When it comes to adventure, people tend to swing one of two ways: they either stick to the straight and narrow, finding comfort on their couch and enjoying the simplicities of freshly brewed tea, a Netflix marathon, and a warm blanket, or they hurl themselves out of planes at break-neck speeds from 15,000 feet above the ground.
For the most fearless among us, they simply can’t get enough of the fast-paced thrills. Whether it's barrelling out of rickety 4-seat Cessnas at terminal velocity, catapulting toward earth with only a bungee cord for support, or mountain biking down sheer cliffs with no hope of turning back, there are plenty of cities that specialize in heart-pumping action, ready to squash that hunger for adrenaline.
10 Queenstown, New Zealand
Known locally and internationally as one of the adventure capitals of the world, there is absolutely no shortage of hair-raising, blood-pumping activities down in New Zealand’s South Island city of Queenstown.
Adrenaline junkies can kick off their trip by flying off Kawarau Bridge, the first ever bungee jumping site. If the thirst for heights won’t settle, then the exhilarating Nevis Swing out will do the trick.
Of course, there’s always the option of tumbling out of a plane at 15,000 feet with stellar views of Queenstown’s beautiful mountains and lakes below. This city is not for the faint of heart.
9 Cape Town, South Africa
If uncompromising views are what you’re after, then tumbling head-first from 15,000 feet above Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, False Bay, and the South Atlantic Ocean, then Cape Town has got you covered.
For those who prefer to keep their thrills closer to the ground, there’s plenty more in store. The name Shark Alley isn’t just a fancy label - adrenaline seekers have the option to dive with great white sharks in what could only be equally exhilarating and terrifying.
To round out the heart-pumping options, visitors can abseil down Table Mountain or try to ride some of the monster waves at Dungeons Beach
8 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Just because Sin City is notorious for its flashy casinos and electric, unmatched nightlife, that doesn’t mean that it’s all that Las Vegas has to offer.
If sliding a couple of pennies into the slots doesn’t rile you up enough, you could always take an 855-foot leap from the 108th floor of the Stratosphere. Still craving more? Then why not rack up the G-force while piloting your very own fighter jet with the Sky Combat Ace company?
For something a little tamer, moderate thrillseekers can jump on the Slotzilla zip line, which takes riders over the busy Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas.
7 Whistler, BC, Canada
Working a visit to Whistler into any foreseeable travel plans is never a bad idea. Regardless of the time of year, this small Canadian town, nestled in the heart of the Rockies, has so much to offer thrillseekers and tourists from all over.
Winter sees Whistler transformed into one of the most popular skiing and snowboarding destinations, with black diamond runs that will make you wish you brought a second pair of pants. In the summertime, mountain bike down the slopes instead. Plus, the long list of tough yet serene hikes brings trekkers from every corner of the globe.
Don’t forget the Sasquatch Zipline, which is the longest zip line in all of North America
6 Macau, China
In China’s answer to the USA’s Las Vegas, thrillseekers will be licking their lips at the thought of all the adrenaline-pumping activities on offer. Like Sin City, Macau’s main focus is its casinos, but that doesn’t mean that the city is one-dimensional by any stretch of the imagination.
There’s no competition when it comes to the number one most terrifying activity (besides going bankrupt, perhaps) - say hello to the Macau Tower bungee jump. At 764 feet above the ground, it earns the title as the world’s highest bungee jump. If that doesn’t get the heart racing, then nothing in Macau will.
5 Kathmandu, Nepal
It would be remiss to leave Kathmandu off any adrenaline-focused city for one main reason: its proximity to the Himalayas - the world’s tallest mountain range. Mount Everest is without a doubt the poster boy for Kathmandu’s adventure scene, but the hike to the base camp (or to the summit) is only one of the hundreds of challenging ascents in the region. Tucked away between the mountains, Kathmandu is the starting point for the majority of adventures in the area.
If you don’t have the patience for hiking and prefer to catch a glimpse of the mountains from above, you can always tumble out of a plane.
4 Leon, Nicaragua
If you’ve never visited Nicaragua, odds are you’ll struggle to point out its location on a map without some help. However, once you’ve boarded down the side of an active volcano, there’s no way you’ll ever forget about Leon.
After hurtling down the slope on at close to 65 miles an hour, you can swap the volcano board for a surfboard and try something of a different tune. The rocky waves in Leon and in San Juan del Sur turn plenty of heads and are popular among surf fanatics. For something a little slower-paced, there are plenty of hiking and trekking options through jungles and up volcanos.
3 Shaanxi, China
The Chinese city of Shaanxi makes the list for one reason and one reason only: the Mount Huashan ascent. There are no two ways about it - it’s the world’s most dangerous hike.
Anyone without irrational courage would struggle walking on a few poorly-nailed-together planks of wood 30 feet in the air. There’s no safety net if you fall, and 30 feet could certainly break a few bones. Imagine that, but now instead of 30 feet, it’s 7,000 feet up in the air. Well, that’s Mount Huashan, and that’s why Shaanxi sits at the top of adrenaline junkies’ bucket lists.
2 Livingstone, Zambia
Zambia might not feature on many wannabe-travelers’ bucket lists, but Livingstone sits high on any thrillseekers’ list of essential cities to check out.
The main attraction in the area is the Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. At a length of more than a kilometer and a height of over 100 meters (according to VictoriaFallsTourism), nothing else even comes close.
Adrenaline junkies can hang over the edge at the Devil’s Pool or bungee head-first from the Victoria Falls Bridge. The Zambezi River below is also a popular spot for class-5 whitewater rafting and is home to stunning and intimidating wildlife.
1 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi slides into this list somewhat out of left-field, but its presence is certainly justified. Boasting the fastest roller coaster in the world, coaster enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies flock from all corners of the world to see what Abu Dhabi has to offer. The ride in question, Ferrari World’s Formula Rossa, sends riders forward at an explosive top speed of 149.1mph.
If that wasn’t reason enough to stop in and say hello, there’s also jet skiing in the Pacific Gulf, 4x4 desert safaris that will have you holding on to the edge of your seat, and the Yas Island Aqua Park for something at a slightly slower pace.