The Active City Index

Adam Warrington5 min readNews

Keeping active is an excellent way of staying healthy in body and mind. By venturing into the great outdoors, you can find plenty of adventurous activities around the UK, giving you the perfect opportunity to slip on your women's or men's walking boots and explore the attractions and activities around the country.

We wanted to find out where in the UK you have access to the most activities, so we took a look at the number of different activities and attractions such as parks, hiking trails and sports complexes in comparison to each cities population, to discover which cities have the most on offer and which cities have the most access to green space and outdoor activities.

The UK’s most active cities

Looking at a whole range of activities and attractions, from ski & snowboard areas to walking and biking trails, we were able to discover which cities have the most access to adventurous activities.

The UK’s most active cities

1. Southampton - 19.90 attractions and activities per 100,000 people

With a total of 49 adventurous activities and attractions, equating to 19.90 per 100,000 people, Southampton tops the list. The port city sits on the south coast of the country, offering plenty of opportunities for people to get stuck into water sports and other exciting activities. In the heart of Southampton, locals can find the Southampton Water Activities Centre, where adults and children alike can take water activity courses.

2. Norwich - 18.76 attractions and activities per 100,000 people

Placing second on our list of active cities is Norwich. Home to the Broads National Park which offers a range of activities, from boating to arts and crafts, Norwich boasts sixteen walking trails and 18 parks which contribute to the total of 40 adventurous activities and attractions in the city, equating to 18.76 per 100,000 people.

3. Gloucester - 18.66 attractions and activities per 100,000 people

Rounding out the top three most active cities in the UK is Ipswich. With 28 varying activities, including the Ski and Snowboard centre that has a 255 metre main slope, Gloucester offers 18.66 attractions per 100,000 people and is one of the highest on our list.

The UK’s most active cities table

The best UK cities for parks

While not every UK city on our list offers activities such as water sports or ski & snowboard areas, every city has a number of parks for people to enjoy. But where can you find the most parks per person?

The UK’s top 3 cities for parks

1. York - 9.76 parks per 100,000 people

Having featured in our overall top three, we already know that York is a great city to explore the outdoors and find a little adventure, but it is also one of the best places for accessibility to parks, boasting a total of 15.

2. Norwich - 8.44 parks per 100,000 people

While Norwich actually has more parks than York in total, when we take into account the population of the city, the 18 Norwich parks equate to 8.44 for every 100,000 people in the city.

3. Ipswich - 8.39 parks per 100,000 people

Again, Ipswich places in our top three, offering plenty of access to green spaces to its residents and visitors. With 15 parks in total, there are 8.39 for every 100,000 people.

The UK’s top cities for parks table

The Cities with the Fewest Parks

The UK’s cities with the fewest parks

1. Luton - 1.16 parks per 100,000 people

Despite being one of the most populous towns in the UK, Luton offers the lowest number of parks per person, with just 1.16 parks per 100,000 people.

2. Slough - 1.22 parks per 100,000 people

20 miles west of central London is Slough, which offers just 1.22 parks per 100,000 people. Slough has just 2 parks in the whole city, meaning its relatively small population still doesn’t get access to a great deal of open park space.

3. Blackpool - 1.25 parks per 100,000 people

Rounding off our top three cities with the fewest parks is the seaside resort of Blackpool, with a measly 1.25 parks per 100,000 people. Blackpool is known more for its old-school amusement rather than access to open green spaces.

The mental health benefits associated with getting outdoors and enjoying green spaces are vitally important and inspired Marlon Patrice to create We Go Outside Too.

The UK’s cities with the fewest parks table

The best UK cities for outdoor trails

If you want to really get exploring in the UK’s great outdoors you can find plenty of outdoor trails up and down the country, some perfect for hiking, others perfect for walking. So, where can you find the most trails?

The UK’s top 3 cities for outdoor trails

1. Slough - 14.04 outdoor trails per 100,000 people

Slough is a great place to visit if you’re a keen walker. With 20 walking trails near to the city, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore the local area.

2. Bolton - 12.03 outdoor trails per 100,000 people

York has a total of seventeen outdoor trails, with both walking and biking trails to enjoy. The picturesque city is an ideal place to explore by foot or by bike, so make sure to take advantage of these on your next visit.

3. Cambridge - 11.99 outdoor trails per 100,000 people

Rounding off our top three outdoor trails is Cambridge, with nineteen outdoor trails all of which are walking routes, equating to 11.99 for every 100,000 people in the city.

The UK’s top cities for outdoor trails table

The best UK cities for adventure sports

Looking at ski & snowboard areas as well as water sports, we found that some cities had a number of activities on offer, while others had none at all. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous than hiking, these are the cities for you.

The UK’s top 3 cities for adventure sports

1. Brighton - 2.07 adventure sports per 100,000 people

Brighton is known for its pier and beach, with plenty of fun activities and attractions that keep tourists coming back every year. With six water sports attractions on offer, you can find plenty of adventure out on the water in Brighton.

2. Southampton - 1.62 adventure sports per 100,000 people

Boasting both ski & snowboard areas and water sports attractions in Southampton, the city has plenty of variety, offering 1.62 adventure sports attractions per 100,000 people.

3. Plymouth - 1.54 adventure sports per 100,000 people

Being located on the south coast, it makes sense for Plymouth to have plenty of opportunities for water sports. With a total of four water sports attractions, including the Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre, Plymouth has 1.54 adventure sports per 100,000 people.

The UK’s top cities for parks table

The best UK cities for sports complexes

Not every adventure has to be outdoors, and there are countless sports complexes up and down the country that offer that adventure behind their doors. From climbing walls to ice rinks, sports complexes are the perfect places to get the adrenaline pumping.

The UK’s top 3 cities for sports complexes

1. Ipswich - 5.03 sports complexes per 100,000 people

With a total of nine sports complexes, Ipswich has a wide variety, from skateboard parks to swimming pools.

2. Cambridge - 4.42 sports complexes per 100,000 people

Cambridge’s seven sports complexes include the Cambridge County Polo Club and the Ice Arena, offering lots of opportunities for adventurous activities.

3. Dundee - 4.06 sports complexes per 100,000 people

Dundee has six sports complexes to explore, with some exciting activities on offer, including bubble soccer and climbing.

The UK’s top cities for parks table

Methodology:

Looking at 50 of the most populated cities in the UK we used Tripadvisor to find the number of the following attractions in each city:

– Parks

– Biking trails

– Ski & snowboard areas

– Water sports

– Sports complexes

Walking trails were taken from Walking Britain.

Using population figures from World Population Review, we compared the number of these attractions to the population to give the number per 100,000 people.

Adam is a lover of the outdoors who’s recently moved back to rural Lancashire after living in the urban confines of Leeds for the past few years. His favourite pastimes include cooking, playing countless sports to a barely acceptable standard and exploring the local countryside with his dog, Chip.

When the weather gets in the way, Adam can be found at home watching films & TV and listening to music. If he’s not there, he’ll be in the pub down the road.