Outdoor adventures you won’t believe are possible in a British city

written by Lucy Pierce

updated 15.02.2023

Intrigued by the idea of a UK city break with an outdoorsy twist? Look no further. We’ve collated our favourite city-based activities. You’ll see the sights while enjoying the great outdoors, and see the UK’s best-loved cities in a whole new way. Between walking London’s canals, paintballing in the Eccles Forest or cycling the Taff Trail, we’re sure you’ll find your next outdoor adventure in a British city here.

Hot air balloon over Bath

Take to the skies on a fired-up hot air balloon with 360-degree views across the city and the Somerset countryside. You will soar above the iconic arc of the Royal Crescent, Roman Baths and the towering spires of Bath Abbey, watching the ant-like people go about their business.

This bird’s eye view of the city with houses perched on the steep hills and the verdant valleys of the surrounding countryside is a special way to see Bath. The dominant Georgian architecture comes into all its glory as the sun sets, the city glowing golden.

Hot air balloon over Bath © Shutterstock

A hot air balloon ride is one of the best things to do in Bath © Shutterstock

Surf at Bristol’s inland wave

The Wave is the UK’s first inland surfing experience and it caters for all levels. The technology is extremely impressive, creating 1,000 quality waves per hour, which regular surfers will know is a rare occurrence on beach or point breaks.

If you’ve never surfed before, you can stay closer to shore in the whitewash, while professionals can surf up to 2 metre waves further back. It’s a great day out for the family, and you can always watch the kids from the viewing platform if surfing isn’t for you.

Ready to hit the waves and more? Find your perfect accommodation in Bristol.

Surfer at the Wave in Bristol © Cabin/The Wave

Go surfing in Bristol — at The Wave © Cabin/The Wave

Zipline along Brighton’s beach

Flying along the longest zipwire on the South Coast is one way to see Brighton beach, the Palace Pier and the glaringly white cliffs of Seven Sisters. Those with a head for heights can climb up the spiral staircase to the deck where they’ll launch themselves off the 30 metre high tower, whizzing through the air.

As you clock up some speed, don’t forget to take in the view – bonus points if you can spot France on your right! If heights really isn’t your thing and you managed to pluck up the courage, you might as well treat yourself to a congratulatory pint in the bar below.

Brighton zipline © Shutterstock

Take an exciting zipline through Brighton Beach © Shutterstock

Cycle the Taff Trail through Cardiff

The 55-mile Taff Trail begins in the regenerated Cardiff Bay and continues all the way to the Brecon Beacons. From the bay, you’ll cycle into Cardiff city centre past the Principality Stadium and Cardiff Castle, and along the river through Bute Park.

The buildings quickly dissipate as the path weaves alongside rivers, then onto railway paths and forested roads. Just eight miles outside Cardiff is the 19th century Castell Coch. The Gothic Revival castle peeks out through the woods on the side of the hill. If cycling’s not for you, you can also walk this route but it will take a little longer.

Dreaming of taking your British outdoor adventure? Browse accommodation in Cardiff.

taff trail long distance footpath and cycle route alongside the monmouthshire and brecon canal powys wales brecon beacons national park uk gb © Shutterstock

Cycling the Taff Trail is an excellent outdoor adventure in Cardiff © Shutterstock

Skiing in Edinburgh

Bet you didn’t know you could ski down Europe’s second largest dry slope overlooking Edinburgh? Set in the Pentland Hills, there are two main slopes and three nursery slopes where you can learn to ski or snowboard.

The main slope is 400m and has great views over Edinburgh from the top station. There is also a fun slope and jumps for those who want to give a 360 or a backflip a go. If you’re en-famille, the kids will definitely want to try tubing too.

Ready to hit the British slopes? Find your dream accommodation in Edinburgh.

Edinburg skiing  © Hillend/Midlothian Council

British Skiing? The Pentland Hills is a great place to ski and snowboard © Hillend/Midlothian Council

Walk along London’s picture-perfect canals

London’s canal walkway between Paddington and Victoria Park is a pleasant, flat walk with plenty of sites peppered along the way. The 8-mile route takes between three to five hours, depending on how many breaks you take.

The footpath goes through Little Venice and past the chirping birds of Regents Park Zoo. Onwards through Camden food market and Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross, both of which have plenty of spots to grab a bite to eat or a coffee. If you want to do part of this route on a stand up paddle board, you can book boards in Paddington or Hackney.

London canal Little Venice © Shutterstock

Little Venice in London is a fantastic place for a walk © Shutterstock

Play on England’s Golf Coast surrounding Liverpool

Home to 12 of the best golf courses in the UK, the Golf Coast runs parallel to the Irish Sea and makes for scenic rounds. The courses often host The Open Championship, The Ryder Cup and the Walker Cup, so you can retrace the steps of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

Wallasey Golf Club overlooks Liverpool Bay and is set between the dunes, while the prestigious Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf club is a dream come true for every golfer.

Paintballing in Manchester’s Eccles Forest

Hidden away in the Eccles Forest on the outskirts of Manchester is this paintballing arena. Don your camouflage, grab your weapon, and get ready to explore the woods as stealthy as you can. As you dodge bullets and hand grenades, the aim is to capture the flag for your team, rendering you victorious.

Browse hundreds of gorgeous accommodation in Manchester, at any budget.

Manchester paintball © Shutterstock

A fantastic outdoor adventure: Manchester paintball © Shutterstock

Night-time kayaking in Newcastle

Paddle through the sunset into the night as you see Newcastle lit up from the water. Oaring from the marina to the Baltic, you’ll float under the Gateshead Millennium Bridge that looks like a beaming laser through the night sky.

Onward to Dunston Staithes, where your guide will show you the cityscape and you can identify the city’s landmarks. On the way back, you can relax a little as the tide turns, making it easier to get back to the city.

Newcastle night time kayaking © The Pulse Rooms

Kayak at night through Newcastle © The Pulse Rooms

This article is brought to you in partnership with lastminute.com.

Lucy Pierce

written by Lucy Pierce

updated 15.02.2023

Lucy looks after the Rough Guides social media and is a freelance travel writer specialising in adventure travel, culture and lifestyle. You can follow her on Twitter @LucyPierce

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