It can be hard to break a sweat on vacation—especially in London (and other big cities). These awesome activities make it easy to exercise and explore.
Britannia does, indeed, “rule.” There’s, well, Queen Elizabeth II (who, actually, “rules”) and there’s also London, England—which has been crowned for centuries as a center for arts and culture. Here, in this historic destination, one is invited to discover the decorated streets, from the pastel-colored Portobello Road to the shop-lined Bond Street, in a place that can also double as an active escape.
Here, in the first of our three-article series, we explore the best (and the most British) experiences in London, England, for the adventurer who is in the market for an active vacation—even when traveling to an urban environment. These ideas will help you break a sweat while still letting your unabashed tourist side run wild.
Climb trees at Alexandra Palace.
This historic venue—established in 1863 in the northern area of London—has become a destination for a number of outdoor activities, including golfing and ice skating. One of the most unique activities at Alexandra Palace is the Big Tree Climbing: an adventure that features panoramic views of the “The Big Smoke” from 25-plus meters (82 feet) in the air. Instructors assist harnessed climbers as they ascend the tree’s branches and enter the canopy. This “top” excursion welcomes adults and children with one-hour sessions that cost £20 ($26.50).
Cycle around the sights.
Bike tours are one of the best routes to getting a workout while also seeing the sights. Fat Tire Tours, for example, offers a number of themes for their rides, including Joseph Conrad, royal London, and Thames River themed tours (which can be experienced at dusk). The choices are endless, which means you can find an excursions that fits your athletic abilities and interests. Feel free to treat yourself with a pint (or two) from an authentic pub at the end of the ride. After all, ale has electrolytes!
“Hike” Primrose Hill.
The 64 meter (213 feet) ascent to the “summit” of Primrose Hill isn’t the most athletically intense in the world, but it does guarantee a sense of breathlessness: The views of London are certain to rival those from the London Eye or the Shard (which was constructed in 2012 to become the tallest structure in the UK). Start this excursion with a stroll through the 410-acre Regent’s Park, which features a series of paths as well as a small lake for rowboats.
SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) on the River Thames.
The views of London from a double-decker bus are one thing, but to get a truly magical look at the city hop in the River Thames (with the right equipment, of course). There are a number of water activity brands that cater to this urban environment with SUP and SUP yoga experiences, including Active360. Either schedule a SUP class—or spend your time on the board actively touring the town from the Battersea Power Station (which was featured on Pink Floyd’s Animals album) to the famous Big Ben.
Inspired to discover active London? Stay tuned for part two of this series where we show you what to pack for the UK’s notoriously challenging weather.
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