Manchester – the metropolis that brought us the industrial revolution, public libraries, Bez, the splitting of the atom and vegetarianism (yes, seriously).
Now the most linguistically varied city in Europe, Manchester was also voted best UK city to live in 2015, beating London for the second year running. Added to which it has the largest and busiest airport outside London, linking it to more than 200 destinations worldwide.
So with that in mind, here are ten incredible adventures that you could soon be leaving on direct from Manchester – from exploring a hidden mountain plateau to hunting for the Northern Lights.
Help save Europe’s last wild, free-flowing river, the Vjosa, by rafting it alongside local environmental activists. Over three action-packed days, you’ll tackle the wild and untamed class III rapids of the Vjosa, hike to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Butrint amphitheatre and sleep in a local homestay.
Don’t miss: Snorkelling the mirror clear waters of Lengarica Canyon.
When to go: June or September – before and after peak summer.
Fly to: Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport, Kerkyra/corfu (CFU)
Learn to paddleboard on the calm, warm waters of the Adriatic and then put your new skills into action as you explore this beautiful corner of the Mediterranean. You’ll navigate the Stobreč River, traverse the Split Peninsula and paddle around an inactive volcano, cliff jumping and snorkelling in waters filled with marine life along the way.
Don’t miss: Sunrise from the water beneath the towering Mosor Mountains.
When to go: September or October as the heat of summer begins to die down.
Fly to: Split Airport, Split (SPU)
Kayak the protected waters of Estonia’s beautiful northern coast as you explore its uninhabited islands. You’ll visit abandoned fishing villages, eat freshly caught seafood cooked over a campfire, sleep under the stars and unwind in a 150-year old Finnish sauna with an unforgettable sea view.
Don’t miss: Camping on the deserted beaches of Rammu Island.
When to go: July to August – warm weather and flat water.
Fly to: Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport, Tallinn-ulemiste International (TLL)
Straddling two countries, this hut-to-hut trek sets you loose in the unspoilt wilderness of the Pyrenees, where you’ll follow the spectacular Gavernie-Ordesa circuit, cross the highest pass (2200 metres) of the famous Compostela Pilgrimage and descend a steep valley to a hidden mountain plateau – all without ever leaving a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Don’t miss: The epic view from the natural balcony of the Mirador de Calcilarruego – 600 metres above the canyon floor.
When to go: The mountain weather is at its most stable from September to October.
Based close to the waterside bars and cafes of Helsinki, you’ll ride along the Gulf of Finland’s ravishing coastline passing through thick forest and small towns far from anything, visit the medieval city of Porvoo and then head inland for some of the best singletrack in the country.
Don’t miss: A ride through the leafy forest of Uutela Nature Park with the sea on three sides.
When to go: June to August when the days are long and the nights are short.
Fly to: Helsinki Vantaa Airport, Helsinki (HEL)
Discover the wild and rugged coastline of the Peloponnese from the water. You’ll sea kayak to the remote island of Sfaktiria keeping watch for sea turtles, paddle around Navarino Bay, home to a 13th Century castle that overlooks a white sand beach and cook a traditional Greek dinner beneath the stars.
Don’t miss: Cliff jumping on the tiny and secluded islet of Fanari.
When to go: April, September or October – not too hot and not too cool.
Escape to the winter playground of the Sprengisandur plateau, home to Europe’s largest glaciers, Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull. You’ll sleep in a remote cabin, hike to a glacial lake, fish through the ice, ski, stargaze, search for the northern lights, or snowmobile off into the wilderness – it’s your holiday, you decide.
Don’t miss: Strapping on your skis and being pulled through the powder by a super jeep – strangely James Bond-esque.
When to go: December, when the snow is thick and you have the best chance of seeing the aurora.
Fly to: Keflavik International Airport, Keflavik (KEF)
Take to the smooth roads and mountain tracks of Mallorca as you face off against its most scenic cycle routes. Climb the Puig de Randa to view the entire island, traverse the chicanes and long descents of the Tramuntana mountain range and then follow the islands beautiful coastline back to your hotel for dinner.
Don’t miss: The jaw dropping ascent and descent from Sa Calobra to Coll dels Reis, crossing 26 hairpin bends.
When to go: Anytime, Mallorca’s climate is warm and sunny all year round.
Fly to: Palma De Mallorca Airport, Palma de Mallorca (PMI)
Kayak the calm waters of the UNESCO protected Lysefjord. You’ll wild camp by the water and then hike through the forest to Preikestolen – a mountain plateau that juts out 604 metres above the fjord, named one of the world’s most spectacular viewpoints by both CNN and Lonely Planet.
Don’t miss: Sunset over Lysefjord – how many colours of red are there?
When to go: Summer – long days, cool nights and temperatures of 12 – 18 °C.
Fly to: Stavanger Airport Sola, Stavanger (SVG)
Head deep into one of Europe’s oldest protected zones, the Triglav National Park, deep in the little known Julian Alps. You’ll raft the rapids of the Soča River, explore the pretty lakeside town of Bled, home to an impossibly photogenic island church, and canyon through the narrow limestone walls of Grmecica or Jereka gorge.
Don’t miss: Taking a leap of faith off a bridge and jumping into the deep, blue water below. Tense but worth it.
When to go: August to September when the skies are usually clear.
Fly to: Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, Ljubljana (LJU)
From rafting rapids to exploring remote beaches, explore our entire range of hand-crafted adventures with local guides and hosts.