Climate risk management evolves rapidly from one additional challenge for urban planning into a radical driver of urban development. In addition to fundamental changes in urban planning to increase long-term resilience, the creation of new opportunities for sustainable transformation is imperative. While urban planners increasingly add climate risks to their menu, implementation of effective action is lagging. To reduce urban infrastructure’s vulnerability to heat and flooding, cities often rely on short-term incremental adjustments rather than considering longer-term transformative solutions. The transdisciplinary co-development of inspiring urban visions with local stakeholders over timescales of decades or more, can provide an appealing prospect of the city we desire—a city that is attractive to live and work in, and simultaneously resilient to climate hazards. Taking an historic perspective, we argue that re-imagining historical urban planning concepts, such as the late 19th-century garden city until early 21st century urban greening through nature-based solutions, is a pertinent example of how climate risk management can be combined with a wide-range of socio-economic and environmental goals. Climate knowledge has expanded rapidly over the last decades. However, climate experts mainly focus on the refinement of and access to observations and model results, rather than on translating their knowledge effectively to meet today’s urban planning needs. In this commentary we discuss how the two associated areas (urban planning and climate expertise) should be more fully integrated to address today’s long-term challenges effectively.