The UK offers about as much variety as you can hope to find in a single travel destination. There’s just a lot of things to see and do, from the coast to the castles and everything in between. But because a lot of the focus on UK travel tends to boil down to sightseeing, I wanted to point out some of the more active ways a traveler can enjoy a visit to this wonderful part of the world.
If you’re planning a trip in the near future, keep these five recreational activities in mind as great ways to get a feel for what the UK really has to offer.
1. Take Sailing Lessons
The UK is a pretty fascinating place for people with an interest in boating, and specifically sailing. Rowing is a popular hobby as well, but the combination of adventurous, windy locations (the English Channel can offer some pretty rigorous sailing) and more sheltered places for beginners makes the country a great location for sailors. Mirror’s travel section did a nice write-up several years ago of the best spots around the UK for sailing and it still holds up today. There are learning opportunities, dolphin-watching sailing excursions, and simply beautiful sailing spots all recommended. There’s also a kayaking venture to the Isle of Wight!
2. Do The Harry Potter Tour
This may be flirting with the concept of sightseeing, but it’s nevertheless become one of the more popular activities in the country for tourists—and with good reason.
Orlando’s Harry Potter World may have become a big draw and arguably the best way to see this incredible fantasy series come to life, nothing quite beats the Warner Bros. studio tour. It gives you a look at actual sets, props, and filming methods used to adapt J.K. Rowling’s novels to the big screen.
3. Take In A Horse Racing Festival
There are a lot of sporting events to enjoy in the UK, but few can match the major horse racing festivals for pure, recreational enjoyment. Perhaps that’s because they ultimately transcend sport and are more like major cultural events that happen to involve significant races. Furthermore, these festivals generate excitement for weeks before and after they actually take place. With the Cheltenham Festival, the first big-time horse race of the season, having occurred recently, Betfair’s horse racing section is already putting out information about the Grand National, which occurs in April. As part of their guide to the upcoming event, they wrote that an audience of about 600 million worldwide will watch—but it’s the folks at the festival who really have the most fun. This is essentially a multi-day excuse to let loose, dress up, bet on and watch the races, and mingle with other happy spectators.
4. Hike The Lake District
Commonly singled out as the most beautiful part of the UK, the Lake District National Park is a wonder to behold. Filled with picturesque glacial lakes, beautiful expanses of green nature, and rugged, rocky peaks, it just has a lot to offer for those who appreciate the wild. It’s also naturally home to some pretty incredible hiking and cycling trails, perfect for the more active traveler.
The Guardian’s travel section singled out 10 of the best walks through the area, and each one of them is worth a look. In particular, the Ash Landing and Claife Heights trek through Windermere is a great option for visitors looking for a bit of everything: great views, a nice long hike, and plenty of accommodation and refreshment options along the way.
5. Do A Pub Crawl
Finally, there’s one of London’s great recreational traditions to consider: a pub crawl!
If any nation in the world is known for the charms of its pubs and taverns, it’s certainly the UK. Accordingly, there are literally dozens of famous pub crawls in the London and elsewhere in the country, each making for a fun way for a traveler to sample different foods and drinks and enjoy a great cultural tradition. It’s hard to really choose a best or most famous pub crawl to recommend, but The Telegraph’s look at London’s historical pubs certainly gives you an interesting place to start looking.
These are just five of many ways to get out and enjoy yourself when visiting the UK, but they’re five that should be on your list.