If the thought of relaxing on a tranquil, isolated beach with a good book sends shivers down your spine, then fear not. Europe’s packed with some of the world’s most exhilarating places for adventure and extreme sports. Whether you’re looking to fall from a plane, hurtle down class V rapids, or launch yourself off a sheer cliff, one of these places will have you covered.
Extreme sports in Europe
Switzerland’s stunning Interlaken stands out as the adventure and extreme sports capital of Europe. There’s no shortage of activities in the region designed to get your heart racing, including canyoning, rafting, bungee jumping, and paragliding. And if you get bored of those, you can head up into the valley of Lauterbrunnen. Here you’ll find some of the world’s most celebrated base-jumping sites.
Unmissable activity: The paragliding in and around the Interlaken region is unparalleled.
How to get there by train: Interlaken is well connected by rail. There are trains from throughout Switzerland and further afield, including neighboring countries. The scenic GoldenPass route travels through the town as well.
The small town of Tarifa has become a global hub for adrenaline-seeking kite surfers. The consistently high winds on this peninsula have made it an ideal place to whip along the ocean at death-defying speeds, with nothing but a large kite and a board to keep you out of danger.
Unmissable activity: Take to the skies with a kite surf. If you’re a novice, there are dozens of schools in the area that will take you through the basics.
How to get there by train: There’s no direct train to the town of Tarifa. The nearest station in Algeciras is a 30-minute bus ride away. There are also regular buses from the popular city of Cadiz.
Mont Blanc, France
Mont Blanc is Europe’s highest peak, so it’s no surprise that this region is a huge magnet for adventure junkies. A climb to the summit of the mountain is one of the most challenging and exhilarating in the world. But if you prefer using gravity to your advantage, you should opt for a paraglide above the dramatic scenery.
Unmissable activity: If climbing and paragliding aren’t your thing, you can walk inside an actual glacier on a guided trek.
How to get there by train: The Mont Blanc Express connects the town of Chamonix to nearby towns. It’s a particularly scenic train ride.
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
The stunningly beautiful Český Krumlov is a short trip away from the Czech Republic capital of Prague. It’s brimming with activities that will get the heart racing, but won’t push you to your limits. The Vltava River which runs through the town is perfect for all kinds of watersports, whether you’re looking to float gently downstream on an inflatable tube, or hit some slightly more impressive rapids on a raft further out of town.
Unmissable activity: Go on a rafting trip upstream of the Vltava from Český Krumlov. Companies offer transport to the drop-off points. You’ll end back in the town after hitting a few thrilling drops and rapids.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Český Krumlov from Prague which take approximately 3 hours.
The Austrian town of Innsbruck may appear tranquil and idyllic on first appearances, and many people prefer to experience the soaring peaks and deep blue skies from the comfort of the valley. But the region is also home to a handful of thrilling extreme sports, including world-class skiing and a thrilling bungee jump off the nearby Europabrücke.
Unmissable activity: If you prefer to remain rooted to the ground, head to Olympiaworld, where you can hurtle down the bobsleigh run at up to 120 kilometers per hour.
How to get there by train: Innsbruck is a convenient Austrian rail hub with connections throughout the country on excellent trains.
Le Marche, Italy
Although most know this beautiful region of eastern Italy for its food, culture, and art scene, it also holds a little secret 9,000 feet above you. Le Marche is one of the most beautiful places from which to launch yourself from a plane. There are options for both novice and experienced skydivers. There are also a handful of vibrant university towns in the area, perfect for relaxing after an adrenaline-fueled day.
Unmissable activity: If you’re going to Le Marche for the extreme sports, skydiving should be the only thing on your agenda.
How to get there by train: There are two main railway lines into Le Marche operated by Italian State Railways – one from the coast, and another from Rome.
Nothing quite cements an experience like a solid kick of adrenaline. Even if you’re not usually one for extreme sports, a visit to these towns on a European rail journey is likely to inspire you to push your own limits. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself standing on the edge of a cliff, inspired to push your own boundaries once again.
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