The Alps are a vast, stunning mountain range at the heart of Europe, spanning the borders of 8 European countries: France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Slovenia. This expansive area, covering approximately 1200km, boasts a whole host of challenging, choppy whitewater courses flowing through its valleys, canyons and gorges. The Alps are home to a multitude of great rafting adventures, for beginners and experienced rafters alike.
A whitewater sport based around team-work, rafting is a great holiday activity and is perfect for groups of friends or family to try together, working as a team to navigate the often wild waters. This popular sport involves navigating rapids, waves and small drops, working as a small team – as these inflatable rafts can usually only hold up to 8 people, plus the instructor, to paddle and make your way successfully around obstacles and through rapids.
The Alps are the place to go for rating adventures, check out our top 8 rivers for rafting there…
Dora Baltea, Italy
The Dora Baltea is an approximately 170km long snow-fed river, which finds its beginnings running from Mont Blanc, the Alps’ highest peak. This river is the perfect spot to head for whitewater activities, especially rafting. If you’re looking for some stunning views whilst you try this adrenaline-filled activity, look no further than rafting on the Dora Baltea, with the snow-capped rugged landscape of Mont Blanc able to be seen from the clear, cool mountain waters.
Flowing through the picturesque Aosta Valley, rafting is a popular sport to practice on this river’s course, as it boasts some great higher grade rapids, as well as sections that are easily accessible for beginners. An especially popular section of this river is just outside of the alpine city of Courmayeur, beginning near Pré-Saint Didier and ending near the small village of Arvier – with many shorter sections between these locations also rafted by those who are just wanting a quick thrill or a short introduction to the sport. Check out our rafting activities in the Aosta Valley.
The Sesia River, running through north-west Italy, beginning at the Monte Rosa Glaciers on the Italian-Swiss border, is best known for its whitewater course near the beautiful village and ski destination of Alagna Valsesia. This rocky river course is a popular spot with rafters the world-over.
Take in the incredible scenery of the Sesia Valley as you choose from a variety of different routes, varying in difficulty and types of thrill. Popular choices of route often contain the more intermediate level rapids of Balmuccia, though many opt for a more family-friendly course… either way there are many day long and half day long opportunities to learn the techniques and put them into practice on this popular Italian river. Explore our rafting experiences near Alagna Valsesia.
Ötztaler Ache, Austria
Head to the Tyrol region of west Austria, known for its skiing and rafting opportunities, and onto the clear waters of the Ötztaler Ache. This 66km long river consists of different levels of whitewater, from calm to chaotic. This stunning river flows through the forest-covered rugged landscape of the Ötztal Valley, and is a haven for whitewater sports, especially rafting, with some of the most challenging rapids in this region… head out on these waters for some high-octane rafting experiences.
Head to the sparkling waters of the Ötztaler Ache for class 4 rapids to tackle, phenomenal landscapes to take in and world-famous stretches of whitewater to battle with. This is also a great location to see how the pros do it – as the stretch of this river between the Oetz and Haiming villages is where professional rafters head to tackle challenging waves and rapids. Take a look at our rafting activities in the Ötztal.
Just outside of the gorgeous Austrian town of Zell am See, home to the beautiful Lake Zell, the best stretch of the Salzach – a 227km long river, can be found. Around a 90km drive north-west of the city of Salzburg, head just out of Zell am See – after stopping to take in the beauty of this lakeside town, to the waters of the Salzach for some great rafting in the Austrian sunshine.
Take in the phenomenal alpine scenery from your raft on the glacial waters of the Salzach, which flows from the Grossglockner glaciers. If you’re looking for adventure head to the Salzach for rapids so treacherous they have names like ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘the Rollercoaster’. Check out our rafting activities near Zell am See.
The Ubaye River is known nationally and internationally for its wide variety of whitewater grades, with all difficulties, including grade 6, found on this river. The Ubaye, located in the south of France is widely regarded to be one of the most beautiful rivers in France, and is thus a spectacular location for a day or half day spent on its waters. Running from the Italian border all the way into the stunning artificial lake of Lake Serre-Ponçon, this 52km river offers every level of rafter a challenge.
Navigate your way through fairytale-like scenery, such as the Ubaye Gorges – gorgeous naturally occurring rock archways and narrow river courses. This spectacular Alpes-de-Haute-Provence scenery makes for a spectacular backdrop for your rafting adventure – explore our rafting activities near Lake Serre-Ponçon.
Flowing through the Rhine Gorge, nicknamed ‘the Swiss Grand Canyon,’ it is not difficult to guess why this spectacular stretch of Swiss river is a popular spot with rafters and whitewater sports enthusiasts. Set in this rocky gorge of great magnitude, between the towns of Ilanz and Reichenau, head to the winding waters of this 20km stretch of the Vorderrhein for a more peaceful rafting experience.
If you’re looking for crystal blue waters, incredible scenery and a family-friendly course of grade-2 whitewater, for a leisurely introduction to the great sport of rafting, this stretch of the Vorderrhein is the place to go. Take a look at our rafting experiences on the Vorderrhein.
Learn more about this thrilling whitewater sport, check out our complete guide to rafting.
Read our whitewater articles, for information about other whitewater activities such as hydrospeed and canoeing.
Check out all our rafting activities.