The World's Happiest Walks

Exploring the World's Happiest Walks

World's happiest walks

Those who love immersing themselves in nature will already know the feeling of how a good walk can make you happier.

So many people can relate to the boost we get from being in beautiful landscapes, and studies* have been conducted to prove that feelings of happiness and improved wellbeing are genuinely felt stronger when we’re immersed in natural environments.

Whether it’s a local stroll, a day-long rambling adventure or a walking holiday in a new and exciting location, there are plenty of ways to get outside and feel happier.

To find out more about the connection between happiness and walking, we have conducted a new study using Instagram posts and smile-recognition software, to see which popular walks and trails around the world are bringing the biggest smiles to explorers faces.

We looked at social media posts taken on popular walking trails around the world, from Australia’s Blue Mountains to The Pyrenees.

We used facial detection software to find and compare the size of the smiles captured in the posts, generating a happiness score and providing a tangible measurement of how happy travellers are as they embark on different walks around the world.

(Of course we know that any walks in beautiful landscapes boost our wellbeing, but hopefully our fun study will provide explorers with some travel inspiration!)

From the stunning scenery of the rugged British coastline to the panoramic views of towering peaks across the Alps, come along, as we reveal the most joyous walking trails worldwide for some serious wanderlust.

The United Kingdom dominates the rankings, with four out of ten walking trails located right in our home country. England claims the two top spots, with visitors having a truly joyous time exploring the South West Coast Path (happiness score: 99.30) and the Thames Path (happiness score: 99.29).

Besides the UK, Canada’s walking trails are also ranking highly, with the Appalachian Mountains (ranking 5th), the Bruce Trail (ranking 6th) and the Canadian Rockies (ranking 8th) securing their spots within the top 10 happiest walks worldwide.


The Top 20 ‘Happiest’ Walks Around The World


Rank Area Country Happiness Score
1 The South West Coast Path England 99.30
2 The Thames Path England 99.29
3 The Blue Mountains Australia 89.38
4 Eryri National Park (Snowdonia) Wales 96.50
5 The Appalachian Mountains

USA and Canada


6 The Bruce Trail



7 The Cairngorm Mountains



8 The Canadian Rockies



9 The Alps

Monaco, France, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia


10 The Carpathian Mountains

Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czechia, Serbia


11 West Highland Way



12 The Grand Canyon



13 Mount Kilimanjaro



14 Adirondack Mountains



15 The Inca Trail



16 The Himalayas

Nepal, China, Pakistan, Bhutan, and India


17 Caucasus Mountains

Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, and Iran


18 Gran Paradiso



19 The Pyrenees

France and Spain


20 Yosemite National Park




1. The South West Coast Path

Happiest Walks South West Coast Path

The South West Coast path came out as the happiest walk worldwide, with an overall happiness score of 99.30, and it’s easy to see why; it’s the longest national path in England (630 miles), taking you along the charming coastlines of popular English walking destinations such as Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

Whether you explore the South West Coast path over a number of days, or ramble along shorter sections, a grin is sure to come as you admire some of Britain’s most delightful beaches and clifftop views, hear the seabirds calling, smell the salty air and enjoy an ice-cream in a picturesque seaside village.

2. The Thames Path

Thames Path Happiest Walks

Coming in close second, with a happiness score of 99.29, is the Thames Path. At just over 182 miles long, the Thames Path follows the historic route of the River Thames across southern parts of England, taking in historical landmarks such as the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Docks and Battersea Park.

The Thames Path not only takes you through the bustling city vibes of the UK’s capital, but also provides explorers with quaint villages and olde-world style countryside scenes that are proven to bring big smiles to walkers’ faces.

3. The Blue Mountains

blue mountains

According to the happiness scores, the third happiest walking trails can be found in the Blue Mountains in Australia, with an impressive happiness score of 98.38.

The mountain range has a unique landscape due to the blue haze, caused by the sunlight scattering through the eucalyptus oil droplets (hence their name), and the natural beauty found here provides explorers with a huge amount of joy.

Besides offering unique views, the Blue Mountains are also home to a wide variety of animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, colourful parrots and unique reptiles, making it a delightful walking safari as well!


4. Eryri National Park (Snowdonia)

Eryri National Park Happiest Walks

Eryri National Park (formerly known as Snowdonia), is another excellent walking location found in the UK. It sits among the top five happiest-rated trails worldwide, in fourth place, with a smile score of 96.5.

Nestled in north-west Wales, this area boasts craggy peaks, ancient woodlands and majestic lakes, providing outdoor lovers with jaw-dropping panoramic views, including the iconic peak of Mount Snowdon, Wales's highest mountain.

Eryri National Park is also rich in history, making it an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts who are also interested in immersing themselves in the Welsh culture and historic sites, which, according to social media posts, are clearly a source of joy to its visitors.

5. The Appalachian Mountains

Appalachian Mountains

The Appalachian Mountains are a fantastic spot for walking enthusiasts as its vast system of well-maintained trails will satisfy the needs of outdoor lovers of any skill level.

Running across the eastern and north-eastern side of North America, the Appalachians inspire awe and wonder in travellers as they stumble upon USA and Canada’s important cultural and historical heritage sites and interact with local communities, creating a walking experience filled with endless memories and happiness.

6. The Bruce Trail

Bruce Trail Happiest Walks

With a happiness score of 95.69, Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath - the Bruce Trail -also makes the list of the top ten happiest walks. The main trail path stretches for over 550 miles and runs along the Niagara escarpment in southern Ontario between Niagara and Tobermory.

The Bruce Trail provides access to multiple side trails (which cover an additional 250 miles to the main trail), waterfalls, and scenic vistas where visitors can explore the natural surroundings of southern Ontario.

7. The Cairngorm Mountains

Happiest Walks Cairngorm mountains

The Cairngorm Mountains, named after one of its peaks—Cairn Gorm, are placed seventh with a happiness score of 94.46. Outdoor enthusiasts will be able to explore the natural habitat of rare and endangered species, such as the capercaillie and Scottish wildcat, which adds to the uniqueness of this wild and beautiful place, leaving its visitors with happy memories.

8. The Canadian Rockies

Walks in Canadian Rockies
We return to Canada, where the Canadian Rockies secure the eighth spot in the overall ranking. The Canadian Rockies have rightfully earned their place among the happiest walks around the world with an overall happiness score of 93.67.

Easily accessed by train or bus and by car in summer, the Rockies contain a plethora of national and provincial parks. Yoho, Banff, Jasper, and Kootenay are best known, and along with the Alberta and British Columbia parks, comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region’s mild climate during the summer makes this destination ideal for serene and contented walking adventures.

9. The Alps

The Alps Happiest Walks

Following in ninth place and stretching across eight south-central European countries (Monaco, France, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia), the Alps make up one of the world’s happiest walking routes—and a bucket list destination for many global travellers.

The Alps are also an excellent choice for walking enthusiasts at any level, as the trails are well sign-posted and nicely maintained. Visitors will enjoy a wonderful choice of picturesque small villages to rest and refuel.

The panoramic alpine views combine Europe’s rich mountain-life culture and create some of the happiest walking experiences worldwide.

10. The Carpathian Mountains

happiest walks carpathian mountains

The Carpathian Mountains complete the list of the happiest places to walk worldwide with a score of 90.76. This mountain range is home to numerous rare species, such as the European brown bear and Eurasian lynx, and boasts one of the largest and most unspoilt beech and fir forests in Europe.

Twitchers will marvel at the wild egrets and Dalmatian pelicans, whilst intrepid explorers can get their kicks exploring the Berca mud volcanoes near Buzau or the Scarisoara ice cave in the Apuseni Nature Park.

Methodology: To find out which walking trails evoke the most happiness, we analysed over 300 Instagram posts across 30 of the world’s most popular walks and trails.

AWS Rekognition software was used to assess the smiles and expressions in the pictures and create an overall happiness score, which was used to create the final ranking of the happiest walking trails. The data is correct as of February 2024.



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