The best cities to switch off and explore

When the daily grind begins to lose its charm, a travel adventure could be just the thing you need to reconnect with nature. These awesome cities offer outdoor adventure and natural beauty like no other place on the planet. So switch off your phone and set up your out of office – it couldn’t be easier to leave the digital world behind.

Rio de Janeiro

A playground for travelers, this beautiful city is well known for its flamboyant Carnaval, but dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a wealth of natural attractions sure to bring you back down to earth. Walk through rows of towering palm trees and Brazilian flora and fauna in Jardim Botânico; ride a cable car to the summit of Sugar Loaf Mountain and relish in the sweeping views of the city; hike or catch the train to the top of Corcovado mountain to see the iconic Cristo Redentor statue; and when finished, take a moment to appreciate your surroundings from one of Rio’s many beaches including the famous Copacabana.

Getting around: Taxis are plentiful and cheap, the metro service is efficient and convenient and the extensive bus network, though sometimes daunting, will take you anywhere you need to go.


Poised between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain range, Vancouver offers an impressive cultural scene, artisanal food and endless outdoor activities for adventurous travellers. Ten minutes from the city’s downtown is Stanley Park, where forest walks, beachside strolls and a pretty rose garden await. Pick up the pace and head to the thrilling Capilano Suspension Bridge Park where you can sneak a peek at the West Coast rainforest and enjoy incredible views of the Capilano River gorge. For the ultimate hike, the 10-mile Wild Pacific Trail, which skirts the west coast of Vancouver Island is a must.

Getting around: Vancouver is easily explored on foot, by bike, by bus, by the SkyTrain or by the SeaBus. Phew! Basically, it’s very easy to get around.

San Francisco

In the laid-back city of San Francisco you’ll find an eclectic mix of architecture, iconic bridges, steep streets and teeth-rattling cable cars. With so much culture, history and flower power to celebrate, San Francisco is a mecca for travellers but better yet, it’s full of natural wonders and open-air activities too. Let the wind whip your hair as you cycle across the famous Golden Gate Bridge; delight in the panoramic views of the Marin Headlands and Lands End from Baker Beach; or ride a ferry to Angel Island where you’ll see San Francisco’s skyline shimmer from afar.

Getting around: Pack a pair of sensible shoes, as you’ll be climbing plenty of hilly streets. The city bus service is also very reliable.


Bangkok is a buzzing megacity that’s full of surprises. For every glitzy Western-style building there’s a traditional well-tended shrine; for every noisy and crowded street downtown there’s a serene and quiet temple. Take a tour of the city’s canals and explore the network of waterways as you steer past floating vendors, an orchid farm and a riverside café. Catch a train to the archaeological ruin of Ayutthaya, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and walk amongst the incredible temples and Buddha statues of this 14th century former city. Those in need of some extra zen can take up T’ai Chi in Lumphini Park – at the break of dawn locals come here to start their routines and visitors are welcome to join in.

Getting around: Take the Skytrain or Metro - both are fast and affordable modes of public transport.

Cape Town

With golden beaches, wild forests and rugged peaks, Cape Town is a haven for travelers looking to reconnect with nature. South Africa’s most celebrated landmark, Table Mountain, is a dominating feature of the city’s skyline. Walkers can reach the summit via a number of well-marked trails or alternatively you can ride a cable car for 360-degree views across Table Bay. Feeling brave? Abseil Africa’s 112m abseil route down the mountain is a must for adventurous types. Walk amongst the lush indigenous flora at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden; see the penguins at Foxy Beach or dip your toes in the sea at Seaforth Beach.

Getting around: Uber is reliable and cheap in Cape Town; many hotels also provide complimentary shuttle services.

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