Top 5 European Kayaking Destinations

by Hannah Bashford
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Thanks to its array of stunning coastlines and landscapes, as well as its assortment of islands, Europe has a broad range of excellent kayaking destinations. For a leading active holiday in Europe, the UK has one of the best coastlines for kayaking, but if you’re looking for a warmer climate or a river based trip, you don’t have to travel far.

With a multitude of great destinations across continental Europe, a unique kayaking experience is only a stone’s throw away. Here’s our list of the top five destinations in Europe for kayaking:

River Ardèche, France

Probably one of the best known rivers in France by kayak enthusiasts, the river Ardèche offers unparalleled kayaking opportunities for those looking for an active outdoor break in France. Incredibly popular with tourists in summer, the river Ardèche is set within a dramatic landscape of gorges and valleys, with limestone cliffs of up to 300m high. Located in south-central France, this 125km long river begins in the Massif Central and flows into the Rhône near Pont-Saint-Esprit. On your scenic route down the valley, make sure you take a well-deserved break at the most famous feature of the Ardèche, a natural 60m high stone arch spanning the river known as the Pont d’Arc.

If you fancy a trip further south, why not head into the near-by department of Vaucluse and visit the historic city of Avignon? Whilst here, stay at the Hotel d’Europe, one of the oldest hotels in the world and the ideal location for relaxation after a long and energetic kayaking trip.

Sea kayaking, west coast of Scotland

With its white sandy beaches and sparkling blue waters, the west coast of Scotland is the perfect location for a special active getaway in Scotland. A top destination for kayaking thanks to its dramatic sea cliffs and rocky arches, the west coast is also home to several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Special Areas of Conservation – designations to preserve natural landscapes and conserve their environmental biodiversity. With its vast variety of geological landscapes, the islands off the coast of Oban offer a unique location for scenic trips, whilst many of the lochs allow for calmer excursions. Several companies such as Rockhopper Sea Kayaking specialise in guided sea kayaking trips, so that you can make the most of your time in this breath-taking environment.

Fjords, Norway

The stunning fjords of Norway provide an impressive backdrop to any kayaking trip, whether you are a complete beginner on a taster weekend or a seasoned kayaker on an adventurous excursion. With numerous island archipelagos to choose from, as well as your pick of the stunning fjords and their deep blue seas, Norway is the ideal setting for a leading kayaking adventure in Europe. Gliding through this beautiful and un-touched natural scenery is mesmerising, especially in the UNESCO protected area of Naeroyfjord, a hot spot for tourists. With such great wilderness close at hand, any kayaking trip can also be combined with climbing, glacier walking and mountaineering for the best active holiday in Norway.

Venice canals, Italy

Venice is one of the most spectacular cities in the world, and there is no better way to experience the real atmospheric city than meandering the canals by boat. More often than not, the waterways of Venice are associated with the frequent passage of tourists on gondolas, during their romantic luxury breaks in Italy. However Venice is also an idyllic location for avid kayakers, as the wide canals offer a unique kayaking experience a million miles away from the usual rapid waters of mountain rivers. As you float gently by, marvel at the rich and diverse Venetian architecture and soak up the historic atmosphere as you make your way through the maze of waterways to St. Mark’s Square.

Sea kayaking, Sardinia

A kayaking trip is one of the best ways to see the striking island of Sardinia off the coast of southern Italy. Usually overrun with tourists in the hottest month of August, this is the perfect way to escape the crowds and find your very own private bay or cove. The dramatic mountains and rugged landscape offer beautiful surroundings to your sun-drenched kayaking adventures. Off the north-east coast of the island near Palau and La Maddalena, there is a fantastic archipelago of stunning islands, which provide a scenic setting for short trips here and there during your special kayaking break in Italy. But if you’re feeling particularly adventurous and energetic, why not try a longer expedition across the Bonifacio Straits to the equally striking island of Corsica.

And for a relaxing and rejuvenating night’s sleep, stay at the traditional Sardinian style Forte Village Le Palme, just minutes from the sparkling blue sea - perfect for kayakers.

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