To some leveling is the journey, the fun part of the game where you get to explore the world and experience the story told across the varied zones of WoW. First, we’re going to check out some of the most fun zones to experience in WoW while leveling, then I’ll share the top WoW expansions with the fastest leveling zones.
To others, leveling is the necessary roadblock that prevents them from reaching endgame content and progressing their character via gear and whatever is the latest gimmick of the expansion.
Either way, we’ll be going over the best zones to level in WoW from both perspectives to ensure you have the best experience. Do note that we’ll be focusing on the leveling experience from levels 1-48 (the earliest that you can begin Shadowlands), as going through all four major zones of the Shadowlands is effectively mandatory to experience the latest expansion.
Before we get started, we should note that the following guide is mostly geared towards people who are already somewhat familiar with WoW.
The 5 Best Zones to Experience in WoW
These are the zones that we recommend you try out at some point, regardless if you’re leveling or not. Of course, they’re all ones that you should level in if you choose that expansion.
Grizzly Hills (WotLK)
First on our list is a timeless classic for those who played during the WotLK era, Grizzly Hills. At surface level, the zone seems like an idyllic forest, a bastion of normal woodland life in the cold unforgiving land of Northrend. However, it is the staging ground for multiple threats that would set the stage for future conflicts.
This is where we re-encountered the threat of the feral Worgen led by Arugal, witnessed the corrupted rebirth of Ursoc, inadvertently aided the rise of the ice troll Drakuru, and slew dozens of apparently ass-less bears.
In addition, the conflict between the Alliance and Horde saw active skirmishes at the zone’s southern tip, as the two factions waged war for port domination and resources.
Beyond having memorable quest chains, the zone stands out with its incredibly memorable and beloved zone music. A soft violin echoes throughout the land, beautiful and threatening at the same time, teasing what the zone had to offer its players throughout. A breather before the relentless push into the Lich King’s inner territory. While the music in most zones has always been excellent, Grizzly Hills’ soundtrack pushes it into one of the best zones in all of WoW.
As a side note for Alliance players, it’s one of the few times the game calls back to your previous exploits. For those who aided Westfall with the original Defias Brotherhood in Vanilla, you would be recognized and greeted as a stalwart friend by Gryan Stoutmantle, who was your primary quest giver turned commander of a brigade.
The final main questing zone of Legion when the expansion first came out. Originally available only to players at the level cap of 110, this zone revolved primarily around aiding the rebel Nightfallen faction in finding a way to cope with their mana deprivation and reclaiming their beloved city from the Legion’s hold.
An epic campaign spanning an entire patch saw players unite and rally Night Elves, Blood Elves, and Highborne Elves under one banner to cut off the Legion’s vice-grip, end the mana drought plaguing the denizens of Suramaar, and culminating in slaying Gul’dan himself in the Nighthold raid.
There are other quest lines and points of interest throughout the zone, but players will remember it most vividly for how grand and lifelike the city of Suramaar itself was. Comprised of multiple markets and varying social districts, interlaced with alleyways and buildings that players could actually enter, the city remains one of Blizzard’s most ambitious takes on creating a city that felt organic and interactable.
Elite Nightborne enemies patrolled the city, with demons terrorizing innocents in the abandoned portions. Players had to carefully traverse the city whilst disguised to avoid detection, slowly sabotaging the Legion and taking the city and its resources back one step at a time. These moments ultimately make this one of the best zones in WoW.
Sorry Horde, but this zone is pretty much exclusive to Alliance questing. The breadbasket of the human kingdom, Westfall had been plagued for years by crop failure, lack of aid from the capital due to political manipulation, and the ever-growing Defias gang.
While many issues have since been addressed, namely dealing with the Defias gang, troubling rumors and events have been occurring in rapid tandem. Beloved members of the community have been murdered, local pests such as gnolls and murlocs are teaming up, and someone is preying on the peoples’ fears to rally them into an army.
Players find themselves dealing with the fallout of their supposed “solution” to the problem from years ago and get a glimpse at what life is like for the common peasant. Culminating in another dive into the Deadmines, you’ll find this zone to be one of the most memorable and fun zones to level in.
The doorstep of the Lich King himself and the culmination of the war effort in Northrend. This zone begins with a desperate push by the Argent Crusade to establish a foothold after the disastrous Wrathgate incident in Dragonblight.
From there, players report to their faction’s flagship, staging assaults throughout the zone to wrest control away from the undead forces and fortify a unified staging ground for the assault on the Lich King himself. With the giant blood-thirsty vrykul, endless hordes of undead, and even the zealots of the Scarlet Crusade to contend with, players find themselves with no shortage of foes to cut through.
Despite being a frozen wasteland, the zone is teeming with quests to do. The Ebon Hold Deathknights enlist your aid in slaying some of the Lich King’s most feared champions, the Argent Crusade establishes a tournament ground to vet out a strike force, and you witness what may or may not be the final vestiges of Arthas’ humanity as you dive into the secrets of Icecrown.
Fittingly, where the campaign against the avatar of death ended in Wrath of the Lich King, marks the beginning of our battle against death itself in Shadowlands.
Dread Wastes (MoP)
We know. It’s an odd choice, considering how lush and vibrant the rest of Pandaria is, but the heartland of the Mantid swarm is one of the best zones to level in for its rich lore and fantastic buffs.
Players will quickly find themselves entangled with the vicious insect race after being sent to investigate the zone and discerning why the mantid are invading years ahead of schedule. As you awaken and free the mantid’s champions, the Nine Paragons, you learn of how the mantid queen has been driven by the Sha into a fearful frenzy.
With the Paragons aiding you with their unique zone-wide buffs, you have multiple ways to approach the challenges of the region. Refresh your cooldowns instantly, turn your enemies into massive living bombs, mind control any enemy as your pet, and more as you garner the mantid’s trust and eventually learn where their allegiances truly lie.
A Leveling Tip for Brand New Players
If this is your first time leveling ever, we strongly recommend doing the new Exile’s Reach introduction chain (available right after character creation) to hit level 10. It’ll introduce you to the game’s mechanics, what to expect from questing, and will smoothly transition you into the previous expansion’s content for leveling. Simply follow the quests it gives when you reach your faction’s major city to get introduced to Battle for Azeroth content.
You could technically go to other expansions/continents to level, as the game now scales enemies to your current level, but we recommend just staying in BFA content to avoid getting lost and overwhelmed. Your goal will be to hit level 48, so you can start playing in the latest expansion Shadowlands.
The Best Zones for Leveling in WoW
We’ll be going over the best zones for efficient leveling and to determine that, it is best to make the WoW expansions part of the conversation.
If you’re looking to level efficiently, you’re best off choosing a single expansion and focusing all of your efforts on completing the quests offered in that expansion via timewalking. Simply hit level 10 and head to Stormwind/Orgrimmar and interact with a quest board to be prompted to speak to Chromie. She’ll allow you to timewalk and choose an expansion you’d like to level in up to till you hit level 50.
You will most likely hit level 48 by the time you’re done with all of the major zones of the expansion you’re leveling in.
It should be noted that timewalking leveling is only available if you have at least one level 50 toon somewhere on your account.
By doing this, the content will actively scale to your current level to provide you with meaningful experience and gear. Additionally, you can queue for that expansion’s dungeons via the group finder.
You could in theory alternate between expansions by talking to Chromie and doing a different timewalking campaign, but the time you’re spending on heading back to your capital and swapping is better spent committed to leveling in a single expansion.
On that note, we recommend the following list as the fastest expansions with the best WoW zones to level in:
- Warlords of Draenor (WoD)
- Battle for Azeroth (BfA)
- Mists of Pandaria (MoP)
- Cataclysm (reworked the entirety of Classic)
- Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK)
- Burning Crusade (BC)
The first three on the list are the ones you want to focus on, as they incorporate the most modern quest flow/progression. As opposed to running all around a zone looking for tucked-away quests, you naturally progress from quest hub to quest hub, with quest objectives usually being clustered in specific locations. You should experience only minimal backtracking, as long as you keep your eye on the minimap for any new quests in each location you head to.
We also recommend doing the extra quest objectives scattered about the expansion’s zones when a series of quests lead you to the general vicinity of one, as they give large chunks of experience.
Additionally, those three expansions have Mission Tables, allowing you to send followers out to gather resources and experience boosting items passively over time.
Warlords of Draenor is considered overall to have the fastest leveling zones in WoW due to how quest hubs are conveniently laid out with flight paths often being given to you when prompted to head to a different zone. Plus the multitude of treasure chests and rare mobs scattered about the world give meaningful chunks of experience as well. Your garrison should also provide decent bits of experience if you keep up with it every time you hearth back to base.
Legion is considered efficient for much of the same reasons as WoD leveling, but with slightly more travel time between quest objectives. It’s not too egregious though and more importantly, gives you your class/specialization-specific weapon to use. While the weapons themselves no longer have all of their special abilities, they still function as very good stat sticks and remove the need to concern yourself with weapon drops while you level. As a plus, they took out any achievement requirements for flying too!
Battle for Azeroth would potentially be higher on the list, if it weren’t for two factors. One, you need to have both parts one and two of the meta-achievement Pathfinder unlocked to fly in the expansion. Two, most of us are still sick and tired of BfA content, as it was the most recent expansion prior to Shadowlands. If you already have the Pathfinder achievement, then leveling in BfA is fairly efficient, but you probably already know what you’re doing at that point.
Mists of Pandaria and Cataclysm have fairly modern design standards but the time it takes to travel around is considerably higher. Cataclysm in particular is more notable for this but also offers the greatest variety in leveling if you want a change of pace, as the expansion redesigned/updated the entirety of Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Just note, it’ll take a bit of running to get from zone to zone, but the quest pacing and progression are much more intuitive now and avoids the worst of backtracking.
As for Wrath of the Lich King and the Burning Crusade… well they suffer from the previously mentioned backtracking issue. It’s not uncommon to complete a quest objective, turn it in, and get told to go back to the place you were just at… killing everything you just fought again to interact with a single object. It’s particularly egregious in BC content and makes the entire expansion frustrating to level in without flying.
Though on a personal level, we do love WotLK zones and do suggest leveling a toon in that era for nostalgia.
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And that’s it for our article on the best zones to level in WoW! If you’d like to see us expand on this with more zones, subscribe and leave a comment below. As always, maintain the advantage with the latest guides and news here at High Ground Gaming.