Top 10 adventure vacations in the UK

Getting out and about in the UK needn’t be about stately homes and countryside strolls – there’s wild beauty here, and mountains to conquer and all manner of pulse-raising activities to get stuck into. What’s more, the UK’s compact size and good public transport links mean that there’s no need for damaging short haul internal flights; and in many cases you can leave the car behind, too. Choose instead to board a train to the Scottish Highlands, hop on board a sailing boat and cruise the English Channel or explore the Welsh countryside on horseback. More exciting for you, and better for the environment, too.

Read on for our top 10 adventure vacations in the UK.

1. Family adventures in Wales

Pembrokeshire National Park’s blustery coast can be reached by train and navigated by coastal bus services. It’s also a safe place for the kids to try out a raft of adventure sports including kayaking, coasteering, surfing and hiking, with expert instructors well trained in working with children and young people.
When to go: Year round
Our top selling trip: Family adventure vacation in Wales
See all our trips: Flight free adventure vacations
Read more: Wales travel guide and Family activity vacations travel guide

2. Winter walking in Scotland

Forget flying to the Alps for an unsustainable downhill skiing break. Instead take the train up to the Scottish Highlands for a week of challenging winter walking in the company of an experienced mountain guide. You’ll need to be fit, but the thrill of experiencing the snowy mountain landscape with few other people in sight makes it well worth it.

When to go: January to March
Our top selling trip: Scotland winter walking vacations
See all our trips: Walking vacations in Scotland
Read more: Scotland travel guide and Flight free travel guide

3. Family activity vacation in Scotland

If the kids have any energy left at the end of each day on a family adventure vacation in Scotland, we’d suggest reading them a few pages of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island. It was written here, in the Cairngorms National Park, a landscape that lends itself perfectly to dreaming up new adventures. Your brood will kayak, canoe, hike and mountain bike the Scottish Highlands in company of an expert guide, on a real page-turner of a trip.

When to go: Year-round but summer best
Our top selling trip: Family adventure vacation in Scotland
See all our trips: Scotland family vacations
Read more: Scotland travel guide

4. Sea kayaking in Devon

You don’t need to have paddled before to get some sea kayaking action in Devon. You just need to be keen on exploring headlands, beaches, remote inlets and caves you can only discover from the water. You’ll travel either in a small group of like-minded people or self guided, full instruction is always available.
When to go: May to September
Our top selling trip: Devon sea kayaking vacation in England
See all our trips: Vacations in Devon
Read more: Devon travel guide and Sea kayaking travel guide

5. Horse riding in the UK

Follow the Border to Coast trail from Wales’ Wye Valley to sands of the Dovey Estuary, a thrilling trail ride through wild countryside that covers 100 miles over six days. You’ll have the company of an experienced local guide as well as a small group of riders, and nights will be spent in small inns and guest houses along the way.

When to go: April to October
Our top selling trip: Border to coast horse riding vacation in the UK
See all our trips: Horse riding vacations
Read more: UK travel guide and Horse riding vacations travel guide
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about UK or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

6. Hebrides cruise

Discover the wild and remote Hebrides on a small ship cruise with a maximum of ten other passengers. As well as admiring the spotting wildlife from the deck you can take to the waters for kayaking or windsurfing, or head ashore for coastal hikes and beachcombing.

7. Exploring the Causeway Coast

Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast is perfect for a low-key adventure, from hiking the quiet trails of the Causeway Coast Way, to visiting UNESCO World Heritage listed Giant’s Causeway. Week-long self-guided trips make use of public transport and traveling to Ireland flight-free is easy thanks to numerous ferry services from the UK.

When to go: April to October
Our top selling trip: Causeway Coast vacation, Northern Ireland
See all our trips: Northern Ireland vacations
Read more: Northern Ireland travel guide and Adventure vacations travel guide

8. Snowdonia activity vacations

Activity vacations in Snowdonia take full advantage of the region’s natural blessings: the wild coast, as well as those marvellous mountains. Small groups of adventurous travelers based themselves in a locally run hotel, spending their days coasteering, hiking, rafting and canyoning. All of this leading to the week’s adrenaline-charged climax: a spin on the world’s fastest RIB boat, followed by the option of summiting Snowdon itself at sunrise.
When to go:May to September
Our top trip: Snowdonia activity vacation in Wales
See all our trips: Wales vacations
Read more: Wales travel guide and Snowdonia travel guide

9. Activity weekend in Pembrokeshire

You can still pack plenty of adventure into a weekend in the UK’s only coastal national park. Surfing, coasteering, half-day hikes and kayaking are among the activities on offer, and full instructions and kit are provided. Nights are spent in an eco adventure lodge where bonfires under the stars are a regular occurrence.

When to go: year round
Our top selling trip: Pembrokeshire activity weekend in Wales
See all our trips: Vacations in Wales
Read more: Wales travel guide and Short break adventure travel guide

10. Coasteering weekend in North Pembrokeshire

Coasteering, or, the art of repeatedly falling off a cliff into the sea, is a skill best acquired with the help of an expert instructor on a guided trip. Over two exhausting, exhilarating days, you’ll be taken to two prime stretches of Pembrokeshire coastline and shown the best places to climb up the rocks and jump into the water. This trip can be done at nearly any time of year, in rough winter seas, or smooth summer ones.

When to go: All year round (except December)
Our top selling trip: Coasteering weekend in Wales
See all our trips: Short break adventure vacations
Read more: Short break adventure travel guide
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: David Merrett] [Family adventure in Wales: Charles Ng] [Kayaking in Devon: Hugh Millward] [Hebrides cruise: Kathleen] [Snowdonia: Neil Mark Thomas]