Head for heights? 10 of the world's most exhilarating aerial adventures

Sophie Butler
Take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia's 'fairy chimneys' - Ayhan Altun

Death-defying and spectacular, we select 10 great rides to try in Europe.

1. Bungee jump in Berkshire

Nerves of steel are required to fall the equivalent of 30 storeys attached only by an elastic cord around the ankle. The UK Bungee Club’s flagship location is at Bray Lake in Windsor where solo or tandem bungee jumps are available from a 300ft crane platform over water. The minimum age is 14 years (14 to 16-year-olds need a parent or guardian’s permission, and over-50s require a doctor’s note).

Single jump from £99, tandem from £198 (ukbungee.co.uk). Rooms from £120, B&B, at Castle Hotel Windsor (castlehotelwindsor.com).

2. Tiger Moth over Duxford

The Tiger Moth is a British-designed biplane with an open cockpit dating back to the Thirties. Trial flying lessons are open to people aged from 14 to 89 years at Duxford Airport, home of the Imperial War Museum near Cambridge. The price includes loan of a Biggles-style flying jacket, helmet and goggles.

Tiger Moth Flight Experience from £149 for a 15-minute outing with Classic Wings (classic-wings.co.uk). March to October. Stay at Cambridge Lodge at Audley End (sleeps four) from £450 for three nights, self catering. English Heritage (english-heritage.org.uk).

Would you brave a microlight? Credit: Folio Images

3. Microlight in Wiltshire 

It takes around 10 hours of dual instruction to fly solo in a microlight, a flimsy-looking light aircraft with giant wings stretched over an open cockpit, but taster flights are available at British Microlight Aircraft Association centres. The Wiltshire centre offers itineraries over the Wiltshire Downs from its base near Avebury.

Pegasus XL Flexwing from £63 for a 20-minute flight (wiltsmicrolights.com). Stay at Fishlock’s Cottage in Avebury (sleeps two) from £299 for two nights, self catering. National Trust Cottages (nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays). 

4. Zip wire in Wales

Thrill seekers aged 10 years and over can try the Velocity 2 zip wire at Penrhyn Slate Quarry, near Bethesda in north Wales. The fastest zip line in the world and the longest in Europe, this thrill ride extends 1.5km (almost a mile) over water on an incline that creates speeds over 100mph. On a clear day you can see Snowdonia, Anglesey and the Isle of Man (if you can keep your eyes open, that is). 

Velocity 2 from £65 for a two-hour session including two rides. Zip World (zipworld.co.uk). Rooms from £89 at The Royal Victoria Hotel in Llanberis (theroyalvictoria.co.uk).

Give it a whirl: the fastest zip line in the world Credit: zipworld.co.uk

5. Balloons over Cappadocia

The mesmerising “fairy chimneys” of Cappadocia in Turkey’s Central Anatolia region are best seen from above. A geological oddity, these honeycombed hills date from at least the late 6th century BC. Head up in a hot-air balloon and glide over Monks Valley to take in the natural minaret-like pillars from the air. Flights usually last around an hour, followed by a champagne breakfast.

Abercrombie & Kent has a three-night Highlights of Cappadocia trip from £1,800pp. Includes flights, transfers, accommodation and hot-air balloon ride (abercrombiekent.co.uk).

6. Parachute jump in Fife

Anyone over 16 years can try a tandem jump at Skydive St Andrews in Fife, a centre which is affiliated to the British Parachute Association (BPA). Novices are strapped to an instructor before exiting the aircraft at around 10,000ft to fall through the air at around 120 miles per hour for 30 seconds. Once the instructor has opened the parachute to slow up for landing, there’s time to admire the spectacular views of the Firth of Forth and Edinburgh.

Tandem Jump from £270 February to mid December (skydivestandrews.co.uk). Rooms from £100, B&B, at The Ship Inn in Elie (shipinn.scot).

Learn to fly solo on a paraglider Credit: melodysky.com

7. Paraglide in Verbier

Within five days, a beginner can learn to fly solo on a British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BPHA) course offered by Verbier Summits in the Swiss resort of Verbier. Sitting in a harness and suspended below a broad fabric wing, initial lessons concentrate on taking off and landing in these lightweight, engine-free aircraft. Accommodation is in the village of Le Chable, close to the landing fields, with transfers to the training hill included in the price.

Elementary Pilot course from £1,290 B&B for six nights including instruction. Excludes travel and equipment rental (from £162). May to September. Verbier Summits (verbier-summits.com).

8. Cable car in the Swiss Alps

Ascending Alpine mountains by cable car to admire the scenery is a classic summertime excursion in Switzerland. However, the CabriO, which climbs the 6,230ft Mount Stanserhorn near Lucerne, is open top. Up to 30 people can stand on the cable car’s roofless upper deck for an uninterrupted panorama of the landscape. Daily from early May to mid-November, with evening ascents from Thursday to Saturday.

Weekend package from £499 for two nights B&B at three-star Hotel des Alpes in Lucerne, including flights, rail transfers and CabriO excursion. Valid until Oct 30 2019. Swiss Travel Centre (swisstravelcentre.com).

Become a master of the trapeze Credit: Gilles Trillard/Da Balaia

9. Carousel in New England

The “SkyScreamer” carousel is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Strapped into open-air seats and suspended on long chains more than 400ft high, this ride is one of the tallest in the world and rotates at speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour over the Connecticut river at the Six Flags theme park in Agawam, Massachusetts. United States travel specialist Bon Voyage offers a fly-drive package which includes two nights in Springfield, four miles from the park.

New England fly-drive from £1,295 for seven nights, room only, including flights and car hire. May to October. Bon Voyage (bon-voyage.co.uk).

10. Flying trapeze in the Algarve

From high on the cliffs overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean, children aged from 11 years and adults can experience the thrill of flying through the air on a trapeze at Club Med’s Da Balaia resort on Portugal’s south coast. Group lessons are included in the package price at this 389-room resort near a sandy beach with two restaurants and three pools. Crèches and clubs are provided for children aged from four months to 17 years.

Da Balaia resort from £896 for seven nights including flights and all meals. Excludes transfers. March to October. Club Med (clubmed.com)