The Walking Etiquette Report 2023

The Walking Etiquette Report 2023

Walking Etiquette Report

If you’re looking to unwind and reconnect with nature, exploring the great outdoors on a walk or hike is the perfect way to do so. Whether you’re looking to explore green rolling hills or meander along stunning coastlines - there are many beautiful walks around the world which are at the top of travellers’ bucket lists.

As experts in walking holidays, we wanted to find out which walking trails around the world have seen the biggest surge in popularity over the last few years - to reveal the top trending trails of 2023.

As well as this, we’ve also revealed some of the most weird and wonderful walking etiquette rules from around the world- some that even the most experienced of ramblers might not have heard of.

So, with walking holidays becoming more popular than ever, where are the best places to head to, and what etiquette should you be following out on the trails?

Read our first edition of the Walking Etiquette Report 2023 to find out.

Trending Walking Trails Around The World | The Most Popular Walking Trails | Walking Etiquette Tips

The World's Strangest Walking Etiquette Rules | Our Favourite Walking Spots


Walking Etiquette Report 2023

With so many glorious walking trails out there, we wanted to see which walks have been consistently popular with outdoor enthusiasts over the years, and which trails have seen a more recent rise in popularity.

With the pandemic having such an impact on interest in walking and exploring outdoors, we’ve analysed Google searches for 122 of the world’s popular walking locations and summed the total annual searches for each keyword for the last 12 months (2022 - 2023) - and then compared these searches to the same period three years ago (2019 - 2020).

The table below reveals the walks around the world that have seen the biggest spike in interest in recent years; they span destinations all over the world - from central Europe to the US, Australia and Asia.



Walking area


Percentage change in searches 2020 - 2023 (%)


The Balkans Trail

Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro



The Făgăraș Mountains




The Sudetes

Czech Republic, Poland and Germany



The Chugach Mountains

United States



The Great Ocean Walk




Langtang Valley




Grand Balcon Sud




La Jonction




Giant's Causeway




The Kunlun Mountains




The Ouachita Mountains

United States



Mount Kailash Kora




The Hajar Mountains

United Arab Emirates, Oman



The Blyde River Canyon

South Africa



The Jordan Trail




The Amalfi Coast




Path Of Gods




The Caledonian Mountains

United Kingdom



The Laugavegur Trail




The Heysen Trail




The Vosges Mountains




The Pyrenees

France, Spain



The Drakensberg

South Africa, Lesotho



The Lycian Way








1. The Balkans Trail

The Balkans Trail comes out as the top trending walking trail, with an increase in searches of 86,300% over the past three years. The Balkans Trail is a 192 km long captivating walking trail which winds its way through the rugged and culturally diverse region of the Balkans in Southeast Europe.

The trail weaves through several countries, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia.

Each country along the trail offers its own distinct landscapes, culture, and historical landmarks to explore, making it a fascinating and ever-changing experience for hikers. The trail also offers a stunning range of terrain - from dense forests and high mountain peaks to picturesque river valleys and pristine lakes - it's no wonder then, that so many walking enthusiasts are keen to experience its beauty!

The Balkans Trail has been highlighted by the BBC as a brilliant destination for ‘slow travel’. Slow travel is a new term for a more authentic approach to travel, where people take their time to explore a place without hurry, and truly immerse themselves in the local environment.

Our research shows that destinations that fit the ‘slow travel’ ethos, like The Balkans Trail, are soaring in popularity.


2. The Făgăraș Trail

Ranking in as the second most popular trail, having seen a 31,100% increase in popularity is the Făgăraș Trail, situated in the breathtaking Făgăraș Mountains of Romania.

Famed for its stunning alpine landscapes, the trail offers lovers of the outdoors a thrilling adventure through awe-inspiring vistas of jagged peaks, deep valleys, glacial lakes and lush meadows.

The Făgăras Mountains are also the highest and most imposing in Romania, boasting peaks that reach heights over 2,500 metres, making the trail particularly appealing for any walkers looking for a challenge on their next trip.


3. The Sudetes

The third trending walking destination of 2023 is The Sudetes, a mountain range which can be found in Central Europe, spanning countries including Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. The walking area has seen a 3,500% increase since pre-pandemic times and is popular for good reason.

The trail covers a significant area - stretching for around 450 km in length and boasts a diverse range of plant and animal species including deer, wild boar, foxes and numerous bird species, thanks to the varying microclimates found throughout the mountains.

Walkers who undertake the trail along The Sudetes will be treated to a range of both leisurely walks and more challenging alpine treks, all along a backdrop of stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity.


4. The Chugach Mountains

The Chugach Mountains rank in as the fourth trending trail, having seen a 2,300% increase in demand over the past few years. The Chugach Mountains is a magnificent mountain range located in southern Alaska, USA, spanning 300 miles from the Kenai Peninsula to the Copper River.

One of the defining features of this walking trail is its proximity to the ocean, as the mountain range rises from the coastline of the Gulf of Alaska. The Chugach Mountains offer an extensive network of trails with varying levels of difficulty, catering to both casual day hikers and experienced backpackers.

Popular hiking destinations include Flattop Mountain, McHugh Peak and Bird Ridge, each offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.


5. The Great Ocean Walk

Rounding off the top five trending walking trails is the Great Ocean Walk, which has seen an 805% increase in popularity over the past three years. The Great Ocean Walk is a one-way, long-distance walk along the scenic coastline of Victoria, Australia.

This world-renowned trail offers an unforgettable journey through some of Australia's most stunning coastal landscapes.

The walk winds its way along the southwestern coast of Victoria, providing hikers with breathtaking views of the Southern Ocean, rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and lush forests. The Great Ocean Walk is a true nature lover's paradise, showcasing a diverse range of ecosystems and wildlife, including native birds, kangaroos, and koalas.


While some walking trails were found to have increased demand in searches, others remained popular, with no change in searches for the walking areas over the past three years.

These areas have remained firm favourites with walkers all over the world, and all offer their own beautiful landscapes, and a range of different walks and climbs for outdoors lovers to undertake.



Walking area


Annual global searches


The Cotswolds

United Kingdom



The Inca Trail




The Andes

Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile



The Black Forest




The Great Smoky Mountains

United States



The Great Dividing Range




The Pennine Way

United Kingdom



The Ural Mountains

Russia, Kazakhstan



The Bruce Trail




The Apennines




Walking Etiquette, According To Our Experts

Walking Etiquette

Being aware of walking and trail etiquette can make or break yours and other walkers’ experiences while out on a trail. Although walking etiquette is synonymous with common courtesy - it isn’t always obvious how to behave or what rules to follow, especially when walking in an area or country different to your own.

Knowing the dos and don’ts of trail walking is essential for respecting the environment you’re in and maintaining a positive environment amongst fellow walkers.

With this in mind, we’ve shared our top walking etiquette rules that all walkers should be following:


1. Right of Way

Questions around walkers’ right of way are one of the most common when it comes to walking etiquette. Luckily, there are commonly appreciated rules around who has the right of way while out walking or hiking.

For example, downhill walkers should always yield to uphill hikers when on a mountain or hill. This is because walkers climbing uphill have a narrower field of vision and are working against gravity to achieve pace and momentum, so it's common courtesy to give uphill hikers right of way.

In a similar way, solo hikers should always move for big groups - especially if the big group is hiking in single file as per standard trail etiquette. Solo hikers will find it easier to step aside and let the group pass - just remember to move aside to the right and pass on the left. 

Finally, if you’re not walking on a trail, bear in mind that: bikers yield for hikers, bikers yield for horses, and hikers yield for horses too. Keeping these general right of way rules in mind will help to avoid any awkward encounters out on the trails.

Lewis, our resident walking expert based in Switzerland, comments “Walkers will often hear mountain bikers coming and try and jump out the way. But jumping into the gap the cyclist was intending on moving into can often cause people to get lost and sometimes even cause big accidents.”


2. Bathroom Etiquette

Sometimes nature calls when you’re out in nature. If you must take a comfort stop, first always check for an outhouse or public facilities that are nearby. If there’s nothing suitable available then best practice is to go at least 200 feet away from any trail, campsite or water source to do your business.

Use your common sense though, and if 200 feet from the trail isn’t possible then try your best to find a private spot behind a tree or rock so that other walkers aren’t caught by surprise. Be sure to take any tissue or other materials you use away with you once you’re done.


3. Dogs

Many walkers may like to bring their furry friends with them on their adventures - because there’s nothing a dog likes more than a walk! But even your pooch isn’t exempt from walking etiquette and expectations, so always hike on dog-friendly trails and pay attention to signs which may signal leash-only dogs are allowed.

If off-lead, ensure your dogs do not bother any wildlife or fellow walkers, and do not let them trample on flora.

Always clean up after your dog and do not leave poo bags around the trail (even if you intend on picking them back up on the way out).


4. Cairns

Cairns are small piles of stones stacked together to show walkers the correct way to proceed along a trail, if it’s not already clear.

They’re somewhat controversial amongst walking communities, with some finding them useful and others finding them to be a blemish on the landscape, however some walkers will want to add to the cairn as they pass it. General walking etiquette is not to do this.

Adding to the tower can cause it to collapse and could end up leading walkers in the wrong direction, so it's best to leave any cairns you come across as they are.


5. Campfires

While it might seem like a lovely idea, lighting a campfire while out on a hike will be subject to fire regulations in the area you’re walking in. In locations where there are fire risks or ongoing droughts for example, they’ll likely be banned, so always be sure to check before getting out any matches. In areas where they are permitted, be sure to use an official campfire ring - this will reduce the risk of the fire escaping and causing a larger forest fire.

6. Leave No Trace

Practicing the Leave No Trace etiquette is one of the best ways to keep any trail you’re walking on in the best condition possible. The Leave No Trace principle is to ensure that anything you bring into the environment, you are also bringing out - and making sure you’re leaving no trace (or as little trace as possible) of you being on the trail once you’ve left.

7. Music

Lots of walkers will head out on to trails for some well-needed solitude, peace and to soak up the sounds of nature. It’s therefore frowned upon to listen to music while out hiking, to avoid disturbing fellow walkers and or the wildlife in the area who may communicate. Try to avoid using headphones too, so that you can stay alert to any warnings or dangers in our environment.


8. General Friendliness

Finally, it is great walking etiquette to generally treat other walkers with kindness, friendliness and respect. Don’t make any walker feel unwelcome, or hike too close to surrounding ramblers. Great friends and communities can be made from similar-minded people who love to walk - so there’s no reason why you can’t also make friends while out on your next adventure!


The World's Strangest Walking Etiquette Rules

Walking Etiquette

Now that we’ve covered some of the world’s most universally practiced walking etiquettes, we also wanted to uncover some of the strangest walking rules from around the world.


No Nude Hiking In Switzerland

While most walkers probably wouldn’t generally consider taking their next hike in the nude, ramblers really shouldn’t walk naked in Switzerland - where the act of hiking in the nude was once a frequent occurrence and was subsequently banned. While hiking in the nude isn’t specifically illegal in other countries, it’s generally not approved of in most places - so we’d advise to cover up with your favourite leggings and walking fleece instead.


Don’t Kill Bigfoot!

Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch) is a large, hairy, humanlike creature which is believed by some people to exist in woodland areas in the northwestern United States and western Canada. If hikers to ever happen to find Bigfoot, and by chance are walking in Skamania County, Washington - it is not advisable to kill the creature, as doing so could land you with a year in prison.


No Howling in Yellowstone

If walkers are visiting Yellowstone National Park, one strange rule is that howling is strictly prohibited - as is imitating the elk which inhabit the park. While this may seem strange, the aim of this rule is to protect both visitors and wildlife by leaving the animals to thrive undisturbed by noisy walkers.


Take No Shortcuts In California

In two Californian national parks (Sequoia and Kings Canyon) a bizarre walking rule prohibits visitors from taking shortcuts on their trails. Any walkers tempted to go off-trail for a shorter route may risk causing serious ecological damage, and fines and punishment if caught doing so. Any walkers in the Californian National Parks should therefore be prepared to take the full route!


Do Not Approach Patou Dogs In France

If taking a walking trip in France, Harvey Herridge, our resident walking expert based in La Clusaz warn against approaching the ‘patou’ - also known as Pyrenean Mountain dogs.

“No matter their behaviour, do not approach the patou. These dogs have been brought up as working animals since the reintroduction of wolves in the French Alps. They grow up in the pastures with their flock of sheep and their job is to ward off any potential intruders. They are defensive rather than aggressive and will expect you to stay on the paths they are used to seeing humans on” Harvey comments.

If you spot a patou out on the trail, avoid making eye contact with it, despite how cute they can look, in order to avoid being seen as ‘challenging’ them.


Off The Beaten Track - Our Favourite Hidden Gem Walking Areas

Some of the world’s most popular walking areas and trails will be on the top of many outdoor enthusiasts’ travel bucket lists - but where can walkers find some scenic but seldom crowded alternatives?

We’ve highlighted our favourite hidden gem walking areas so that you can explore some of the world’s lesser known, more peaceful (but equally beautiful) trails on your next trip.


Ischgl, Austria

walking etiquette report

This peaceful resort might be famous for its lively ski season but Ischgl, Austria undergoes a magnificent transformation in the summer months. Located in the picturesque Paznaun Valley and surrounded by the majestic Silvretta mountains, the area offers both leisurely strolls and high alpine trails which reach heights of nearly 3,000 metres - perfect for the outdoors adventurer.

Chris Southern, one of our resident walking experts in Austria, recommends visiting the Geisterklamm gorge walk for a hidden gem trail which is free and accessible to everyone, and provides stunning views of the local scenery for all who visit.


Madeira, Caniço

Walking Madeira

Caniço, Madeira offers a laid-back bolthole for exploring the beautiful Madeira - and the perfect location for outdoor lovers looking for a peaceful break.

As a much quieter alternative to Funchal, the city provides opportunities for water sports (a real hotspot for divers), as well as providing lots of scenic walks. One of the most popular walks is to stroll along the Levadas - man-made channels which were initially created to carry water for the irrigation of agricultural fields around the island but are now open to walkers and outdoors lovers looking to explore the island.


Bovec, Slovenia

Slovenia Walking

The picturesque village of Bovec in Slovenia lies between the mountains and rivers of the Julian Alps on the doorstep of the Triglav National Park. The area provides lots of opportunities for exploring for every kind of nature lover, cyclist, canoeist and walker of all levels.

Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll through the village admiring its Gothic churches and traditional local houses or take a hike up to the valleys or around the three crystal-clear lakes of Kriz - there’s so much to see and do in this hidden gem of Slovenia.

Our Slovenian walking expert Katja Bobnar reveals a particularly beautiful spot which is beloved amongst locals.

“Instead of heading to Slemenova Spica at the top of the Vrsic, do the Mavrinc walk instead. It is well known to locals with one of the best views in the area - although this trail is probably more suited to more experienced walkers. The great thing about the Mavrinc walk is that it is still quiet in the summer with great views over the pastures towards the Julian Alps.”


Feeling Inspired?

Has our Walking Etiquette Report inspired you to take a walking holiday? If you want to take an adventure into nature, check out our range of destinations to see where the great outdoors could take you. Or call us to book on: 01483 791 111.

View All Destinations

Call Us To Book Today


Methodology: To find out the top trending walking areas, we analysed search volume data, using Google’s Keyword Planner, for 122 of the world’s popular hiking trails and walking locations. We summed the total annual searches for each keyword for the last 12 months and compared these volumes to the same time period three years ago, i.e. pre-Covid. 

We compared annual searches for July 2019 to June 2020 with annual searches for July 2022 to June 2023, to reveal which walking routes have seen the biggest percentage increase in volumes from pre-Covid to now. Walking locations with the highest percentage increase in search volume are ranked as the top trending trails.

Feefo badge