Top 10 cities that are great for kayaking

ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

You'd be right if you thought a city built over innumerable canals would be great for kayaking, yet only recently have the colourful craft appeared here. With most of the city's grand palaces, mansions and churches sitting on the water's edge, you'll get an eyeful of elegance. Paddle across the Neva River and you can rest on a stony beach right under Peter and Paul Fortress. See visit-petersburg.ru

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

This city of turrets and spires, scattered over numerous islands knitted together by bridges, appears almost to float on the harbour, making for perfect appreciation from water level. Head across Lake Mälaren to the royal baroque palace of Drottningholm, a long, lovely paddle along willow-lined canals into the countryside, accompanied by dancing dragonflies. You can also paddle out to the Stockholm Archipelago of some 30,000 islands. See visitstockholm.com

VANCOUVER, CANADA

Few cities have such a magnificent harbour location as Vancouver, and kayaking here doesn't just let you ogle downtown's gleaming skyscrapers but the distant mountains behind its north shore too. The energetic can head around the forested peninsula of Stanley Park, the more sedate can stick to False Creek, an urban setting where you can nevertheless encounter cormorants, seals and perhaps the occasional stray whale. See tourismvancouver.com

WROCLAW, POLAND

Poland's most pleasant city sits at a confluence of rivers and spreads over 12 islands, making it perfect for paddling, though you need to be wary of strong currents on the main Odra River. Set off from the marina at the zoo for the best views of the old town and its whopping hilltop castle. The city's outskirts feature leafy countryside where you can spot cranes and herons. See visitwroclaw.eu

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

This city sitting on one of the world's most inspiring harbours and peninsular landscapes has abundant opportunities for kayaking while wildlife spotting. Hout Bay is an easy paddling destination for seal and dolphin encounters, while the False Bay coastline introduces you to the penguin colony at Boulders Beach. Strong kayakers can head towards the wildly rugged Cape of Good Hope, and encounters with whales. See capetown.travel

BERLIN, GERMANY

Though not the most obvious of kayaking cities, the Spree River and various canals in the German capital provide a fine waterborne workout and lead past top museums, Potsdamer Platz and the sprawling Tiergarten park, as well as through the raffish, newly trendy Kreuzberg district. Head to former summer retreat Potsdam and you can kayak past palaces, villas and well-tended parks on a meandering lake. See visitberlin.de

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

You can kayak around the eastern bays of Auckland harbour from city centre to Mission Bay and onwards to Kohimarama Beach. You can also strike out across the harbour on a 90-minute paddle to Rangitoto volcanic island. The Hauraki Gulf has some 50 other islands, so take your pick. Try Browns Island for its volcanic crater, or Motuihe for its New Zealand birds and other wildlife. See aucklandnz.com

HOUSTON, US

Buffalo Bayou Park allows an urban escape while barely leaving downtown. Take to its bayou by kayak among herons and past the occasional alligator soaking up the sun on the riverbanks, and you can see skyscrapers in the background. In March, an annual regatta gets families onto the water for races and activities, including the largest kayak race in Texas, which takes in a 24-kilometre stretch of bayou. See visithoustontexas.com

OSLO, NORWAY

Oslo sits on a splendid fiord that supplies the city's favourite recreation area in summer. You can zip out past summer cottages and sea cliffs, passing several islands dotted with historic monuments. Lovely beaches provide good places to rest. The Fredrikstad and Hvaler archipelagos provide a superb array of both easy and challenging paddles. Strangely, you need a licence to kayak, so you'd best join a guided kayaking tour. See visitoslo.com

Advertisement

JUNEAU, US

Alaska's capital is a great kayaking base, from which you can paddle out to the Mendenhall Glacier in an area that also features waterfalls, icebergs and stunning mountain scenery. You can spot wildlife such as whales, otters, bald eagles and maybe even a bear at the water's edge. When you're done, you can sit in a waterfront restaurant and tuck into fresh prawns or salmon. See traveljuneau.com

Comments