6 Amazing Canoe Destinations in Europe
Canoeing was born in North America, but there are some great canoeing destinations in Europe, too…
1. Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Lake Bohinj, with its clear blue-green water, is surrounded by Slovenia’s Julian Alps and is part of Triglav National Park. Slovenia’s largest natural lake, Bohinj is located in a glacial valley and holds an astounding 100 million cubic meters of water!
Canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards are available for rent by the hour, half-day or full-day at very reasonable prices (as of this writing, less than $40 for the day). You could easily spend a full day on this 4 kilometer long lake.
Known for its beauty, and less busy than Slovenia’s other famous lake—Lake Bled—Bohinj is a mountainous, quiet and natural setting for hours of canoeing.
2. Dordogne River, France
A couple things we don’t see when canoeing rivers here in North America are castles (French: chateaus) and medieval villages. That’s what you’ll see when you canoe the Dordogne River in France.
You can choose between a day trip or a multi-day trip. Besides paddling by hundreds of years of French history, you’ll paddle by a variety of landscapes including high cliffs and forests.
3. Vltava River, Czech Republic
At 270 miles long, the Vltava River offers many options for canoeing, including beautiful natural scenery. A couple high points along the Vltava again include things we can’t see here in the US.
Český Krumlov is near the mouth of the Vltava in South Bohemia and boasts a 13th-century castle. Called one of the most picturesque towns in Europe, it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The Vltava also flows through the capitol city of Prague, also known for its beauty and history.
4. Lake Garda, Italy
Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake. It’s in the north, with its “bottleneck” section surrounded by the Italian Alps and its southern section surrounded by beautiful Italian towns.
With a lake this large (32 miles long) you’d think wind would be an issue for canoeing. But Garda-See.com says the winds drop in July and August and then “less experienced canoeists can conquer the lake.”
You could spend days paddling here, exploring the shoreline.
5. Scottish Highlands
With its lakes, rivers, highland and forests, the Scottish Highlands also has a castle or two to remind you that you’re in Europe.
You can stick to more civilized areas with a bed to sleep in every night, or make your way into the wild North West Highlands where you can enjoy a traditional wilderness canoe trip, carrying all your gear with you.
The Great Glen canoe trail is another option, which includes paddling on world-famous Loch Ness.
6. Tar Route, Finland
The Tar Route in eastern Finland’s Lentua lake system follows the historical route of those who canoed tar barrels from the Taiga forest (what we here in North American call a boreal or pine forest) to the Baltic Sea. A beautiful location for a traditional wilderness canoe trip.
The lake and forest landscape will look very familiar to those who’ve paddled in Canada and the Boundary Waters, but with some notable exceptions: local reindeer, wind shelters, ready-cut firewood and saunas!
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