Most outdoorsy European cities

Monday, 17 October 2011 10:50 AM

Sometimes when you’re on a city break you feel like you just want to get away from it all, take a break from the hustle and bustle and get to the outdoors. City breaks don’t all have to be about museums, shopping, eating and nightlife, they can be about nature and the open-air too, so here’s our list of the most outdoorsy European cities.

Set in a stunning location on the edge of beautiful sparkling water, surrounded by rolling hills and mountains, it’s easy to understand why the Norwegian capital is all about the outdoors. Oslo is a city so entwined with nature that most locals will tell you that the natural side is what they love most about their city. At 450sq km Oslo is one of the largest European cities in terms of size, but one of the smallest in terms of population, this means that wide expanses of the city are given over to nature. Oslo is also one of the only capitals in Europe where you can kayak, sail, hike, cycle, ice-skate and ski all within the confines of the city.

The city of Munich is filled with large parks, leafy streets and large natural areas running alongside the river. Munich also has one of the best cycle networks of any European city, with over 1,200km of cycle pathways, 17 dedicated bicycle streets, many rent a bike schemes and cycle route planners online. If you’re into cycling then this is definitely the city break for you.

According to the local council of Gothenburg, the residents of this city enjoy 175 metres of green space each, that’s a lot of open space for just one person! As a result the city is home to many natural parks and gardens; among these is Slottsskogen, a vast park which is home to native Swedish animals such as moose, reindeer and Gotland ponies. Gothenburg also hosts one of the best Botanical Gardens in Europe which is home to over 1,600 species of orchid and over 6000 species of marsh and shade plants. In the winter you can also rent skis to go cross-country skiing in Delsjö-området, towards the woods at the eastern end of town.

Set in the wilds of Iceland with its craggy volcanoes, ice-cool glaciers, atmospheric skies and arctic waters, it’s no wonder that nature is abound in this capital. Wherever you look you’ll be reminded of the fact that the wild is not too far away. Of course, there’s the famous Blue Lagoon where you can bathe in the steaming waters of this unique geothermal spa. Other activities within easy reach of the city include whale watching trips from the harbour, skiing, spewing geyser tours and glacial hikes.

So next time you plan a European city break, why not organise your trip around adventure activities and the great outdoors and see what natural wildernesses you can find right in the city itself? Or if you always head straight for the country on a short break and wouldn’t dream of going on a city break, then why not do something different and discover what outdoorsy finds Europe’s cities have to offer.

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