Do you know who got really, really into puzzles during the pandemic? The SPY team.
If there’s one thing we’ll never forget about 2020 (well, aside from the pandemic itself), it’s that 2020 was the year of at-home hobbies and activities. Some of us went the fitness route and purchased new spin bikes, massage guns and dumbbells, while others flexed their green thumbs and decked out their apartments with plant friends. Some of us worked our way through our reading lists, and others parked our cabooses on the couch and worked through puzzles. So. Many. Puzzles.
So many puzzles, in fact, that we’ve started seeking out the hardest puzzles just to challenge ourselves.
Puzzles are an incredible way to spend time because many of them are beautiful to look at, they’re stimulating for the brain and they can be done solo or with a group. They’re colorful, easy to set up and the process for putting them together is the same every time. However, not all puzzles are created equal. Far from it — some puzzles are made for adults, some are a leisurely 100 pieces, and others are perfect for a family on vacation looking to bond over a cup of coffee or some good tunes.
Then there are the more difficult puzzles. You know, the ones that create the ultimate test in mental fortitude and emotional resilience, pushing you and your patience to the very core. If you’ve become a diehard puzzler, the hardest puzzles on earth are here to test your limits and make you that much stronger. Are you up to the challenge? Because we’ve gathered a plethora of hard puzzles you can purchase online.
As our puzzling skills have improved, we’ve graduated from your standard 500- or 1,000-piece puzzles and gone looking for the hardest puzzles. While we’ve included some extra-hard 1,500-piece puzzles on our list, there’s a lot more to puzzle difficulty than the number of pieces. The world’s hardest puzzles include challenging gradient puzzles and other unique designs that make your work extra difficult.
The hardest puzzles ever are challenging in a variety of ways. Some use color (or a lack thereof), to create difficulty. Some use unusual shapes (circles rather than rectangles, for instance) to make it harder to piece together due to the lack of corners. And others are just massive. Seriously, we’ve got puzzles on this list with piece counts in the thousands and tens of thousands, with the largest puzzle on earth weighing in at a whopping 51,300 pieces. So whether you’re a masochistic puzzle lover or have a friend you’d like to punish, these are the hardest puzzles for sale.
Bgraamiens The Lines 1000-Piece Puzzle
This puzzle has a monochromatic pattern that’ll drive you crazy as you try to piece together every bit without any sort of reference point or identifiable pattern. This puzzle has 1,000 pieces and measures 24″x24″ total. The back sides of the pieces have letters on them that you can reference if you get really lost. The puzzle is also made with sturdy recycled paper and the pieces are designed to be exact, so you’ll know when you’ve found the right fit.
Piecework Puzzles Cloud 9
We’ve written about how much we love Piecework Puzzles before, and this DTC puzzle company makes absolutely gorgeous puzzles for adults. We’ve completed a lot of Piecework puzzles, and we can verify that they pose a moderate-to-hard difficulty level depending on your puzzling expertise. You’ll spend hours hunched over trying to decipher all the various shades of pink and red, and in the end you’ll have a beautiful photograph.
The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle by MSCHF
The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle is unique in a few ways, and it’s an extremely difficult 500-piece puzzle. Each puzzle reveals a unique QR code once assembled, and so there is no reference picture to use. Our puzzlers spent a full week putting together this puzzle. Once you’re done, you scan the QR code to find out if you’ve won a prize, and two lucky winners will receive a $1 million grand prize.
SPY will have a full review of this famous puzzle soon, but in the meantime, take our word for it: this is a really hard puzzle, and only serious puzzle lovers should even attempt it.
TDC Games World’s Most Difficult Jigsaw Puzzle – Penguins
BEST DOUBLE SIDED
What makes this the world’s hardest jigsaw puzzle? Well, all 500 of the included pieces are double-sided. Yup, the same image is printed on the back, only it’s tilted 90 degrees. That makes it nearly impossible to figure out what goes where, so you’ll have to bring your A-Game patience level and a soothing hot beverage with you to do this puzzle.
Ravensburger 1500-Piece Fractal Puzzle
BEST RAVENSBURGER PUZZLE
Ravensburger makes some of the world’s best puzzles, and the company has a collection of 1,500-piece puzzles for puzzle masters, including this challenging fractal puzzle. To be honest, this isn’t the hardest puzzle we’ve ever assembled, but it’s a challenging and time-consuming task, and sure to be satisfying if 500- and 1,000-piece puzzles are becoming too easy.
Ravensburger also makes this puzzle in a 2,000-piece version if you want a bigger challenge.
Buffalo Games Vivid Collection 1,000-Piece Puzzle
BEST GRADIENT PUZZLE
Gradient puzzles are some of the most beautiful ones to create but they can also be quite tricky due to the lack of decipherable design. This one makes it a tad easier by being a rainbow rather than one giant color, but you’ve still got your work cut out for you. There’s a bonus poster included to help you solve it and the manufacturer uses “Perfect Snap” technology to ensure a tight, reliable fit between pieces each time.
i11usion – Rotating Impossible Puzzle
BEST OPTICAL ILLUSION
What’s harder than a puzzle with a bunch of intricate and similar pieces? How about one that moves? The real challenge behind this 1,000-piece puzzle is the optical illusion. The design appears to be moving the more you assemble it, making it one of the most difficult puzzles on this list. It’s also a cool puzzle that looks great once it’s finished, so you may want to consider grabbing puzzle glue and a frame to show off all that hard work.
TREFL Girl With a Pearl Earring Puzzle
BEST CLASSIC ART
This puzzle depicts the famous painting “Girl With a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer, and it’s much more challenging than it appears. The 1,000-piece puzzle contains a lot of close-but-not-exactly-the-same hues of yellow, black and blue, and you’ll have a tough time putting it together.
Bgraamiens The Indian Feather Jigsaw Puzzle
BEST FOR FAMILIES
If you’re looking for a challenge the whole family can get in on, this is a great option. Not only is this puzzle circular, which is an added challenge, it also has a repetitive pattern on it so two pieces might look like they belong together when really they’re on opposite sides of the coin. However, the pattern itself does make it a bit more manageable and a challenge both adults and kids can work on together.
The Clearly Impossible Jigsaw Puzzle
BEST CLEAR PUZZLE
Remember the lack of color we mentioned? This is what we were talking about. This puzzle is totally clear, so you’re going to need to rely solely on shape and feel for this 200-piece “impossible” puzzle. The pieces have no backing, so you won’t be able to tell what’s the front and what’s the back, and they’ve added false corners for an even tougher challenge.
The puzzle pieces are made of acrylic materials and are waterproof so you can complete it anywhere, and it’s designed to be durable so you can try and fail as many times as you need to to get it right.
The Clearly Impossible puzzle comes in sizes of 200 to 1,000 pieces, but if you’re looking for the hardest puzzles, you’re obviously going for 1,000 pieces, right?
20/20 VISION REQUIRED
The hardest puzzles can induce a major headache, but the sight of this puzzle may be headache-inducing on its own. Yes, it’s a 3,000-piece “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle. The puzzle’s artwork features hundreds (thousands?) of tiny figures in a claustrophobic scene, and finding Waldo is a cinch compared to the daunting task of assembling all 3,000 pieces. Good luck!
Torched Store Mind Bending Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle
BEST WOODEN PUZZLE
This puzzle doesn’t have your standard layout or piece shape. Instead, it’s made up of 200 interconnected shapes that all look different and are designed to twist your brain. This is the “expert” level in this line of puzzles, but the company also has smaller ones with fewer pieces if you prefer to start out slow. It’s like a giant game of Tetris, except the pieces don’t move. Fun.
Life of the Party Piecework Puzzle
Another Piecework creation, this puzzle is definitely not a piece of cake. Spy’s Site Director, Tim Werth, did this puzzle during the pandemic and said it was one of the hardest puzzles he’s ever done, even harder than some gradient puzzles he’s completed.
It’s got a lot of solid color sections, which are brutal to complete, and unlike some of the company’s other designs, it isn’t very busy. It’s 1,000 pieces and comes with its own playlist you can stream while you’re attempting to complete it.
Infinite Galaxy Puzzle
This intergallatic pattern is seriously cool, and also very difficult since there are infinite combinations you can make with this puzzle. The puzzle’s design is based on a photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of stars being born in the Carina nebula. However, it also shows the endless abyss that is space and embodies that by having no starting point, fixed shape or edges of any kind. It makes it harder and easier at the same time, giving you a unique puzzle experience.
Ravensburger Krypt Silver Blank Jigsaw Puzzle
This puzzle blows our minds a little bit, but it somehow works and is able to be constructed. Every piece of this puzzle has an entirely unique shape, so you know if you’ve found two pieces that fit together, it’s really a match. This is what differentiates it from other puzzle brands, so while you’ll be challenged putting it together, you should be less frustrated. The puzzle also has an anti-glare surface so you will have a clear view while you’re working on it.
Bgraamiens Puzzle-Flowing Rainbow Lines Puzzle
This puzzle combines the difficulty of The Lines puzzle above with a circular puzzle, but adds in a little color to make it fun. The intersecting lines, rainbow colors and amorphic shapes are sure to make this a challenging one. But, since you’ll be putting lines together, you will have some pattern to work off of. It’s made of sturdy chipboard and measures 26.57″ across when finished.
Beverly Micro Pure White Hell Jigsaw Puzzle
This puzzle has “hell” in the name, so you know it will be tricky. It’s all white with zero color differentiation whatsoever. This is another one where the shape and fit of the pieces will guide you, presenting a unique challenge. It’s made of 1,000 pieces that are tiny compared to some of the other puzzles on this list, as it only measures 9″ x 2″ x 7″ when finished. This is a great pick if you’ve limited space but want a challenge.
These geode puzzles are beautiful to look at but very challenging to put together. Each one has a distinct shape, pattern and color to it, just like real geodes, and is tricky to solve. The process through which these puzzles are made also mimics how real geodes are created in nature. A simulation program radiates color from the geodes’ edges, and an algorithm creates the puzzle pieces. They’re made from birch plywood and are sure to bend your mind.
New York Times Custom Front Page Puzzle
This is a really cool gift for a history buff, journalist or anyone who loves preserving memorabilia. You can pick any New York Times front page dating back to 1851 and make a puzzle out of it. Create a mental challenge and fun activity for someone’s birthday, anniversary or favorite historical event. Each one is 500 pieces, and remember that major historical events usually appear on the cover the day AFTER they happened.
KODAK Wonders From Around the World Jigsaw Puzzle
Alright puzzlers, this is it. The big Kahuna. Your Mount Everest. This is the largest puzzle in the world at 51,300 pieces. It’s actually 27 different puzzles combined together and measures 28.5′ by 6.23′ total. It costs over $500 and took even an expert puzzler over a year to complete. If you love puzzles, and we mean really love puzzles — the bragging rights of completing this might be enough to justify the investment.
MaxRenard Game Jigsaw Puzzle Round Puzzle The Sun
This 1,000-piece puzzle is challenging for two reasons: the color and the shape. The lack of hard edges will definitely keep you guessing as you work your way around the sun, but the yellows and oranges also meld into each other as you work. That means you probably won’t complete this in an afternoon, but on the positive side, you will have something bright to look forward to doing tomorrow.
Blue Kazoo Rainbow Gradient Jigsaw Puzzles
If you’re looking to get into some of the hardest puzzles but want a warm-up, this gradient puzzle is a challenging “starter” puzzle. It’s still hard as heck with 1,000 similarly colored pieces, but at least you can sort the sections into the rainbow, prepping you for some of the other puzzles that might be on your list.
WREBBIT 3D King Arthur’s Camelot Jigsaw Puzzle
BEST 3D PUZZLE
3D puzzles are already a step up when it comes to hardest puzzles, and this one is made up of over 800 pieces designed to create an intricate castle when all is said and done. Build multiple columns, towers, spires and other castle architecture using the tight-fitting pieces, which require no glue to attach. It does come with instructions, so you’re not totally on your own, but this puzzle is still rated challenging and recommended for those aged 14+.
Aquarius Harry Potter Puzzle Hogwarts Castle
BEST 3000-PIECE PUZZLE
When it comes to puzzle difficulty, it’s not all about size, but not matter how you look at it, a 3,000-piece puzzle poses a major challenge. First, you’ll have to make sure you have a huge working area — and a lot of patience.
If you ever wished you could head to Hogwarts like The Boy Who Lived, this puzzle may be as close to mastering wizardry as you’re going to get. The box includes a challenging 3,000 pieces and a very dark color scheme, so be sure to set aside more than a few days (or weeks) to piece this beautiful hard puzzle together.