The UK's Most Popular Hobbies
From baking to birdwatching and everything in between, finding a hobby is a great way to uncover and develop new skills. Whether you’re an avid gardener, a bookworm or you prefer something more active like rock climbing and kayaking, hobbies play an important role in many of our lives.
Research shows that the benefits of having a hobby stretch beyond just the physical and actually help with our mental wellbeing, relieving stress and providing us with an outlet from day-to-day stresses. Research suggests that some hobbies – like playing a musical instrument – can improve our memory, while artistic hobbies (such as reading or board games puzzles) are reported to prevent dementia later in life.
But with so many to choose from, it can be difficult to find a hobby to suit your interests. To provide you with some inspiration, we’ve analysed 84 of the most popular hobbies using Google search data for the UK and 20 of its largest cities. Here, we share the UK’s most popular hobbies, from fishing to photography.
The top trending hobbies in the UK...
When comparing search data before March 2020 (when COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the WHO) with 2021, the analysis revealed that adventure activities dominated the top trending hobbies with rock climbing, paddle boarding, open water swimming and canoeing all making an appearance in the top five.
According to our research, Brits are a nation easily influenced by social media and pop culture when it comes to picking up new hobbies. Our research suggests a correlation between Brits’ hobbies and TikTok and other social media trends, with roller skating seeing a 55% increase in searches, which may be down to the viral TikTok trend started in 2020 by Ana Coto which was viewed over 3 million times.
There was also a huge increase in trainspotting with searches up 33% since before the pandemic, thanks to the nation’s sweetheart Francis Bourgeois and his 3+million-strong social media following, and his viral trainspotting videos. In 2019 Google recorded just shy of 50,000 searches per month, while by the end of 2021 this figure was closer to 74,000, placing this hobby in the top three trending up post-pandemic.
The UK's most searched hobbies...
From our research, it seems we're still a nation of traditionalists when it comes to hobbies. The most popular hobby among Brits is drawing with an average of 246,000 Google searches per month, followed by golf with 201,000 searches. Reading, DIY, gardening and painting also appeared in the most searched hobbies in the UK.
The most searched hobbies by city...
Looking at the largest cities in the UK, we found that drawing still dominated, topping searches in nine out of the 20 cities analysed, followed by golf (seven cities).
Interestingly, the favoured pastime among Londoners was kayaking despite not being situated on the coast, and golf was preferred by Scottish cities Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The top trending hobbies per city were dominated by roller skating and pottery - another viral trend thanks to self-dubbed ‘Pottery Boy’ and his one million-strong following. Roller skating was the top trending hobby in 12 of the 20 cities analysed, while pottery reigned supreme in four cities.
Need more inspiration? Check out our range of hobbies and interests magazine subscriptions.
Methodology & Sources:
Google search data (searching all languages) was used to establish the average monthly search volume in the UK and its top 20 major cities for a list of 83 hobbies (team sports were removed). The most searched for hobby was then used as the top hobby for the UK / city.
Data was collected in January and February 2022. “Pre-pandemic” data spanned March 2019 - February 2020.