The 50 Best Adventure Travel Countries in the World

Fold up your beach towel and pull on your hiking boots—we're going on an adventureGetty Images
1. Brazil: A reveler dances at a street party, during the unofficial opening of Rio's 2016 Carnival. Brazil's culture draws from Portuguese, indigenous and African influences. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Travel trends are changing, with tourists increasingly looking to bring a bit of action to their holidays: ditching the deck chairs and cocktails for excitement and adventure. 

The adventure tourism market was valued at $444,850 million in 2016, and is projected to reach $1,335,738 million in 2023. 

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do,” Mark Twain once said, and that philosophy has been picked up with gusto by the millennial generation. 

Looking for Instagram-mable moments to fill their social media feeds, and fed up of the traditional chilled-out family holiday, young people are looking for their holidays to be meaningful, memorable and enriching.

But for those looking to fold up their beach towel and pull on a pair of sturdy boots, the idea of trawling the entire world for a perfect adventure can be daunting whatever your age.

That’s why U.S. News has put together a list of the top 50 countries in which to fulfill your wanderlust. They asked 21,000 people which five countries they found to be friendly, fun, pleasant climate, scenic and sexy—the five attributes which are most likely to cultivate an adventurous holiday.

They then ranked the countries which scored highest on all categories.

Unsurprisingly, New Zealand—famous by its dramatic scenery and range of outdoors activities—still draws a huge number of thrill-seekers. But others are less well-established: Ireland, often associated with Guinness-fueled nights on the tiles, as emerging as a adventure travel destination too. 

Other revelations include the fact that Spaniards are considered the friendliest people, while Portugal has the most desirable climate. But can you guess which place made all-round number one?

2. Italy: Participants throw oranges during the traditional "Oranges battle" of Ivrea Carnival. More than 40 million tourists visit Italy each year.Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
3. Spain: Revellers mock a swim in tomato pulp during the annual "tomatina" festivities. Traditions like flamenco music and dance are a source of unity and national pride.Biel Alino/AFP/Getty Images
4. Thailand: A reveller holds a toy water gun during a mass water fight in celebration of Songkran, or Thai New Year. In Thailand, modern cities are juxtaposed with ancient ruins.Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images
5. Greece: Revellers take part in the "flour war" during the celebration of "Ash Monday." Greece's civilization is one of history’s oldest and most influential.Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images
6. Costa Rica: Artists perform during the Festival of Light. Costa Rica has developed an international reputation for ecotourism.Ezequiel Becerra/AFP/Getty Images
7. New Zealand: Teams trek down from the Red Hills in Nelson. Scattered populations make for peaceful exploration of the nation’s impressive mountains.AleSocci/Getty Images
8. Argentina: Argentinian professional tango dancers perform. The country is the birthplace of tango.Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images
9. Mexico: "Chinelos" traditional dancers perform during carnival celebrations. The country encompasses arid lands and Caribbean coastlines.Omar Torres/AFP/Getty Images
10. Portugal: A surfer rides a wave off Praia do Norte. 15 UNESCO Heritage Sites make Portugal an increasingly popular place to visit.Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images
11. Australia: Riding camels is a very old style of travelling in the Australian Outback. Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
12. Dominican Republic: Revellers perform during a carnival parade in Santo Domingo. Culturally, the nation reflects its Spanish colonial heritage as well as some African traditions.Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images
13. Ireland: Revellers dressed as leprechauns pose for a photograph at largest St Patrick's day celebrations in Ireland. The country has rich musical and folklore traditions.Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images