This study attempted to examine differences in physical activity levels between urban and rural primary school children. The sample consisted of 256 Greek-Cypriot children and their parents from two schools representing urban areas and three schools representing rural areas. Children's activity levels were assessed for 4 weekdays in the winter and for 4 weekdays in the summer using a pedometer (DW-200; Yamax, Tokyo, Japan). Daily step counts were used to describe children's activity levels. Parents completed a questionnaire assessing environmental variables in both seasons. Two-way ANOVAs indicated that urban school children were significantly more active in winter than rural school children (means = 13,583 +/- 4,313 versus 12 436 +/- 3610, P < 0.001) and that rural school children were significantly more active in the summer (means = 16,450 +/- 5134 versus 14,531 +/- 4,901, P < 0.001). Parents of children in rural schools reported more space available in the garden and in the neighbourhoods, and safer neighbourhoods than parents of children in urban schools, whereas children in urban schools had more exercise equipment available at home and were transported more frequently to places where they could be physically active. Results of this study suggest that intervention programmes to promote physical activity need to consider seasonal and geographical location differences in physical activity levels.