Kayaking rivers in Europe

Top 8 Best Rivers in Europe to Go Whitewater Kayaking!

Kayak on river in France

Ardèche River, France

The Ardèche River is one of the top rivers to kayak on in all of Europe! This river in the southeast of France is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise! Flowing through the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, this river is not only surrounded by beautiful mountains, forest, gorges and limestone arches, but is quite a historical gem as well.

For instance, humans first inhabited this area over 150,000 years ago! It also happens to be the same region history buffs flock to see the famous Chauvet cave, dolmens and menhirs. 

The Ardèche River itself is quite massive, flowing all the way down into the Mediterranean Sea. When it comes to whitewater rivers, the more the merrier!

Kayaking adventures down the Ardèche River are a truly an amazing experience. Participants get to paddle below cliffs of up to 300 metres high, under natural arches and relax in beautiful hidden gorges and canyons. 

Along the way, you will stop at the Gorges of Chassezac – a great place to swim, jump, sleep, picnic and even go fishing!

The best part? This river is suitable for the whole family! There are half-day- multiple day options, and children as young as 7 can join as well!

River in 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 the 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.

For starters, the country boasts 47 kilometres of beautiful Mediterranean coastline between Italy and Croatia. The North of Slovenia also borders the Julian Alps, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Karawank chain.

Slovenia is unique for it’s Karst topography, limestone underground draingage systems such as sinkholes and caves. In the southwestern region you can find Slovenia’s Karst Plateau, a limestone collection of underground rivers, gorges, and caves, between Ljubljana and the Mediterranean. 

Knowing all this, you can imagine how beautiful the Slovenian rivers must be- in particular, the  Soča River! Taking a kayaking excursion here, you will paddle from Bled to Radovljica, through class II, III, and IV rapids! This is a stunning ride for thrill-lovers to ride fun waves while immersed in the untouched beauty of the Slovenian natural wonders.

River in Iceland

Hvítá River, Iceland

Hvítá River is 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 colour. The stunning colours 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.

River in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Trebizat River, Bosnia & Herzegovina

The Trebizat River is 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!

River in 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,  and water sport enthusiasts have been happy to make the drive since the 1980’s.

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 way, you will paddle over rapids, through deep canyons, see beautiful waterfalls (and even kayak down some of them!)

Nile River in Uganda

Nile River, Jinja, Uganda

Ok, it’s true that Uganda isn’t in Europe. But The Nile River is such an absurdly fun place to go kayaking, it just had to make the list!

As the longest river in Africa, stretching over 6,650 km in distance, The Nile River is known as the international river. Amazingly, it runs through Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of Sudan, and Egypt.

This awesome river also just happens to be an outstanding place for kayakers. In fact, Whitewater kayaking adventures in Uganda are one of the most sought-after destinations for kayakers worldwide. This is because the Nile River waters become quite turbulent, taking riders on whitewater joy rides over grade 3 and 5 rapids!

However, there are a variety of options are available for kayaking activities here. Not everyone has to ride class 3 and 5 waters! Some sections are calm, flat, and between grade 1-2. Both beginners and intermediate/ advanced kayakers can book an activity here suited just for them!

All activities include instruction by an experienced guide to ensure participants are well-prepared for safety and most of all, have fun!

Kuruçay River inTurkey

Kuruçay River, Turkey

Stretching over 183 kilometers 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 empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Waters in the the Koprulu Canyon National Park are a spectacular turquoise color. Not to mention the perfect playground for kayakers! Kuruçay River is an absolute ideal spot to visit during your summer holidays near Antalya.

This kayaking adventure on the Kuruçay River in Turkey, for example, takes participants on a kayaking excursions of a lifetime!  You will ride on special, inflatable river kayaks which give the experience of floating across these gorgeous, class II rapids! 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, historical castles, aqueducts, bridges, and ancient roads from the Roman area!

Blackwater river in Ireland

Blackwater River, Killarney, Ireland

Blackwater River is part of the beautiful Killarney National Park in Ireland, which 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. The park also has 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! 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- including the kingfisher bird, otters, seals and even bottlenose dolphins! There are also beautiful whitewater falls to see. Helmets and life vests are provided, all your need to bring is your sense of adventure!

Still want more ideas for places to go kayaking? Check out this list of The Top 5 spots to Go Kayaking in Spain!