LOOK: Top 5 landmarks that will test your physical limits

A traveller enjoying views of hills and valleys following a testing hike. Picture: Unsplash

A traveller enjoying views of hills and valleys following a testing hike. Picture: Unsplash

Published Jul 11, 2024


Adventure travellers and fitness bunnies have a host of landmark destinations where they can test out their physical strength.

PureGym analysed some of the world’s most famous landmarks and revealed the most iconic tourist attractions that are the most physically challenging to see and experience in their entirety.

The researchers looked at over 70 different tourist attractions that require a good level of physical fitness to see, for example due to the landmark only offering towering staircases or steep hills to climb.

They also looked at the number of steps needed to experience the attraction to its fullest, as well as the total elevation change and the average daytime temperature, before the three were calculated to give the attraction an overall ‘exertion’ score.

So if you’re wondering where your next adventure will be, here’s the Top 5.

Flørli Stairs, Norway

Flørli Stairs in Norway. Picture: Instagram

The study found that the Flørli Stairs in Norway, is the world's most physically demanding landmark to visit, with an exertion score of 76/100.

Requiring visitors to climb a dizzying 4,444 steps, it's the world’s longest wooden staircase and climbs a huge 740m (about 2,427 ft) above sea level, to give visitors dramatic views of the glistening Lysefjord and its surrounding mountains.

Manitou Incline, United States of America (USA)

Manitou Incline, a popular hiking trail in Colorado, America. Picture: Instagram

Following behind with a score of 63/100, is the Manitou Incline, a popular hiking trail in Colorado, America.

With visitors to the destination climbing over 600 metres in just under a mile, this steep and challenging ascent is popular with fitness enthusiasts looking to push themselves for a spectacular view.

Poenari Castle, Romania

Poenari Castle in Romania. Picture: Instagram

Completing the world’s top three most challenging landmarks to visit is Poenari Castle in Romania, with an overall score of 58/100. Famously associated with both Vlad the Impaler and Count Dracula, the castle is perched high on a cliff roughly 800 metres above sea level.

Tourists wanting to access the castle must climb a monstrous 1,480 concrete steps, before being rewarded with jaw dropping panoramic views of the surrounding Carpathian Mountains.

Kompirasan Shrine, Japan

Kompirasan, also known as Kotohira-gu in Japan. Picture: Website

Found on the slopes of Mount Zozu in Kotohira, the climb to Kompirasan, also known as Kotohira-gu, is made up of an arduous 1,368 stone steps.

Though it’s one of the trickier shrines to reach in Japan, it is a highly popular site and is visited by pilgrims from across the country.

The majority of those who visit only make it to the main hall of the shrine, with the additional 583 steps to the inner shrine, which follows a forested path for a further 45 minutes, reserved for only the most adventurous.

The shrine has an overall score of 50/100.

Arthur’s Seat, Scotland

Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh. Picture: Unsplash

Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, is a must-do activity for those visiting the Scottish capital. Though the 279m climb is a continuous one, it’s very popular among even the most inexperienced hiker.

The proximity of Holyrood Park to the city makes it easy to reach the site, and also results in panoramic views of the city and beyond throughout the climb.

Though it’s not the most technically difficult climb, anyone tackling it is advised to wear boots or good trainers, as it can be slippery in parts.

Scoring 48 out of 100, Arthur’s Seat follows closely behind the Kompirasan Shine, with just two points separating the sites.