There are a hundred reasons to live in London. It could be because your dream job is there, it could be for the social and vibrant life it provides or maybe you were simply born in the capital and it is where you grew up. Urban environments and multi-million inhabitants cities are quite hostile to any kind of outdoor sports practice, often too crowded with buildings and people. Well, if you live in (or around) London and like outdoor sports, we have good news for you. Despite being one of the biggest city in Europe, the capital is full of opportunities for whoever wants to do sport outdoors. Not sure where to start? Here is our guide to the best outdoor sports activities in and around London.
Whether you are totally new to outdoor sports or an experienced vagabond living in the city, here is a list of the best outdoor sports activities so you can get out there and enjoy.
Water-based sports activities in London
With a network of canal stretching on over 8 miles in the city and the river Thames flowing at the heart of London, watersports are easily accessible. Regardless of which body of water you are paddling on, we guarantee scenic views and full-on experience. For instance, the London Kayak Company propose kayak guided tours with epic views of the city center.
And if you prefer a more natural and authentic surrounding, check out Moo Canoes in east London. They rent canoes on the river Lea and you will also have the opportunity to attend Stand Up Paddleboard sessions on Saturdays if you feel a bit more adventurous (read our guide to the best SUP spots in London and across the UK here).
While some people enjoy being on the water, some others prefer to be in the water. Here again, London has a lot more to offer than public swimming pools. Londoners are lucky enough to have access to wild swimming (almost) on their doorstep. From ponds to rivers and lakes, here are a few of the places where you can go wild swimming around London: Hampstead Ponds, the River Wey, Serpentine Lido and more. Spoiler alert: you probably will need a wetsuit in winter.
Aerial sports activities in London
For some of us who feel more like exploring in the air rather than on the water, we definitely advise trying ropes, and more particularly Tree Climbing Ropes. If you want to test yourself physically and mentally do not hesitate one second. Go Ape offers some of the best ropes activities as close as Battersea or Alexandra Palace.
Land-based sports activities in London
One does not have to go in the air or dive in the water to enjoy an authentic outdoor experience in London. If your preference is to stay on land, there are many other options for you out there. One of the qualities of London as a city is that it is filled with parks. Who says park says long and vehicle-free paths. The perfect environment to get your longboard or cruiser out for a ride. Hyde Park is always a good choice for flat and freestyle practice. Victoria Park has the best surface if you like to cruise around. London also has hills and Crystal Palace Park is popular for anybody who is keen on downhill riding.
Parks are also good to get involved in activities such as Slacklining or Yoga. Slacklining is the act of walking on a web tensioned between to points (in this case two trees). It is great exercise to practice balance and core strength. Many of the London slackliners often gather in Finsbury Park. This being said, all you really need to get started is two trees and your own slackline. Maybe a bit more accessible (we have not said easier) is to do Yoga. There are plenty of outdoor classes and for the most advanced of us, all you really need is a matt and a (reusable) water bottle.
Moreover, for those who want to be outdoors but do not mind the urban environment, London is full of skateparks were you can practice your skateboarding, BMX or inline-skating skills. Our favorite skateparks are Clissold bowl, Crystal Palace skatepark, Stockwell skatepark, and Victoria skatepark.
Wind-related sports activities in London
If wind-related activities are what you seek, let’s not forget that the UK is an Island and that it experiences decent amounts of wind every year. Generally speaking, you can take your kite in most parks in and around London, providing that you have enough space to not destroy your kit or put anyone around you in danger (away from power lines and roads). We also recommend that you try power kiting at the Royal Park.
There are also many sailing clubs all over the capital, from the Docklands Sailing centre in the east all the way to west London with the Strand on the Green sailing club or Wembley sailing club.
Sports activities opportunities around London
Last but not least, if you have a car or are ready to explore the city’s surroundings, here are some additional outdoor activities to tick off your bucket list.
Hiking. A great way to exercise and socialise at the same time. It also gives you opportunities to take awesome scenic pictures. Our favorites are The Seven Sisters (Seaford to Eastbourne), Box Hill, and Ramsgate to Margate for an easy coastal walk with the guarentee of a fish and chips at the end. More hikes here.
Wakeboarding. Whether you like the cable park or prefer to be towed behind a boat there are many places where you can get your board on the water. Most of them are located west London and our favorite include Liquid Leisure or Thorpe Lakes.
Kitesurfing. You do not have to fly to the other side of the world to find some good Kitesurf spots. As mentioned earlier in this post, the UK gets a fair share of wind as it is an Island. Head over to the coast to experience Kitesurfing. This fast-growing sport is the promise of a full-on workout while discovering some of the best coastal spots in the southeast. If you are a beginner, you will have to get in touch with a school first, to get the proper gear, safety, and spot knowledge before you can go on your own. We strongly advise getting in touch with Luke Denny from Kite Surf Kings or check out the Brighton kitesurf and sup academy.
Climbing. Yes, London has (almost) got it all. Did you know that you can go outdoor rock climbing or bouldering in less than a 2 hours commute from London? And if it still feels a bit of a mission for a day trip, just have a sleepover. Nothing better than to camp in the wood to cut you from society and recharge the batteries. The most famous spots are Harrison’s Rock and Stone Farm Rocks.
Beach clean. Some may say it is not a sport, but it certainly is an outdoor activity. Once you will start doing it and start looking between the small rocks you will realise how much help our beaches need. A weekly beach clean can actually turn out to be great exercise. Head down to Brighton (or other spots) on the south coast and take part in a #2minutesbeachclean. More information here.