In Brief

Alternative ways to explore UK cities

Ditch the car and travel by air, boat, bike or balloon to discover the hidden beauty of Britain’s biggest cities

 
Bristol by hot air balloon

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is the largest event of its kind in Europe, and come August the city is resplendent with more than 100 balloons it attracts from across the globe each year. And it's little surprise – this popular corner of the South West is home to some of the most picturesque landscapes and rolling countryside around, making taking to the skies one of the best ways to discover its charms. Skip the queues and opt for a private ride, which beyond the benefits of a more intimate experience means that you can determine where and when you wish to fly.

eliteairuk.com

west.mids137

Birmingham by canal boat

Birmingham's industrial past is an indelible part of its identity today, and the canals are the lifeblood of its development. With a larger network than Venice, there's few better ways to get a true picture of the city than by taking to the water. Sherborne Wharf's daily trips take a whistle-stop tour from the Quayside down an original, historic stretch built by early canal engineer James Brindley to the central Gas Street Basin, which today is lined with some of the city's best contemporary pubs and bars.

sherbornewharf.co.uk

Liverpool by bicycle

For an eco-friendly alternative to the ubiquitous bus tour, instead take to two wheels to see Liverpool's top attractions up close. While the council runs its own hire scheme with stations of bikes dotted around the city, for a local insight opt for a guided experience. Liverpool City Tours offers a city centre tour taking in the must-see sights, including the World Heritage Site waterfront Albert Dock and stop offs at the city's two impressive cathedrals, while fans of The Beatles can choose a themed tour that makes a pilgrimage to landmarks such as Penny Lane and Strawberry Field.

liverpoolcycletours.com

(C) Pawel Libera2008

London by kayak

Get a new view on some of London's iconic waterfront destinations with a trip down the Thames via kayak. Organisations such as the London Kayak Company have experienced and qualified guides on hand to get even complete beginners paddling with confidence, allowing you to take advantage of the range of trips on offer. For ultimate picturesque vistas, join an evening tour and take in landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and St Paul's by twilight.

londonkayakcompany.com

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