Europe boasts many amazing landscapes, from green valleys, rolling hills, and beautiful forests to high-peak mountains. Apart from hiking, there are many more outdoor adventures to go for. We have put together a list of some of our favorite destinations where you can go mountaineering, biking, canyoning, rafting, and much more.
1. Mountaineering in the Scottish Highlands
Mountaineering in Scotland is an excellent way to get to know this beautiful region. It is a healthy exercise where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views. There are plenty of mountains to climb, from Munros, Corbetts, and Grahams, and a wide range of landscapes to enjoy. A popular Munro to hike is Ben Lawers. It is the highest mountain in the Southern Highlands, rising above the beautiful Loch Tay. Surrounded by arctic-alpine flora and interesting fauna, you can walk the 6.75 miles return trail to the summit in approximately 4-6 hours. If you are in for a more strenuous hike, include neighboring Beinn Ghlas, giving you two Munros in one walk.
2. Biking on Mount Etna - Sicily
Riding along the paths that circumnavigate the impressive Mount Etna is a fantastic experience you cannot miss when visiting Sicily. On this bike ride, you will pass fascinating landscapes, from the splendid oak tree woods of Cerrita to incredible volcanic caves and the impressive lava field Il Passo dei Dammusi. Last but not least, you will ride through the unique beech forest of Monte Spagnolo and admire the panoramic views of the Etna villages. Can you ask for more in one ride?
3. Trail running in the Dublin Mountains - Ireland
Ireland is a fantastic year-round trail running destination. Thanks to its temperate climate (not too hot in summer and not too cold in winter), it allows you to go out on the tracks all year.
One of Ireland's best playgrounds for trail running is the famed 80-mile Wicklow Trail. It begins just five miles from Dublin's bustling city center. Then, it goes up to the Wicklow Mountains on to the village of Clonegal in County Carlow. The route is a gorgeous, undulating path through forests, hillsides, lakes, working farms, and small towns. On your journey, you will also pass Guinness Lake (Lough Tay) - which gets its name from its dark peaty color - and Irelands' highest waterfall, Powerscourt. If you have some extra time, stop at the beautiful monastic site of Glendalough.
Of course, if you are not too keen on running the distance, the way can be walked over the course of 7 to 8 days.
4. Canyoning in Ribeira dos Caldeiroes Natural Park - Azores
With high waterfalls and natural pools, the lush Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park on the island of São Miguel (in the Portuguese Azores archipelago) is a haven for canyoning! During this few-hours adventure, you will explore the park by jumping, sliding, and rappelling. Discover the beautiful canyons and natural waterfalls of the park as you go. Furthermore, the park's high position offers spectacular views over high cliffs, even up to the oldest tea plantation in Europe, Gorreana.
5. Hike in Connemara National Park - Ireland
Connemara, with its rolling mountains, dark lakes, and ancient bogs, is the typical Irish landscape at its best. One of the best spots to soak up the views of this unspoiled nature is from the summit of Diamond Hill. The hike is challenging, but you will be rewarded with unrivaled vistas up to the rugged Connemara coastline below. There's a short walk (which takes 1-1.5 hours) and a long walk (which takes 2.5-3 hours). Both start from the visitor center at Connemara National Park, where you can learn more about Connemara and the flora and fauna of Ireland!
6. Horseback riding in Iceland
A horseback ride is a perfect way to explore Iceland's rugged terrain. Icelandic horses are one-of-a-kind, noticeably more intelligent, curious, and friendly than many other types of horses. You can take a fantastic horse ride from Vellir, on the outskirts of the capital city, up to Reykjafjall mountain. Here you have vistas down to the ocean, across mighty volcanoes, and upon the town of Hveragerði, which is constantly steaming thanks to geothermal activity.
For experienced (and adventurous) riders, there is The Highland Trails - a multi-day tour in the highlands of Iceland' following ancient routes into remote areas. Sleeping in tents or small cottages, here it's just you and nature!
7. Riverbed walking in Peneda-Geres - Portugal
The beautiful Peneda-Gerês National Park - located on Portugal's border with Spain - has incredible biodiversity, serving as a habitat for many local species. The park offers many hiking opportunities, including a river trek along River Adrão. The Adrão River is a tributary of the Lima River (one of the biggest ones in Portugal), marked by green banks in all seasons of the year. On this adventure, you jump and walk between ponds, rocks, and paths while learning about local flora and fauna. After this fantastic natural experience, you can refresh in the crystalline waters and swim in the area's natural pools.
8. Biking the 'Rallerwegen' - Norway
The 'Rallarvegen' in the fjord region of Norway is a breathtaking 82-km-long bike route that will leave unforgettable impressions. You can set your own pace to cover the whole stretch or combine your bike ride with other outdoor adventures, such as an adrenaline-filled zipline flight over the Flåm Valley down to Kårdal.
Did you know that Flåm Zipline is Scandinavia's longest, with a span of 1.381 meters?
In Kårdal, you can step on a bike, cycling the last part - fifteen kilometers - of the Rallarvegen back to Flåm. During this ride, you will enjoy beautiful scenery, including blossoming valleys and spectacular fjord landscapes.
9. Hiking Rota Vicentina's Historical trail - Portugal
The 'Rota Vicentina' is an extensive network of walking trails steeped in nature and history that winds its way through Southern Portugal. The Historical Way (230 km) is one of the two large-distance routes. It goes from Santiago do Cacém to the Cape of São Vicente, through cork forests, valleys, mountain areas, rivers, and picturesque villages with centuries of history. The route primarily takes up an old path used in the past by pilgrims and locals to move within the region.
The Historical Way is ideal for hikers interested in learning about the past and, at the same time, enjoying the enchanting rural landscapes. It is a true journey through time with the opportunity to immerse in the local lifestyle and food!
10. Skiing in Cairngorms National Park - Scotland
Cairngorms National Park prides itself on three of the five ski resorts of Scotland: Cairngorm Mountain, the Lecht, and Glenshee, all with fantastic snowboard and ski opportunities, including terrain and skills parks. Cairngorm Mountain has the highest peak and holds the snow well throughout the season. The Lecht is perfect for beginners and children, and Glenshee is the largest area, ideal for long ski days. For those who wish for a more adventurous day, the Cairngorms National Park offers endless opportunities for ski touring and backcountry exploring as well.
11. Hiking on Island Pico - Azores
Pico is the second largest island of the Azores archipelago. Here you find the 2,351 m high volcanic cone of Mount Pico, which gave its name to the island. It is an impressive mountain whose crater has a diameter of 700 meters and is 30 meters deep. A (challenging climb) to the top, a tour around the crater, and the descent generally take about 7 hours to complete but will bring you to the most beautiful spots.
Don't forget to stop at the Gruta das Torres, one of the largest lava tunnels in the world that are open to the public. The five-kilometer-long cave is covered with different types of lava rock formations.
12. Rafting in The Madonie Mountains - Sicily
The Madonie Mountains reveal a part of Sicily you probably don't expect. It offers various landscapes and beautiful flora whose colors are breathtaking in autumn and spring. Part of The Madonie Mountains is the Tiberio Gorges, recognized as a UNESCO Global Geopark site. The gorges are set along the Pollina River, and the best way to explore them is on a rafting adventure. While you travel down the Pollina River, you can admire an unspoiled oasis of peace and wild greenery. The best part comes at the end when you can dive into the river for a relaxing and refreshing swim!
Did you know that The Madonie Mountains offer many other outdoor activities: Nordic walking, trekking, canyoning in Madonie Park, and river trail walking.