The warm summer months aren’t just good for relaxing on a beach or drifting around a pool stretched out on a lilo – they’re also the ideal time for outdoor enthusiasts to head for wide open spaces and enjoy activities in nature’s most picturesque settings.
For those looking to plan action-packed getaways this summer, we’ve put together a list of 8 of the most stunning venues for sports and activity trips across Europe.
From swimming to rock-climbing, here are some of the most beautiful outdoor holiday destinations across the continent.
1. Kayaking at the Pont du Gard, France
France’s Pont Du Gard spans the Gardon river and is a phenomenon of construction from the ancient world. Built by the Romans in the first century, it helped transport water across the empire. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, the bridge is a major tourist attraction and draws admirers from around the world. Kayaks can be rented from numerous local agencies, allowing visitors to appreciate both the man-made majesty of the bridge and the natural beauty of the river and surrounding countryside.
2. Lake swimming at Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Bohinj battles with another famous lake, Bled, for the title of Slovenia’s most spectacular. Bohinj is the country’s largest lake and sits in the Julian Alps as part of the Triglav national park. In addition to crystal-clear swimming waters with a breathtaking mountain backdrop, there are also hiking and cycling routes around the outer edge.
3. Snorkelling at Vis Island, Croatia
Croatia has a wealth of outstanding snorkelling spots, helped by the rocky coastline and clear waters. There’s plenty to see, too, with shipwrecks for divers to explore and a diverse marine population which offers frequent dolphin sightings. For those looking to explore further from the beach-going crowds, Vis is the furthest inhabited island off the mainland and boasts some exceptional beaches and snorkel spots.
4. Mountain biking at Saint-Luc, Switzerland
The Swiss Alps have some of the world’s finest purpose-made mountain biking trails in the world, serviced by funiculars and chair lifts that take adrenaline-seekers up to panoramic starting points for their downhill descents. For the experienced biker, Saint-Luc offers a bike park with a range of trail difficulties.
5. Rock climbing at Kalymnos, Greece
Kalymnos is an island in the Aegean sea which has developed an international reputation for sports climbing. With a variety of routes across its cliffs and caves, it’s world-renowned for the diversity and concentration of climbing challenges and has built up a community spirit among fellow enthusiasts. With close to 2,000 routes, it offers opportunities for all levels with some of the most incredible backdrops in the world.
6. Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey
The Lycian Way is a marked walking trail that covers more than 500km through history-rich southern Turkey. Ranked by the Sunday Times as one of the 10 most beautiful treks in the world, it offers constant variety in both scenery and history, as it winds along the coast through lands of legend and early civilization.
7. Beach horse riding in Sardinia
Options for horse riding excursions abound in Sardinia, many taking riders to locations that can’t be reached by road. Many bridleways follow coastline paths, allowing visitors to enjoy idyllic rides across beaches and through magnificent scenery, and there are also options for sunset and even night rides beneath clear, starlit skies.
8. Canyoning in the Sierra de Guara, Spain
The Sierra de Guara is a paradise for adventure lovers, offering opportunities to hike, climb, swim and more. Canyoning is a popular activity, exploring the fascinating rock formations caused by ancient erosion of the limestone cliffs. With a water temperature reaching 22 degrees in high summer, it’s the perfect spot for intrepid thrill-seekers to enjoy one of nature’s most spectacular playgrounds.