Moments away from high-rise Hong Kong’s buzzing urban pace is its lesser known rural heart. Over 70% of Hong Kong is made up of green spaces, including country parks, hiking trails, outlying islands and beaches.

If you need help challenging traditional perceptions of Hong Kong as an urban stopover destination, the serenity of Hong Kong’s great outdoors is well worth extending a stay for.

Hiking & cycling

Heritage trails, rural historic monuments or buildings, walled villages, ancestral halls, shrines and temples offer an insight into Hong Kong’s rich history and can all be seen on a walk and sometimes a bike ride too.

Dragon’s Back: This ridge in southeastern Hong Kong Island lies within the Shek O Country Park and is lauded as the city’s greatest hike. Walkers should stop at the Viewing Point for a great vista of Tai Tam Bay where, on a clear day, Lamma Island is visible. Once over the ridge, Pottinger Gap offers a view of Chai Wan’s urban high-rises against a forested landscape.

Sunset Peak: Gorgeous sunsets seen from the 869-metre Sunset Peak give the third highest peak in Hong Kong its name and fame. With seas of silvergrass, rustic stone huts and expansive seascapes, the vistas from here are revered by hikers and photographers alike.

Tai Mo Shan: Standing at 957 metres, this is the highest peak in Hong Kong, visible from many parts of the city and often shrouded in stratus clouds. Despite its height, Tai Mo Shan is easily accessible on foot and offers sweeping views of green landscapes to photograph and explore.

Sai Kung: Wander along the coastlines of Sai Kung East Country Park, where lush tropical vegetation and forested ridges are the warm-up show to spectacular mountain and sea views with white sandy beaches. Ambitious walkers can take the Sai Kung Peninsula hike on the MacLehose Trail, one of the best ways to see the unique hexagonal volcanic columns of High Island.

Nam Sang Wai: This is the perfect choice for a fun, hassle-free half-day cycle trip out of the city. Check out the thriving wetland wildlife and scenic woodland paths as well as the village-style cuisine.

Beaches

Big Wave Bay Beach: A hit with local windsurfers and located at the scenic eastern end of Hong Kong Island, close to the Dragon’s Back hiking trail, this is home to a prehistoric rock carving, now a Declared Monument, which was stumbled upon by a police officer in 1970 and shows geometric designs and animals.

Hung Shing Ye Beach: On Lamma Island, this beach’s clean water and powdery sand have been attracting expats and locals for a long time. It’s also a top spot to to watch the sunset and has a popular barbecue area.

Repulse Bay Beach: This crescent-shaped stretch of sand is in an upmarket residential area and has a relaxed resort-like feel to it. Its wide, wave-lapped beach is popular with both locals and visitors and is great for strolls and swims.

Mui Wo and Silver Mine Bay Beach, Lantau Island: The Mui Wo Valley was first settled by farmers around the middle of the Ming dynasty (16th century). By the 19th century, there were six villages in the valley, thanks to a silver mine. Remnants of the mine can still be seen as well as several watchtowers built by the villagers to protect themselves from pirate attacks.