Top 5 Adventure Destinations in Europe

Posted on December 15, 2010 by

Europe is not all about dreamy castles and winter wonderland – for the adventure-seeker and outdoor-lover, it’s packed with challenging terrain perfect for hiking, scuba diving and many other extreme adventures. Now that the festive season is approaching, plan out your travels in Europe to include some adventurous activities and experience a different side to the country. These destinations I’ve included below promise the most rugged landscapes and raw surroundings to guarantee the most power-packed sojourn.

1. Spitsbergen, Norway

Norway is one of the most northerly countries in Europe; almost a third of its elongated landmass lies within the Arctic Circle and remains ice-covered for much of the year. Hundreds of fjords indent the coastline, while treacherous mountains and magnificent glaciers dot the land mass. On a recent trip to Norway’s western edge, I ventured into Europe’s largest glacier and hiked through some of the continent’s wildest terrain. For hard-core adventurers, head to Spitsbergen, located just some 900kms south of the North Pole. The exhilaration of sighting Polar Bear as they roam the ice in search of food, watching the playful activities of Grey Seals or observing a group of walrus are just some of the highlights of the area.

Iceberg in Spitsbergen, Norway Flickr photo by Martha de Jong-Lantink

2. The Pyrenees, France

Stretching across the border between France and Spain, the Pyrenees is a massive mountain range that runs for hundreds of miles that divide the two countries. One good way to explore the region is on a bike tour riding from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, via the passes of the Pyrenees. Trace the history of the Tour de France, while navigating countless hairpins to tick off the famous Tour de France passes: Col d’ Aubisque, the (in)famous Col du Tourmalet and the Col de Portet Aspet, to name a few. To savor more of the French countryside and beaches, include stays at charming Nice hotels or base yourself at one of the gorgeous Biarritz hotels.

2822715670_00a92a1973_z Flickr photo by Fr Antunes

3. The Dolomites, Italy

The Via Ferrata in the Dolomites, Italy, is the best and original ferrate route in the world – a demanding trek through the dramatic Brenta mountain range, situated in the Italian Province of Trento. Using the extensive network of ladders and high-level trails, the calssic Via Ferrate route takes you through Via delle Bocchette, mainly constructed in the early 1930s. It’ll continue on through the Brenta mountain range, which extends 42km from Cima Tosa (3173m) via a dramatic ‘bocca’ (mouth) to Brenta Alta. For beginners, it’s best to hire an experienced guide to bring you through the route.

Climbing Via Ferrata at the Dolomites Italy Flickr photo by bravowhisky23

4. Akureyi, Iceland

Iceland is a country of extremes: for a ferocious volcanic centre to the surrounding glaciers and freezing temperatures. There are three major glaciers: Vatnajokull, Langjokull and Hofsjokull with several smaller ones covering about 11 per cent of the land. The bays and fjords make its coastline a tempting feature, and the many glacial rivers running from the highlands to the ocean are among the wildest in Europe. Dubbed the capital of Northern Iceland, Akureyi offers excellent ice-climbing, sailing and dog-sleighing opportunities.

147451050_2dfb47191b_z Flickr photo by Dirk Paessler

5. Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

The Scottish Highlands are best known for Europe’s best hiking: passing through stunning lochs and ascending pine-fringed slopes. Hiking through Wester Ross offers glorious views across the moorlands including the 3,000-foot Beinn Damh, gaelic for “Hill of the Stag”. The Cairngorms National Park, largest in Scotland, is home to a diversity of land forms ranging from ancient Caledonian pine forest to arctic plateau wilderness. One fourth of the U.K.’s threatened bird, animal and plant species reside here, including many iconic species of the Highlands such as red deer, golden eagle, wildcats and otters.

306655321_ca37554152_z Flickr photo by Bruce McAdams


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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

5 Responses to “Top 5 Adventure Destinations in Europe”

  1. Ayngelina December 16, 2010 12:28 am #

    Nice picks! I would have never thought of some of these places, especially Norway.

  2. Sarah Wu December 16, 2010 2:23 pm #

    Great destination, these places are like photographer's heaven too. Beautiful scenery… heheh

  3. Kyle December 18, 2010 2:56 pm #

    Weird, I guess we happen to really like adventure countries since we've been to Norway and we're going to Scotland next year. I never thought of them as adventure countries so much as I thought of them as random countries :)

    Iceland is also on the top of our list!

  4. millennialrepublic February 23, 2011 6:24 pm #

    Great list. An "adventure" destination gaining steam in Europe presently is Eco Villages. Leave the charms of a normal hotel vacation behind and live a green tribal type life for a few days weeks or stay forever. I am quite intrigued by the idea of learning how to survive without mod cons and could see myself visiting but not staying forever. Working the land and being green is something I try to have as my own and can´t leave some mod cons behind, but for a mini vacation it´s not a bad idea.

  5. Avi June 5, 2017 1:36 pm #

    Useful list of top 5 adventure destinations in Europe to visit. Scotland is beautiful place and my favorite place, unfortunately I have not gone there yet, but I have hope to be there in Future.

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