London may be famous for its culture and history, but the British capital has an adventurous side, too. Whether you have a head for heights or a need for speed, we’ve got the adrenaline-pumping activity for you. Who said that sightseeing had to be sedate?
Walk the walk
Take a guided walk like no other with a climb over the tented dome of London’s biggest concert venue, The O2. The building is 170 feet tall at its highest point, and reaching the viewing platform at the top requires a 30-degree ascent up a narrow, bouncy walkway. But don’t worry, Up at The O2 is safe, with climbers kitted out in suits, shoes and harnesses before the haul and connected to a steel safety line throughout the experience. Climb in the daytime, at sunset or, for an unusual experience, after darkness has fallen, when the city’s bright lights twinkle enticingly before you.
Make a splash
See London’s landmarks with the wind in your hair on a jet-powered RIB (rigid-inflatable boat) river cruise with Thames Jet. The first part of the journey — from Westminster to Tower Bridge — is much like any other River Thames tour, with a guide sharing fun facts about the capital’s most famous buildings and institutions. Past this point, however, it’s time for a thrill ride, as your pilot opens the throttle and whirls you down to Canary Wharf and back at a breathtaking 30 knots. Longer trips extend the excitement all the way out to the Thames Barrier. Waterproof gear is provided.
What goes up must come down
The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the U.K.’s tallest sculpture, but this isn’t the sort of piece you’ll find in a gallery. Designed by British artist Anish Kapoor, the giant observation tower overlooks the Olympic Stadium and offers fantastic vistas of London from its viewing platform at more than 260 feet up. Most visitors make their way back to earth via the exterior walkway that twists around the structure, but there’s now a more thrilling route to try: abseiling straight down. On selected dates (booking is essential) it’s possible to step off the viewing platform into thin air with just a few light ropes helping your descent. Hanging in mid-air some distance from the Orbit, you’ll find there’s no better way to experience the city.
Take to the skies
Those of a less athletic persuasion can get their thrills, too, with a helicopter ride over the capital. Short tours (12 to 30 minutes) of the town center depart from Battersea heliport, while longer trips (up to 40 minutes) taking in more of the city and surrounding countryside are available from Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey. With the sky to yourself, you’ll see London’s landmarks from a new perspective.