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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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+.
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Meet Cole and Adela
We 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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