Epic European Destinations To Go Stand Up Paddleboarding

Europe is loaded with incredible places to try out your SUP skills. So many in fact, that sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. To help give you an in on the finest paddleboarding experiences out there, we’ve pulled together a list of some of Europe’s most spectacular SUP locations. From city paddles and alpine lakes, to spectacular coastal paddles out on the big blue, check out these epic spots for your next SUP adventure.

Images: Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj

Lake Bled, Slovenia

You’ve probably seen the pictures of this one. That exquisite-looking green-blue lake with a castle sat serenely in the middle? Yep, the beautiful Lake Bled, nestled amongst the surrounding majesty of the Julian Alps, is the very definition of picturesque. Slovenia itself is full of gorgeous lakes, making it a SUP enthusiast’s dream, but Bled is justifiably it’s most iconic. Actually, we’d argue that getting out on the water and doing Bled by SUP is the best way to experience this magical place, as it can get quite busy around the edges. Alternatively, you can head slightly further south to magnificent Lake Bohinj - which is bigger, quieter, but just as spectacular. 

Images: Lake Saimaa

Lake Saimaa, Finland

As Europe’s largest lake district, the Finnish Lakeland offers endless opportunities for you to explore on your SUP, as well as plenty of cosy lakeshore cottages too, equipped with saunas you can unwind in at the end of a great day’s paddling. In fact, bathing in a sauna and relaxing in nature are two hallmarks of Finnish culture. Make your next SUP adventure here, and you’ll no doubt be doing plenty of both. But in the land of 1000 lakes, which one should you fall in love with first? Lake Saimaa (Finland’s largest) is a smart choice. Not only is the paddling exceptional, but the light around here is incredible, as is the scenery. And that’s before we’ve even mentioned the wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for the cute and elusive Saimaa ringed seal – one of the rarest species in the world. Seriously, what a place this is.

Images: Lake Eibsee

Eibsee, Bavaria

Known for its clarity and incredible green waters, dip your paddle in Lake Eibsee in Bavaria, and you’ll be treating yourself to a stunning view of the Alps on a SUP adventure here. If you’re a fit and experienced paddler with all the necessary kit, you could even try paddling here in winter.  As you gently glide across the lake in the ice-cold morning air, as the sun slowly crawls up from behind Zugspitze - Germany’s highest mountain, it feels like a huge shimmering mirror, reflecting the beautiful snow-covered fir trees that line its banks. It's a perfect paddling winter wonderland. Really though, this place offers great SUP adventures at any time of year. And the thrills aren’t restricted to the water. Once you’re back on dry land, take a thrill ride on the Seilbahn Zugspitze cable car, which runs from the lakeshore up to the top of Zugspitze - which at 3,213 metres, currently holds the world record for the longest freespan cable car in the world.

Image: Lofoten Islands

Lofoten, Norway

Just one look at the cool, clear waters of the Lofoten Islands, and they seem to be crying out to be explored by paddleboard. We know one thing, an island-hopping journey through the wild seascapes of Norway’s stunning Arctic archipelago certainly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The landscapes here are simply incredible, and the timeless fishing villages that dot the coastline are just one part of a plethora of natural wonders that make this area such a beautiful place to paddle in. A word to the wise though, just make sure you have your wetsuit and all the right gear, because taking a dip on a SUP trip in the Arctic is a vastly chillier experience than what you’d get off the coast of Portugal! Talking of which…

Images: Setúbal Peninsula

Lisbon Coast, Portugal

For its sheer variety of waters in which to paddle, Portugal has become one of the best paddleboarding destinations in Europe, and it’s easy to see why with places like the idyllic Luiz Saldanha Marine Park, located on the Setúbal Peninsula, just south of Lisbon. Part of the Arriba Natural Park, taking to the water here really does feel like you’re paddling in a huge aquarium, courtesy of crystal clear waters that give visibility that can get down to around seventy feet on a calm morning’s paddle. Perfect conditions for exploring the area’s rich sea life, including stingrays, sea horses and the resident pod of Bottlenose dolphins. With vast limestone cliffs and secluded sandy coves to stop and relax in along the way, it goes without saying a SUP adventure here is right up there with the very best of them.

Images: Amsterdam canals

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Compared to some of the wilder-sounding locations on this list, on the face of it, Amsterdam might not seem the most obvious choice of destination for a paddleboard adventure. But you’d be dead wrong. Actually, the rivers, lakes and 165 canals adorning the Dutch capital make it a SUP experience that should be high on your priorities. Cutting your way through Amsterdam’s intricate network of waterways is a great way to take in the city’s magnificent architecture and bustling cobblestone streets, or paddle 15 minutes south up the Amstel River, and you’ll be surrounded by cows, grass, little villages and even some windmills. Alternatively, you can head just north of the city where you’ll find the IJsselmeer, the largest lake in the Netherlands – perfect for a long SUP tour or to just swap the city for some more natural surroundings.

Images: Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Steep, rugged cliffs dotted with lemon groves, pastel-coloured fishing villages, buzzing streets serving up amazing seafood… That’s what most people associate with Italy’s Amalfi coast, and to say that this 50km stretch of coastline along the Sorrentine Peninsula is beautiful would be something of an understatement. But out on the turquoise water, there’s another side of things to discover here too, one that’s a world away from the busy, narrow streets above. Paddle along the coastline here, and you'll discover a wealth of hidden gems... secluded coves, spectacular caves and sea arches, sun-drenched beaches, and an abundance of wildlife like, dolphins and sunfish. In short, taking to your SUP allows you to discover a far more secretive side of this already amazing coastline.

Image: Lake Annecy

Lake Annecy, France

Celebrated as Europe’s cleanest lake and surrounded by the snow-covered mountains of the Alps towering high above the water line, it’s easy to see why this is one of France’s go-to spots for SUP. At only 3.2km wide (at its widest), you can hop on your board and paddle across the calm, clear waters to the other side, marvelling at the paragliders circling high above you as you drift serenely underneath. Or for a longer day out, why not set yourself the challenge to complete the lake’s entire length (approx. 14.6Km), stopping off along the way at some of the beautiful, shaded bays that dot the shoreline. Lake Annecy is also testament to the fact that sometimes the best beaches are not necessarily found by the sea. The sandy beaches here are amazing in their own right, and the whole place just has a relaxed, chilled vibe to it. In terms of freshwater lake SUP adventures, few places can top it.

Images: Portmeirion

Portmeirion, UK

Last but certainly not least, here’s one that’s a little closer to home. If the Amalfi SUP adventure from earlier makes you pine for something similar here, give this one a try. At high tide, a 7 ½ mile return trip from the sandy beach at Black Rock Sands on Wales’ west coast takes you past the cute coastal villages of Borth-y-Gest and Porthmadog, with the mountains of Snowdonia stooped in the distance. But it’s further up this pretty estuary that the ultimate treat of this paddling adventure lies. As you gaze upon the quirky and colourful buildings of the stunning village of Portmeirion, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to Italy’s Amalfi coast. Designed and built from scratch by architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis over 50 years from 1925, there really is nothing else like it in the UK. A quick circumnavigation of the nearby Ynys Gifftan – a small island to the east of Portmeirion - caps off a perfect day’s paddling before retracing your strokes to Black Rock Sands.

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