How to define adventure? For some it might mean extreme sports in demanding conditions, for others, following narrow paths deep into the forest for a picnic on a family day out. On this list I have gathered some of my favorites, some more “adventurous” than others. You could say that few obvious ones are missing. No matter how much I dream I still haven’t made it to New Zealand. Nor anywhere on the South American continent. But these are the ones I return to time after time for more fun and games. As ranking these ten destinations in order is practically impossible because of their uniqueness, here they are in an alphabetical order.
1. Devon, UK
Nestled in the southwest corner of the UK you will find one of the most picturesque counties in the kingdom. Made up of acres of national park inhabited by (almost) wild ponies and criss-crossed by small rivers and creeks, beautiful coastline, buzzing historical towns and cosy villages, this county will keep you going visit after visit. Here you can try anything from watersports (surfing, sailing, rafting, kayaking) to hiking and biking. You can find activities suitable for the whole family in this area.
More information: www.visitdevon.co.uk
2. Interlaken, Switzerland
This is one of the more obvious adventure destinations, or how could it not be for a town that once called itself the adventure capital of the world? The steep mountain cliffs and rolling valleys provide activities from summer to winter, whether it is climbing, rafting, skiing or hiking.
More information: www.interlaken.ch
3. Jinja, Uganda
For myself travelling to Africa is an adventure in itself. But to get those adrenalin levels up, take a stop in the country’s 2nd largest city in the south-eastern parts of Uganda, hop on a raft and experience the source of the Nile from the water. Note: Not for the faint-hearted!
More information: www.visituganda.com
I think the whole country reserves a mention. Again, this is one of the places to which travelling itself is an adventure. However, in Nepal you are never far away from active adventures. Located right on the foot of the Himalayas, trekking is the number one activity for foreigners visiting the mountains. Note: for many of the hikes you do need to have sufficient fitness levels.
More information: welcomenepal.com/promotional
5. Ruunaa, Finland
OK, I might be biased here, this is my home country after all. But Ruunaa, which is situated in the very eastern part of Finland, right by the Russian border, has always been kind of a haven for me. While this is the place for kayakers practising their freestyle moves, it is also great for enjoying a relaxed long weekend with the family, doing easy hikes or bike rides, picking berries, fishing, or just enjoying the heat of the sauna and dips in the cool lake water in the midnight sun.
More information: www.ruunaa.fi
6. Sjoa valley, Norway
It is not easy to locate the small hamlet of Sjoa on a map, yet this valley is conveniently located close to both Rondane and Jotunheimen national parks. The Sjoa River is the main attraction in the valley with suitable rafting sections for children and adults alike. There are several professional rafting companies to choose from, and also a kayak school for those who want to experience white water fun more independently.
More information: www.visitnorway.com
7. Soča, Slovenia
Imagine clear, turquoise water, karst rock gorges and beautiful mountain scenery bathing in the sunlight and you have the Soča River Valley. Besides watersports, hiking, biking and paragliding in the summertime, the surrounding mountains are also ideal for affordable winter family adventures in one of the small-medium sized ski resorts. Due to Slovenia’s small size you are never far away from other attractions, whether you want to combine your adventure packed holiday with a city stay in Ljubljana or Venice, sunbathe on a beach, or sip wine in one of Slovenia’s vineyards.
More information: www.slovenia.info
8. Valsesia, Italy
This is a small narrow valley surrounded by sharp, high peaks and finishing up at the “Freeride Paradise”, the ski centre in Alagna in Italy’s Piedmont region. Besides amazing skiing on both sides of the Italian-Swiss border in the winter time, from early spring on you can once again hop on a raft for some water based adventures or just enjoy a glass of local fizzy wine in the sunshine. Valsesia is also a traditional place of pilgrimage for whitewater kayakers from all around the world in May/June.
More information: www.piemonteitalia.eu / www.alagna.it
9. Vancouver, Canada
I always wondered why so many of my friends in Europe wanted to move to Vancouver. No offence, for me it is just too far away from the cultural diversity of Europe. Or so I though until I visited this city. A perfect mixture of city life and outdoors, you can easily do pretty much any outdoor based activity right out of your doorstep while enjoying the conveniences and attractions of the life in the city. This was definitely love at first sight…
More information: www.tourismvancouver.com
10. Voss, Norway
Last but not least – where else could you observe, try out and compete in this wide a range of extreme sports as at the Voss Ekstersportveko? This is probably one of world’s largest and diverse adventure sports events and the dates for next summer’s festival are out now. Book your accommodation and travels soon for June 26th to July 3rd!
More information: www.ekstremsportveko.com
Written by Satu Vänskä-Westgarth, Skimbaco’s Adventure & European lifestyle expert. In the early 2009 Satu decided to take a year off the regular nine to five lifestyle in Finland and launched on an adventurous year on the road, sometimes travelling with her kayak, bike or skis and sometimes without. One year has turned to next and she is still enjoying the life out there living her dream. Together in her journey is the not so British entrepreneur husband from Britain, who seems to spend more time outside the borders of his homeland than within. With background in marketing management and communications Satu is figuring out the next step in her life and career, while planning the travels to come. For more stories from the road, visit Satu’s blog Destination Unknown (in Finnish) and Skimbaco Travel where she will be our travel reporter in Europe.
Skimbaco Lifestyle is for nomadic trailblazers, fearless founders, rebel leaders and people who live life to the fullest.