Are you dreaming of kayaking in Europe? If you are, you may wonder which European destinations offer the most amazing and singular kayaking experiences. Today, we’re going to share information about 10 of the best kayaking spots in Europe. Each of these “dream destinations” offers natural beauty in glorious abundance, interesting and unique waterways…and plenty of fun things to see and do along the way!
We’ve researched these kayaking spots in great depth. We’re here to summarize the primary charms of every destination on the list. We want to help you put together a European itinerary which is guaranteed to stimulate your mind, body and spirit.
A paddling holiday in Europe will be such a great way to see the sights as you breathe in fresh air and get plenty of healthy exercise.
Choosing one of these kayaking spots may just lead to your best holiday ever. Don’t forget to pack your waterproof camera or GoPro.
Lake Garda, Italy
If your kayaking experience level is “beginner”, or you prefer to take it easy on vacation, even though you are an intermediate or expert paddler, you should be sure to consider a trip to gorgeous Lake Garda. This Italian lake offers kayaking pleasure which isn’t too challenging.
Located in northern Italy, Lake Garda is flanked by villages and towns which have plenty of character, as well as majestic mountains. You’ll love the lake’s sapphire-blue water, which is world-renowned for its clarity and cleanliness. Those who know Lake Garda well prefer to “pilot” their kayaks around the edge of the water. If you do the same, you’ll be primed to explore so many wonderful rocks, beaches and cliffs.
Since the lake’s waters are relatively calm, this European kayaking destination will give you the capacity to kayak at your own pace, without needing to fight rough water conditions.
This famous lake was carved out via glaciers. At the thin tip of the lake, you’ll find a mountain city known as Trentino Alto Adige, which is historic. This village is a great place to grab a meal…and indulge in a bit of retail therapy!
Also, be sure to check out the resort town of Sirmione. It’s situated along the southern bank of the lake and its Roman ruins make it special. Sirmione is a big hit with tourists.
Some tourists land in Rome, check out the city (including the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica) for a day or two and then rent cars, which they drive to Lake Garda. It’s possible to rent kayaks right at the lake. The drive from Rome to Lake Garda takes about six hours.
Dubrovnik is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s particularly popular with yacht owners and kayaking enthusiasts. This city in Croatia has a population of just over forty-two thousand people.
When you choose Dubrovnik for a kayaking adventure, you’ll be able to explore the Adriatic Sea. Begin your kayak cruise underneath Fort Lovrjenac. Its ancient beauty will intrigue you. Then, paddle towards Lokrum Island and explore. Nicknamed, “the island of love”, this picturesque isle is only six hundred meters from Dubrovnik. After you circle the island, which is home to some mysterious caves, we recommend checking out Betina beach. If you’ve stashed a picnic lunch in your kayak, this beach will be a great place to enjoy it.
Once you’ve hit these highlights, paddle the coastline, in the direction of Dubrovnik’s striking and dramatic city walls.
When you’re out of the kayak, be sure to check out some of the most popular Dubrovnik attractions, including St. Blaise Church, with its splendid baroque architecture, and the Stradum, which is loaded with fun eateries and shops.
When in Croatia, apply plenty of sunscreen regularly, even if there is significant cloud cover. The sun may not seem too bright, but it does pack quite a punch.
You’ll find that the summertime months are the most pricey in Croatia. If you’re on a tight budget, avoid kayaking in Dubrovnik during July and August. Choose May, June or September instead.
Costa Brava, Spain
If you choose to paddle in scenic Costa Brava, Spain, you’ll be enjoying one of the world’s premier kayaking destinations. This sun-soaked European locale is a coastal part of the northeastern portion of Catalonia. It’s situated between the Pyrenees and the glittering Mediterranean Sea.
This stretch of coastline measures two hundred and fourteen kilometers, so you’ll have plenty of room to explore by kayak. Blanes is on the coast’s south side, while Portbou is found on its north side, right on the border which leads to France.
Enjoy the beauty of aquamarine and azure waters as you paddle. When you want to enjoy some local color, consider visiting the lovely village, Cadaques, which is part of the province of Girona, and which inspired works from a variety of master painters, including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
Other local highlights in the Costa Brava region include Medes Island Marine Preserve and the lush Aiguamolls de l’Empordia Natural Park.
You’ll love the climate in Costa Brava, Spain. The average yearly temperature is a very pleasant sixteen degrees.
If you want pristine beauty, you’ll find it in Lofoten, Norway. This Norwegian archipelago is renowned for its dramatic vistas, including the pinnacle, Svolværgeita, which rises up high into the clear blue sky. Lofoten has a population of roughly twenty-four thousand people and it’s home to the Lofotr Viking Museum, which showcases a reconstruction of a Viking “longhouse”. When you kayak through the crystalline waters in the area, you’ll see cyclists riding through the islands on many different bicycle baths. You’ll also spot fishing villages. Keep an eye out for the fishing village of Henningsvær, with its brightly-painted buildings. Its colorful buildings flank the waterways.
Exploring the islands of Lofeten by kayak will be a serene and inspiring experience. Some tourists who paddle the island waterways spend the night at local “rorbuer”, which are converted fishing huts. These huts are basic, but comfortable and affordable.
Enjoy French beauty, up close and personal, by kayaking through Ardeche. This “department” in France is situated in the southern-central part of the country. It makes up the southwest corner of the region known as the Rhone-Alpes.
When you visit Ardeche, you may paddle its winding waterways and admire a range of pretty woodlands and rolling hills. Ardeche is also home to moors and small-scale agriculture. One bonus of choosing Ardeche is that you’ll be able to explore the area’s ancient villages when you’re not in your kayak.
If you visit, don’t miss the Gorges of the Ardeche, which measures around thirty kilometers. It’s nicknamed, “the Grand Canyon of Europe”. Plenty of people kayak the waterways of the Gorge. This is adventure-style kayaking and summer is a great time to try it.
Descending the Gorge by kayak should give you quite a thrill. Once you’ve descended, you’ll see dramatic cliffs rising up around you, to heights of close to one thousand feet!
Another Ardeche highlight is the Regional Natural Park of the Monts d’Ardeche.
Algarve, Portuguese Region
The Algarve, Portuguese region, is the southernmost area in Portugal. It’s a beloved tourist destination because it features exquisite beaches and great golf courses. If you want sun and fun as you kayak, you’ll find that exploring the waters of The Algarve is a great way to enjoy a stellar vacation. The region used to be packed with charming fishing villages, which were perched on low cliffs. The cliffs rose up over coves. Now, the area is home to a lot of hotels, nightclubs and eateries.
When you’re done kayaking for the day, you’ll find that The Algarve offers no shortage of exciting activities, from shopping to dining to partying! If you like things unspoiled, consider kayaking on the western coast. It’s got a rugged vibe and it isn’t as developed as other parts of the region.
There are so many great places to kayak in the Portuguese region of The Algarve, including Felicia Beach and Ponta da Piedade. In particular, Ponta da Piedade is striking in terms of beauty, thanks to its cluster of rock formations. You’ll find Ponta da Piedade on the coastline of Lagos town.
Aegean Sea, Greece
Greece is a wonderful place to vacation. When you kayak the Aegean Sea, you’ll be able to see Milos, which is a volcanic island. Milos is home to seventy-one beautiful beaches. The whole area features natural beauty which is superlative. When you paddle through the waterways of the Aegean, you’ll access so many exciting “hidden gems”! Plus, the Mediterranean waters are delightfully clear and blue.
Milos is considered to be a veritable paradise for paddlers. It’s definitely one of the hot spots for kayaking in Greece. Milos is nicknamed, “the island of colors”, thanks to its brightly-painted buildings. It’s also known as the home of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.
Another Aegean island to explore while paddling is Skopelos, which features dramatic cliffs, a series of stunning beaches that you’ll probably have all to yourself and a range of sea caves. Some people kayak via guided tours, while others access adventure at their own pace.
You’ll love the sea breezes of Greece. They are light, so you’ll be very comfortable on the water. Keep an eye out for dolphins are you cruise through the Aegean Sea. If you want a change of pace, do some swimming or snorkeling.
You’ll marvel at the exquisite sunsets in this part of the world.
When you kayak in Turkey, you’ll be able to see the splendor of the uninhabited island of Kekova. Kekova, Turkey, is also called Caravola. It’s a small island which is close to Demre town, in the Antalya Province district. Paddle the gorgeous waterways and feel the Turkish sun on your face.
While you explore, you’ll see the partially-sunken ruins of an ancient town, Dolchriste (Dolikisthe), which was leveled by a natural disaster (an earthquake) back in the second century.
The region of Kekova measures two hundred and sixty kilometers and it includes two villages, a cluster of ancient towns (four in all) and the island, Kekova. One highlight of your kayaking adventure in this part of Turkey should be a trip to Kalekov. The locals call it, “Kale” and it’s a tiny village with a pretty castle. You may access the village by sea only, so you’ll find that you’re able to paddle your way in…and then see a place that most people are never lucky enough to see!
Sardinia has long been considered a playground for the rich. However, it’s not just for the wealthy. This island is the second-biggest within the Mediterranean Sea and it’s an autonomous part of Italy. It’s found in the Western “Med”, south of Corsica island, which is French. Sardinia consists of a city and four provinces. Plenty of indigenous languages are spoken in the region, so it’s got a lot of unique character and charm. Examples of minority languages which are spoken there include Corsican Gallurese and Sassarese.
This island is perfect for sea kayaking. It’s also a great place to breathe in the heady scent of wildflowers, shrubs and plants. Most people who spend time there love the people, the food, the climate and the natural beauty. Attractions to paddle by include the walls of Alghero “old town”, the scenic Alghero Harbor, Maria Pia Beach and the huge limestone headland known as Capo Caccia. This just scratches the surface. Sardinia has a reputation as a holiday wonderland for very good reason!
Shetland Islands, Scotland
If you like your scenery rugged and you have a taste for the Celtic, you’ll love exploring Scotland’s Shetland islands by kayak. Also known as Shetland, the Shetland Islands are located northeast of Great Britain. This scenic archipelago features a population of just over twenty-two thousand. Known for its intriguing culture, which combines Scottish and Scandinavian elements, this island chain features over one hundred islands. Paddle to your heart’s content as you discover isle after isle! As well, enjoy the ancient history that the Scottish Shetland Islands are known for. You’ll love this region’s exciting landscapes, wildlife and impressive geology.
In terms of where to kayak in this archipelago, the options will be almost endless. The coastline is very accessible, as well as extensive, so sea kayakers will never, ever get bored. Expect to see stunning cliffs and empty beaches as you paddle. As well, there are plenty of mysterious sea caves, in addition to sheltered inlets and arches.
Fifteen islands in the region are inhabited. In the warm-weather months, there are plenty of exciting festivals on these islands, including the annual Summer Carnival in Lerwick. Also, the inhabited islands feature interesting heritage sites which are not-to-be-missed attractions, such as the Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement (on Sumburgh Island).