When you travel, are you more of an all-inclusive resort kind of guy/gal or do you prefer to sign up for a homestay with a local family? Do you take the road less traveled rather than follow the crowd? Would you peek behind the curtain to see the real wizard of Oz or be too chicken to do so? Do you like to challenge yourself and step outside your comfort zone in a foreign country? If yes, then you are an adventure traveler hands down.
So what exactly is adventure travel? Although it sounds like a neat little summary of certain travel experiences, it covers a wide range of activities. Think mountain trekking, bungee jumping, canoeing, scuba diving, ziplining, sandboarding, snowboarding, and more. Anything that gets your heart pumping harder than a walk in the park. It also includes overland travel on a bus or truck, urban exploration, communing with nature through eco-friendly adventures, and participating in local festivals in foreign countries.
Have you decided where you want to spend your next travel escapade? What are your top adventure destinations? Instead of spinning a globe with your eyes closed and going wherever your index finger lands, why not check out our list of the world’s most adventurous places to visit in 2018? Here are 10 best places to travel for adventure around the world!
The land of smiles remains one of the top adventure travel destinations for backpackers and with good reason too! It’s got it all: white sand beaches, full moon parties, golden temples, misty mountains, elephants, crazy nightlife, and crazy-delicious (and cheap!) street eats. Adventure seekers usually base themselves in centrally-located Bangkok and take a train, bus, or motorbike to the best adventure destinations. Meditate with the monks in Chiang Mai or get PADI certified in the turquoise ocean off many of the Thai islands.
Recommended program: Explore Thailand with Stray Asia
If you’re heading to the land down under for the best places for adventure travel, remember to pack your sunscreen! There are so many activities that make Oz one of the world’s top adventure destinations. From the Outback to the Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation to Uluru, there’s so much to explore that you’ll never want to leave. Adventure seekers can surf, hike in the bush, feed (or eat!) kangaroos, and even snowboard (yes, there’s powder in Straya). Don’t miss Cairns, adventure capital of Australia for snorkeling, scuba diving, bungee jumping, or white water rafting.
Recommended program: Explore Australia with Frontier
Did you know India is one of the most adventurous places to visit? One of the reasons why India’s so addictive for first-time and repeat travelers is that it’s so darn vast. Some of its top adventure destinations include exploring the mountains and villages in the Himalayas, the deserts of Rajasthan, the chaotic cities of Mumbai and Delhi, the backwaters of Kerala, and the beaches of Goa. India is definitely one of the best adventure travel destinations because there’s something for everyone: camel rides, animal safaris, mountain trekking, skydiving, foodie tours, and photography outings.
Recommended program: Explore India with International Volunteer HQ
4. New Zealand
If you google “top adventure travel destinations” one of the first hits is bound to be New Zealand.The undisputed adventure travel leader does not disappoint. What makes NZ one of the best places for adventure travel? For starters, zorbing, bungee jumping, flying by wire, and jet boating were invented by the crazy Kiwis! Adrenaline junkies should definitely visit Queenstown, extreme sport capital of the world for all the above and more!
Recommended program: Travel New Zealand with Pure Exploration
Why is Spain one of the best adventure travel destinations in the world? Do you even have to ask? This is the country that gave us bull and tomato fighting! Spain has top adventure destinations like hiking the Pyrenees or walking the Santiago de Compostela. Stay with a Spanish family and learn to habla español and take a siesta like the locals!
Recommended program: Explore Spain (and the rest of Europe) with Gapforce
6. United States
When you’re talking the great outdoors, the US is definitely one of the best places to travel for adventure. Top adventure travel destinations include llama trekking in California, kayaking through Yellowstone, hiking the stairway to heaven on Oahu, or dogsledding in Alaska. Take a road trip along route 66 like Kerouac or travel through the deep South like Twain. Foodie adventure travelers should hit up New York, Portland, and LA for fusion food and classic favorites.
Recommended program: Explore the US with ARCC Programs
7. Costa Rica
What other country in the world is known for pura vida? This Central American country is teeming with adventurous places to visit. The best adventures in the world await in Costa Rica, whether it’s pounding the waves, lounging on a beach, or ziplining above cloud forests. Hardcore adventurers can also try extreme hiking through the jungles of Manuel Antonio, cave exploration, and bungee jumping.
Recommended program: Explore Costa Rica with Maximo Nivel
Move over Oktoberfest. Did you know one of the most adventurous places in the world is Germany? Deutschland is the perfect combination of history and adventure. Looking for your next best adventure travel destination while you’re there? Why not explore gothic castles and the spooky Bavarian forest or bike or camp across the country? Not too keen on getting sweaty? Learn its notorious WW2 past by touring bunkers or schlepping through Berlin’s many museums.
Recommended program: Become a summer camp counselor in Germany with Camp Europe
Although famous for excellent chocolate, Switzerland is also one of the top adventure travel locations in the world. Find loads of adventure time in the Alps while backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, skiing, and paragliding to your heart’s content. Climb the high ropes, bike the countryside, or soak in a Swiss spa. Have epic alpine adventures in top adventure destinations like Bern, Lucerne, and Interlaken.
Recommended program: Explore Switzerland with Travel with Teens
Thinking of one of the best adventure travel destinations in the world? Think Morocco. Ride camels across the sand dunes of the Sahara, hike the Atlas mountains, or try some of the best foods you’ll ever eat from a tagine in one of the best places for adventure travel. Explore the noisy and colorful souks in Marrakech’s medina to up your Instagram game or sign up for a local homestay to practice your French or Arabic. It’s your call.
Recommended program: Explore Morocco with CIEE
BONUS! Top TYPES of adventure travel programs
Not only did we collect data on where the world’s most adventurous places to visit are according to our search data, we also found some awesome trends with the focus of different adventure travel programs. For these folks, destination comes second so long as their program involves…
A note from GoAbroad
We’d like to thank our community for not only inspiring us daily, but for also giving us enough insight to share accurate predictions for meaningful travel in 2018.
Learn more our research methodology, recommended programs, and links here.
Browse more of our report on top adventure travel destinations—broken down by region
- Best Adventure Travel Destinations in Europe for 2018
- Best Adventure Travel Destinations in the Americas for 2018
- Best Adventure Travel Destinations in Africa for 2018
- Best Adventure Travel Destinations in the South Pacific & Asia for 2018
- See ALL top destinations for ALL travel