10 active things to do in Europe
If you’re not the type to spend your vacation touring museums or catching up on your reading, don't worry – Europe has plenty to offer for the thrill seekers out there. Whether you're a hardcore adrenaline hunter or you're just looking for something a bit more active than lying on the beach all day, we've got you covered.
Ever heard of canyoning? It involves abseiling, jumping and sliding to get from the top of a canyon to the bottom. Canyoning is not for the fainthearted: you’ll have to contend with waterfalls, rapids and steep cliffs – all with the proper gear and protection, of course.
Interlaken in Switzerland, with its tall and narrow gorges, is one of Europe’s most famous spots for canyoning. Other great spots are Auerklamm in Austria, Verdon in France, and Aosta in Italy.
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If you’re looking for an extreme sport that has it all, try kiteboarding. It combines aspects of wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, skateboarding, and sailing. Phew.
With nearly 300 days of wind and sun each year, Tarifa in Spain has become Europe’s kiteboarding and kitesurfing capital. Lake Garda in Italy and Leucate in France are great spots too.
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Whether you prefer easygoing cycling tours or rough-terrain mountain biking, Europe is very bike-friendly. Bikes can be rented throughout the entire continent, and most major cities have great cycle paths.
Do as the locals do and explore Amsterdam by bike (watch the traffic!). Or if the urban jungle isn't wild enough for you, the epic rocky descents of the Alps will please every adrenaline hunter.
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Paragliding is probably the closest humans can get to the feeling of flying like a bird. It’s safe, fun, and offers amazing panoramic views. It's not really considered an extreme sport – in fact, many people find paragliding very relaxing once they are airborne.
Europe offers many great spots for paragliding. Try Grenoble in France, Huesca in Spain, or Interlaken in Switzerland.
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Kayaking can be as extreme as you want it to be. From wild whitewater to peaceful lakes, mellow rivers to fascinating coastlines, kayaking in Europe offers a bit of everything.
The best whitewater in the continent can be found in the French Alps, though this is one for the more experienced kayakers. More tranquil waters can be found in Italy at Lake Garda, or have a go at sea kayaking on the island of Elba, off the coast of Tuscany.
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Skydiving tops many bucket lists. Nothing compares to the experience of jumping out of a plane and freefalling towards Earth at 120 mph... with a parachute, of course!
If you want to go skydiving in Europe, you’ll be spoilt for choice. There are dropzones throughout the entire continent. Tirol in Austria offers spectacular mountain views, and the beautiful Algarve region in Portugal is a great spot too, overlooking the Atlantic. Looking for something off the beaten track? Bled in Slovenia is beautiful and wallet-friendly.
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Think hiking is boring? Think again. Whether you are looking for pastoral landscapes or rugged mountains, short hikes or longer hut-to-hut hikes, you can just find about anything in Europe.
Famous hiking trails are the Alta Via 1 (weaving through the Italian Dolomites), the Camino to Santiago de Compostela (the famous pilgrimage through northern Spain), and the Alsace Wine Route (perfect for lovers of French wines). Sign us up.
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8. Horseback Riding
There’s something magical about exploring Europe on horseback. It’s like going back in time, especially if you plan your route from castle to castle.
Countries like Spain, France, and Italy have a vibrant horse culture and still provide many facilities for people riding a horse. Galloping along the Atlantic Coast in France is especially popular among horse lovers.
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Looking for a place in Europe to hit the powder? You’ll be spoilt for choice. Europe is home to some of the world’s most impressive ski resorts, providing great snow coverage and excellent facilities.
The obvious choice would be to go for the Alps, but also consider lesser-known ski destinations such as Bulgaria and Turkey – just as great for skiing and much more affordable.
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10. Escape rooms
If you’re looking for a mental challenge rather than a physical one, consider visiting an escape room: a game in which you and your group have to solve puzzles in order to unlock the door of the room you’re in.
Escape rooms are becoming increasingly popular in Europe. You’ll find them scattered around the continent in the bigger cities, but also in some smaller ones. Notable escape rooms are The Room in Berlin, Sherlocked in Amsterdam and The Metro in Paris.
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