In Britain’s cities, the great outdoors is closer than you might think. Our urban spaces are full of wild places and exhilarating ways to enjoy them. From hopping aboard a moonlit kayak through London, attempting yoga atop Edinburgh’s dormant volcano, or making a splash through Cardiff’s white water rapids – these experiences aren’t just big on adventure, but allow you to experience another side of Britain's cities.
Low in impact, but big on action: whether you’re exploring Brighton’s coastline by kayak or traversing Edinburgh by ebike, travelling sustainably can be easy and fun – all while revealing a new perspective of our cities. In London, take a fresh look at the landmarks on a night kayaking tour with Secret Adventures, paddling past St Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament by moonlight. Or, taste the city’s wild side with Forage London, hunting for berries, garlic, herbs and more – all hidden in its many urban parks and outdoor spaces.
Outside the capital, the carbon-free capers continue. You can try forest bathing and a tree climbing workshop in Harcourt Arboretum, Oxford – or hike to the peak of Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat, for matchless views of the city (and even a spot of yoga). While you’re in Scotland’s capital, check out the outdoor sculptures at Jupiter Artland: its woodland and meadows are packed with big, bold pieces by Cornelia Parker, Antony Gormley and other famous artists. The most eye-catching is Joana Vasconcelos’ ‘Gateway’– a colourful swimming pool made from 11,000 hand-glazed tiles.
Whether it be our rivers, coasts or canals, Britain’s urban waterways have shaped the history and heritage of our cities – and provide an essential habitat for wildlife. Exploring by paddleboard not only lightens your carbon footprint, but lets you enjoy your surroundings with more opportunities to spy the birds, plants and marine species that thrive there. You’ll find guided SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) tours in Bath, Cardiff, Oxford, Bristol and beyond – while Liverpool Watersports Centre is set in the city’s historic docks, offering windsurfing, open-water swimming, and sailing courses too.
Britain’s sporting calendar is fit to burst this year – and there are countless ways to get involved. Not only are the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games coming to the Midlands (July–August), alongside an extensive cultural festival, but England will host the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament in July, and the Rugby League World Cup will combine its mens, womens and wheelchair tournaments for the first time ever (October–November). Feeling inspired? Our sport-loving cities are full of fresh ways to see them through a new lens, from Manchester’s National Cycling Centre and Glasgow’s award-winning outdoor bike routes, to the Olympic-standard canoeing and kayaking course at the Cardiff International White Water centre.
If swimming is your thing, Sea Lanes Brighton is set to open this summer – featuring a 50-metre heated pool right on the seafront. In true Brighton style, it will be joined by a beach bar and pop-up entertainment. Come for the lanes, but stay for the street food, craft beers and laid-back vibe.
Exploring a new city is a great opportunity to challenge yourself – to step outside your comfort zone and feed your curiosity. Maybe you’ll zoom through London on a Thames Rockets’ speedboat, or brave the world’s fastest seated zip-line near Cardiff?
Daredevils will find thrills aplenty in Brighton, with its sea-view zip-wire and the i360’s new Tower Top Climb. It certainly requires a head for heights: after riding 138 metres up in the BA i360 pod, there’s a further 24 metres to climb on foot (over 100 ladder rungs!), before you emerge into the fresh air at the very top of the tower for truly exhilarating views of the city.
But you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to discover another side of our cities. In Manchester, Northern Roots is the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park, a hub for everything from mountain biking to beekeeping. Or for a new spin on sightseeing, try Escape Hunt, whose interactive challenges, treasure-hunts and outdoor games give a new perspective in 13 different cities. You’ll find it in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and more – where will the adventure take you?
Some restrictions on travel to and around Britain may be in place due to Covid-19. You are encouraged to always check individual websites for the latest information, as details are subject to change.