Virtually every region in Europe has something to offer for paddlers and thrill seekers. You may have seen Ten Places to go Standup Paddling in the Fall, PaddleXaminer’s previous article on where to go standup paddling in the fall where two of the places listed are in Europe. Even if it’s the world’s second smallest continent, you still have no shortage of great paddling destinations no matter the season. Let’s look at some of them.
Adriatic Sea, Croatia
Sea kayaking is one of the best ways to zip through the calm waters of the Adriatic Sea. Croatia is a good choice because its share of the Adriatic has over a thousand miles of coastline, and you can simply take a pick from islets surrounded by cerulean waters. The BBC highlighted the Dalmatian Islands for the crystal clear waters that surround them. There’s also the inhabited island of Koločep where you can explore coves and swimming holes.
Ardèche lies in the south of France and it’s one of the most underrated regions in the country. You will enjoy seeing forests and caves while paddling in the river for which the region is named after. The Travel Hack pointed out that kayaking is a popular pastime for visitors. Be sure not to miss passing through Pont d’Arc, a limestone archway that makes for an interesting frame for your photos. The river is 78 miles in length so you’ll have a place to explore for an entire day, or two.
If you’re interested in a winter expedition, the Bohuslän province will not disappoint. This Swedish gem is a paradise for kayakers with over 8,000 islands to traverse. Self-guided tours are the norm where you’ll be handed a map and the freedom to explore at your own pace.
You can watch the sunrise over the rocky islands of the Fjällbacka archipelago and visit one of the many fishing villages in the area. You may also set your course towards the town of Grebbestad where you can find what are claimed to be the best oysters in the world.
The Fjords, Norway
A small speck in the universe—it’s the feeling you get while paddling through the Norwegian fjords. While some areas might be best explored on a cruise, the incredible Geirangerfjord is accessible via kayaks and canoes. The Seven Sisters, The Suitor and The Bridal Veil are singled out as the must-visit sections of this particular fjord. It’s a really humbling experience to propel your craft amidst gigantic cliffs and waterfalls. Make sure to bring a camera and take several photo stops, because you’re going to want to remember these sights forever.
With the thousands of islands that make up Greece, it’s not easy to pick a final destination. We’re making a case for Northern Greece, particularly the region of Macedonia. It got its name from the ancient kingdom of Macedon, which was famous for being the home of Alexander the Great. Due to its association with “the greatest military commander in history”, Macedonia has an almost mythical-like status for some people even today, and it’s a frequent subject of artistic works. It brought forth feature films such as the 2004 film Alexander and this historical region is also the inspiration for the Slingo’s slot game King of Macedonia. The game features a backdrop, which is very similar to its real-world counterpart. Macedonia is probably best known for its rich history, but tourists come for the quaint villages, spectacular beaches, and towering cliffs as well.
A sea kayaking tour in Halkidiki is a must, as you will get to see the stunning Vourvourou Bay. It is located in Sithonia, a smaller peninsula within the peninsula of Halkidiki, where there are nine secluded islands perfect for paddlers in search of serenity. Make sure to also stop by its largest island, Diaporos, where the ocean is always calm and kind to its visitors.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Central Europe’s Slovenia is not only known for its fascinating castles and postcard worthy ski destinations, but also for incredible lakes and rivers. The best kayaking destination in the country is a tie between Soča Valley and Lake Bled, but perhaps the enchanting story behind Lake Bled’s origin gives it more of an edge.
According to the lore, the lake used to be a valley that was flooded by fairies. They were afraid that sheep will eat all of the grass they loved to dance on and filled it with water to keep it for themselves. But even without the handiwork of magical beings, Lake Bled is a pretty extraordinary spot. The color of the water is a cross between emerald green and aqua which makes for an unforgettable sight. Aside from paddling in the pristine waters, make sure to visit the caves, and finally to head to the famed church in the middle of the island.
Soča Valley, Slovenia
We couldn’t pass up the chance to give a better image of the Soča Valley because it’s also an incredible location for kayaking. Unlike Lake Bled, the river boasts unbelievably turquoise waters that stretches for 85 miles of twists and turns. The water comes from Julian Alps, so bring extra clothes for layering because it will be a chilly ride.