The ‘Fusion Trip’: City and Nature Getaways

Green Leafed Trees Near Concrete Buildings

Photograph by Francesco Ungaro

Time Out has released its first global Travel Survey. Revealing that travellers are in search of a fusion of city and nature for their future trips.

Time Out debuts its first global Travel Survey. Taken from a poll of more than 21,000 people, the findings reveal that travellers are in search of a fusion of city and nature for their future trips, with a third of people planning a city getaway this year.

Even though the coronavirus pandemic saw city centres emptied in 2020, Time Out’s survey reveals that many travellers (41%) are still craving the unique culture and diversity of city holidays in 2021, and just as many travellers (42%) are also planning nature and countryside escapes.

More people will be looking to travel with partners (16%) and family (14%) than friends (10%), with the majority (67%) saying they will travel by plane.

We believe that cities will bounce back more quickly than anyone expects, given the huge pent-up demand for food, drink, culture and nightlife. Nevertheless, we’re expecting the surge in nature travel to continue too, with many people still preferring outdoor activities.” James Manning, Time Out International Editor.

A fifth of survey respondents (19%) said they want to travel to both city and nature destinations this year. Which led the editors of Time Out to agree that when travel resumes there will be a greater pull toward two-part city and nature travel experiences – Fusion Trips. This ‘fusion trip’ trend will involve travellers exploring city neighbourhoods and their food and drink scenes while discovering less-crowded culture spots and attractions. Following a few days of city exploration, travellers will venture out to find nearby nature trails, wide-open spaces and other outdoor activities.

The city experts at Time Out have identified the 15 leading city destinations that are perfect for a ‘fusion trip’ once international travel reopens. The places combine exciting cities to explore that also have easy access to an incredible nature spot nearby.

As outlined by Time Out…

Europe & Middle East Fusion Trips:

Barcelona and Montseny

After a few days checking out the cathedrals, museums and vermouth bars of the Catalan capital, escape to Montseny – a beautiful and relatively untouched stretch of forested mountains less than an hour from the city. It’s at its most spectacular when the leaves change colour in autumn, making it a great place for a dose of nature in the second half of the year.

Dubai and Hatta

For a short city stay in Dubai, Time Out Market will soon be open offering the best culinary and cultural experiences in the city under one roof. After tasting the best cuisines, take a 90-minute drive out of the urban area to the mountain town of Hatta: an outdoor adventurist’s dream. Nestled in the Hajar Mountains, Hatta is home to hiking trails of varying difficulty and heaps of wildlife, while Hatta Dam is a stunning spot for kayaking or pedal boating. Set up camp under the stars, or check into a vintage airstream trailer or mountainside lodge to get away from it all.

Istanbul and Büyükada

Spend a few incredible days in the tumult that is Istanbul, then hop a boat to Büyükada: the largest of the nine Princes Islands on the Marmara Sea. It’s only a half-hour ride from the mainland, but with acres of green, spectacular panoramas from its forested peak and a ban on motorised vehicles, it has a feel that’s completely its own.

Lisbon and Comporta

Once, Lisbon’s elite escaped to the nearby royal retreat of Sintra. Nowadays, clued-up residents of the Portuguese capital head instead to Comporta: a former fishing village just over an hour from Lisbon, surrounded by water, dense forest, nesting birds, rice paddies and one of Europe’s most spectacular beaches. It’s the perfect complement to a few days exploring Lisbon’s tile-studded streets, traditional shops and, of course, an unforgettable culinary and cultural experience of the best of the city at Time Out Market Lisbon.

London and South Downs

In a normal year, millions of visitors from the UK and beyond visit London’s attractions, shops and museums – but not many think to extend their trip southwards to discover one of the most beautiful bits of Britain. Spanning three counties, the South Downs is a paradise of chocolate-box villages, intensely green grass, dark skies and hilltop walks, all only a short journey from London.

Madrid and Sierra de Guadarrama

After a few days in the tapas bars, flea markets, parks and museums of the Spanish capital, head north for a dose of spectacular nature in the nearby Guadarrama mountains. The scenery here is so breathtaking that there’s even a hiking trail inspired by JRR Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

Paris and Seine Normande

You could spend a lifetime exploring Paris’s bistros, bars and boulevards. But for a breath of fresh air, head upstream and spend a few days in the Boucles de la Seine Normande regional nature park. This dramatic, verdant landscape traces the River Seine as it meanders through Normandy, passing by towns, traditional cottages and ancient abbeys.

USA Fusion Trips:

Chicago and Indiana Dunes

Once you’ve soaked up Chicago’s architectural marvels and visited Time Out Market Chicago in the city’s up-and-coming West Loop neighbourhood, head along the shore of Lake Michigan. Just over the Indiana state line, there’s sand and solitude at the Indiana Dunes National Park. You’ll find 50 miles of dune trails for summer as well as wetlands, prairies, rivers and forests that are perfect for snowshoeing and spotting animal tracks in the winter snowfall.

Los Angeles and Santa Monica Mountains

First, spend a few days ticking off L.A.’s best restaurants, museums, studio tours and beaches. Then escape to the Santa Monica Mountains, stretching west from the city: a mix of rocky peaks, green meadows, canyons, wineries and winding roads, all right near the ocean.

New York City and Hudson Valley

The five boroughs are a whole world on their own. But if you are planning a trip to NYC, make time to venture to Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighbourhood. Just below the Brooklyn Bridge, Time Out Market New York offers an array of world-class cuisine from New York City’s top chefs. Then head out of town to the Hudson Valley, where you can discover sleepy towns, gorgeous autumn leaves, grand hotels and newer, ultra-cool spots like farm-to-table restaurants and galleries.

San Francisco and Mount Tamalpais

Spending a few days in SF should be on anyone’s bucket list. But don’t miss the chance to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and up to the peak locals call Mount Tam. Pitch a tent or rent a cabin amidst thousands of acres of redwoods, waterfalls and hiking trails – plus unbeatable views over the city.

Asia Fusion Trips:

Hong Kong and Sai Kung

The seaside town of Sai Kung is Hongkongers’ favourite escape – a place of fresh seafood, stunning beaches and hiking trails, as well as some great alfresco drinking and dining spots. The islands and bays here rival any in Asia, and they’re only an hour from the world-class restaurants and bars of Hong Kong’s central district.

Tokyo and Okutama

There’s nowhere else quite like Tokyo: the world’s biggest metropolis has everything you could want from a city break. But don’t miss out on a few days in Okutama. It’s a taste of rural Japan right on Tokyo’s outskirts, where you can explore forests, mountain hikes, rivers, caves and a 300-year-old sake brewery.

Singapore and St John’s Island

Singapore’s high-tech, high-density reputation belies plenty of green space – but to really get away from it all, take a ferry to St John’s Island. Despite a dark past as a quarantine island, it’s a vision of blue lagoons, sandy beaches, rare wildlife and forested trails. And it’s one of the few Singaporean islands where you can stay overnight without camping.

Australia Fusion Trips:

Melbourne and Bellarine Peninsula

Less well-trodden than the Mornington Peninsula on the other side of the city, the Bellarine Peninsula is Melburnians’ secret escape, filled with beautiful beaches and some of the best wineries in the state of Victoria. From here you could even head further down the Great Ocean Road to the rainforests and redwoods of the Otways. It’s the perfect double-up with any trip to Australia’s cultural (and coffee) capital.

Sydney and Ku-Ring-Gai Chase

Of course, you should check out the city’s harbour, the world-famous beaches and ocean pools – but don’t miss out on the national parklands that cover thousands of hectares around Sydney. Many head south to the Royal National Park, but Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, in Sydney’s north, could be the smarter option: beautiful lookouts, beaches and day hikes plus stunning places to stay along the shores of Pittwater.


The Time Out Travel Survey interviewed 21,343 Time Out users between January 4 and January 19 2021. You can find more information on the survey on the Time Out website here.

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