Here at The Active Times, we’re big proponents of off-the-beaten-path adventures and exploring wilderness around the globe, but that mentality occasionally means that cities are overlooked.
Urban centers offer their own form of adventure—and some even satisfy the most active outdoor enthusiasts—so we decided to honor and highlight the 15 cities you should absolutely see in your lifetime.
Among the many criteria, cities on the list were judged on access to outdoor adventure, greenspace (or preserved land), general aesthetic, culinary chops, nightlife, art scene and friendliness of locals (which played a small part in the rankings). The chosen cities were picked from around the globe and, hopefully, offer a small sampling of the diversity that’s out there.
From South Carolina to South Africa, these are the 15 cities you need to see in your lifetime.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Surrounded by towering peaks, lush rain forest and beautiful beaches, Rio is not your typical city. Instead, it’s an adventurer’s paradise where spontaneity rules. Whatever your preference in adventure, be it outdoor exploration, samba celebrations, football matches or something you have yet to discover, you’re sure to fall in love with Rio in one way or another. Join in on a celebration in the neighborhood of Lapa, see wildlife like monkeys and lounge on the beaches that have been recognized as some of the best in the world.
The city where the Civil War began undoubtedly tops the list of must-see places for American history buffs, but the historic charms of Charleston don’t stop there. Regularly ranking as a top travel destination, this city has a reputation for culinary excellence, religious expression and friendly locals. Wander the cobblestone streets, lined with buildings that date back to the 1700s, and stop into one of the many incredible restaurants that serve southern fare with a modern flare. Round out your visit with a trip to Fort Sumter, a bike ride over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and a round of golf at one of the 20-plus courses in the area.