Museums are great! So are bus tours! But it’s hard to unwind when you’re surrounded by people and rushing from sight to sight. If you’re an adventurer who loves to stay active, Europe offers a variety of destinations which will keep your blood pumping and let you experience everything the continent has to offer, far away from the city centers. So, for the adventurer in you, below is a list of the best active destinations in Europe.
Hang Gliding in Italy
After spending a few days immersed in the rich history and culture of Rome, Venice, and Florence you will be ready to stretch your legs and explore everything else Italy has to offer. Head to Northern Italy to explore The Dolomites, a wild mountain range with diverse terrain and an abundance of outdoor activities, to satisfy even the most fearless traveler.
In the summer, visitors can find fields of wildflowers in bloom while hiking on one of the many groomed trails. This is also the time of year you can soar like a bird while taking in expansive views of the valleys which have made this region famous. Hang gliding is popular in The Dolomites and rentals with professional instructors can be rented easily at many locations. If you happen to visit in the winter, don’t despair. Strap on a snowboard and carve up the slopes with the locals.
Bird Watching in Portugal
Wonders await on the Portuguese archipelago. Madeira is the most popular destination in this part of the world and offers something for everyone. People come for the beaches, but the interior also offers plenty to do. Climb Mount Arieiro and look down at the clouds hovering above the Atlantic Ocean. Or, spend an afternoon in a eucalyptus forest. Madeira is quickly becoming known for its stunning hiking trails and bird watchers from all over the world are flocking to the volcanic terrain for a glimpse of one of the forty-six species which call Portugal home.
After a few days of looking at life through birding binoculars, visitors can return to the coast to sample the area’s famous wines. Grab a surfboard to enjoy world class waves at one of the several local beaches. Madeira offers something for everyone.
Snowmobiling in Iceland
Minutes after leaving Reykjavik, visitors to Iceland can be enjoying a variety of outdoor activities. The entire country is filled with spectacular hiking along glacier fields. Pull up your best camping chair at a natural hot spring or the bottom of a majestic waterfall. Both are accessible at many sites around the countryside. Volcanoes also dot the landscape creating scenery unlike anywhere else on the planet.
If you’re lucky, you will see the famed Northern Lights; nature’s best light show. The truly adventurous can rent snowmobiles for the day and take a fast-paced tour of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier near Lake Jökulsárlón. In a country covered in snow, there is no better way to travel.
Kayaking in Estonia
The Baltic Coast is only now being discovered by travelers to Europe. In Estonia, more than one thousand islands lay waiting to be explored by kayak. Book a trip, and you can paddle for days from island to island, surrounded by the ruins of installations used by the Soviet military fifty years ago.
Many islands are inhabited and offer a unique opportunity to stay among the locals for a night or two and be immersed in local culture. Others are ghost towns with abandoned farmhouses and watchtowers looming out of the mist.
Para Gliding in France
Mont Blanc is Europe’s highest peak and attracts climbers from around the globe each year seeking to add its icy summit to their list of accomplishments. But for the more casual adventurer, this mountain paradise offers many other pursuits.
Paragliding is fast becoming a popular diversion in this part of France and the steepness of Mt. Blanc is a perfect location to test the wind. There is no better way to enjoy some of Europe’s most famous alpine views.
Hiking in Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland is home to two of Europe’s most accessible glaciers, Jungfrau and Altesch. The area offers amazing hiking trails and climbing opportunities for anyone who wants a challenge. Activities are accessible year-round with the summer providing relief from the snow and ice in the form of meadows filled with wildflowers watered by waterfalls full of melting snow. For those wanting a day off from trekking, a train provides convenient service throughout the region and can be used to get a closer look at any sights missed on foot.
Cycling the Balkans
Feel like a 1000 kilometer cycling trip the next time you’re in Europe? You’re in luck. The Via Dinarica runs from the Dinaric Alps in Slovenia through Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, before ending in Macedonia. You can choose to either walk or ride, and the trail offers different routes suited for both. On a bike, your best bet is the Green Trail while serious hikers will opt for the mountainous White Trail. The Blue Trail follows the Dalmatian Coast and is the easiest of the three. Rentals are available throughout the area, so you don’t have to pack your wheels to enjoy this adventure destination.
Safari in Spain
You don’t have to go to Africa for a proper safari. Spain offers two adventures to satisfy your wildlife itch. Both the Donana National Park and the Andujar Natural Park will let you explore their acreage in search of the rare Iberian lynx and other native wildlife. The local flora and fauna can be explored by hiking or from the seat of an off-road vehicle and guides are available to ensure you see the most animals possible, including a Spanish imperial eagle or two.
The next time you are planning a trip to Europe, consider including some adventures that require you to move around on your itinerary. Staying active is a great way to spend your vacation, and you will see things that will never be exhibited in a museum.