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Hot air balloon over Iceland with Northern Lights in the sky | © Andres Nieto Porras
Hot air balloon over Iceland with Northern Lights in the sky | © Andres Nieto Porras
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The Best Adventure Holidays in Europe

Picture of Lauren Williams
Freelance Travel Journalist
Updated: 26 September 2017

Europe is a continent that has it all, from high culture to excellent food to adrenaline-pumping adventure. There are mountains reaching to the stars, colours dancing through night skies and roads twisting and turning over high cliffs. Looking for your next European adventure? Look no further.

Icelandic Northern Lights

Iceland has grown in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. There are magnificent waterfalls and giant geysers, you can dive in freezing waters between two continents and float in the geothermal pools of the Blue Lagoon. But most of all, Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the Aurora Borealis. Prime Northern Lights spotting is between September and March, the clearest and darkest nights being your best chance of spotting this natural light show.

Hiking in Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre area was made for hiking, and there’s nothing better than walking the cliffs between these brightly coloured villages that cling on for dear life just above the sea. The hill paths are marked by waymarkers – coloured dots on trees and rocks – ambling through trees and over the sea before making their way into fishing villages bustling with cafes and bars.

See London by speedboat

London is an exciting city with plenty to see, do and explore. But why not add an element of adrenaline to your city tour by hopping on a speedboat and travelling at high-speed up the Thames? Travel in the footsteps of 007 in The World Is Not Enough and experience one of the greatest cities in the world from a new perspective.

Visit the top of Europe

There’s something otherworldly about visiting a futuristic hub which lives in an eternal winter on top of a rocky crag some 3,571 metres above sea level. The Jungfraujoch Sphinx Observatory is made out of stainless steel and glass with terraces around the outside, offering panoramic views of the Alps and the glittering Altesch Glacier, which has been awarded UNESCO status. To reach the Sphinx, guests arrive by a high-speed lift, and tours can be taken from most surrounding Swiss cities.

Travel across the Alps by rail

You can cover a surprising amount of ground in two-and-a-half hours on a train, and on the Bernina Express, which takes you from the North Alps to the South, you’ll travel from high altitudes in St Moritz to palm trees in Italy. On your journey across this impressive mountain range you’ll trundle through deep gorges, under blue glaciers and over valley bridges which seem as though they are suspended from nothing.

Explore Plitvice National Park

One of the world’s finest natural playgrounds, Plitvice National Park in Croatia is an outdoor lover’s dream destination. There are huge waterfalls and wild forests, fields of orchids and deep green lakes. You can hike, swim, kayak or simply absorb nature at its absolute finest.

Visit a glacier lagoon in Iceland

If you’re after an adventure that will put things into perspective, head for a boat ride and tour on Iceland’s biggest glacial lagoon. The Jokulsarlon, which began to form in 1935, is filled with giant floating icebergs that can often be witnessed breaking off and crashing into the water. You can also take an underground tour to visit some crystal ice caves, which is pretty cool.

Dine in the sky in Athens

If you like your fine dining with a bit of vertigo, then eating dinner in a revolving restaurant suspended 50 metres above the city is definitely right up your street! Devour five courses of delicious Greek grub as the city lights up beneath you, and see Athens as you’ve never seen it before.

Discover Tuscany by Vespa

Tuscany was made to be discovered by Vespa, where you can ride by vineyards and poppy fields, stop at local tavernas and take photos of those gorgeous rolling hills. At the heart of Tuscany is beautiful, romantic Florence, where you can wander the bridges, climb the Duomo and eat fresh pizza in ancient squares.

Drive a Ferrari in Monaco

If you’re heading to Monaco, you may as well give into the cliche and enjoy yourself, right? While in town, climb into the front seat of a red Ferrari and cruise through town with the top down. If you’d rather be chauffeured around by a professional driver than drive yourself, just sit back, relax and watch this beautiful city roll by.

See the Montserrat Massif by horseback

Barcelona is great, but getting out of the hustle and bustle and breathing in some fresh mountain air is even better. You can do all this by horseback too, cantering under the rocky peaks of the Montserrat Massif, galloping beneath thick woodland and splashing through mountain rivers as you go. While in the area, take a breather at the Montserrat Abbey, which hangs off the side of a mountain.

Soar above the Swiss Alps

Join the birds on the thermals and paraglide over the snowy peaks of the Alps. Drift above the Jungfrau, see the Eiger from above and float by the summit of the Monch – all in an afternoon of flying. Hiking in the Alps may be one thing, but experiencing them from above is something else entirely!