In my view Europe is an ideal place to embark on some adventure travelling. Not only is it easy to get around, thanks to its sophisticated transport network, but the landscape and climate varies so widely that you don’t have to go far to enjoy a variety of different experiences in a relatively short space of time. There are so many cheap flights on offer to Europe that you won’t have to spend a large chunk of your available vacation money just on getting there.
If, like me, you like to travel to out-of-the-way places and enjoy an active outdoors-style holiday, then you’ll love the following three destinations, all of which rate as some of my top ‘must-visit’ adventure destinations, where you can indulge in some really rewarding activities.
Jura, Franche Comte, France
I love this little-known region of France. Close to the German and Swiss borders, it offers many of the same outdoor activities and stunning alpine scenery of the latter country, but at half the price! Lake Chalain is the largest glacial lake in the Jura region. Popular with Dutch campers, you can windsurf, kayak, sail and canoe on the lake, or go hiking or mountain-biking on one of the many dedicated forest and mountain trails in the area. It is also a World Heritage Site with a rich prehistoric history, so you can feed the mind as well as the body. White water canoeists won’t be disappointed either – international white water rafting competitions are often held in the rapids of the Doubs River at nearby Goumois.
Mundaka, Northern Spain
Rated by many as being one of the top-10 surfing spots in the world, the ride from the sea into the Mundaka river mouth is definitely worth experiencing – the Billabong Pro held one of the legs of its 2008 international competition here, which should tell you something! The swell is amazingly powerful, with waves sometimes reaching up to 8 to 12 feet high, but the ride is incredible – long, fast but clean. Beware of the strong undercurrents though, especially when the tide turns. We got cheap flights to Bilbao and then hired a car from there. This is Basque country, so we found it culturally interesting and relatively unspoilt by over-development. The food here is also very tasty and relatively cheap – we ate a really hearty three-course meal at a small restaurant at the harbor for next to nothing. The nearby Pyrenees Mountains are also great for mountain biking.
Spitsbergen, Svalbard Archipelago, Norway
If you’re a fan of hiking, mountaineering or trekking in dramatic wilderness, then this part of Norway, with its fjords and snowcapped mountains is a definite must-see, especially in summer when there is almost perpetual daylight, due to the northerly situation. I found it quite a physical challenge to adapt to the difference in temperature and daylight hours – it played havoc with my sleeping patterns – but for those who like to push themselves, this is definitely a challenge! Spitsbergen really comes into its own in winter when you can enjoy a display of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). I also highly recommend a cruise to the Arctic to see the polar bears and grey seals. Although I haven’t yet tried it out, the dog sled safari sounded like something really worth doing.
Don’t hesitate, book a flight to Europe and have some really memorable vacation adventures.