Image by Paul Hogwood 500px Images
Standing at 552m, Victoria Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island. It is also one of the most visited spots by tourists, and it’s not hard to see why. Sweeping views of the metropolis, verdant woods, easy but spectacular walks – all reachable in just eight minutes from Central by Hong Kong’s 125-year-old, gravity-defying Peak Tram. Predictably, it's become a money-making circus with restaurants and two shopping malls, but there's still magic up here if you can get past that.
The Peak Tram's upper terminus spits you out at the Peak Tower. Ascend to Level 5 and you'll reach the Sky Terrace 428, so named because it stands at 428 metres above sea level. In Hong Kong terms, this is the top of the world and you'll be greeted with panoramic 360-degree views of Hong Kong's forest of skyscrapers, the harbour and Kowloon beyond (if you can dodge the Instagrammers and official photographer touting for business in front of the best framed view).
If you're not bothered about the highest point, and even if you are, it's worth seeking out the Lions View Point Pavilion – a far more charming lookout with a cute Chinese pagoda and gate, bristling with lion statues. This is where elderly locals come to sit and enjoy the view. It's a signposted two-minute walk from the tram's upper terminus.
Some 500m to the northwest of the upper terminus, up steep Mt Austin Rd, is the site of the old governor’s summer lodge, which was burned to the ground by Japanese soldiers during WWII. The beautiful gardens still remain, however, and have been refurbished with faux-Victorian gazebos, sundials, benches and stone pillars. They are open to the public; it takes about 30 minutes to get up here and your reward is that it's blissfully peaceful. Head past the gardens and you'll find a second lookout point with island and sea views.
For longer walks, including the 3.5km Morning Trail, pick up maps from the Hong Kong Visitor Centre in the disused tram beside the Peak Tower, or download the Easy Hiking Hong Kong app.