After all these months of being cooped up inside, I’m itching to get out and do something exhilarating. If you’re a bit of an adrenalin junkie or adventure sports fanatic then this article is for you. Here are some of the best adventure holidays in Europe.
Although it’s fairly likely I’ll be staying local for the first part of summer, (there are actually so many adventure sports in the UK), I’m hoping by the autumn things will have settled down a little and I can head to the mainland and join some adventure tours in Europe before the year is out.
So, whatever your thrill-seeker style, check out this awesome list of adrenaline activities in Europe. This list comes from fellow adventure seekers who’ve hunted out the best adventure tours Europe has to offer, I’m getting giddy just reading through them all.
So grab a brew or your favourite tipple, and let’s see how many of these best adventure trips in Europe you can add to your adrenaline bucket list.
Don’t forget your travel insurance.
If you’re planning on doing any type of adventurous activity while you’re away, be sure to check that your insurance policy covers you if you were to have an accident. Lot’s of standard travel insurance companies don’t cover adventure/adrenaline sport.
Both companies offer policies that cover the activities in this article.
What you can expect in this article...
The Best Adventure Holidays in Europe - Jump To
This guide has been put together with the help from fellow adrenalin junkies, who have been there, done it and loved it. It’s been divided into easy-to-navigate categories showcasing the best adventure holidays Europe has to offer.
THE BEST VELOCITY & AIR SPORT DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE
Including bridge jumping, mountain biking, zip-lining and more- basically, anything where you’re in the air or going at full speed.
THE BEST WATER SPORT DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE
Including cave diving, white water rafting, and surfing and more- basically, anything where you’re going to get wet.
THE BEST CLIMBING, CAVE & ROCK SPORT DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE
Including canyoning, glacier hikes, via Ferrata and more – basically, anything you’ll be donning a harness or using specialist equipment.
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THE BEST VELOCITY & AIR SPORT DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE
Mostar Bridge Jump in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Experienced by Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far
Without a doubt, the most adrenaline-pumping experience I’ve had in Europe so far was my jump from the Stari Most bridge in Mostar! At the time of my jump (in May) the bridge was around 22-23 metres above the water, which is pretty darn high if you ask me! I’ve always been a big fan of cliff jumping or jumping from a height, but this was much higher than I’ve ever been used to.
But as soon as we arrived in Mostar, and saw that it was possible to do, I knew I just had to have a go. Don’t worry, there’s loads of support there, you don’t just climb over the railing and jump off! Instead, you first register your details with the dive team, located in an office by the bridge, and they give you all the necessary gear and training.
Plus, the big crowd of tourists that gather and cheer you on also helps give you a little courage boost! Depending on the time of year you visit, the jump can be slightly higher or lower and the water can vary slightly in temperature. But at any time of the year, it’s still a really epic experience.
It costs just €30 overall, €10 for the practice jump form 10 metres and €20 for the actual jump.
Kitesurfing in Tarifa, Spain
Experienced by Izzy & Phil from The Gap Decaders
Kitesurfing in Tarifa has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences we experienced whilst road tripping in Andalucia. Known for it’s perfect, clean wind, this was one destination we didn’t want to pass by. It really is one of the best adventure sports in Spain
Kitesurfing is the sport of using a power kite to pull you along on a board over the surf and water, often at high speed. Experienced kitesurfers also perform tricks but we’re still in the ‘trying to stay on the board’ club!
Tarifa not only has the best wind for kitesurfing in Europe, but it also has fantastic Atlantic beaches along its’ coastline, which means the wind can be taken advantage of even if it changes direction. . From the superb Valdevaqueros beach to the north of town, to the central Los Lances beach, the opportunities for catching the wind are many.
You can kitesurf here year-round, although the wind is best between April and October, you’ll also enjoy warmer air and sea temperatures, important for the regular dunkings of beginners! If you have your own gear, it’s a totally free sport on the day. To hire a full set of gear in Tarifa will cost around €50 a day but becomes cheaper by the day, the more days you hire the kit for.
If you love the idea of wind and sea spray in your face and the freedom of racing over the waves on a board, then you can also learn to kitesurf in Tarifa from around €250 for 12 hours of beginner lessons.
Paragliding in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Experienced by Mikaela of Voyageur Tripper
One of the most unique adventure activities I’ve tried in Europe has to be paragliding in Lauterbrunnen, through its iconic, U-shaped valley. This is one of the best adventure sports Switzerland has to offer.
Strapped to a harness and professional guide, you sail through the valley, catching updrafts and getting terrifyingly close to alpine waterfalls you couldn’t see from the ground. If you have the stomach for it, your guide will do 360 degree turns to flip you upside or hand you to controls to steer – but don’t worry, paragliding with a guide in Switzerland is entirely safe.
Although there are a few places in Switzerland where you can paraglide, Lauterbrunnen offers the best experience; the valley is world-renowned for its paragliding. We took off in Murren, a town on the mountainside accessible by gondola, and landed on the floor of the valley.
I researched a few paragliding tour operators and ultimately went with Airtime Paragliding, which offers paragliding tours year-round for 180 CHF + an additional 40 CHF if you’d like to buy the GoPro footage (for sure do this). It’s easy to book online. Paragliding is definitely not an inexpensive activity, but even on my student backpacking budget, I thought it was worth it!
The First Glider, Grindelwald, Switzerland
Experienced by Lucy from On The Luce
Among the spectacular mountain scenery of Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland, Grindelwald First is a ski area in winter but in summer it becomes a playground for adrenaline sport-lovers. There is a walkway suspended from the cliffs, a zip-line and mountain carting track, but for the ultimate in adventure, try the First Glider – a kind of hang-glider meets zipline that’s one of only eight of its kind in the world.
Our group of four was kitted up in snug-fitting bodysuits before being attached to an eagle-shaped metal frame. You’re hung below which feels strange to start with, but you soon forget about that as you’re pulled 800 metres uphill at 72km per hour.
Going backwards and not being able to see where we were going added a new spin to the usual zip-line experience, and as we reached the top I held my breath as we waited to be released, swooping back down to the start at an even faster 83km per hour – it’s the nearest you can get to flying. This is one of the best extreme sports Switzerland offers.
The First Glider and other activities are run by Jungfrau Railways, who also manage scenic trains in the region. The activities run between May and November each year, and it costs 50 CHF for the First Glider, or you can get a combined adventure package including all four activities for 99 CHF.
Zip-lining in the Cetina Canyon, Croatia
Experienced by Greta from Gretas Travels
If you’re looking for the best adventurous activities in Europe, then you should add zip-lining in the Cetina Canyon in Croatia to your bucket list. Located close to the town of Omis, a short drive away from the famous Split, the Cetina Canyon is the perfect destination for adrenaline junkies.
We booked our zip-line experience online with Zipline Croatia. It costs around 400 HRK and takes around 3 hours.
There is more to zip-lining than just strapping yourself to a wire and speeding downhill. The activity takes a few hours since you will meet the Zipline Croatia team in Omis, and they will drive you to the starting point at the top of the Cetina Canyon.
It starts off with a short hike, during which you can admire the beautiful canyon views, and you will then do 8 wires, gradually making your way down the canyon. The first and longest wire is 700m and is 150m above ground level.
Soaring through the air at high speed on this wire was a bit terrifying, but the views you see as you soar above the canyon are simply stunning. The other wires are a mixture of long scenic ones over the Cetina River and shorter ones amongst the trees.
Zip-lining in the Cetina Canyon is a thrilling experience and a must on any Europe adventure bucket list.
Hot Air Ballooning in Château d'Oex, Switzerland
Experienced by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
If you’ve ever wanted to ride in a hot air balloon, there’s no better place than Château d’Oex. This small town in the French-speaking area of Switzerland is famous among ballooning enthusiasts as the hot air balloon capital of the world.
The unique climate here and the wind currents around the mountains make it the ideal place for ballooning. Ever since 1979, Château d’Oex has hosted the annual International Hot-Air Balloon Festival. It runs for nine days in January, and this is obviously the ideal time to make the trip. You’ll get to see more than 100 balloons take off into the air.
If you can’t make it to Switzerland in January, a company called Ballons Château d’Oex offers flights all year round, weather permitting. The ride lasts about one hour over the Préalps mountain range. From May to October, they also offer evening rides over the Fribourg Plateau, with views of Fribourg, Romont castle and Gruyère Lake. The price is 390 francs per adult, with a small discount for each additional person in the group.
Nothing is cheap in Switzerland, and hot air ballooning is no exception. It’s definitely worth it for a special occasion though. After visiting the festival several years in a row while living in Geneva, my husband surprised me with a hot air balloon ride for my 40th birthday. Looking down on the snow-covered Swiss landscape while floating in a balloon is something I’ll never forget.
ZipWorld Velocity 2 in Snowdonia, Wales
Experienced by Pauline from Beeloved City
If you are a thrill-seeker, Wales will be your paradise! Well known for its beautiful national parks, Wales is also home to one of the best ziplines in the world. Not only is it the fastest in the world but it’s also the longest in Europe!
Velocity 2 is located in Penrhyn Slate Quarry, in Snowdonia National Park. You can easily get there by car or arrange transportation from Betws-y-coed visitor centre.
It is a popular activity so the best way to make sure you can get to do it is by booking online on their official website. If you want to wait and make sure the weather is nice, you can also book it in any of the visitor centres in Wales. Tickets start at £65.
When you get to ZipWorld, the team will give you the equipment you need to put on (jumpsuit and helmet). After that, they will make sure your harness is securely placed and give you a few safety guidelines. You will then head to a mini zipline (not that mini but quite short compared to the big one) so you can get a feel of what’s coming for you!
Once you’ve tried out the mini zipline, you will jump at the back of a truck that will bring you up to the summit and that’s where you will actually get to go on Velocity 2. The landscapes are absolutely breath-taking! You are standing on top of the mountains, flying above a lake and looking at the beautiful welsh coastline!
It’s an adventure of a lifetime!
Mountainbiking around Sicily
One of the best ways to see a country is to do it by bike. Sicily is blessed with volcanic terrain, so there are plenty of rugged tracks going through the countryside and mountains.
If you’re a competent biker (I am not!), you can make your own trip here. However, the lazy way is to book onto a group tour so they take the task of planning out of the equation.
Depending on your experience and how far you want to cycle in a day, you most bike hire companies will rent out regular mountain bike as well as eBikes. If you’ve never ridden an e-bike, I 100% recommend it. It totally revolutionised cycling for me. I absolutely loved speeding down the windy roads, considering I don’t really cycle, I loved the thrill of getting to 38kph on the bike – beats a rollercoaster anyway!
The terrain can be tough, and as a total newbie to biking, I opted to walk the bike down some of the steep trails after coming flying off the bike one too many times.
Overall though I loved biking through Sicily, and if you’re after a more adventurous way to seeing a destination, this will tick all your boxes. You can also just do a single day trip to mountain bike up (and down) Etna.
THE BEST WATER SPORT DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE
Cave Diving in Gozo, Malta
Experienced by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Gozo is a small island in the Mediterranean just short distance from the main island of Malta. The coastline is rough and rugged made up of sandstone and this combined with the action of the waves has lead to caves forming all along the cliffs.
There are amazing structures to explore underwater and even as a newly qualified diver, you can discover some of the cave systems. Some of the caves are deeper and darker for more experienced divers with nowhere to surface and only one entry and exit point. These dives really do get the adrenaline going.
Diving in Gozo is really varied and there are wrecks and reefs as well as the caves. Being based in Marsalforn on the east coast of Gozo provides lots of options for diving as well as a small harbour with restaurants and hotels.
We chose to dive with Bubbles Dive Centre and you must book in advance as they have small groups of no more than 4 divers but it is really simple using their website. Dives cost from €42 for a single dive but the more you book the cheaper the price gets. They will also hire kit at a reasonable price.
White Water Rafting on the Soca River, Slovenia
The area around the Julian Alps is an absolute haven for adventure lovers. There are loads of opportunities for climbing, canyoning, biking, hiking and via Feratta. However, one thing you can’t miss is white water rafting in the beautiful blue Soca River.
Depending on the thrill level you’re after (or if you’re with a young family) then you can raft on the slightly tamer Sava River. Whichever one you choose, I recommend booking a day in advance as it can get busy, especially during the summer months.
The water temperature is around 15degrees, but you’re given a wetsuit and shoes, also with the heat of the sun, it feels much warmer than this and it’s actually quite refreshing.
After a briefing, you’ll set off down the river, meandering through the stunning scenery and down various rapids. You’ll get to stop off a jumping points, where you can scramble up the rocks and jump into the river. The smaller jumps are fine, I managed the 10m one after a bit of persuasion when jumped, it felt like I was falling forever, eventually hitting the cold water. It was such a buzz!
The whole experience certainly needs to be on your Slovenia bucket list. The best places to book white water rafting are Bled, Bovec and Bohinj and prices start from about 40Euro for a half-day trip, this price includes your transportation, all your equipment and your guide. Slovenis is a great destination for adventure travel in Europe, so even If you don’t fancy a water based sport, then check out some other activities in the region.
Walking On Water, Hiking The Tideland in Germany
Experienced by Renata from Bye Myself
“Pah, those Germans – they really think they can walk on water!“ Well, they actually can – kind of. Along Germany’s Westcoast stretches the world’s largest Wadden sea where, in accordance with the moon phases, the water comes and goes. And as it goes, it leaves mudflats – basically a huge muddy area with a fascinating, almost invisible wildlife that’s more important for our planet than the rainforest. No wonder it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.
“Okay, fine -but what’s with the walking?” I’m so glad you’ve asked. As the water goes away, people are – metaphorically – flooding the ground. While they are enjoying the squishy mud between their toes, they are observing the mud for shells, worms, and crabs.
At the town of Cuxhaven, it’s even possible to hike from the mainland across the mudflat all the way to the offshore island of Neuwerk. However, while frolicking on the tideland along the shore is great fun, long walks should be led by an experienced tour guide. Not only will you get tons of information on all the incredible phenomenon. More importantly, it’s dangerous to venture on the mudflats by yourself since the water might come back faster than expected.
The hike takes between three to four hours depending on how many stops your guide makes to explain things and, of course, on the walking speed of your group.
Obviously, the schedule, as well as the speed, depend on the tides. But don’t worry, the experienced and prudent guides get you across the ocean on time before the water comes back.
If you choose to cross on a horse or by carriage, you can make a roundtrip during one single low tide. If you opt for the exciting walk and don’t want to stay on the island of Neuwerk till the next low tide, you need to go back by ferry.
So if you want to experience more than just Lederhosen and cuckoo clocks in Germany then get to the city of Cuxhaven to start your hike. Guided tours along the shore are taking place year-round, the crossing, however, only between April and October since you possibly have to wade through tideways, more or less high streams of water; you don’t want to do that in January, believe me.
The precise start of the hike has to be checked online since it varies according to the tides, obviously. Trips are cancelled if the weather gets really bad. The hike costs 18 €uro per adult, the ferry 23 €uro.
Kayaking the underground lakes of Križna Jama in Slovenia
Experienced by Tom and Zi from Craving Adventure
Križna Jama (Cross Cave), is an 8-kilometre long cave system in the south of Slovenia. It is one of the most bio-diverse and best-preserved cave systems in the world, but the real attraction is the chain of underground lakes and the crazy rock formations.
Križna Jama is publicly accessible for €10 to anyone without reservation. The basic tour is about 1,5 hours and takes you 700 meters deep into the cave. It shows you the bones of massive prehistoric cave bears that ones lived inside the cave and takes you onto the first underground lake.
For a really unique caving experience, we recommend to take it a step further though. We did a longer tour that is only available for up to 1000 people per year, but that we can’t recommend enough! It is a four-hour tour that takes you 4 kilometres deep into the cave, crosses 13 underground lakes, massive echoing halls and absolutely beautiful rock formations.
There is this eerie but really cool feeling when you’re floating in a lake kilometres deep into the ground in a little boat, with nothing but the sound of your own breath and drops of water falling down from the rocks. We’ve been in many caves around the world, but Križna Jama is the most unique one we’ve seen by far! You can read more about our experience on the Križna Jama tour here.
The regular tour is available on a walk-in basis, but spots for the 4-hour long tour have to be reserved ahead on the Križna Jama website as for conservational purposes it is only available for a 1000 people a year(we recommend booking at least a month in advance) and costs €50 per person in high season.
Wreck diving in Tenerife
Experienced by Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go!
When it comes to scuba diving most of the exciting things to see require you to have a diving certification and scuba diving in Tenerife is no exception. The cost of wreck diving in Tenerife is around €40-55 per dive depending on if you need to hire diving equipment but the good thing is you can dive in Tenerife all year round with temperatures between 19-24celcius.
First up is the dive site “Twin Wrecks” just outside of Puerto Colon in Southern Tenerife. As the name suggests this site has two wrecks both of which were sank intentionally to create an artificial reef. Sitting at 22meters it’s an easy dive accessible with an open water qualification with lots to see like trumpet fish, fireworms, large shoals of bream, scorpionfish and some large Atlantic rays lurking underneath.
If you are an advanced scuba diver and looking for something a little deeper then we loved diving the “El Meridian”. This wreck is reminiscent of a pirate ship with its huge deck area and tall masts, it sank in 30meters of water in 2005 to create an artificial reef. You can swim inside the cabin and engine rooms and see what you can find lurking inside. Under the propeller at the rear, there are often rays hiding and around the wreck is grouper, octopus, moray eels, and at certain times of the year, you may encounter angel sharks.
Surfing the River Wave in Munich, Germany
Experienced by Chantae from The Salt Sirens
On the Eisbach, a river that runs through the English Garden in Munich, Germany, locals hop in the water to surf its standing waves. While France, Spain, and Portugal have dominated Europe’s surf scene, the river wave in Munich is highly underrated. Because the wave never ends, surfers can easily perfect tricks without the rush of time.
After surfing in California, Indonesia, and Australia, I knew I had to give this iconic river wave a go. I patiently waited for my turn to arrive and paddled into the wave. Because the wave was so fast—and broke much differently to the waves I am used to—my turn was over as soon as it started. Though I visualized myself surfing on the wave for minutes, reality served me just a few seconds.
If you want to try surfing this fun wave, there are two main spots along the Eisbach to do so. One wave, next to the bridge of the Haus der Kunst museum, breaks fast and shallow and is best for experienced surfers only. However, a few hundred meters downstream, a friendlier wave exists for those who want to make their first try.
Santo Loco surf shop rents boards in Munich and unless you have a thick wetsuit, this activity is best done during summer.
Kayaking the Verdon Gorge in France
Experienced by Darek & Gosia
Grand Canyon du Verdon is one of the greatest natural wonders in Europe and a must-see while visiting southern France. The small Verdon river, flowing down from the Alps, crosses two limestone plateaus, creating a spectacular canyon! With a length of almost 30 km and deep up to 800 m, there are many great things to do for any adventure lovers.
The giant cliffs attract many tourists who love climbing, hiking or mountain rafting. But you don’t have to do all the extreme sports here, Verdon Gorge is also very popular for kayaking on the Verdon river.
Depending on your needs, you can rent a pedal boat or a canoe-kayak with prices starting at around €8-12 per hour. There is also an option to hire an electric boat for around €22 per hour.
You can easily spend a few hours exploring the canyon but be aware that weather may affect your trip. We could only hire a pedal boat for 2 hours as there was a forecasted storm and the company we used didn’t want to risk. Nevertheless even 2 hours was an amazing adventure!
Without a doubt kayaking, Verdon Gorge is one of the best outdoor activities you can do in France!
Scuba Diving between the tectonic plates in Silfra, Iceland
One of the most iconic adventure sports in Europe and most beautiful diving locations in the world has to be the Silfra Dive in Iceland.
The dive site is located in Thingvellir National Park. Because the water here is fed from a glacier, it’s crystal clear with visibility up to 100m! It’s insanely beautiful, however, don’t expect to see an abundance of life here. The Sifra fissure is where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia are slowly moving apart, and you can swim right between them, with one hand on America and one on Europe.
You can also snorkel here and see the fissure from above. Whichever one you do, it’s very cold. The water was about 2degress when I did it, and the outside air was -10!
This is one of the most extreme sports I have ever done, everything about it is something to marvel at and if you are visiting Iceland, this is well worthy of braving the cold and doing it.
I did complete my dry suit diver PADI course in advance but this isn’t a requirement. The snorkellers were wearing thick wetsuits complete with hoods and gloves. Tours can ben booked in Reykjavik, with transport to the dive site included.
Surfing in Lisbon, Portugal
Experienced by Vanda from The Yogi Wanderer
Located in the beautiful Estoril coast, just a short 20-minute train ride from Lisbon, Praia de Carcavelos offers great surf conditions for all levels, all year round.
Every October, Carcavelos receives the world’s top surfers for the Cascais Billabong Pro. But if you’re a beginner worry not!
Considered the birthplace of Portuguese surf, this legendary beach is also home to some great surf schools to help you catch your first wave. I took my first surf lesson here with Carcavelos Surf School a few summers ago and can highly recommend it. Thanks to their patient and experienced teachers, I finally fulfilled my dream of surfing, and what a feeling it was!
Carcavelos Surf School offers surf lessons every day of the year, as well as a surf camp near the beach, in Carcavelos village.
Single lessons cost 30 euros, including all equipment and insurance, and are around 2 hours long. Exact times can change according to the tides, so make sure to book in advance either online or at their school.
Sea Kayaking in Dubrovnik
A great way to see the ancient city of Dubrovnik is by Sea Kayak. Dubrovnik is hectic, everywhere is rammed with tourists; whether it’s walking around the cobbles streets or doing the wall walk, there’s no denying that it’s busy.
One of the best ways to see the city, without the bustle of the crowds, is to rent a Kayak. There are loads of places dotted around the bay which will hire them.
There are numerous little coves and caves dotted about the coast and you can also paddle over to nearby Lokrum Island, although depending on the direction of the tide, it’s a good workout for the arms.
Sea kayaking is a great way to get away from the crowds and the excitement of discovering your own private little bay. This is one of the top adventure sports in Croatia and if you’re in Dubrovnik, I would definitely recommend doing this.
THE BEST CLIMBING, CAVE & ROCK SPORT DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE
Glacier Hiking in Iceland
Experienced by Lauren from Wayscaped
Hiking on a glacier is an opportunity to explore unique terrain. With temperatures warming many glaciers across the globe are receding, so who knows how much longer we will be able to experience these natural wonders.
Most glaciers are not easily accessible, but in Iceland, it’s just a few hours drive from Reykjavik airport to the most popular glaciers for hiking: Vatnajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, and Snæfellsjökull. Fans of the Game of Thrones series might know Mýrdalsjökull as the filming location for the scenes beyond the wall.
This activity is more enjoyable in the summer, but it can be done at any time of year. Whatever the season, do not attempt to hike a glacier without an experienced guide; you can easily make a wrong step or get caught in bad weather if you don’t know what you are doing.
Luckily, there are many companies that offer group or private guided tours. Tours range from a couple of hours to a full day and will include all the equipment you need such as crampons and ice picks.
You can usually book your tour in advance online or by calling the company. However, you should be prepared to be flexible. Weather in Iceland can be unpredictable and the tour guides might reschedule if there are strong winds and rain.
Bounce Below in Wales
Experienced by Kylie from Between England and Iowa
A great adventure activity in Europe is ‘Bounce Below’ in North Wales. Bounce Below is part of the Zip World group and is located at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns (there are 3 Zip World locations altogether).
Bounce Below is a really unique activity, so unique that there’s only one other experience like it in the world and that’s in Japan! Hidden underground in a large cave is a series of trampoline nets and tube slides.
Visitors can book a one-hour time slot and are free to bounce and slide until your heart’s content. The nets are see-through, so certainly need a head for heights because it’s a long way down to the bottom of the cavern!
The hour time slot is plenty of time, it’s exhausting! If you plan on going down the slides, you’ll also have to carry a mat around with you.
The caves are a constant 10c year-round. It’s advised to have covered arms and legs but you’ll get hot really quick! The experience costs £25 for an adult and £20 for children (7-17yrs). If you book another Zip World North Wales activity, you receive 10% off. Other activities at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns include the ‘Titan’ zip line and the ‘Caverns’ Via Ferrata course.
Climbing Mt Etna in Sicily
Experienced by Annabel from Smudged Postcard
I am keen to get my young children into adventurous travel so when I booked a family trip to the Italian island of Sicily, I knew we would have to make a special guided tour of Mt Etna. The volcano is one of the most active in Europe with frequent eruptions. However, it is safe to visit and there are some excellent guides to help you explore the mountain.
We booked a family-friendly exploration of Mt Etna with the local tour group Etna Finder. Our guide Marco, tailormade the trip so that it appealed to our young children (aged 5 and 3 at the time). We climbed up lava slopes, the kids clambered on a lava bomb and enjoyed exploring a lava cave. We also saw houses submerged by lava.
Our trip up Mt Etna was tailored to suit our young family of explorers. However, Etna Finder can take more advanced hikers towards the summit and the craters for a more exhilarating trip. It’s also possible to combine a visit to Mt Etna with vineyard tours or a trip to the Alcantara Gorge.
Prices start from €60 per person and it’s best to visit in spring or autumn. However, if you visit in winter you can also go skiing!
Via Ferrata in the Scottish Highlands
Experienced by Kathi from Watch Me See
The mountains of the Scottish Highlands are a great place to visit for outdoor enthusiasts. Endless miles of hiking trails, climbing routes, lochs and rivers for water sports are waiting – but nothing quite beats the adventure of a Via Ferrata.
This spectacular climbing route near Kinlochleven leads up alongside one of the tallest waterfalls in Scotland. It offers stunning views of Loch Leven and the Mamores mountains near the famous valley of Glencoe. Steel cables and iron steps provide a reliable safety net and make the route accessible for experienced and newbie climbers alike. It is the only Via Ferrata in Scotland which makes this an extra special experience.
In addition to the vertical climb up rockfaces, I loved the thrilling sections of the route such as walking across the gully of the waterfall on a set of steel cables – with the water tumbling down some 90m below my feet – and a short, but sweet zipline above the river.
The Via Ferrata in Kinlochleven is maintained by a local activity provider (Vertical Descents) and can only be climbed with one of their instructors. The experience lasts around 3 hours and is available during the summer months only (not, however, during or after heavy rainfall as the waterfall becomes too dangerous). The cost of £70 includes all required equipment.
Climbing Mount Elbrus in Russia
Experienced by Campbell & Alya from Stingy Nomads
Climbing Mount Elbrus in Russia was one of the toughest adventures we’ve ever had in Europe. Elbrus is the highest European peak and one of the seven world summits it’s on the bucket list of many adrenalin junkies. The mountain is situated in the south of Russia on the border with Georgia.
The best way of getting there is flying to Nalchik and from there taking a local mini-bus to Terskol. Summer, June to August is the best time for climbing Elbrus. Unlike other world’s highest peaks, climbing Elbrus can be done on a budget and independently. There are no permits or any other fees. If you stay in a tent on the mountain and make your own food your cost will be minimal. No advanced booking is required.
The climb starts at Garabashi where climbers stay for a couple of days for acclimatization. The final ascent starts between 12 am and 1 am from Shelter Maria. The climb is very challenging; complete darkness, temperatures below 0°C, strong wind, and knee-deep snow.
At some stage, I thought I wasn’t going to make it to the top. It was a long 7-hour battle. The higher we went the more difficult it got. The last bit to the peak was a steep ascent we walked very slow, stopping every 50 m to rest. Eventually, we reached the top and all tiredness disappeared that very moment. 360° panoramic views of the Caucasian mountain range below was well worth the struggle.
Canyoning in The Azores in Portugal
Experienced by Oli from No Brits Abroad
Sao Miguel is the largest of the nine islands of the Azores archipelago. These Portuguese islands have incredible volcanic landscapes making them the perfect place for physical activities in nature. Canyoning is just one of these exciting things to do in the Azores.
Canyoning gives you the chance to explore rivers and waterfalls through jumping, rappelling and sliding over rocks. It’s suitable for beginners and you won’t go anywhere without a fully qualified guide. All you need is a reasonable level of fitness and a love of water, one thing you can’t avoid is getting soaked!
At first, it can be a little daunting standing at the top of a waterfall staring at the pool below but you soon get used to it and excited for the next one. For the higher waterfalls, you’ll slowly rappel down using ropes assisted by the guides but the true adrenaline comes from the jumps which can be higher than five metres.
A great company to go with are Fun Activities Azores Adventure. They offer several different canyoning experiences with half and full-day options available. Booking can be done using their website.
Depending on the course you choose, prices range from €60 to €110 per person and it’s worth every penny. Canyoning is possible all year round in the Azores but it can be affected by the weather.
Canyoning in Madeira, Portugal
Experienced by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
The Portuguese island of Madeira is filled with volcanic landscapes that are perfect for outdoor activities. Including one of the most adventurous things to do in Madeira, canyoning. This exciting sport takes place in a canyon called Ribeiro Frio, that consists of eight rappels. The canyon is found in the UNESCO Laurissilva Forest, one of the seven wonders of Portugal.
Over the years I have shied away from the activity as whilst I enjoy climbing and abseiling, I have a fear of jumping into the water. However, I had heard good things about the beginner level course so decided to give it a go and explained the situation to the guides at Madeira Adventure Kingdom who assured me they would find alternative hiking routes if I decided not to do any of the jumps. This was enough to convince me so I joined the two-hour beginner trail.
This involved two rappels, the highest of which was 18 meters. The afternoon was a mix of swimming, jumping through waterfalls, and hiking through the lush green canyon all for 60 euros. This price included the hire of shoes, a wetsuit, helmet and harness so all we needed was a swimsuit, towel and a change of clothes.
Arthurs Seat in Scotland
Explored by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages
I think one of the best ways to get your adrenaline pumping is to go on a hike with crazy views. One hike like this, in particular, is the hike up to Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is situated on top of an old volcano! Even if you only have a short time in Edinburgh, you’ll want to make time for this hike.
The hike is 100% free, which makes it even better. You have no reason not to try it yourself! The hike can be started near the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
There are a few different routes to the top, all with varying lengths and difficulty. If you’re up for it, you can hike straight up, or you could meander around the mountain until you finally reach the top. On average, it’ll take about 1.5 hours to get to the top, unless you’re super speedy.
Technically, this hike can be done during all seasons. However, if it’s raining or snowing, I’d highly suggest not doing it. It’s extremely rocky at the very top and you could easily take one wrong step and fly off the edge of the mountain! This is especially true during peak times around midday. To skip the crowds, go early in the morning. You’ll even get a great sunrise!
Orrido di Botri canyon hike in Tuscany, Italy
Experienced by Matt from It All In Italy
Orrido di Botri Canyon Hike in Tuscany, Italy is an amazing adventure to enjoy as a day hike if you’re visiting Italy. You’ll find Orrido di Botri about 1hr, 15 minutes’ drive north-east of Lucca in the Apennine mountain range full of lush, green forests.
The canyon itself features huge cliff-like grey limestone walls with the base of the canyon part-filled with water that you walk through approximately 20% of the hike.
July and August are the two best months for the hike when temperatures can reach in the high 30’s in nearby cities like Lucca and Florence. Within the canyon itself during this time, the temperature is probably around 25C. So wading through the crystal clear water is a welcome refresher from the heat outside of the canyon. Make sure you bring a change of socks and shoes for when the hike ends so you can change of out your wet gear.
Climbing and navigating between huge boulders and shimmying along rock walls while holding onto secured ropes makes for an amazing adventure and awesome photos too!
This is approximately a 6km return hike, the halfway point is a stunning waterfall and pool where you can enjoy a much-earned swim to cool off after a couple of hours of hiking through the canyon.
The hike is suitable for just about anyone who’s fit and agile, but kids would probably need to be above 8 years old. Hiking shoes are best to wear as the rocks can be quite slippery and walking through the water, it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re stepping on, so ankle support shoes are best.
The hike could be classified as 8 out of 10 difficulty level so a reasonable level of fitness is required. A nominal fee of €5- €10 (USD$6-$11) is payable at the start of the hike which includes helmet rental.
Guadalmina River Walk in Spain
Experienced by Linn Haglund from Brainy Backpackers
Guadalmina River is situated just outside Benahavís village on Spain’s sunshine coast. It’s a natural playground and one of the most fun day trips from Malaga. The hike takes about 2 hours, but you can gladly spend a whole day playing in natural pools, jumping off cliffs, sliding off natural slides into the refreshing water.
It is free for everyone to go and there is free parking not far from a little beach where you can start swimming through a small canyon, but I like to walk along the road to the water hole on the other side of the canyon. This walk is only 5-10 minutes. Once you get to the water hole you start by sliding down a natural slide to the natural pool. This is a fun place to jump from the cliffs, slide, and have fun.
When you continue, you’ll have to climb down the rocks and it can get sketchy unless you have good shoes (that can get wet). Continue down the river and you will come to a few places you’ll have to swim. Another natural slide into a little waterfall and then you continue through the canyon until it nearly closes up above you. This part you’ll have to swim. Once out on the other side, you can walk again, but you’ll get to yet another closed up part where you’ll have to swim through to the beach at the end.
Climbing Forest in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany
Experienced by Diana from The Globetrotting Detective
Kletterwald Garmisch-Partenkirchen, is a climbing forest located in the famous ski town, Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s close to Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze, which is situated at an altitude of 2,962 m.
This climbing forest contains a wide range of rope climbing exercises, obstacle courses and bouldering that are categorized by difficulty levels. Moreover, they have a great number of ziplines. It’s one of the best adventures sports in Germany.
I was really excited about going to the Kletterwald Garmisch-Partenkirchen because I love climbing and getting high up, let it be on a big tree or up in the air somewhere. I was fearless and totally up for my next serious adventure, so was happy to jump with ropes among trees, balancing on moving objects and climbing on big spider nets.
After trying the easier ones, I wanted to finish the day with the most difficult station which included 14 elements. There, to my big surprise, I felt so damn terrified. I wanted to overcome my fear, I could not just stop now because I was scared. Therefore, I keep pushing myself. Actually, it was so stupid to be scared because it’s not dangerous at all. You are attached to harnesses that are connected to the safety cables. If you fall, you just hang in the air on your harness which is actually totally awesome and relaxing.
I completed the most difficult station and I felt like a rock star. I was so proud of myself. I highly encourage everyone to try this adventure park and also the stations that seem to be scary. I can tell you, you’ll feel so amazing once you are done with it.
This is a seasonal activity, you can only climb during summertime and only when the weather is dry. Tickets cost 24 € for adults and valid for 3 hours. If you are up for this adventure, you need to book a spot in advance by calling or emailing them.
Best adventure sports in Europe - final thoughts
So I really hope after reading this article you have a ton of ideas you want to add to your Europe bucket list. I’d like to thank the thrill-seeking writers who made this article possible and really showcasing some of the best adventure trips in Europe. I can’t want to get booking onto some of these.
Don’t forget your travel insurance.
Pin it for later
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