Hands up if you re a thrill seeker!!! If the thought of a pure city trip stuffed with museums, attractions and clubbing makes you shudder as much as me, this is a post for you. I love adventure and try to incorporate at least some outdoor activities on any trip I do. I could not stand the idea of ticking off a new destination and not see some beautiful countryside and spend time outdoors.

If you are planning a trip to Europe this summer, you have most likely got cities like Paris, Berlin or Rome on your itinerary, but what about the great outdoors?

This is a list of ten amazing adventure destinations in Europe to jam-pack you itinerary with adrenaline!

Austria

Skiing is not the only outdoor sport that makes Austria a great adventure destination. There are so many more things to do and outdoor activities waiting for you – especially during the summer!

Your first thought might wander towards the Austrian Alps. The mountains are always great to look to for adventure. You could hike some of the tallest peaks in the country, climb a Via Ferrata with breathtaking views, or go stand-up paddling on a crystal clear lake surrounded by mountain views. But there is more – paragliding, mountain biking, white water rafting; you name it!

The east of Austria is famous for the capital of Vienna and the landscape is significantly flatter than the west. However, that does not mean you have to pack your activewear away. Go cycling around Lake Neusiedl, caving in one of Austria’s largest cave or hike around the vineyards on the outskirts of Vienna. Your options are endless!

 

Scotland

Via Ferrata in Scotland

The iconic Scottish Highlands are a hiker’s paradise. Scotland has the tallest mountains of Britain – and not too few! There are over 280 Munros in Scotland – those are mountains over 3,000 feet – and many brave the challenge to climb every single one of them. Scotland’s Great Trails is a collection of long-distance trails that take you far off the beaten track but never far enough from cosy B&Bs, traditional inns with roaring fireplaces and convenient luggage transfer services.

There is even a Via Ferrata in Scotland – near Kinlochleven – that allows you to climb up beside a 90m waterfall, balance across some steel cables high above its highest point and zip line over the gurgling water.

Scotland is also famous for its coastline and waterways. You can go canoeing in serene freshwater lochs, sea-kayaking along the Scottish Kayak Trail on the west coast, stand up paddleboarding and even surfing on the Isle of Tiree.

 

Sweden

What happens when 16 women decide to hike together for 110km through the Swedish wilderness? They become "Women on the Trail"!

Sweden is full of surprises. When you first think of Sweden, Stockholm, Lapland and dog-sledging might be the first things that come to mind. But Sweden is full of outdoor activities!

One of my favourite experiences ever was my trek along the King’s Trail, a 5-day hike through the backcountry of Swedish Lapland. Surrounded by the tallest peaks of Sweden, I hiked through birch-tree forests, along the shores of turquoise mountain lakes and up the rocky passes of this mountain range. The endless sunlight of the summer season, made hiking those long days a delight!

The archipelagos around Stockholm and Gothenburg are perfect for water activities. You can go kayaking or canoeing, go on land on of the many rocky outcrops, have a picnic and paddle on to your next destination. The area is also great for boat and sailing trips on slightly bigger boats! It’s that easy to leave the city for a day and get some fresh air.

The south of Sweden is also fantastic for cycling. There are many bike lanes and multi-day cycling trails to choose from. They lead through pristine wilderness, through tall forests, along clear lakes and into lovely small towns. Kattegattleden comes to mind – a 370-mile coastal route in Skåne.

 

Slovenia

In recent years, Slovenia has transformed for an absolute insider tip for budget travellers, to one of Europe’s most popular destinations. I am sure you have heard of Lake Bled and Ljubljana! But did you know that Slovenia is also a paradise for hiking, biking and water sports?

Lying on the south-eastern edge of the Alps, the mountains of Slovenia offer a huge network of hiking trails and mountain huts that will please day-hikers and multi-day trekkers alike. The Trenta Valley in Triglav National Park is a popular area, particularly because it is located near the River Soča which is famous for its turquoise water and high-adrenaline activities from rafting to kayaking.

The Karst rock of the Slovenian mountains offers a lot of climbing routes (for example in the Štajerska Region), but also some impressive caves that are waiting to be explored.

 

Romania

Romania is famous as Dracula’s home, its beautiful castles and the bustling capital of Bukarest. Budget-wary active travellers will also be happy to hear though, that Romania is also a top-notch adventure destination!

Begin in the Carpathian mountains by scaling the Piatra Craiului mountain ridge which offers a challenging day out and fantastic views of karst landscapes and deep gorges. The rest of the Carpathian mountains are just as stunning and there are many places where you can go hiking, biking, kayaking and caving. Did you know there are over 12,000 recorded caves in Romania?

Another great place for outdoor activities in Romania is the Danube Delta where you can go boating and wildlife watching for days.

Speaking of wildlife watching – the mountains and forests of Transylvania hold a very special experience: you can watch wild brown bears here! There are plenty in the area, so as long as you take the right safety precautions, you should be able to spot them; especially in the spring when they have cubs and emerge after their long winter sleep.

Make sure you read up on our tips for responsible animal tourism!

 

Italy

Exploring gorgeous seaside towns, indulging in pasta, pizza and gelato, discovering the ancient history of Europe – those are the kind of things Italy is famous for. Italy is less known as an outdoor destination, but there is so much to include on your action itinerary!

Many people go hiking in the Dolomites, Italy’s breathtaking claim to the Alps, which have routes for any level of experience. You can climb peaks like the bizarre peaks of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, rent a boat on the dreamy Lago di Braiescycle through the Dolomited and explore the valleys of South Tyrol.

There are more trails further south, for example, the new Garda Trek look in the north of Lake Garda, trails around Lake Maggiore or in the Lessin nature park.

Much further south, you can go scuba diving near Naples to explore the sunken city of Baia, hike on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily or paraglide over Castelluccio in Umbria.

 

Norway

We could not leave Norway off this list. The breathtaking fjords, high mountain plateaus and vast empty landscapes roamed by huge herds of reindeer are screaming for adventurers like you!

Hiking is one of the best ways to explore Norway’s national parks and mountain landscapes. Whether you brave the challenging 8-hour hike up to Trollstunga or hike for days in the quaint Stølsheimen area north of Bergen, there is a trail waiting for you. If you need some more convincing, read out interview with Johanna Seim who lives by herself in a Norwegian mountain hut!

Of course, there are many more activities you can do in Norway. There are ziplines and Via Ferratas all over the country and there is even an indoor skydiving park in Voss – just the activity for adrenaline junkies! Kayaking, rafting, canoeing – you name it. One of my personal favourite experiences was horseback riding in central Norway, in an area called Tydal.

If you’re ready for a real adventure, the Lofoten are calling – an archipelago off the northwest coast of Norway where you can climb tall peaks and wild camp in the wilderness.

France

Verdon Gorge in France

France is an incredibly diverse country bursting with adventures from the Atlantic to the Med, from the coast of the Normandy to the mountains of the French Alps and the Pyrenees.

The French Alps are a very special place and many people dream about hiking here at least once in their life. Cyclists will love the quiet country roads in the south of France around Avignon and the Provence. The Verdon Gorge between Nice and Marseille is perfect for anyone looking for unique kayaking experiences. Up and down the Atlantic coast there are surf school teaching you the high art of surfing the waves. And these are just some of the must-have experiences in France!

One of the most underrated mountain ranges in Europe, the Pyrenees are everything you ever dreamt of if you like off-beat adventures. Networks of hiking trails, white water rafting, climbing and canyoning are waiting for you. The Pyrenees are split by the French-Spanish border and both sides have a lot to offer.

You might also want to check out our guide to adventure activities in the Spanish Pyrenees.

Iceland

Ice cave in Iceland

Iceland needs no introduction as an outdoor destination. There is hardly any other reason to visit this tiny island nation in the North Atlantic – unless you are a foodie interested in fermented shark meat…

The opportunities for adventure activities in Iceland are endless both in summer and winter.

During the summer, you can join boat trips to bird colonies such as on the islands of Dyrhólaey or Westman. You can go hiking in the interior Highlands of the island, for example along the popular Laugavegur or down the less known Asbyrgi Canyon.

In winter you have the opportunity to explore ice caves and walk on glaciers – among many other winter activities.

Most adventures, however, run year-round, such as the snorkelling expeditions in Silfra lake, where you snorkel between the American and the European tectonic plates. Or horse-back riding on the famous Icelandic ponies. Or hiking to natural hot springs and jumping into a hot river bed. In Iceland adventure is waiting for you!

Poland

Wind surfing in Poland

Last but not least, comes Poland – a country you might have not expected to see on this list!

With its long coastline on the Baltic Sea, Poland is an unexpected surf destination in Europe. Admittedly, the water can be quite cold, but so is the Atlantic – you might as well go off the beaten path! Gdansk is a great place to base yourself in to explore the many beaches and surf territories around the coast. The peninsula Hel is a particularly popular surfing and windsurfing hotspot – yet completely underrated among European destinations!

Poland is dotted with national parks. One of the most famous parks covers the peaks of the Tatra mountain range. The park lies in the south of Poland and continues across the border in Slovakia. The bustling hub of the Tatra in Poland is Zakopane from where you can take mini-buses to reach day hikes or start multi-day treks into the mountains.

But there is more: at Bory Tucholskie National Park you can kayak down the River Brda, watch wild bison at Białowieża National Park or join one of the popular white water rafting excursion on the River Dunajec at Pieniny National Park. And the best thing is – you will have it all to yourself!

 

Are you planning an outdoorsy trip to Europe this summer?