or explore the Kenai Fjords National Park by boat and take in the sight of whales, seals and porpoises surfacing alongside the vessel.
The South American nation of Peru is a historical and naturally-beautiful country that draws travellers from across the globe. Known for its ancient settlements, Peru has a rich heritage that can be experienced firsthand at the renowned ruins of Machu Picchu.
Trek along the Inca Trail to explore the ancient site – which was unearthed in the early 1900s – and take in the winding narrow paths and ruined buildings at the lost city.
Another must-visit is the nearby imperial city of Cusco, which was laid out in the shape of a puma and is home to all manner of historical and architectural attractions. The city is the former capital of the Incan empire and a designated UNESCO world heritage site.
Located in southeast Asia, Vietnam was in the past best known for its political unrest, although today it’s a thriving tourism destination. The Vietnam War took place between 1954 and 1975, and throughout the nation you’ll find memorials and museums that commemorate and document what happened and pay homage to the fallen.
Vietnam’s rich culture can be seen in its ornate pagodas and temples, ethnic markets, the preserved merchants’ houses of Hoi An and the awe-inspiring citadel and mausoleums of the former capital, Hue. Trek across the mountains around Sa Pa, snorkel in the waters of Nha Trang and explore the nation’s French legacy by taking in the colonial architecture.
Backpackers head to New Zealand in their droves to experience the island nation’s Maori culture, idyllic scenery and laid back vibes. Discover the beautiful beaches of Abel Tasman National Park, the tranquillity of Milford Sound and the natural light given off by the glow-worms that reside in the caves of Waitomo.
Tour the nation’s winelands and taste the famous wines, learn more about native culture and heritage at the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, or head to Rotorua to witness a traditional Maori performance with weapons, wood carving, dancing and traditionally-cooked fare.
Another must-visit for culture vultures is the village of Te Araroa, which is steeped in myth and legend.