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Adventure Travel

Outdoor Activities in London – Adventure City Guide

Find out how you can go kayaking, hiking, skating and swimming within minutes of downtown London with our Outdoor Activities in London Adventure City Guide.

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Outdoor Activities in London - Hyde Park

Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in London?

As part of our Adventure City Guide series, Vicky from vickyflipfloptravels.com, shares with you her insider tips on the top adventure and outdoor activities in London; including how to get there and costs.

London is Beautiful, London Eye

Why visit London for adventure?

London is filled with adventure opportunities. Each London borough has it’s own personality and feel, from the hipster cool of Shoreditch to the pretentiousness of Chelsea. I can guarantee that you’ll find all the adventure you want within London, you just have to know where to look for it.

It’s so easy to get around too. There’s the train lines, the Underground, the Overground, hundreds of bus routes, the Boris Bikes and even walking. London is a brilliant city for pedestrians as there’s something to see with every step.

Outdoor Activities in London

Climbing up Pimrose Hill and Parliament Hill

Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill have two of the best views in London. Make the climb and you can see over the whole city, incredible skyline and all. In the summer I love to take a picnic and just admire the city as I munch on a baguette and sip at some cheap Prosecco.

If you want to up the adventure aspect, run to the top of the viewpoint, then run backwards to get down again. I prefer to watch them at it though, the walk to the views is enough for me.

Primrose Hill in Regent’s Park is fairly easy to climb, it’s steep but quick. Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath is a different kettle of fish. Expect to gasp some breaths before you reach the top.

Outdoor Activities in London - Pimrose Hill

Outdoor Activities in London – Primrose Hill – Photo by Ben Sutherland

Getting to the hills

The closest underground stop to Primrose Hill is Chalk Farm, but it’s easily walkable from Camden Town. To access Parliament Hill you need to get to Gospel Oak Overground or Kentish Town Underground.

Cost of walking up

Nothing!

Kayaking the River Thames in London

It’s one way to get to work anyway, and there are always a few chancers following the route every summer. If you’d like to join in the fun on one of the most polluted rivers in the whole of Britain, but also a national icon, then sign up to Kayaking London. You can choose from a beginner class, a four-hour discover London tour or three-hour Big Ben by night trip.

Outdoor Activities in London - River Thames

Outdoor Activities in London – River Thames – Photo by Paddling

Getting to the River Thames

There are lots of ways! It’s that big blue line going through the centre of London. Waterloo or Embankment Stations would be your best bet, but there are plenty of stations along the route. Kayaking London is just five minutes from Battersea Bridge, or the Worlds End stop on the Kings Road.

Cost of Kayaking in London

The Big Ben trip is £33, a four-part beginnner course is £120 and the four-hour Discover London trip is £60. There are a few other trips available, check out Kayaking London for more details.

Additional information for Kayaking in London

All the trips are run in highly stable boats so no experience is required. The expert guides are on hand to help and everything is provided.

Skating in Hyde Park

The Blue Room at Marble Arch on the edge of Hyde Park have skates and blades to rent out to wannabe skater Londoners. Just leave your deposit and strap your skates on (maybe wait until you’ve crossed at the lights) and away you go.

Hyde Park has many paths you can use to master your skill and a super slick one that goes all the way down to Victoria. Expect to meet many other friendly skaters along the way, and skateboarders too. On a Wednesday and Friday night there are ‘Skates’ going on throughout London where skaters dress up and follow each other around the city with the tunes blasting out of the ghetto speakers (yes, old school stereos ).

If you want adventure and adrenaline in London there’s nothing like weaving through the London traffic with only skates and arm pads for safety.

Outdoor Activities in London - Hyde Park

Outdoor Activities in London – Hyde Park – Photo by S Pakhrin

Getting to Hyde Park

If you want the skate hire shop you need to get off at Marble Arch and turn left away from the shops. Then it’s just over the huge scary crossing. If you have your own skates you can get to Hyde Park via Queensway, Ladbroke Grove, Hyde Park Corner or Knightsbridge underground stations.

Cost of skating in Hyde Park

It’s totally free to skate, but you need to pay to hire your skates for £12 per day from the Blue Room Skate Hire Shop.

Additional information for skating in Hyde Park

The paths in Hyde Park are pretty safe – so long as you watch out for pedestrians and inquisitive small children. If in doubt, fall to the side as the paths are all flanked by grassy banks. Just please be careful and take all the safety gear the shop offers you!

Outdoor swimming in London

The Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park, Park Road Leisure Centre in Crouch End and Tooting Bec Lido in Tooting Bec are just a few of the outdoor pools you can enjoy in London. Prepare to freeze if going in on anything other than a bright, hot, summer’s day.

The chill of jumping into a freezing pool soon becomes addictive though, and you might just find yourself wanting to tick them all off the list. Prepare for them to be packed on said sunny days with no respect for the year rounders who brave the ice for their breaststroke.

Outdoor Activities in London - Swimming in London

Outdoor Activities in London – Swimming in London – Photo by Lasse Socker

Getting to the pools

There are more than 12 outdoor spots in London to get wet in the breezy/balmy summer days. My personal favourite is the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Just head to Lancaster Gate for the closest tube, or jump on a Boris Bike and follow the signs to ‘Hyde Park’.

Cost of exploring the Serpentine

£4 for an adult

Additional information for the Union Canal

Pool opening hours change depending on the season, the weather and the day. Before you head out to enjoy a splash just make a quick phone call to check it’s open.

Best time of the year to visit London for adventure?

The best time of year to visit London is definitely from April to October. We have a bit of a reputation for rain year round, but this is our summer season so if the sun’s not shining during these months it never will. I’ve travelled a lot and firmly believe that nowhere in the world beats a sunny summer in London.

When my fellow Londoners are picnicking in the parks, the festivals have started and you can cycle around the City wearing just your tshirt, that’s when London is really at it’s best.

Finally, the reason I love London for adventure is because…

I can honestly say that every day is an adventure in London. Not the forest hiking, bungee jumping, dragon slaying kind, but the kind where you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. From the second I step out of the door in the morning and I’m greeted by the urban jungle that is Kilburn I know that any adventure I could want, I can have it London.

BIO:

Vicky blogs at vickyflipfloptravels.com about her travels, London and festivals. She’s travelled through Europe extensively, dropping in on a few festivals and picking up work as she went. She’s toured Australia, explored the Serengeti and backpacked through Morocco.

A wise man once told her, ‘In the pursuit of seeing everything, we see nothing’, and she tries to recite this to tame her travelling wants, but it’s not working. You can follow her @VickyFlipFlop, or on Facebook or Google+.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Scott

    April 28, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    Great post. I would have never considered London as an outdoor adventure city.

  2. Nigel Clifford

    May 6, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    I never knew you could do any of these activities in London, although I wouldn’t mind a bit of dragon slaying adventure if it was possible haha

  3. Travel Musts

    May 18, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    I have been to London many times but I have never thought to go kayaking or skating in Hide Park! Thank you very much for the advice! I will for sure follow them next time I will find my self in London!

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Adventure Travel

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Adventure Travel

Best Time to Visit Panama and Costa Rica

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The fact that Costa Rica and Panama are close makes both countries perfect for visiting. During your holiday there, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the two countries and enjoy all the wonders they have to offer. Keep in mind that the timing of your holiday will influence what sorts of sites you can visit and what activities you can make part of your plans. By understanding a little about what to expect, it’s easy to determine the best time of year to visit both countries, based on what you would like to do.

Learning More About the Dry and Rainy Seasons

If you’re the type who prefers the hustle and bustle that comes with holidays during the tourist season, plan on being in Costa Rica and Panama during what’s known as the dry season. Expect plenty of sunshine and warm weather during this part of the year. Many of your activities will be outdoors, although you will find a number of indoor sites that you will want to include in your plans.

The dry seasons in both countries overlap. The dry weather for both typically arrives during the first to the middle part of December. In Costa Rica, the dry season usually lingers until sometime in April. Panama enjoys a slightly shorter dry season, with it usually ending sometime in March.

Keep in mind that since this dry period is the height of the tourist season, the cost of visiting from December to April will be higher than at other times of the year. Even so, if your plans include spending a lot of time exploring the rain forests or soaking in the rays on one or more of the beautiful beaches, the dry season is the only time to consider.

Making the Most of the Dry Seasons

During the dry season in both nations, do expect the weather to be more humid and the day temperatures to be a little higher. There is some variance depending on which regions you plan on visiting. As a general rule, locations nearer the coast will include warmer weather and higher levels of humidity. By contrast, the more mountainous areas will offer slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels.

During this time, do plan on enjoying the lush greenery found in the rain forests. During much of the dry season, the abundance of rain from what’s known as the rainy or green season ensures that the forests are at their best. Consider adding some variety to your holiday by spending time at the beach, soaking in the nightlife along the coast, and doing some shopping at many of the open air districts. This is also the perfect timing to enjoy some of the local cuisine while dining outside.

There are special events to celebrate during the dry season. President’s Day in Costa Rica occurs during this period. Along with locals, you can enjoy a number of celebrations, open-air festivals, and just about any type of entertainment that one can imagine.

Since the dry season does attract more tourists, it pays to book your lodgings in advance. Along with President’s Day, there’s also spring break and the Easter Season to consider. While you could look at different hotels and other properties near beaches, there are also hostels that make perfect places to sleep. After all, how much time do you plan on spending indoors when there’s so much to do?

Things to Do During the Rainy Seasons

In spite of the name, it isn’t always raining during the rainy or green season. Most days, there will be brief periods of sunshine that do allow you to spend some time at the beach and other outdoor venues. Do expect the evenings to be cooler. At times, the temperature may make wearing long sleeves or possibly a sweater a good idea.

Even if you’re out and about while it’s raining, there are plenty of things to see. Towns and cities in both nations offer indoor concerts, a number of restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes, and clubs and other settings for entertainment. You will find museums that will tell you more about the history of indigenous peoples and the complexity of their cultures.

What are some of the activities you can enjoy during this time of year? Both Costa Rica and Panama offer options to go horseback riding. Generally, this will happen during the morning when the sun is most likely to be out. Walking tours are also a great way to learn more about the culture and possibly find some interesting places that you will want to return to a little later. Don’t overlook the opportunity to get in some fishing when there’s a sunny morning coming your way. There are changes to engage in freshwater fishing as well as charter boats that will take you to some of the better places to enjoy salt-water fishing.

Coffee and rum tours are also something to consider during the rainy season. These tours allow you the opportunity to see different facilities and how they produce their products. As a bonus, you get to enjoy some taste-testing at many of the places that you visit along the tour. Some of the sites will also have bistros or restaurants included, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal or snack with your coffee or rum.

In terms of museums to visit, San Jose offers some of the most interesting museums in Costa Rica. Many of them are located in or adjacent to what’s known as the Central Market. It’s a great way to enjoy time indoors during the rainy afternoons and early evenings.

In Panama, check out the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. You can make use of headphones that offer the guided tour in multiple languages. If you happen to be proficient in Spanish, feel free to check out each exhibit on your own. You can also check out the Biodiversity Museum, which features exhibits on the over 1,000 species of animals and plants that are found in the country. Make the most of the discounts offered on Sundays. Retirees also get to enjoy discounts when visiting these museums.

Which season is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama? It’s really up to you. For those who prefer a slower pace and don’t mind rain during the afternoons and evenings, the raining season is ideal. Those who thrive on activity, sunshine, and plenty of tourist activities will enjoy going during the dry season. Whatever your choice, plan on coming back a second time. It’s rare for anyone to see everything they want to see during a single holiday.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

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Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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