England takes second place in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel Awards 2020

Heather on hillside above Kynance Cove, The Lizard Peninsula

England has been crowned one of the top destinations for travellers next year, taking second spot in the Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020 - the 15th annual awards celebrating the finest destinations, journeys and travel experiences in the world. Packed with ‘timeless treasures’, the award shines a light on the English seaside and in particular the launch of the England Coast Path in 2020. Providing access to the country’s entire coastline for the very first time, at nearly 3,000 miles it will be the longest continuous trail of its kind anywhere in the world. Passing some of England’s most tranquil spots, visitors can take in breathtaking scenery en route, explore historic castles, tuck into delicious fish and chips and find fossils in ancient cliffs – just some of the top things to do along England’s Coast Path that lie waiting to be explored...

Northumberland

With its imposing castles and offshore islands that are teeming with wildlife, the Northumberland coast offers beauty and history in equal measure. Look out from the imposing walls of Bamburgh Castle that stand proudly overlooking this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, spy rare puffins and seals from the Farne Islands and venture out to the historic Holy Island of Lindisfarne when the tide is low.

Durham Heritage Coast

A designated stretch of historic coastline, Durham's wild cliffs and sweeping dunes are home to an abundance of wildflowers, insects and other wildlife. While the flowers bloom in spring and summer, the striking coastal rock formations, the Magnesian Limestone Coastal Grasslands and rugged clifftops can be enjoyed all year round.

North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast

Running the length of where the North York Moors National Park meets the North Sea, the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast mixes dramatic clifftops with picturesque fishing villages and towns. Sample the catch of the day in the seaside harbour of Whitby before exploring the haunting ruins of its abbey, or learn more about the history of Robin Hood’s Bay and the region’s rich mining past.

Norfolk Coast

A designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for over 50 years, the Norfolk Coast contains everything from the sweeping sand dunes and salt marshes of Holkham National Nature Reserve to the magnificence of Holkham Hall stately home. Visitors can search for fossils against a backdrop of dramatic colours at Hunstanton Cliffs, build sandcastles on vast sandy beaches and explore a host of traditional seaside resorts, including taking in a show at the Grade II-listed Pavilion on Cromer Pier – Europe’s last end-of-pier theatre.

The Kent Coast

Separating the ‘garden of England’ from the sea, Kent is home to 350 miles of picture-perfect coastline featuring grand chalk and sandstone cliffs and more Blue Flag sandy beaches than anywhere else in the country. Gaze upon chalk stacks at Botany Bay or stroll beneath the famous White Cliffs at St Margaret's at Cliffe, sample delectable cuisine from top chefs in Whitstable or spot wild birds around Romney Marsh and the bird reserve at Dungeness.

The Jurassic Coast

Stretching 95 miles from Devon to Dorset, the UNESCO World Heritage coastline showcases 185 million years of history and the incredible power of the natural world. Spy the natural limestone arch at Durdle Door, go rock pooling and relax on the white pebbles of Lulworth Cove or embark on a coasteering adventure in this diverse landscape that is a feast for the senses. Lyme Regis, with its rich fossil hunting heritage, historic harbour and cobbled streets, is steeped in mysticism, while Undercliff, one of the first National Trust Reserves, was created over time via a series of landslips.

South Devon

Uncover rocky headlands, hidden coves and sandy beaches along South Devon’s Coast Path. Once the haunt of smugglers, it’s now home to miles of clifftop pathways for hikers to explore, providing exceptional views and an abundance of instagrammable shots. Sitting in the heart of the South Devon Area of Outstanding National Beauty, discover the small harbour town of Salcombe and the waters that have helped shape its history - from the Salcombe Sand Bar that inspired poet Alfred Lord Tennyson to the ruins of Salcombe Castle, dating back to the reign of Henry VIII.

North Cornwall

Be inspired by the ruins of Tintagel Castle on Cornwall’s north coast, perched high on a rugged rocky outcrop and linked for the first time in more than 500 years thanks to a ground-breaking project by English Heritage. Uncover the legend of King Arthur and a coastline that has sparked the imagination for centuries.

Merseyside

Crosby Beach to the north of Liverpool offers miles of sandy coastline and a unique art installation, best enjoyed at low tide. Internationally acclaimed sculptor Antony Gormley’s Another Place, a collection of 100 life-size iron figures overlooking the sands, covers a stretch of coastline of nearly two miles, with viewing especially rewarding at sunset. 

Cumbrian Coast

With miles of undisturbed coastline, and in close proximity to the renowned beauty of the Lake District, the Cumbrian coast has a number of treats for visitors. Explore the striking red sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head Heritage Coast, visit the maritime port of Whitehaven or enjoy a scenic ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway to see historic castles and ancient ruins.

Inspired by the England Coast Path? Discover more of the country's best walking trails or visit Lonely Planet for further details.

The best places for action adventure sports in Britain

From white-water rafting in Snowdonia to sea kayaking in the Highlands or flying high over the rolling hills of Surrey, Britain is home to an array of exciting action adventure sports. Now the UK is set to add a new, state-of-the-art inland surfing destination to its repertoire, with the opening of The Wave in Bristol this October. For those yearning for adventure, it marks another glorious spot to enjoy some adrenaline-fuelled action…

The Wave, Bristol

As the first destination in the northern hemisphere to [SW1] [PW2] use innovative Wavegarden Cove wave-making technology, the surf lake will feature up to 1,000 waves of different sizes and shapes every hour, making it suitable for all levels and abilities. That equates to a wave every 10 seconds, with heights varying from 50cm up to 1.8 metres! Specific parts of the 200-metre-long surfing lake, located in a rural area on the edge of Bristol and close to the M5 Motorway, will be dedicated to beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers.

The launch of The Wave is part of a wider project by founder Nick Hounsfield to bring surfing to more cities across the world, with the experience combining surfing with adventure and nature. High quality coaching can be provided to all guests, along with wetsuits and surfboards, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of surfing all year round. This should help to boost accessibility, as surfing at the site is not restricted by geographic location, the weather, swell conditions or tides. Adaptive surfing opportunities for those with a wide range of physical disabilities will also be available.

With a distinct focus on health and wellbeing, the site will also house a surf shop, an array of gardens and meadowlands, numerous peaceful hideaways and a family-friendly camping area.

The first wave of tickets goes on general sale on 20 August, covering the period from 25 October 2019 through until 4 March 2020. A one-hour surf session costs £40-£45 for adults and £30-£35 for children, depending on the time of year and day of the week. A two-hour surf session with coaching is priced at £55-£60 for adults and £45-£50 for children, with all equipment included.

Lee Valley White Water Centre, Hertfordshire

Developed for the London 2012 Olympic Games to host canoe slalom events and set in the picturesque beauty of the River Lee Country Park in Hertfordshire, the Lee Valley White Water Centre offers an abundance of different water sports. Easily accessible from London, visitors can try their hand at white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking, as well as a number of other activities including hydrospeeding, tubing, hot dogs (inflatable two-man kayaks) and paddleboarding.

Many of the activities need to be booked in advance and prices vary by activity, date and time. A White Water Raft Adventure costs from £50, although it can be purchased at a Super Save rate on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday during March, April, October and November. Peak pricing applies on Saturdays from May to September.

Zip World Velocity 2, North-West Wales

Take in breath-taking views of Snowdonia while soaring over the Penrhyn Quarry at speeds that could top 100mph on Velocity 2. The fastest zip line on the planet, and the longest in Europe at 1,555 metres, can be found at Zip World, near Bethesda in North Wales. The thrilling experience offers spectacular views of some of Wales’ most dramatic scenery.

Pre-booking is highly recommended. Velocity 2 is priced from £65 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; from £75 on Monday and Friday; and from £99 on weekends and Bank Holidays.

Kitesurfing/Kite Buggying, East Sussex

Learn the art of kitesurfing along the expanse of Camber Sands with expert help from The Kitesurf Centre. With its shallow shelving sands, small waves and consistent wind, the beach has ideal conditions and the school offers a range of courses for all abilities between March and September. Based at the eastern end of the beach, the centre offers one to five day courses, as well as coaching sessions and one-to-one private tuition with instructors that have a wealth of local knowledge. As one of three national training centres, guests can also try their hand at the exhilarating extreme sport of Kite Buggying. Involving a kite and a three-wheeled cart, it’s possible to achieve speeds of more than 50mph while racing along the beach.

A two-hour introduction to kite sports session is priced at £49. A one-day kite surfing course costs £99 on weekdays, rising to £119 at weekend. A five-day course costs £469. Kite Buggy sessions cost £59 for two-and-a-half-hours or £89 for four hours.

Sea Kayaking, Scottish Highlands

What better way to explore the striking landscapes of the Scottish coast than from aboard a sea kayak? From its base in a European Special Area of Conservation, Sea Kayak Scotland offers tailored lessons throughout the year for those wanting to give sea kayaking a go. Based on the Isle of Seil, around 30 minutes from Oban, the centre provides all of the equipment needed to take in the scenic beauty of the region. Guided trips and instructional courses are available for beginners, while hire is available for those with more experience. For those wanting a challenge, the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail offers a 500km route around the most scenic parts of the Highlands and Isles.

Tailor-made courses are priced from £60 per person for groups of five or more people, rising to £125 for one person on their own. Kayak hire costs from £50 per day, with one-piece paddle suits available for a daily charge of £10.

Paragliding, Surrey

Take to the skies and enjoy staggering views of the Surrey and London landscape on a tandem paragliding experience with Green Dragons. Jumps are made in harnesses attached to highly experienced qualified instructors and reach heights of 500ft, providing a new perspective on the stunning countryside below. Although jumps are dictated by weather conditions, the instructors alter the location and launch method to ensure an exhilarating experience.

A tandem flight costs £89 per person.

National White Water Rafting Centre, North Wales

Speed down the frantic natural rapids on the River Tryweryn in the heart of Snowdonia National Park at Wales’ National White Water Rafting Centre. Since the river is controlled by a dam at the Llyn Celyn reservoir, high flows provide an abundance of conditions that are ideal for white water activities. Water releases on the River Tryweryn happen on around 200 days every year and the centre is open whenever this takes place. Alongside full rafting sessions, there are also Rafting Safari sessions on the calmer lower parts of the river specifically designed for families with 10 and 11-year-old children (minimum age of 10 to be on the water). Alternatively, embark on a canyoning experience to climb, scramble, slide and swim down the cascading river while taking in the stunning surroundings of Wales’ largest national park.

White water rafting taster sessions cost from £37 per person. Wetsuits are available to hire for all activities for £5. The Rafting Safari costs from £49 per person, with a full rafting session priced from £67 per person, or from £320 per raft for groups (minimum of four people). Canyoning costs £56 per person.

Hangloose Adventure, Cornwall

Next to the famous Eden Project site, just 10 minutes from St Austell in Cornwall, Hangloose Adventure offers an array of adrenaline-fuelled activities. The Skywire is England’s longest and fastest zip wire experience, enabling guests to fly down a 660 metre course at speeds of around 60mph, while seeing the Eden Project’s massive biomes from a new perspective. Tower over the site while tackling Skytrek, a new aerial trekking course featuring zip lines and a host of other elements, or get involved with Big Air, a test of nerves where individuals jump from towering platforms onto a giant bean bag below. Alternatively, guests can opt to be strapped in on Gravity, a 20-metre high giant cliff swing that overlooks the Eden Project site.

Skywire and Skytrek both cost £30, Gravity is priced at £20 and Big Air at £15. All prices are per person.

Adventure Parc Snowdonia (Surf Snowdonia), North-West Wales

Presenting an opportunity to surf inland in the heart of Snowdonia, Adventure Parc Snowdonia puts adrenaline-fuelled adventure sports top of the agenda. At the world’s first surf lagoon, visitors can get to grips with a range of waves, from gentle undulations for beginners up to advanced waves for the pros. Surrounded by the stunning natural landscapes of Snowdonia, Adrenaline Indoors hosts an array of new adventure features too, including one of the longest artificial caving courses in the world, Britain’s only kicker flight slide, a ninja parkour floor trail and climbing and racer walls.

A range of surfing options are available, from beginner classes and specialist classes for children up to advanced waves, three-day beginner courses and development days. Prices start from £40 for children and £50 for adults. Surfboard and wetsuit hire are available for £6. Indoor activities cost from £12. Stand up paddleboarding, coasteering, climbing and gorge walking are also available, starting from £35-£40.

The Canyoning Company, Scotland

Discover unforgettable canyoning experiences hidden within Scotland’s rugged landscape with the Canyoning Company. With several routes to choose from, the canyons include jumps ranging from two to 10 metres, numerous flumes, vertical rock slides and spectacular waterfall abseils. The Tummel Canyon route, found along the shores of Loch Tummel in Perthshire, is the newest to open – from summer 2018 – and includes an incredible 14 abseils to get pulses racing!

Canyoning experiences cost from £65 for children aged 12-15 and £70 for adults, and vary depending on the canyon route used. All equipment is included.

Windsurfing, Norfolk

Dive into the world of windsurfing with a half-day taster session near Hunstanton on the Norfolk Coast. With fantastic wind conditions and a suitable expanse of beach, it’s the ideal location to learn how to windsurf. Hunstanton Water Sports also runs progression sessions for those with more experience while kitesurfing and power kiting sessions are also available.

A three-hour windsurfing taster session costs £40. Kitesurfing is priced from £120 for a one-day course, rising to £289 for a three-day course. One-to-one tuition is available from £45 per hour.

Cardiff International White Water, Wales

Nestled in Cardiff Bay, Cardiff International White Water offers an abundance of exciting water sports from white water rafting through to stand up paddleboarding. Thrill seekers may want to ditch the raft in favour of a river board (similar to a body board) or practice their surfing on the indoor wave machine. There’s a number of exhilarating ways to complete the water course, while those wishing to stay dry can tackle the Air Trail, a set of high wire ropes that tower over the centre.

White water rafting costs from £40 per person and river boarding costs £55 per person. Visitors can ride the indoor wave from £22.50. The Air Trail costs £10.