Fancy a break from the city street scenery you’re used to? Want to swap the sounds of traffic and the tube chuntering through stations for the sounds of nature? How about getting away from the busy London streets and seeing the crowds from above, by taking an unforgettable helicopter flying experience? Or seeing city sights by zipline rather than zooming past places on the overground? Check out our top outdoor adventure activities near London to get your dose of nature and adrenaline!
Helicopter Flying Experience, Hertfordshire
Around a 50 minutes’ drive outside of central London, or approximately 20 minutes on the train, is the south Hertfordshire village of Elstree, known by many for its world-famous film and television studios. Head to the town’s Aerodrome for an unforgettable activity that may feel like you’re in a movie, a helicopter flying experience!
Enjoy a one-to-one lesson learning to fly a small 2-seat Robinson R22 helicopter or share the experience with others learning about the controls of a 4-seat Robinson R44 helicopter with an experienced pilot and teacher. See the lush, green Hertfordshire countryside from a whole new vantage point and see the London skyline from afar on this ride like no other!
Booking information for Hertfordshire helicopter flying experience.
This beloved weekend and bank holiday seaside retreat is not only a great place to head for a break from London life and to dip your toes in the sea, Southend-on-Sea is also a great place to try water sports like kitesurfing! This fantastic resort town located at the meeting point of the Thames Estuary and the North Sea is a great location to try this thrilling board-based water sport.
Take a two-day course beginning with some basics on the sand before heading out on the waves. Offering the perfect conditions to practice this sport, is Shoeburys’ East Beach, which boasts year-round winds and waist-deep water, as well as beautiful stretches of beach and views out to the North Sea.
Photo Credit: Margaux Bellott
Beachfront Ziplining, Brighton
The beautiful seaside town of Brighton, just an hour’s train journey out of central London is famously a great place to head for seaside fun, for marveling at the town’s stunning piers and to enjoy its arts and cultural scene. Unbeknownst to most, however, is that Brighton is also a great place for thrill seekers, boasting a number of great outdoor activities to try!
Head to this city’s beach-front and to the UK south coast’s longest zipwire, at 300m long! See Brighton from above with this great family-friendly and fun group activity of ziplining! With twin ziplines, race against your friends and take in the seaside sights as you go.
Photo Credit: Kal Visuals
Whitewater Rafting, River Lee Country Park
Just 50 minutes on the train north of central London, takes you to the Lee Valley White Water Centre, set within the River Lee Country Park. This white water centre was built especially to host the canoe slalom events as part of London’s 2012 Olympic Games. These high-grade whitewater facilities are home to rafting, kayaking, canoeing, hydrospeed and tubing experiences.
With a variety of different rafting experiences to be had, including family rafting and accelerated rapid rafting, head to this former Olympic course and feel an incredible adrenaline rush as you navigate the same choppy course as Olympians!
(Didling, Midhurst, South Downs National Park) Photo Credit: Sam Knight
Tandem Paragliding, South Downs National Park
Only around a 90 minute drive south-west from central London, is the beautiful South Downs National Park. This national park, which stretches from the countryside of Winchester in the west to the white cliffs near Eastbourne, is a fantastic destination to try tandem paragliding.
This stunning national park in the south of England boasts peaks such as Blackdown and Butser Hill, and stunning coastal locations to try tandem paragliding. Head to the site of historical, scientific and mythological interest of Devil’s Dyke, a dry v-shaped valley, just over a 20 minute drive north-west of Brighton. Take-off from one of its ridges for great thermals and incredible views of the West Sussex countryside from above.
Bungee Jumping, North Greenwich
Not technically outside of London, accessible by the tube (it’s in Zone 3) is a bungee jump next-door to the O2 Arena! Why not try some adventure sports without heading too far from home? The O2 Arena, which we all know as an incredible structure which plays host to concerts, exhibitions and incredible live events, also has a bungee jump right next to it!
Head out of central London to North Greenwich, in the east of London, for a crane bungee jump from 160 feet high! A great outdoor adventure experience for tourists and locals alike as it offers a great unique way to see London’s landmarks. With views of the Thames, Canary Wharf, the O2 itself and the Docklands area, this is a great adventure experience to try!
Jet Boating, The Thames Barrier
Alike the bungee jump next to the O2 Arena, this exhilarating outdoor activity isn’t exactly outside of London… though this 75 minute-long jet boating ride does take you all the way to the Thames Barrier at the Royal Docks, out in Zone 3 territory. This thrilling experience, begins on the Thames waters of central London, at the Embankment Pier, and takes you past iconic London landmarks such as Big Ben, the London Eye, The Shard, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf, at incredible speed!
This is a great adrenaline rush and a brilliant way of seeing all the city-sights, without getting stuck in crowds of tourists! See the sights at speed as you speed across the the surface of the Thames, in a twin turbo 740hp RIB!
Booking information about the Thames Barrier RIB experience.
ArcelorMittal Orbit Abseiling, London Olympic Park
Yet another outdoor adventure activity found in the Zone 3 region, head to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for an abseiling experience like no other. Head up the ArcelorMittal Orbit, often referred to as the Orbit Tower, in East London, and abseil down this 114.5 metre high monument, that was created to stand as a lasting monument to London’s 2012 Olympic Games.
Located next to the Olympic Park built especially for the Games, head here for the chance to abseil down the UK’s largest work of public art. This abseil offers incredible views of London’t skyline and is a great way to see the city from a different viewpoint. If you don’t have too much of a head for heights, try the 178 metre-long slide which twists and turns its way around this sculpture’s unique frame.
Booking information about the ArcelorMittal Orbit abseil.
Land Yachting, Romney Marsh, Kent
This lesser-known exhilarating sport is practiced in a number of locations across the UK. Head to Romney Marsh in Kent, a 75 mile drive from central London, also just a 40 minutes’ drive from the quaint port town of Folkestone.
This beautiful area, near the southeast coast is a great place to try land yachting. Greatstone Beach, just south of Romney Marsh is a stunning place to try this thrilling sport. This long stretch of white-sand beach makes for a great setting to race down at around 40mph in your land yacht!
For more information about land yachting, also known as land sailing, check out our land sailing articles.
Hot Air Ballooning, Kent
With a number of different launch sites dotted around Kent, with notable ones in Canterbury, Maidstone and Headcorn, head to the Garden of England for a hot air balloon experience like no other! Kent Ballooning offers experiences lasting around 4 hours, travelling for around 10 miles, high above the Kent countryside.
As wind speeds vary day-to-day, and hot air balloons are guided by the prevailing winds, you won’t be able to choose your specific launch site, as it will be assigned to you the night before, once the following day’s wind speeds have been checked. This adds an element of excitement to the experience, not quite knowing what scenery you will be flying over… or where you’ll be beginning and ending your adventure. Wherever you fly from, to and over, rest assured it’ll be a magical journey!
Have a read of our best spots for land sailing as well as our pick of the best destinations for outdoor sports outside of Edinburgh.
Top Photo Credit: Benjamin Davies