If you’re a whitewater aficionado, you’ve probably already struggled through some of the most spectacular river rapids in the U.S., perhaps elsewhere, too. Many of the best-known rivers for whitewater rafting are in the western portion of North America, like the Colorado, the Salmon, and the Magpie. But did you know that Europe is also a wonderful place to enjoy a whitewater rafting trip, offering a wealth of options in countries that include France, Switzerland, Austria, and the British Isles?
If you’d like whitewater adventure to be part of your next trip to Europe, check out the rivers we’ve listed here. The class of rapids vary from river to river so there’s sure to be a rafting journey that’s just right for you!
· Inn River, Austria – In the Tyrolean Alps, the Inn River provides exciting rafting via great rapids that reach Class IV and V, located in the Landeck Gorge portion of the river. As a matter of fact, this 8 km section can be pretty wild, with a continuous 2 km of Class V that’ll challenge even the most seasoned rafter. If you’re looking for something less wild, the Imst Gorge portion is a mixture of exciting and relaxing, giving you a little break between the tough stuff.
· Lutschine River, Switzerland – Located in the Jungfrau region of the Bernese-Oberland, the Lutschine River is classified as intermediate. Most guided trips begin below Grindelwald and end up near Interlaken at Lake Brienz. You’ll find mostly Class IV rapids here, but what might be lacking in excitement on the water is made up by the scenery, which is just spectacular. The glacial valley is stunning, with steep granite cliffs and lovely waterfalls along the way. A must-do!
· Dobra River, Croatia – The sport of whitewater rafting is kind of a new craze in Croatia and the Dobra seems to be the river of choice. This river is controlled by a dam and is suitable for beginning to intermediate rafting lovers. The water is clear and warm and the landscape is lovely. This is a good river for families with elementary-aged children as it’s not too difficult and there are nice places along the way to stop and swim.
· Noce River, Italy – Summer is a great time to hit the Noce River, which includes what most fans of the sport say is the best run in Italy. Located in the Northern Italian Dolomites in the Val di Sole, it includes Class V+ rapids fixed with a fair amount of Class III and IV. The European Rafting Championships have been held on the Noce on the stretch of river that runs from Ossana to Caldes. The scenery is quite spectacular as well.
· Coruh, Turkey – May and June are the best months for rafting Turkey’s Coruh River because this is when the runoff from Mescit Mountains is truly flowing. There’s nothing at all easy about this Class V+ run and it shouldn’t be considered for anyone who doesn’t have a good deal of experience in the sport. The habitat through which it runs is virtually undisturbed so everything is clean and pristine. But, of course, you’ll be concentrating most on staying in the boat! Truly adrenaline pumping!
· Sjoa River, Norway – Rapids in this beautiful Norwegian river range from a very mild Class II to Class IV, the latter present when the water level is high, as it is in the summertime. If you’re traveling with kids, consider a short jaunt along the calmer part of the river. However, if you want action, there’s plenty to be had on this river, which is the most popular in Norway for whitewater.
· Vasterdalalven River, Sweden – While you’re in Scandinavia, go to the Dalarna region and visit this river with the long name. The water is pretty mild as rapids go, but getting in a raft here gives you access to some of the best scenery in the country – scenery you wouldn’t otherwise see. This is a great place for family trips as you really won’t encounter anything beyond Class II.
· Trent River, England – If you go to the Trent River in Nottingham, England, what you’ll find is a whitewater “course”; that is, a manmade course that’s designed to excite all the time, without having to rely on nature to make the rapids. Nonetheless, it’s a lot of fun and a good diversion from all the sightseeing you’re likely to be doing in England. It’s really busy during the summer months so plan accordingly.
· Dee River, Wales – A fairly mild river with Class II and III rapids, the River Dee boasts lovely scenery along its banks, including lots of pine forests. It can be cold here, so outfitters generally limit rafting from April to October. If you wait until the end of the season, you’ll be treated to a plethora of beautiful fall colors though it’s quite pretty in the summer as well.
· Doron de Bozel River – Located in the Rhone-Alps region of France, the Doron offers quite a nail-biting adventure, with its Class IV and V rapids and its narrow canyons. Best navigated by those with lots of previous whitewater experience, the Doron de Bozel offers limited opportunities to raft, so if you want to run it, tell your travel agent or contact an area outfitter to determine what dates are available. (Summer months only)