Adventure Travel Destinations for 2021

Cycling along the Gardena Pass in the Dolomites is a mountain biker's dream
Cycling along the Gardena Pass in the Dolomites is a mountain biker's dream | © Jochen Tack / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Cassam Looch
Social Editor22 March 2021

The thirst for adventure is a big part of the travel experience for many of us. As we start planning our next trip, here’s a guide to some of our favourite adventure destinations around the world and some of the thrills you can expect to find there – resulting in a high-octane list that’s just perfect for 2021.

Wild swimming, Scotland

Wild swimming has seen a huge rise in popularity during the past 12 months. For many of us, it was the only way to cool off last summer, with many pools and public swimming baths closed due to the global pandemic. We’ve looked on enviously at the people lucky enough to live near open water, where swimming is a viable option, and once we can take trip up to Scotland to enjoy the fresh air, we’ll be checking out the best spots to take a dip. If you’re feeling particularly brave you can even swim in Loch Ness, and who knows what you’ll find there.

Take a dip in the cool waters of the Isle of Skye | © Julian Eales / Alamy Stock Photo

Surfing, Galicia, Spain

One of Spain’s less visited regions, Galicia sits at the top of Portugal on the Atlantic coast. There’s plenty of history and culture inland, but those in the know head out to the beaches for a taste of something different. The surf here is exceptional, with the added bonus of not being as crowded as some other European surfing destinations.

Try surfing in Galicia | © EyeEm / Alamy Stock Photo

Ziplining, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the destinations we’ve been highlighting since the start of the year. There’s a concerted effort towards sustainability here, with the precious rainforests crucial to both the tourism industry and the general feel-good atmosphere that makes this country one of the happiest places in the world. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, book your stay in an ecolodge and sign up for a ziplining experience with a difference. Gliding through the treetops at speed is one of those bucket-list travel items that really shouldn’t be missed.

Try your hand at ziplining in Costa Rica | © Charles Wollertz / Alamy Stock Photo

Horseriding, Menorca, Spain

If you’re planning on a break on one of Spain’s stunning islands, rest and relaxation are sure to be on the agenda, but that doesn’t mean a complete lack of adventure. We’re big fans of the Balearic Islands, where scuba-diving has always been a popular activity, but as an alternative, how about taking a horse riding trek to explore one of the beautiful destinations in the area? Menorca has a wonderful mix of resorts, apartments and local places to stay to suit your needs, with exciting horseback trips available taking in the caves, coves, coasts and history of the island.

Take a horse riding trek on Menorca | © Ian Watt / Alamy Stock Photo

Mountain biking, Dolomites, Italy

There are three popular methods most people opt for when tackling the Dolomites: driving through the winding roads, surrounded by steep mountains, sounds heavenly, and the reality matches the fantasy. For an altogether slower experience, you can go hiking, taking in the incredible scenery at your own pace. Both are great, but we think the ultimate Dolomites experience is achieved using pedal power. There are several cycling routes that are known around the world, and you’ll find a number of other like-minded individuals joining you along the way.

Cycling through the Dolomites is a popular way to enjoy the countryside | © Wig Worland / Alamy Stock Photo

Explore the Everglades, Florida

Thrill-seekers aren’t short of things to do in Florida – there are some of the biggest and best theme park rides in the USA here, and the food scene in Miami is a perfect alternative if you’re looking for great street food. When you picture the Sunshine State, however, the tropical wetlands of the Everglades may be the other image that pops into your mind. The swampy rivers can be seen on foot as you can walk along the elevated boardwalks, but for the most authentic experience, you have to take an airboat tour; the vessels have a giant whirring fan that power them across the water, and it’s a unique adventure you will want to make part of any Florida itinerary.

Take a trip on an airboat in the Everglades, Florida | © ADS / Alamy Stock Photo

Paddling with dolphins, California

It’s hard to pin down exactly what to do in California, given the sheer size of the West Coast state, the immense list of potential activities and the incredible array of towns and cities. Los Angeles is a favourite, combining the glamour of Hollywood with the energy of a thriving Downtown scene, but we recommend a trip up the coast to Monterey. This affluent part of California is famous for its giant villas, great roads and beautiful beaches. You can also take a paddle in a canoe, where you are very likely to share the water with seals and dolphins. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is impossible to forget.

Paddle with dolphins and seals in Monterey Bay, California | © PBWPIX / Alamy Stock Photo

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