whitewater kayaking

The Best Rivers in Europe to Go Whitewater Kayaking!

Adreche river in France
Ardèche River, France

Ardèche River, France

The Ardèche River is one of the best rivers to go whitewater kayaking on in all of Europe! This stunning river in the southeast of France is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise! Flowing through the Auvergne region, this river is surrounded by beautiful cliffs, forests, gorges and a unique limestone arch, the Pont d’Arc.

Kayaking adventures down the Ardèche River are truly an amazing experience. Participants get to paddle below cliffs of up to 300 meters high, and under the famous natural arch, Pont d’Arc. If you want to double up your fun, you can stop at the nearby Gorges of Chassezac – a great place to swim, jump, sleep, picnic and even go fishing!

The best part? These class I-II level rapids are suitable for the whole family! There are half-day- multiple day options at 8km, 12km, 24km, 32km (the latter with the option of camping in the middle), and children as young as 7 can join as well!

So relax and enjoy beautiful hidden gorges and canyons along the Ardeche River. Try avoiding the high season (July-August) to embark on kayaking, as Ardèche can be extremely (too?) popular at that time of the year.

Soča River in Slovenia
Soča River, Slovenia

Soča River, in Bled, Slovenia

This Eastern-European country, with just over 2 million people, may not be on your radar- yet! But even the most fair-weather nature lovers should add this beautiful Slavic country to their must-visit bucket list!

Amazingly, over 50% of Slovenian land is covered in forest, paired with aquamarine rivers swerving in between canyons and multiple Alpine mountain ranges. This country is an absolutely ideal playground for outdoor adventurers.

Knowing all this, you can imagine how beautiful the Slovenian rivers must be- in particular, the Soča River! Taking a kayaking excursion on the Soča river, you will paddle from Bled to Radovljica, through class II rapids! Soča also has class III and IV rapids which are ideal for rafting – so be sure to check out our rafting activities in Soča as well.

Experience kayaking on one of the best whitewater rivers in Europe for over 1h30 minutes of ride time. The adventure will include a range of flat water, small rapids and more challenging sections. This is a stunning ride for thrill-lovers to ride fun waves while immersed in the untouched beauty of the Slovenian natural wonders.

Hvítá River, Iceland
Hvítá River, Iceland

Hvítá River, Iceland

Another one of the best rivers to whitewater kayak or raft down is the Class II rapid-Hvítá River, located northeast of the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik. Flowing for over 40 kilometres downstream, these gorgeous rapids eventually plunge over the edge of the Gullfoss waterfall cliffs.

These glacial waters frequently appear an opaque, dreamy blue-green color. The stunning colors of the water are indicative of their origin – Iceland’s second-largest glacier, the Langjökull glacier. 

Hvítá River, which means White River in Icelandic, is not only beautiful, but full of fun whitewater rapids as well! This is precisely why kayakers travel from all over the world to ride these waves. 

When taking a kayaking or rafting excursion in the Hvítá River in Iceland, you will be privy to some of the most stunning natural sights on the entire Island.

Along the way, you will paddle through Brúarhlöð canyon. Here you can witness rare rock formations, portholes, extraordinary cliffs, and  water-washed breccia walls. The excursion also stops along the way to allow thrill-seekers a jump from the cliffs into the glacial blue canyon waters below!

Participants will get an hour and a half on the this beautiful river, and afterwards will be treated to a visit to the Drumbó sauna.

Trebizat River, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Trebizat River, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Trebizat River, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Another one of the best rivers in Europe to go whitewater kayaking is the Trebizat River. These class III-IV rapids are a well-known whitewater destination in Bosnia and Herzegovina, just one hour West of Mostar.  

Why you ask? To start, Trebizat waters are super clear, warm and basically the stuff of dreams. The river runs through lush forests and dips underground over 9 times along its 50-kilometre trail. Not to mention this is the only underground river in all of Europe! 

Kayaking excursions down the Trebizat River are led by an experienced guide, so rest assured you will be safe and can focus on having fun! The rapids start out calm and flat, and you’ll paddle through tranquil waters with low hanging trees.

As the rapids become more turbulent, you will ride past waterfalls such as the Kravica and Kocusa waterfalls, which spill from over 120 metres high. These waterfalls are considered to be some of the most stunning sights in all of Bosnia & Herzegovina!

Zrmanja River, Zadar, Croatia
Zrmanja River, Zadar, Croatia

Zrmanja River, Zadar, Croatia

In the past few years, Croatia has become a favorite holiday destination for travellers, and who can blame them? It’s a gorgeous country with sparkling turquoise oceans and rivers, abundant forests and one-of-a-kind ancient architecture.

Zadar, Croatia is located right on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, across from the Croatian archipelago. The Zrmanja River itself is a one-hour drive from Zadar (2 hours from Split), and water sport enthusiasts have been happy to make the drive since the 1980s.

Kayaking excursions at Zrmanja River are excellent for families, as beginners and children as young as 6 are welcome to participate. Zrmanja Rivers boasts over 65 kilometres of fun, flowing under the Postak peak, near the Plješevica and Velebit mountains. Along the 3-hour ride, you will paddle over rapids, through deep canyons, see beautiful waterfalls (and even kayak down some of them!) Direct transportation from Zadar to the river is possible!

Kuruçay River inTurkey
Kuruçay River, Turkey

Kuruçay River, Turkey

Stretching over 183 kilometres in length, the Kuruçay River is a stunning waterway, flowing through narrow passages and alongside lush greenery.

This Turkish river runs through the province of Antalya (and can be easily reached from this popular coastal town) and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Waters in the Koprulu Canyon National Park are a spectacular turquoise colour. Not to mention the perfect playground for kayakers! Kuruçay River is an absolutely ideal spot to visit during your summer holidays near Antalya.

A kayaking adventure on the Kuruçay River in Turkey takes participants on an excursion of a lifetime! You will ride on special, inflatable river kayaks which enable you to paddle these gorgeous class II rapids with ease. These waters are great for novice kayakers and offer just the right amount of thrill.

As you ride down the river, you can see the Taurus Mountains. Also visible are historical castles, aqueducts, bridges, and ancient roads from the Roman area.

Blackwater river in Ireland
Blackwater River, Killarney, Ireland

Blackwater River, Killarney, Ireland

Part of the beautiful Killarney National Park in Ireland, Blackwater River is so amazing that it became a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 1982.

The park has within it the largest area of ​​natural forest in all of Ireland, due largely to the temperate oceanic climates. There are also several plant species found only in the south-west of Europe, including the unique strawberry tree.

But the best feature is, of course, the Blackwater River itself. Check out this kayaking excursion down the Blackwater River in Ireland which offers fantastic views of the park and all the beauty of Ireland.

While on this 2-hour excursion, participants have the opportunity to see exotic animals and birds. This includes the kingfisher bird, otters, seals and even bottlenose dolphins! There are also beautiful whitewater falls to see. All your need to bring is your sense of adventure!

kayaking on the Congost de Montrebei, Spain
Congost de Montrebei, Spain

Congost de Montrebei, Spain

Another one of the best places in Europe to go whitewater kayaking is deep in the Mont-Rebei Gorge, in Spain. This beautiful gorge is well known for hiking, with spectacular views and cool suspension bridges to cross.

There are whitewater kayaking activities in the Mont-Rebei Gorge that combine hiking and kayaking or just kayaking, you choose! This narrow gorge flows through the Noguera Ribagorçana, which separates Aragon from Catalonia. High above the gorge, you can walk across either of the two suspension bridges at over 500 meters high.

You can also choose optional paths which take you down a hidden pathway leading up to the ancient hermitage of Pertusa. Take in magnificent views of the gorge and the Canelles dam below. The waters here are calm, blue and beautiful- just waiting to be enjoyed.

Kayaking on the Ribadesella, Sella River Spain
Ribadesella River, Spain

Sella River, Spain

One of the best rivers in Europe to go whitewater kayaking on is in the beautiful country of Spain- the Sella River. Also known as Ridadesella River, this river flows 66 kilometres in length and down through the National Park of Picos de Europa.

Whitewater kayaking activities on the Sella usually last around 2- 3 hours, crossing through Cain and Poncebos down into the Asturias. The river also passes next to Cabrales, a small town well-known for its “picon” cheese. 

This segment of the Sella and Cares River are perfect to enjoy with family or friends, as no special physical requirements are needed to enjoy. You’ll glide through small streams with quiet areas ideal for bathing, and the gentle current will help you paddle along the way.

What is great about The Sella is that you can choose different routes, ranging from 12-17 kilometres. Some sections are class I-II, while others get up to a class III. The class III sections take kayakers through the towns of Arriondas and Llovio. You will also get to travel a section of the famous International Descent of the Sella River, where a kayaking competition takes place every year.

St-Chély-du-Tarn River, France
St-Chély-du-Tarn River, France

Tarn River, France

Nestled in the mountains of Southern France, the Tarn River is one of the best rivers in Europe to go whitewater kayaking. Running 381 kilometres in length through over 65 kilometres of gorges.

One unique feature of the whitewater kayaking activities down the Tarn River is the versatility it offers. From half-day trips to 4-day camping and kayaking adventures, this is one of the few rivers in Europe to offer so many options.

Once you’re on the water you’ll paddle through deep gorges with 300-metre high cliffs surrounding you. Along the way, you will pass very picturesque villages such as St. Chély and Enimie.

When you aren’t looking at the beautiful sights, you can enjoy the continuous class I-II, rapids. This river offers a super fun descent all the way down, reaching up to class III for the grand finale.

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