If you get bored laying on the beach and hotel pools just don’t cut it, you probably want something a little more thrilling from your trips.
From skydiving over the Dubai skyline to riding the fastest roller coaster in the world, there are plenty of incredible destinations for adrenaline junkies.
In this post, we’ve rounded up 11 of the best places for thrill seekers, along with the best activities each has to offer.
Why are Adrenaline-Inducing Activities So Appealing?
Ever wondered why so many people love jumping out of planes or riding rollercoasters?
Adrenaline junkies (AKA thrill seekers, adventurers, or sensation seekers) enjoy intense activities that give a rush of adrenaline. And when you look at the science behind it, it’s easy to see why.
When you experience an adrenaline rush, your normal bodily functions are suppressed because your brain thinks you’re under threat. That means blood flow, digestion, and even pain sensitivity are all dampened.
Having these functions suppressed means we can work harder, run faster, and ultimately perform tasks that we would otherwise struggle with. Some people report feeling super-human after a rush of adrenalin.
Adrenaline is your body’s cue to get ready to fight (even though there’s no real threat when you’re on a rollercoaster). So, although our standard bodily functions are suppressed, others become heightened. Your blood pressure increases along with your blood sugar, and there’s a boost in respiration that can help add to that feeling of heightened strength.
After you experience a rush of adrenaline, your body slowly comes down from the rush of hormones. This drop in blood sugar is what makes you shake, and your legs feel weak.
This come-down is like withdrawal that can make us seek out the high again to feel that rush. Which is why they call it “adrenaline junkie”.
How to Stay Safe When Traveling
Adrenaline junkies tend to be higher risk-takers, but it’s important to remain as safe as possible when traveling.
Here are a few tips to ensure your adrenaline-fuelled trip goes as planned.
- Don’t post about your travel plans or let strangers know where you’re going. It’s best to keep those between you and close family and friends.
- Never hitchhike – we’ve all seen enough horror movies to know how that ends.
- Try to avoid unsafe parts of any cities you visit. If you’re unsure, ask the hotel manager about the safe and unsafe areas to visit.
- Always carry details of your embassy if you’re traveling abroad. This will be your safe haven should something go wrong.
- Only use ATMs during the day when there are people around. Also, try to rely on credit cards rather than cash – it’s easy to cancel a card if it gets stolen.
- If you do get mugged, don’t fight back. It’s much better to lose your belongings than get injured.
- Make sure you do your research into any activities you plan on doing. You should only go with licensed tour guides and certified providers of high-risk activities such as sky diving or scuba diving.
Traveling with kids
We always need to be extra vigilant when we travel with kids, especially if we’re going to high-adrenaline destinations.
As well as keeping ourselves and our family safe, it’s also important to keep the kids as comfortable as possible when traveling. We tend to do a lot of walking on adrenaline holidays, and we never want our kids to get tired and cranky before the day is over.
“The stroller you choose can make or break a holiday with kids. An uncomfy stroller will quickly lead to an unhappy toddler who wants to go home. But there are some great options available for hiking, long days walking around theme parks, and even trips to the beach. Do your research and choose a stroller that fits the type of adrenaline-fuelled holiday you’re taking.” – Jeff from Kid Travel
The 11 Best Destinations for Adrenaline Junkies
If you’re looking for your next adrenaline-packed adventure, we’ve rounded up 11 of the best destinations for adrenaline junkies.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown has a world-renowned reputation for adventure because of the countless activities on offer across water, land, and sky.
There are three must-try bungee jumps – one from Kawarau Bridge, a ledge jump from the Skyline Gondola, and the Nevis Bungee. The Nevis is 134 meters high and gives an 8.5-second free fall like no other.
You can also try out the biggest human catapult in the world. You’ll be shot 150 meters up over the Nevis Valley, feeling 3Gs of force as you hit speeds of over 100km/hour in 1.5 seconds.
And if you want more, there’s also a giant swing over the canyon that stands at 109 meters. You can jump yourself or be pushed by the staff at Shotover Canyon Swing, who can show you over 70 different jump styles for a photo-worthy thrill.
“If you’re traveling with family, a scenic cruise of Queenstown is a fun but less adrenaline-packed activity. Kids love these boat trips, and it’s a great way to learn more about the area on a fun day out. The Lake Wakatipu cruise is a popular choice, with panoramic mountain views and a tasty lunch on board.” – Elaine from Family Cruise Companion
Chiang Mai, Thailand
From the extreme rapids of the Mae Taeng River to the historic ruins of Wiang Kum Kam, Chiang Mai in Thailand is a whirlwind of a trip.
In Thailand’s most northern region, you can hike the slopes of Doi Suthep to see the most breathtaking sunset views or hike through the rainforests to meet the villagers who call them home.
For bike lovers, you can cycle through the winding roads of the countryside to see the fruit orchards and ancient temple ruins and then spend the evening at Chiang Mai’s famous Night Bazaar.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town has a huge list of World Heritage Sites and is home to one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Paragliding is a must to see the unbeatable views of Cape Town. But if you’re looking for more, quad biking through the natural terrain at high speeds is a great group activity for families.
There are also a few different places to go ziplining through the African sky to see all that Cape Town has to offer below. For families, the Silvermine Estate has a safe, secure zipline experience that’s great for adults and kids.
Moab, Utah, USA
Moab is the gateway to Canyonlands National Park and the unique Arches. The city is surrounded by rivers, forests, and rugged land, making it the perfect destination for adrenaline junkies.
Moab Adventure Center should be your first stop. This is the place to go for river rafting, off-roading, canyoneering, and rock climbing.
The Colorado River flows for 1450 miles, passing through Utah, and is the perfect spot for kayaking, canoeing, and river rafting.
From the river, you’ll get some awe-inspiring views of the red rock canyons and desert landscape – it’s well worth a visit.
“There are some great hiking trails in Canyonlands National Park for people of all abilities. For a short, easy hike, I’d recommend the Cave Spring or Pothole Point trails, both are less than a mile. But if you’re looking for a challenge, Druid Arch is a ten-mile tough trail leading to a spectacular arch where you’ll be able to snap some great photos.” – Adrian from Great Minds Think Hike
Known as Australia’s capital of thrills, Cairns attracts adrenaline junkies from across the world. And it’s safe to say no one leaves disappointed.
Skydiving is a must over Mission Beach in Cairns since the views are unbelievable. However, if skydiving isn’t for you, there’s also the opportunity to float above the rainforest in your very own hot air balloon.
At the Wildlife Dome, you can zipline over the crocodile enclosure or bungee jump from a 50-meter tower in the city.
If you love the water, you’ll love the river rapids, and there’s even the chance to explore underwater gardens where you can hand-feed ginormous fish on a live-aboard dive trip.
On top of the water, there’s also jet skiing, crocodile river cruises, and stand-up paddleboard tour guides on offer.
For land lovers, there are miles of mountain bike trails, horseback riding exhibitions, and quad biking trips on offer. Climb to the top of Walshs Pyramid Peak for abseiling, cliff jumping, swimming, and rainforest trekking.
If you can’t find an adrenaline rush in Cairns, you simply aren’t trying hard enough!
Banff, Alberta, Canada
Banff National Park is the perfect place for thrill-seeking outdoor lovers. If you love hiking, the Marsh Loop, Tunnel Mountain, and Sundance Canyon trails all skirt around the edges of the wilderness, weaving along creeks, rivers, and tricky rocky terrain.
“Banff National Park has some great trails for running. The terrain is a little rough, which makes for a challenging but rewarding route. Don’t forget to pack some decent running shoes and plan your route to stop at the look-outs on your way – they’re well worth stopping to see.” – Alex from Revel Sports
The river weaving through the park is great for white water rafting, with areas that are suitable for adults and children. The view of the mountains is unbeatable from atop the fast-flowing river.
You can also explore the mountain roads and alpine meadows with an all-terrain vehicle tour. The elevation alone will get your heart racing, but the relatively unused roads through the wooded valleys are spectacular to see.
Rock climbing is another must-try in the Canadian Rockies. You can either try a guided tour with an expert or go it solo if you have some experience. For a unique experience, follow the “Iron Road” to traverse iron ladders, thick cables, and suspension bridges winding their way along ridges and summits.
San Diego, California
Adrenaline junkies go to San Diego, California, for water sports. Ocean kayaking is the most popular activity here, where you’ll get the chance to see sea lions, harbor seals, and even leopard sharks if you’re lucky. Wetsuits are optional but highly recommended in the colder months.
Paddling through the La Jolla Ecological Reserve kelp forest is a fascinating experience. Or take to the skies on an 800-foot-high paragliding trip.
If you have kids, they will love the Wild Ocean Safari tour. You’ll head out into the Pacific Ocean in search of dolphins, whales, sea lions, and other marine life. Not to mention the jet boat excursions that take you out on the water on high-energy tours of the San Diego skyline.
“You can’t talk about San Diego without mentioning SeaWorld. Get up, close, and personal with the eight Orcas that call SeaWorld home, or take on the Arctic Rescue rollercoaster for an exhilarating ride on the longest straddle coaster on the West coast.” – Anne from Park Nerds
This next destination is a great balance between thrill-seeking and some much-needed relaxation. The huge waterfalls, steaming volcanoes, and jungle-lined beaches make this country a beautiful destination.
The best way to see the sights is by speeding through the jungle on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). But since Costa Rica is home to some of the world’s best water rafting rivers, you can’t miss the opportunity to try out white water rafting while you’re there.
Pacuare River is the best one for rafting, flowing for 67 miles before meeting the Caribbean.
Or try out Arenal’s hanging bridges. Stretching over two miles, these bridges are suspended over the forests and are a thrilling way to get up close to the wildlife.
In Tenorio National Park, you can take on the hour hike through the canopy to get to Rio Celeste Waterfall. Known as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, it cascades down 60 feet into an intense blue lagoon.
What list of the best destinations for adrenaline junkies would be complete without an honorable mention of Orlando, Florida?
The Universal Orlando Resort has over 30 rides and some of the largest rollercoasters and dark rides in the entire world.
The new Universal Epic Universe is coming in 2025, which promises to be the most immersive, innovative theme park yet.
“Thrill seekers travel from around the world to ride the coasters in Orlando. The Avatar Flight of Passage ride lets you climb atop a mountain banshee and take on a 3D flight over Pandora. If you’re scuba certified, try out the Epcot Divequest, where you can swim with over 2000 sea creatures in a 5.7 million gallon seawater tank.” – Alison from Everything Mouse
Peru is known for its rich culture and ancient structures, but it’s also an adrenaline junkie’s dream.
In Huaraz, you can take a running leap and bungee jump off the 30-meter Pariac Bridge. Straight after, take a hike to the Wilcacocha Lagoon, a stunning natural viewpoint of the Cordillera Blanca.
For a more down-to-earth adventure, take on a quad biking tour across Huaraz to the Wilcacocha Lagoon or further to Rataquenua and Pukaventana.
If you love mountaineering, you’ll want to visit Huascaran National Park. Inside, you’ll find the Cordillera Blanca, which has over 600 glaciers, impressive snow-capped mountains, and some of the most popular hiking trails around.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
For seasoned thrill seekers looking for a real adventure, Dubai is hard to top. You’ve probably seen incredible photos of people skydiving over the unique Dubai skyline. It’s actually one of the few places in the world where you have multiple airport options for a skydiving trip, using either private or commercial planes.
Next up on the agenda is a desert safari. From camel riding and sand boarding to ATV quad trekking and belly dancing, these tours are made with adrenaline junkies in mind.
If you’re traveling with kids, you should also visit Aventura Park in Mushrif Park. It has 24 zip lines, five obstacle courses with over 80 obstacles, and a beautiful nature trail to explore.
You’ll never run out of things to do in Dubai, and it’s the perfect destination for adrenaline junkies looking for something thrilling.
Ok, so maybe Mallorca isn’t the most obvious place to visit for adrenaline junkies. But there are a few interesting options here and not everyone wants to spend their holiday hiking or skydiving. Sometimes it’s nice to mix a bit of adventure with some relaxing on the beach time!
If that’s the case for you, then consider diving with sharks in Mallorca at the Palma Aquarium.
“Palma Aquarium offers a thrilling experience for those seeking an adventure with sharks. The Big Blue, the deepest shark tank in Europe, provides an opportunity to dive with a mixture of 11 tiger and sandbar sharks, an unforgettable experience. In addition to diving with sharks, visitors can explore the other marine species living in this protected space, raising awareness about marine life. The aquarium also offers a complete program of activities for the entire family, making it one of the best aquariums in Spain. If you want to get to know the sharks better before diving with them, you can learn about the four species of sharks in the aquarium, including the sand tiger shark and the blacktip reef shark.” – Tom Thorns from Mallorca Info
There are destinations across the world bursting with activities for thrill seekers. From jungle trekking in the rainforest to zip lining over crocodiles in Cairns, there is something for everyone.
The real struggle is choosing where you’ll go. Some of the destinations here are better suited to families, while others are much better for adults and solo travelers looking for adventure, so choose wisely.