Our experts collected the best Rafting trips in Europe to help you find the best whitewater rafting adventure on your next holiday.
Looking for an adventurous getaway? Whitewater rafting is the ultimate program to bring some spice to your next holiday or weekend. It’s a recreational outdoor activity that uses an inflatable raft to navigate down a river. On commercial rafting trips, you are always accompanied by a guide and receive proper instructions and equipment, so you don’t need any experience to be safe in this challenging environment.
Although, it’s better to get informed beforehand about the difficulty of the tour you’re going to take because the variety is wide. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or just want to have a relaxed time on the river with your family, our list will help you find the best rafting destinations in Europe to fit your desire. It is a perfect program also for bachelor/bachelorette parties and team buildings.
East and West Glacier River – Iceland
Whitewater rafting in Iceland is definitely a must-do. Not only in Europe but in the whole world it is hard to find a place which has rivers like this beautiful island. The best place to get refreshed by the ice-cold water is the East and West Glacier river in the North-East part of the country, only an hour’s drive from Akureyri. Mind-blowing landscapes and exciting rapids are waiting for you if you choose to do rafting in this remote location. Viking Rafting will set you up with a proper dry suit and mittens, so you don’t have to be afraid to be cold. You can also get lunch and camp in their base if you desire. If you are looking for a wild ride, you should go with the East Glacier River, often referred to as ‘The Beast of the East. This section is 16 km long and is one of the most extreme commercial rafting in Europe. For a more relaxed experience, take the Family Rafting tour on the West Glacial River. Both rivers are fed by Iceland’s third-largest glacier, the Hofsjökull.
Photo credit: Viking Rafting
Inn River – Switzerland
The Inn river in Switzerland is located in the high alpine Engadin valley, which offers both cultural and natural treasures. The amazing landscapes with huge glaciers and the little Romance villages will definitely blow your mind. This river is floating through two countries and offering the biggest variety of whitewater in Europe, most of them in the Swiss part. In Engadin, there are 10 different sections where everybody can find something for his level. Amongst them is the Giarsun Gorge, which is one of the most challenging rafting trips in the Alps and the best place to do rafting in Switzerland. This section is 10 km long with continuous class 4 rapids and breathtaking surroundings in a more than 100-meter deep canyon. Visit the website of Engadin Outdoor Center for more details.
Photo credit: Engadin Outdoor Center
Dranse River – France
Located in Haute Savoie, the Dranse offers 15km of white water rafting and is one of the most scenic and technical sections in France. The source of this river is found in the Chablais Alps and floats to the beautiful Lake Leman. There are the following sections to choose from here: the 6km long ‘Classic’ section, which offers easier rapids for everyone older than 8 years, the 6km ”Inbetween” route for the adrenaline seekers from 12 years, or explore class IV rapids on the 12km ‘Pro’ route, suitable for ages 16 years and up. The water level is regulated by a dam which means it is quite stable and the temperature of the water is also quite nice compared to other alpine rivers.
Local companies: Frogs Rafting
Isere River – France
The Isere river runs through the Tarentaise valley in the Graian Alps in the southeast part of France. It is fed by the glaciers of the Vanoise National Park in the Iseran mountain range. The snowmelt in the summer turns the river into a pumping beast although it is regulated by a hydroelectric dam (from 1 st of May to the 30th of September, so you are sure to have a nice water level throughout this period). This river has a section to offer to every difficulty level and it has a famous reputation among professional kayakers as well. The 2002 Canoe and Kayak World Championship was hosted on the local slalom course. The 18 km section between Bourg Saint Maurice and Centron offers an amazing variety of whitewater with the class IV Aime rapids and the beautiful Virgins Gorge. For the most extreme rafting experiences, there is an age limit of 16 years but for the easier ones, the minimum age is 8 years.
Local companies: Essaonia Espirit Rafting
Photo credit: Essaonia Espirit Rafting
Voss River – Norway
Norway, like Iceland, is another famous whitewater paradise. These northern countries have a big snowpack because of the long and cold winter, which means a lot of snow melts every year and many pumping, wild rivers. The classic tour depending on the water levels is either the Strandaelva or the Raundalselva rivers. Both sections are class IV and run in a beautiful, remote location through deep canyons. The age limit is 15, but there is also a possibility for family rafting for the younger ones. Voss is also an adventure sports capital and there are tons of other activities you can try like: kayaking, canyoning, mountain biking, paragliding, skiing. Every year in the last week of June the area hosts the Ekstremsportveko(Extreme Sports Week), which is regarded as the world’s premier extreme sports festival.
Ötztaler Ache River – Austria
The Ötztaler Ache is located in the Tyrol region of western Austria. This river is fed by the snow that melts in the highest peak of Tyrol called the Wildspitze. When summer starts and temperatures rise this river transforms into a giant beast offering a training course for the best white water paddlers. There is only one section safe enough to do commercial rafting, which is the last part of the river just before the confluence with the Inn river, called the Lower Ötz. Big waves and class IV rapids are waiting for you if you choose to raft here.
PRO TIPP: if you want more action, go in the afternoon because that’s when the water levels are the highest.
Local companies: AREA 47
Photo credit: AREA 47
Sjoa River – Norway
The Sjoa river is another hot spot for rafting in Norway. It is located in Heidal and its name means “Whitewater” which is fitting for a world-class rafting destination. Clean, crystal clear blue water, stunning deep gorges and big waves make this one of the best rivers of Norway. The classic day trip is suitable for everyone above 15 years and offers some class IV rapids, but you can also pick a more relaxed family rafting tour. The local companies organize trips on other nearby rivers as well, which are also well worth a visit. You can also try river boarding or kayaking with the local companies.
Local companies: Go Rafting Sjoa
Noce River – Italy
Fed by melting Alpine glaciers, the Noce runs through the beautiful Val di Sole (Sun Valley) in the Dolomites of northern Italy. This area is called Trentino-Alto Adige and it is one of the most popular ski areas in Italy, but in summer the number one tourist attraction is river rafting. Recognized as one of the top ten best rivers for whitewater rafting in the world by National Geographic, the Noce offers some of the most exciting white-water rafting in the Alps, including a remote series of Class V rapids through the gorges of Mostizzolo. There are other easier rafting tours as well, so don’t worry if pumping class V rapids are not your bread and butter.
Local companies: Ursus Adventures
Dora Baltea River – Italy
Recognized as one of the steepest commercial alpine rafting rivers the Dora Baltea is flowing through the Aosta Valley in the Northern Alps. This river offers everything from easy family-friendly tours to steep, big volume class 5 rapids. The ice-cold water delivered from the Mont Blanc (the highest peak of the Alps)will help you stay focused and the beautiful scenery with big canyons, vineyards, old castles, and the highest peaks of the Alps will make sure you have an unforgettable time.
Soca River – Slovenia
The Soca river in Slovenia is famous for its emerald color and crystal clear water. This river floats through the wild and beautiful Triglav National Park in the Julian Alps.
The most popular commercial section is 8 km long, starts close to the famous Boka waterfall, and offers 1.5 hours on the river. The rapids are class II-III difficulty, so it’s perfectly suitable for the whole family when the water level is adequate. There are amazing cliff jumps and quiet river sections where you can swim in this pristine river. The water is so clear, that you’ll want to scoop up a handful and taste it for yourself.
Photo credit: Csaba Baczo
Noguera Pallaresa River – Spain
Found in the heart of the Pyrenees, the Noguera Pallaresa is one of the best and most emblematic rivers in Spain for rafting. With its 60 km of navigable water, it’s one of the longest whitewater rivers in Europe. Some companies offer 5 different sections to raft on, mostly up to class III difficulty. The rafting season runs from mid-March to mid-October, although the best time to fully enjoy this sport is the spring (from May to June) when the river increases its flow because of the snowmelt.
We hope this list will help you find the right rafting tour you are looking for. If you are interested in trying some of the above-mentioned destinations, just contact one of the local companies. We listed some of the providers we know and trust. Although we tried to collect here most of the best rafting trips you can find in Europe, it is just a shortlist and there are plenty of other rivers out there worth trying.
Hope to see you soon on the river;)
Written by: Levente Peto